Latest Declassified NSA Records Show NSA Believes It Can Spy On Everyone's Location Based On Existing Approvals

from the of-course-it-does dept

James Clapper has declassified another batch of documents on the NSA activities. We'll probably write about a few of them, but let's start with one that's getting a lot of initial attention: the document that discusses the "test" of collecting location info from the telcos based on where your mobile phone was. The short version? Do you know where you were on April 26, 2010? Because the NSA probably does. It had already been revealed that the NSA had run "a test" of obtaining location info from the telcos. This document, which is a memo from the NSA to the Senate Intelligence Committee is just explaining some of the details, with this being the key one:
In regards to the mobility testing effort, NSA consulted with DOJ before implementing this testing effort. Based upon our description of the proposed mobility data (cell site location information) testing plans, DOJ advised in February 2010 that obtaining the data for the described testing purposes was permissable based upon the current language of the Court's BR FISA order requiring the production of 'all call detail records.' It is our understanding that DOJ also orally advised the FISC, via its staff, that we had obtained a limited set of test data sampling of cellular mobility data (cell site location information) pursuant to the Court-authorized program and that we were exploring the possibility of acquiring such mobility under the BR FISA program in the near future based upon the authority currently granted by the Court.
The key takeaway here: the NSA believes that the current FISA approval of dragnet collection of metadata on every phone call includes permission to track location data as well, even though it doesn't currently do so. The "BR FISA order" means "business records" which is what Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act is sometimes called. The fact that the NSA didn't seem to think it was necessary to check with the FISA Court before running this test, just to make sure it was actually allowed is rather telling.

Separately, can anyone explain why the redacted portions of this document are redacted? It makes no sense. They redact the number of location records that were obtained. I can't see how that number could possibly need to remain classified once the existence of such a test was declassified. The only reason I can think of to keep that classified is to avoid embarrassment over the large number of people whose location info was scooped up. Similarly, they redact the name of the lawyer who wrote the memo. Again, the only reason I can think to do this is to protect him from embarrassment and public mocking. Such a public mocking might seem unfair, but I don't see how it fits in with a reasonable classification category.


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  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Oct 29th, 2013 @ 5:42am

    To be fair it seems he spends much less taxpayer money with black ink than the bosses at DHS do. And it took him only, what, 5 months to reply to the public FOIA request society filled? ;)

    Seems an improvement /sarc

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2013 @ 7:22am

    FOX Told me!

    I need the NSA to spy on me.

     

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  3.  
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    Doug D (profile), Oct 29th, 2013 @ 7:26am

    To be fair...

    ...I could also hypothetically see them being embarrassed about how little data was collected. "What, you mean you went to this effort to lay this groundwork and build out all these systems and you collected data on seven people? We're going to have to talk about justifying those funding numbers again..."

     

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  4.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Oct 29th, 2013 @ 7:39am

    Re: To be fair...

    Given the font size and black bar length, I'm guessing 'Sample 1' is 5-6 digits long, #2 and #4 are 4 long, and #3 is 3 digits, so 'little data collected' is probably not what they were worried about showing.

     

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  5.  
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    boomslang, Oct 29th, 2013 @ 7:46am

    Look at the length of the redacted ink compared to the font size/spacing. We're probably talking four or five—maybe six—digits.

    Also, who cares who the lawyer is? No need to start a witch hunt for just one lawyer. Remember, it was Congress that passed the Patriot Act, not lawyers.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2013 @ 7:47am

    Such a public mocking might seem unfair

    I don't think it's unfair. I don't even think tar and feathering is unfair, cruel, or unusual at this point. This is all very outrageous.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2013 @ 7:49am

    Re: Re: To be fair...

    Or in other words, tens of thousands, to hundreds of thousands of people's locations were collected in the check.

