On the bright side, I suppose, if the plan by the Cubs was to undertake an overly aggressive stance on trademark protection every round of the playoffs, there's only one round left, so this should be it. We had just been discussing that as the team entered the League Series to attempt to make the World Series, it had filed a lawsuit against the many street vendors that line the path to Wrigley Field for selling counterfeit merchandise. This suit, while perfectly within the rights of the team, bucked a decades-long trend of allowing those sales. It was part of the tradition of going to a game, walking by these vendors and seeing their kooky designs. Another tradition for the team is raising a blue "W" flag whenever they win. That "W" was part of trademark opposition by the Cubs and MLB when a business unrelated to the professional sports market dared to use the single letter in a logo for its financial services product.
On October 17, one day after losing Game 2 of the National League Championship Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cubs filed two TTAB oppositions against trademark applications pending with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). One mark, filed by Laserwave Graphics, Inc., is for a design that includes the letter “W”. Another, submitted by CopyClear, contains a large “C” with accompanying letters that spell out the company’s name.
Here are the two logos in question. Note how the first makes it extremely clear what company it represents, while the other is simply a "W."
That image, unfortunately, is grayed out, while the Cubs claim that the colors being used within the logos plays a part in its opposition. Let's take those images in reverse order. The "W" is in the trademark application for Laserwave Graphics, which does imaging, branding, and printing on a variety of products. The "W" design appears to be mostly used on watches. The Cubs claim that some of these watch designs also incorporate baseballs, hence the problem. Except we're still talking about a single letter, in a different font, used in a market for which the Cubs are not well known. It's difficult to believe people are looking at these watches and thinking "Cubs."
As for the Copy Clear logo, it's somewhat ironic that Copy Clear's business is in licensing copyrights. The Cubs make much of the fact that the "C" in Copy Clear's logo is red, similar to the red "C" in the team's logo. Which is strange, because on their website, the Copy Clear logo is black with a green background. But even if a red version of the logo indeed exists, the company's name is spelled out within it as well. Where precisely is the customer confusion going to exist here? The "C" is clearly a reference to the registered copyright symbol, not to the Cubs, and it seems like everyone would make that connection.
So, my dear, dear Cubs: I love you, but it's probably time to stop worrying so much about how others are using letters that you use as well. Just go out and win this thing, please.
For folks in the San Francisco area, on Thursday night, I'll be at the Wikimedia Foundation for Wikimedia's brand new, awesome event series: Free Open Shared. I'll be giving a talk on copyright, why it matters, and how the fight over copyright reform impacts all sorts of important stuff, including many things that people don't think of as being related to copyright. I'll be giving a talk and then there will be a Q&A session as well. For those not in the area, they're planning on live streaming the event, and there should be a recording that we can post here as well, but it's always nice to see folks in person (and also, it's much easier to take part in the Q&A that way...). RSVP is required and space is limited, so if you can make it, join us for a fun conversation on copyright.
from the privacy-trampling-as-a-business-model dept
Back in 2013 the New York Times profiled just the latest in AT&T-related surveillance scandals, revealing the existence of "Project Hemisphere." The original report detailed how Project Hemisphere is a joint program between AT&T and the DEA that provides a variety of federal and state law enforcement agencies with nearly real-time access to logs and location data on nearly every single call that touches the AT&T network. Unlike AT&T's NSA-related scandals, in many ways this system is much larger than anything covered previously. It's also much older, with the project having roots as far back as 1987.
Making the revelations even more notable was the fact that the report indicated that AT&T had employees embedded with the DEA to help expedite access to this data. This difficulty in trying to determine where the government begins and AT&T ends isn't new; AT&T has long helped the FBI tap dance around privacy and surveillance law, often having its own employees actively working as government intelligence analysts.
But a new report released this week by The Daily Beast indicates that Project Hemisphere is even bigger than originally claimed in the New York Times report. While the Times suggested this project originated as a "partnership" specifically tailored for drug enforcement operations, the outlet obtained AT&T documents (pdf) on Project Hemisphere that make it clear that the project was designed by AT&T from the ground up as a significant money making opportunity. The program also has a notably wider scope than originally reported:
"AT&T’s own documentation—reported here by The Daily Beast for the first time—shows Hemisphere was used far beyond the war on drugs to include everything from investigations of homicide to Medicaid fraud. Hemisphere isn’t a “partnership” but rather a product AT&T developed, marketed, and sold at a cost of millions of dollars per year to taxpayers. No warrant is required to make use of the company’s massive trove of data, according to AT&T documents, only a promise from law enforcement to not disclose Hemisphere if an investigation using it becomes public.
