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back to article Botched court doc outs Google as respondent in national security flap

An error by the US Department of Justice's document-redaction staff has inadvertently let slip a secret that the DoJ has spent months battling in the courts to protect – albeit one that will come as a surprise to no one. The DoJ has long maintained that the practice of using National Security Letters (NSLs) to obtain information …

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i have not yet received any nsl todate,

i have not yet received any nsl todate, and certainly not since my last post that i have received any...

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Re: i have not yet received any nsl todate,

I could tell you whether I've received any, but then I'd have to redact you...

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Re: i have not yet received any nsl todate,

The laws binding recipients of National Security Letters forbid me from telling you whether or not I have received such a letter.

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Is anyone else having issues with accessing gmai, play, or google at all?

For the pas hour or so, it has been erratic, then inaccessinle. Other sites were for awhile, which might be due to google possibly falling over. Or, maybe it is just me...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is anyone else having issues with accessing gmai, play, or google at all?

Well, gmai is no longer with us, but gaoût is still here.

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winds of change

Kind of funny watching the wind pick up on the government and the NSA's house of silent cards. Impressive they got this far with all the private contractors. Secrets are probably a lot easier to keep when you have the moral high road and the subordinates understand this. When you are hiding things just to be hiding things eventually it will fail. So much for Obama being the transparent President.

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Re: winds of change

If Obama had been 'transparent' then people would have been able to spot the inner Republican.

What you gonna do come the next election, people of America?

"Clowns to the left of me (you), Jokers to the right..."

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Re: winds of change

"So much for Obama being the transparent President."

He looks perfectly transparent from where I'm sitting.

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Re: winds of change

"people would have been able to spot the inner Republican."

Good one. As if both sides of American politics aren't as bad as each other.

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Thumb Up

Re: asdf Re: winds of change

".....So much for Obama being the transparent President." Yes we can (scam the voters)!

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Re: winds of change

Adsf makes a very good point here.

Everyone wants to work for the good guys, you can even pretend you are the good guys and fool yourself.

With some of the stuff being hidden here, any actual real good guys will be hard pressed to feel good about what they are doing or have any real loyalty to the administration that is pushing them to ignore any moralities they may have personally.

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Trollface

Re: winds of change

Quite so. American politicians, whichever party you refer to, wouldn't know left of centre politics if it bit them in the butt.

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Re: winds of change

There's only one party in power in the USA - The Money Party.

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Facepalm

Re: As if both sides of American politics aren't as bad as each other.

In other words, they are like politicians everywhere...

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writing this ...

... whilst still laughing my ████ off.

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Re: writing this ...

You have a Google head too?

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i meant gmail, lol...

but, i cannit access blogspot, either. Maybe google is doing housecleaning as an audit for an ass-ripping judge who may be quite angry right now....

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Seems confirmed

unless it is a local area issue, but a girl i interrupted in a restaurant also cannot access google.

A guy walking out said, "i applaud google for holding out as long as they did. At&t, those bastards, they rushed to help do everything they could to help them"... Well, time will tell what is up...

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Anonymous Coward

Google is working fine here

in South Australia. Of course, we're several hours in the future, so that might explain it.

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Re: Google is working fine here

Section 31 will be on to you shortly, hehehe

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Pint

Re: Google is working fine here

Theyve already been here.

We fought them off in the good old aussie tradition of pelting them with half full cans of warm, flat beer.

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my mistake. might be dns or something at the public library

since the library machines see google and blogspot. My tablet sees picassa, but not google or blogspot, tho.

Fun fun fun...

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Pint

GOOGLE's BACK!

That wa some FAST delousing! I bet their server farms are smokkkkin' hahaha... (I don't smoke...)

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Happy

With all the US government secrets I read in the news...

I almost feel like I got a security clearance without anybody telling me.

But wait, if I were on the inside, they'd probably forbid me to read the news reports.

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Re: With all the US government secrets I read in the news...

You're correct, and if you did read a report, you'd have to report it.

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Anonymous Coward

Well, if the DoJ decides to go after the founder of Lavabit for talking about what he shouldn't be talking about, then the DoJ will need to do the "moral" thing and also go after themselves for talking about what shouldn't be talked about. They did violate a court order, did they not?

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nah...

They probably exempt themselves...

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Anonymous Coward

"the futility of the government's efforts to keep its NSL program a secret" from the citizens of the United States. Do I need to say more?

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"The Emporer ain't got no clothes on!"

"Hush! Do you want 'im to 'ear ya?"

"Well, why not! We can see that 'e's nakkid, surely he can see as good as us!"

"But as long as we don't talk about it, we won't go to gaol"

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Blunder

Bet someone's head is gonna roll over that! Probably be sent to jail for a zillion years as an example, as that seems to be standard form for any government-related leaking! Don't they have a word-search to redact documents?

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Trollface

You're talking about a civil servant. Prison, for those people, is forbidding access to the cappuccino machine for a day. The worse he'll get is a year's delay in the promotion schedule.

And yes, they have word search, but that's just like self-cleaning ovens - you still have to launch the procedure.

And that's hard to do if you've been banned from the cappuccino machine, man ;)

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The utmost care

You are forgetting the need to vet all sotware and subject the developers to intrusive body searches. The whole process only takes twenty years (the contractors are paid by the hour and are in no hurry). And then some bureaucrat has to sign it off (and he's only interested in covering his backside, not in getting results, which means he won't). Explains why the FBI was till recently (still is?) on MSDOS

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Re: Don't they have a word-search to redact documents?

That is actually insufficient for properly redacting electronic documents. After you've applied the search and replace you also have to remove the data that shows you applied the search and replace. But you need to do so in a way that keeps track of the document and all of it's changes in a forensically acceptable manner in case the document(s) in question are required at court proceedings.

