Judge orders the FBI to come clean on internet surveillance

Good news, privacy lovers: US District Court has sided with the Electronic Frontier Foundation when it comes to transparency regarding the FBI’s attempts to access encrypted emails and force software companies to build backdoor friendly products.

Long story short, the FBI wants to build a backdoor into all online communications, to give them an easy way to access ‘private’ information. Other organizations, like the NSA, are working on similar projects, as are other governments. Unfortunately, despite the valiant efforts of activists like the fine people at the EFF, attempts to counter, or even learn more about the projects, have been met with a wall of silence. Thanks to US District Judge Richard Seeborg’s decision, that may be about to change.

Judge Seeborg ruled that that the Department of Justice hadn’t followed proper procedure in reviewing the EFF’s Freedom of Information Act filings and ordered a “further review of the materials previously withheld.” To give you an idea of how things have gone so far, the EFF’s previous attempts netted them a total of 1 full page and 6 excerpts out of the 8,425 pages they requested. Hopefully, this will change that.

The scary part of all this is the total lack of transparency. No one really understands to what extent the government’s 'Going Dark' project could affect internet privacy, and so there’s really no way for the public to offer any input or for activists to counter the efforts. Earlier this year, for instance, Wired uncovered evidence regarding a massive NSA surveillance center being constructed in Utah to record virtually every bit of data that passes over the internet.

In the meantime, hopefully the EFF’s new victory, even if it is a small one, will help bring a little more transparency to the debate table.

Source: CNET | Via RT

Internet Privacy Image by Shutterstock

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"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

Radium said,
"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

For the record, that's not Franklin's original quote. It's been modified over the years to have a little more impact than originally intended...

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
(see http://books.google.com.au/boo...v=onepage&q&f=false)

_Essential liberty_ and _temporary safety_ are far less sweeping statements. What is essential and what is temporary is up for debate, I suppose.

Privacy issues are a concern here i think because we're already at a point where people are being punished for potentialy committing a crime and this type of stuff just arms them some more to do more of it. When it comes to piracy the whole you probably downloaded something so go to jail method is rampant. they don't need to prove much to get a conviction. so in regards to that angle this is bad news big time !
Another angle is law in general. I spent man many MANY years staring into the eyes of my step dad when he was doing hard time for a bank robbery he didn't do. They even got the guy that did it to testify in court every detail but the eye witness testimony some old lady said it was him and threw the book at em even though they looked extremely similar.. anyway evidence / data collection and Law go hand in hand.
If you people are going to condone illegal methods of evidence collection then you have no right to complain when your one of those people suffering from it.
Lastly,
Did anyone take a minute to consider the security implications ?
This could be staggering beyond belief. A backdoor is a backdoor and hackers LOVE weakness or even better when morons leave the back door unlocked lol
And they love idiots who make excuses as to why they should that even more.

The American government is filth and i do NOT want them in my business for any reason under any circumstances. I'd rather let the Taliban or some other crazy mofo'z borrow my machine..

oh and didn't we have rumors for XP that the FBI had put a backdoor in it ?
I remember stories about that back when XP was new..

I think it is only a small price to pay. I have nothing to hide, and if the FBI deems it necessary they are most welcome to spy on my activity. All this concern about privacy being trembled on. We expect to be protected so the FBI will do this in the best way they can with all means possible. Maybe some mistakes are made but it is to me only a small price to pay.

Erikas said,
I think it is only a small price to pay. I have nothing to hide, and if the FBI deems it necessary they are most welcome to spy on my activity. All this concern about privacy being trembled on. We expect to be protected so the FBI will do this in the best way they can with all means possible. Maybe some mistakes are made but it is to me only a small price to pay.

congrats on making the first comment i have seen here that made me wish there was a dislike button !
WOW
I'm not gonna waste my time on you.. enjoy your surveillance.

Erikas said,
I think it is only a small price to pay. I have nothing to hide, and if the FBI deems it necessary they are most welcome to spy on my activity. All this concern about privacy being trembled on. We expect to be protected so the FBI will do this in the best way they can with all means possible. Maybe some mistakes are made but it is to me only a small price to pay.

By all means, do enjoy having your privacy TREMBLED ON. Do the tremens set in after you've been abused, a reward for "good doggy", or are they solely anticipatory, like bouncing about needing to pee?

You rock, o intelligent person whose opinion truly matters.

Earlier this year, for instance, Wired uncovered evidence regarding a massive NSA surveillance center being constructed in Utah to record virtually every bit of data that passes over the internet.

