Is AT&T allowing the NSA to read your emails, phone calls?

in iPhone edited January 2014
Well, this is old news, and maybe it is old news here too, but it just seems odd i never have seen it mentioned:

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

What is the NSA domestic spying program?

In October 2001, President Bush issued a secret presidential order authorizing the NSA to conduct a range of surveillance activities inside of the United States without statutory authorization or court approval, including electronic surveillance of Americans? telephone and internet communications. This program of surveillance continues through today and works with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies.

In 2005, after the New York Times broke the story of the surveillance program, the President publicly admitted one portion of it -- warrantless surveillance of Americans believed to be communicating with people connected with terrorism suspects -- Senior Bush Administration officials later confirmed that the President?s authorization went beyond the surveillance of terrorists and conceded that the program did not comply with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The President, invoking a theory of limitless executive power to disregard the mandates of Congress, has reauthorized this warrantless surveillance more than thirty times, including after the Department of Justice found the program to violate criminal laws, and has indicated that he intends to continue doing so.

Shortly after the initial revelations, a whistleblower named Mark Klein came forward with evidence describing the specific AT&T facilities, including one on Folsom Street in San Francisco, where the handoff of customer communications is occurring. Mr. Klein's evidence confirmed what was already indicated by numerous newspaper reports and Congressional admissions ? that the NSA is intercepting and analyzing millions of ordinary Americans' communications, with the help of the country's largest phone and Internet companies. EFF has brought two lawsuits to stop this illegal surveillance.

What do the cases claim about the interception of domestic communications of millions of Americans?

The cases allege that the government, in coordination with AT&T, intercepts communications (like phone calls and emails), and that AT&T illegally discloses communications records to the government.The core component of the surveillance is the government's nationwide network of sophisticated communications surveillance equipment, attached to the key facilities of telecommunications companies such as AT&T that carry Americans' internet and telephone communications.

Through this shadow network of surveillance devices, the government has acquired and continue to acquire the content of the phone calls, emails, instant messages, text messages and web communications, both international and domestic, of practically every American who uses the phone system or the internet in an unprecedented suspicionless general search through the nation's communications networks.

What do the cases claim about the communications records of millions of ordinary Americans?

The government has unlawfully solicited and obtained from telecommunications companies such as AT&T the complete and ongoing disclosure of the private telephone and internet transactional records of those companies' millions of customers, communications records indicating who the customers communicated with, when and for long, among other sensitive information. This transactional information is analyzed by computers in conjunction with the vast quantity of communications content acquired by government's network of surveillance devices, in what has been described as a vast data-mining operation.

How do the facts in EFF's Hepting v. AT&T and Jewel v. NSA cases relate to the warrantless spying that the President has admitted?

The cases allege that, in addition to eavesdropping on or reading specific communications that has been admitted, the government has indiscriminately intercepted the communications and obtained the communications records of millions of ordinary Americans. The government has admitted that it is engaging in more warrantless surveillance than it has specifically admitted. While we do not know for sure, one leading theory is that first the government intercepts all communications ? including yours ? and then targets certain communications for more in-depth analysis.

Is EFF challenging the surveillance of communications with members of Al Qaeda?

No. None of the plaintiffs in either EFF lawsuit, Hepting v. AT&T or Jewel v. NSA, have communicated with members of Al Qaeda. Instead, the lawsuit is about the dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans, like the plaintiffs, who have the right to go about their daily lives without the government intercepting their communications or rifling through the records of their communications.

Does the domestic spying program produce better results than FISA?

No. Reports have shown that the data from this wholesale surveillance did little more than commit FBI resources to follow up leads, "virtually all of [which], current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans."

For instance:

"We'd chase a number, find it's a school teacher with no indication they've ever been involved in international terrorism ? case closed," said one former FBI official, who was aware of the program and the data it generated for the bureau. "After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration."

? Lowell Bergman, et al, Spy Agency Data After Sept. 11 Led F.B.I. to Dead Ends, NY Times, Jan. 17, 2005.

Wasting counter-terrorism resources on innocent school teachers makes America less free and no safer.

What's AT&T's role in the program?

EFF alleges that under the NSA domestic spying program, major telecommunications companies ? and AT&T specifically ? gave the NSA access to or information from their vast databases of communications records. This included information about their customers' calls and emails in the past, including all of those people who their customers have corresponded with. In addition, EFF alleges that AT&T gave the government unfettered access to its over 300 terabyte "Daytona" database of caller information ? one of the largest databases in the world.

