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back to article Tech titans team up to complain about US government spy requests

Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo! have all filed petitions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) asking for a relaxation of rules that would allow them to give customers more of an idea of what data is being collected by the US intelligence agencies. "Working with others in the industry, we’ve been …

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It really is about sales.

Should be obvious that these servers will always be 100% readable by the U.S. government, so what does it matter if the rules are relaxed. We get it, nothing on these servers are secret from the U.S. government, we understand. Please don't folly up the truth with corporate advertising to make it sound as if you company cares and can do anything about it.

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Re: It really is about sales.

I kind of hate to say it, but you're right. At this point they're trying to add some lube, but they're going to keep right on fucking us.

There's no possible way that anyone will believe what they tell us, even with government permission. It's all gone too far. Every single time they've told us something it was either a blatant lie or about 1/1000th of the truth. Hell, the guy in charge of it all got caught red handed lying to Congress. It's almost developed into a regular cycle where 'they' lie, then the truth hits the press the following Friday.

If the intelligence agencies have actionable information they should act on it now. They can't do that though. They don't have anything useful. Absolutely zero actionable information. They've got petabytes of Sunday calls to mom, sex talk and sales pitches.

They lost a six and a half foot tall Arab on dialysis for a decade even after offering a $50M reward for his location and plastering millions of copies of his image all over the planet. They fail so bad at their job of identifying useful information and the people who have it the government had to send TWO MILLION SOLDIERS overseas for a decade+, spend $5.4 Trillion and start spying on their own citizens to make up for the repeated failings of the intelligence community. And they still completely missed the fucking terrorists in Boston...

After all that we're still 'Code Orangey/Red', 'terrorists' are applying for jobs at the NSA, coming back into my own country is harder than getting onto the ISS and I've got recurring dreams of black helicopters landing inside my walls. I'm more concerned about my government than I am the terrorists.

There's obviously no reason to fear 'the terrorists', they've gone so far to ground they're harmless. Right? Otherwise they wouldn't have to be looking for them on my phone. Right? There aren't any terrorists or terrorist contacts on my phone, or anyone's reading this (pretty sure anyway, but if there are you're very safe from these clowns). How far are they going to have to go to find them???

They can't find them with traditional spy craft, they can't find them with armies, they can't find them with satellites in orbit, they can't find them with flying robot assassins, they can't find them by scanning the post, they can't find them with X-ray and millimeter wave scanners, they can't find them by tapping my phone, reading my emails or looking into the friends of my friends friends. Will they try looking in my home next?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It really is about sales.

You are missing the point.

Everyone is going through the motions. Nobody, however says the truth and will ever do so. The law which created the special revolutionary court which serves "Комитет Государственой Безопасности" mandates that nobody is allowed to speak the truth. Will the court "allow" (quotes intended) them to be more "open" (quotes intended) is utterly irrelevant. As long as the law stays the same there should be no reason to believe them.

Bootnote: for those who do not speak the language NSA does translate as KGB in Russian.

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Re: It really is about sales.

Actually, traditional spycraft is the one relatively effective way of finding terrorists. Unfortunately, the American intelligence agencies largely abandoned it years ago when they decided they could do everything remotely via computer. Other countries didn't, which is why George Bush, for instance, placed more trust in reports from MI5 and MI6 than from the CIA -- which is what led to the Nigerian yellowcake "lying" fiasco: he didn't lie; he just believed the reports from British intelligence, who practise deep-cover infiltration and have a strong history of being right, over American intelligence, who investigated the claims by sending a bumbling diplomat to a handful of cocktail parties to ask around and, when that approach obviously found nothing useful whatsoever, reacted with frankly insane outrage, insisting that the British and the French, who'd done their spying properly, must be wrong.

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Black Helicopters

Will they try looking in my home next?

STFU you loon, you'll give them more crazy ideas they don't need.

Mind you, if you have a smart fridge they likely already check your milk bottles for 'terrorists'.

To riff off Noam Chomsky...

Terrorist: Utterly uncompliant, active hindrance to Foreign Policy Goals

Radical: An inconvenience, somewhat of an obstacle to Foreign Policy Goals

Moderate: Largely co-operative, occasionally useful for Foreign Policy Goals

Ally: Likely a member of the UN, often supportive of Foreign Policy Goals

Special Relationship: Bend Over Britain, an accomplice.

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Re: Will they try looking in my home next?

Ha! They should put pictures of terrorists, stats and bio on milk cartons. Like they used to do for missing children. That way the children can help look for the terrorists!

HOLY SHIT I've been inspired by the comment from g e!

Getting the children to help flush out the terrorists is a Great IdeaTM. We can set aside part of the school day and teach them about identifying hidden terrorists and lone wolves. The children have special access to conversations at home, friends houses and church's and they hear and see everything!

