Wonder why every nation gets upset about NSA spying ... and yet American citizens remain passively quiet ?
What Your "Startlingly Intimate, Voyeristic" NSA File Looks Like
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/06/2014 11:54 -0400
A few days ago, we asked a simple rhetorical question: "Are you targeted by the NSA?"
The answer, sadly for those reading this, is very likely yes, as it was revealed that as part of the NSA's XKeyscore program "a computer network exploitation system, as described in an NSA presentation, devoted to gathering nearly everything a user does on the internet" all it takes for a user to be flagged by America's superspooks is to go to a website the NSA finds less than "patriotic" and that user becomes a fixture for the NSA's tracking algos.
So assuming one is being tracked by the NSA - or as it is also known for politically correct reasons "intercepted" - as a "person of interest" or worse, just what kind of data does the NSA collect? The latest report by the WaPo titled "In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are" sheds much needed light on just how extensive the NSA's data collection effort is.
According to WaPo, the files on intercepted Americans "have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak,illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless."
The Post reviewed roughly160,000 intercepted e-mail and instant-message conversations, some of them hundreds of pages long, and 7,900 documents taken from more than 11,000 online accounts.
Remember when the NSA said they only target foreigners, and only those who are of particular actionable interest? They lied.
Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion,contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.
Going back to "your" file:
Taken together, the files offer an unprecedented vantage point on the changes wrought by Section 702 of the FISA amendments, which enabled the NSA to make freer use of methods that for 30 years had required probable cause and a warrant from a judge. One program, code-named PRISM,extracts content stored in user accounts at Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and five other leading Internet companies. Another, known inside the NSA as Upstream, intercepts data on the move as it crosses the U.S. junctions of global voice and data networks.
It gets worse, because that bed-wetting habit you kicked in the 2nd grade? The NSA knows all about it.
Among the latter are medical records sent from one family member to another, résumés from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren. In one photo, a young girl in religious dress beams at a camera outside a mosque.Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam or striking risque poses in shorts and bikini tops.
How many Americans may be tracked by the NSA at any one time? Turns out ther answer is lots:
The Obama administration declines to discuss the scale of incidental collection. The NSA, backed by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., has asserted that it is unable to make any estimate, even in classified form, of the number of Americans swept in. It is not obvious why the NSA could not offer at least a partial count, given that its analysts routinely pick out “U.S. persons” and mask their identities, in most cases, before distributing intelligence reports.If Snowden’s sample is representative, the population under scrutiny in the PRISM and Upstream programs is far larger than the government has suggested. In a June 26 “transparency report,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence disclosed that 89,138 people were targets of last year’s collection under FISA Section 702. At the 9-to-1 ratio of incidental collection in Snowden’s sample, the office’s figure would correspond to nearly 900,000 accounts, targeted or not, under surveillance.
And tangentially, for those who are urging the NSA to release Lois Lerner's emails, all it would take are a few keystrokes:
“If I had wanted to pull a copy of a judge’s or a senator’s e-mail, all I had to do was enter that selector into XKEYSCORE,” one of the NSA’s main query systems, [Edward Snowden] said.
What the file would likely reveal is all the dirt the US intelligence apparatus had on said (Supreme Court) judge or senator, or IRS employee. After all, what better way to keep the system of "checks and balances" in check than to have dirt on all the key places of leverage.
The WaPo has released a sterilized example of what a "target package" looks like for any given individual.
All of the above would be stunning... if it wasn't for a culture in which FaceBook has made the exhibitionist stripping of one's privacy and disclosure of every last piece of "intimate" personal information a daily chore. It is in this world, sadly, where the most recent confirmation of just how expansive Big Brother is, will merely be granted with a yawn by the vast majority of the population.
Finally, here's a thought for the cash-strapped US government: when the Fed is no longer able to monetize the US deficit, the NSA can just hire Goldman to IPO the NSA "social network." It should raise at least a few hundred billion in cash.
Are You Targeted By The NSA?
