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AT&T Forwarding All Internet Traffic to NSA? 682

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the will-it-never-end dept.
An anonymous reader writes "SpamDailyNews is reporting that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed a brief that claims AT&T has been forwarding internet traffic directly into the hands of the NSA. The brief was filed under seal (a procedure that allows only the judge and the litigants to view the document) in order to give the court time to review the information. From the article: 'More than just threatening individuals' privacy, AT&T's apparent choice to give the government secret, direct access to millions of ordinary Americans' Internet communications is a threat to the Constitution itself. We are asking the Court to put a stop to it now.'"
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AT&T Forwarding All Internet Traffic to NSA?

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  • Coincidence? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday April 07, 2006 @08:55AM (#15083698) Journal
    And you wonder why the feds have no problem with the AT&T monopoly getting back together? Can we file this under the "You-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-your" department?
    • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday April 07, 2006 @08:57AM (#15083717) Journal
      Next time yell "Frist Post!" Damn noobs... gotta explain everything to them.
    • Re:Coincidence? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rosyna (80334) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:01AM (#15083739) Homepage
      The funny thing is that this is exactly the first thing that came to my mind.

      After reading your comment I think thought, "And perhaps this is why Net Neutrality will never happen."
    • Re:Coincidence? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Stop Error (823742) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:07AM (#15083804) Homepage
      That why I do, and encourage others to, donate to the EFF.
    • Re:Coincidence? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dhalka226 (559740) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:21AM (#15083899)
      And you wonder why the feds have no problem with the AT&T monopoly getting back together?

      The feds--and many economists--have no problem with AT&T essentially reassembling itself because competition exists today that did not exist in the past. Cable companies, wireless companies and straight VoIP providers can all provide telephone service in direct competition with typical land-line phone companies. The phone companies are also competing with those companies on THEIR domains (for example, video over Internet lines--the reason they're interested in laying fiber all of the sudden).

      These new forms of competition are also, undoubtedly, why you are hearing phone companies beginning to make a stink about charging people to carry traffic over their pipes.

      • Laying fiber? (Score:4, Informative)

        by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday April 07, 2006 @10:04AM (#15084264) Journal
        The phone companies are also competing with those companies on THEIR domains (for example, video over Internet lines--the reason they're interested in laying fiber all of the sudden).
        New fiber?

        AFAIK, the only fiber they're interested in laying is to span that last-mile to the home... something they swore up and down they were going to do ten years ago. And they got xx billions in tax breaks + fees for it.

        There's plenty of unlit fiber lying around, just not in the last mile.

        The "phone companies beginning to make a stink about charging people to carry traffic over their pipes" because they're looking at the next 10 years and thinking "Crap, the marketplace is getting saturated & prices are going to come down. How are we going to continue growing?"
    • Re:Coincidence? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ucklak (755284)
      I can't see how this is possible physically. I mean it is possible but that'd mean that the government would have to out google Google in terms of brains and equipment not to mention the time it would take to peruse through daily traffic patterns.
      • Re:Coincidence? (Score:4, Informative)

        by geoffspear (692508) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:40AM (#15084059) Homepage
        Well, the government might have trouble beating Google in terms of brains by being a more attractive employer (although maybe not by much--there's plenty of brainpower to go around and even if Google hires as many people as it wants to from the very top of the talent spectrum, the NSA will still be able to attract plenty of really smart people), but I don't think they're worried about computing power. The NSA was for a long time by far the world's biggest purchaser of supercomputers, and probably still is.

        If Google can index the entire web with spiders that have to actually go out and find the data they're indexing, I think it's fairly likely the NSA can process information that's fed directly to them by internet providers.

        • Re:Coincidence? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Narcissus (310552) on Friday April 07, 2006 @10:23AM (#15084452) Homepage
          One of my lecturers once said that the NSA measures (measured?) computing power not in terms of speed or memory size but 'in square miles'.

          Probably a joke but he definitely got me thinking about the scale that they were on :)
        • Echelon anyone? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by UttBuggly (871776) on Friday April 07, 2006 @11:53AM (#15085391)
          Echelon is NOT a fairy tale.

