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back to article NSA whistleblower to tech firms, Obama: 'Grow a pair!'

Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old fugitive who revealed the NSA's PRISM system, has told the technology companies involved in surveillance to stand up for users' rights and demand a change in the current law. "If for example Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple refused to provide this cooperation with the Intelligence Community …

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Re. Snowdon

We need more good men, men who are not tempted by money or power, but by honour and a sense of civic duty towards their fellow man. Men who will stand up and be counted, and keep the massive, evil conglomerates of power in check. Mr. Snowden is such a man, he has led the way. Where are the others? Let them stand up and be counted!

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Anonymous Coward

I feel sorry for Snowdon

He has done the world a makor favour. Yet in a few weeks time, when he has no more dirt to throw, the very people who encouraged him to do it (i.e. the reporters and papers) will drop him like a hot potato, any financial assistance he's receiving (hotels etc) will all eventually dwindle. Its gut wrenching really :(

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Re: I feel sorry for Snowdon

Well, duh, obviously, that's how things roll. You go public, you make your case, the opposition examines your entire life from the moment you were conceived, finds something that will be blasted into a larger story than the original (pick anything out of the ordinary, it can be phrased to sound wrong..."He ate a hamburger...a piece of cow's flesh, on a bun made from wheat that was once harvested by slaves in a third world country...he ate a hamburger, and enjoyed it!"), people become fixated on the bun ("Did he know that slaves were responsible for his white privileged food? How could he not?"), every time someone brings up the first piece ("Controversial NSA program"), they will, of course, feel the urge to discuss the second piece ("Isn't it dumb how they tried to link him to bun-gate?"), which will eventually sidetrack or arrest the whole conversation, ensuring that nothing is resolved. Wash, rinse, repeat.

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Anonymous Coward

it's not yet springtime in 'murica

@lightnight. The predictable trashing that is always directed at people who rock the boat is a form of control.

It's designed to show others that the leaker is 'not like you and me' - the desired inference being, ' Normal people like you and me don't do things like this, do we ?'.

The powers that be are terrified of what might happen should large numbers of 'normal' people wake up one day and say 'OK, enough ..'

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I feel sorry for Snowdon

"He has done the world a makor favour. Yet in a few weeks time, when he has no more dirt to throw, the very people who encouraged him to do it (i.e. the reporters and papers) will drop him like a hot potato, any financial assistance he's receiving (hotels etc) will all eventually dwindle. Its gut wrenching really"

What reporters are you referring to. Snowdon never received any encouragment from any reporters before he want public. He did this out of conscience and to illuminate the kind of state security apparatus you used to only find in some east European soviet republic.

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Big Brother

Re: it's not yet springtime in 'murica

@Nicho

"The powers that be are terrified of what might happen should large numbers of 'normal' people wake up one day and say 'OK, enough ..' "

Youtube: I'm mad as Hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!

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Devil

Re: it's not yet springtime in 'murica

Nicho,

As I have said several times in similar circumstances, the actions of these alphabet soup agencies overseeing "PRISM" are exactly why our forefathers created the Second Amendment.

The specific reason why they want us all disarmed is due to the fact that it is inevitable that we, the people will "wake up and smell the springtime air".

Which "Springtime" do you think I am referring to? Not "Springtime for Hitler" I assure you!

I commend Snowden for his chutzpah in revealing these secrets. No, he is not like most people in that he is acting on the courage of his convictions and principles.

It is altogether too sad that there are not more men like him and that those brave men would be part of our government.

Unfortunately, all we got are the spineless, lying weasels that we see on TV. If they are the new "normal" then I never want to be normal again.

Now is the time for all "GOOD" men to come to the aid of their country!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Explanation

Quote: "tells the world something which no one would ever have guessed (the NSA is eavesdropping on people)".

To be more exact: "Tells the world something that was published multiple times down to the exact technical detail".

I am going to make a (very) educated guess here: Where do you think Teresa May got her ideas from? Thin air?

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h3
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Re: A modern hero

Seen as the NSA wrote selinux surely then you cannot use Linux either.