While phone companies like AT&T are in some instances legally obligated to hand over customer data to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, AT&T has a nasty habit of going well, well beyond this, frequently with only a fleeting regard to existing law. Repercussions for this behavior have been minimal to non-existent, with AT&T frequently scoring massive government telecom contracts, and the government itself happy to retroactively change the law whenever its telco partners get into the slightest bit of hot water.
The leaked documents noted that AT&T was notably sensitive to information on this program seeing the light of day, AT&T informing its government BFFs that data collected from Hemisphere should not be used in "any judicial or administrative proceedings unless there is no other available and admissible probative evidence." Since those charged with a crime have the legal right to see the evidence against them, this often results in the government concocting a false investigative narrative to obfuscate the use of programs like hemisphere.
It likely goes without saying, but EFF attorney Adam Schwartz makes it abundantly clear that's not how functioning democracies and legal systems are supposed to work:
"Once AT&T provides a lead through Hemisphere, then investigators use routine police work, like getting a court order for a wiretap or following a suspect around, to provide the same evidence for the purpose of prosecution. This is known as “parallel construction."
“This document here is striking,” Schwartz told The Daily Beast. “I’ve seen documents produced by the government regarding Hemisphere, but this is the first time I’ve seen an AT&T document which requires parallel construction in a service to government. It’s very troubling and not the way law enforcement should work in this country."
Unsurprisingly, efforts by the EFF and others to obtain more detail on Hemisphere using the FOIA have proven fruitless. The only public discourse on the matter is violently superficial, with AT&T, as you might expect, denying it's doing anything remotely wrong:
"Like other communications companies, if a government agency seeks customer call records through a subpoena, court order or other mandatory legal process, we are required by law to provide this non-content information, such as the phone numbers and the date and time of calls,” AT&T’s statement said.
Right, except that's hard to claim when the documents make it clear that AT&T built Hemisphere from the ground up with the express intent of making money off of the government's mammoth, consistently-law-skirting information dragnet. This latest report indicates that law enforcement agencies pay anywhere from $100,000 to upward of $1 million a year or more for access to Hemisphere, netting AT&T a cozy profit for helping government tap dance over, under and around privacy and surveillance law.
Which brings us to this week's news that AT&T intends to spend another $85 billion to acquire Time Warner. This is the same company that not only builds business models based on trampling the legal rights of American citizens, but pioneered new and exciting ways of charging its broadband customers a steep premium for "privacy" on the other end of the equation. What could possibly, possibly go wrong as AT&T attempts to become larger and more powerful than ever before?
Remember when a copyright maximalist think tank guy insisted that copyright would never, ever be used for censorship? Well, about that...
Earlier this year, we wrote about a crazy lawsuit filed by Gene Kelly's widow, after finding out that a college professor named Kelli Marshall was working on a book collecting interviews with Gene Kelly. Marshall and her publisher reached out to a number of people associated with those interviews to clear any legitimate copyright claims (interview collection books are pretty common, and the copyright issue rarely gets in the way). Kelly's widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, claimed that she held the copyright on all of Gene Kelly's interviews, and sued Marshall for infringement. This was crazy for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that the person being interviewed very rarely holds a copyright in the words they said (and Kelly's widow made a mad dash to the copyright office to try to register these interviews right before suing). There's also the whole fair use thing.
A couple months back, the court tossed out the lawsuit -- but not over the issues mentioned above. Instead, the court noted (correctly) that the issue wasn't "ripe" for court, because Marshall hadn't even written the book yet, so it's crazy to claim that it's infringing when we don't even know what's in it. So that's a victory, but not a great one for Marshall, since it likely means she's still facing a lawsuit once the book is done. And based on that Marshall has announced that she will no longer write the book.
Despite the judge’s ruling in our favor, I have decided not to move forward with the book. After much frustration and deliberation, I realize I have neither the time nor the resources to endure another potential lawsuit. I regret this for my research. I regret this for academia and the university press. But mostly, I regret this for the fans of Gene Kelly.
I can totally understand why she would do this. Yes, you could argue that she could file a lawsuit for declaratory judgment of non-infringement -- and probably win, but what a hassle that would be (not to mention an expensive hassle). Instead, we get yet another example of a completely bullshit copyright claim being used to censor -- and in this case, an academic book.