          The NSA has more computing power and human analyst brainpower than is probably believable.

          Back in the days when I did NeXT machines and software development, I heard that the NSA bought 400 NeXT cubes. The joke was "of course they did...saves them a ton of money on black paint!"

          I later heard that the NSA liked the fact that the magnesium case was a pretty effective RF shield.

          And then I got to see a NeXT app, Zilla, that let you build an early parallel processing system. Now, 400 Motorola 68040 CPUs isn't a Cray, but it's close. NeXT used 50 cubes to crunch on Fermat's Theorem and got throughout similar to a Cray YMP48 (this was 1990-91, so I may be fuzzy on this, but that's what I think I heard)

          So, if the NSA was dorking with massively parallel systems 15-20 years ago, where are they today?

          Personally, I think they have the data acquisition capability...with or without AT&T, the processing power, and plenty of human talent to build the data sieves to extract something useful.

          Wait a minute...there's a knock at my door................

          • Re:Echelon anyone? (Score:3, Informative)

            by einhverfr (238914)
            You have noticed this too. Yet part of the problem is that even the NSA could be overloaded by too much information retention and analysis. My guess based on the various reports I have read in the British media, etc. is this problem is probably solveable using a more distributed approach. Interestingly, the British press reports have been fairly compatible with (yet prior to) the information about the NSA wiretapping program in the US.

            My guess is that calls are probably stored for the duration of the cal
  • by liliafan (454080) * on Friday April 07, 2006 @08:55AM (#15083701) Homepage
    I am so glad I use verizon as my ISP.

    As TFA says:

    The internal AT&T documents and portions of the supporting declarations have been submitted to the Court under a tentative seal, a procedure that allows AT&T five court days to explain to the Court why the information should be kept from the public.


    I can't think of any possible justification for the documents to be kept sealed, but I wouldn't be suprised if the government wades in complaining that these document are directly related to National Security, and, should therefore be kept sealed, or claim that it would endanger their own investigations [washingtonpost.com].
    • by l2718 (514756) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:03AM (#15083765)
      Remember Carnivore [wikipedia.org]? The US intelligence agencies have had for years the capability to analyze some of the Internet traffic going through the US. To do so they must have some direct connection to the backbone. Apparently AT&T has been providing some of the connection by I doubt that they are the only ones. Given that they were able to intercept communications in foreign countries I would surely expect them to be able to access the backbone even if no local company co-operated and hence I assume that anything I transmit unencrypted is accessible to US intelligence. So far this hasn't led me to encrypt any non-commercial communications.

      On the policy side, this is an issue of trust and secrecy. This kind of intelligence operation is something you want to be available due to its good uses (and don't want to know about it), but you are afraid of because of the way the government can abuse it. The current administration has greatly reduced my trust in the professionalism of the US intelligence agencies to the point where I'm willing to support this kind of lawsuit.

      • by bigpat (158134) on Friday April 07, 2006 @10:22AM (#15084449)
        Apparently AT&T has been providing some of the connection by I doubt that they are the only ones.

        It has been intimated in the press that George W. Bush's illegal wire tapping went much deeper than has been admitted to. This is it. All Internet and Voice communications in the United States of America is now or was at some point being recorded by the NSA. It makes sense and it was certainly not just AT&T. Sure you can write that it was only a selected few messages or phone conversations that actually were brought to the attention of real people at NSA, probably measured in the tens of thousands out of many millions of people. But the computers, which were programmed by people, went through every message of every conversation. It is the only way to wiretap the internet in a centralized way without actually physically tapping wires.

        When George Walker Bush says they only intercepted messages of terrorists and terrorist associates, it is a lie. They intercept everything and sorted it out later. What he is trying to assure you of is that they don't really care about what you had to say unless you are plotting terrorism, which is probably largely true. But how long until such a powerful tool is directed towards lesser threats? We already know that during the 90's NSA intercepted foreign communications regarding a civilian airbus deal were used by US government to help Boeing win European civilian contracts. How was that for a national security purpose? I am sure they went through mental hoops to think what they were doing was right. And before the mid 1970's the FBI used domestic terrorism as an excuse to wiretap political civil rights and anti war activists when there was no reasonable expectation that these groups or individuals would resort to violence in support of their causes.

