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back to article New NSA tool exposed: XKeyscore sees 'nearly EVERYTHING you do online'

The cover has been blown on an NSA program which collects data on “nearly everything a user does on the internet” even as the debate rages over the secretive US agency's mass surveillance of innocent people. The XKeyscore program covers emails, social media activity and browsing history and is accessible to NSA analysts with …

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....the 2008 vintage training manual ......

So this is 5+ year old information.

Lots of improvements in those 5 years no doubt.

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Big Brother

Re: ....the 2008 vintage training manual ......

What we haven't heard yet:

1. Massive government controlled botnets of millions of systems

2. Government-produced malware that specifically targets tech workers, wealthy targets, etc

3. Western Government Spook-agencies "boosting" their budgets by hacking into and stealing from private bank accounts

How long until the above points are revealed?

What happens when common folk fight against these actions? Will they be charged with "treason", "espionage", etc?

What happens when hackers release tools to fight the snooping? Will they be charged with "aiding the enemy"? Hacking crimes?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ....the 2008 vintage training manual ......

I think 3. is a tad unlikely. Apart from the odd oil sheik or Russian mobster possibly... at a stretch.

Boosting their budget by using wholesale industrial espionage to boost their domestic GDP and thus becoming an even more essential national asset however... well isn't that pretty much what it's all about?

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Facepalm

Re: ....the 2008 vintage training manual ......

@AC 22:06 - >"I think 3. is a tad unlikely. Apart from the odd oil sheik or Russian mobster possibly... at a stretch."

Right - why would they ever do anything illegal for money? It's not as if the CIA arranged the sale of Nicaraguan crack cocaine on the streets of Los Angeles in the 1980's in order to fund illegal weapon sales to Iran.

Oh wait...

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Big Brother

Totally disgusting.

This is the worst we heard to date. Completely and totally disgusting.

There's no way to protect ourselves. The net as far as i am concerned has turned in an instrument of repression.The freedom we thought we had was just a trap. Now that we rely on it we're f*****.

The only way to get rid of this is to take the governments out and elect new ones that will scrap this totally outrageous level of surveillance. Anyone who don't commit in writing their intentions to stop this insanity is against the People and should NOT be elected.This is f****** insane

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Totally disgusting.

If you thought the internet was ever a totally free environment where you could do or say anything you were sadly mistaken.

You could always not go online if you wanted to "protect" yourself.

You're coming off a bit insane yourself with your "take the governments out" mentality.

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Meh

Re: Totally disgusting.

'You could always not go online if you wanted to "protect" yourself.'

Where 'online' includes using telephones, streets and other places with cameras (and maybe surveillance drones will become as ubiquitous before too long?) postal services... anything I've missed?

(Sounds of Satchmo's Wonderful World waft in the background).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Totally disgusting.

So you want the web to be totally free but you reject the freedom of others to use it in a way you don't like?

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Gimp

Re: Totally disgusting.

"The only way to get rid of this is to take the governments out and elect new ones that will scrap this totally outrageous level of surveillance. Anyone who don't commit in writing their intentions to stop this insanity is against the People and should NOT be elected.This is f****** insane"

Not a government issue.

As Bismark observed "Governments come and governments go but the bureaucracy goes on forever"

Those civil servants will survive "regime change."

And their thirst for data is insatiable

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Re: Totally disgusting.

> So you want the web to be totally free but you reject the freedom of others to use it in a way you don't like?

I expect to be free offline , but I don't expect to followed around by the government, writing down everywhere I go, everything I look at and purchase in shops, everything I say to people, in a public place or when no-one else is around. I don't expect my house to be bugged or my telephone tapped.

On the other hand, if I were a criminal I would expect this and I'd take steps to foil it. Send stuff by real post, dead drops, encrypted messages on public bulletin boards etc.

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Re: Totally disgusting.

The freedom of others? So the US voted for this or it was debated and made law openly in Congress?

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Re: Totally disgusting.

Those civil servants will survive "regime change."

Not if we ever got our act together and elected the right sort of people. We are still a democracy, we do hold the ultimate power via our vote, and we do still therefore hold the ultimate responsibility.

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Re: Totally disgusting.

"We are still a democracy..."

Technically.

"...we do hold the ultimate power via our vote..."

Not so much. You only get to vote for one of the official candidates. And who chooses them? Moreover, the great majority of voters will not use their votes intelligently as you suggest, but vote unthinkingly for "their party" or the guy who sounded best on TV.

"...and we do still therefore hold the ultimate responsibility".

Yes, sadly enough we do. Responsibility without power - not an enviable situation to be in.

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Re: We are still a democracy

No we're not and never were. We are and have been a Republic which is something a bit different.

The point about electing the right people might hold. But we've been doing a shitty job on that front since at least 1932 and possible a good 40 or so years before that. Hell, there are a bunch of people out there who will tell you we stopped being a Republic around the time Lincoln freed the slaves.

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Re: And who chooses them?

We do, at least those of us who bother to vote in primaries.

