Friday, December 27, 2013

NSA news for December 27 , 2013 .....The NSA's Massive Phone-Tracking Program Is Legal, New York Judge William Pauley Finds - this decision is in conflict with the decision of another Federal Court , Judge Richard Leon , who ruled the NSA's "indiscriminate and arbitrary" invasion of privacy is "likely" unconstitutional .... On to the Court of Appeals and US Supreme Court it would appear to resolve the conflicting decisions....Meanwhile back at the ranch , what does it all mean ? Is the mass culling producing useful intelligence - pertaining to fighting international terrorists ? On that point , it should be noted that ..... NSA Can’t Make Sense of Masses of Culled Data Too Much Useless Data, Warns Former NSA Coder William Binney .... Cutting through prior lies , Stanford Study: It Is Trivially Easy to Identify People With Metadata .... .....

The NSA's Massive Phone-Tracking Program Is Legal, New York Judge Finds

Tyler Durden's picture

Less than two weeks after Federal Judge Richard Leon ruled that the NSA's "indiscriminate and arbitrary" invasion of privacy is "likely" unconstitutional, giving a trace of hope that America may rise above its Orwellian Banana republic status, here comes New York City District Judge William Pauley to slam the coffin shut on US privacy and the Fourth amendment, and make a mockery of Edward Snowden's alternative Christmas message. Moments ago the WSJ reported that"a federal judge in New York City has ruled that a massive U.S. phone-tracking program is legal."
U.S. District Judge William Pauley issued the decision Friday, saying the program "represents the government's counter-punch" to eliminate al Qaeda's terrorist network by connecting fragmented and fleeting communications.

The ruling notes the terrorist attacks in 2001 and how the National Security Agency's phone data-collection system could have helped investigators connect information before the attacks occurred.

The judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU didn't immediately respond to a message for comment.
Bananas for everyone!
From Pauley's ruling, the lies emphasized in bold:
There is no evidence that the Government has used any of the bulk telephony metadata it collected for any purpose other than investigating and disrupting terrorist attacks. While there have been unintentional violations of guidelines, those appear to stem from human error and the incredibly complex computer programs that support this vital tool. And once detected, those violations were self-reported and stoppedThe bulk telephony metadata collection program is subject to executive and congressional oversight, as well as continual monitoring by a dedicated group of judges who serve on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

No doubt, the bulk telephony metadata collection program vacuums up information about virtually every telephone call to, from, or within the United States. That is by design, as it allows the NSA to detect relationships so attenuated and ephemeral they would otherwise escape notice. As the September 11th attacks demonstrate, the cost of missing such a thread can be horrific: Technology allowed al-Qaeda to operate decentralized and plot international terrorist attacks remotely. The bulk telephony metadata collection program represents the Government's counter-punch: connecting fragmented and fleeting communications to re-construct and eliminate al-Qaeda's terror network.

"Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law." Boumediene, 553 U.S. at 798. The success of one helps protect the other. Like the 9/11 Commission observed: The choice between liberty and security is a false one, as nothing is more apt to imperil civil liberties than the success of a terrorist attack on American soil. The 9/11 Commission Report, at 395. A court's solemn duty is "to reject as false, claims in the name of civil liberty which, if granted, would paralyze or impair authority to defend [the], existence of our society, and to reject as false, claims in the name of security which would undermine our freedoms and open the way to oppression. American Comm'cns Ass'n,  C.I.O. v. Douds, 339 U.S. 382, 445 (1950) (Jackson, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part).

For all of these reasons, the NSA's bulk telephony metadata collection program is lawful. Accordingly, the Government's motion to dismiss the complaint is granted and the ACLU's motion for a preliminary injunction is denied. 
And a brief bio on the Judge:
Born in Glen Cove, New York, Pauley received an A.B. from Duke University in 1974 and a J.D. from Duke University School of Law in 1977. He was a law clerk, Office of the Nassau County Attorney, New York from 1977 to 1978. He was a Deputy county attorney of Nassau County Attorney' Office, New York in 1978. He was in private practice in New York City from 1978 to 1998. He was an Assistant counsel, New York State Assembly Minority Leader, New York from 1984 to 1998.

Pauley is a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Pauley was nominated by President Bill Clinton on May 21, 1998, to a seat vacated by Peter K. Leisure. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 21, 1998, and received his commission on October 22, 1998.

Among his notable decisions was that involving Ben-ami Kadish, a U.S. national who pleaded guilty to passing classified information to Israel.

Full ruling below:

NSA Can’t Make Sense of Masses of Culled Data

Too Much Useless Data, Warns Former NSA Coder

by Jason Ditz, December 26, 2013
William Binney, a former NSA coder behind some of the surveillance program’s algorithms, is warning that the agency’s interest in mass surveillance is coming at a grave cost in efficiency.
While the agency sees value in taking in any data it can get, “just in case,” sorting through a stockpile of unrelated data is soaking up so many resources that what relevant data they might have is getting less focus.
Binney’s comments mirror warnings in some of the Snowden documents, which show the NSA is also concern about their data collection programs far outpacing their ability to process that data.
Indeed, in March some NSA analysts were asking for permission to collect less data with some of the programs, saying that they are collecting a lot of data with “relatively small intelligence value.”