    "We spied on the locations of hundreds of thousands of US citizens, without permission from the courts, just to see if we could." Is not the sort of specific headline they wish to see.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2013 @ 8:22am

    and yet again, we have a 'secret interpretation' used by an agency, an interpretation that only those who want to bend, to stretch and to misshapen laws to suit what they want to do. if the law didn't say something that was wanted, it should not have been altered in this way on the whim of someone of power just to be able to do something that they know is illegal unless the meaning is changed so as to be unrecognizable!
    had any lawyer tried to do this for a private client in a trial, he would have been shot down, then ripped up for ass wipes! the judge would have jumped on him/her with the ferocity of a pack of tigers and, at least, held them in contempt. this shows that it was not only the NSA at fault but the DoJ and the court(s) as well!
    there needs to be specific changes to prevent this from happening in the future with severe consequences against anyone trying it on!!

     

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  9.  
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    Jeff, Oct 29th, 2013 @ 8:26am

    We don't need the name of the lawyer anyway. Just tell us where he was, at what time, with whom, for how long, who all his Facebook friends are, what law school THEY all went to, when they graduated, what towns they all grew up in...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2013 @ 8:30am

    I wonder how many Senators knew about the information in this memo... While I'm at it, I wonder when they found out... Cause it sure seems like there have been a lot of people insisting that the NSA doesn't get location data...


    Oh yea, that was "under this program"... SIGH

     

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  11. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Oct 29th, 2013 @ 8:33am

    BUT now even Mozilla gets in on TRACKING YOU!

    Yot, Google-funded Mozilla is now openly part of the spy grid:

    Mozilla goes where Google fears to tread with geolocation service
    Privacy? We're keen on it now but might let you opt out in future

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/29/mozilla_goes_where_google_fears_to_tread_with_geolocat ion_service/

    "Geolocation lookup is a very useful service to provide to users. There's no public data set to provide this service."

    Tracking your location continually is a service to you, see? You should be grateful!

    The phony deal that evil people (and gullible fools) try to force on us: You can't have the benefits of technology unless give up all privacy.

    04:33:26[f-090-8]

     

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    Rapnel (profile), Oct 29th, 2013 @ 8:46am

    I love how "business records" auto-fucking-magically entitles GOVERNMENT to ALL of them. Just because business.

    Do you do business? Well, so do I and my business is government therefore all your business is at my disposal. Reasons? Right, like we need reasons. We're authority and our authority is over you, just like we've always wanted. Tada! How you like me now, bitches?

    The free world tossed into the drink because a bunch of legal assholes translates your business into their right. A government, with rights above and beyond the rights of the governed, that's fantastic. Fuck you all you bunch of fearful, selfish, power hungry fucks.

    Lock the doors and burn it down. God will protect them.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2013 @ 9:02am

    http://www.theverge.com/2013/10/28/4771164/the-next-agent-orange-why-burn-pits-are-making-soldiers-s ick

    The US government apparatus is so rotten is unbelievable.

    In every area, in every sector top to bottom you can see the same shameful modus operandis in place.

    Now if you so happen to work for the government and you are not in charge of anything, expect to be treated just like the rest of it have no doubts you will be left to hang dry someday.

    This is probably what Snowden saw in his times working for the type of people that most would feel sick to be around.

     

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  14.  
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    NeoSmith, Oct 29th, 2013 @ 9:09am

    What to Do?

    Loan your phone out and make it common knowledge you do .... f*** 'em. Ha, ha, ha!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2013 @ 9:17am

    Aren't animals who get released back into the wild tagged with a GPS device? Is that how the government views us, as animals?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2013 @ 10:41am

    Can we get Holder the Untouchable fired along with Alexander and Clapper, too? It's about time we do.

     

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    AC Unknown (profile), Oct 29th, 2013 @ 10:58am

    Re: BUT now even Mozilla gets in on TRACKING YOU!

    Mozilla has no connection to Google, dumbass. Take your tinfoil hat and get the fuck off the internet.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 29th, 2013 @ 11:20am

    Re: Re: BUT now even Mozilla gets in on TRACKING YOU!

    In all fairness, Google has been the primary source of Mozilla's funding since 2005.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2013 @ 11:22am

    Re:

    Remember, it was Congress that passed the Patriot Act, not lawyers.

    Is there a difference?
    /sarc & rhetorial

     

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  20.  
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    AC Unknown (profile), Oct 29th, 2013 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: BUT now even Mozilla gets in on TRACKING YOU!

    That part, I stand corrected on.

    Still, my comment about blue getting the fuck off the internet still stands.

     

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


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