NSA’s PRISM program collecting data from Microsoft, Google, Facebook, others

Documents leaked to The Guardian and The Washington Post suggest that the National Security Agency has been tapped into the biggest tech companies for years. The PowerPoint presentation, whose authenticity has apparently been verified by both news outlets, describes a PRISM program that allows the NSA to collect information "directly from servers" associated with some of the biggest names in the industry.

The program has allegedly been active since 2007, when the NSA first started grabbing data from Microsoft. Yahoo was added in 2008 along with Google, Facebook, and Paltalk the following year. YouTube, Skype, AOL, and Apple have since joined the party, as well. The NSA has access to different data for each provider, according to one slide, but it looks like emails, photos, stored data, file transfers, and chat logs are all up for grabs. The NSA has been taking advantage of its access, too. The Guardian says over 77,000 intelligence reports cite data collected via PRISM.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has issued a statement claiming that the law making such data collection legal expressedly forbids government agencies from targeting "any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States." According to Clapper, there are "extensive procedures, specifically approved by the court, to ensure that only non-U.S. persons outside the U.S. are targeted, and that minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about U.S. persons." I’m sure that makes non-U.S. citizens feel much better about the whole thing.

There seems to be a disconnect between the NSA having direct server access and requiring a court order to target specific users. It may be the case that the NSA is collecting huge troves of data but only examining it once the courts grant permission related to a specific user. While the leaked slides say that "access is 100% dependent on ISP provisioning," the tech companies named in the document have denied providing direct access to their servers. There is no government back door, says Google, and Microsoft claims it only provides user data to comply with court orders.

Clapper goes on to say that "the unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans." Reprehensible is exactly the word I was looking for—but not to describe the leak.

Thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for the source image Cyril expertly modified.

Comments closed
    • spigzone
    • 7 years ago

    Steve Gibson on Security Now (TwiT Network) figured out what’s really going on … the NSA isn’t ‘directly accessing the servers’, they’re tapping into the tier one and two bandwidth providers routers feeding the server farms and inserting a fiber optic splitter to get a full copy of the applicable traffic, hence the ‘prism’ name – splitting a beam of light.

    • Freon
    • 7 years ago

    1984, behind schedule but making progress.

    • strikeleader
    • 7 years ago

    I can see Atlas shrugging.

    • gmskking
    • 7 years ago

    Still loving that Facebook of yours, people?

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    GUYS, HEY GUYS. CAN YOU HEAR ME OVER ALL DAT FREEDOM?

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    Does the NSA collect data from TR? Are they seeing all the bickering that happens here?

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      Yes. It’s all part of our disinformation campaign.

    • NovusBogus
    • 7 years ago

    You fellas still think cloud computing is the best thing ever? At least now we know why so many companies went gonzo over it…there’s a 1:1 relationship between major cloud boosters and companies in bed with the NSA.

      • just brew it!
      • 7 years ago

      I’ve been saying all along that letting someone else manage your data means you are no longer in control of your data.

      Edit: I avoid putting anything sensitive “in the cloud”, and anything non-sensitive but still important gets backed up to local storage.

        • Flatland_Spider
        • 7 years ago

        I remembered a conversation I had with an intern at work, about a year ago, about why Skype was disallowed for anything business related.

        His stance was Skype was secure because it was encrypted, and my stance was we didn’t know where the encryption stopped.

        The moral of this story is always distrust a box you can’t open.

    • Novuake
    • 7 years ago

    Mildly annoyed at this, since international information can be gathered via these companies. Cyber War here we come.

    • Kaleid
    • 7 years ago

    This is nothing new, echelon already existed in the 90’s and in the future everyone can “enjoy” ‘total information awareness’.
    [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_Awareness_Office[/url<]

    • hasseb64
    • 7 years ago

    Your week so called Demoracy is watching my stuff too, need to find ” free land ” now. It’s ironic, people fled Europe for free land over there..

    • kileysmith31
    • 7 years ago
    • puppetworx
    • 7 years ago

    This level of surveillance is worse than the Stasi’s. Before 9/11 the idea that the government could collect all this data without a specific target in mind would have been repugnant. It’s no wonder the administration is targeting ‘patriot groups’ – they keep bringing up things like the 4th Amendment and probable cause.

    • entropy13
    • 7 years ago

    I fail to see how this would help when war with China is inevitable. The Chinese probably hacked that data center in Utah already.

      • JohnC
      • 7 years ago

      Yea… They probably already got all the launch codes :-/
      [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcbgToGekTI[/url<]

      • A_Pickle
      • 7 years ago

      War with China is inevitable? You need to use tinfoil, my friend. Aluminum is too thin to block the waves.

        • entropy13
        • 7 years ago

        What are you on about though? If you’re American…you don’t have an idea why the US Seventh Fleet is over here in the first place? You don’t know why the US Navy is shifting from a 60-40 Atlantic-Pacific split to a 60-40 Pacific-Atlantic split? You have no idea why the US and Vietnam are suddenly ‘closer’ as they could ever be since the Vietnam War? You don’t know why the US are tacitly supportive of seemingly ‘minor’ amendments to the Japanese constitution, mainly that the Japanese are now able to produce weaponry to sell (or give) to ‘allied countries’? You don’t know why port calls over here of various US naval vessels are getting more frequent than ever?

          • puppetworx
          • 7 years ago

          Don’t you remember the Cold War? Everyone thought war between the Soviets and West was inevitable too – it never happened. It’s even less likely to happen here because China and the USA have such a symbiotic relationship: China is a manufacturing exporter of goods and the USA is a the major buyer.

          The massive shift of military units to the Pacific was entirely about North Korea. North Korea had a new leader (which happens once in a lifetime), South Korea had a new leader and China had a new leader (happens once every 10 years). With so few opportunities to make progress regarding North Korea this was America’s best shot.

          Wars in the nuclear age have shifted to ‘proxy wars’ rather then direct confrontations. A contributing factor to why the Middle East and Africa are in turmoil.

          The whole China wants war with the West thing is complete nonsense and distraction.

            • Suspenders
            • 7 years ago

            Maybe that war never happened between the Soviets and the West because we got lucky? You can thank people like Kennedy and Khruschev for not listening to people like Curtis LeMay and blowing up the world, because we were damn close.

            Wars between rising powers and the formerly dominant but declining ones are certainly not out of the question. There are already various points of friction between America and China, two that could break out into war at any time (Taiwan, Japan), and others, like friction over access to global resources, that could easily flare up tensions, especially as China uses more and more of the same resources America also needs. China’s leadership isn’t adverse to using a bit of jingoism now and then to deflect public anger against themselves (as they do periodically with the Japanese), and it’s not inconceivable in some kind of crisis that they would need to find someone to blame. That could easily poison relations and make war more likely.

