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back to article Facebook, Microsoft beg Feds: Let us tell users what YOU asked for...

Google, Facebook and Microsoft are all calling for more flexibility in disclosing more about that national security requests they receive from the US government. The lobbying comes amid ongoing controversy about the NSA's controversial PRISM surveillance programme. The PRISM system is alleged to allow signals intelligence …

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Devil

Probably true on the legal writs but...

Wasn't the point of PRISM that they didn't have to ask?

And if they don't have to ask, they most certainly won't.

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Meh

Appears

Appears to have been a run on toilet paper, with all the sh*t that's flying around.

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FAIL

Google account: Closed. MS account: closed.

Moved my on-line life to those European countries that are civilised and uphold the rule of law. Unlike the US.

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Anonymous Coward

Moved my on-line life to those European countries that are civilised and uphold the rule of law. Unlike the US.

Perhaps you should follow Ed Snowden's lead and move to Honk Kong on the basis of their history of freedom!

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yeah, because the US certainly has no influence in Europe. No siree bob!

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Just curious... which countries?

Forget about UK... France... Germany... Italy... Spain...

So, what's left? Swiss? Maybe...

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Don't get too excited

We also have GCHQ in Blighty, and I can't imagine other states not having the same kinds of setup.

Put it like this - 24/7 physical surveilance costs about £3M (based on the Assange figures from the Met). Let's say there are 2000 persons of interest in the country. £6Bn/year would appal the taxpayer, so they have to find other, cheaper ways to keep tabs. Having a bucketful of key intelligence within your borders for very little cost, you'd be absolutely bonkers not to use it. I doubt the intelligence services could be called 'absolutely bonkers', seeing as they do a pretty decent job.

So, it's a trade-off - higher taxes or more dead civilians...or making use of the resources that are sitting right there for the reading.

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FAIL

Re: Don't get too excited

"seeing as they do a pretty decent job."

Precisely the point. The level of terrorist attacks in the UK is much lower than when the IRA were waging a bombing campagnain from the island on the left. Given that why permit anything more intrusive "just because they can". It makes no sense either on a National Security or on an Austerity basis.

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Rule of law is certainly upheld here, you just not like the law.

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Re: Don't get too excited

So, it's a trade-off - higher taxes or more dead civilians...or making use of the resources that are sitting right there for the reading.

How long do you think people will continue to give their data to US companies if the US government treats it like it's own data store?

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pgp encryption

Perhaps you should have given NSA or whoever allegedly eavesdrops there a hard job. Encrypt all your messages with some nice pgp/gpg 2048-bit RSA key. That is Pretty Good Privacy after all.

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Anonymous Coward

'Google account: Closed. MS account: closed.'

Second that! If for no other reason than making a micro statement.... FB and Google spying for advertising dollars and now this! Hoping others will follow. but time is short. How can we put together a list of alternative free services that are local or non-US based. And how can we be sure those services aren't sharing with GCHQ or French, German or Israeli intelligence agencies, who in-turn are sharing bi-laterally with the US?

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Re: Don't get too excited ... or more dead civilians

Who says? Frankly it is possible that the security services have been wonderful - but there aren't many reports of arrests and convictions.

Frankly we lived through the American funded bombing of London every Christmas by the IRA, Al-queda only exists because the Americans created and funded the Taliban and later al-q.

Look at the approval ratings of the various presidents, pm's etc etc and realise that creating an 'enemy' and then taking 'strong action' against them is a way of fooling the majority of the thick and stupid, ill educated plebs in these 'democracies' into changing their mind and keeping these presidents in power and you realise what it is all about.

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Anonymous Coward

rotfl

European countries that are civilised

you, sir, have a GREAT sense of humour, I grant you that!

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Trollface

Re: Don't get too excited

The argument could be made that the level of attacks is much lower due to the intelligence services being able to do these things, I’m not making that argument, but it could be made, For example the number of road deaths as a % to drivers has gone down in the last 30 years, so everyone can stop wearing their seatbelts again, because it has been argued “laws requiring the wearing of seat belts are an infringement of individual liberty”, I’m not making that argument either, but it could be made.

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Re: Don't get too excited

Yeah; my citrus polar bear repellent works 100% of the time. Haven't seen a single polar bear since I moved to Spain.

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Would you care to name these safer Euro services that you've chosen? (Just curious, not being sarky).

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Anonymous Coward

I hate to bring it to you, but EU laws also have backdoors to "fight terrorism" (guess whose idea that was). Granted, they're not used with quite the same enthusiasm and gay abandon as the US, but they do exist.

