FISA Court Rubber Stamps Continued Collection Of Metadata On Every Single Phone Call

from the because-it-can dept

This won’t come as a huge surprise, I would imagine, but the telephony metadata dragnet collection that has to be renewed every few months “expired” today and was promptly reapproved by the FISA court, because “fuck you, that’s why.” That’s not quite what they said, but consider it the bureaucratic-speak equivalent, coming from the Director of National Intelligence:

Previously on several occasions, the Director of National Intelligence declassified certain information about this telephony metadata collection program in order to provide the public with a more thorough and balanced understanding of the program. Consistent with his prior declassification decision and in light of the significant and continuing public interest in the telephony metadata collection program, DNI Clapper has decided to declassify and disclose publicly that the government filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and that the court renewed that authority.

The administration is undertaking a declassification review of this most recent court order.

Of course, it’s true that last month, the previous order rubber-stamping this approval was declassified and revealed. Even though the same thing has been rubber stamped every few months for at least the past seven years, this time there was an attempt at a full justification for why it made sense. Of course, since it was a one-sided situation, without any adversarial hearing or opinion, it allowed the FISA court to make up its own rules and completely contradict the Supreme Court (to whom it’s supposed to listen). It seems highly doubtful that the eventual declassified version of this rubber stamp will be any different than the last one.

Of course, in the last three months, we’ve also learned that this program of collecting data on every phone call in the US has been necessary to stop precisely zero attacks in the US — but it did apparently lead them to a taxi driver sending some money to some not very nice people in Somalia. And, because of that, the NSA gets to keep track of everyone’s phone calls. As has been explained repeatedly, this seems to go against not just the spirit and intended purpose of the 4th Amendment, but the plain language of that same Amendment. But, the FISA court has earned its rubber stamp reputation for a reason, and apparently it’s not about to give up on it.

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Comments on “FISA Court Rubber Stamps Continued Collection Of Metadata On Every Single Phone Call”

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Anonymous Coward says:

In question by who ? and the boy who cried "wolf"

As said earlier (and often) this debate is over, no is interested anymore, Snowden is where he is, the sky did not fall. The internet did not stop, the world did not shift on it’s axis.

None of the mainstream media is interested, because the people of America are not interested, So by definition it’s no longer news.

I am sure they probably used a pen and not a stamp. But I see the ‘good fight’ here on TD every day, nothing TD posts on this subject is a huge surprise, because you post EVERYTHING.

This might actually be important, but it’s simply lost in the back ground noise.
Ever hear the story about the boy who cried “wolf” ?

Well if you haven’t he cried wolf so many times the people decided not to take any notice of him, and the wolves got him (and he’s sheep).

Let hope Mr Masnick you do not fall into the same fate.

“completely contradict the Supreme Court “

No actually, the supreme court was ruling on a different issue at that time, in relation to GPS tracking.
A ruling on GPS tracking has no bearing on a case regarding NSA meta-data collection.
Apples and oranges, an Apple does not contradict an orange, even if both are fruits.

Plus it was the OPINIONS of the ruling regarding the 4th and GPS tracking, NOT THE RULING.
It’s the ruling that matters, not what their opinions are for making that ruling, and their opinions regarding GPS tracking and phone meta-data are again apples and oranges.

The Volokh Conspiracy
One of your ‘trusted sources’ ?? Mr Masnick ?

You also know don’t you Mr Masnick that The Volokh Conspiracy places IN QUESTION those opinions, and DO NOT agree with it. They actually do not support the argument (if any) that you are putting forward.

But as you never actually provide the details, it’s impossible for us to debate it here, we just have to take your word for it (and the conspiracy web site) that what you say is true.

You yourself provide no analysis, or even comment on the issues, but you do link to other site that actually address the issue AND TALK ABOUT THE ACTUAL SUBJECT.

I guess that would be just too much work for you, after all you feel quantity trumps quality.

The court also did NOT “make up it’s own rules” court make rulings, not rules.

But they did not make up any rules by making their opinions in regard to a GPS tracking case, and apply those “rules” to NSA meta-data.

But if you just read what masnick said you would not see that, masnick does not like the fine details.

Why not, Mr Masnick provide a detailed analysis on the newly released FISC opine on the legality of phone Meta-data ?