        A free society must choose to be free.

    • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:19AM (#15083882)
      Using Verizon as your ISP is no defense: if your traffic passes over AT&T owned wire, to or from your destination, you are vulnerable to this kind of snooping. This is particularly true for international traffic, much of which is over fiber-optic cable owned by AT&T. The routers connecting to those cables are one of the best possible places for network monitoring, and you'd better believe that the NSA is happy to install it there, with AT&T cooperation.

      There are certainly tools that can track and record every byte sent on every port on a saturated 100 MHz link, and write it to local disk. Given that the trans-atlantic links are rarely GigE capable, a rack of such devices should easily monitor and re-assemble all the traffic desired. www.sandstorm.com, for example, sells exactly that sort of monitoring tool called "Netintercept", commercially. There's no reason to think the NSA doesn't use them or hasn't reverse engineered them.
    • by way2trivial (601132) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:02PM (#15085509) Homepage Journal
      C:\>tracert slashdot.org

      Tracing route to slashdot.org [66.35.250.150]
      over a maximum of 30 hops:
      **CUT SOME**

          5 56 ms 52 ms 62 ms te-2-1-ar01.absecon.nj.panjde.comcast.net [68.86 .210.126]
          6 59 ms 69 ms 64 ms po10-ar01.audubon.nj.panjde.comcast.net [68.86.2
      08.22]
          7 58 ms 55 ms 52 ms 68.86.211.10
          8 56 ms 69 ms 58 ms 12.118.114.17
          9 62 ms 57 ms 60 ms tbr1-p012301.phlpa.ip.att.net [12.123.137.62]
        10 68 ms 59 ms 59 ms tbr1-cl8.n54ny.ip.att.net [12.122.2.17]
        11 65 ms 57 ms 62 ms ar5-a300s5.n54ny.ip.att.net [12.123.0.89]

      See lines 9, 10, 11? see the part at the end? att.net? guess what that means?

      try a tracert yourself.
  • ...but here we are. Big Brother REALLY IS watching...
  • Well, my DSL contract ends in May...here I come Nex-Tech.

    I, as should everyone, will speak to them with my wallet. They have lost my local, long distance and data services.
    • I would make that last month of service as costly for them as you can.

      Call in and bitch about the service being too slow.

      Fire up BitTorrent, and start downloading Linux distros like there's no tomorrow. And seed them. All of them. Don't throttle the upload, either. (and, of course, disable BitTorrent when they're on a service call)
  • One big question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Juiblex (561985) on Friday April 07, 2006 @08:57AM (#15083714)
    How do they know it?
    • by FhnuZoag (875558) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:01AM (#15083740)
      Presumeably, one employee at AT&T had a shred of human decency and decided to leak this information.

      Don't worry. He'll be hunted down.
      • by Intron (870560)
        All they need is for him to make one phone call.
  • by dbc001 (541033) on Friday April 07, 2006 @08:57AM (#15083715)
    I would love to cancel my AT&T / SBC services but... my rental agreement requires that I have a phone line for my security system. What can I do? If I complain to AT&T no one will care.
  • Easy (Score:3, Funny)

    by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp&gmail,com> on Friday April 07, 2006 @08:58AM (#15083723) Homepage
    AT&T has been forwarding internet traffic directly into the hands of the NSA
    Well this should be easy enough to check for, just use traceroute, right?
    • Re:Easy (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tim C (15259)
      Well, assuming you're serious, the smmary says "forwarding to", not "routing via", so traceroute won't help you as it can't tell you where *copies* of all your packets are going.
    • Re:Easy (Score:4, Informative)

      by Homology (639438) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:08AM (#15083810)
      AT&T has been forwarding internet traffic directly into the hands of the NSA

      Well this should be easy enough to check for, just use traceroute, right?

      It is just a matter of duplicating all the packets that traverses a router. Properly done you will not notice this.