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Look, it's getting ridiculous that Hillary Clinton defenders keep insisting that the John Podesta emails released by Wikileaks are full of fakes and doctored content. With most other leaks, including the one of Colin Powell's emails, the victims (and, yes, they are victims) eventually admit that the leaked content is legit. Not so with the Podesta emails. But that's dumb. As Robert Graham points out, it's
totally possible to validate many of the emails. And they do validate.
Whether you like or dislike Wikileaks, whether you think Julian Assange is a wonderful or horrible person, whether you think Wikileaks is just a propaganda tool of Russia or a powerful force for transparency -- one thing you cannot say is that the organization has been caught releasing fake or doctored information. It (and Assange) do have a history of overhyping releases, or misrepresenting their significance. And Assange does seem to be pretty quick to jump on conspiracy theories that don't hold up under much basic scrutiny. But, to date, pretty much everything that Wikileaks has actually leaked has checked out as legit.
So it's been a bit bizarre watching people try to insist that the troves of John Podesta emails that Wikileaks has been releasing are somehow fake, doctored or manipulated. We recently wrote about Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald going crazy insisting that he had proved that Wikileaks and the Russians teamed up to "manipulate" an email. Of course, the reality turned out to be that a young American part-time reporter for a Russian-owned news site, had simply misread a tweet and turned it into an article. No big conspiracy. No manipulation. And, certainly, none of that has anything to do with Wikileaks (amusingly, Eichenwald then deleted all his tweets claiming proof that Wikileaks was a part of this conspiracy, and apparently tried to silence the young reporter by telling him he'd try to get him a job elsewhere).
Perhaps even more ridiculous is DNC chair Donna Brazile trying to deny any information from any email released by Wikileaks, including one specific one that she sent, apparently revealing a CNN primary debate question to the Clinton campaign prior to the debate (Brazile worked as a commentator on CNN at the time). This video is absolutely cringeworthy, starting at about five and a half minutes into this video. Brazile tries to avoid answering the question about sending debate questions to the Clinton campaign, first barely feigning ignorance of the issue, and then insisting multiple times that the emails are fake/doctored/not verified, and insisting that she did not send the email in question.
Being interviewed by Megyn Kelly, here's how Brazile tries to claim that the emails are not real, but basically comes out with a word salad of nothing, rather than simply admitting that the email is legit.
MEGYN KELLY: You're accused of receiving a debate question whether a CNN town hall where they partnered with TV One that you had this question on March 12th, that verbatim, verbatim was provided by Roland Martin to CNN the next day. How did you get that question, Donna?
DONNA BRAZILE: Well, Kelly, as I play straight up and with you, I did not receive any questions from CNN.
KELLY: Where did you get it?
BRAZILE: First of all, what information are you providing to me that will allow me to see what you're talking about? Everybody's....
KELLY: You've got the Wikileaks showing you messaging the Clinton campaign with the exact wording of a question asked at the March 13th CNN TV One Townhall debate.
BRAZILE: Kelly, Kelly, Kelly. You know, as a Christian woman, I understand persecution, but I will not sit here and be persecuted. Because your information is totally false.
KELLY: I'm getting it from Podesta's email.
BRAZILE: What you're -- well, Podesta's e-mails were stolen. You're so interested and talking about stolen material, you're like a thief that wants to bring into the night the things that you found that was in the gutter. I'm not...
KELLY: Donna. CNN's Jake Tapper came out and said this was unethical. "Someone was unethically helping the Clinton campaign." He said "I love Donna Brazile, but this is very, very upsetting. My understanding is that the email..."
BRAZILE: I love CNN
KELLY: This is Jake Tapper: 'My understanding is that the e-mails came from Roland Martin or someone around Roland Martin." He said "this is very upsetting and troubling." That's your own colleague at CNN. It's not Megyn Kelly. Who gave you that question?
BRAZILE: Megyn, once again, I said it and I said it on the record and I'll say it on the record and I'll keep saying it on the record. I am not going to try to validate falsified information. I have my documents. I have my files. Thank God I have not had my personal e-mails ripped off from me and stolen and given to some criminals to come back altered. I have my records and files. And as i said repeatedly, CNN, in the 14 years I was associated with CNN, I've never received anything. If I had a blank piece of paper, that would basically be the end of this conversation. I never get documents from CNN. Period.
KELLY (eye roll): Your email to the Clinton campaign said 'sometimes I get the questions in advance.'
BRAZILE: Uh, ma'am. Y'know. You know what...
KELLY: And CNN is saying Roland Martin gave them to you. Or someone at TV One. And they were provided to Hillary before that town hall.
