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Prism (How appropriate)

I have mentioned for years the NSA is spying on us worse than any of us suspected. Even in a worse case scenario.

Edit: great infographic that shows the steps since 2001 that has vastly increased the NSA’s scope and direction.

http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/national/electronic-surveillance-under-presidents-bush-and-obama/213/

It started innocently enough with this guardian article.

If you thought the National Security Agency’s collection of Verizon phone-call data was bad, wait until you hear about the seven-year-old, previously undisclosed classified government program that works with nine very major U.S. Internet companies to secretly scrape your online life and has become “the most prolific contributor” to President Obama’s daily intelligence report and is “increasingly” important to the NSA. (UPDATE: Other late Thursday reports have named even more companies encompassed in the agency’s data collection program. More here) PRISM, as the classified Silicon Valley collective is code-named, collects information such as emails, documents, audio, video, and photographs from Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple, according to a shocking Washington Post scoop. “From inside a company’s data stream the NSA is capable of pulling out anything it likes,” write the Post’s Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras. You can see a full list of everything that encompasses in slides provided to the Post by what appears to be a single leaker the day after the Guardian’s Verizon scoop, but suffice it to say this is a much bigger buffet of privacy invasion than the meta-data of your cellphone calls, which at least doesn’t include the content of an innocent American’s conversation. But don’t worry, the program — approved under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act but centering on American companies and their data — also includes a system, codenamed BLARNEY, that scrapes meta-data, too.

http://m.guardiannews.com/world/2013/jun/06/nsa-phone-records-verizon-court-order?guni=Network%20front%3Anetwork-front%20main-2%20Special%20trail%3ANetwork%20front%20-%20special%20trail%20img%20

Followed by this more alarming news. The actual wording of one part of the court order allowing unprecedented spying on Americans.

“IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, the Custodian of Records shall produce to the National Security Agency (NSA) upon service of this Order, and continue production on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this Order, unless otherwise ordered by the Court, an electronic copy of the following tangible things: all call detail records or “telephony metadata” created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls. This Order does not require Verizon to produce telephony metadata for communications wholly originating and terminating in foreign countries. Telephony metadata includes comprehensive communications routing information,. including but not limited to session identifying information (e.g., originating and terminating telephone number, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, International Mobile station Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, etc.), trunk identifier, telephone calling card numbers, and time and duration of call. Telephony metadata does not include the substantive content of any communication, as defined by 18 U.S.C. ? 2510(8), or the name, address, or financial information of a subscriber or customer.”

http://m.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/06/nsa-collecting-phone-records-bulk/65950/

Followed by this even more stunning news today by The Washington Post. It confirms what I personally already knew in my heart. We are being spied on in a total and complete way in almost all aspects of our existence. The more powered in/logged in we are in some aspects walking into a spiders web.

This just blows my mind along with the court order above…

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.

The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.

http://m.washingtonpost.com/investigations/us-intelligence-mining-data-from-nine-us-internet-companies-in-broad-secret-program/2013/06/06/3a0c0da8-cebf-11e2-8845-d970ccb04497_story.html

I have been looking into the NSA for 10 years or so and when you start adding up the pieces and the way the Patriot act was written it is obviously that the Spying and snooping is total, complete and unrivaled/groundbreaking/unparalleled/exceptional/singular ( epoch-making) in human existence. By the way I used a Thesaurus to find words similar to unprecedented. I am not surprised by the news. I am surprised in the various ways aka the hard facts on how they went about spying on Americans. We have become so easily distracted as a culture the TV and smartphones have left the majority of people with 20 second attention spans. There is no ability to think through a problem and see logical consequences. We have allowed this to happen with no outcry really whatsoever. We are more spied on than Nazis. Russians. Or East Germany. We are the most spied on people in History. Despite the assurances of the Constitution we have allowed those to get stripped, eroded, trampled to the point there is no going back. Meanwhile we freak out if they make the new IPhone with a screen 1/2 inch bigger.

Without further ado. My favorite article. It really made me think about things.

Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/

Perhaps my favorite article I have ever read. The ramifications of what this alludes to is mind blowing if the reporter is accurate.

Edit.