FISC Opine: partial
“FISC argument was that “grouping together a large number of individuals”, no single one of whom has “a fourth amendment interest”, “cannot result in a fourth amendment interest springing into existence ex nihilo”. Adding up many zeros doesn’t create a positive value; bulk collection of unprotected materials over a sustained period of years raises no special constitutional considerations.”

So apply your legal mind to an analysis of this statement! pls. I am sure with your deep legal knowledge you can rip that to shreds !! (after to look up what ex nihilo means)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: In question by who ? and the boy who cried "wolf"

And a good thing too, as we are not going to get one here, but thanks for addressing the issues, and confirming my suspicions.

I guess just trying to frame a debate here is totally out of the question, as you seem not interested either as you did not frame anything and did not contribute to ANY form of debate, but I do not how quickly it takes the good people of TD to attack the person who even considers the possibility of engagement on the subject at hand.

No, it’s far easier to attack me, and avoid any actual discussion on the subject at hand.

Precisely the point I made the first time, cleverly supported by your comments.

Now do you actually have an opinion of your own, apart from your opinion about me ? You know, one that is on subject ?

Or do you need Mr Masnick to let you know what to think ?
I know I don’t come here to be told what to think and what to believe, I can make my own opinions and decisions !! can you ??

Nor do I take everything said in these articles at face value, I do what Masnick is paid to do, ensure the accuracy of what he says.
It’s not my fault that I find severe ‘inconsistencies’ (read lies) stated here, nor is it my fault that I find them.

You could do that same as I do, simply follow the links Mr Masnick provided for us, and read the actual article, it’s not that hard to see if it is saying what Masnick says it is OR NOT..

I also stand corrected about the web site “The Volokh Conspiracy” it is actually reasonable, and actually engages in real debate about the real subject at hand.

Mr Masnick I know you visit this site, read the excellent quality and knowledge of the comments, they actually engage in real debate about the real issues.

That is not a web site that is ‘preached’ to and debate will be engaged, here you ask a question or make a statement and it’s full on Ad hom, or “witty one liners”.

Clearly there it is more quality than quantity, here it is quantity at all costs.

Prolific is not prophetic.

corwin155 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: In question by who ? and the boy who cried "wolf"

Oblivious you dont know what metadata is, there is 1 degree of separation from knowing who owns the cell phone, what his address is and the entire history of what cellphone towers the said cell phone has been connected too.
if you believe the NSA , CIA and various Law enforcement agency will not have that information.
then you are sadly deluded my friend, because Metadata isn’t harmless information its the kind of information that totalitarian police state’s use to enslave its populous.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 In question by who ? and the boy who cried "wolf"

Balderdash, surely those agencies would never have access to a phone book, that gigantic listing of who has what number, and would therefor allow someone to connect names to numbers with a minimum of effort.

I mean come now, it’s not like companies just leave those things on peoples’ doorsteps!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: No actually !!

But I am interested to hear you tell us about how it has been violated, with you know…. facts and supporting evidence.

If you believe so strongly the constitution has been violated, them make your case and prove it. Give us something to debate, I hope you could be a little more nuanced than simply “Constitution is violated”

corwin155 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: No actually !!

the spirit of the constitution is violated.
they made secret laws and secret courts to make it all legal.
you can’t make a case if they making the rules.
they have been telling us for months now they dont violate the constitution but then we find out “oh wait” yes they have been.
do you wish to take on faith they Not lying to us?
when every chance they get they Lie to us and congress, then again your are sadly deluded.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 No actually !!

The constitution was deliberately obtusely written and deliberately vague, to say the “letter of the Constitution is violated” means how you interpret the words of the constitution, that is why the Constitution contains words such as “REASONABLE”, they the Constitution establishes a living Court (Supreme Court) to interpret these words in light of the current situation.

That is how the constitution was designed, the framers knew things would change, and the Country will progress financially, technologically and ideology.

So the Constitution makes the rules that the Supreme Court determines what is “REASONABLE” (in the present context) what is “cruel and unusual” and so on.

Read it !!! If you have read it, or when you do read it, you will see how vague is, there is huge room for variation, and it’s assigns the Supreme Court to make those decisions.

For example, the Constitution says you can bear arms, so do you have the right to have a thermonuclear device in your house ?
It’s an ‘armament’ so the constitution says you can have that, the Court determined that to mean you can have certain types of guns, and certain people cannot and you cannot have nukes in your bedroom.