BRAZILE: Well anybody who knows me... and... and... and there are a number of your colleagues as well. They know me very well. I know how I play it. I know what I do before every debate. I know what I do before every show -- even this show. I do my homework. I communicate. I talk.
KELLY: I understand.
BRAZILE: But I just, once again, let you know that... as far as I know that... that... that CNN has never provided me with questions. Absolutely. Ever. Nada. Sorry.
KELLY: Well, when you said "from time to time I get the questions in advance," what were you referring to? Because in that email you offered the exact question that one of the moderators, Roland Martin, then proposed the next day.
BRAZILE: So. So. My, my, my reference back to you, ma'am, with all respect -- and I respect you greatly --
KELLY: And I respect you too.
BRAZILE: The... the... the validity of those emails -- if I can only tell you one things, because you know, this whole episode is under criminal investigation -- but I can just tell you one thing: a lot of those emails, I would not give them the time of the day. I've seen so many doctored emails. I've seen things that come from me at two in the morning, that I don't even send. There are several email addresses that I once used, and I'm so sorry that we... these have not been verified. This is... nobody will. This is...
KELLY: I got it.
BRAZILE: This is under investigation. And let me just tell you something. If there's anything that I have, I will share. I don't have an agenda to smear anybody...
KELLY: Alright. I've got to run because we have another guest waiting...
Okay, so, here's the problem. She did send the email. And it's verified. Graham proves it in his post. The trick is DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) signatures. DKIM was a system set up a while back to try to fight spam by cryptographically proving that the account that says it sent the mail actually sent the email in question. Not all email systems use DKIM, but hillaryclinton.com does use it, which is great for transparency, but bad for Donna Brazile.
Graham looked up that email in particular and found that it validates, using a Thunderbird add-on to check these things:
Downloading the raw email from WikiLeaks and opening in Thunderbird, with the addon, I get the following verification that the email is valid. Specifically, it validates that the HillaryClinton.com sent precisely this content, with this subject, on that date.
Let's see what happens when somebody tries to doctor the email. In the following, I added "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN" to the top of the email.
As you can see, we've proven that DKIM will indeed detect if anybody has "doctored" or "falsified" this email.
Graham also offered one whole bitcoin to anyone who can forge an email that still validates correctly under this method to show his confidence that the emails are verified as actually sent as is, despite Brazile's wacky performance.
Of course, the Clinton campaign keeps insisting that the emails are doctored, but fails to show any proof. Here's the campaign's Chief Strategist, Joel Benenson, saying many are not authentic:
BENENSON: Well, first of all, I'll tell you something, I haven't spent a lot of time reading through WikiLeaks e-mails.
But I will tell you this, what we know is that many are not authentic. We know that this is a hack, 17 of Russians -- no, because these e-mails, we have no idea whether they are authentic or not or whether they've been tampered with once the Russians, which 17 American intelligence agencies say are responsible for these hackings, have been manipulated. I have seen things -- I'm not going to go into details --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you're not suggesting that those are --
BENENSON: They may well be. I don't know. I know I've seen things that aren't authentic, that we know aren't authentic. And it's not surprising. What's ridiculous about this whole conversation is that 17 intelligence agencies have said the Russians are responsible for this. Donald Trump refuses to accept it, refuses to condemn them.
Benenson is full of shit. Again, whether or not you like or dislike Wikileaks, or question Assange's motives, there's a simple fact here: the documents it's released have not been shown to be false, faked, doctored or inauthentic at all. And it's possible to verify many of them, and some have even written scripts to verify them in bulk.
The Clinton campaign, as it so often does, is making things worse for itself by being stupid. It's trying to cover up legitimate information, and the coverup always comes across worse than the original actions. Just admit that these emails are legit and move on. Lying about it is not a good look, even if that's just the way things go these days in politics.
U.S. Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante was removed from her job Friday morning (Oct. 21) by the Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, who has authority over the Copyright Office. Officially, Pallante has been appointed as a senior adviser for digital strategy for the Library of Congress, although it’s clear she was asked to step down. Karyn Temple Claggett, currently associate register of copyrights, has been appointed the acting register.
Pallante was locked out of the Library of Congress computer system this morning, according to two sources who spoke with Library employees. Earlier, Hayden had called several members of Congress to tell them about her decision. Later, she called the heads of several media business trade organizations to give them the news, according to one who received such a call.