  • Out of control ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 07, 2006 @08:59AM (#15083727)

    at what point do you realise that the current administration is out of control , perhaps when soldiers are knocking on your door ?

    seems like the enemy is very much within, isn't democracy wonderful

    • by meringuoid (568297) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:16AM (#15083865)
      seems like the enemy is very much within

      Which is exactly why we need a state crackdown, and to spy on our own civilians! Who knows what the Enemy Within might be plotting? It would be disastrous if one of these people, with no respect for the rights and traditions of Western civilisation, were to infiltrate the corridors of power - imagine the damage that could be done!

    • Re:Out of control ? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Friday April 07, 2006 @10:05AM (#15084278) Homepage
      "at what point do you realise that the current administration is out of control , perhaps when soldiers are knocking on your door ?"

      I think a lot of us have realized it was out of control for quite some time. However aside from voting and writing our congress critters and protesting and trying to stir things up in the media, we are left with few to zero direct options for fixing the situation.

      In the old days if you didn't like your government, you would take up arms and overthrow them or have them arrested. These days the government is above the law, and if you were to take up arms against them you would either be killed or considered a terrorist and secretly shipped away to some torture camp.

      Honestly, what other options do we have? As much as I love fighting the good fight...I'm strongly considering moving to another country at this point, although from the looks of things globally, it doesn't really seem like there are any places that much better off!

    • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday April 07, 2006 @10:35AM (#15084568) Homepage Journal
      Why do people say "current administration" when they're talking about crap that every single other administration in the last 70 years, would (and did, or did try to) also do?

      Sure, they're scum. Name anyone who ever ran for President and got more than 40% of the vote without betraying America and selling us out so that they could afford the best TV ads.

      The real problem is that the federal government has this power to begin with. The fact that they abuse it, is totally uninteresting, because it's so expected. You give a gun to chimps and then wonder why someone got shot. I look at the Constitution, the 10th Amendment, etc, and wonder why the chimp is armed.

      If you want an America that doesn't suck, then make it so that it doesn't matter who is president or who gets into Congress, because the positions would wield so little power. And the good news is, the Constitution is already written to support this. We just have to call them on it, and Just Say No every time they try to pass a law based on the justification that something is expedient or efficient or "seems like a good idea."

      • You think Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Carter would really try this stuff? I don't, and I don't think you do either. Yet it's become popular to grouse about how the whole political system sucks, how you don't have any choices, how it doesn't matter who is in office because they're all the same and pretty much leave it at that.

        I call bullshit. They're not all the same. Some are definitely, demonstrably better or worse than others. The "Current Administration," in my opinion, will go down in history
  • by TheNoxx (412624) on Friday April 07, 2006 @08:59AM (#15083729) Homepage Journal
    I wonder, how long will it take for our government to realize that most of us take our rights pretty damn seriously, as they are the major reason why so many people like living here? Or, perhaps, we just need to put of a few signs at every protest and rally reading something along the lines of "Please remember to read the god damn Constitution and Bill of Rights before you do anything else."
    • by MustardMan (52102) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:06AM (#15083796)
      The problem is, MOST of us don't take our rights pretty damn seriously. When the patriot act was passed, people cheered the gub'ment for protecting them. Our society is complacent, living on the opinions spoonfed to them by a goverment that lies through its teeth to obtain its goals, and a corporate media that manipulates the information they recieve so they either don't realize or don't care that the government is giving more and more power to big business while taking away the rights of the average Joe.

      Look at the issues in the elections, its all about gay marriage (taking away someone's rights to make them live the way you want them to) and other meaningless bullshit. No one is going to get elected running on a platform of restoring personal freedom. And that's truly sad.
    • by CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:10AM (#15083825) Journal
      I wonder, how long will it take for our government to realize that most of us take our rights pretty damn seriously

      The scariest part is I don't know how true that is. Now I have no scientific polling or anything but just the people I speak to it seems the majority have the opinion:

      - If your not doing anything wrong what are you worried about?
      or
      - Well we have to take care of our national security first before any rights really matter

      That a government will so readily abuse its power is certainly not a suprise (disturbing but entirely predictable). However, the ease with which so many citizens seem ready to give up protections we have taken for granted is the scariest part (at least to me).
    • Our society is anchored at two points: The democratic process, which protects the rights of
      the majority, and the Constitution, which protects the rights of the minority. This only works
      as long as the Constitution is honored. We now live in a culture where many
      people care little about others, as long as they themselves have their freedoms. Politicians are
      free to ignore the Constitution, as long as their actions only injure a minority of the voters.