You do not have the same privacy rights in public as you do in your home, the PSTN (PUBLIC SWITCHED TELEPHONE NETWORK) is just like your local shopping mall.

If you get on the PUBLIC SWITCHED TELEPHONE NETWORK, you are “in the public”, that is one of NSA’s prime arguments, and quite frankly it’s a good one, hard to argue against.

Clearly the Supreme Court agrees

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 No actually !!

‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Yeah, I’m not seeing it, how exactly does scooping up everything, on everyone they can, not qualify as a violation of the fourth amendment?

There is no probably cause (‘because one of them might be guilty’ doesn’t count, as if it did the fourth amendment is completely useless, as that excuse would apply to anyone at any time), there’s no description of what exactly is to be searched(other than ‘everything they can get away with’), and there’s no description of what exactly is going to be seized(‘Everything’ again, is not valid, as it’s not even remotely limited).

Even if you were to accept their laughable claim that their actions are ‘reasonable'(when they are anything but), they still fail with regards to the other qualifications required for their actions to comply with the 4th amendment.

JJ Joseph (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 No actually !!

“Yeah, I’m not seeing it, how exactly does scooping up everything, on everyone they can, not qualify as a violation of the fourth amendment? “

Because phone conversations are not “private” like your home is private. Your phone calls to Yemen & Somalia are out there on Main Street where the state is free to have a listen.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 No actually !!

Of course, that’s why if someone wanted to listen in to their neighbor’s, or some random stranger’s phone calls there would be no problem with them installing something, or performing some action, that enabled them to do so, and certainly no legal repercussions from such an action…

Except no, that would be considered a wiretap, something that requires a court order to be legal, because phone calls are considered private.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 No actually !!

I agree, but then you have to consider if it is a ‘search’ or not and more importantly if meta-data forms part of persons, houses, papers, and effects

The meta-data is not on your person, in your house, part of your papers, or your effects. You don’t own the meta-data so it’s hard to define how you have been search and what from the constitution was searched ? The persons, houses, papers, or effects?

If you are driving your car down the highway, and a police officer see’s you, have you been “searched”?

The meta-data is a file created by your service provider, and used by your service provider for billing and so on, it therefore is the property of the service provider.

Mr Masnick and Google would have files of all people who visit this web site for example, Do I own that file ? or the information it contains ?

If Mr Masnick chooses to make that file available to someone else, or the courts rule he hand it over, he will do so, if someone asks me for that file, I cannot provide it, I do not own it, it is not in my possession.

It is not part of your persons, houses, papers, and effects.
It does not therefore breach the 4th.

If you are to argue it is a search then detail how it is a search on you ?

Daniel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: No actually !!

Do you know what meta-data is? If not, then that may be why you can’t see how it’s being violated. Here is an extremely basic example of meta-data:

Date/Time, IMEI, From/To, Tower ID, IP Address

10/1/2013 3:05:34, AJSDFJ434JSDFJ4, 555-123-4567, T51A,

So what’s so special about this data? Well, by itself, nothing… but let’s let it “collect” just over a few hours.

10/1/2013 3:05:34, AJSDFJ434JSDFJ4, 555-123-4567, T51A,
10/1/2013 3:37:13, AJSDFJ434JSDFJ4, 555-323-4567, T53A,
10/1/2013 4:03:35, AJSDFJ434JSDFJ4, 555-223-4567, T54C,
10/1/2013 4:15:54, AJSDFJ434JSDFJ4, 555-423-4567, T57D,

So what’s the difference? Still looks useless to most right? Well, let’s combine it with some other “metadata”, like the tower’s coordinate locations. We now have a vague idea of where they have been. Let’s also analyze the numbers called and received… over time you can view someone’s social circle. Throw in other user’s data as well and you can start to predict data. The more data there is the more accurate the result.

The IP Address can be used the same way. Join the IP Address with some network logs (which they also collect) and you have a pretty good idea of what web sites they have been to. Combine the IMEI (which is essentially the phone’s network ID) with customer records and you have a name, SSN, etc..

Regardless of whether it’s constitutional, it needs stronger provisions in place to limit how long this data can be stored, for whom, where (what if this data was leaked to a malicious 3rd party?), etc..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 No actually !!

Think about what is being said in your post. You note that a single piece of data by itself may be innocuous, but when considered with others starts to take on a whole new dimension that in many cases is very problematic.