            Hell, they’ve already made some threats [url<]http://m.theepochtimes.com/n2/china-news/chinese-admiral-threatens-world-war-to-protect-iran-154434.html[/url<] [url<]http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1494176/Chinese-general-threatens-nuclear-attack-on-US-in-war-of-words.html[/url<] So yeah, there's more than a few points of confrontation between America and China, to think otherwise and believe war is impossible is naive at best.

        • Suspenders
        • 7 years ago

        Maybe not inevitable, but could be quite likely if you look at historical parallels. Wars often break out between rising powers and the formerly dominant but declining powers, especially if there are points of friction between them.

        A war with China is quite possible.

      • sschaem
      • 7 years ago

      Didn’t have to hack this server, they already hacked directly the agencies and corporation directly, where the real data is.
      Prism is near worthless to China.

      • Kaleid
      • 7 years ago

      It’s not at all inevitable, as both economies need each other to boost themselves.

        • JohnC
        • 7 years ago

        Yeap. People forget that without China the US would lose the supply of most of the consumer electronics (everything from calculators and alarm clocks to smartphones, PC’s, and various “supercomputers”), toys, clothes, car parts (go to your local “american” Ford dealership and look up the “domestic parts content” on the latest Mustang sticker), power/hand tools, medical equipment (last time I’ve looked at Omron blood pressure monitor in local doctor’s office – it had “Made in China” stamp on it) and so on. Mexico will not be able to “cover” even half of those supplies.

        • trackerben
        • 7 years ago

        Same argument economists made about France and Germany before WWII. Each was the other’s biggest trade partner then.

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 7 years ago

    Wow. America’s going to shit real fast.

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 7 years ago

      Look up the recent changes to FHA home loans and you won’t feel any better…Perma-PMI !

      • Suspenders
      • 7 years ago

      Yeah. A bit scary.

    • Krogoth
    • 7 years ago

    USA taxplayer’s dollars hard at work. Building datacenters and digital archives in the hunt for the digital boogeymen in the name of preventing “terrorism” and promoting “patriotism”.

    Let’s ignore upgrading our aging infrastructure, growing entitlement programs, brain-drain of STEM fields, blatant corruption at all levels of government etc.

    For I welcome our digital overlords who know that we like to fap to magical ponies on the weekends….

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 7 years ago

      So…you’re unimpressed?

      • Meadows
      • 7 years ago

      Wow, you fap to ponies too? High-hoof, bro!

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]bro[/quote<] Once mortal enemies, now brothers. Kiss and make up.

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      Patriotism is manditory.

        • Meadows
        • 7 years ago

        Go away.

        • l33t-g4m3r
        • 7 years ago

        โ€œWhen fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.โ€

        list of good quotes:
        [url<]http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/fascism[/url<]

          • puppetworx
          • 7 years ago

          “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” – Mark Twain

          My personal favourite.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      From what I hear that’s called ‘clomp’ and is a developing niche. I never knew Krogoth was so mainstream.

      This is honestly to be expected since there is no real tangible way to actually ‘weigh’ our freedoms until they become so severely violated it’s apparent that something is wrong. With digital freedoms, it’s not like real life freedom where we end up locked in a cell or in slavery…

      • gmskking
      • 7 years ago

      Well said. I couldn’t agree more.

    • Rakhmaninov3
    • 7 years ago

    Anyone else find it interesting that the same domestic Organization is purchasing billions of bullets and fleets of highly armored tanks? Maybe it doesn’t like what it’s reading in all those private emails.

    …..and that’s the difference between this and companies doing the same thing. Companies are doing it to sell you crap. The NSA can kill you, imprison you, call the IRS on you.

    • Musafir_86
    • 7 years ago

    -So, are thumb ups (and down votes) here at TR really anonymous, or being monitored and logged too? I mean does TR knows who vote up/down whom?

    Regards.

      • JohnC
      • 7 years ago

      TR knows. Question is, does our voting data also end up in PRISM? o_O

    • marvelous
    • 7 years ago

    More spying by the feds to put innocent people’s lives to be destroyed.

    • indeego
    • 7 years ago

    And people still don’t vote tertiary parties. Well, keep on keepin’ on with your “democracy!”

      • A_Pickle
      • 7 years ago

      I’ve just decided to pick a random location in the Northwest Territories using Google Earth, and I’m just going to dig a hole and live in it.

        • lilbuddhaman
        • 7 years ago

        Clearly you’re missing the point, if you look it up on Google Earth, they know exactly where you choose to put that hole.

    • sschaem
    • 7 years ago

    And they have tracked phone routing for even longer. Yawn…

    Who ever feel personally prosecuted by the US government for this type of big data collection and has a google account or a facebook account are just sad hypocrites.

    Amazon & netflix openly do this for profit, but doing big data analysis for national security is “an abuse of personal freedom”.

    • smilingcrow
    • 7 years ago

    How many of the internets have been compromised?
    Iโ€™ve been using Internet Junior so hopefully Iโ€™m unaffected by this.

      • Scrotos
      • 7 years ago

      No, AOL is part of it, too.

    • ColeLT1
    • 7 years ago

    I’ll leave this here, nothing new unfortunately.
    [url<]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A[/url<]

    • squeeb
    • 7 years ago

    I wonder why anyone is surprised by any of this? I’m sure this kind of harvesting has been going on for well over a decade.

    • Dashak
    • 7 years ago

    This has been going on for several decades at least – but now that it’s getting some coverage, what are [b<]you[/b<] going to do about it? Also, [i<]why[/i<] is it getting coverage [i<]now?[/i<]

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 7 years ago

    Surprise (not really)! They’re also stockpiling credit card info:

    [url<]http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324299104578529112289298922.html[/url<] It's so great to think that unelected, unaccountable feds spend my money so that they can potentially steal my credit card and spend some more.

    • JohnC
    • 7 years ago

    This reminds me of software DRM… You know, the “bad guys” will always find ways around it while the “law-abiding guys” will have to tolerate it (and perhaps occasionally suffer for “false positives”).

      • sschaem
      • 7 years ago

      Are you saying that China use the NSA back doors ?

      Reality, US enemies have better access to corporation secests and account then the NSA itself.

        • JohnC
        • 7 years ago

        o_O I never mentioned China or NSA or backdoors… Is that a misreply or something? Get some sleep, Stephan…

          • A_Pickle
          • 7 years ago

          The “bad guys” (a characterization I object to, being a member of this group) have had “ways around it” since Phil Zimmermann developed PGP and the Arms Export Control Act was changed. Did you know the U.S. government used to consider actually decent encryption to be a munition? But then, some douchebag coded OpenSSL, and handed the keys to America to some terrorist on a silver platter by Apache licensing it.

          Except, I, and probably every world citizen that uses the internet is pretty happy that they did, because OpenSSL and all of the tools that the “bad guys” can use to get around Prism are in every way good and wonderful.

