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back to article NSA justifies hacking world's digital communications

The NSA has published a statement explaining why US spies have been studying, infiltrating, and subverting so many of the digital technologies upon which people depend. The statement, "Why the Intelligence Community Seeks to Understand Online Communication Tools & Technologies", was published by the US Office of the Director of …

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Joke

That's a good one!

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha........ They are joking.. right?!?

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Re: That's a good one!

They're not joking. That's genuine smoke they're blowing up our arses. Look here, you'll see it in this mirror they handed out to prove that smoke is real.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That's a good one!

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha........ They are joking.. right?!?

Nope. I can't decide what is sadder, though, the idea that they think that people don't see right through this, or the fact that they're even trying this argument.

I can see this work its way into US courts already: "I wasn't stealing cars, Sir, I was merely studying them because our adversaries use them too. You would not believe how many drug dealers, terrorists and child abusers use cars, Sir, so I was only doing my duty for our great nation".

IMHO, such an argument has about the same flying capability as a lead balloon.

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Re: That's a good one!

I could justify a lot of things but I'd be arrested for them.

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Black Helicopters

It's not spying...

....it's just an attempt to "monitor, record and understand every single online communication, on the off-chance that we might find something of interest"

But more importantly, it provides a justification for multi-billion dollar budgets. And that means several armies of staff, and middle and senior managers, and high-ranking consultants and advisers, and a very nice living to be made by all - with no danger of competition, or being sacked for inefficiency, and a huge pension after retiring in early middle age.....

Just so long as everyone buys the story that the war on 'Terrerism' (TM) is going to be a LONG war, and one where we have to keep MANY secrets, and no one is ever to audit us, and you can rest assured that we are only doing this because we have your interests at heart, and it really IS worthwhile you continuing to pay those ever-increasing taxes...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's not spying...

Probably industrial espionage too. The septic tanks want to keep their number one economic power spot.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's not spying...

it provides a justification for multi-billion dollar budgets. And that means several armies of staff, and middle and senior managers, and high-ranking consultants and advisers, and a very nice living to be made by all

You hit the nail on the head, which is why I think that the recent Californian effort to impose some laws on this circus will come to naught as well.

There are FAR too many snouts in well-filled troughs for these privacy violating laws to be brought under control, and the direct consequence of that is that you can no longer trust a US company. Not because the company itself is bad, but because the organisation can be legally subverted without any reasonable defence. Just put yourself in the position of a medium size enterprise: are you going to say no and go to jail, shut shop and send so even more Americans into unemployment or comply?

The worst issue is that these laws are well embedded - even if lawmakers stopped accepting campaign contributions it would still take close to a decade to repeal them and clean up this whole sorry mess.

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Even we at the NSA are not whiter than white

Even we sometimes make mistakes, and there are people who work for us who have misbehaved in the past - 3 of them to be precise; but now it's OK: they've left the service. Now we're completely clean. What we do, we do for your own good. We need to catch the terrorists. That's all of youMohammed over there, the ugly looking shifty character in the photograph, the one with the funny turban and the massive bomb ready to blow you up in your homes. You're out to get usHe's out to get you and we must remain vigilant. So we need to understand how this Interstuff and all these mobile phoneys work, to get youMohammed right where we want you...ooops, I mean 'him'. And to make sure we understand all this technology, and can neutralise youMohammed over there, we're set up an amazing series of operations with fancy names based on your tax dollars and on these cool things called acronyms. Over here at the NSA, we love acronyms. We love America, tax dollars and acronyms. It means you can trust us.

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Anonymous Coward

we operate within a strict legal framework that prohibits accessing information related to the innocent online activities of US citizens.

Innocent non US citizens are fair game tho' I guess. Obama, are you a president or a puppet?

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He must be a puppet, his mouth moves.

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Unhappy

AC@23:32

"we operate within a strict legal framework that prohibits accessing information related to the innocent online activities of US citizens."

3 little words.

THE PATRIOT Act.

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Re: AC@23:32

"strict legal framework that prohibits accessing information related to the innocent online activities of US citizens."

Newspeak translation : So, we collect it but are prohibited from 'accessing' it. Oh, and it only relates to 'innocent' online activities, and how will we know they are innocent unless we put them under the microscope?

Laymans English : We collect everything, access everything, and we are the law, so it can't be illegal. So you all you whinging commies terrorists can go fuck yourselves. We will have the video of it from your hacked laptop webcam to use against you, so fill your boots. CommieTerrorist bastards.

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Facepalm

"we operate within a strict legal framework that prohibits accessing information related to the innocent online activities of US citizens"

But we'll have to have a look at those activities first to decide if they're innocent or not.