So if you can find a way to easily meet both requirements, you can make a fortune on government contracts.

These things were easier when all you needed was a box full of black markers and stacks of paper.

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Re: Don't they have a word-search to redact documents? Really?

Re: Don't they have a word-search to redact documents? Really?

OK, this one is jokes-free/politically-neutral...

In the 90s, what I used to do was:

-- Edit the doc

-- Think about the mistakes ms made with doc revisions (recall the one about the doc having something to the effect of "[client] is such an idiot and a waste of our time and efforts converting them to [product name]..."

-- Copy the text to a notepad file, to hell with special formatting (mostly gimmicky anyway, and showy-offy)

-- Close the original .doc/.lwp/.wp file saving it for future edits

-- Close the word processing app

-- Reopen the app

-- Paste in the TEXT FILE's contents

-- Re-do all the textual formatting, making NO incriminating or politically embarrassing commentary updates and adding/causing NO FURTHER revisions.

-- Save that document as "SANITIZED Verson of DOC [document name]

But, with massive work flow, CRM, CMS, and similar programs, data can be far-flung, and content control might be dodgy or troublesome if online/offline backups are mid-stream. So, some sort of parallel, mini, pre-publishing platform might be needed so that publishers can be more confient that embarrassing or contract-killing revisions do not resurface. All this, of course, presumes there is no malicious or mean intent to expose the embarrassing stuff.

In the case of court docs, find-and-replace should have been sufficient, especially with and without wildcard searches on the term "Google". Simply searching on "G*g*l* should have sufficed, unless the document is compount, and edited in real-time by other contributors/editors and too many in-stream saves are actively uindermining document sanitizers. In that case, an on-screen warning to finalize all edits to enable security sanitization to take place should have led to locking the file and forcing all involved to walk to a secure room to team-read the publication-pending document.

Well, in theory...

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Anonymous Coward

Find-and-replace

Just a thought... if I worked at Google and wanted the company-name outed, it'd be mighty tempting to write Google as Goog1e (or use some extended-character-set 'o' that looks just like a normal 'o') in the document somewhere ;-)

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Facepalm

Can I just say....

... Oh ████!

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Re: Can I just say....

No.

Apparently you ███'█.

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Anonymous Coward

Goodbye America...

... twas nice to have known you.

So who is going to replace the Americans, now that they're doomed to cease to exist? ... Presumably that is the inevitable result of this breach of their National Security... now that's compromised, they must surely all be about to vanish in a puff of smoke?

What's that you say? America won't cease to exist? Wall Street will continue exactly as it did before? The American people will still all be there tomorrow, doing what ever it is they do, wherever it is they do it?... No that can't be right their National Security was compromised, when some dumb fuck revealed the government had sent a letter to Google...

Isn't it about time Americans started taking those guns their constitution allows them to hold, and shooting the paranoid fuckwits who have usurped their country from them?

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Re: shooting the paranoid fuckwits who have usurped their country from them?

We will, just as soon as we determine exactly who needs to be shot. Right now we've got about 1/3 of the country who want to shoot the commies who've invaded. We've got another 1/3 who want to shoot the conservatives. And the last 1/3 wants to shoot the other two thirds. As soon as one group has attained a majority, the purge will begin.

But fair warning: you might not like the outcome when we finally do. In fact, I'm pretty sure you'll wish we'd never started.

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One can't help but think of Ford Prefect hiding his expenses account from the his publishers

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Dear Dr. Schmidt,

I'm glad you had nothing to hide.

Sincerely,

Your neighborhood cybervigillante

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Anonymous Coward

I think the American Government is doing ███████████████good, and it's people should be █████████happy about it.

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Black Helicopters

If the government wants to keep things secret....

It must pass a law saying that some things are to be kept secret...

...and then it must pass a law saying that people must not talk about the thing that is to be kept secret....

...and then it must pass a law saying that people must not talk about the fact that they have been told to keep something secret....

...............

This looks like a good job for life for the legal profession.

Interestingly, keeping very quiet about government secrets only made sense during a World War, when it was reasonable to suppose that the enemy was continually listening for every scrap of intelligence which could be gathered. And you really only needed to worry about operational military secrets in those circumstances.

I wonder what has changed in the last 70 years...?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If the government wants to keep things secret....

"I wonder what has changed in the last 70 years...?". Only the rest of the world.

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Re: If the government wants to keep things secret....

'"I wonder what has changed in the last 70 years...?". Only the rest of the world.'

Which is the core of the problem. As long as the USA remains on a war or emergency footing, power stays with the federal government. As soon as the emergency ends, a lot of powers are supposed to devolve back to the individual states.

The USA Federal Govt has been flapping around ever since the end of WW2 trying to keep itself in a state of emergency so it can justify its 60-year long power grab. The flapping grows more desperate as it becomes less able to continue justifying the status quo.

It used to be said that only 3rd world dictatorships spent more on their military than on education. Perhaps it's still true and the USA just hasn't crashed yet.

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Intentional leak.

Probably an intentional leak to make Google look like the good guy, when in fact their involvement goes much deeper than has been revealed. Don't forget Google is still denying involvement in PRISM...

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Re: Don't forget Google is still denying involvement in PRISM...

Legally they are required to.

Anything about how deep their involvement is must necessarily be pure speculation.

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Pint

Probably MS Word hickup

You know how it goes. You've been redacting crap all day. You've one last doc to complete. It's over and you can head for a beer! You tell the system to shut down. That aggravating message from Word pops up and you answer honestly - forgetting that there was one last redaction you hadn't saved.

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