Uhh. Yeah. Mad important. Thanks MJ.
The CIA’s chief technology officer outlined the agency’s endless appetite for data in a far-ranging speech on Wednesday.
Speaking before a crowd of tech geeks at GigaOM’s Structure:Data conference in New York City, CTO Ira “Gus” Hunt said that the world is increasingly awash in information from text messages, tweets, and videos - and that the agency wants all of it.
“The value of any piece of information is only known when you can connect it with something else that arrives at a future point in time,” Hunt said. “Since you can’t connect dots you don’t have, it drives us into a mode of, we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang on to it forever.”
Hunt’s comments come two days after Federal Computer Week reported that the CIA has committed to a massive, $600 million, 10-year deal with Amazon for cloud computing services. The agency has not commented on that report, but Hunt’s speech, which included multiple references to cloud computing, indicates that it does indeed have interest in storage and analysis capabilities on a massive scale.
The terrorists apparently would win if Google told you the exact number of times the Federal Bureau of Investigation invoked a secret process to extract data about the media giant’s customers.
That’s why it is unlawful for any record-keeper to disclose it has received a so-called National Security Letter. But under a deal brokered with the President Barack Obama administration, Google on Tuesday published a “range” of times it received National Security Letters demanding it divulge account information to the authorities without warrants.
It was the first time a company has ever released data chronicling the volume of National Security Letter requests.
National Security Letters allow the government to get detailed information on Americans’ finances and communications without oversight from a judge. The FBI has issued hundreds of thousands of NSLs and has even been reprimanded for abusing them. The NSLs are written demands from the FBI that compel internet service providers, credit companies, financial institutions and businesses like Google to hand over confidential records about their customers, such as subscriber information, phone numbers and e-mail addresses, websites visited and more as long as the FBI says the information is “relevant” to an investigation.
In each year from 2009 to 2012, Google said it received “0-999″ National Security Letters.
But in its talks with the authorities over releasing figures, Google said national security was on the mind of the Obama administration.
“You’ll notice that we’re reporting numerical ranges rather than exact numbers. This is to address concerns raised by the FBI, Justice Department and other agencies that releasing exact numbers might reveal information about investigations. We plan to update these figures annually,” Richard Salgado, a Google legal director, wrote in a blog post.
What makes the government’s position questionable is that it is required by Congress to disclose the number of times the bureau issues National Security Letters. In 2011, the year with the latest available figures, the FBI issued 16,511 National Security Letters pertaining to 7,201 different persons. (.pdf)
Google said the number of accounts connected to National Security letters ranged between “1000-1999″ for each of the reported years other than 2010. In that year, the range was “2000-2999.”
Google noted that the FBI may “obtain ‘the name, address, length of service, and local and long distance toll billing records’ of a subscriber to a wire or electronic communications service. The FBI can’t use NSLs to obtain anything else from Google, such as Gmail content, search queries, YouTube videos or user IP addresses.”
Google often must disclose that data via other means, as described here.
Under the Patriot Act, Google or others who receive a NSL must disclose the sought-after information if the authorities say the request is “relevant to an authorized investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”
National Security Letters are a powerful tool because they do not require court approval, and they come with a built-in gag order, preventing recipients from disclosing to anyone that they have even received an NSL. An FBI agent looking into a possible anti-terrorism case can self-issue an NSL to a credit bureau, ISP or phone company with only the sign-off of the special agent in charge of their office.
What’s more, the lack of court oversight raises the possibility for extensive abuse.
In 2007 a Justice Department Inspector General audit found that the FBI had indeed abused its authority and misused NSLs on many occasions. After 9/11, for example, the FBI paid multimillion-dollar contracts to AT&T and Verizon requiring the companies to station employees inside the FBI and to give these employees access to the telecom databases so they could immediately service FBI requests for telephone records. The IG found that the employees let FBI agents illegally look at customer records without paperwork and even wrote NSLs for the FBI.
GoogleGoogle Transparency ReportTransparency ReportFBINSAGovernment SurveillancePrivacyWarrantless WiretappingObamaBarack ObamaObama Administration
We Must Dig Deeper of the Day: Student Expelled For Finding Bug in School System
Ahmed Al-Khabaz, a 20-year-old computer science student at Dawson College in Montreal, Canada, was expelled last week for apparently reporting and doing a follow-up check on a major bug that he had found in the school’s student information system earlier last October. Upon initial discovery, Al-Khabaz met with the Director of Information Services and Technology François Paradis, who thanked him for his work and promised Omnivox’s distributor, Skytech, would fix the error.
Two days after this meeting, Al-Khabaz tested Omnivox to see if the fixes had been made. Minutes later, he received a phone call from Skytech’s president who accused Al-Khabaz of orchestrating an attack against the system and threatened him with jail time if he didn’t agree to sign a non-disclosure agreement about the bug. When Al-Khabaz reluctantly signed the documents, he was promptly expelled for “unprofessional conduct,” barring him from enrollment at any other college in the region.
