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back to article ACLU launches user-friendly database of every Snowden doc

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has launched a searchable online database that contains all of the documents obtained by Edward Snowden and made public since last June. "These documents stand as primary source evidence of our government's interpretation of its authority to engage in sweeping surveillance activities at …

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Coat

I'll wait for the movie

Just kidding . . . but maybe I'll go look to see if my name's in there.

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"Untied" is right

"(1) Disseminations to the Governments of the Untied Kingdom, Canada, Australia, or New

Zealand may be made upon the approval of any person designated for such purpose by the

Director ofNSA. (S)

"

from https://www.aclu.org/files/natsec/nsa/ashcroft-new-dissemination-procedures.pdf

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Better host it somewhere safe

Stick it on a Russian server, they're not concerned about pirated materials.

If it was on a US server and the NSA got serious about managing their documents, they could send out a DMCA take down notice to stop the copyright infringement. The ACLU is expecting to profit off of them with increased donations. Why should others profit from the NSA's hard work?

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Re: Better host it somewhere safe

You haven't heard of Technology Transfer then ?

US government agencies are REQUIRED to allow their work (already paid for by the US taxpayer) to be made available for public use. No DMCA possible.

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@Adrian 4, Re: Better host it somewhere safe

You haven't heard of Technology Transfer then ?

I have. There are terabytes of regulations, documents, and case law controlling distribution between countries, between corporations like multi-nationals, even distribution to individuals. Exporters can plan for a product and get approvals for years, only to get scuttled by an administrator's new ruling just a day from shipping. What's your point?

US government agencies are REQUIRED to allow their work (already paid for by the US taxpayer) to be made available for public use. No DMCA possible.

If that was true, then why did Snowden have to liberate that work?

Do you know how hard it is to FOIA internal documents and publications? It's already decided the public has no general right to possess them, and the government can redact until you get a thousand pages of black boxes with a partially-redacted title and fully-redacted distribution list, that you paid a copying fee for.

If you're thinking about the copyright status of work by the US government, generally such work can't be copyrighted within the US, although they may claim copyright elsewhere, and Snowden's stash is often getting published elsewhere. Also,

Unlike works of the U.S. government, works produced by contractors under government contracts (or submitted in anticipation of such contracts) are protected and restricted under U.S. copyright law. The holdership of the copyright depends on the terms of the contract and the type of work undertaken. Contract terms and conditions vary between agencies; contracts to NASA and the military may differ significantly from civilian agency contracts.

As seen, the NSA employs contractors, who generate materials the US government may hold the copyright to.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Better host it somewhere safe

"Why should others profit from the NSA's hard work?"

The ACLU is a non-profit. The donations they get help protect the civil liberties and civil rights enjoyed by all. Without people willing to stand-up for their rights or the rights of other, we would all live in a police state.

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@AC: Re: Re: Better host it somewhere safe

The ACLU is a non-profit. The donations they get help protect the civil liberties and civil rights enjoyed by all.

Nonprofits are not charities. Neither are WWF, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, etc. Scratch the surface, check the records, you find out the shockingly high percentage of donations that goes right out the door as more marketing (aka fundraising) and not providing benefits.

You may also notice nonprofits are businesses. They need what's coming in to be more than or equal to what's going out. "Nonprofits" don't pay out the excess to owners like shareholders, it must be "invested" back into the organization, thus many have grown into gigantic fundraising powerhouses.

They have executives who demand proportionate compensation worthy of their level/skill. Example: (emphasis added)

Despite the austerity measures for its low-level employees, the ACLU’s most recent tax returns report close to $34 million in gross revenue, with $32 million in total expenses. The same documents reveal that Executive Director Anthony Romero earned a base salary of $382,000 and collected an additional $24,000 in other compensation and benefits.

Romero isn’t the only top-level ACLU executive who makes the same wages as President Obama. In fact, the ACLU's top 10 earners all received over $300,000 each between 2011-2012. That was before the same executives gave themselves raises in 2012, some of which represented a pay increase of as much as 12%.

Give them enough more donations, those top 10 earners can give themselves even more.

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Re: Better host it somewhere safe

<i>The ACLU is a non-profit.</i>

This organizational formation designation means nothing in the United States. There are plenty of non-profit organizations that do quite well enough to line the pockets of its directors and staff. My favorite example is the Kintock Group (http://nyti.ms/1oEbQic). There are other examples to be sure.

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Re: Better host it somewhere safe

It's a shame that you pay as little attention to law as you do to making intelligent comment.