    • NeelyCam
    • 7 years ago

    You know, this article is sort of a R&P comment bait. Does this really have anything to do with “PC Hardware Explored”?

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 7 years ago

      Oh, they’re exploring your PC hardware, alright!

        • homerdog
        • 7 years ago

        This is the greatest comment I have ever seen.

        • 5150
        • 7 years ago

        I wish someone would explore my hardware.

          • JohnC
          • 7 years ago

          You can do it yourself, with the right set of tools ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]Does this really have anything to do with "PC Hardware Explored"?[/quote<] Only if we can get their hardware declassified! If we extract the political and ethical implications from this issue, I'm sure there's some absolutely fascinating technology being used to do all this datamining and collection. It's not about hoovering up every post ever made on Facebook or Gmail message for fun*, it's how they analyze and track particular needles in a huge haystack. I'd love to know more about it from a purely technological standpoint. * If the government literally copied everything, the number of hard drives they would require would be so great that Seagate & Western Digital would be making record profits every single quarter.

        • albundy
        • 7 years ago

        yeah, except for the truecrypt images! see you in a millennium!

        • trackerben
        • 7 years ago

        It seems to be a complicated yet powerful process. Here are articles on the various NSA programs, with mentions of datasources and the front ends used to pull up extracted datasets for analysis.

        [url<]http://theweek.com/article/index/245360/solving-the-mystery-of-prism[/url<] [url<]http://theweek.com/article/index/245303/deep-state-excerpt-the-nsa-is-the-largest-factory-of-secrets-in-the-world[/url<]

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 7 years ago

      This is one of those “such big news that it should be shouted from the rooftops” type of stories. If I had any kind of public medium that thousands of people read, I would post a story/link about it as well.

        • NeelyCam
        • 7 years ago

        Should we post all big news here then? A tornado hits Oklahoma – let’s have it on TR. There is a massacre in Syria. TR PC news!! Some crazy dude shoots a bunch of people in a movie theater. Obviously belongs to the Shortbread.

        I don’t think this belongs here. You want tech news, you go to TR. Non-tech news belong to CNN/BBC/FoxNews/RT/whatever. Just look at what has happened to the comments section already – political comments all over the place.

          • nanoflower
          • 7 years ago

          You can post all of those on TR. You just have to do it in the appropriate forum.

          This is tech news of a sort. It’s the down side to the proliferation of advanced technology since it makes it easier to keep track of everyone. Another downside was with Google and their StreetView capturing of wireless data, or the possible abuse of Google Glass (though this is already available with any number of surveillance cameras including button cams, glasses cams, hat cams and even pen cams. It’s that just that Google Glass it may become more ubiquitous.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 7 years ago

          The Red Tornado is tech related. He’s using an old Jedi mind trick!

          • lilbuddhaman
          • 7 years ago

          Typhoon / Earthquake hits Asia – Effects hard drive prices – you get a story
          Tornado hits a town that has zero significance to tech world – no story

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            I don’t get it. People were saying they don’t want phone articles because phones aren’t PCs. But this government spying stuff is more suitable?

            • JohnC
            • 7 years ago

            Not everyone were saying that. Generalizations are bad.

            • lilbuddhaman
            • 7 years ago

            At this point I feel that you need to tell us what agency you work for and why you want to cover up this story so much.

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            Don’t you think Homeland should be Secured? If you’re against us, that must mean you were part of the Boston situation.

            I mean, this shouldn’t be a problem for you since you have nothing to hide… or do you?

            • BIF
            • 7 years ago

            Ummm… why all the whining all of a sudden?

            And I want phone articles, so don’t put words in MY mouth!

      • destroy.all.monsters
      • 7 years ago

      Welcome to the new Friday Night Topic!

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      Friday night topic explored… Also not a ‘official’ friday night topic, so TR still has plausible deniability. ๐Ÿ˜›

        • trackerben
        • 7 years ago

        **You’ve been logged**

          • BIF
          • 7 years ago

          +1 for comedic timing.

      • Suspenders
      • 7 years ago

      I don’t really get your comment, or your line of thought here for that matter? Government policy has a lot to do with the tech industry. Hell, it’s what created and nurtured it in the first place. It’s prudent to keep informed of political developments relating to the industry, and certainly belongs on any self-respecting tech news site, which this site surely is.

        • Airmantharp
        • 7 years ago

        Government policy struggles fruitlessly to keep up with the tech industry and causes far more problems than it solves ๐Ÿ™‚

        But that’s R&P material.

    • 5150
    • 7 years ago

    I really had high hopes that Obama was going to get rid of the Patriot Act and this kind of crap from happening anymore. Either he was being honest at the time and just decided to fall into line with the establishment, or he was full of crap the whole time. My guess is, based on everything else I’ve seen from him, that he was full of crap.

    Edit: For reference, I voted for Obama for his first term, voted for Gary Johnson last time around.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 7 years ago

      He voted to reauthorize it when he was in the senate lol.

      Hopefully this has thoroughly debunked the “vote for the lesser of two evils” paradigm. Nobody is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to rubber stamp any brand of evil at all.

        • nanoflower
        • 7 years ago

        You are always voting for the lesser of the available options. No one person is going to come close to being your perfect candidate (unless the candidate is you) so you are always going to have to choose what you are willing to sacrifice to get what you want. In the current climate it’s hard to see anyone being elected as President that doesn’t put security of the nation as one of his top priorities.

        These sort of things (the Prism program) are only going to continue to expand until such time as the public has had enough. I don’t think we are anywhere near at that point so we will keep electing politicians that will keep authorizing these programs because it sounds like they are trying to keep the nation safe and that works for the voters.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<]No one person is going to come close to being your perfect candidate...[/quote<] Very true. Even Thomas Jefferson was ashamed of what he did as president and he did not want it mentioned on his tomb stone. But...see my other comment.

        • Geistbar
        • 7 years ago

        That ignores the realities of the electoral system we have. So long as we are in a [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-past-the-post_voting<]first-past-the-post system[/url<], voting for "the lesser evil" [i<]is[/i<] the best option. If you want to see the two-party system weakened, push for electoral reform -- and not just in the electoral college (though that will need to be done too), but towards the basic system of how all federal candidates are elected. Australia uses a variant of [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting<]instant-runoff voting[/url<], which is one of the simpler alternative systems and works quite well. Increasing voter turnout would likely jolt the system quite a bit too -- a lot of voters that stay out (US turnout is ~55-60% in presidential years, and ~40-50% in congressional-only years) will be those that are dissatisfied with the major party candidates: bringing them into the system will add electoral strength to candidates supporting their views. Until and unless we can move past a first-past-the-post system, voting for the lesser evil will actually be the most logical course of action for a voter to take. It's a bitter pill to swallow, but that doesn't change that this is how things are.