Now contrast your comment with what has been said about Manning and Snowden. So many are opining that items of data were totally innocuous, thus there is no harm by their having been disclosed. Problem is, as your note points out, one innocuous piece considered with another considered with another at some point in time can convey incredibly important information that by all rights should not be out in the public eye. I am not attempting to define what is right and what is wrong with surveillance methodology, but only that consideration should be given to the very real possibility that sensitive national security information has been compromised. Hence, this is the reason why I have reserved judgment (hero, traitor, somewhere in-between?)on what Snowden has done until what he actually released can be inventoried and studied by persons within national security agencies.

Brazenly anonymous says:

Re: Re: Re:3 No actually !!

The rights of the people are more important than the concept of national security. Why is this? A totalitarian government is anathema to the American way of life. This is a true existential crises where all the values we hold could be ground to dust (totalitarian governments engage in genocide). We prevent that occurrence through strict limits on our government.

Once the government is allowed to push those limits back without the full consent of the governed (secret courts, secretly interpreting the constitution), there is no longer sufficient mechanisms to prevent a few corrupt actors from staging a carefully orchestrated coup. These secrets need to be revealed, even if there is a small cost in lives, something most journalists work hard to limit based on what other information they know to be out there and based on communications with the compromised agencies.

Greenwald has been a responsible journalist in this case, a good choice by Snowden. Snowden is a hero, he sacrificed his own security and the cosy life he was living in an attempt to secure this country against corrupt actors within the government hierarchy. Further, he went about being a hero in a carefully calculated manner.

Snowden is also a traitor, but not to his country, only to those who had and continue to take advantage of this country.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 No actually !!

I understand what you are trying to say by “The rights of the people are more important than the concept of national security.”, but I believe you are too narrowly focused. Yes, we should do all we can to never allow a locally-birthed totalitarian government to insinuate itself, and this can be mitigated by people asserting their fundamental rights of liberty (unfortunately, we have far too many who haven’t a clue about the existence of these rights and their importance). On the other hand, we have a world of “bad guys” outside the US who if given the chance would storm our shores (figuratively speaking) in a heartbeat. In this situation national security is paramount because without a strong offense/defense to preserve our nation our fundamental liberty rights would devolve to mere words on paper. Hence, I agree with the basic tenor of your comment, but am trying only to elaborate on it to address other concerns.

Brazenly anonymous says:

Re: Re: Re:5 No actually !!

On the other hand, we have a world of “bad guys” outside the US who if given the chance would storm our shores (figuratively speaking) in a heartbeat.

This is a gross misrepresentation of the strategic nature of terrorism. A terrorist chooses said strategy as a means to create a division between the people and their government in the hopes that the people will force their government to refrain from attacking the terrorists country or people.

Terrorism, while tactically offensive, cannot achieve an offensive strategic aim as it does not provide any functional control over the area influenced. It is, instead, the last desperate defense of a cornered foe. Think of terrorists as trapped squirrels.

Besides, the data collection programs have been entirely ineffective.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 No actually !!

Terrorism has nothing to do with dividing the Government and the people, in this case (9/11) it’s ideology, you were attacked not because of a goal apart from their “jihad” it’s not about territory or about stopping any attacks on them.

Their offensive ‘strategic aim’ is JIHAD, not land not politics, not the division between Government and population.


It really would pay to understand the nature and motives of the people who are attacking you.

JJ Joseph (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 No actually !!

“Terrorism, while tactically offensive, cannot achieve an offensive strategic aim as it does not provide any functional control over the area influenced. It is, instead, the last desperate defense of a cornered foe. Think of terrorists as trapped squirrels.”

You’re confusing what you read in a book a few years ago with what’s happening on the ground today. Islamic terror is designed to get the masses to submit to the will of Allah. Once you and your people have submitted, and the churches have been demolished, the bleeding edge of Allah’s troops will move on to the next community. The method has been proven successful over and over again for the last 1000 years. It’s truly strategic in execution.

By matching metadata, the NSA can tell you when the Al Qaeda brigades are approaching your community, thereby giving you enough time to seek refuge in a church. Oh, I guess the last item needs a little more work.

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 No actually !!

I looked at what he said in his post and looked at yours and I’m trying to understand what you’re trying to say. I definitely didn’t see any reference to what Manning or Snowden did and well, what does what he said have to do with what you said?