DMCA won't impact any such "order", as the NSA documents are not copyrighted or patented. They're covered under the Defense Secrets Act of 1911.

Totally different animals, where one is a civil penalty and opens one to litigation damages by copyright holders and the other is a criminal statute that can land one in the house of many doors for decades.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Adrian 4, Better host it somewhere safe

"Do you know how hard it is to FOIA internal documents and publications?"

Yes, I know precisely how difficult it is not to make the request. As for the quality of the documents, it varies upon the sensitivity of the document. I've gotten entire documents declassified and released, I've gotten others that fit your description, though it was largely names, dates, locations that were blocked off.

Just as well, one of the blocked off names on one document was my own as a participant in an operation.

Copyright goes to original works, not office documents between contractor and the government or vice versa. Hence, copyright will not apply.

Though, a technical manual for something may be copyrighted and rights given to the government for its own internal usage.

But, are you really interested in how to maintain an M-4 carbine or purify water? ;)

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Re: @AC: Better host it somewhere safe

"Nonprofits are not charities."

Wrong. Nonprofits may or may not be charities. What is required is that the corporation shall not retain a profit, but must disperse it to its contributors or through its efforts.

That the rest of your statements are predicated upon your misapprehension on what a non-profit entity in the United States is, the remainder of your complaints are groundless or totally incorrect.

That employees are paid competitively is not something of consideration for non-profit status, which is as well. Professionals should get pay in accordance with their works and worth. To suggest otherwise is a rather anti-capitalistic view!

I'm an information security professional. Your misapprehension suggests that if I am engaged as an employee of a non-profit organization, such as my local church, I should either not be paid or be paid a pittance that I'd not be able to pay my bills with!

The fact is, my local church, even the Roman Catholic ones, can't afford my services. Their higher echelons can, but again, your notion is that I'd need to be non-profit as well. If that were true, no church or other non-profit entity would stand in the United States, as no employees would be able to afford to eat.

Now, do we need some reform in the non-profit legislation? Absolutely.

But, one first must understand what the law says and not operate under some misapprehension of what it thought to be what the law permits and prohibits.

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@ Wzrd1: Re: Better host it somewhere safe

It's a shame that you pay as little attention to law as you do to making intelligent comment.

DMCA won't impact any such "order", as the NSA documents are not copyrighted or patented. They're covered under the Defense Secrets Act of 1911.

You are wrong. Wikipedia knows you are wrong. It's bad enough you challenged my off-the-cuff quip to show off your own special brilliance, but you couldn't be bothered to even make a few clicks to confirm your extreme state of correctness.

The Defense Secrets Act of 1911 has been deprecated. Snowden and many others were charged under the Espionage Act of 1917.

You just got pwned by Wikipedia because you didn't spend a few seconds confirming your intellectual greatness. Sad.

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@Wzrd1: Re: @AC: Better host it somewhere safe

"Nonprofits are not charities."

Wrong. Nonprofits may or may not be charities.

First off, you quoted me, and I am not AC. But that's par for the course for your comment.

Before the legalese, it was easier to recognize a real charity, like Little Sisters of the Poor. Those involved gave themselves to their work. When those involved wear better clothes, have larger houses, and nicer lives than those who are incessantly asked to donate to their worthy cause, not a charity.

Nonprofits are businesses, not charities.

What is required is that the corporation shall not retain a profit, but must disperse it to its contributors or through its efforts.

Wrong. Nonprofits do have bank accounts, do retain and accumulate wealth, which includes the excess. As long as it belongs to the nonprofit, in the theory it is available for future endeavors, retaining "profit" is fine.

That the rest of your statements are predicated upon your misapprehension on what a non-profit entity in the United States is, the remainder of your complaints are groundless or totally incorrect.

Says the person who may be using a spellchecker but doesn't proofread for correctness and context. "Misapprehension" is clearly the wrong word, yet you've used it three times. Did you click "change all" or trust the automatic setting?

I'm an information security professional.

Thus should know how to make misinformation look like truthful information. I've noticed your skill.

Your misapprehension suggests that if I am engaged as an employee of a non-profit organization, such as my local church, I should either not be paid or be paid a pittance that I'd not be able to pay my bills with!

You have obviously "misapprehended" my supposed "misapprehension". I don't mind people getting paid what they're worth.

What I was originally complaining about was the much-pushed "charity" meme, "Your donations (to the ACLU) will go to helping out others." When what's really happening is the supporting of professional fundraisers and management.

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Anonymous Coward

Thats's a start, however this needs to be shared more widely for data security.

Where's are the magnet links to the torrents for this, before the ALCU is cracked and the files vanish?

