08 June 2013

The Overview of What the NSA Has Done

There are 2 recent big revelations about NSA data-mining, and here's a halfway decent write-up from the CSM (thru Yahoo!) about them. Much more at the link –

The Basics
In the name of fighting terrorism, the US government has been mining data collected from phone companies such as Verizon for the past seven years and from Google, Facebook, and other social media firms for at least four years, according to government documents leaked this week to news organizations.
The two surveillance programs – one that collects detailed records of telephone calls, the other that collects data on Internet-based activities such as e-mail, instant messaging, and video conferencing – were publicly revealed in "top secret" documents leaked to the British newspaper the Guardian and the Washington Post. Both are run by the National Security Agency (NSA), the papers reported.

Phone Records
On Thursday, the Guardian displayed on its website a top-secret court order authorizing the telephone data-collection program. The order, signed by a federal judge on the mysterious Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, requires a subsidiary of Verizon to send to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis” through July its “telephony metadata,” or communications logs, “between the United States and abroad” or “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.”
Such metadata include the phone number calling and the number called, telephone calling card numbers, and time and duration of calls. What's not included is permission for the NSA to record or listen to a phone conversation. That would require a separate court order, federal officials said after the program's details were made public.

Internet Data Mining
The existence of PRISM, the Internet-based data-mining program, appeared to take many in Congress by surprise, except for lawmakers serving on intelligence committees, who have been briefed about it. PRISM involves the collection of digital photos, stored data, file transfers, e-mail, chat services, videos, and video conferencing from nine Internet companies, according to a “top secret” document posted on the Washington Post website on Thursday.
What PRISM reveals is NSA’s desire to hunt for terrorist threats where people communicate most these days – over the Internet, cyber experts say. Its existence, unveiled just hours after the initial news story about the wholesale collection of phone records, rattled privacy advocates.
“These revelations are a reminder that Congress has given the executive branch far too much power to invade individual privacy, that existing civil liberties safeguards are grossly inadequate, and that powers exercised entirely in secret, without public accountability of any kind, will certainly be abused,” Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director, said in a statement Thursday.

By: Brant

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