I suppose RiscOS could be used.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A modern hero

LOL. You know, that this was happening was no news at all. Sorry, but if this surprised you you haven't been paying attention much. Snowden's main contribution is that he provided evidence that anyone who has even been *near* security knows already. All you needed to do was simply follow what they were trying to legislate out from underneath the need to have a judge sign off and you'd know what was happening.

THAT is why it's impossible to trust any US based company. It's not because they're all bad, because they are not - it's because the US laws are now so structured that the executives now only have the choice of collaborating or go to jail, without ever having been near a judge. It's as close as you can get to a totalitarian state, but with marketing to still laughingly refer to it as a "democracy".

At least it's now in the press for a couple of days, with some further amusing disclosures of GCHQ spying on everyone and heads of state apparently being "upset" about that. I don't believe that for a minute, they knew.

It reminds me of the time when a GCHQ staffer leaked that they were bugging the UN and Kofi Annan was "outraged". Duh, as if he didn't know, the chances of any politician at that level NOT knowing that they are bugged are about as big as the chances of George Michael successfully completing a car journey when he drives himself.

All they are doing is riding the media coverage.

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FAIL

Re: A modern hero

"and he will be reviled just as Assange is by many on these very forums" - we would probably like and appreciate Assange a whole lot more if he just kept his mouth shut.

Or, let's put it another way. If I was running a site akin to Wikileaks, I would not tell anybody about it. It wouldn't be a pick-up line, and I would have a normal boring job that I do as a normal boring person. A look at the situation Assange is now in is... well... sadly it was all rather predictable. You just don't piss off spooks and governments known for tantrums and then say "It was me! I did it! I haz got secrets!". Duh.

I think if you ask around, you'll find the less sheeplike and more cynical aren't exactly convinced by the charges laid against Mr. Assange. We just don't like him 'cos he's a giant super-sized twat.

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Re: A modern hero

>because you can vet it for spyware

You are qualified to vet if the PRNG in the RSA impementation is correct or if it has a little weakness put in by some mathematician at the NSA?

>. If such malicious code does get in somehow, it is quickly weeded out

Except when this happened accidentally and nobody noticed for 3years

Yes it's fairly easy to spot send(password,nsa.gov) but that doesn't mean that even opensource is automatically safe

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Re: A modern hero

Actually, Canadians trusted US data stores about as far as they could throw them pretty much as soon as the PATRIOT act was passed. We knew that we were being spied on right then and there.

It doesn't mean we're not buying Google services anyway, but a significant minority are insisting on Canadian datacenters these days, although I suspect that's changing to a majority right this minute.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A modern hero

@H3 - Archimedes approves of your RiscOS reference.

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Re: A modern hero

No doubt "rape" allegations and other slurs on his character will emerge over the coming weeks, and he will be reviled just as Assange is by many on these very forums.

Ummm not to put to fine a dampener on your zest to defend Mr Assange, but the rape allegations against him came before the Americans had any reason to want him. So comparisons such as that don't work.

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Stop

Re: A modern hero

Yet in other posts, Eadon has attacked the funding model upon which the BBC is built, when the alternative often leads to entities such as Fox News- or else to a situation such as Italy when the president owns much of the broadcast media.

/

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Re: A modern hero

@Yet Another Anonymous coward

The difference is the SELinux isn't encryption. It's MAC (Mandatory Access Control). There is no complex math involved. Other than the policy itself, it's relatively simple "does x have permission to do y?" And if you don't trust the US Govt sponsored encryption, try looking at some of the alternatives that have been put forward. e.g. the submissions put forward for examination in the SHA-3 contest, such as the Skein hash proposed by Niels Ferguson, Stefan Lucks, Bruce Schneier, Doug Whiting, Mihir Bellare, Tadayoshi Kohno, Jon Callas and Jesse Walker. You don't have to rely on govt. sponsored encryption. And even then, if you know what you're doing it's probably not as bad as you think. The md5 password hash designed by PHK took a fast hash function (md5) and made it more secure for use as a password hash by putting it through the hash function a number of times with a bit of math between each turn through the hash function. This increases the computational power it needs to generate the hash and the time it takes to brute force it. It may still end up being mathematically week, but the more complexity you add into the hash generation the longer it takes researchers to develop the attacks. Ever increasing CPU power is likely the biggest threat as it becomes more reasonable to brute force crack the passwords.

