Yet Another Leak Shows NSA Lied About Not Being Able To Geolocate Data It Scoops Up

from the whoops dept

And... yet another leak of NSA surveillance capabilities to The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald (who damn well better get a Pulitzer Prize for this) suggests pretty strongly that the NSA has directly lied, multiple times, when asked to disclose how many people it had spied on in the US. As we've noted for a while, the NSA has claimed that it was not possible to determine how many Americans it had data on. In a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had stated:
While it is not reasonably possible to identify the number of people located in the United States whose communications may have been reviewed...
An NSA spokesperson also said that it was not possible to figure that out:
Judith Emmel, an NSA spokeswoman, told the Guardian in a response to the latest disclosures: "NSA has consistently reported – including to Congress – that we do not have the ability to determine with certainty the identity or location of all communicants within a given communication. That remains the case."
But, as Greenwald reveals, the NSA appears to have a program, called Boundless Informant (quite a name, huh) that does exactly that.
The leaks are coming fast and furious at this point, and I doubt they're going to stop soon.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    horse with no name, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 12:57am

    wait

    So now an IP address is enough to identify someone? Call Steele, he's back in business!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    from the conspiracy dept., Jun 10th, 2013 @ 1:12am

    Now, it's a good time to have all the other laws/treaties get passed/signed (TAFTA,TPP, treaty for the blind - MAFIAA's version -,...), as nobody pays attention to them anymore. And then the leaks will stop.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 1:16am

    Captain! We can't plug all these leaks, the ship is going down!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 1:19am

    NSA has consistently reported including to Congress that we do not have the ability to determine with certainty the identity or location of all communicants within a given communication.

    Using careful anaylysis and some practical knowledge this means:
    some people choose to use anonymous pay as you go phones, and in remote areas the phone may only see a single base station.
    It is not that they do not want to identify and locate all participants in a conversation, its just that the technology, and anonymous purchases prevent them from doing so.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    from the conspiracy dept., Jun 10th, 2013 @ 1:24am

    United Spies of America
    United Corporations of America

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 1:27am

    Truth is a terrorist

    i expect the US Government will say something like that. Basically 'You can't handle the truth, American People, so leave it to us.'

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 1:29am

    Re: wait

    Awesome that means his ass can be busted now for uploading the torrents himself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 2:02am

    I swear i expect to hear the words doubleplus good and doublethink come out of obama's mouth soon...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 2:09am

    Anonymous, but probably not.

    What I find interesting is how quiet Microsoft have been, after all with everything written in new versions of word now automatically uploaded to a cloud, how happy are foreign (or American for that matter) companies going to be when it is discovered that the NSA and contractors can read everything?

    And maybe some lawyers may be interested as well .....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    horse with no name, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 2:21am

    Re:

    No, all it means is that for the purposes of a court case, they are unable to be absolutely certain who all the participants in a conversation are. Remember, they are looking at "metadata" and not actual voice data, which means they also don't know who is actually using a given device or connected to the internet at a given moment.

    It doesn't mean that they aren't pretty sure or reasonably confident or able to perhaps deduce over time with enough data, but it's not the same as determining with certainty.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 3:05am

    Re: wait

    Well, aren't you a little overjoyed that John Steele gets to do his dirty business.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    AG Wright (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 3:35am

    The answer to how many

    Simple, all of them. The number keeps changing so they can't possibly answer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 3:53am

    Re: wait

    A person no, the machine being used and its location definitely yes, with a very high degree of certainty since very few people use proxies or take any steps whatsoever to anonymize/privatize/secure their communications.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    anonymouse, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 4:09am

    The Truth!!!!

    Does anyone really expect the NSA or any other organization that has been doing this to admit to anything, even to congress, seriously they are so stuck on the fact that they have the right to any data they want in the name of fighting terrorism that they honestly see themselves as above the law.
    And Obama just has to reject any court case against the NSA and it goes away never to be discussed again.

    They have complete control of the systems that should be protecting the citizens and they use those systems with impunity.

    There is nothing anyone can do to stop this , nothing, the press will use it to gain a few more sales and viewers and that is about it. Within a month nobody will be discussing this as we move onto the next big thing, maybe an actor or actress being drunk in public or someone falling pregnant.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 4:51am

    Re:

    Just avoid M$ products and never put anything you value "in the cloud".

    Problem solved.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Benjamin C. Wade, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 5:14am

    02170

    Considering Bush Jr. set this up, and his father, Bush Sr. was Director of Central Intelligence...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Gothenem (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 5:36am

    Re: wait

    An IP Address is enough to geolocate a call. It may not identify a specific person,but it can identify the call location.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    horse with no name, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 6:13am

    Re: Re: wait

    The point is that the IP address information is common, essentially public knowledge. There is not much going on here, it's not like the NSA suddenly knows something as a result that you couldn't figure out yourself, given an IP address.

    All of this adds up to a hill of beans. There isn't anything really going on here, just a lot of innuendo and "oh look at this", yet all of the piece appear to be pretty darn legal and just (gasp) efficiently handled.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Ophelia Millais (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 8:14am

    Re: wait

    Indeed, I don't see how Boundless Informant is identifying participants or even geolocating with any more precision than any other IP address-based lookup. It seems to be precise only to the country level.

    So Emmel didn't lie, considering she qualified her denial of geolocation and identification as being something they can't do with certainty in regard to all parties to a given communication. That leaves quite a bit of wiggle room.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Rapnel (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 8:52am

    Re: Re: Re: wait

    Why do you hate America?

    ..

    Perhaps you make too many monies?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 10:10am

    Re:

    I know SkyDrive is the default save location on the new Office products, but do you have any evidence that even local documents are synced to the cloud?

    I would like a link for that because I haven't heard that and I'm certain I would have if it were true.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re:

    Just firewall off skydrive (and other cloud providers) and sleep more peacefully.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Re: wait

    So Emmel didn't lie


    It is not only possible, but common, to lie without uttering a single untruth.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    RubyPanther, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 5:24pm

    Pretty stupid story

    Like, duh, an IP address cannot be used to "determine with certainty the identity or location of all communicants within a given communication." That is both true, and obvious. And it does not stop less-than-certain geolocation tools from being useful.

    Did Greenwald unleash some sort of Stupid-Bomb on you people? If you are for or against the Patriot Act, that should have nothing to do with your understanding of geolocation capabilities, usefulness, or failings.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This