      How do we change the current culture of self-absorption t
  • Volume? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous MadCoe (613739) <maakiee@NoSpam.yahoo.com> on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:01AM (#15083736) Homepage
    Hmmm, I'm wondering how much traffic that actually is, sounds like some set-up they have there, if they can forward all the customer's traffic.
    Would be nice to have a look at that kit.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:01AM (#15083743) Homepage Journal
    Email, where you surf, and im messages are not considered protected private communications. It is in the same category as a post card. Unlike a letter or phone call there isn't any expectation of privacy on network communications.
    Before anyone screams that they should be protected just remember if it was protected then using a network sniffer would become illegal! You can not have it both ways.
    If you want private communications then use encryption, the phone, or send a letter.
    The person that wrote this was trying to inflame people or doesn't understand what communications are protected and are not.
    • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:09AM (#15083814) Homepage Journal
      I don't know why the FSF's lawyers bother to take these cases to court. There are hundreds of qualified, informed judges here on slashdot, just waiting for their inevitable promotion to the Supreme Court.
    • The "Cone of Silence" is the only way to ensure fully protected communications.
    • Email, where you surf, and im messages are not considered protected private communications. It is in the same category as a post card. Unlike a letter or phone call there isn't any expectation of privacy on network communications.

      That may be true, but there are provisions which are intended to prevent undue surveilance and the like.

      Handing everything over, wholesale, for no good reason, without oversight just because they want it? Come on, if that's not a violation of the intent, and probably the letter, o

    • Email, where you surf, and im messages are not considered protected private communications. It is in the same category as a post card. Unlike a letter or phone call there isn't any expectation of privacy on network communications.

      Might the odd person take a look at it? Sure. But if they all went through an intelligence agency for scanning and fingerprinting (equivalent of source IP) I would say that violates my understanding of privacy. Same way that when I move in public, someone might follow my movements.
    • by Politburo (640618) on Friday April 07, 2006 @10:20AM (#15084436)
      Sorry, but you're wrong. The FISA Law covers "electronic surveillance" and that includes email. The government is therefore prohibited from domestic eavesdropping without a warrant or FISA court order.
  • the NSA would need a massive system to handle just the incoming data let alone one to sort through it.

    It's more likely that the NSA just has Taps into the lines and can sort through the streams as they pass by.

    if someone tell's me it's for homeland security to monitor our own citizens in such a fashion I would begin to demand we impeach Bush.

    One can only truely lead by example. So if your a fear mongering warlord wanna-be so will your population be held in fear.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:13AM (#15083841)
      In 1999, I worked as a contract engineer for a Linux consulting company. We delivered kernel enhancements for the Linux kernel on the Alpha processor to the NSA. The enhancements we to reduce TLB miss overhead when doing comparisons and searches on large amounts of data. The benchmark run to test it was a keyword search through a stream of e-mails. This was to run on a *massive* cluster of Alpha machines. I would guess they've upgraded it several times since then.

      1999 was while Clinton was still president, BTW.

      (Posted anonymously, for obvious reasons. Though I've probably given enough information that they could narrow it down to about 10 people.)
  • by Kohath (38547)
    Something might be happening. What is it? We don't know.

    Kent: Hordes of panicky people seem to be evacuating the town for
    some unknown reason. Professor, without knowing precisely
    what the danger is, would you say it's time for our viewers
    to crack each other's heads open and f
  • It begins (Score:5, Insightful)

    by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:02AM (#15083757)
    When, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation
    • Tried it once (Score:4, Insightful)

      by XanC (644172) on Friday April 07, 2006 @11:11AM (#15084925)
      Some of the states tried to leave the US once, and they US military occupied and subjugated that territory.
  • Separation of... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cunamara (937584)
    church and state is mandated in the U.S. Constitution. Too bad that separation of big business and state wasn't similarly mandated. Why it that the "party of limited government" (the Republicans) is also the party of most intrusive and least ethical government?
  • Details... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deanj (519759) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:02AM (#15083759)
    First, if they're really doing this, we need full details.

