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 NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customer 
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Post NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customer
Guardian wrote:
NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily
Exclusive: Top secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over all call data shows scale of domestic surveillance under Obama

Glenn Greenwald
The Guardian, Wednesday 5 June 2013

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.

Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

The disclosure is likely to reignite longstanding debates in the US over the proper extent of the government's domestic spying powers.

Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice on a massive scale under President Obama.

The unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual. Fisa court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific named target who is suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets.

The Guardian approached the National Security Agency, the White House and the Department of Justice for comment in advance of publication on Wednesday. All declined. The agencies were also offered the opportunity to raise specific security concerns regarding the publication of the court order.

The court order expressly bars Verizon from disclosing to the public either the existence of the FBI's request for its customers' records, or the court order itself.

"We decline comment," said Ed McFadden, a Washington-based Verizon spokesman.

The order, signed by Judge Roger Vinson, compels Verizon to produce to the NSA electronic copies of "all call detail records or 'telephony metadata' created by Verizon for communications between the United States and abroad" or "wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls".

The order directs Verizon to "continue production on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this order". It specifies that the records to be produced include "session identifying information", such as "originating and terminating number", the duration of each call, telephone calling card numbers, trunk identifiers, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, and "comprehensive communication routing information".

The information is classed as "metadata", or transactional information, rather than communications, and so does not require individual warrants to access. The document also specifies that such "metadata" is not limited to the aforementioned items. A 2005 court ruling judged that cell site location data – the nearest cell tower a phone was connected to – was also transactional data, and so could potentially fall under the scope of the order.

While the order itself does not include either the contents of messages or the personal information of the subscriber of any particular cell number, its collection would allow the NSA to build easily a comprehensive picture of who any individual contacted, how and when, and possibly from where, retrospectively.

It is not known whether Verizon is the only cell-phone provider to be targeted with such an order, although previous reporting has suggested the NSA has collected cell records from all major mobile networks. It is also unclear from the leaked document whether the three-month order was a one-off, or the latest in a series of similar orders.

The court order appears to explain the numerous cryptic public warnings by two US senators, Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, about the scope of the Obama administration's surveillance activities.

For roughly two years, the two Democrats have been stridently advising the public that the US government is relying on "secret legal interpretations" to claim surveillance powers so broad that the American public would be "stunned" to learn of the kind of domestic spying being conducted.

Because those activities are classified, the senators, both members of the Senate intelligence committee, have been prevented from specifying which domestic surveillance programs they find so alarming. But the information they have been able to disclose in their public warnings perfectly tracks both the specific law cited by the April 25 court order as well as the vast scope of record-gathering it authorized.

Julian Sanchez, a surveillance expert with the Cato Institute, explained: "We've certainly seen the government increasingly strain the bounds of 'relevance' to collect large numbers of records at once — everyone at one or two degrees of separation from a target — but vacuuming all metadata up indiscriminately would be an extraordinary repudiation of any pretence of constraint or particularized suspicion." The April order requested by the FBI and NSA does precisely that.

The law on which the order explicitly relies is the so-called "business records" provision of the Patriot Act, 50 USC section 1861. That is the provision which Wyden and Udall have repeatedly cited when warning the public of what they believe is the Obama administration's extreme interpretation of the law to engage in excessive domestic surveillance.

In a letter to attorney general Eric Holder last year, they argued that "there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows."

"We believe," they wrote, "that most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted" the "business records" provision of the Patriot Act.

Privacy advocates have long warned that allowing the government to collect and store unlimited "metadata" is a highly invasive form of surveillance of citizens' communications activities. Those records enable the government to know the identity of every person with whom an individual communicates electronically, how long they spoke, and their location at the time of the communication.

Such metadata is what the US government has long attempted to obtain in order to discover an individual's network of associations and communication patterns. The request for the bulk collection of all Verizon domestic telephone records indicates that the agency is continuing some version of the data-mining program begun by the Bush administration in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack.

The NSA, as part of a program secretly authorized by President Bush on 4 October 2001, implemented a bulk collection program of domestic telephone, internet and email records. A furore erupted in 2006 when USA Today reported that the NSA had "been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth" and was "using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity." Until now, there has been no indication that the Obama administration implemented a similar program.