Especially if they gave one of our employees their phone number last night at the bar.

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Anonymous Coward

Where's kafka when you need him ..

We need to spy on everyone first so we can work out who's innocent ... And what they might be innocent of ..

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Anonymous Coward

I wasn't robbing a bank, I was just learning the inner workings of a bank and their policies and procedures.

I was running from the cops, I was just trying to understand the workings of this very powerful machine.

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I've started making my own shotguns for the same reason. I'm learning a lot about the strength of materials and all sorts of useful stuff.

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Anonymous Coward

I was bombing along the Queen's highway the other day (within the speed limit I hasten to add).

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Bronze badge

I prefer them hacking

I was just telling a friend recently how I'd personally prefer it if they were hacking to get their info. At least then the organizations have the ability to defend themselves, and wouldn't be in a position to be forced to bend over by the courts (at least here in the U.S.).

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Re: I prefer them hacking

I think you may have a point there Nate, the intentional degradation and subversion of security mechanisms that Joe Public relies upon endangers Joe Public unnecessarily in my view. Functionally the NSA are behaving like black hats and they should be treated accordingly in my view.

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FAIL

Excuse me

Now pull my other one.

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Away Team to Enterprise

"Many of the recent articles based on leaked classified documents have painted an inaccurate and misleading picture of the Intelligence Community"

No you cock smoker. The actions of the Intelligence Community have painted a very accurate picture. You don't need articles written by 3rd parties when you've got James Clapper and Keith Alexander running around making the whole operation look like a lot of clowns. Dressing up like Captain Picard spying on their ex lovers while missing Bin Laden for a decade and leading the country to financial and societal ruin by providing bad intelligence on 'WMD's'.

If the NSA want us to believe anything they say they're going to have to sack the fools in charge. This entire thing, every bit of it, was completely preventable. They failed information security 101 and we're supposed to trust that they're good at their jobs? Even without schoolboy level operational failures, trusting them now is impossible. Every single thing they have said has been exposed a week later as a lie.

Even the sleaziest politicians who get caught with a car full of hookers and his dick all over the Internet knows to just shut up. These festering sores of traitors can't even handle basic fallout management.

Beam these fuckers up. They've dressed us all as red shirts and we're screwed as long as they're on the planet with us.

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Re: Away Team to Enterprise

...Beam these fuckers up. They've dressed us all as red shirts and we're screwed as long as they're on the planet with us....

The MOST IMPORTANT thing you need to realise about the Intelligence Services of the US and the UK is that you have ABSOLUTELY NO method of influencing them, auditing them or controlling them in ANY WAY.

They are not subject to democratic accountability in the way politicians are. They are not subject to market forces in the way commerce is. The only 'control' (if you can call it that) comes from carefully selected 'friendly' politicians who are allowed to sit on a committee where they are fed explanations of why NSA, GCHQ, SIS and the rest all need bigger budgets.

These committee members are carefully cleared, but are certainly NOT allowed to see all the workings of the intelligence community. They see only what they are told to see. When the press complains about a balls-up they are given a stupid excuse like the one above and told to parrot it. Meanwhile, the services get on with doing whatever they like.

Any organisation which operates with no control and no auditing will eventually end up like that. The intelligence services were constrained by the equivalent of market forces during WW2 - if they made a mistake it was obvious - but they now have no such control at all, and no real reason for existing. They do a job which would be better done by the Police ...

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Big Brother

"The reality is that...

"...the men and women at the National Security Agency and across the Intelligence Community are abiding by the law, respecting the rights of citizens and doing everything they can to help keep our nation safe."

I wonder how he managed to say that with a straight face...?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "The reality is that...

The puppetmasters hand up the rectum probably helped.

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Unhappy

Re: "The reality is that...

""...the men and women at the National Security Agency and across the Intelligence Community are abiding by the law, respecting the rights of citizens and doing everything they can to help keep our nation safe.""

True.

The law is THE PATRIOT Act.

The universal get-out-of-jail free card for National Security organizations in the US.

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Anonymous Coward

Excuse me but

"Osama Bin Laden, the architect of the September 11 2001 World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks"

So this is a proven fact now? Or were you just told so? Thought so. Do you think all the the lies you are being fed these days are a recent invention? All the Terrerism shennanigans should be looked at with a very, very critical eye, especially now that it has become so easy to see how thickly the lies flow from those well fed mouths. I wonder whether Mr. Snowden has a 9/11 folder and whether we'll get to see it.

But you do have to give those guys credit for doing it all with a straight face. Must be hard.