Metadata is data that can be cataloged into a portfolio for and about anyone. National security does not supersede the premise and text of the Constitution. Those would be two wholly different countries. National security, like most things, comes down to people. Else, why would we have the capabilities to destroy the planet and not have done so by now?

People are guilty of subverting their offices, the law, the foundations of country: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Piecing together metadata, content, locations, communications etc. is not national security, rather, it is an egregious overreach and an enormous power to have over even a single individual and yet it encompasses us all. Hence, reserving judgement is your personal prerogative and good luck with that however discerning between “searches and seizures” and “collections and cataloging” is a very real problem. If your position is one that steadfastly believes that they are different thus taking the position that “a general state of privacy in your personal activities” is of little or no value as it pertains the the text and the effects of liberty and freedom then I must clarify now that I am in direct opposition to that belief.

Nobody has the right nor the necessity to query a position on my life, history of my life or potential future actions within my life without just cause and a warrant. It’s absolutely fantastic farfetched to me that there are people, clearly, that think and act otherwise.

America is under attack from within under the guise of attempting absolute protection. (from cyber death packets no less)

Attempts at redirection to those that bring us the information shows us that your concerns are your own and are such ill suited to debating the present state of the nation.

Collections are searches. Communications are effects. To which the government has no just cause due to the fact that freedom and liberty are in direct opposition to the actions of the national security apparatus. Good day.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 No actually !!

The reference to Manning and Snowden was mine, and I mentioned it only because his comment expressed a concern that applies with equal force to public disclosures of information that at first glance is completely innocuous. It is the mixing of pieces of information than can be problematic, whether from surveillance that can expose your life to others to disclosures that can place people in jeopardy.

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 No actually !!

Ah. Yes. Problematic. Public disclosures can be that. I wonder just how many lives and limbs were lost as a direct result of non-disclosures? Things like secret acts of government that impinge on the rights of others, from individuals to sovereign nations. That’s what we’re talking about, I think. Filtering must occur and I, for one, much prefer the press filter it than government. Hands down at that, every time. Otherwise, I don’t disagree as regards the order of battle.

JJ Joseph (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 No actually !!

“Collections are searches. Communications are effects.”

Possibly in your mind only? It’s also equally likely that communications are traffic on a public highway. And collections of metadata are simply cars parked in a parking lot. There’s nothing wrong with somebody making note of who parks in your parking lot every day. No search warrants required.

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 No actually !!

Much like my own statement yours is rather over simplified as well. Egregiously so.

The parking lot attendant knows when you arrived and when you departed. The state, under present circumstances, knows where you came from, your freight, your passengers, how much petrol you have, the mileage on your car, the date of your last oil change, the currently tuned radio station etc. and so on. The security state perceives itself as having “rights” to everything about you, your car and your passengers solely because the parking lot attendant logs your presence in his lot.

A security apparatus that has given itself the de facto rights to your methods, means and actions is a security apparatus that is aggressively seeking incursion. What is incursion today and what will it be tomorrow and when we know that tomorrow is today how far back can that apparatus go to determine the level of these now official incursions? What is “actionable” intelligence through the eyes of a security apparatus? Never mind how it got the intelligence to begin with.

Collections and the effective cataloging of everything collected: Why does the security state have this right? Is this not stalking, manipulation and supremacy? Is this not a level of access deemed inappropriate for individuals to collect about other individuals? Collating the facts of your life and having those facts cataloged for search and inquiry in no way seems to be a reasonable condition of existence.

As applied to what I interpret as the intent of the 4th Amendment your position effectively nullifies it as you seem to hold that a security and police apparatus of the state is under no constraint, no constraints at all. Not only is this position abhorrent but it defeats, in whole, “to be secure”. Your government is determining for you how secure you can be from them, which, as you’re aware, overt attempts at securing your communications results in targeting.

I understand where you’re coming from and I appreciate your position yet “in my mind only” you are your beliefs are the enemy and are, effectively, as dangerous as any jihadist could possibly be.

There are many laws that I scoff at and I would see it appropriate to hold your particular interpretations as unworthy as it pertains to the summation of the rule of law. This is not supposed to be a security state and yet you would have it be so and would go so far as to interpret privacy and security as only achievable if you are asleep, in the dark with your shades drawn. In short, your position disgusts me because I smell fear.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 No actually !!

