'Team Sport' Is The NSA's Buzzword For Getting Companies To Violate Your Privacy

from the that's-not-very-sporting dept

I noticed something interesting in two of our recent stories about NSA surveillance. In yesterday's revelation in the Guardian about how Microsoft had made it easy for the NSA to record Skype audio and video, an internal NSA bulletin referred to the situation this way:
The document continues: "The FBI and CIA then can request a copy of Prism collection of any selector…" As a result, the author notes: "these two activities underscore the point that Prism is a team sport!"
That was apparently written on August 3, 2012. But the "team sport" phrase caught my attention, because while Tim Cushing was writing up that story, I had been working on the story about the NSA's talking points for the groundbreaking of its massive datacenter in Bluffdale Utah. Those talking points were for January 6, 2011, but they too, reference "team sports" as a way to describe the collaboration with tech companies:
Cyber must be a team sport -- it is too big for one agency, or even one nation to be able to "control."
Seeing that exact phrase show up in two separate documents, which were both revealed on the same day, through different means (one via a leak, one via a FOIA request), were written at different times, and were revealed through very different sources, has me wondering. It seems likely that this is a key talking point that the NSA has been working on for quite some time, should information on PRISM and other programs ever get out. As long as they call these efforts a "team sport" perhaps people won't be as freaked out about them, or something.

But it's kind of a funny thing to call them. Who is the "opposing" team here? The public? And it's a funny sort of "sport" when the rules are all secret, and the referees and umpires get to reinterpret the rules in secret with the NSA/companies' team, without ever informing the public of the rule changes. There's definitely a team here, but it doesn't seem very sporting. It seems more like a bunch of people with way too much power screwing over the public. Perhaps that's what they should actually call it.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2013 @ 11:39am

    It's all fun and games for the NSA! Especially when they're writing the rules. ;)

     

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

  2.  
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    Vidiot (profile), Jul 12th, 2013 @ 11:48am

    Go, team!

    And the plays are all end runs.

     

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

  3.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 12th, 2013 @ 11:50am

    It's adding insult to injury

    I find the use of the phrase "team sport" to be incredibly insulting. It's reducing the wholesale invasion of our privacy to a game. If they're going to be doing this, I at least would prefer that they don't do it so lightheartedly.

    The word "sport" means "play or a pleasant pasttime," after all. Unless you're 16th century royalty, for whom the term "sport of kings" meant war-making.

     

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

  4.  
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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Jul 12th, 2013 @ 11:54am

    Calvinball!

     

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

  5.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Jul 12th, 2013 @ 12:15pm

    So what positions are open? Linebacker? Quarterback? Mid field? Defender (The fact I even know these terms is somewhat of a miracle, given my complete non interest in sports). Is there gonna be a Superbowl?

     

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  6.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Jul 12th, 2013 @ 12:15pm

    The opposing team is terrorists obviously. Aren't we all against terrorists?

     

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  7.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Jul 12th, 2013 @ 12:16pm

    Re: It's adding insult to injury

    The sport of kings is exactly what they're referring to.

     

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

  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2013 @ 12:27pm

    Re:

    who's point of view?

    i'm sure King George didn't like those pesky American terrorists.. err I mean Revolutionaries

     

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

  9.  
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    Argonel (profile), Jul 12th, 2013 @ 12:31pm

    Re:

    Close, I hear rumors that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is going to join the league. This will prepare them for a Superbowel game of cavity searches.

     

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

  10.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Jul 12th, 2013 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re:

    Of course the NSA gets to decide who is a terrorist and who isn't.

     

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

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2013 @ 12:37pm

    Re:

    Shortstop, Goalie, and Bowler. 'Cause, yeah, all three of those are positions in this particular sport.

     

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  12.  
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    Applesauce, Jul 12th, 2013 @ 12:38pm

    too big for one nation

    Cyber must be a team sport -- it is too big for one agency, OR EVEN ONE NATION to be able to "control."

    An extremely interesting statement. Are we limited to just the UK, AUS, NZ, Israel, or is the cabal much, much wider?

     

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

  13.  
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    Mr. Applegate, Jul 12th, 2013 @ 1:37pm

    Re:

    The opposing team is terrorists obviously. Aren't we all against terrorists?
    That is just EXACTLY what they WANT you to think. You stepped right into their trap.

     

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

  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2013 @ 1:48pm

    There's no PRIVACY in TEAM

     

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

  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2013 @ 2:07pm

    Team sport? Did they have trouble pissing on the 4th Amendment by themselves?

     

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

  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2013 @ 2:19pm

    Ah the joys of Big Data Hunting.

     

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

  17.  
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    Guardian, Jul 12th, 2013 @ 4:56pm

    time to boycott then all major sports

    when you all boycott major sports then the nsa gets sued cause of the term they used harms the majors....then they get bent over to "NOT BE PART OF THIS"

    and aint that just hitler like to get you on the team....
    take one in the ass for a team yup
    i bet the flamin idiot that dreamed this up is some NFL moron just salivating at the money he just raked in for a stupid idea that now as its spying lying sack a shit gets turfed up to the bad winds ....well unemployment cant happen to nicer people.

    when they are all turfed to the curb without a job will be the day i never give homeless and poor any coin ( as the majority of them will ONLY be these types a sick fucks)

     

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

  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2013 @ 5:09pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    No they don't, remember they have to toss a coin. Only half of the global population are considered terrorists, but of course with the law of 6 degrees of separation that pretty much guarantees that they can spy on everyone.

     

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

  19.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jul 13th, 2013 @ 5:46am

    "It seems more like a bunch of people with way too much power screwing over the public."

    That is sport to them.

     

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


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