        • Diplomacy42
        • 7 years ago

        Nope, Mitt Romney was definitely the greater evil.

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 7 years ago

      I could have told you that before his first term, because anyone who did any research into his background knew he was a liar, instead of buying mindless slogans like “hope” and “change”. Should have voted for Ron Paul instead.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 7 years ago

        You can also just not vote. Ron Paul would surely tell you the same.

        I’m not suggesting anyone vote a certain way or not at all. Just recognize that you have choices other than “establishment approved candidate for emperor A” and “establishment approved candidate for emperor B.”

          • JohnC
          • 7 years ago

          Yeap, pretty much this:
          [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lA7B3vpIlmQ[/url<]

          • lilbuddhaman
          • 7 years ago

          [url<]http://youtu.be/rAT_BuJAI70[/url<]

        • Diplomacy42
        • 7 years ago

        If Ron Paul would just renounce his plan to abolish the fed and distance himself a little more from the gold hawks, I’d vote for him.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 7 years ago

          You seem to have this backwards. People actually criticized him for [b<]not[/b<] proposing to abolish the Fed, and just auditing it. The audit has been passed twice, but was first gutted by bankster cronies and then left to collect dust until the next congress. The first time, a partial audit got through, and it was discovered that the Fed gave [b<]$17 trillion[/b<] in "emergency loans" to the biggest banks, right as Bernanke and friends were insisting to the public that there was no bubble. If you think the "plan to abolish the Fed" is simply telling the public what it does, well...that really says something about the Fed, doesn't it? I have definitely seen Ron Paul comment that the Fed would have to be "phased out" if (when ) it implodes on itself, not abrubtly ripped away, and that a "gold standard" is pointless. There are countless cases throughout history where asset backed currencies were counterfeited into oblivion.

      • vargis14
      • 7 years ago

      Didn’t you watch the bible movie series………Obama is the Devil

      “Knock knock” door explodes open with shouts of get on the floor!! A zombie swat team cuffs me and throws me in the back of a red swat team van. Then they remove my brains for eating, saving the best part for …well you know.

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 7 years ago

    Well, my vote doesn’t count, I’m too poor to buy the government out, and any means of retaliation will either have me labelled as a terrorist or be skewed by the media-overlords as some kind of joke…

    • danny e.
    • 7 years ago

    So, with the Xbox One, the government will have a new tool for spying. They will literally be watching you scratch your butt.

      • Grigory
      • 7 years ago

      So what? As long as you are scratching your left cheek, you won’t have any problems.

      • JohnC
      • 7 years ago

      True that. I mean, think about it: mandatory Kinect sensor connection (regardless of what you supposedly can disable in “settings”), mandatory 24-hour data transmission to MS servers (will probably be encrypted so noone will actually know what exactly is being transmitted), mandatory Skype integration…
      …and Sony seems to be absent from that list. I’m sure this will all work well for XBox One’s sales (/sarcasm)!

      • someuid
      • 7 years ago

      Do more than scratch your butt and I’m sure Microsoft and NSA will decide to stop watching. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • spigzone
    • 7 years ago

    Those companies have to deny they know as it’s a felony to disclose involvement. Nice little catch 22 there.

    Moot in any case as, taken as a democratic voting whole, Americans = fat, stupid, corrupt, disease ridden sheep docilely watching an Orwellian police state grow up around them.

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]Moot in any case as Americans = fat, stupid, corrupt, disease ridden sheep docilely watching an Orwellian police state grow up around them.[/quote<] So if that's how you describe Americans, the people in your country must be REALLY bad.

        • spigzone
        • 7 years ago

        I am an American.

        It is what it is.

          • chuckula
          • 7 years ago

          That sounds exactly like the excuses I hear when somebody goes on a racist rant and then says “It’s OK! I have black friends!” Whatever.

            • A_Pickle
            • 7 years ago

            Well, yes, it does. Exactly like that, in fact. But this is the internet, where Americans are dumb, except for the saavy Americans who are above it all, chuckula.

        • wierdo
        • 7 years ago

        I think it can be read as constructive criticism.

        My interpretation:

        Fat = Bad healthcare and fast food culture.
        Stupid = Education neglected (low quality and/or expensive).
        Corrupt = Lobby money is not a bribe.
        Sheep = Whistle blowers are bad. etc.

        The question is what are we, as a nation, doing to fix this? When looking at politics I just get the impression it’s some elaborate football game with rabid fans cheering the players, and the football’s the future getting thrown around all day.

        Anyway, I dislike politics, prefer building gaming PCs, and there’s always Canada if things get too bad. I guess my apathy is part of the problem and it’s not uncommon.

          • credible
          • 7 years ago

          This was a great post, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but its no better up here in Canada, well I guess proportionately it is, but thats not saying much,lol.

      • yuriylsh
      • 7 years ago

      Edit: removed my reply (to the original, non-edited post) as I don’t think the post does not deserve it…

        • spigzone
        • 7 years ago

        Most, not all … though I’ve found the level of political discourse on tech sites to be pretty damned ignorant compared to, say, Common Dreams or Naked Capitalism posters.

          • chuckula
          • 7 years ago

          Getting real close to R&P there…

            • spigzone
            • 7 years ago

            What’s R&P?

            • chuckula
            • 7 years ago

            Religion & Politics: You have made it abundantly clear that you have a rather one-sided political slant that you are using to paint very broad generalizations about Americans.

            Obviously in this type of article there is some leeway for that, but your comments have so far had nothing to do with the meat of the actual story and only include some rather trite anti-American insults that I’m sure your “progressive” friends would vehemently attack as “hate speech” if we simply replaced the word “American” with “Mexican” “Muslim” “[Minority of the day]” etc. I don’t appreciate bigotry, even if it comes from so-called “enlightened progressives” who claim to be superior than everyone else.

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            Religion & Politics.

            • Suspenders
            • 7 years ago

            And this comment would be why the political discourse is so ignorant. “Ohh boohoo, the dreaded R&P! Can’t talk about real life here, it’s a tech site! ”

            /derp

            • NovusBogus
            • 7 years ago

            I agree entirely, the reason stuff like PRISM is happening is nobody is allowed to talk about it openly anymore. Except the demagogues of course, who get off on stuff like this.

            • Kurotetsu
            • 7 years ago

            Well, at the same time I understand the need to segregate that discussion. By and large, people are incapable of having a civil discussion of religion and politics over the internet. Anonymity makes it too easy to be a troll about it (that’s if they’re even interested in having a “discussion” to begin with and just want a soapbox to rant on). You can argue that its a case of the few ruining it for the many, but those “few” have demonstrated a spectacular ability to derail discussions or, even worse, make the discussion spill outside of the thread. Hell, we already have pretty noticeable trolling in the frontpage comments as it is (though I’ll concede that the trolling here is mostly done with a much more blatant eye to humor than just pissing people off, which is nice), and now you want open it up to religion and politics (there goes the humor)? Good luck getting any actual technical discussion done in such an environment.