Are ordinary American's communications included in the surveillance?

Yes. The lawsuit alleges that AT&T's has provided the government with unfettered access to the communications records of ordinary Americans whose communications go through the AT&T network. This includes AT&T customers, anyone who communicates with an AT&T customer, and individuals whose messages are simply carried over AT&T's networks.

Is the fight against warrantless spying on ordinary Americans a partisan issue?

No. EFF is a non-partisan organization and has consistently opposed illegal surveillance efforts, regardless of which party held the presidency. Indeed, the opposition to the domestic surveillance program has come from not just Democrats, but also leading conservatives. As David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union said, "This is not a partisan issue; it is an issue of safeguarding the fundamental freedoms of all Americans so that future administrations do not interpret our laws in ways that pose constitutional concerns."

Remember that story about the NSA room 641A in the San Francisco Switch station? Do you think this is happening on your Iphone?

What would Steve think?


  • Reply 1 of 7
    hirohiro Posts: 2,663member
    This belongs in Political Outsider.
  • Reply 2 of 7
    801801 Posts: 271member
    I concur.

    But there are lawful ongoing legal actions being taken concerning your use of an Iphone. I think that that would be of interest to the said users of AT&T. Google it up, it is pretty interesting reading.
  • Reply 3 of 7
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    Is ATT allowing the NSA to read... ?

    Yep. Or more like they've been doing so for a long time.

    Such as:
  • Reply 4 of 7
    macaloymacaloy Posts: 104member
    They must get pretty bored reading my stuff

  • Reply 5 of 7
    Originally Posted by MacAloy View Post

    They must get pretty bored reading my stuff

    Mine too...
  • Reply 6 of 7
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    The answer is yes absolutely.
  • Reply 7 of 7
    801801 Posts: 271member
    E-Mail Surveillance Renews Concerns in Congress

    WASHINGTON ? The National Security Agency is facing renewed scrutiny over the extent of its domestic surveillance program, with critics in Congress saying its recent intercepts of the private telephone calls and e-mail messages of Americans are broader than previously acknowledged, current and former officials said.

    The agency?s monitoring of domestic e-mail messages, in particular, has posed longstanding legal and logistical difficulties, the officials said.

    Since April, when it was disclosed that the intercepts of some private communications of Americans went beyond legal limits in late 2008 and early 2009, several Congressional committees have been investigating. Those inquiries have led to concerns in Congress about the agency?s ability to collect and read domestic e-mail messages of Americans on a widespread basis, officials said. Supporting that conclusion is the account of a former N.S.A. analyst who, in a series of interviews, described being trained in 2005 for a program in which the agency routinely examined large volumes of Americans? e-mail messages without court warrants. Two intelligence officials confirmed that the program was still in operation.

    Both the former analyst?s account and the rising concern among some members of Congress about the N.S.A.?s recent operation are raising fresh questions about the spy agency.

    Representative Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, has been investigating the incidents and said he had become increasingly troubled by the agency?s handling of domestic communications.

    In an interview, Mr. Holt disputed assertions by Justice Department and national security officials that the overcollection was inadvertent.

    ?Some actions are so flagrant that they can?t be accidental,? Mr. Holt said.

    Other Congressional officials raised similar concerns but would not agree to be quoted for the record.

    Mr. Holt added that few lawmakers could challenge the agency?s statements because so few understood the technical complexities of its surveillance operations. ?The people making the policy,? he said, ?don?t understand the technicalities.?

    The inquiries and analyst?s account underscore how e-mail messages, more so than telephone calls, have proved to be a particularly vexing problem for the agency because of technological difficulties in distinguishing between e-mail messages by foreigners and by Americans. A new law enacted by Congress last year gave the N.S.A. greater legal leeway to collect the private communications of Americans so long as it was done only as the incidental byproduct of investigating individuals ?reasonably believed? to be overseas.

    But after closed-door hearings by three Congressional panels, some lawmakers are asking what the tolerable limits are for such incidental collection and whether the privacy of Americans is being adequately protected.

    ?For the Hill, the issue is a sense of scale, about how much domestic e-mail collection is acceptable,? a former intelligence official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because N.S.A. operations are classified. ?It?s a question of how many mistakes they can allow.?

    While the extent of Congressional concerns about the N.S.A. has not been shared publicly, such concerns are among national security issues that the Obama administration has inherited from the Bush administration, including the use of brutal interrogation tactics, the fate of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and whether to block the release of photographs and documents that show abuse of detainees.