That is _such ****ing bull****_. The originating Wired article was bad enough but this is just completely taking everything out of context and shows a complete and utter lack of understanding, to the point of defamation:

1. It's not a surveillance center, it's a data center. The same as every other data center in the world: it stores and processes data. Yes, that data is intelligence. No, it doesn't make it different.
2. "Uncovered"? It wasn't secret. The plans are public. The building permit is public. The purpose is public. They read public filings then made an article on it taking ", which could be used to monitor YOUR communications" on every sentence.
3. "virtually every bit of data that passes over the internet"... what does that even mean? That facility is being built, by Wired's own admission, to store and process the vast amounts of information that NSA collect as part of their Government mandated activities. How is 'virtually every piece' even a metric? Do you know what their collection coverage is? Can you express that in a % of internet traffic?

This is also a completely irrelevant parallel--comparing the NSA and FBI. They operate in two completely different spheres (internationally and domestically, respectively) and the NSA is not legally allowed to collect on US entities (where an entity is defined as a US citizen whether they are inside the United States or out, a boat flying a United States flag, or an individual within the borders of United States sovereignty including in the waters in the inclusion zone) without a federal court warrant which requires a vast amount of justification. The FBI on the other hand has the express purpose to police the citizens of the United States for the purposes of national security and conversely cannot monitor persons outside of these United States.

This is complete and utter unprofessional journalism spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt to the point where any reasonable person must question motives and any lawyer would question defamation. Tyler obviously has little to no idea on the topic and has opened his mouth without the proper research or discourse and in doing so has done a disservice to any reasonable American interested in the truth.

The problem I see is that people aren't interested in what they call the truth: they are interested in finding fault in Government wherever or however that may be. If the FBI turned around and outlined their entire program nobody would be happy because then it must obviously be a lie or misinformation--at this point they may as well just say "whatever" and stop responding to anything that they aren't legally required to.

ascendant123 said,

the NSA is not legally allowed to collect on US entities (where an entity is defined as a US citizen whether they are inside the United States or out, a boat flying a United States flag, or an individual within the borders of United States sovereignty including in the waters in the inclusion zone) without a federal court warrant which requires a vast amount of justification


LOL, you still believe that ? It's been proven over and over again that the CIA and NSA spies on Americans as well.

ascendant123 said,

This is also a completely irrelevant parallel--comparing the NSA and FBI. They operate in two completely different spheres (internationally and domestically, respectively) and the NSA is not legally allowed to collect on US entities (where an entity is defined as a US citizen whether they are inside the United States or out, a boat flying a United States flag, or an individual within the borders of United States sovereignty including in the waters in the inclusion zone) without a federal court warrant which requires a vast amount of justification. The FBI on the other hand has the express purpose to police the citizens of the United States for the purposes of national security and conversely cannot monitor persons outside of these United States.

The FBI has a long history of breaking the law, going back to Hoover. If you don't believe me, study up.

As far as what the NSA is doing in their Utah facility... You're right, I didn't talk to the parties involved. I can only tell you what Wired uncovered, which seems acceptable in this context. If their information is correct, then the NSA's activities are blatantly illegal. Read their article, by all means.

I'm really not a conspiracy theorist - honestly, I tend to despise that sort of thing. But looking at history - particularly the history of the organizations involved - I don't find it at all hard to believe that they're spying on their own people, especially when you have former officials backing that up. The total lack of transparency doesn't help, either. If the FBI comes clean on what there doing, I will report it objectively. I add color to my writing to make it interesting, but I don't twist it to suit my views.

ascendant123 said,

That is _such ****ing bull****_. The originating Wired article was bad enough but this is just completely taking everything out of context and shows a complete and utter lack of understanding, to the point of defamation:

1. It's not a surveillance center, it's a data center. The same as every other data center in the world: it stores and processes data. Yes, that data is intelligence. No, it doesn't make it different.
2. "Uncovered"? It wasn't secret. The plans are public. The building permit is public. The purpose is public. They read public filings then made an article on it taking ", which could be used to monitor YOUR communications" on every sentence.
3. "virtually every bit of data that passes over the internet"... what does that even mean? That facility is being built, by Wired's own admission, to store and process the vast amounts of information that NSA collect as part of their Government mandated activities. How is 'virtually every piece' even a metric? Do you know what their collection coverage is? Can you express that in a % of internet traffic?

This is also a completely irrelevant parallel--comparing the NSA and FBI. They operate in two completely different spheres (internationally and domestically, respectively) and the NSA is not legally allowed to collect on US entities (where an entity is defined as a US citizen whether they are inside the United States or out, a boat flying a United States flag, or an individual within the borders of United States sovereignty including in the waters in the inclusion zone) without a federal court warrant which requires a vast amount of justification. The FBI on the other hand has the express purpose to police the citizens of the United States for the purposes of national security and conversely cannot monitor persons outside of these United States..