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Meh

Re: Don't get too excited @Gordon 10

Yes but terrorist activity is lower BECAUSE the IRA are not waging a campaign anymore.

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Granted, they're not used with quite the same enthusiasm and gay abandon as the US

That's what everyone used to tell me. Also from what I've been reading if you have an internet fiberoptics backbone like the US they probably have shared this tech with certain other nations. So you might not want to make a bet on that.

Also in this comment area earlier "just scroll up" I posted something else that is really controversial and I probably shouldn't have done it. I have a very stable computer and in about 3 minutes of posting it here and on reddit I had for the first time in years the blue screen of death and a garbled screen which last time I say both was when I caught Chernobyl virus back in the 90's.

Amazing after the other post I did on this forum in around 3 minutes got the first BSOD in years.

What an unrelated coincidence......

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Coat

So, what's left? Swiss? Maybe...

Isn't Iceland considered a "European" country?

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Re: Don't get too excited

Troll!

Government where the 'leaders' and 'voters' have more power than households, families or individuals, is a tyranny, and should not be supported in anyway whatsoever; they have only their own and friends interests in mind despite their weasel words, and make all the people in a country a target; so stop supporting these criminals and thugs, and certainly do not indulge in ritual humiliation by voting for sects of this tyranny. Governments offer democracy as a confidence trick, to deceive you into supporting your oppressors and worse becoming their shield too, even when not a soldier!

Saying Democracy is the least worse solution is a deception, a proper Constitutional Republic with voting is better; it's a great pity that greedy America Nationalist pigs like Hamilton, John Adams and Abraham Lincoln hijacked the one in the United States by gradually turned it into the worst form of Democracy, an Imperial Democracy. BTW: it's a complete fabrication that Abraham Lincoln was a loved anti-slavery activist, he was evil, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfliZYSRDlE

The current abusive state situation is what was warned about in the books "1984" and "Brave New World", and should not be tolerated!

If we had no government (Anarchy) and all households were properly trained and armed (not kept disarmed by a jealous state), terrorism would have very limited impact, and be very dangerous, so not be worth the effort.

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Re: Don't get too excited

Wow, -14. Anyone got any actual counter arguments?

Is the 6Bn extra tax preferable? Should we roll over and give up? Forget abstract ideology for a few moments and look at the real situation in the real world. A secret service tasked with secret service tasks has a pile of answers on their desks but have to promise not to look at them no matter if it will save 1 life or 1000. And they'll get a press bollocking either way.

Do 14 of you really believe the world is Black and White, cut and dried? It's a mess, it involves messy people with messy agendas. My freedom costs you something and vice versa.

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And...

And so what, we now all know we are being spied on by the USA. Any or all of our requests that go that way, all the email via MS servers, gmail, or any of the other are all spied on, all our google searches etc etc. And, even if they weren't going via the USA it is pretty guaranteed that anything in Europe is already copied to the USA anyway - whatever jumping up and down eu commissioners do, or reassurances by Mr Vague.

Even then people forget - all your flights, sea tickets, car journeys, bank accounts, farts, random rantings in the street are all recorded and poured over. 1984 is nothing against the reality...

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Re: And...

I'd buy you a pint for that except it would put us both one or more lists.

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Joke

More transparency!!!

If the NSA want to know my high score on Candy Crush Saga... let them!

I have them beaten and they know it!!!

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Big Brother

The government is mining all the data they collect, as is google, facebook, twitter, Capital One, Verizon, Allstate, Experian, et al. I would say that if people really knew the abuses of google et al they would be far more concerned. It doesnt matter that it is a machine mining your personal information the results are the same - they are violating your privacy in the name of improving your searches, pushing ads to you, connecting you with people and events, etc.. and ALL the data is retained, collated, and connected. If someone can walk out with top secret data from some of our most secure systems and facilities without being caught - or even identified until they disclose they have the information there are NO EFFECTIVE safeguards. And if 'low' level employees can mine your IRS data and initiatite partisian or other attacks then there is NO EFFECTIVE oversight.

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Anonymous Coward

MS Office 365 (days per year of your IP being surveyed by NSA/FBI/your US competition)

Are there any zealots left preaching the new cloud technology? (I heard in la toilette that Apple is just about to get a patent for the WHEEL, Texaco will patent OXYGEN and Microsoft will patent CREATIVITY and COMPUTER).

