consultants are sandburs

Saturday, June 08, 2013

With government secret spying on Americans in the news, the NSA's building out much more capacity in remote parts of Utah - a matter reported at length about three months ago - is again timely.

This link. And, this fairytale:

"Big mouth," hell child, not as big as the leakers to Guardian, WaPo ...

Guardian reports:

The leaked National Security Agency (NSA) document obtained by the Guardian claims Prism operates with the "assistance of communications providers in the US".

The document names AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PalTalk and Yahoo and gives dates when they "joined" the scheme, aimed at intercepting data from people outside the US.'' The presentation talks of "legally compelled collection" of data.

All the companies involved have now denied knowledge of the scheme to the Guardian.

In one slide, the presentation identifies two types of data collection: Upstream and Prism. Upstream involves the collection of communications on "fibre cables and infrastructure as data flows past." Prism involves: "Collection directly from the servers of these US service providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple."

Obama confirmed the existence of the scheme Friday and said Congress was "fully apprised" of the situation and that it was being conducted legally with a "whole range of safeguards involved".

But despite Obama's acknowledgment, senior figures said they remained puzzled and surprised by the news. Speaking off the record one said their company regularly complied with subpoenas for information but had never allowed "collection directly" from their servers.

Some speculated that the wording of the document was incorrect or that the author had over-hyped the scheme.

Security experts and civil liberty figures were less convinced. "I was assuming that these tech companies were just lying," said security guru Bruce Schneier. "That's the most obvious explanation."

"Could it possibly be that there's a department within these companies that hides this from the executives? Maybe," he said. "I don't know, we don't know. This points to the problem here. There's so much freaking secrecy that we don't know enough to even know what is going on."

He said he was not surprised by the news. "There are no surprises here. We all knew what was going on and now they have finally admitted it."

"The NSA would not have done this surreptitiously, they want the tech companies on their side," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). "I can't make sense of their statements at all."

He said it was clear that tech companies in general were more than happy to co-operate with the US authorities and said he was puzzled why there seemed to be such a gap between the two sides' story.

Ali Reza Manouchehri, CEO and co-founder of MetroStar Systems, an IT consultant that works closely with government agencies, said: "There are situations that come up where they have to communicate with the security agencies. At the end of the day they are working in the interest of national security."

"I can't comment on what's going on inside the company. It's hard for me to believe that Google doesn't know," he said. "It is either transparent or it is surreptitious. It is hard for me to believe that at this level, at this volume it is surreptitious." He said if the companies really did not know then "we have some serious issues."

The news has sparked widespread concern in the US. Nearly 20,000 people have signed a petition at Progressive Change Campaign Committee calling on Congress to hold investigations.

Closing petition link is within the original Guardian report.

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