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Re: Excuse me but

That whole thing was weird. Bin Laden was never listed on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list for the events of Sept. 11. He was wanted in connection to the bombing of the embassy in Africa. The media commented on in several times during Bin Laden's decade long evasion of the entire US military and intelligence apparatuses, but nothing definitive ever came out publicly. Everything related to him was classified.

We know now his file was classified because it was empty and embarrassing as hell. He was caught the way most wanted people are caught: Turned in by someone he knew. The combined 'might' of the NSA, CIA, FBI and military intelligence couldn't find the six and a half foot tall Arab on dialysis who was spending tens of millions of US cash in an attempt to jump start goat farming.

It is fairly apparent that the intelligence methods developed and used since 2011 are nothing but a waste of resources. They can't find the bad guys, they can't control their own employees and they have no idea how to handle a crisis. They just need to go. They certainly aren't keeping us safe.

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Thumb Up

Re: Excuse me but

"I wonder whether Mr. Snowden has a 9/11 folder and whether we'll get to see it."

It would make sense, somehow. Some of the USA Government's reactions to the Snowden Crisis look quite like pure unadulterated panic. Too much panic for the kind of data leaked up to this moment. Trying to force Putin to send Snowden back -and failing miserably-, strong arming several European governments to detain the Bolivian president's plane, tons of low quality bullshit excuses spat by guys whose credibility wasn't exactly stellar before the crisis started- Clapper and Alexander-...

IMHO there are chances that one of the next databombs from Snowden has the potential to cause a revolution or civil war in the States or perhaps to send the top tiers of American politicians to prison.

Mr. Snowden seems to have planned a good strategy for the leaks. He keeps the tension high and the public interested by feeding the data in small chunks. He also has remained away from the focus of public attention, so as to prevent being used as a distraction, as Assange was.

Thanks, Mr. Snowden. Keep on fighting the good fight!

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Re: Excuse me but

Snowden is out of the media spotlight because the US has already suffered enough embarrassment in global manhunts. They've proven all their money, technology and firepower is useless if you don't have the basics covered. Everybody in DC is just fine with Snowden being forgotten about. It is just painful if they have to talk about it.

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Re: Excuse me but

He? Don't you mean 'she'?

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Does make you laugh...

We need to know who our enemies are.

I would say it was pretty obvious all the people you interfered with, whose politics you influenced, who you invaded but most crucially... now pretty much every state in the world since you started spying on them.

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To be fair, it's not *everybody*. Courtesy of the "Special Relationship" (which at times seems to resemble nothing more than Stockholm Syndrome) and the intelligence agreements between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA, it's all gravy as far as they're concerned. To be honest, I'm surprised the NSA even bothered tapping Americans. I understand the process used to be that the NSA's uk subsidiary did the job, neatly side-stepping any troublesome hiccups like an American's constitutional rights...

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Anonymous Coward

They would say that

"Many of the recent articles based on leaked classified documents have painted an inaccurate and misleading picture of the Intelligence Community,"

But in the past they've never exactly bust a gut to present an accurate picture themselves, far from it.

Those they number as 'enemies' are as often as not people I would see i the same light, and their list of allies is probably even more dubious. Both Thatcher and Blair bent the domestic security services to their will to fulfil essentially party or ideological objectives, finding 'reds under the bed' on whatever domestic bogeyman they needed irrespective of the truth or the legitimacy of the methods. The same has happened in the US many, many times over the years, and the one thing that stands out every time is that these agencies need to be kept on a very tight and accountable leash or they become more of a danger than an asset.

I don't trust a word they say in their defence because they have no track record at all in being honest either with us or indeed themselves.

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Titanic Holywood Painted Wall Hall Productions are MuI7 MasterClass Pieces of AIMentoring

The NSA has published a statement explaining why US spies have been studying, infiltrating, and subverting so many of the digital technologies upon which people depend. The statement, "Why the Intelligence Community Seeks to Understand Online Communication Tools & Technologies", was published by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Friday

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And yes, that is also, whenever not a Private and/or Piratical ProgramMING Initiative, AI ProgramMING a'knock knocking and a'breaking down and through the portcullis and portals into Thames House/Vauxhall Cross operations, and hunting for signs and evidence of intelligent life phorms there for ...... well, Future Fun and Greater IntelAIgent Games Play are Currently Comfortably Commandeered in the AIdDrivers Seats there, and which you might like to consider be here also, El Reg.

Come on now, admit it be common sense and let's be truthful here and not deny it ........ surely you wouldn't want to be playing second fiddle to a bunch of upstart colonists with no history or idea about how things are run with nothing but intelligence sharing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Titanic Holywood Painted Wall Hall Productions are MuI7 MasterClass Pieces of AIMentoring

Well, I agree with you Mr Martian.