    Now, are they talking about forwarding ALL AT&T traffic to NSA? I find that really really hard to believe. How much data is that? Can someone point to some known tech that can handle that....ALL that data? I'm not asking for "secret-I-bet-they-have-cold-fusion-computers" BS tech that someone *thinks* the NSA has.

    Second, this is just an accusation. There's one guy that has some documents that say that's what AT&T is doing. For all we know, this guy could be wearing tin-foil hats and singing to his dog about the aliens. He's doing this through the EFF, which to me doesn't lend much to this accusation, considering how they've handled things in the past. They don't exactly have a great track record.

    We need details, people, details.
    • Re:Details... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by meringuoid (568297)
      How much data is that? Can someone point to some known tech that can handle that....ALL that data? I'm not asking for "secret-I-bet-they-have-cold-fusion-computers" BS tech that someone *thinks* the NSA has.

      My guess is that NSA probably do it the same way Google do it. No magic voodoo hardware, but clever software running on a huge cluster of regular commodity boxes. Imagine a Beowulf cluster of Googles, and you're probably not far off.

    • by Paladin144 (676391) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:51AM (#15084151) Homepage
      Now, are they talking about forwarding ALL AT&T traffic to NSA? I find that really really hard to believe. How much data is that? Can someone point to some known tech that can handle that....ALL that data? I'm not asking for "secret-I-bet-they-have-cold-fusion-computers" BS tech that someone *thinks* the NSA has.

      You had it right in your first sentence. AT&T is forwarding all of their call data to the NSA. The NSA doesn't need any super-cool tech in order to intercept this data since AT&T (and the other telecom companies) simply send this data directly to them. Don't get me wrong, though - the NSA has some amazing technology. All of this data is processed, filtered, tagged and entered into a massive database.

      I'm currently reading Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency [amazon.com] by James Bamford. It's not light reading, but it's fascinating....and extremely disturbing. The fascinating part is that we've been here before. This exact scenario already happened in the 60's and 70's, until information about it was leaked (by the NY Times, no less) and it was investigated by the Church Committee [wikipedia.org] circa 1975. It was called Project SHAMROCK [wikipedia.org] then, and it involved the phone companies and Western Union delivering huge magnetic tape reels to the NSA on a regular basis. The project was so secret that only a few people within the NSA where even aware of it.

      Until the Congressional investigation, hardly anybody within the White House or Justice Department had even heard whispers of it. Congress, of course, was completely out of the loop. This obsession with secrecy goes back to the very founding of the NSA. The NSA operated with no Congressional oversight for decades (it was called "No Such Agency"), and its existance probably wasn't even constitutionally legal/valid, but the information that it provided to other agencies (mostly the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff) was so good that by the time Congress found out about it, it was indispensible. Today the NSA is the largest of the intelligence agencies (yes you read that right - larger than the CIA), although its exact budget is classified.

      Second, this is just an accusation. There's one guy that has some documents that say that's what AT&T is doing. For all we know, this guy could be wearing tin-foil hats and singing to his dog about the aliens.

      The only loonies around here are the people who think that the government isn't spying on Americans every single day. Now, that doesn't mean that they are listening to you in real time, and hanging on your every word. But all/most of your calls are recorded, digitized and handed to the NSA. From there, it is probably entered into a massive database. From there they can filter out unimportant calls and use data mining techniques to pull up relevant information. They use the ECHELON [wikipedia.org] computer software to sift through information, which probably works similar to Google, with keyword searches and a list of search results.

      If you still don't believe me, why don't you have a conversation with a friend, where you discuss planting bombs around town. See how long it takes the feds to show up.

  • What does it take? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KingSkippus (799657) * on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:06AM (#15083795) Homepage Journal

    You know what the irony in this is? We make hideous fun of countries like China where this kind of thing is standard operating procedure, but when we do it, it's supposedly to protect us from the terrorists. How does something like this come about?

