back to article EFF appeal win reopens NSA dragnet spying case

The Electric Frontier Foundation (EFF) has won its appeal to continue a case into massive warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency (NSA) using facilities within commercial exchanges. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the case of Jewel v NSA, which claims that after the 2001 terrorist attacks the NSA …


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  1. DF118

    "The" San Francisco exchange

    Seems a bit odd to use the definite article when, as anyone with the slightest bit of background knowledge knows, there it's no such thing as THE San Francisco exchange.

    1. jake Silver badge


      I can think of perhaps half a dozen COs (off the top of my head) that can monitor all of little, tiny[1] San Francisco's voice & data traffic, if the hardware is configured (in)correctly.

      Why bother is the real question. The so-called "activists" in the central Bay Area are loony-toons, every fucking one of them needs professional help, near as I can tell, and almost none of them have the cash-flow to pay for connectivity.

      Before you ask, I actually live in the area ...

      [1] SF is only 7x7 miles square ...

  2. Mark 65 Silver badge

    Retroactive immunity? Gee, and I though the House of Commons contained some lying, deceitful, expense cheating, lobbied, complicit shitbags.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Coz some of the MPs fiddled their expenses, they must all be the same.

      Now compare the expenses scandal with the Italian government and thank $deity for ours.

  3. Killraven


    I refuse to accept the legality of FISA. Congress's role is to make laws, full stop. Enforcement of those laws, including absolving people of guilt, is up to the Judicial Branch, and to some degree the Executive Branch, through the use of Presidential pardons.

    Congress has no more legal (Constitutional) authority to grant retroactive immunity than they do to make an act retroactively illegal.

  4. ps2os2

    The more interesting aspect is that now the courts have acknowledged that telco companies have immunity in this. I knew FISA was bad and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I suspect that NSA (amongst others) have their finger print (now blank) all over the telco systems in America, perhaps in foreign lands as well (England perhaps). The Brits (if it ever found out) will have their undies in a bunch.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Its not exactly a new thing.

      NSA/CSS and its predecessor, the Armed Forces Security Agency, have been doing wholesale interception of telecommunications since just after World War II, and an unnamed agency within US Army G-2 intercepted every telegram message entering or leaving the US from 1921 til about 1936 or so, ITT (which ran the international telegram services back then) was found to have immunity back then as well, though the Army did not, so it isn't unprecedented at all to give the service provider immunity.

      The English might get their panties in a knot about it, but GCHQ monitors your traffic as much as NSA/CSS monitors ours, which isnt a whole hell of alot but its enough to require oversight and Im not entirely certain that there is any sort of oversight with the exception of the American FISA court. Australia, Canada, and New Zealand do it as well and Im fairly certain the only oversight with those three countries is a personally identifying data protection law in Canada, which functions more along the lines of the US Privacy Act than anything else.

      If you don't know much about this, do some reading on the UKUSA agreement. You might be unpleasantly surprised.

      1. Mark 65 Silver badge

        And this is exactly why, as the Americans found out when they raided OBL's Pakistani villa, terrorists to not just pick up the phone and have a chat. Well, the ones that set their shoes or underpants alight on aircraft probably do but not the proper ones.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        As I understand it, the specific NSA/GCHQ monitoring is more complicated than that - we spy on them, they spy on us, and compare notes. This way no government is spying on its own people.

  5. kain preacher Silver badge


    The way ATT is set up allows you to monitor any part of California from any CO. I could be in LA and intercept data or phone calls from San Jose.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wont do them any good.

    All NSA/CSS general counsel has to do is cite 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(3) which exempts anything on a COMINT channel relating to product that is currently being created or used operationally from being released under FOIA.

    Nice try on the EFF's part but it wont go anywhere.

  7. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
    Big Brother


    Why is it called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act when it is used by 'merkins to spy on 'merkins

    1. Ru

      Oh, its quite obvious

      You can't necessarily tell the difference between decent, honest, hard-working loyal and patriotic citizens of the US of A and freedom-hating, dirty, shiftless agents of evil foreign oppressive regimes without doing a decent bit of spying on them first.

      In fact, it is impossible to tell that someone is not an agent of a foreign power unless you've spied on them from their birth to their death. Hence the need for these sorts of precautions. They're for your safety, citizen.

    2. PT


      That's normal for America. The US calls unpopular laws by catchy, misleading names because that's all the average 'merkin ever knows, them not being big readers.

      Exhibit A:

      USA PATRIOT act: Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism act of 2001

      Extra credit here for the doubly-misleading acronym. The first prosecution under the 'Patriot' act was of a county commissioner (UK equivalent would be a county council member) accepting favors from a strip club owner.

      Exhibit B:

      State 'RIGHT TO WORK" laws

      Many states have "Right to Work" laws. These laws give employers the right to dismiss any worker for no cause, without notice, with no recourse.

      Ah, America - Land of the Fee, Home of the Slave.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Real "Terrists" chat via Call of Duty, etc.

    One can hear them chattering away, in threateningly-foreign tongues, but obviously discussing death and destruction in an environment where the keywords are used 100 times a second. Hiding in plain sight. How many mountains will No Such Acronymph have to hollow-out to follow all the conversations within gaming environments?

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