            You have to balance out the need to foster intelligent discussion while allowing a wide breadth of topics to discuss. Techreport, at least, has the decency to allow R&P discussion to occur somewhere else, where it can be largely contained and with a bright red “AT YOUR OWN RISK” sign stapled to the front door, instead of just banning it outright.

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      You sound like a domestic terrorist, and they are definitely collecting data on you right now.

        • chuckula
        • 7 years ago

        Really? I couldn’t tell the difference between his lines and the regurgitated platitudes I got from a couple of my less-then-stellar college professors.

        Hating America doesn’t get you on a watch-list these days Neely, it gets you a taxpayer funded “job.”

        Being in the tea party or mentioning that we should follow the Constitution.. well.. there’s an IRS app for that…

          • NeelyCam
          • 7 years ago

          A wise man recently said something that is very applicable:

          “Getting real close to R&P there…”

          • peartart
          • 7 years ago

          Actually he sounds like a right-wing gun hoarder.

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            I.e., a domestic terrorist.

            • peartart
            • 7 years ago

            Well most of them aren’t so much terrorists as terrible dinner guests.

          • volnaiskra
          • 7 years ago

          You seem to have made some bizarre assumption that criticizing something amounts to hating it.

          A parent who doesn’t sometimes scold their children in order to push them to behave better is not a good parent. A person who doesn’t want their spouse to become the best person they can be is not being a truly loving spouse. A citizen who is indifferent to his nation’s deficiencies rather than demanding improvement is not being loyal to his compatriots, and is not being responsible citizen.

          Loving your country has nothing to do with offering uncritical devotion to it, pretending that it’s perfect, or defending every criticism directed at it. That’s not love, and it’s not respect. It’s idolatry.

          It’s treating one’s country the way a 13 year old girl treats her favorite pop star. It’s a fantasized and lazy way to look at the world, and serves the girl more than anyone else.

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]...Loving your country has nothing to do with offering uncritical devotion to it, pretending that it's perfect, or defending every criticism directed at it. That's not love, and it's not respect. It's idolatry.[/quote<] Unbridled nationalisms do lead devotees to a rather sophisticated yet appealing type of idolatry. But this view entails the idea that there are higher things than nation or people. Are you with a watchers group?

            • chuckula
            • 7 years ago

            If you read his original post that I quoted, not once did he ever mention a single criticism of the government in any way. He just made a bunch of trite and cliched aspersions against regular Americans. He then goes on to post links to his “progressive” political friends who would expand the scope of government so much that the NSA would look like some sort of civil-libertarian outfit by the time he was done.

            If you look at the other posts I have in this thread, you’ll see that I by no means a rah-rah pro-government cheerleader. I *am* proudly patriotic about what America should stand for, which is not what the Federal Government has stood for in a very long time (including both democratic and republican controlled governments).

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      The right thing to do would be to ‘no comment’ the whole thing.

      • ronch
      • 7 years ago

      I’m having a hard time trying to parse your sentences.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 7 years ago

    Funny how this is suddenly mainstream news, but during the election, it was not:

    [url<]http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/[/url<] I'm sure some people here remember that. If so, you will also remember that it did not get this kind of attention. So why break it now? Well, there's all sorts of other "scandals." Go for broke and get it out of the way so people forget by the 2014 election?

      • nanoflower
      • 7 years ago

      More likely that they finally got hold of a smoking gun. Everyone knew this sort of thing was going on but the NSA Powerpoint provides documentation of just what is going on and who is involved in providing the information to the NSA. That makes it worthy of reporting again and is enough to get more news organizations involved.

        • lilbuddhaman
        • 7 years ago

        Who are now being “talked to” by government officials, and they will give out info to imply that the system really doesn’t gather certain data, but again, it will be worded carefully and leave a loophole available. News fades to obscurity, people stop caring, Govt. wins.

        Just a guess.

    • trackerben
    • 7 years ago

    Commercial outfits have been datamining global data troves for years. The US government is simply catching up in collection technology and scale. The commercials mine and intercorrelate their data streams as much as they like. The USG agencies are supposedly routinely searching only metadata and logfiles against intelligence-driven cases. Anything deeper is *supposed* to be subject to open and secret (FISA) court ordersm which in turn are covered by less specific executive national-security findings

    The thing is, CIA is woefully short of competent spies who can work the shadows of the terror war and fend off masters like the Russians. They have come to rely more and more on DoD spies and contractors as well as friendly allies. But spying is a shifty business made even more treacherous by the actions of the 1970s Church Committee. The Committee’s ignorant restrictions on covert methods hounded their best people away and this operationally gutted the agency. The military and contractors can’t or won’t fill in for everything, and modern spying has become a violent and gritty venture which bureaucrats always try to shy away from. The CIA’s weakness on the ground would end many more careers unless substitutes were found to generate results.

    Enter the internet, the greatest intelligence-collection platform in history. The spy bureacrats directed development of technological aces to fill in at least some of the blanks. Any data in hand comes in handy when friendly feeds from the military and allies come up short. Filling in for what they lack is what this is about, a technical substitute for missing old-school operational mojo. PRISM has all the advantages of in-house big IT, big budgets, big org charts, entities local and under tight control.

    Thus less need to deal with messy espionage and blowback from dealings with the unsavory types who populate the real world. It even works at times, sometimes spectacularly so. It’s an all-around win for everyone in the reporting chain.

      • clone
      • 7 years ago

      they knew about it in Russia before the wall fell but only in America can they pass it off as par for the course and acceptable.

      Osama did win…. did his attack cost $10 million…. maybe, the U.S. 4 trillion + now and a complete stripping of civil liberties.

        • trackerben
        • 7 years ago

        The Russians traditionally put faith in strong authoritarian leaders controlling things from the capital. Not something USA is known for, but not for lack of trying lately.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<]Not something USA is known for...[/quote<] I guess you haven't heard of Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lindon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, George Bush the Elder, Bill Clinton, George Bush the Dumber, Barack Obama, and all their crony friends they enabled? In fact, that's really all the USA is known for. It has a longer and more consistent history of centralized authoritarianism than probably anything but the Roman empire. And I think we all know how that worked out...

            • LastQuestion
            • 7 years ago

            Nicely is how it worked. Latin was the language of Academia for centuries after Rome had collapsed. The Roman Empire has a long list of achievements. Its memory was greater than the reality those that followed after could achieve.