If you want a bit more influence, get off your ass and volunteer as a precinct organizer for your preferred party. I know people who have made a difference on that front. There just aren't enough of us doing it. And no, there likely won't be any obstacles because typically 2/3 of the positions are empty.

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Impressive

Impressive tech for 2008.

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Alien

Re: Impressive

The really scary part is the first item on page 17 which makes you wonder just how far the capabilities go. I'm thinking Russia/China are probably quite worried by now.

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Re: Impressive

I'm thinking Russia and China have something very similar in operation, against their own citizens as well as those of other nations. If not, they are much more likely to be envious than worried. And if you think about it, it actually might make sense for the Russians, who have been targets for a good deal of terrorist activity.

The Simply Shocking presentation describes fairly impressive capabilities, but appears at bottom to be a set of large scale fast filters operating on a set of cable taps, generating indexes for interactive use by human analysts as a research tool. This apparently is done at human speed, which puts significant limits on the scope of intrusion. Little or nothing in the presentation even hints at domestic U. S. use of XKeystore, and the map on slide 6 suggests rather firmly that the targets are external to the U. S. and domestic activity is noted in passing (although doubtless followed up if interesting). Nothing in it suggests that the information is collected from everyone - the presentation outlines capabilities to capture what interests an analyst, using either strong or weak selectors, search it with various queries to provide a strong(er) selector, and then revisit it or apply stronger selection criteria to additional captures.

All the really bad stuff must be in slides 22, 29, and 30.

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Anonymous Coward

On the contrary

Everything in the presentation suggests that information is collected on everyone.

The tap -> collect -> pattern match -> index -> query -> analyse chain is pretty logical and probably unavoidable. But you have to do the "collect" bit on everyone because you can't tell who's who or what's what at that level.

What the presentation shows is only that the "analyse" bit is subject to some minimum level of control - and that not even amounting to proper oversight. Very probably the "query" phase throws up a lot of irrelevant data on lots of people that the analyst has to pretend not to see. Everything else applies to everyone who uses the internet, US citizen or not.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Impressive @tom dial

"Little or nothing in the presentation even hints at domestic U. S. use of XKeystore"

You're forgetting the 5 Eyes. The US uses this to spy on foreign nationals, as do UK, NZ Oz etc. They then pool the data. All this is quite legal, because none is spying on their own citizens.

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Megaphone

DON'T LISTEN TO THIS.

THIS IS NOTHING NEW.

THERE ARE COOKIES IN THE KITCHEN!

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YOU ARE FREE TO DO WHAT WE TELL YOU

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Big Brother

Re: Destroyed All Braincell's

"....COOKIES IN THE KITCHEN!" I would suggest you should be more concerned with all cookies out there on the Web.

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Thumb Up

Go back to bed America, your government is in control. Here, here's American Gladiators. Watch this, shut up, go back to bed America, here is American Gladiators, here is 56 channels of it! Watch these pituitary retards bang their fucking skulls together and congratulate you on the living in the land of freedom. Here you go America - you are free to do what well tell you!

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WTF?

300 Terrorists?

Hmmm...I wonder what orifice that number came from?

Remember, this number came from an agency whose basic job is to lie.

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Re: 300 Terrorists?

It is also the agency that took over a week to determine that 48 some odd terrorist plots had been stopped because of the other programs. So yeah, this is certainly pure shit too.

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Re: 300 Terrorists?

"Remember, this number came from an agency whose basic job is to lie."

No it's not: It's from an agency whose basic job is to watch and listen.

CIA != NSA

That said, I doubt the figure was carefully fact-checked.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 300 Terrorists?

Ok, I'll correct that for you. It's from an agency whose basic job is to kill people, organise coups, extraordinarily render people, and generally be answerable to nobody, oh and then lie about what they've been up to.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 300 Terrorists?

"It's from an agency whose basic job is to kill people, organise coups, extraordinarily render people, and generally be answerable to nobody, oh and then lie about what they've been up to."

Yes, and "Enemy of the State" really was a documentary. Of course.

*sigh* Is it that hard to see the difference between the CIA and the NSA?

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Devil

Re: 300 Terrorists? (Who all work for the Government)

Is it really that hard for YOU to understand that there are no rules, checks and balances any longer and there IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE CIA, FBI AND NSA (or any other rogue agency).

They believe that we citizens no longer deserve any rights, protection or privacy. Only SOME citizens know otherwise. That makes us the enemy, and "Enemy of the State" might as well be a documentary since the alphabet agencies are all in direct violation of the Constitution and Posse Comitatus.

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FAIL

Re: 300 Terrorists? @Psyx

Congress to James Clapper/NSA: Do you apply mass surveillance to the U.S. population?

James Clapper: No, we do not apply our technology to the at large American population.

(One week later) James Clapper to Congress: I lied. We do spy on everyone.

Were you asleep during all that? Or was it just drowned out by Fox News blaring at you?

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Re: 300 Terrorists?

Apparently it is, since both carry out assigned tasks in support of United States foreign policy.