We can even work up anti-terrorist curriculum and inconspicuously embed the information in the story books and toys. To take advantage of their sponge link and malleable minds. Kids love to dress up so we can give them a sash, or maybe a special shirt with a patch on it. A simple rank system too! Kids also like the idea of unlockable acheivments: When they spot a suspected terrorist they'd get a nice reward for each one they find.

There could be group activities and special meeting places with free snacks and opportunities to learn about how the government works and why 'the people' need their help. As the kids got older we could put them in their own schools with a focus on physical fitness, mental disclipline and psychology.

We'd need a catchy name though. Some sort of "youth" group. Names are so hard. If only there was historical precedent for something like that. We could just use their model...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It really is about sales.

"They lost a six and a half foot tall Arab on dialysis for a decade even after offering a $50M reward for his location and plastering millions of copies of his image all over the planet."

While I support our services fully, much to the chagrin of all the lefties here, MI5 recruitment recently couldn't work out which job the data analysis role was, (out of about 10, called data and management information analysis.) To their credit, they probably were thinking, "We'll never employ this fascist anyway, and Diversity HR won't let him in even if we wanted to, so let's pretend we can't converse in our mother tongue." But nevertheless, it does give one a slight feeling of unease when the representatives of the organisation that's supposed to know what everyone is up to, can't find the jobs it is itself advertising.

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Re: It really is about sales & sales forms

Government agencies have a bad habit of becoming insular and completely islolated from the people and the work they are supposed to be doing: Your example is an excellent one.

No one was overly concerned with actually filling the position. They were completely focused on filling out Form 6541.32b which indicates that (x) candidates had been interviewed that month for the position. That means their recruitment advertisements are bringing in the quantities of candidates they need but they may need to refine the targets of the adverts to get the quality up. That form will be sent up where more forms will follow and everyone is happy. They're checking stuff of their lists every month and if they keep up the good work they'll be due a rise in pay grade next year.

Not to say there aren't good government employees. But when you've built a bureaucratic system the Vogons would envy you can be assured that mission focused output is going to suffer.

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Devil

While I sympatize....

With the crappy position these companies have been placed in by the u.s. and other governments, they should have stuck up for their customers earlier on in the process. Now they are stuck in the Five Eyes' (and friends) web of deception and their credibility is badly damaged.

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Trust?

The tech titans try to rebuild trust to keep their cloud business going, but who will trust an

American company after a full decade of obfuscation and lies?

Funny, the EU tried to push the development of a more diverse internet economy with more European players -- and failed. The US might accidentially succeed where the EU failed.

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Don't mix unrelated things

Make no mistake: this is not related to PRISM, Bullrun, or any other mass surveillance program run by NSA. The tech titans don't add their voices to complain about mass surveillance, they don't tell their users (non-specifically, in a compliant-with-the-current-laws manner - their lawyers can figure out a way surely) that the recent revelations in the media look troubling and "we the people" (they are all American, this is why I stick to the singular "government" below) should exert pressure on the government to stop and outlaw the practice.

No, what they "complain" about is the prohibition of disclosing a few completely unrelated numbers in their "transparency reports". Yes, urelated: the mass surveillance which is the Big Problem nowadays is not accompanied with specific requests for information that can be counted for the benefit of a periodic report. There are no per case, per account, per anything numbers to put on a web page.

I am guessing that maybe the numbers they wan to report may have some relation to, say, court cases that the government (likely mostly police, FBI, Justice, rather than NSA) is preparing against criminals. A small percentage of it may have national security implications. Without formal requests, warrants, etc. the slurped information will not be admissible as evidence. I doubt that is very controversial in principle (at least unless/until the numbers are deemed excessive). But these numbers are not related at all to the real wholesale abuse that the government is engaged in.

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"It's a contradiction in terms, you can be open or you can have government"

Now who was it that said that?

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You'd think that between them

They could buy 'Corporation Island', make it an independent state and run their own fibre internationally with the money they have. Leave US-only data in the US data centres. Amazon would have to leave fulfillment centres in the US but then only locally store what data's needed for the centre to operate. AWS already has regions.

Then comply with nothing and take their tax out of the US (what's still there, anyway) and even offer to move their employees to the island if they want to go, with zero tax on their salaries.

I'm sure most of their techies can remote work when they want anyway and there'll always be a bank that wants to hold the company accounts.

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Re: You'd think that between them

The island would have to be in Russia or China or it would just be invaded.

Both the US and Britain have plenty of form invading places or installing pet dictators for commercial advantage.

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Re: You'd think that between them

Hmmm... Larry Ellison just bought that island in Hawaii... If he starts hiring millitant types/private armies, I'll think he was planning on your suggestion.

..And then I'll see if Oracle is hiring.

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