These recent events reflect how profoundly the NSA's mission has transformed from an agency exclusively devoted to foreign intelligence gathering, into one that focuses increasingly on domestic communications. A 30-year employee of the NSA, William Binney, resigned from the agency shortly after 9/11 in protest at the agency's focus on domestic activities.

In the mid-1970s, Congress, for the first time, investigated the surveillance activities of the US government. Back then, the mandate of the NSA was that it would never direct its surveillance apparatus domestically.

At the conclusion of that investigation, Frank Church, the Democratic senator from Idaho who chaired the investigative committee, warned: "The NSA's capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter."

Additional reporting by Ewen MacAskill and Spencer Ackerman

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/ju ... :Position1

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June 6th, 2013, 9:33 am
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Post Re: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon cust
National Journal wrote:
The NSA Doesn't Need Much Phone Data to Know You're You
By Niraj Chokshi and Matt Berman | Wednesday, June 5, 2013 | 10:06 p.m.

The National Security Agency is collecting the telephone data of millions of Verizon customers in the U.S., according to a Wednesday Guardian report, and the information collected could be incredibly revealing even if it doesn't seem so at first. That's because big data sets—even supposedly anonymized ones—can often be used to uniquely identify individuals.

The secret court order forcing Verizon to give up the data over a three-month period doesn't cover the contents of messages or personal information of individual subscribers, The Guardian reported. Instead:
Quote:
It specifies that the records to be produced include "session identifying information", such as "originating and terminating number", the duration of each call, telephone calling card numbers, trunk identifiers, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, and "comprehensive communication routing information".

The information is classed as "metadata", or transactional information, rather than communications, and so does not require individual warrants to access. The document also specifies that such "metadata" is not limited to the aforementioned items. A 2005 court ruling judged that cell site location data – the nearest cell tower a phone was connected to – was also transactional data, and so could potentially fall under the scope of the order.

The legal underpinnings of the data collection are not dissimilar to those behind the recent Justice Department subpoena for the phone records of Associated Press staff.

And, as a concurrent Guardian report points out, the government has long argued that this kind of data is perfectly legal to collect because it's similar to collecting the information on the outside of an envelope. But even that so-called "transactional" data—phone numbers, phone serial numbers, time and length of calls—can represent a goldmine of information. Collect a ton of data and you can use it later to identify individuals.

That's a fact researchers at MIT and the Université Catholique de Louvain, in Belgium, recently highlighted in their own study of a giant set of phone data. After analyzing 1.5 million cellphone users over the course of 15 months, the researchers found they could uniquely identify 95 percent of cellphone users based on just four data points—that is, just four instances of where they were and what hour of the day it was just four times in one year. With just two data points, they could identify more than half of the users. And the researchers suggested that the study may underestimate how easy it is:
Quote:
For the purpose of re-identification, more sophisticated approaches could collect points that are more likely to reduce the uncertainty, exploit irregularities in an individual's behaviour, or implicitly take into account information such as home and work- place or travels abroad. Such approaches are likely to reduce the number of locations required to identify an individual, vis-a`-vis the average uniqueness of traces.

And it's not just phone records that can reveal who you really are. A 2006 New York Times story made it clear just how simple it is to figure out a person's identity based on their web searches. A then-62-year-old woman in Lilburn, Georgia, thought she was perfectly anonymous in her searches for "numb fingers," "60 single men," and "dog that urinates on everything."

But when her AOL search data was released online, it didn't take much to lead reporters from Internet user No. 4417749 to Thelma Arnold. AOL later removed the search data and apologized for its apparently unauthorized release, but it serves as illustration that it doesn't take too much to figure who a person is based on what they're Googling for in the supposed privacy of their own home.

http://mobile.nationaljournal.com/natio ... u-20130605

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June 6th, 2013, 9:35 am
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Post Re: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon cust
Am I the only one that thinks this is wrong? :confused:

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June 6th, 2013, 11:09 am
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Post Re: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon cust
im curious as to the purpose of it all, the 2nd article says they arnt collecting the actual conversations, so what are they collecting this for?