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/03/2014 16:01 -0400
Meet XKeyscore - "a computer network exploitation system", as described in an NSA presentation, devoted to gathering "nearly everything a user does on the internet." TheGerman site Das Erste has exposed the shocking truth about the rules used by the NSA to decide who is a "target" for surveillance. While the NSA claims to only "target" a small fraction of internet users, the perhaps unsurprising truth is very different. As Boing Boing concludes, one expert suggested that the NSA's intention here was to separate the sheep from the goats -- to split the entire population of the Internet into "people who have the technical know-how to be private" and "people who don't" and then capture all the communications from the first group.
The NSA program XKeyscore is a collection and analysis tool and "a computer network exploitation system", as described in an NSA presentation. It is one of the agency’s most ambitious programs devoted to gathering "nearly everything a user does on the internet." The source code contains several rules that enable agents using XKeyscore to surveil privacy-conscious internet users around the world. The rules published here are specifically directed at the infrastructure and the users of the Tor Network, the Tails operating system, and other privacy-related software.
In a shocking story on the German site Tagesschau (Google translate), Lena Kampf, Jacob Appelbaum and John Goetz report on the rules used by the NSA to decide who is a "target" for surveillance.
Since the start of the Snowden story in 2013, the NSA has stressed that while it may intercept nearly every Internet user's communications, it only "targets" a small fraction of those, whose traffic patterns reveal some basis for suspicion. Targets of NSA surveillance don't have their data flushed from the NSA's databases on a rolling 48-hour or 30-day basis, but are instead retained indefinitely.
The authors of the Tagesschau story have seen the "deep packet inspection" rules used to determine who is considered to be a legitimate target for deep surveillance, and the results are bizarre.
According to the story, the NSA targets anyone who searches for online articles about Tails -- like this one that we published in April, or this article for teens that I wrote in May -- or Tor (The Onion Router, which we've been posted about since 2004). Anyone who is determined to be using Tor is also targeted for long-term surveillance and retention.
Tor and Tails have been part of the mainstream discussion of online security, surveillance and privacy for years. It's nothing short of bizarre to place people under suspicion for searching for these terms.
More importantly, this shows that the NSA uses "targeted surveillance" in a way that beggars common sense. It's a dead certainty that people who heard the NSA's reassurances about "targeting" its surveillance on people who were doing something suspicious didn't understand that the NSA meant people who'd looked up technical details about systems that are routinely discussed on the front page of every newspaper in the world.
But it's not the first time the NSA has deployed specialized, highly counterintuitive wordsmithing to play games with the public, the law and its oversight. From James Clapper's insistence that he didn't lie to Congress about spying on Americans because he was only intercepting all their data, but not looking at it all; to the internal wordgames on evidence in the original Prism leak in which the NSA claimed to have "direct access" to servers from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, etc, even though this "direct access" was a process by which the FBI would use secret warrants to request information from Internet giants without revealing that the data was destined for the NSA.
I have known that this story was coming for some time now, having learned about its broad contours under embargo from a trusted source. Since then, I've discussed it in confidence with some of the technical experts who have worked on the full set of Snowden docs, and they were as shocked as I was.
One expert suggested that the NSA's intention here was to separate the sheep from the goats -- to split the entire population of the Internet into "people who have the technical know-how to be private" and "people who don't" and then capture all the communications from the first group.
Another expert said that s/he believed that this leak may come from a second source, not Edward Snowden, as s/he had not seen this in the original Snowden docs; and had seen other revelations that also appeared independent of the Snowden materials. If that's true, it's big news, as Snowden was the first person to ever leak docs from the NSA. The existence of a potential second source means that Snowden may have inspired some of his former colleagues to take a long, hard look at the agency's cavalier attitude to the law and decency.
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And just this week it was all found perfectly legal... But it appears the US continues to make friends wherever it goes...
The German attorney Thomas Stadler, who specializes in IT law, commented: "The fact that a German citizen is specifically traced by the NSA, in my opinion, justifies the reasonable suspicion of the NSA carrying out secret service activities in Germany.For this reason, theGerman Federal Public Prosecutor should look into this matter and initiate preliminary proceedings."
So now you know - you are all being watched...