    In each case, the administration has had to navigate the politics of continuing an aggressive intelligence operation while placating supporters who want an end to what they see as flagrant abuses of the Bush era.

    The N.S.A. declined to comment for this article. Wendy Morigi, a spokeswoman for Dennis C. Blair, the national intelligence director, said that because of the complex nature of surveillance and the need to adhere to the rules of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret panel that oversees surveillance operation, and ?other relevant laws and procedures, technical or inadvertent errors can occur.?

    ?When such errors are identified,? Ms. Morigi said, ?they are reported to the appropriate officials, and corrective measures are taken.?

    In April, the Obama administration said it had taken comprehensive steps to bring the security agency into compliance with the law after a periodic review turned up problems with ?overcollection? of domestic communications. The Justice Department also said it had installed new safeguards.

    Under the surveillance program, before the N.S.A. can target and monitor the e-mail messages or telephone calls of Americans suspected of having links to international terrorism, it must get permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Supporters of the agency say that in using computers to sweep up millions of electronic messages, it is unavoidable that some innocent discussions of Americans will be examined. Intelligence operators are supposed to filter those out, but critics say the agency is not rigorous enough in doing so.

    The N.S.A. is believed to have gone beyond legal boundaries designed to protect Americans in about 8 to 10 separate court orders issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, according to three intelligence officials who spoke anonymously because disclosing such information is illegal. Because each court order could single out hundreds or even thousands of phone numbers or e-mail addresses, the number of individual communications that were improperly collected could number in the millions, officials said. (It is not clear what portion of total court orders or communications that would represent.)

    ?Say you get an order to monitor a block of 1,000 e-mail addresses at a big corporation, and instead of just monitoring those, the N.S.A. also monitors another block of 1,000 e-mail addresses at that corporation,? one senior intelligence official said. ?That is the kind of problem they had.?

    Overcollection on that scale could lead to a significant number of privacy invasions of American citizens, officials acknowledge, setting off the concerns among lawmakers and on the secret FISA court.

    ?The court was not happy? when it learned of the overcollection, said an administration official involved in the matter.

    Defenders of the agency say it faces daunting obstacles in trying to avoid the improper gathering or reading of Americans? e-mail as part of counterterrorism efforts aimed at foreigners.

    Several former intelligence officials said that e-mail traffic from all over the world often flows through Internet service providers based in the United States. And when the N.S.A. monitors a foreign e-mail address, it has no idea when the person using that address will send messages to someone inside the United States, the officials said.

    The difficulty of distinguishing between e-mail messages involving foreigners from those involving Americans was ?one of the main things that drove? the Bush administration to push for a more flexible law in 2008, said Kenneth L. Wainstein, the homeland security adviser under President George W. Bush. That measure, which also resolved the long controversy over N.S.A.?s program of wiretapping without warrants by offering immunity to telecommunications companies, tacitly acknowledged that some amount of Americans? e-mail would inevitably be captured by the N.S.A.

    But even before that, the agency appears to have tolerated significant collection and examination of domestic e-mail messages without warrants, according to the former analyst, who spoke only on condition of anonymity.

    He said he and other analysts were trained to use a secret database, code-named Pinwale, in 2005 that archived foreign and domestic e-mail messages. He said Pinwale allowed N.S.A. analysts to read large volumes of e-mail messages to and from Americans as long as they fell within certain limits ? no more than 30 percent of any database search, he recalled being told ? and Americans were not explicitly singled out in the searches.

    The former analyst added that his instructors had warned against committing any abuses, telling his class that another analyst had been investigated because he had improperly accessed the personal e-mail of former President Bill Clinton.

    Other intelligence officials confirmed the existence of the Pinwale e-mail database, but declined to provide further details.

    The recent concerns about N.S.A.?s domestic e-mail collection follow years of unresolved legal and operational concerns within the government over the issue. Current and former officials now say that the tracing of vast amounts of American e-mail traffic was at the heart of a crisis in 2004 at the hospital bedside of John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, as top Justice Department aides staged a near revolt over what they viewed as possibly illegal aspects of the N.S.A.?s surveillance operations.

    James Comey, then the deputy attorney general, and his aides were concerned about the collection of ?meta-data? of American e-mail messages, which show broad patterns of e-mail traffic by identifying who is e-mailing whom, current and former officials say. Lawyers at the Justice Department believed that the tracing of e-mail messages appeared to violate federal law.

    ?The controversy was mostly about that issue,? said a former administration official involved in the dispute.
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