If you thought the National Security Agency’s collection of Verizon phone-call data was bad, wait until you hear about the seven-year-old, previously undisclosed classified government program that works with nine very major U.S. Internet companies to secretly scrape your online life and has become “the most prolific contributor” to President Obama’s daily intelligence report and is “increasingly” important to the NSA. (UPDATE: Other late Thursday reports have named even more companies encompassed in the agency’s data collection program. More here) PRISM, as the classified Silicon Valley collective is code-named, collects information such as emails, documents, audio, video, and photographs from Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple, according to a shocking Washington Post scoop. “From inside a company’s data stream the NSA is capable of pulling out anything it likes,” write the Post’s Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras. You can see a full list of everything that encompasses in slides provided to the Post by what appears to be a single leaker the day after the Guardian’s Verizon scoop, but suffice it to say this is a much bigger buffet of privacy invasion than the meta-data of your cellphone calls, which at least doesn’t include the content of an innocent American’s conversation. But don’t worry, the program — approved under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act but centering on American companies and their data — also includes a system, codenamed BLARNEY, that scrapes meta-data, too.

http://m.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2013/06/nsa-prism-program/65994/

Edit.. Looking more into this. Is this company the company running the Govts Prism program?

I want to stress this is a reader email, not TPM reporting. But I’m sharing it because after reading it through and doing some googling of my own there’s little doubt that Palantir is doing stuff like what the government is doing with those tech companies, even if they’re not part of ‘prism’ itself. Give this a read.

From an anonymous reader …

I don’t see anyone out there with this theory, and TPM is my favorite news source, so here goes:
“PRISM” is the government’s name for a program that uses technology from Palantir. Palantir is a Silicon Valley start-up that’s now valued at well over $1B, that focuses on data analysis for the government. Here’s how Palantir describes themselves:

“We build software that allows organizations to make sense of massive amounts of disparate data. We solve the technical problems, so they can solve the human ones. Combating terrorism. Prosecuting crimes. Fighting fraud. Eliminating waste. From Silicon Valley to your doorstep, we deploy our data fusion platforms against the hardest problems we can find, wherever we are needed most.” http://www.palantir.com/what-we-do/
They’re generally not public about who their clients are, but their first client was famously the CIA, who is also an early investor.

With my theory in mind, re-read the denials from the tech companies in the WSJ (emphasis mine):
Apple: “We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers…”
Google: “… does not have a ‘back door’ for the government to access private user data…”
Facebook: “… not provide any government organization with direct access to Facebook servers…”
Yahoo: “We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network…”

http://editors.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2013/06/is_this_who_runs_prism.php?m=1

I thought this article was pretty interesting considering the topic.

As a part of the new, darker era, the show’s producers created Section 31, an intelligence agency and special-operations outfit that’s nominally controlled by the Federation but operates independently of it.

You might call Section 31 the Federation’s id. Its mandate is to defend the Federation from any and all threats, at any price. Kidnapping, deception, manipulation—even genocide—are all acceptable instruments in Section 31’s toolbox.
“The Federation claims to abhor Section 31’s tactics, but when they need the dirty work done, they look the other way,” says Odo, one of the characters on Deep Space Nine. “It’s a tidy little arrangement, wouldn’t you say?”
There are caveats, but it’s not a stretch to say now that we’re living DS9, or some form of it. The revelation that the National Security Agency is scooping up every American’s e-mails, photographs, videos, voice-over-IP calls, and more from telcos such as Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon but also from nine major tech companies including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Facebook, and possibly from credit-card companies as well—all in the name of protecting America—strikes many as a subversion of U.S. values and of the authority the public thought it was granting its government in the wake of 9/11.

http://mobile.nationaljournal.com/nationalsecurity/how-star-trek-explains-the-nsa-20130607

This Atlantic article gets a bit to a little of what I fear and know to be true. Well written article by the way.

“We doubt,” the Supreme Court held, “that people in general entertain any actual expectation of privacy in the numbers they dial.” And even if they did, the opinion continued, such an expectation would not be a “reasonable” one, for once you’ve disclosed anything to a third party, you cannot “reasonably” expect it to remain private.

That decision, in a case called Smith v. Maryland, is highly relevant again today. The Court decided that a local police department did not violate the Fourth Amendment (“unreasonable searches and seizures”) when, without obtaining a warrant, the police asked a telephone company to record all the numbers dialed from a suspect’s home. The year of that decision? 1979, long before the rise of our modern, counter-terrorist security state.

But our post-9/11 terrorism fears are only half the reason that that date places the case squarely in another era. Technological change in recent decades has transformed what sorts of “searches” and “seizures” are possible — so much so that it hardly makes sense to refer to mass government surveillance of the sort revealed first in 2006 and then again this week with those terms.

http://m.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/06/security-state-creep-the-real-nsa-scandal-is-whats-legal/276625/

Tip. If you do not like the mobile links. They look funny on real sized computers or tablets. Still cut and paste or click on link and just delete the m. part and the link will take you to the full size version.