You may find a certain man by the name of KimDotCom may have different view to you on what the FBI do and don't do their borders don't just magically stop at the 200 mile limit .... or at what nationality you are

2xSilverKnight said,
LOL, you still believe that ? It's been proven over and over again that the CIA and NSA spies on Americans as well.

In accordance with the laws and legislations set out for them, yes; including the FISA warrant process I specifically mentioned. I'm not going to pretend they don't have black marks in their history and it therefore sets a precedent but there is a difference between arguing precedence and assuming that they are, forever, guilty. Perhaps one is pragmatic but that's a different discussions.

As far as what the NSA is doing in their Utah facility... You're right, I didn't talk to the parties involved. I can only tell you what Wired uncovered, which seems acceptable in this context. If their information is correct, then the NSA's activities are blatantly illegal. Read their article, by all means.

I have read that article and I question whether you did--if you actually read the article as an objective journalism piece, it makes little to no sense and uncovers basically nothing.

Can you name one thing they 'uncovered' about that facility? There are some general talking points about the NSA in their and their monitoring of communications, which is their federally mandated role, but nothing in regards to the Utah facility or what will be done there. It's filled with unnamed sources (with no assessment of that source made for validity, leaving the reader no objective recourse for analysis) making sweeping statements that don't actually answer any questions. I would be very curious to hear what you think Wired actually uncovered.

The total lack of transparency doesn't help, either.

I agree and I disagree; I can absolutely see it both ways. As a reasonable citizen I expect complete transparency of government in order to make my own assessment of their operating powers but as a professional, I can understand their business model.

I suspect running an intelligence agency, who's entire purpose is to covertly collect information on people of interest without their knowledge, becomes increasingly difficult when more information about your capability is revealed. An adversary knowing what you can or can't do changes their behave and makes them inherently more difficult to monitor--the problem I have with this ruling is that there is no balance.

I don't expect complete transparency from an intelligence agency but I don't expect a complete black hole. I feel like this judges ruling is swinging too far in the opposite direction such that should the information be revealed, the FBI's ability to operate could be severely hampered and _that_ gives them a valid reason to appeal the ruling. Had the judge made a more reasonable, poignant and specific request then I suspect they would have had little choice but to reveal the information in lieu of not being able to prove that it causes significant harm.

You may find a certain man by the name of KimDotCom may have different view to you on what the FBI do and don't do their borders don't just magically stop at the 200 mile limit .... or at what nationality you are

The Megaupload case really isn't indicative of anything; he was allegedly breaching US laws on US services against US companies and, as afforded by international law, the FBI and DOJ reached out to a partner country to request their assistance. If the New Zealand Police had no interest in cooperating, as they were within their right to do, then they could have refused and that would have been the end of it.

The FBI wouldn't have hopped on planes and raided NZ soil without NZ approval because that would be in breach of the laws and legislations they act within. Bottom line. Was what they did morally wrong? Perhaps but that's not the same discussion.

Who wants to bet that the reply will consist of a large document with 99% of it blacked out with the explanation "Redacted for reasons of national security"?

Obviously have no idea what doing "right" means. In the hands of governments, it is opposition to those in power. That is true 100% of the time in human history. So when you are against Obama, you could be on a hit list, or maybe you were against Bush and on his hit list. The point is, it doesn't matter who is in power, when you give someone the ability to track everything about you or give them power over your life.

This is never about being a good person. It's about being free and to do that, you can never let a government have power to know your thoughts, feelings, and actions in your life.

I would just say this : If you are right and have done nothing wrong, You don't need to worry about these laws.

American Mafia said,
I would just say this : If you are right and have done nothing wrong, You don't need to worry about these laws.

I wish people would stop saying that, it's so stupid. You shouldn't give up your privacy and your rights just because you aren't doing something wrong. Hate it when people just roll over and take it.

American Mafia said,
I would just say this : If you are right and have done nothing wrong, You don't need to worry about these laws.

That's great as long as the government is just. However, our government is anything but just, so stop acting as though it was.

American Mafia said,
I would just say this : If you are right and have done nothing wrong, You don't need to worry about these laws.

unlike you, we dont like getting F in the A

American Mafia said,
I would just say this : If you are right and have done nothing wrong, You don't need to worry about these laws.

Sounds like you don't mind having your backdoor intruded.

American Mafia said,
I would just say this : If you are right and have done nothing wrong, You don't need to worry about these laws.

I hate this canned response.

American Mafia said,
I would just say this : If you are right and have done nothing wrong, You don't need to worry about these laws.

I would add this as well, if you aren't doing anything wrong, you aren't on the radar anyway, so they aren't looking at your stuff.. Go get into some trouble and then you and rest assured that they will watch you and get the information they want to find out anything about you..