There are all sorts of rumors flying about this. Pallante has, apparently, been advocating strongly for moving the Copyright Office out of the Library of Congress, and either making it an independent agency or linking it up with the Patent & Trademark Office under the Commerce Department. That would be a big mistake, frankly, because copyright is not supposed to be about "commerce" and "industry" but about benefiting the public. That's why it makes sense to leave it as part of the Library of Congress.
Still, when Hayden was first announced, basically all of the copyright maximalist front groups put out statements vaguely suggesting that they'd support Hayden if she promises to leave the Copyright Office alone. It would appear that Hayden has decided not to take that advice. Of course, there are some concerns about what Pallante will do in advising on digitization at the Library of Congress (see update above, noting she is not accepting the position), but it does seem odd that at basically the same time this news leaked, I received notice that the the Library of Congress was going to start archiving Techdirt (yes, this is 100% a coincidence, but a funny one):
That said, the Copyright Office really could use new leadership. As we've been discussing, the Copyright Office has a pretty long history basically acting as a lobbying arm for Hollywood, which seems highly questionable. Pallante's legacy is definitely marred by the fact that she came out as a strong supporter of SOPA early on. And this year, the Copyright Office seems focused on pushing a bunch of bad ideas on copyright reform, including a nefarious plan to strip many websites of their DMCA safe harbors. We're also still completely perplexed as to why the Copyright Office flat out misrepresented copyright law to the FCC concerning its set-top box plan. The Copyright Office simply lied about how fair use works. That's scary.
That said, I should admit that I don't think Pallante herself was as bad as some critics made her out to be (though she did surround herself with a lot of people with really bad ideas). She at least seemed marginally better than some of the previous heads of the Copyright Office, and was actually at least slightly open to some good ideas on copyright reform (and plenty of bad ones). But it does seem like today's Copyright Office needs someone who isn't just representing Hollywood's viewpoint and recognizes that copyright itself is supposed to benefit the public first and foremost -- something Pallante denies.
Pallante's temporary replacement, Karyn Temple Claggett, is unlikely to change very much. Beyond it just being an interim position, Claggett came to the Copyright Office after working for many years at the RIAA, where she helped in the litigation against Grokster, Limewire, XM and Usenet.com. This is not exactly someone who recognizes the changing nature of the internet and says "let's embrace it."
So now the big question is really what happens next. Lots of people are gearing up for a fight over who will take over the Copyright Office on a permanent basis. Is it going to be someone who comes from that world where copyright is supposed to only benefit the big copyright gatekeepers? Or will it be someone with a more nuanced view on how copyright works, how it's supposed to benefit the public by providing tools for creators. Either way, it seems like the fight over this is going to get messy. You already have lobbyists whispering to the press about how awful all of this is:
That executive, and others who represent creators and media businesses in Washington, D.C., expressed surprise and dismay that Pallante, who had the job since 2011, had been removed. “The people in the creative community are furious about the fact that this was done,” says a lawyer who works for organizations that support strong copyright laws, “but especially about the way it was done.”
Wait just a second here. How the hell can the RIAA/MPAA's of the world claim that they represent "the creative community"? That's bullshit. They represent a few large gatekeepers, who have a long history of screwing over the actual creative community any chance they get. More and more of the actual creative community these days have found that the internet is a wonderful tool for creating, promoting, distributing and monetizing their works -- and they recognize that the legacy industries and overly oppressive copyright laws get in the way of that, rather than helping. But, no matter what, you can bet that when a new Copyright Register is announced, we'll see more of this kind of misleading language and attacks -- and it will be something of a preview for the eventual fight over actual copyright reform bills that are expected to show up in the relatively near future.
We've talked a lot about Donald Trump and his ridiculous views on defamation and the First Amendment -- including his penchant for threateningdefamationlawsuitsagainst basically everyone who says something he dislikes. He rarely follows through, though he certainly does sue sometimes.
In fact, someone has set up Trump-clock.com which lists out every known legal threat against the press or critics since his Presidential campaign began (ignoring the long list that predates the campaign). It also has a clock showing how long it's been since Trump's last threat.
So it shouldn't be much of a surprise that a group of media lawyers at the American Bar Association commissioned a report on Trump's litigation history, and the report (correctly) concluded that Donald Trump is a "libel bully" making a bunch of bogus threats and with a history of filing bogus defamation lawsuits in court (something he's outright bragged about). This shouldn't be controversial. Trump is, clearly, a libel bully, and even he has more or less admitted that with his comments on why he sued author Tim O'Brien.