I want a copy before this happens; fibre broadband has made it feasible to download double digit GBs per day, Peer and Seed capacity permitting.

Any arguments about IP are especially BS in this case, because this abusive global surveillance is effectively, an offensive information war (more for corporate criminality than for national protection), and when you start a war, the rules change. Until the spy states end this war, they are fair game to anyone they spy on. I already apply this to the media, because they started a 'legal' pillage war, rather than replace their disrupted corporate 'IP' based business models.

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Paris Hilton

speculation

Is it an NSA ploy to "amend" content in a way that obfuscates the original content?

You know, a bit like how Hollywood rewrites history?

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Re: speculation

"Is it an NSA ploy to "amend" content in a way that obfuscates the original content?"

ROFLMAO! Apparently, you are ill informed as to who the ACLU is and their relationship to the US government.

We'll suffice it to say that the relationship is less than cordial.

Just shy of the slightly less cordial relationship the US government had with Bin Laden.

ACLU has managed to get more case law written on civil rights than any other organization in US history.

Which makes them rather unpopular with strong government advocates to the point of repeated denunciations without any shred of evidence that the ACLU are all "communists".

Typically be people who are utterly unable to explain precisely what communism is.

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Big Brother

Hey, ACLU, ever heard of the OSA?

Not all of the Snowdope docs were the NSA's, some were UK docs. This does open up the amusing possibility that, should anyone from the ACLU that was involved in publishing these docs travel through the UK, they could be liable for arrest and charges under the Official Secrets Act. This could be fun for international relations!

/more popcorn, please!

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Re: Hey, ACLU, ever heard of the OSA?

They are foreign nationals, the Official Secrets Act doesn't apply to them. IANAL, but as I understand it for them to be charged they would have to have obtained the information while on UK territory (even if that was simply remote dialling into a UK server, which I doubt they have done), and would then be charged with spying. The current premises of the ACLU haven't been UK territory since at least 1776, if ever.

This leads to the following situation. {Let's call him a friend} worked for an unattributed agency somewhere near Cheltenham. He then emigrated to the US and became a US citizen. At this point he learned that some of his work had been declassified in the US but not in the UK.

In true quantum style, if he publishes that information in the UK is he (1) in breach of the OSA because he is revealing information he learned while working for British Unintelligence, or (2) in the clear because, as an American citizen, he learned the same thing when it was not classified in the US? Or is he in a superposition of states which will only collapse its waveform if he visits the UK and phones the Guardian?

Some may remember the peculiar case when "Major B" could not be named by the UK Press, so if you went into the newsagents there on the front page of The Times was the story about Major B, and there on the front page of the International Herald Tribune was more or less the same article but with the real name.

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Re: Hey, ACLU, ever heard of the OSA?

The law gets muddied as to document presence and reading of from UK based services, such as Guardian. Still, as you said, foreign nationals accessing a foreign nation's secrets from a civilian site, that is not much of a starter in a UK court of law.

In a US court, it rather depends on the jurist's political party as much as anything else. :/

Well, that and how much money is backing the accused.

For, the US government *is* the best government that money can buy.

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About those other databases....

Do you suppose Google, Facebook, Apple and the rest will release theirs?

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Re: About those other databases....

Well, they had better not - there is this thing called the Data Protection Act, and its equivalent in all EU States.

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About those other databases.....

Do you suppose Google, Facebook, Apple and the other giants will release theirs?

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My $1 says

The NSA (and probably the other iFive Eyes agencies) will do nothing at all to suppress or corrupt this. The documents have been made public and probably every one of them is available at least one other place already; there is no undoing that. Moreover, nearly all of those interested in reading them have done that already, saving a copy where possible just in case.

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Re: My $1 says

I'd agree. First, they're already on foreign servers and the Streisand effect is in full force.

Second, even the NSA knows better than pick a fight on civil rights with the ACLU. The ACLU tends to win quite often.

Their reason for existence is to sue over civil rights and they're quite good at it.

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Anonymous Coward

Amazing what a well-connected pressure group is allowed to do by its chums in the government. Ordinary people, on the other hand, would die under the slew of lawsuits and policemen.

I hope the Chinese are appreciative of all this free help. Although I imagine that, like most normal people, they may use a traitor, but despise them all the same.

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It's swell and all...

... of the ACLU to do this, but couldn't they employ one single competent web developer? The page doesn't even render correctly without scripting enabled, and it's rife with CSS and Javascript errors. The layout is fixed and it's a horrible mess for accessibility purposes (not to mention just reading the damn thing).

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