American Mafia said,
I would just say this : If you are right and have done nothing wrong, You don't need to worry about these laws.

Yes, but, things that were once 'right' are increasingly becoming wrong.

xendrome said,

I would add this as well, if you aren't doing anything wrong, you aren't on the radar anyway, so they aren't looking at your stuff.. Go get into some trouble and then you and rest assured that they will watch you and get the information they want to find out anything about you..

Isn't freedom for freedom's sake worth something?

American Mafia said,
I would just say this : If you are right and have done nothing wrong, You don't need to worry about these laws.

Yup and you never done nothing wrong ever in your life Mr.Perfect.

American Mafia said,
I would just say this : If you are right and have done nothing wrong, You don't need to worry about these laws.

Then can I have your email password and a copy of your bank statements? I just want to nose about in your private life.

xendrome said,

I would add this as well, if you aren't doing anything wrong, you aren't on the radar anyway, so they aren't looking at your stuff.. Go get into some trouble and then you and rest assured that they will watch you and get the information they want to find out anything about you..

Innocent people are arrested, charged and even convicted sometimes. If someone made a false complaint against you or something innocent you did was seen as suspicious, that could give them grounds to invade your private life when you've done nothing wrong.

xendrome said,

I would add this as well, if you aren't doing anything wrong, you aren't on the radar anyway, so they aren't looking at your stuff.. Go get into some trouble and then you and rest assured that they will watch you and get the information they want to find out anything about you..

care to explain how you know this ?
gimme a break lol

American Mafia said,
I would just say this : If you are right and have done nothing wrong, You don't need to worry about these laws.

I would advise you to read some history books.... it would be a very enlightening reading.....

xendrome said,

I would add this as well, if you aren't doing anything wrong, you aren't on the radar anyway, so they aren't looking at your stuff.. Go get into some trouble and then you and rest assured that they will watch you and get the information they want to find out anything about you..

Really? Do you think that when the NSA tapped in in the transoceanic communication cable filtered whose communications they were monitoring? Sorry this is not the way these things work.

That's really stupid logic, I'm sure that you wouldn't want the world to have sex tapes of you and your significant other even though I'm sure you arn't doing anything wrong.

American Mafia said,
I would just say this : If you are right and have done nothing wrong, You don't need to worry about these laws.

That's really stupid logic, I'm sure that you wouldn't want the world to have sex tapes of you and your significant other even though I'm sure you arn't doing anything wrong.

Fritzly said,

Really? Do you think that when the NSA tapped in in the transoceanic communication cable filtered whose communications they were monitoring? Sorry this is not the way these things work.

Actually yes, you don't actually think the NSA has the time or man power to listen to everything that goes on via those cables do you? Things are filtered via systems first, and anything being tagged with a higher threat level then gets analyzed by a human, then if it's credible it would get moved on to another level. Otherwise it's dumped, plus you are talking at a level of WAY beyond specific to a person at that point. That would come later on if what you said or did was even worth their time.

xendrome said,

Actually yes, you don't actually think the NSA has the time or man power to listen to everything that goes on via those cables do you? Things are filtered via systems first, and anything being tagged with a higher threat level then gets analyzed by a human, then if it's credible it would get moved on to another level. Otherwise it's dumped, plus you are talking at a level of WAY beyond specific to a person at that point. That would come later on if what you said or did was even worth their time.

And what are the "system" parameters"?
Do you know? I do not therefore the idea to have agencies wildly scanning people conversation is very scary. Do not forget that the US are among those nations which did not sign the Geneva Convention in full... just to give you an example of the intricacy and ramifications of the matter we are discussing.

American Mafia said,
I would just say this : If you are right and have done nothing wrong, You don't need to worry about these laws.

So do you agree about the FBI monitoring your phone calls? Because after all you did nothing wrong.

xendrome said,

I would add this as well, if you aren't doing anything wrong, you aren't on the radar anyway, so they aren't looking at your stuff.

Those who are innocent yet have been convicted of crimes would beg to differ.

American Mafia said,
I would just say this : If you are right and have done nothing wrong, You don't need to worry about these laws.

And I bet you wouldn't mind living in a glass house either. IF YOU'RE NOT DOING ANYTHING WRONG YOU WON'T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT, RIGHT?

American Mafia said,
I would just say this : If you are right and have done nothing wrong, You don't need to worry about these laws.

Are you really this naive and stupid? You should post your SSN, bank, credit card and all other private info here. After all, you've done nothing wrong, right?

Here's a little fact - 'right' means what the govt wants you to do, which in turn means whatever corp is controlling the govt that day.