            What I find amusing here is this: “The first two centuries of the Empire were a period of unprecedented stability and prosperity known as the Pax Romana (Wikipedia).” Yes, that’s right, the Republic was unstable and less prosperous than the Empire was for 200 years. Pray, tell me, how stable has America been? Better yet, what was its most stable period of time? Or rather, which presidents had terms during highly unstable periods and made things more stable? mmmm. I see you’ve listed some of those presidents. How interesting.

            The testament to the success of the Roman Empire is how pervasive their influence remains to this day. Can we even hold a conversation in English without paying tribute to the Roman Empire?

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 7 years ago

            If you think Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero created stability, who followed each other one after another in the first 200 years of the Roman Empire, then I don’t know what to tell you.

            And it did not get better after that, because then came such lovely characters as Diocletian.

            You appear to be taking that Wikipedia quote out of context. In context, it is describing previous periods of history, where civilization was even less developed.

            The trouble is that, collectively, civilization is still stuck in that same mind set. The Roman emperors had many of the exact same destructive and destabilizing policies as the American emperors I listed above.

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            Heh, this is getting into R&P turf. Let me say that empires have been the longest-lasting and some of stablest polities in history. However as they usually succumbed to Rule of Men, they could also be pretty long-lived hosts of injustice and social inequity. But life in Imperial D.C. can sure be sweet for many coming onto the never-ending gravy train that is FedGovMax.

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            Abraham Lincoln initiated modern tax trends, but I’d start that list with FDR. States’ rights and powers began their relative decline under his New Deal administration, which enabled the rise of the federal government as national middleman. The two parties under Johnson sealed the deal for an enlarging, encompassing USG, by then it was probably too late for any successor to turn around things without a true political revolution.

            Reagan had the makings for one. He was the only modern president to describe the overreaching federal government for what it was and call for a popular pushback. But he failed to fully reform things and remained anathema to the D.C. Establishment. Once GH Bush came to office he got rid of every Reaganite he could reach, and it was back to the cooler for the boys.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 7 years ago

            Lincoln shredded the constitution. He was the most universally hated president in history because he suspended habeas corpus / right to trial (sound familiar?), ordered the army to fire on people protesting the draft, and he counterfeited the currency until it was destroyed.

            Some people at the time claimed the constitution was null and void because he had abolished the country and laws it was based on.

            He was a very extreme racist and gave documented speeches during the election about deporting all black people. From “The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln,” which is a book you can find on Amazon:

            “I have said that the separation of the races is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation . . . . Such separation . . . must be effected by colonization” [to Liberia, Central America, anywhere]. Vol. II, p. 409

            “Let us be brought to believe it is morally right , and . . . favorable to . . . our interest, to transfer the African to his native clime . . .” Vol. II, p. 409

            “The place I am thinking about having for a colony [for the deportation of all American blacks] is in Central America. It is nearer to us than Liberia.” Vol. V, pp. 373, 374

            He is quoted countless times insisting there should be no “mixing of the
            races” and that his own race is “superior.”

            His draft of the 13th amendment was to make slavery permanent in the south.

            He did not end slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation, either. Read it. It says slavery is abolished in the rebelling states, where he had no authority, but preserved it in the rest, and did not make freed slaves into citizens.

            Oh, and he also got 600,000 American citizens killed and annihilated the productive capacity of the country, setting everyones’ standard of living back many years.

            That didn’t happen anywhere else when slavery was abolished.

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            Well, you’ve got to understand Lincoln was desperate to keep his coalition together. Many were traditionalists on slavery or profited from trade with Southern concerns. At the same time he was trying (and failing) to appease Southern delegates by letting them retain the essentials of their system, by finding compromises on Southern slaves and produce transiting Northern cities and towns. It was clear that at many points he was simply trying to undo the movement to Secession and inevitable conflict. Even at the cost of delaying or denying full emancipation in his lifetime.

            It was all tactical politics and timing all the time, even more (and with far more at stake) than in today’s ChicagoLand White House. Until rebellion finally broke out, at which point he could do little else but proscribe absent delegates to gain a decisive “majority” in Congress and finally begin to expose his true colors. Then he had to direct and win what appeared to be a losing war even at the cost of many peacetime liberties. “Silent Leges” was very much the unsaid status quo then as it still is in today’s zones of war.

            Edit: The 13th did not address slavery in Union core or border states because the former were already abolitionist and while the loyalties of the latter were divided most eventually pursued abolition by the time of the proclamation. The citizenship and clonist/segregation issues are another thing though.

            If you’ve ever been in on the backroom dealings and confrontations on the eve of a revolution, with the kinds of political characters who are driven to be there to make or break with others, you’d be astounded at the confounding fluidity of things. At how the ebb and flow of events and the mere perceptions of them can drive decisions which affect outcomes.

            [quote<]...he also got 600,000 American citizens killed and annihilated the productive capacity of the country, setting everyones' standard of living back many years. That didn't happen anywhere else when slavery was abolished...[/quote<] Yea, the greatest misfortune and Lincoln's one super failing. Sad thing is, economic trends were pointing to the eventual disestablishment of plantations. If the Northern antislavery and industrial factions had only bided their time more wisely, like the English they would have eventually arrived at peaceful abolition in stages. The actual death toll was closer to a million natural citizens and immigrants. Terrible tragedy and a total waste of the Churched South. Three of every four Southern men of military age had to be killed in battle or desolation to break their fighting spirit.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 7 years ago

            You’ve got to understand that these people are sociopaths, and they count on you inventing excuses for their criminal behavior.

            There are approximately 12 million sociopaths in the US, and they are attracted to hierarchial institutions like the state, banks, international conglomerates, etc. like a moth to flame.

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            Who of these Presidents do you think are sociopaths and/or criminals, and why? Or were you referring to the ancient roman dictators?

            I could see some of the Presidents listed as either incompetent or else unfortunate leaders grappling with multiple problems beyond their ken, many of their own making. But who’s a criminal according to who? I mean, you’d have to retroact 21st-century notions of criminality like “warmongering” or “slaving” or “anti-privacy” or “racist” to have these apply in past centuries.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 7 years ago

            Any that did not uphold the constitution are criminals. No retroacting needed. It has been there all along.

            The #1 offense for most of them is undeclared wars. There are endless books about everything else.

            The one anomaly is Wilson, who was quite possibly the worst, but mostly through legal means. Congress officially declared WWI and actually used multiple constitutional amendments to get [i<]most[/i<], but not all, of his way. But the resulting destruction led to the rise of fascism, socialism, communism, and World War II. Even if you want to call that short sightedness, he was still an extremely bad person who created the banking cartel and "spreading democracy" lie of foreign interventionism, which plagues us with foreign and domestic disasters to this day. I obviously don't know which, specifically, are literally sociopaths, but some of them show a blatant disregard for human life and they are almost always very clever liars. And then there are some who are just so incredibly stupid, like Dubya, that it's hard to tell, but there is typically a cabal of sociopathic people behind them. In that case, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, Wolfowitz, etc.