And if you don't trust SELinux, look at TrustedBSD or the new Capsicum framework being worked on for FreeBSD.

You're right, FOSS isn't automatically safe. The number of vulnerabilities found on FOSS web applications proves that, and is rather depressing that we're still getting it wrong fairly frequently. However it does mean that when problems are found, they can be fixed without waiting <N> months for a vendor to bother to acknowledge the problem and then release the patch. If the maintainers don't release a patch in a timely fashion, someone else will.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A modern hero

...Not being funny here, but I've honestly never seen so many upvotes for Eadon.....

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Re: A modern hero

It's pointless. Canadian data is almost always routed through the US.

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Anonymous Coward

Even OSX and Windows cannot be trusted

There have been rumors for years about NSA back doors into windows.

I always found it very odd that Microsoft's antitrust stuff all just vanished.

Why is Windows so easily pirated?

Microsoft bought Skype, previously regarded as secure.

Microsoft paid a fortune to kill a major non American smartphone operating system.

The XBone needs the camera to be working and to be online.

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Anonymous Coward

Marketing totalitarianism as democracy

Let's not forget what the second D in DDR was for. Unlike the third S in USSR, by some strange alchemy the D word remains untainted and is liberally used by western despots everywhere from Washington to Canberra. But I think it may be losing its sparkle.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A modern hero

Fine. Let's say they're both (assange and snowden) twats. But ad hominems are entirely irrelevant to the matter. Why keep up with them then, O useful idiots? You're just doing the work of the totalitarians for free. Feel better about it?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A modern hero

You seem to be pretty certain that the us spooks had no interest in Assange before his visit to Sweden. That seems rather preposterous to me. He has been a cypherpunk for decades.

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Mushroom

Re: A modern hero

I am sitting here, quite happily with my tin hat on, in my bunker, awaiting the MASSIVE amount of red thumbs I shall gain from this post.

But, however, my correction to this post is simply "There is no complex mathematics involved."

Or, shortened, "There is no complex maths involved"

As I understand it, we are in the UK, therefore the US version should be held in contempt.

Most things originating in the US at the moment are, indeed, held in contempt, so here is my one penny worth!

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15 minutes...

...Come and gone. That's how it is.

Fade to black.

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Re: 15 minutes...

This is not about the man. My understanding is that spying on Americans is the job of the FBI (a slightly more transparent and accountable organisation) and not allowed for the NSA.

The story is about the NSA ignoring or working around this restriction to the point where the intent of the prohibition is completely undermined. The prohibition is to limit government intrusion.

It would be like Google routing all data in loop through Canada so that the US government can read everything as it crosses the borders.

Its one thing to know something happens. Its quite another to have evidence which names names.

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Big Brother

Why do you think open source is any better?

Lets look at the model that is the internet

device with software/os > company providing software, service or connection to said internet

Do you think google or any of the other companies don't record your information because your using open source? like it's some kind of magical invisibility cloak.

Don't get me wrong I like open source but to even suggest that is naive in the extreme.

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Re: Why do you think open source is any better?

Using FOSS doesn't stop them tapping the wires, but it does make it pretty difficult to monitor the microphone and/or camera in your computer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why do you think open source is any better?

but it does make it pretty difficult to monitor the microphone and/or camera in your computer

Really? Is the kernel barred from accessing those devices? I think you're suffering what in the trade is known as a "false sense of security", which is IMHO more dangerous than simply not trusting the machine, ANY machine.

Unless you have the expertise to specifically screen for malicious code in an application I would do away with that certainty. It's not news that repositories get hacked too..

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Big Brother

Re: Why do you think open source is any better?