Those who do not know history are damned to live it again. Please take the book of Edwin Black "IBM and the Holocaust" and read about the first successful attempt to nail down all the terrorists (or shall we say the Jews?) in a nation and whole Europe, map out their skills and whereabouts and expediously ship them (almost) all to Auschwitz. Take note - this was not a coincidence, but an operation planned and carefully prepared for years by brilliant strategists and clever scientists. Up to 1944, IBM, through Switzerland, was regularly receiving its duly earned license (shal we say INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS?) fees from Germany. A clean solution and a job well done (from the corporate and professional perspective). Today, as never before, we are confronted by greedy corporations that first create enemies, and then the SOLUTIONS to get rid of them.

ASK YOURSELF: HOW MUCH money and to whom went from the tax payers' money to greedy corporations who convinced some underpaid federal officers about the usefulness of PRISM? THIS must be a racket.

Another interesting story: (from Allan Bullock - Hitler - A Study In Tyranny). Hitler's henchmen from an important city were supposed to call the party's headquarters when they were ready to strike. And so, they just went to the post office, like any other customer asked to be connected to a number in Berlin and told the guys there: Grandma has died. The rest is history. We must make it impossible for this history to happen again!

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Re: MS Office 365 (days per year of your IP being surveyed by NSA/FBI/your US competition)

Godwin's Law icon, please.

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Re: MS Office 365 (days per year of your IP being surveyed by NSA/FBI/your US competition)

Godwin's law doesn't apply when the use of Nazism is relevant to the topic, which this post more or less is to the issue in the article.

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Let's face it; it's the NSA's job to hoover everything. If PRISM is only hoovering up selected information then you can bet that they're trying to hoover ALL THE THINGS under a different flag. People bitch about lack of privacy; but when something happens -like the Boston marathon, for example- the cry changes to "Why didn't you see this coming?". Were I the head of the NSA you can bet your arse that I would be hoovering everything I possibly could...you never know which data nugget will harvest gold.

The more complete an information set you have; the better you can make your detection algorithms...you can simulate historical events with all the attendant tweets/calls etc. and see if you can find any common denominators; warning signs; tells; or sequences of events that lead to undesired outcomes.

That's the ethical part of course. There's commercial espionage and changing times (anyone else remember when drunk driving was funny?). What's perfectly acceptable today is possibly thoughtcrime tomorrow. So that's a worry. If the system was devoted to nailing terrywrists and that alone, nobody would give a shit.

The real problem is that the nature of the game means that the spooks cannot be transparent in their operations. It's the unknown factor that people fear.

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The problem is if you harvest to much data you do not have the ability to process it all in a timely manor.

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Good point. So you harvest as much as your technology can cope with. Maybe by just harvesting the metadata for -say- voice calls for everybody and only the content for persons of interest. And some data is redundant...if you're after a bunch of people for torrenting films, say, you'd only need 1 copy of the film for court however many users you're going after. So there are ways of reducing the volume of data you need to process; some requiring sacrifice and compromise; some not.

By the way; I'm just playing devil's advocate here a little bit. Governments legislating themselves the right to go through my private biz fucks me right off.

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That's what makes this massive data slurp silly.

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Big Brother

Do you not watch Person of Interest?

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Patriot Act "almost martial law" + Prism "total information access" = Virtual total control

All politicians virtually being corrupted + Corrupt Administration + Supreme Court that doesn't or can't control them = Non Democracy

Military that doesn't step in = Virtually unstoppable dictatorship

Next step

Military steps in + Naive Drone operators + skinnable "like games in real time" drone control units = Drone operators seeing Iranians as they launch missles upon US troops sent into DC, Utah, NSA/CIA headquarter to retake the goverment for the people. A lot of US military arms have GPS so they know where and what the military will do realtime along with remote codes that can disable larger equipment so their enemies cannot use it against them.

You didn't think they needed 7500 drones for nothing did you?

Welcome to the real plan.

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Devil

Those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it's failures

The Patriot Act, FISA, Prism, Echelon, etc are all promoted by the military industrial complex. These are the same people who have always promulgated war and strife across the world by various means, assassination, financial ruin (manipulating currency and creating depressions), famine, creating horrible weapons and delivery systems, funding weapons sales to terrorist nations and others, selling those nations on the benefits of weapons and then selling the same stuff to their enemies.

This same game has been played for centuries with different players and pieces.

If any government is one of, or supports these fiends, then that government needs to be cleaned out, plain and simple. There is NO OTHER CHOICE!