@Rapnel:”There are many laws that I scoff at”

Well, yes, that is quite obvious. It is most telling that you view the NSA as “someone else”, an oppressive outsider. Most of us here on dry land see the NSA as our fellows, helping us to keep an eye on the bozos & trouble-makers who want to make our lives miserable. Naturally, as an admitted scoff-law, your view is quite different from the rest of us.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 No actually !!

If by ‘bozos and trouble-makers’ you mean american citizens who aren’t suspected of a thing, but have their data scooped up regardless, then yeah, they are all over collecting data on those kinds of people.

Also speak for yourself, Rapnel is hardly alone in seeing the NSA in that way, I’d say it would be safe to say that the majority of those people who understand what the NSA is actually doing, rather than just assuming they are telling the truth when they ‘explain’ their actions, would object to their actions, and certainly not see them as ‘fellows’ or any such friendly label.

Those that assume the government is always right will indeed see nothing wrong with the NSA’s actions, but those of us who think that everyone, even or especially the government should be required to follow the law, and those of us who object to secret courts ruling on secret interpretations on secret laws find all sorts of problems with how the NSA is operating.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 No actually !!

I could have 100% surveillance on me, with every phone call I have ever made logged, they could have done this since the day I was born (and I expect till I die) AND THEY WOULD NEVER EVER get any information that would like me or implicate me to ANY terrorist activities.

This is not saying I don’t have anything to hide, but I don’t have anything shows I am engaged in terrorist/criminal activities.

Most people are like me.
I don’t see any of this meta-data “in the public eye” have you ?

Paranoia is a very strong emotion, but being paranoid does not make you guilty.

I just don’t actually see what the problem is !!!
Have you done something in the past that makes you worried, do you plan to do anything in the future that may make you suspect ?

So if you don’t call up terrorists, or engage in terrorist activities, what do you think the NSA is going to do with the meta-data of your phone call to the local pizza shop ?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 No actually !!

ok so you know where I have been, and who I have called, so what ???

So where have you been and who have you called that would providers pointers that you were working with or being a terrorist ?

Or where have you been or who have you called that would show you were doing ANYTHING wrong, or even not socially acceptable ??

How is that more intrusive on your privacy that Google street view letting me see a photo of your house? Where I can see how your lawn needs mowing, and who owns that car in your driveway ?? is it your mistresses ?

when you go out, (i.e. in public) you don’t have the same privacy, nor the expectation of privacy.

“what if this data was leaked to a malicious 3rd party?”
Good point, what if ??? Unless you are doing untoward what difference will it make ? and who will really care ?

Do you care that people know that you called the local pizza shop, or that you talked to someone in the Government or went to the post office ?

I would be far more worried if some company logged and recorded all my internet search terms, held that information for years (or indefinitely) and provided that information FOR MONEY to 3rd parties !!

But you let Google slide and go off the deep end when your phone call duration and number and time is logged !!

That is what I find so amazing about TD’s reaction to NSA’s collecting of meta-data, it’s the end of the world as you know it, yet Google keeping detailed records of every SINGLE SEARCH you do, and reading your emails for key words is fine by you !!!.

And Google SELLING that information to MANY third parties is ok too.

I guess ones motives is to try to protect you (NSA does not ‘profit’ from this information), and the others motives is to EXPLOIT YOU.

So being exploited by Google is fine, being protected (misguided or not) is bad. What’s the difference ??

According to TD it’s “NSA is US Government” therefore BAD, Google is paymaster, therefore good.

So if you want to argue the NSA scooping up meta-data is unconstitutional, you would equally have to argue that Google scooping up search terms and email keywords unconstitutional as well.
But there are no arguments or debate here about Google’s activities.

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 No actually !!

Google + Facebook + Microsoft + Cisco + AT&T + Verizon + Visa + Comcast + GCHQ + (…) = NSA == The United States Government and all the glory of arms and means at its disposal

While you seem to have a point it is but one point on a twenty-seven point scale. The NSA makes that scale and scales it accordingly.

Covert manipulation of communications security is not to be equated with you willingly using Facebook. To do so is equivalent to being stuck at a level of reading no more difficult than “See Jane run.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: In question by who ? and the boy who cried "wolf"

A bit “edgy” as comments go, but quite comprehensive and raising a number of very legitimate issues. I hate to see comments such as this “hidden” from initial view simply because a few who believe virtually everything purveyed at this site feel the pressing need to come to the principals’ defense by shouting down dissenting views (all the worse in this case because the comments are quite illuminating).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: In question by who ? and the boy who cried "wolf"

“FISC argument was that “grouping together a large number of individuals”, no single one of whom has “a fourth amendment interest”, “cannot result in a fourth amendment interest springing into existence ex nihilo”. Adding up many zeros doesn’t create a positive value; bulk collection of unprotected materials over a sustained period of years raises no special constitutional considerations.”