"Using FOSS doesn't stop them tapping the wires, but it does make it pretty difficult to monitor the microphone and/or camera in your computer."

<hat type="tin foil">Really? You audit the source of every update and compile yourself from said sources on a tool chain you cross-compiled yourself? If binaries, do you implicitly trust the distributors of said software not to cave to being leaned on (or threat of jail) for slipping something into it? Maybe there's a conspiracy with <insert favourite Linux here> where the American devs all know damn well that something is spyware, but they are legally gagged from even discussing the matter...and nobody in the internation community has reviewed the code (not that that would matter, the spyware isn't built with the published code, you need to decompile the driver to see that).

Can you say for absolute certain you know what every driver does and every bit of code in every driver does, that there is nothing that could be monitoring your activities in any way? Even in an FOSS release?</hat>

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Happy

Re: Why do you think open source is any better?

Well if the NSA want to see me sat here wearing my tinfoil hat in my y-fronts,vest, smoking jacket and bubble pipe eating scotch eggs whilst looking at pi porn (projects and idea for the raspberry) then they can do so

Seriously though, I'm pretty sure if they were using your microphone and camera that somebody and I have thought about doing this myself for fun, would have picked it up with packet inspection in the same way a certain android feature got caught out... a la Carrier IQ...

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Re: Why do you think open source is any better?

"a la Carrier IQ..." ... and look how widely that was deployed before it got found out.

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Re: Why do you think open source is any better?

One of the reasons my computer has neither a microphone or a camera, I guess.

That, and I have no use for them at the moment.

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Unhappy

"Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American,"

Damm right.

Being given a "loyalty" lecture from the man who arranged through a subordinate who went on to work for the company (because to do it himself would be a "conflict of interest.") the mult $Bn contract to deal with Iraq to his old company (as sole source and in large part cost plus).

The estimated "missing" funds from Iraq is > $13T, that's a 1 and 12 noughts.

Cheyney may not be the biggest (alleged) crook in American political history.

But he's the biggest (alleged) crook I'm aware of.

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I'd like to hear more about endpoint security from this guy.

So Mr. Snowden, what exactly *are* we doing wrong with endpoint security that's making our encryption easy to work around, anyway? Are we talking about people's PCs, or servers here?

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Re: I'd like to hear more about endpoint security from this guy.

>So Mr. Snowden, what exactly *are* we doing wrong with endpoint security that's making our encryption easy to work around, anyway? Are we talking about people's PCs, or servers here?

If the person you are communicating with (or their machine) is compromised, so are your communications with that person.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's true

No room for official malpractice in your worldview then? Wow. You are apparently one of the people that even a cursory reading of history warns us about.

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Flame

Re: It's true

"I hope that Snowden suffers a very long, painful ending."

And I hope that you (and all like you) find yourself on the pointy end of a false positive real soon. You deserve it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's true

'I hope that Snowden suffers a very long, painful ending'

Nice try posting AC! The NSA are tracing you as you type Mr Patriot!!!

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Re: It's true

Trolling should have some finesse if it is to get a reaction. Do try harder, old boy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's true

AC is Matt Bryant AICMFP

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Anonymous Coward

What Will Change?

How will this impact the internet? Some people who are "tech savvy" (like the readers of The Register) & companies will probably start using more security measures like encryption (Snowden said it works, though the security at the ends is easy to circumnavigate). I can foresee a balkanisation of the internet as well as some countries like Iran & China might establish their own national intranets. More businesses offering more private browsing, emails, etc. will appear. However, I don't think the average user of the internet will their behaviour much (I haven't). Either it's too much hassle, they're ignorant of the issue or they don't care.

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Trollface

Re: What Will Change?

Not much will change until the Worst Generation (Baby Boomers) are no longer in charge and are in nursing homes or graves instead where they belong.

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Trollface

hmm

Few words conjure passive evil with plausible deniability in my head like the term "defense" (best defense is a good offense) contractor employee. Right up there with concentration camp guard. The guy should have known why they were paying him so much.

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