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            I agree modern Presidents have it too easy in getting Congress to support wars they are already in for. They all swear to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution in concept and practice, but practices do evolve. That said, Presidents traditionally have great leeway in sending the Navy and Marines off to protect US interests. So long as the Army is not that involved, Congress would not get too worked up about war stuff. Wilsonian internationalism was a high-minded but unworkable idea in its day. Republics do need to avoid “foreign entanglements” if they are to remain redeemable republics.

            Historians usually see Wilson’s term as a kind of noble failure. I’m not certain the legacy of the Fed is all his doing, the trend was there since revolutionary France. In the US it was Reagan-era deregulation which freed the investment banks to pile on risky financial schemes. This led to the current crises which are being made worse by the current administration’s stimulus and bail-out cronyism.

            I’d be careful about describing all Presidents as liars. Except perhaps for Nixon, Clinton, and Obama who are certifiably so. Each President is the face of competing executive factions of varied competence and remit. Each normally speaks about things he knows little about outside of what’s provided him by his aides and other officials. The competing camps behind a president can get things wrong in his name which can be easily mischaracterized by doubters as stemming from deceit rather than incompetence or misfortune.

            GW Bush is the learning example here. His administration suffered the failures of intelligence community groupthink on Iraq. Although the US did get to preempt Iraq’s Baathist regime on the cheap and well before Saddam would have reacquired WMDs and regional influence after sanctions were lifted. Then again, GWB got the Patriot Act passed with its provisions for the abominable TSA and this questionable nation-scale networks datamining – hey, how’s that for segueing back on-topic…

            • Mr. Eco
            • 7 years ago

            Thank you for the informative read in this thread. Did you study history, before getting involved with tech?

      • mesyn191
      • 7 years ago

      The “everyone else is jumping off bridges, why not you too?” response is not a legit argument FYI. Its a logical fallacy.

      And while in theory lots of good things can be done with such spying in practice over and over and over history has shown it always gets abused by a powerful few to serve their needs and screw the people of their respective countries.

        • trackerben
        • 7 years ago

        That’s why I kept emphasizing how this technical intelligence is only a substitute for an operations directorate run by old-school guys. People who know their tradecraft like the Russians and Brits and are accountable for their personal service, who are willing to get their hands dirty so that the righteous and clean don’t have to.

        When your most effective people are shown zero tolerance for methods and schemes which are peculiar to the business, their bosses (who still have to produce real-world results somehow) will naturally gravitate to other systems whose deliverables look cleaner on paper and also have CYA built-in.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    Even if I trusted the NSA & the rest of the federal bureaucracy to do the right thing*, all those lovely backdoors that the NSA has setup all over the place can be abused by people who are even worse than the NSA. Short list includes our friends in the PRC, the Russian Mafia/Government (kinda the same thing), North Koreans, the Iranians, and even… ironically… some of the more sophisticated terrorist organizations out there.

    * Oh.. I don’t trust them any farther than I can caber-toss one of those football-field sized supercomputers that don’t officially exist.

    • dpaus
    • 7 years ago

    The coverage on this story over at [url=http://www.techdirt.com/<]TechDirt[/url<] is extensive and generally quite detailed. There's a bit of tinfoil-hat atmosphere, but this time I think it's fully justified.

    • Suspenders
    • 7 years ago

    Looks like Osama won after all.

    GG

      • BIF
      • 7 years ago

      But only because you haven’t done anything about it.

        • Suspenders
        • 7 years ago

        What can non-Americans do other than point out the truth wherever they can?

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      That’s because you were against us

      • tfp
      • 7 years ago

      Come now this is the change people have wanted for years!

      • gmskking
      • 7 years ago

      Haha. People still believe he ever existed.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 7 years ago

    But…but…think of all the terrorists they stopped – who always, always, always turn out to be part of an FBI, CIA, or MI6 program.

    Just ignore the ones they were working with, and didn’t stop. See: Boston, the guy who decapitated soldiers in the UK.

    …oh, and senator and presidential candidate John McCain, who illegally visited Syria on Memorial Day to negotiate arms deals with Al Qaeda supporters who were known kidnappers that eat their victims hearts and lungs. No exageration, go look it up.

    Gee, who are the real terrorists here?

    “…That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…”

      • brute
      • 7 years ago

      good luck inciting armed, or unarmed, revolution, hoss.

      and what would their eating of hearts and lungs have to do with anything?

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 7 years ago

        I have no intention of inciting anyone to do anything, although it’s interesting to see that it incites you to make yourself look very silly.

          • Diplomacy42
          • 7 years ago

          yes, your unwarranted ad hominem attack on the second most powerful man in the US(okay the 6th) certainly made HIM look silly

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 7 years ago

            “The photo, released by McCainโ€™s office, shows McCain with a group of rebels. Among them are two men identified in the Lebanese press as Mohamed Nour and Abu Ibrahim, two of the kidnappers of the group from Lebanon.”

            [url<]http://www.buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/mccain-didnt-realize-he-was-posing-with-rebel-kidnapper[/url<] [url<]http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2013/05/30/john-mccain-cuddles-up-to-syrian-kidnappers/[/url<] [url<]http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/05/15/syrian-rebel-abu-sakkar-filmed-eating-soldiers-lung-no-regrets-more-slaughter-graphic-video-pictures_n_3277239.html[/url<] Not sure I understand your post, but if it's because you think I'm making something up, you'll have to take that up with alternative media, mainstream media, and the feds.

    • Majiir Paktu
    • 7 years ago

    > I’m sure that makes non-U.S. citizens feel much better about the whole thing.

    And? They can use their own country’s substantial IT infrastructure.

    The NSA absolutely can do whatever it likes with non-U.S. citizens’ data, like it or not. The problem here is that they [i<]are[/i<] touching U.S. citizens' information, and "we're really careful to not look at it too hard" is a lame excuse.

      • volnaiskra
      • 7 years ago

      So governments can do whatever they please, as long as it only affects people other than their own citizens?

      Um, I don’t really have to point out why that logic is insane, do I?

        • NeelyCam
        • 7 years ago

        What’s the problem?

          • Wirko
          • 7 years ago

          To put it mildly, sometimes, just sometimes, a government needs some credibility abroad.
          To put it bluntly, this is precisely the kind of logic that helps create wars.
          The problem is certainly not limited to US, or the empires in general. It is, however, somewhat proportional to the power of the empire and the frequency of use of words like democracy and freedom.