June 6th, 2013, 11:14 am
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Post Re: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon cust
regularjoe12 wrote:
im curious as to the purpose of it all, the 2nd article says they arnt collecting the actual conversations, so what are they collecting this for?
They're collecting metadata supposedly to monitor terrorists.
Politico wrote:
The Obama administration is defending the program, arguing that the policy is a vital tool in monitoring terrorists and has the approval of “all three branches of government,” according to a senior administration official.
The 2nd article explains what can be done with said metadata, regardless of what the govt official below says.
Politico wrote:
“On its face, the order reprinted in the article does not allow the government to listen in on anyone’s telephone calls,” said the official, who asked not to be named. “The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the name of any subscriber. It relates exclusively to metadata, such as a telephone number or the length of a call.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/r ... z2VS2knPyv
For me this all goes back to the so-called PATRIOT Act as how it is responsible for eroding our privacy and freedoms, all in the name of 'war on terrorism'. Perhaps a discussion on whether or not its even possible to have a 'war' on an ideology, which is what terrorism (and any other 'ism') really is.

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June 6th, 2013, 11:48 am
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Post Re: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon cust
TheRealWags wrote:
regularjoe12 wrote:
im curious as to the purpose of it all, the 2nd article says they arnt collecting the actual conversations, so what are they collecting this for?
They're collecting metadata supposedly to monitor terrorists.
Politico wrote:
The Obama administration is defending the program, arguing that the policy is a vital tool in monitoring terrorists and has the approval of “all three branches of government,” according to a senior administration official.
The 2nd article explains what can be done with said metadata, regardless of what the govt official below says.
Politico wrote:
“On its face, the order reprinted in the article does not allow the government to listen in on anyone’s telephone calls,” said the official, who asked not to be named. “The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the name of any subscriber. It relates exclusively to metadata, such as a telephone number or the length of a call.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/r ... z2VS2knPyv
For me this all goes back to the so-called PATRIOT Act as how it is responsible for eroding our privacy and freedoms, all in the name of 'war on terrorism'. Perhaps a discussion on whether or not its even possible to have a 'war' on an ideology, which is what terrorism (and any other 'ism') really is.



no it is not...see the war on drugs.


June 6th, 2013, 12:17 pm
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Post Re: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon cust
List of those in the and that voted to reauthorize FISA

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June 6th, 2013, 1:20 pm
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Post Re: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon cust
PLEASE NOTE: I'm on lunch and didn't have time to read all the articles so I'm responding based upon the title.

Last year when we were running up to the election and all the talk was about how this administration smells very much like a socialist/communist regime, and people responded about how we were fear mongers and worse, I just have to ask if the same thoughts are still true?

What has this administration done that shows that it represents anything remotely close to America that most of knew and grew up with?

We have an entrenched administration that is fearful of it's own people so it's requesting that we "report on our neighbors" and now it's monitoring our phone calls. (Please don't compare to Bush, as that was a law based upon ethnic groups that certain people could easily hide within.) Now that other groups are and have been gaining popularity in going against the regime, you have concentrated efforts to shut them down using the strength and power of the Government Agencies. Mix all of this with many other side steps of the Constitution of the United States, and Congress and we have a government run amuck. One of the few things keeping him in office, is the idiot behind him is even scarier, so it's best to keep the one we know, instead of having the one we don't. That mixed with an even more dangerous situation of flaring up an ethnic war because of the diatribe that he was removed from office because of his racial background.

This ship is taking on water, and we've reached terminal velocity, there is no righting this one folks. The culture won't allow it, the government won't allow it, and we just need to figure out what we're gonna do with what's left.

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June 6th, 2013, 1:21 pm
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Post Re: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon cust
WarEr4Christ wrote:
PLEASE NOTE: I'm on lunch and didn't have time to read all the articles so I'm responding based upon the title.

Last year when we were running up to the election and all the talk was about how this administration smells very much like a socialist/communist regime, and people responded about how we were fear mongers and worse, I just have to ask if the same thoughts are still true?

What has this administration done that shows that it represents anything remotely close to America that most of knew and grew up with?