Alarmed by Donald J. Trump’s record of filing lawsuits to punish and silence his critics, a committee of media lawyers at the American Bar Association commissioned a report on Mr. Trump’s litigation history. The report concluded that Mr. Trump was a “libel bully” who had filed many meritless suits attacking his opponents and had never won in court.
But the bar association refused to publish the report, citing “the risk of the A.B.A. being sued by Mr. Trump.”
David J. Bodney, a former chairman of the media-law committee, said he was baffled by the bar association’s interference in the committee’s journal.
“It is more than a little ironic,” he said, “that a publication dedicated to the exploration of First Amendment issues is subjected to censorship when it seeks to publish an article about threats to free speech.”
With the ABA chilled into suppressing a report about Donald Trump chilling free speech, the Media Law Resource Center picked up the fumbled ball and released the report on its own. The opening executive summary is pretty clear:
Donald J. Trump is a libel bully. Like most bullies, he's also a loser, to borrow from Trump's vocabulary.
Trump and his companies have been involved in a mind-boggling 4,000 lawsuits over the last 30 years and sent countless threatening cease-and-desist letters to journalists and critics.
But the GOP presidential nominee and his companies have never won a single speech-related case filed in a public court.
The full article then goes on to examine in more detail seven speech-related cases, and uses the paper to argue in favor of stronger anti-SLAPP laws to prevent such speech chilling.
... this examination of Trump's libel losses also provides a powerful illustration of why more states need to enact anti-SLAPP laws to discourage libel bullies like Trump from filing frivolous lawsuits to chill speech about matters of public concern and run up legal tabs for journalists and critics.
The ABA's refusal to publish the report is really ridiculous, but only serves to highlight the issue here. When an organization that absolutely must know better is still too afraid to publish a report like this, it highlights just how successful Trump can be in stifling speech with just his threats. And, yes, this report eventually was released, thanks to some First Amendment lawyers who knew how ridiculous this was, but we don't know how many others have been scared away into silence.
Dozens of internal documents and emails from Endace, obtained by The Intercept and reported in cooperation with Television New Zealand, reveal the firm’s key role helping governments across the world harvest vast amounts of information on people’s private emails, online chats, social media conversations, and internet browsing histories.
Endace -- like almost every other company in the literal spyware business -- also seems willing to sell to the highest bidder, no matter where they sit on their home nation's friends/enemies lists.
The leaked files, which were provided by a source through SecureDrop, show that Endace listed a Moroccan security agency implicated in torture as one of its customers. They also indicate that the company sold its surveillance gear to more than half a dozen other government agencies, including in the United States, Israel, Denmark, Australia, Canada, Spain, and India.
The documents now in The Intercept's hands detail Endace's work for GCHQ, assisting it in its quest to pull as much data and communications as it can from underseas cables which conveniently route about one-fourth of the world's internet traffic into the waiting arms of the spy agency. These leaked documents were cross-referenced with The Intercept's Snowden stash to confirm their legitimacy.
The documents show GCHQ asked Endace for several modifications of the stock product it originally presented to the agency. These alterations served one purpose: to build haystacks faster.
A November 2010 company document said that “FGA” ["friendly government agency"] had an order of 20 systems scheduled for delivery in March 2011. Each system was equipped with two “data acquisition” cards capable of intercepting 20Gs of internet traffic. The total capacity of the order would enable GCHQ to monitor a massive amount of data — the equivalent of being able to download 3,750 high-definition movies every minute, or 2.5 billion average-sized emails an hour.
Other info in the documents shows Endace and GCHQ were (are?) aiming for deployment of 300-500 of these systems, allowing the agency to pull in a large percentage of the traffic traveling through tapped underseas cables. There are also hints that suggest some data is more useful to the GCHQ than others, with WhatsApp, Facebook, Gmail, and Hotmail being specifically named. Also of importance to GCHQ: the ability to track targets by MAC address.
When Endace isn't selling to "friendly" government surveillance agencies (and "friendly" governments with decades of human rights abuses under their belts), it's also selling its interception technology to telcos to better assist them in complying with law enforcement requests.
Perhaps the most darkly comic aspect of all of this is that UK and New Zealand taxpayers are likely being double-dipped for surveillance efforts that encompass their own data and communications. Not only are they paying for the tech and ongoing collection efforts, but Endace was also awarded $11.1 million in government grants to defray 50% of the cost of "substantial product developments." Endace isn't saying which products were developed using these grants, and the New Zealand government says the company isn't obligated to reveal how this money was spent.