            • CppThis
            • 7 years ago

            International credibility is an illusion propagated by those seeking to lull their adversaries into a false sense of security, then unleash the legions for some good old-fashioned mayhem. We survived the Cold War precisely because both sides were prepared to go all the way, and were almost destroyed during WWII because what would become the Allies had a ten-year lapse of fortitude and only got it together in the 11th hour. Or to put it in more situational terms, if two governments are both prepared to kill every man, woman, and child that dares oppose them then neither will make a move because it’s self destructive. If only one of them is prepared to do that, then they will conquer the other because they can get away with it. If neither is prepared to do it, then an outside agitator will conquer both because they’ll meet no resistance.

            But all of that is irrelevant to what a government does to its own people; most governments can indeed do whatever they want because the power is granted by itself to itself. But the United States is a federal, rather than unitary, state and the documents that charter the state very explicitly lay out what the government can and cannot do to US citizens. Of course this in and of itself will not stop oppressive bureaucrats pulling stunts like this, but it does offer means of legal recourse within the system. That’s why PRISM is such a big story (the Fourth Amendment forbids this) while an emerging story about UK spy agencies doing the same thing has received little press (because the Brits lack such a protection).

          • Suspenders
          • 7 years ago

          Ever heard of ethics? Or do you have none?

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            I have ethics. The problem with ethics is that everyone has their own version.

            Do you think it’s ethical to not interfere with Syrian government killing civilians?
            Do you think it would be ethical to intrude on this sovereign country’s internal business?

            • DeadOfKnight
            • 7 years ago

            I say it’s about time we stop thinking about ourselves and start thinking inclusively about the world as a whole and everyone and everything in it. Not saying we need to govern the world collectively, but we must take responsibility for this mess we live in and/or impose on others by our behavior. We’re all family, like it or not.

      • Meadows
      • 7 years ago

      What the hell are you talking about.

    • Sahrin
    • 7 years ago

    Cue the narcissists. “OMG, T3H GUVMENT WANTS TO KNOW WHAT KIND OF PORN I LIKE.”

      • albundy
      • 7 years ago

      all of it…cept the non-straight kind. but i’d rather be a director for vivid.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 7 years ago

    This would be a surprise to exactly whom? I assumed this was going on and I put away my aluminum foil baseball cap years ago.

      • Wildchild
      • 7 years ago

      Jokes on you I use an aluminum foil fedora.

        • BiffStroganoffsky
        • 7 years ago

        fedora…is that a brand of condoms?

          • BIF
          • 7 years ago

          If you’re talking about menswear, it’s actually a pretty poor form of prevention.

          If you’re talking about the Linux distro, well…it’s actually pretty good prevention. Of everything!

          I have no idea if anything I said above is true, but it sounded good when I typed it. Hah! ๐Ÿ˜€

            • indeego
            • 7 years ago

            A fedora is a surefire method of preventing intercourse.

    • Rageypoo
    • 7 years ago

    I have found, that when you start looking desperately for a criminal to do a crime, eventually you start helping them or making stuff up just to catch him. How far are you gonna go NSA?

      • Darkmage
      • 7 years ago

      Oh do tell me more about when you were looking for a criminal to do crime. Did you place an ad in the paper? Did you conduct interviews? Is there a third-party headhunter service for criminals?

        • Scrotos
        • 7 years ago

        Craigslist maybe?

    • puppetworx
    • 7 years ago

    The funny thing is people who were saying this was happening 5 years ago were branded conspiracy theorist nutjobs.

      • Majiir Paktu
      • 7 years ago

      And they (probably) were. Being ultimately correct about something doesn’t exempt you from being a nutjob if there was really no evidence.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 7 years ago

        Right, because the Patriot Act isn’t about to have its 12th birthday and there are no historical precedents for abuse of power in a country which once imprisoned anyone with slanted eyes, used the CIA to plant news since the 1950s with Operation Mockingbird, and went on a witch hunt for “communist sympathizers.”

        • clone
        • 7 years ago

        they probably weren’t actually but then it’s so much more comfortable to think of those who won’t conform as nutjobs isn’t it?

        2/3 of American’s don’t believe the story they’ve been told regarding 9/11…. are they all nutjobs or is it just so easy to think “we” are the only ones smart enough to know something wasn’t right.

          • Diplomacy42
          • 7 years ago

          2/3s of the country is wrong about everything. 4/5s believe in god. 19/20th support either the dems or the reps.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 7 years ago

            I don’t know about that. Presidential elections are the most popular, but the president is often only elected by about 15% of the population, and that figure has been declining for many years.

            Plenty of people can’t vote, but to say that 19/20 identify with a political party is a stretch. Most people try and stay out of it.

            • clone
            • 7 years ago

            thx for the Fox news summary, it’s very easy to assume every one but the viewer is silly given the viewer can only really understand his/her own personal methods of observation and determination.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 7 years ago

        USA Today, May 2006:

        [url<]http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-nsa_x.htm[/url<]

        • nanoflower
        • 7 years ago

        From [url<]http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130606/23460923352/trip-down-memory-lane-people-warned-what-would-happen-when-congress-passed-bills-to-enable-vast-spying.shtml[/url<] [quote<]In 2007, when Congress passed the "Protect America Act," some people quickly pointed out that it massively expanded warrantless surveillance with little oversight. And then, a year later, we got the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), which raised more concerns: In passing the FISA Amendments Act, Congress gave the executive branch the power to order Google, AT&T and Yahoo to forward to the government all e-mails, phone calls and text messages where one party to the conversation is thought to be overseas. President Bush signed the bill into law Thursday morning, describing it as a bill that "protect[s] the liberties of our citizens while maintaining the vital flow of intelligence." [/quote<] It's hard to see it as some sort of nut job imagining when the laws were being changed specifically to make this sort of thing legal. They wouldn't have gone out of their way to pass these laws if they didn't intend to follow through and do the surveillance. Also the Guardian article points out that from the NSA's own document that Microsoft started sharing info in 2007; Yahoo in 2008; Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009; Skype and AOL in 2011; and Apple in 2012. So this has been officially going on since 2007.

        • A_Pickle
        • 7 years ago

        But there wasn’t “no evidence.” There was actually quite a lot of it, courtesy of the Bush Administration. USA PATRIOT Act, the in-secret revisions to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the beginning of drone warfare, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the warrantless wiretapping that is fully known to have taken place, and many other rumblings (ECHELON and Stellar Wind) to the idea…

        …I mean, it’s like, I logged onto the internet today and see everyone freaking out more than normal about this. “Guys! Guys! Guys! The NSA is SPYING on us all! Can you believe this? The nerve!” Really? This is news? Slow reaction much?

      • someuid
      • 7 years ago

      Just don’t get into the habit of believing every theory you hear. Most never pan out.

      As many a person has said: “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    Don’t bother commenting. We already know what you’re going to say.
    — Your friends at the NSA.

      • Choz
      • 7 years ago

      It doesn’t matter what you are going to say when they can simply control what you are going to read.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This