It's about time people stopped moaning about how it's all over and we can't do anything. Time to fire up the old grey matter and think our way out. You never know if you never try.

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Anonymous Coward

the easy path

into most microprocessor based hardware is thru leaky chips with

compromised logic allowing downloadable microcode. TOR is just

an annoyance.

anon cuz i dig the tag.

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"The reality is that the men and women at the National Security Agency and across the Intelligence Community are abiding by the law, respecting the rights of citizens and doing everything they can to help keep our nation safe."

1. Do they fuck.

2. They certainly don't give a fuck about my non-american privacy and no US laws will protect that.

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The NSA is legally not permitted to indiscriminately snoop upon US citizens on US soil communicating with other US citizens also on US soil.

That means all of us here in Europe are fair game.

To be fair, I'm sure our own intelligence organisations are spying on US citizens too. Though probably not as effectively, just because they don't have so much funding.

The NSA has also been using every excuse they can to spy indiscriminately on US citizens anyway by just redefining terms - claiming that 'metadata' doesn't count, or that they are allowed to make as many records as they want so long as no-one actually looks at them without a warrant.

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We really don't have the funding either. We might be able to pay for it, but it's like a person living in a caravan and driving a Bugatti to work. The priorities are all wrong.

We have a horrendous health system that is quite ineffective as well as unbelievably expensive. We send kids through college and give them degrees when they can't even do basic math or know which direction the sun rises and sets. We load them with heavy debt and they don't even have a basic high school level education.

The politicians on all sides love to spend on military (which the NSA falls under) because it makes them feel 'tough' but it really makes them look foolish. Just like the poor person who drives an expensive car, it calls into question all their other decisions.

Prioritizing paranoia and shadow 'enemies' before you take care of the basics is far more dangerous than ignoring perceived threats. You end up with a gridlocked system that is too scared to move, ignores its populace and begins to come apart at the seams: Just like we have now. It is pretty fucking stupid.

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An apt line

I think I first heard this in 'Outlaw Josey Wales' by Clint Eastwood :-

"Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining"

If I had to take this continuous bullshit form someone I dealt with on a personal level.. by now I would have chinned him!

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Anonymous Coward

Translated from weasel

English version: "We are a bunch of predatory voyeurs who want to spy on your children 24/7, but don't worry only bad guys have anything to fear from us."

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American National Intelligence? Humm.

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Flame

" valid foreign intelligence "

I'm not sure how much of this passive voice value-judgement-free BS I can take.

This is not targeted intelligence collection against an identified threat.

It is bulk data collection that is treating everyone everywhere as a potential threat.

Which if you knew someone who thought like that would seem to most people to put them in the swivel-eyed-loon category.

They are f**king the populations of whole countries (their own included) in the ass and you don't even have the honesty to admit it.

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Citizens only

"respecting the rights of citizens"

In the US, they guarantees the rights of US citizens.

In Europe, they guarantee the rights of human beings.

Not that either side's intelligence pays a blind bit of notice to the laws of course. And the ConDems want to abolish the Human Rights act because it stops the government doing things it wants to do (which is of course the WHOLE BLOODY POINT).

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We only wish to use the power of the atom for peaceful power generating purposes...

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Anonymous Coward

You do need police and security services who have a clue though.

Law vs crime has always been a power struggle. With the criminals usually one step ahead.

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Silver badge

No. You do not need 'informed' police and security services. Not in a free society anyway. They are there to enforce justice, not to prevent things before they become crimes. They should not be allowed to act until a crime has occurred and gathering evidence in advance is action. Preparing a case against someone in advance of a crime is flat fucked up. That's how those stupid sting operations happen where police and agents perpetrate crimes to create criminals. They gather information about someone they think can be turned into a criminal then proceed to spend enormous sums of money to affect criminal activity in that person.

Assuming the presumption of innocence, they have no need for information about the general populace (military intelligence is different). The idea that anything other than putting more police/agents on the ground in trouble spots is effective is 100% horseshit. Cameras and snooping do little to prevent crime and the total costs are far beyond that of increased man power.

If people want to be 'safe' they should lobby for more police on their feet and walking around. Not perched perched behind a monitor or hiding in a vehicle somewhere.

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"They are there to enforce justice, not to prevent things before they become crimes."

Except for most people, the commission is too late. What comfort is arriving at a murder scene after the fact. They'd rather the murderer be caught before he kills. See the problem? More and more, the commission is too late, as the perp has probably gotten away or the victim is beyond repair.

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one step ahead

well as has been proven here if you let the 'law' enforcement forces go one step ahead it becomes difficult to differentiate between criminals and the government funded agencies.

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