Stanford Study: It Is Trivially Easy to Identify People With Metadata
John Glaser, December 26, 2013
When the NSA’s bulk collection of every single American’s phone records was disclosed this past summer, defenders of the program argued it was not invasive surveillance because it’s only metadata (who you called, when, and for how long) and doesn’t include the identity of the callers or the content of the conversation. “There are no names, there’s no content in that database,” Obama said in June.
new study at Stanford University has just ripped that argument to shreds.
Stanford computer scientists Jonathon Mayer and Patrick Mutchler found that it is “trivially” easy to determine the identity of callers if all you have is metadata. They write about their research in a blog post:
So, just how easy is it to identify a phone number?
Trivial, we found. We randomly sampled 5,000 numbers from our crowdsourced MetaPhone datasetand queried the Yelp, Google Places, and Facebook directories. With little marginal effort and just those three sources—all free and public—we matched 1,356 (27.1%) of the numbers. Specifically, there were 378 hits (7.6%) on Yelp, 684 (13.7%) on Google Places, and 618 (12.3%) on Facebook.
What about if an organization were willing to put in some manpower? To conservatively approximate human analysis, we randomly sampled 100 numbers from our dataset, then ran Google searches on each. In under an hour, we were able to associate an individual or a business with 60 of the 100 numbers. When we added in our three initial sources, we were up to 73.
How about if money were no object? We don’t have the budget or credentials to access a premium data aggregator, so we ran our 100 numbers with Intelius, a cheap consumer-oriented service. 74 matched.1 Between Intelius, Google search, and our three initial sources, we associated a name with 91 of the 100 numbers.
If a few academic researchers can get this far this quickly, it’s difficult to believe the NSA would have any trouble identifying the overwhelming majority of American phone numbers.
This shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone that has been paying attention. When the Snowden leaks broke, NSA whistleblower William Binney took issue with arguments like Obama’s that said metadata wasn’t revealing. Binney said collecting metadata can be more revealing than listening in to the content of phone calls.
This study represents just another in a long line of definitive knock-downs of pro-NSA arguments. The transparency that Snowden’s leaks have imposed on the government and its defenders has mortally embarrassed them and allowed for each of their arguments – which we would otherwise have to take on their word – to be disproven.
That is true in general, but it is especially true of the metadata program. The disclosure of this program proved James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, to be a bald-faced liar given that he testified to Congress that no such program existed. Then NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander said the metadata program foiled 54 terrorist plots, a justification that was later proven (and admitted by Alexander) to be completely false. Then they said it was perfectly legal, until we found out that a FISC ruling found in 2011 that the NSA “frequently and systematically violated” statutory laws restricting how intelligence agents can search databases of Americans’ telephone communications. To add to that, a federal judge essentiallyruled it unconstitutional. And now we discover that their “metadata-isn’t-really-invasive” argument is also baloney.
Before Edward Snowden, NSA overreach was, to borrow a phrase, an unknown unknown. After Edward Snowden, they have to lie about it…repeatedly…apparently without a whiff of shame.


2013 in Review: The Year the NSA Finally Admitted Its "Collect It All" Strategy

As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2013 and discussing where we are in the fight for free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy. Click here to read other blog posts in this series.
There is probably no bigger story in 2013 than that the American people having learned about the secret mass spying programs of the National Security Agency (NSA).
While prior to 2013 the NSA's public line was that it was forbidden from spying on Americans in America, but with the Snowden revelations (and help from a wide range of journalists and technologists that helped explain them) the NSA was forced to admit that it secretly expanded its mandate from limited surveillance of specific foreign intelligence targets to a massive "collect it all" strategy where its goal is to ensure that no communication in the world is ever truly private or secure.
With this, EFF’s long running lawsuit against key parts of NSA spying came to life, we launchedanother, and both the U.S. and the entire world finally began discussing whether we want to live in a world of general warrants and always-on surveillance or whether we want to regain our basic privacy, rule of law, and freedom of association.
Here’s just some of what we’ve learned, or had confirmed, in 2013:
  • The NSA collects virtually every phone call record in the United States—that’s who you call, who calls you, when, for how long, and sometimes where. (Guardian)
  • The NSA "is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans." (Washington Post)
  • The NSA is collecting "communications on fiber cables and infrastructure as data flows past," as part of what it calls "upstream" collection, including content and metadata of emails, web activity, chats, social networks, and everything else. (Washington Post)
  • The NSA "is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans’ e-mail and text communications into and out of the country." (New York Times)
  • NSA "is winning its long-running secret war on encryption, using supercomputers, technical trickery, court orders and behind-the-scenes persuasion to undermine the major tools protecting the privacy of everyday communications in the Internet age." (New York Times and Pro Publica)
  • NS "has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world" and has "positioned itself to collect at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans." (Washington Post)
  • NSA has "has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches." (Washington Post)
  • NSA "is secretly piggybacking on the tools that enable Internet advertisers to track consumers, using "cookies" and location data to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance." (Washington Post)
  • NSA "officers on several occasions have channeled their agency’s enormous eavesdropping power to spy on love interests." (Wall Street Journal)
  • NSA and GHCQ spied on online games, including World or Warcraft and Second Life. (ProPublica)