Well written article ArsTechnica. First quote is from Wash Post and second is from the Guardian.

From inside a company’s data stream the NSA is capable of pulling out anything it likes, but under current rules the agency does not try to collect it all.

Analysts who use the system from a Web portal at Fort Meade key in “selectors,” or search terms, that are designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target’s “foreignness.” That is not a very stringent test. Training materials obtained by the Post instruct new analysts to submit accidentally collected US content for a quarterly report, “but it’s nothing to worry about.”

Even when the system works just as advertised, with no American singled out for targeting, the NSA routinely collects a great deal of American content. That is described as “incidental,” and it is inherent in contact chaining, one of the basic tools of the trade. To collect on a suspected spy or foreign terrorist means, at minimum, that everyone in the suspect’s inbox or outbox is swept in. Intelligence analysts are typically taught to chain through contacts two “hops” out from their target, which increases “incidental collection” exponentially. The same math explains the aphorism, from the John Guare play, that no one is more than “six degrees of separation” from Kevin Bacon.

More from The Guardian.

The presentation … noted that the US has a “home field advantage” due to housing much of the Internet’s architecture. But the presentation claimed “FISA [Forgeign Intelligence Surveillance Act] constraints restricted our ‘home field advantage'” because FISA required individual warrants and confirmations that both the sender and receiver of a communication were outside the US.

“FISA was broken because it provided privacy protections to people who were not entitled to them,” the presentation claimed. “It took a FISA Court order to collect on foreigners overseas who were communicating with other foreigners overseas simply because the Government was collecting off a wire in the United States. There were too many e-mail accounts to be practical to seek FISAs for all.”

The new measures introduced in the FAA redefine “electronic surveillance” to exclude anyone “reasonably believed” to be outside the US—a technical change which reduces the bar to initiating surveillance.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/06/new-leak-feds-can-access-anything-in-your-google-facebook-and-more/

Further more technical about how they can tap in. ZD Net does a good job explains the process.

By tapping into the connection between the Tier 1 network and the edge connection, the NSA would be able to literally view and copy data transmitted over every single session from a user to an application in realtime, and then stored and processed appropriately.

You can’t walk into, say, Apple’s iCloud datacenter and install a wiretap. Apple would notice it. It would have to be done out of band: such as when the data leaves the datacenter and begins its journey on the way to the user sitting at home on their laptop or mobile device.

http://www.zdnet.com/prism-heres-how-the-nsa-wiretapped-the-internet_p2-7000016565/

“Here is the dark star of the NSA”.

In the case of the U.S., the apotheosis of the same mind-set lies in a sprawling complex at Camp Williams, Utah, due to start operating this fall. Billions of dollars have gone into creating this cyberintelligence facility for the National Security Agency.

There’s no official explanation of the Utah Data Center’s real mission, except that it’s the largest of a network of data farms including sites in Colorado, Georgia, and Maryland. But it’s obviously been built to vastly increase the agency’s capacity to suck in, digest, analyze, and store whatever the intelligence community decides to collect. As of this week, we know a lot more about the kind of data that includes.

Of course, the U.S. is still far from being the police state that East Germany was. But I do think we need to better understand how this technological juggernaut works, what its scope really is—and particularly we need to appreciate how our political acceptance of this scale of surveillance is shaping the kind of society we are.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/06/08/behold-the-nsa-s-dark-star-the-utah-data-center.html

WASHINGTON — When American analysts hunting terrorists sought new ways to comb through the troves of phone records, e-mails and other data piling up as digital communications exploded over the past decade, they turned to Silicon Valley computer experts who had developed complex equations to thwart Russian mobsters intent on credit card fraud.

Is this the source of the Guardians pretty in depth reports?

Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind revelations of NSA surveillance
The 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA’s history explains his motives, his uncertain future and why he never intended on hiding in the shadows

http://m.guardiannews.com/world/2013/jun/09/edward-snowden-nsa-whistleblower-surveillance

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About dgarnold

More interests than I can count.. enjoy Foreign Policy, Current events, Books, Game theory,Sports (both watching and participating) and of course my Labradors. Love Mountain Biking! World class backgammon player.

One response to “Prism (How appropriate)

  1. Fantastic work! That’s the kind of info that should be shared about the net. Shame on the seek engines for now not positioning this post greater! Come on more than and visit my site . Thank you =)

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