… what’s going on here?
Over the past year copyright holders have asked Google to remove 51,395,353 links to infringing webpages, a dramatic surge compared to previous years. The search giant is currently processing half a million “infringing” links per day, and this number is increasing week after week. At the same time, Hollywood and the major record labels want Google to increase its anti-piracy efforts.
In common with many other websites on the Internet Google has an obligation to remove infringing content upon receiving a valid DMCA request from copyright holders.
To give the public insight into the scope and nature of this process, Google started to publish all takedown requests online in their Transparency Report.
Since then, the number of URLs Google is being asked to remove has grown rapidly. Last week Google received takedown requests for a record-breaking 3,502,345 URLs, which is 15 times more than the amount received in January.
Google doesn’t report yearly figures, but we added up all the weekly reports and found that in 2012 Google was asked to remove 51,395,353 links to infringing webpages. Nearly all of these webpages are no longer showing up in Google’s search results.
The data further reveals the RIAA is the most active sender. The music group asked Google to remove links to 7,816,766 allegedly infringing webpages this year.
Looking at the websites that Google received the most takedown notices for, we see that the file-hosting search engine FilesTube tops the rankings with 2,273,280 links. While this is certainly a significant number, it’s less than one percent of all FilesTube pages indexed by Google.
Google was further asked to remove 554,613 links to The Pirate Bay, which puts the most notorious BitTorrent site in 16th place.
The FBI has recently formed a secretive surveillance unit with an ambitious goal: to invent technology that will let police more readily eavesdrop on Internet and wireless communications.
The establishment of the Quantico, Va.-based unit, which is also staffed by agents from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Drug Enforcement Agency, is a response to technological developments that FBI officials believe outpace law enforcement’s ability to listen in on private communications.
While the FBI has been tight-lipped about the creation of its Domestic Communications Assistance Center, or DCAC — it declined to respond to requests made two days ago about who’s running it, for instance — CNET has pieced together information about its operations through interviews and a review of internal government documents.
DCAC’s mandate is broad, covering everything from trying to intercept and decode Skype conversations to building custom wiretap hardware or analyzing the gigabytes of data that a wireless provider or social network might turn over in response to a court order. It’s also designed to serve as a kind of surveillance help desk for state, local, and other federal police.
Blogger told she’s not a journalist, fined $2.5 million: This is an important case. The Oregon blogger, Crystal Cox, runs a number of legal sites that play whistleblower to various firms. One of those firms, Obsidian Finance Group (they of obsidianfinancesucks.com) sued over defamatory postings. Nearly all of the allegations were thrown out — except for one. The post was fact-based, Cox claimed, as it was based on a source inside the company. But here’s the important part: A federal court claims that she’s not a journalist, despite the fact that the post was journalistic in nature, and she’s not subject to the shield laws that protect journalists in her state. Hence … the fine. This is important. Follow this story.
Wow. WOW. As a former “real journalist,” this is horrifying. Whistleblowers AND journalists (even ones on the little ol’ Interwebz) should be protected under the law. Surprise, surprise: federal courts siding with a corporation over an actual person!
Fuck all the emo shit. Click the link. You’ll be as upset as the people below me. Though you will, ostensibly, express it better.
Read and reblog please.
Oh my gosh folks. THIS JUST GOT FREAKING REAL. Apparently, they will be listening to Hollywood and other representatives in FAVOR of the bill, but they are refusing to listen to representatives OPPOSED to the bill when they have the hearings. THEY ARE ALREADY CENSORING by disallowing opponents of the bill!
This is such fucking bullshit. How is rejecting statements, submissions, and testimony opposing a law even considered constitutional? Well, of course any law could be passed if they just ignored any opposition to it. Think about that for a bit.
The US State Department is once again undermining its own Internet Freedom Initiative - this time by giving the green light to a copyright bill that will adversely affect online free speech around the world.
The Stop Internet Piracy (SOPA) was introduced in the House of Representatives two weeks ago, and while it does very little to stop piracy, it gives corporations unprecedented power to censor almost any site on the internet. And more vitally, it threatens the very sites and human rights activists that the State Department has previously pledged to protect.
In a letter to Rep Howard Bernman, a co-sponsor of the bill, Secretary Hillary Clinton tacitly endorsed the proposed legislation, stating, “There is no contradiction between intellectual property rights protection and enforcement and ensuring freedom of expression on the internet”. Prominent supporters of the bill are now distributing the letter as a sign the State Department is behind their bill.
But what does SOPA actually do? One provision in SOPA allows the Attorney General to cut off sites from the domain name system, virtually disappearing them from the web - the “Internet death penalty” as many have called it. Foreign sites would have to submit to US jurisdiction to contest the Attorney General, a costly and timely process many will not be able to afford even if innocent. Another provision allows corporations to directly force payment processors and advertisers to cut off an alleged infringing websites’ money supply - even if only a portion of the site is infringing. Still another provision gives immunity to companies who voluntarily cut off suspected infringing websites with virtually no oversight."
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