"The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post."
That's how the article in the Washington Post begins. The companies allowing direct government access to their servers for warrantless surveillance of their customers and users are Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple. Dropbox is mentioned as a forthcoming addition.
Those were just the companies listed in the top secret document obtained by the Washington Post. There is no reason to think the NSA and FBI activities are limited to the one program mentioned in the one document, or that the participating companies are necessarily limited to the ones on this list.
Case in point: all voice and data telecommunications carriers have been required by law to build government-enabled surveillance capabilities into their equipment since 1996.
Until now we only knew for sure the NSA was into the wires: all of them. Now we know they're into damn near everything else too. After reading this report from the post, would you be surprised to find out that Microsoft, Apple, and Google have built back-doors into Windows, Mac OSX, and Droid? If they denied it would you still believe them? Indeed, several companies on the list denied participation in warrantless surveillance even after the Post confronted them.
The article refers to the tracking of foreign targets but don't let that ease your mind one little bit. The Internet is not a circuit-switched network like the old phone networks where you could trace just one call. To monitor a packet-switched network like the Internet, you have to do deep inspection of every packet: all of the traffic, all of the time.
It's tantamount to FedEx, UPS, DHL, and the USPS opening every letter and package, denying it all the while, and then saying sure we opened everything, but we only actually LOOKED when we found letters and materials of interest to foreigners.
I was waiting for a story like this to break. There hasn't been enough information available to prove what Uncle Sam was up to until now. Now we'll see what kind of big ACLU lawsuit will come out of it. There is absolutely no way a warrantless, planet-sized dragnet that sweeps everything into it is legal.
From the facts I have so far read, not the hysterical and political simplifications and omissions. were there a successful terror attack and these things were not done there would be justifiable outrage.
OTOH Congress has not criminalized these things for a reason.
Funny enough matt but i have heard the chinese government making similiar claims of its spying on their population.
Here is a link from an old "Sunday School" post. (It is also posted on Unseen's blog). It is worth a read.
Around the early 80's there was a book that circulated around my high school called "The Anrchists Cookbook" (misspelling intentional) which outlined ways to kill and blow up buildings and such. It included diagrams and suggestions on how to support such activities with drug sales, etc.
I heard later that by ordering that book, you apparently ended up on a list somewhere with Uncle Sam. Whether it is true or not, my eyes were opened and I kept at the back of my mind for any transaction ever. I do, though, think that web spiders have been scouring the net ever since ARPNET (the reason for my earlier misspelling). These days I don't fuss about it, if they want me, they can come and get me.
I think the future is worse (or better) than you think. With nanotechnology, listening devices, motion sensors, and cameras will be everywhere and mostly undetectable. The gov't will be able to find the droids it's looking for.
In case the feds are on to my little ruse, Hi guys! Whistle, whistle, eyes up in the air, sheepish look of innocence on my face.
The web's a public place. It's only sensible to be discreet.
True. It's when this place begins to see censorship is when I start getting pissed. However, Private email is not considered part of the internet. You, with your web browser, cannot see my email without my permission, or illegally obtaining my password. The government doing so is what people are getting pissed off about. I'm just wondering what the hell took them so long to get riled up? This all came to light during the Bush administration and never stopped for an instant.
"... ways to kill and blow up buildings and such." But that's disgraceful, isn't it? Was it American? You didn't have to live with the IRA. It also gives anarchists a terrible name. Sounds like it was written by a bunch of silly pricks. If you're going to do something like that, you don't need a silly book to tell you what to do.
If what you claim is true, I would wonder if the intent behind the book was as bait for fishing out extremists and criminals...? Much like potential terrorists are identified and given the opportunity to act out by government agents posing as other terrorists.
When you sign up for a free service like Facebook or you use Google, they track you. That information belongs to them and they may just decide to share it with the government without your consent, in order to be good citizens.
I've long ranted about people putting their lives online, oblivious to the value of their own privacy. Many of my more libertarian-ish friends have figured its all right, it's a company trying to figure out how to target ads.
Now maybe they are starting to listen.
I am starting to think this whole situation is back to front. It should be us monitoring the every move of the government. How can we have a true democracy when the voters are denied the information they need to make informed decisions on just what the government is upto.
Total transparency is not practical if you want a functioning intelligence and defense system.