We have an entrenched administration that is fearful of it's own people so it's requesting that we "report on our neighbors" and now it's monitoring our phone calls. (Please don't compare to Bush, as that was a law based upon ethnic groups that certain people could easily hide within.) Now that other groups are and have been gaining popularity in going against the regime, you have concentrated efforts to shut them down using the strength and power of the Government Agencies. Mix all of this with many other side steps of the Constitution of the United States, and Congress and we have a government run amuck. One of the few things keeping him in office, is the idiot behind him is even scarier, so it's best to keep the one we know, instead of having the one we don't. That mixed with an even more dangerous situation of flaring up an ethnic war because of the diatribe that he was removed from office because of his racial background.

This ship is taking on water, and we've reached terminal velocity, there is no righting this one folks. The culture won't allow it, the government won't allow it, and we just need to figure out what we're gonna do with what's left.
All I'm going to say is I suggest you actually read the articles posted and others so that you can speak intelligently on this topic. Until then, enjoy your lunch.

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June 6th, 2013, 1:23 pm
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Post Re: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon cust
Here's another question that may not belong here, but how can we have "ride along" bills? Say I want to institute and Internet Safety Bill and have it become law, well then there are all these smaller, fine print bills that are added in, and never see the public scrutiny but if the law is signed, they too become law. How is that legal?

In Response to your replay:

WOW! :shock:

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2 Chronicles 10:14, "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."


June 6th, 2013, 1:24 pm
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Post Re: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon cust
After your shocking response I took a quick gander and see your point, I'll shut up and chew!

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June 6th, 2013, 1:26 pm
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Post Re: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon cust
WarEr4Christ wrote:
Here's another question that may not belong here, but how can we have "ride along" bills? Say I want to institute and Internet Safety Bill and have it become law, well then there are all these smaller, fine print bills that are added in, and never see the public scrutiny but if the law is signed, they too become law. How is that legal?
First off, I think those are called 'amendments' and/or possibly part of the 'reconciliation' process, tho I'm not positive on that. Secondly, that's a very good question, I've wondered that myself for quite some time; the only thing I've come up with is that considering as Congress makes the laws, they also get to determine what's 'legal' or not. dontknow.gif

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June 6th, 2013, 1:35 pm
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Post Re: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon cust
TheRealWags wrote:
WarEr4Christ wrote:
Here's another question that may not belong here, but how can we have "ride along" bills? Say I want to institute and Internet Safety Bill and have it become law, well then there are all these smaller, fine print bills that are added in, and never see the public scrutiny but if the law is signed, they too become law. How is that legal?
First off, I think those are called 'amendments' and/or possibly part of the 'reconciliation' process, tho I'm not positive on that. Secondly, that's a very good question, I've wondered that myself for quite some time; the only thing I've come up with is that considering as Congress makes the laws, they also get to determine what's 'legal' or not. dontknow.gif


FWIW:
They're called "non-germaine" (off topic) amendments, and they're only allowed in the Senate. That's not to say that the House doesn't throw ish in there too, but when they do it it's actually part of the law. It's a Senate rule that allows the practice. The House has no such rule.


June 6th, 2013, 3:23 pm
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Post Re: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon cust
The problem with this system isn't that they can get quick access to information, it's that they're doing it completely backwards. It was designed that if they had reasonable cause that a terrorist number calls someone in the states, that they could access the information connected to that call without a lengthy warrant process. If used with oversight, that use is completely understandable. But what's being done is they're accessing every single number and gathering all the metadata (number, address, numbers called as well as locations calls were made and where the phones travelled) and trying to match them up to the known terrorist numbers.

It's an overload of data with no oversight. How could you possibly get advanced warning if you don't know the terrorist number in the first place? So the argument that they've stopped a few attempted attacks by this method is impossible. If they couldn't stop the Boston attacks with firm intelligence from the Russians and an interview, how do you expect them to stop something without the content unless they knew a number first. And if they knew a number first, they don't need access to everything until that specific time.

Government has been proven time and time again that it can't be trusted, with the most recent being the IRS. This needs to be toned back to its intended use.


June 6th, 2013, 3:44 pm
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Post Re: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon cust
I don't like it... I don't like it one bit... I think it's a byproduct of people being more and more connected these days and we're going to need some politicians with strong political will and technological intelligence (sigh... we're doomed) to be able to usher in this new era responsibly...


June 6th, 2013, 5:33 pm
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