If this were true, then bulk collection would also not provide any additional value to an investigation. No value is found in the individual data points, after all. The thing is, the exemptions to the fourth amendment represent small concessions. When you add up small concessions, you do get a large concession that the people have not authorized, but rather have explicitly forbidden through the fourth.

In other words, the lack of a fourth amendment interest is insufficient to support an ex nihilo argument, as a fourth amendment interest is not a simple dichotomy.

Just because one occurrence in isolation is allowed, that does not imply that n occurrences that are not isolated from each other are also allowed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: In question by who ? and the boy who cried "wolf"

None of the mainstream media is interested, because the people of America are not interested

None of the mainstream media is interested, because they were told to not cover it so that the people will lose focus. Mainstream media is no longer an arm o the people, informing the people of the actions of government. They are now an arm of the government doing as they are told, publishing only what they are told they can publish.

Crusty the Ex-Clown says:


Crusty the broken record repeats:

Why didn’t NSA detect the LIBOR rigging by the big banks? Why do they only seem to see small potato type malfeasance while entirely missing the felonious and sometimes treasonous activities of the major players? Is it because they’re not competent, or are they compromised? Or do they see their mission as one of protecting the “haves” from the “have nots?” Exactly who are they protecting, and from whom?

Come to think of it, NSA is in a perfect position to make a killing in the market based on their access to “insider knowledge.” Perhaps there’s a symbiotic relationship here – they don’t drop on the big guys simply because they’re making too much dough off them. I dunno, but it stinks.

Anonymous Coward says:

i guess it also means that any new laws that come out because of the abuse of the NSA etc, wont come into being until quite a while later. even if Clapper gets the sack, it wont interfere with anything that is happening now.
the really sad things are that Clapper himself is totally ignoring everything that has been revealed, including the public’s anger and distrust of him and what he is doing, and the way the FISA court just carries on doing the ‘same old thing’.
this is not only throwing everything into the public’s face but is showing the complete contempt for what is supposed to be law! anyone else doing this would be locked up and have the key thrown away, even if it meant lying in court and ensuring that a secret interpretation of whichever laws was needed to achieve a conviction! then add in what is happening to VPN services and how another government, a few scores of miles away is removing all anonymity, by insisting that those services have to retain customers data ready for law enforcement to act on it if deciding it needs to!!

beech says:

I find it most likely the court really had to option here other than to double down on it’s approval of the spying. How shady would it have looked if the court suddenly stopped rubber stamping requests just because people found out about it? The court has made the decision that this is all legal, then upheld that decision 4 times a year every year. Backing out now would signal that maybe the judge (s) have been allowing illegal things to haplen just because they thought that they would stay secret, and now that they’re in the public eye they actually haveto start enforcing the law again

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Possible, but if they’re trying to avoid looking like they were just stamping ‘Approved’ on everything, rather than a court that carefully considers the requests brought to them, as they would like people to think, I’d say the correct response would have been to at least delay the approval, while an investigation of some sort goes on, to acknowledged that people don’t agree with their actions.

Just rubberstamping everything that comes across their desks while they and the ones making the requests is one thing, they can excuse that by saying that they thought they were in the right legally, but continuing the same after people have started to notice and object just smacks of arrogance, of telling the people that their concerns and worries about their actions just flat out don’t matter.

Anonymous Coward says:

“but continuing the same after people have started to notice and object just smacks of arrogance”

It’s a court, not a popularity contest, they make rules based on the Law as it stands, not based on how many people agree with the decision or not. People disagree and object to Courts all the time.
But, right so, the Courts are not swayed by public opinion, they are swayed by their interpretation of the laws and statutes.

Do you honestly think it would be better if Courts made decisions based on public opinion as opposed to the word of law ?

There might be a small number of people objecting (certainly not a movement), but it appear the vast majority of US Public opinion actually does not care.

If you opinion is so strong, you would find a legal means of fighting, you know with the same laws as they use.