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Gimp

Re: 300 Terrorists? (Who all work for the Government)

"They believe that we citizens no longer deserve any rights, protection or privacy. Only SOME citizens know otherwise. That makes us the enemy, and "Enemy of the State" might as well be a documentary since the alphabet agencies are all in direct violation of the Constitution and Posse Comitatus."

Short version. Citizens are the enemy.

Insofar as they stop the heads of those agencies doing what they want, when they want to do it.

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Re: 300 Terrorists?

I was rather wondering..

If they've caught 300 terrorists, what happened to the 300 court cases that should inevitably follow if you do this sort of stuff in accordance with the Rule of Law?

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FAIL

Re: 300 Terrorists?

"Ok, I'll correct that for you. It's from an agency whose basic job is to kill people, organise coups, extraordinarily render people, and generally be answerable to nobody, oh and then lie about what they've been up to."

No it's not.

If you're going to whine about the intelligence services, at least learn which are which.

NSA are analogous to GCHQ: They don't send field agents out to cap people; they have clever people who stare at screens.

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FAIL

Re: 300 Terrorists? (Who all work for the Government)

"Is it really that hard for YOU to understand that there are no rules, checks and balances any longer and there IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE CIA, FBI AND NSA (or any other rogue agency)."

Block capitals don't make you right.

The fact that the NSA don't have enough checks and balances (they don't lack them totally: That's absurd) does still not mean that they have hit-teams running around and regularly organise coups. That's the CIA's job.

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FAIL

Re: 300 Terrorists? @Psyx

"Were you asleep during all that? Or was it just drowned out by Fox News blaring at you?"

WTF?

No, I wasn't asleep. And I agree that they're exceeding their remit. I'm just pointing out that the NSA don't organise coups and that people who think they should should and shout about it should instead perhaps look up what they actually do.

But y'know: Thanks for labelling me as a right wing Fox News watcher just because I don't agree with you. Clearly you are a cannibal mass murderer who watches Neighbours. Or something else made up, like your own character assessment.

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Anonymous Coward

Finest of fine lines

There is a very fine line involved in deciding if access to everything is appropriate. The auditing referred too is probably non-existent in reality. The approval process for doing this is also weak.

This is why Congress enacted FISA, putting an independent, non-executive branch, the court, in the loop. The NSA has wanted around this for years, as being a cumbersome and occasionally controlling process.

That was what it was intended to be, so that unauthorized people can't get my data without someone asking why..

Just think if ASPCA could read your data...Far fetched, but that is actually happening in Britain. What right would they have for that? Or a cop checking up on his girlfriend? Happened in New Jersey.

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Unhappy

Re: Finest of fine lines

"The NSA has wanted around this for years, as being a cumbersome and occasionally controlling process."

And with the passing of THE PATRIOT Act they got their wish.

a)A court with highly secret procedures and processes b)Primarily listens to only the government PoV and c)Issues warrants of such broadness that 1 warrant can basically cover "The rest of the world."

So Mr AC, either you're behind the times or your ignorance is deliberate.

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Holmes

Re: Finest of fine lines

Strawman argument - nobody anywhere is saying the RSPCA nonsense is a good thing that shouldn't be combated with every resource available. People *are* saying that about this crap.

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So basically their defense of this can be summed up thusly: Well yes, we collect massive amounts of data on everybody with no warrant or any kind of oversight, but we won't peek. Honest.

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Flame

Wake up call

It's time to start encrypting everything.

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JDX
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Re: Wake up call

It's time to stop overreacting. Never mind the "if you've done nothing wrong you've nothing to fear" argument... what actual harm does it do you if people can view your emails, compared to the hassle you want to put yourself through just to stop them for the sake of it?

I couldn't really give a crap that the NSA knows what I post on the Register for example!

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Black Helicopters

Re: Wake up call

It's time to start encrypting everything.

If you read the slideset published by the Grauniad, you'll see that that's one of the things that they specifically look for.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wake up call

Agreed, as long as people are aware that typical RSA keys are inadequate and ECDHE-RSA should the chosen encryption method.

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Re: Wake up call

True, except they will then summarily capture and store your encrypted stream *forever*, regardless of your (not sure how to put this) "FISA standing" (51% chance you are foreign, etc.). Since they can't read your content in the moment, there's no privacy violation per se in collecting your data.

I'll bet a separate FISA rubber stamp lets them proactively analyze your encryption method and partially decrypt your data if possible -- just so they can be ready to do it quickly when, well, "warranted".

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@JDX

Why would anyone post on an open forum why I don't want the NSA tracking us? Dafuq?

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Re: Wake up call

>Never mind the "if you've done nothing wrong you've nothing to fear" argument...

Ok I will when you quit trying to make it.

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Re: Wake up call

>what actual harm does it do you if people can view your emails

Without a warrant it violates the US constitution for one thing if the US government does it. Even if the SCOTUS doesn't want to do its job and tries to claim our founding fathers wishes don't apply to our new fancy technology or thinks it can issue blanket warrants that apply to everyone. Its a lie to say today's emails are not the same as personal papers and effects in their time.

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