It is time for the PEOPLE to decide what is right and what is wrong, stand up for your convictions and choose a side.

Are you for Good or Evil?

This is a very simple question but the answer has consequences most of us are not willing to take.

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Re: Those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it's failures

Simple question; but the answer is far from simple. For the same reason that pretty well every country in the world keeps a standing army -which is an organisation designed for EEEEEVIIIILLLL- nobody is going to unilaterally disband theirs because all the other foreign bastards have one. Same with spying operations.

There is no way in hell the US (in particular the US; due to their 'world's police' thing which doesn't go down too well with all involved parties) is going to stop any of this. If they say they are, then they will be lying.

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Re: Those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it's failures@ Dan Paul

You seem to be talking about revolution, and you are wrong. Every revolution puts everything back by at least two generations - the one that loses the country it grew up in and can never go back to, and the following one that has no solid culture in which to grow up. There are virtually no revolutions that made things better for the ordinary person inside 50 years - try to find a different solution.

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Encrypted by design

it's one thing for Google etc to "comply with valid legal requests", but they should have designed their service in such a way that it's mathematically impossible to comply. They could easily go for a fully-encrypted system, such that all the spooks could have (even with a court order) is gibberish. (Of course, google wouldn't be able to mine the text for ads that way).

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Black Helicopters

Re: Encrypted by design

Google would not be able to mine the text for ads that way, because they would be out of business.

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Holmes

Less than you think? But MORE than ENOUGH!

Knowledge is power, and knowledge of your private information is POWER OVER YOU.

We already know what you (the government and sociopathic big companies) are, now we're just haggling about how much of our freedom you can remove by lying to us about the need for more security. The truth is more like "It's hard to get information about actual terrorists, but it's really easy to get YOUR information."

Near as I can tell, most people remain pretty clueless about the real threats here. It isn't just your negative information, though those examples are easier to understand. Your mistakes and flaws are embarrassing at best and might be legally actionable at worse, so of course you prefer they not become public knowledge. However, even your positive information can become a weapon in the wrong hands, like the imaginary hands of a sociopathic not-really-a-person profit-uber-alles corporation. Your tastes and interests can be used to manipulate you and remove whatever freedom you think you have left.

Have a nice day. If they let you.

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Joke

The good old days

Ahhh, I remember a time when even my teacher didn't have a clue what I was up to....bliss.

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Clerk

Notice that Apple did not join the Prism program until after Steve Jobs died.

Google continues to obfuscate. They write.

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"We have always made clear that we comply with valid legal requests. And last week, the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged that service providers have received Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests."

"Assertions in the press that our compliance with these requests gives the U.S. government unfettered access to our users’ data are simply untrue. However, government nondisclosure obligations regarding the number of FISA national security requests that Google receives, as well as the number of accounts covered by those requests, fuel that speculation."

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It is not compliance with the FISA requests that gives NSA "unfettered access". Notice that the subject of these sentences from the google lawyer is the FISA requests. We are not interested in "valid legal requests". We are not interested in the FISA requests, google. We are interested in the information that is made accessible through google's participation in the NSA via the top-secret Prism program, which google joined in January, 2009. According to a highly authenticated document, this includes (inter alia) E-mail, File transfers, Chat, Videos, Photos, logins, VoIP, "Online Social Networking Details". No FISA requests are involved. Maybe there is some way that convey the kind of statement needed from google about the NSA. We don't want to know whether the NSA access to our date is legal. We want to know whether, as the result of the google participation in the Prism program, it is POSSIBLE.

As Edward Snowden has said, (and this statement is quite difficult to doubt) :"Any analyst at any time can target anyone, any selector, anywhere. Where those communications will be picked up depends on the range of the sensor networks and the authorities that analyst is empowered with. Not all analysts have the ability to target everything. But I sitting at my desk certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a Federal judge to even the President if I had a personal e-mail."

Who can judge whether there are NSA analysts (who have the authority to "wiretap anyone"), having less moral sense, more greed and less altruistic patriotism than Mr. Snowden? There are 1.4 million persons with US "top secret" clearance.

Fess up google, let's have the truth. Once we know the truth then we can decide what to do. In the interim, it's bye bye, google!

By this message I hope to illustrate with an example the fact that google is lying about their participation in the Prism program, and the extent of the information made available to NSA asnalysts through that program with or without any FISA request. If the google lawyer mentions FISA requests again, I'll croke!

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