But for you complain “the Court is not bowing to public opinion” or more accurately “YOUR OPINION”, is worrying.

Is it not arrogance on your part to feel the Court did not modify it’s decision based on your opinion ?

There is also a great deal of existing case law that shows ‘a stretch’ to argue meta-data collection is unconstitutional. Clearly the courts do not agree with you, and the ‘rubber stamp’ just means nothing really has changed since last time. (except some small public opinion)

Unless you public opinion contains valid and real arguments and evidence that it is not constitutional, what result do you expect ?

Look at the OJ Simpson case, public opinion said he was guilty, everyone knew he is guilty. But the court found him innocent.

So if you are hoping public opinion is going to influence the Court, I would give up.. I for one am glad Courts use the law and the existing rulings to make their decisions, not the opinion of a small group of TD readers.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

When the people objecting includes congresscritters, senators, lawyers, and others like them, yeah, it kinda matters when they all have concerns about what’s going down.

This isn’t a case where some random people off the street are objecting without knowing fully what’s going on, no matter how much you try and portray it as such, this is a case where even the people who wrote the bills that the NSA is using to justify their actions say that they are going too far. If anyone is going to know what the language of a bill does and does not allow, it’s going to be the ones who wrote the things, so when they say that what they wrote wasn’t meant to allow a particular action, I think I’m going to trust their interpretation of a bill, rather than the NSA’s.

The FISA court itself has admitted not only that they rely on what the NSA tells them(so goodbye any real oversight), but that the NSA has, on multiple occasions, lied, obfuscated facts, or been less than forthcoming about their actions, even to the point of continuing actions that the FISA court has called them out on. The fact that they still continue to okay every request the NSA sends their way, despite this, makes it clear that whatever purpose the court may have served in the past, these days it exists for no other reason that to justify the actions of the NSA by giving it a veneer of ‘oversight’ and ‘legality’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Do you think “congresscritters, senators, lawyers, and others like them” never make statements that are actually not their opinion ? Would none of that group ever have other political motives?

And do you think your congress and senators represent “the people” all the time? or at least the majority?

Just watch the Republican party self destruct over the next months, and ask yourself about congress and senators and their grasp on how that think what they have done and doing is right or will work.

“Beyond delusional” was the prime comment around the world from your political reporters. (shields or brooks).

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So ‘their objections don’t count, as they are purely politically motivated’, is that about the argument you’re making here? Not only is that a blatant attempt to dismiss their concerns as irrelevant and nothing more than politics(which considering both D’s and R’s have objected, might be a bit of a hard sell), but I’d be careful using such arguments if I were you, as it’s all too easy to turn it around on those you are defending.

For example: ‘The statements made by the NSA in regards to their activities obviously cannot be trusted, as if they told the truth of what they were doing it would cause a massive backlash against them

As for do I think they represent those that elect them all of the time, or even most of it, not really, there’s a reason their approval rating is in the single, or low double digits(not sure what exactly it’s sitting at currently), but that’s besides the point, both them, and those informed are protesting the NSA’s actions, so at least here I’d say they are on the same page.

Of course in this case there’s more than a grain of truth to that, as they’ve been caught out in numerous lies lately, and both the lies themselves, and the truths that have been revealed do make them look all sorts of bad.

JJ Joseph (profile) says:

Re: caring

You’re right – we really don’t care a rat’s ass about the NSA matching up metadata because it’s how we identify suspects in Yemen and Somalia and Pakistan – and their contacts here at home. You’re viewing NSA as some kind of external villain but, really, the NSA is us and I really enjoy that they’re locating potential enemies & keeping an eye on what they’re up to.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: caring

Actually, the polls that are most favorable to the NSA show that Americans are very, very uncomfortable with what they’re doing. Most polls show that American disapprove of what they’re doing. Americans do care, and aren’t nearly as cavalier as you’re saying.

You’re viewing NSA as some kind of external villain

No, no, I view the NSA as an internal villain. Yes, they are us. But so are abusive cops, corrupt politicians, and all the other various US citizens doing unacceptable things.

I really enjoy that they’re locating potential enemies & keeping an eye on what they’re up to.

That part’s fine. The part that isn’t fine is the widespread spying on all of us. If they can’t locate potential enemies without invading each and every one of us, then they should give up on locating potential enemies. But it’s a bad hypothetical, because they can do the good thing without doing the bad thing.

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