    I can't repeat this quote enough:

    Of course the people don't want war...But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger.
    Hermann Goering [wikipedia.org]

    The question burning in my mind is this: How much will it take? How far does the government have to go before everyone says, "Enough!" and finally recognizes the greater danger that we're all in? How badly does our government have to act before people take up the call to arms and start rioting in the streets of this outrageous behavior?

    For all the I-have-nothing-to-hiders out there, let me make it clear: I do have things that I'd rather stay hidden, and it's none of your damn business, and none of George W. Bush's damn business, what they are. And whenever a government goober tells me, "Trust me," that's the first sign that I shouldn't. We shouldn't have to blindly trust the government, that's why we friggin' fought England over 200 years ago!

    Needless to say, I'm sure as hell glad I don't have AT&T, because it saves me the trouble of cancelling my account and writing a nasty letter about why.

    • by Bob3141592 (225638)
      Of course the people don't want war...But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger.
  • How is that news ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alexhs (877055) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:11AM (#15083830) Homepage Journal
    What did you think the NSA was for ?
  • by 44BSD (701309) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:13AM (#15083846)
    People saying they will switch away from AT+T for their DSL or whatever are missing an important point. Because of peering arrangements, your traffic almost certainly goes over AT+T's lines, regardless of who your ISP is.
  • by Honorbound (521347) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:21AM (#15083903)
    AT&T apparently gave NSA access to databases containing telephone call logs, email content, and web addresses visited, not the raw stream of bits going through their routers. More sources: Wired [wired.com] and The Register [theregister.co.uk]. So it's not all internet traffic.

    Still an egregious abuse of privacy, IMHO, and one of the reasons I donate to the EFF.
  • by MECC (8478) * on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:22AM (#15083908)
    AT&T runs portions of the Internet backbone, and traffic from other countries can go through their network as well, like when computers in China go to microsoft's windows update site. Also, as a backbone provider, switching from one ISP to another may not keep your traffic from going through their network. Do a traceroute to various destinations, and its highly likely that no matter your ISP, you'll go through AT&T's network at some point. Even from another country.

    The only viable way to keep traffic off of AT&T's network is for other backbone providers to refuse to route traffic through AT&T, and get alternative peering agreements up with other BB providers. This may not be a viable option, however, since AT&T carries enough traffic volume for the Internet that to effectively 'kick them off' the Internet may cause other BB providers to experience very heavy traffic loads.

    If I was the government of a non-US country, I'd be canceling AT&T contracts today, given that AT&T did this on the sly.

  • slogan (Score:3, Funny)

    by muhgcee (188154) * <stu@fourmajor.com> on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:29AM (#15083964) Homepage
    Your World Delivered.
    To the NSA.

    (Thanks EFF)
  • Shamrock lives! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Refried Beans (70083) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:32AM (#15083990) Homepage
    I was reading the Puzzle Palace by James Bamford a few weeks ago when I read about Project Shamrock [wikipedia.org]. Coincidentally, it was just after G.W. Bush said they weren't spying on civilians and the country should trust them. The book quotes part of the ruling that ended Project Shamrock. It sounded very familiar to what the President was being accused of. Now with this filing, I'm quite sure the second generation of Project Shamrock happened.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:40AM (#15084060)
    I dont understand when people assume is any privacy at all unless you do it yourself with PGP (or the newly announced digital streaming PGP). Its so easy to evesdrop on anyone else. Plus even easier for the US governement with its largest collection of supercomputers and switches on the planet.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:40AM (#15084061)
    ...the government monitors its citizens.

    Oh, wait...

    Nevermind. Nothing to see here, move on please.
  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:44AM (#15084089) Homepage Journal
    I complain about the FCC constantly, but if I told people that I was anti-FCC because I was afraid of the abuse that normally comes from regulation-to-be-tyranny, I'd be called Mr. Tinfoil Hat. Yet this is exactly the reason why we have the Constitution limit the power of the federal government -- to prevent them from abusing the citizens as they quietly create a monopoly and then use it to do harm.

    Where the federal government has any power over communications is beyond me -- the interstate commerce clause was written so that the federal government could prevent states from intruding on commerce -- no tariffs, no taxes, no abusive cartels. The federal government itself was not given power to actually reduce trade but improve it.

    The more we believe that government is helping us, the more we'll be paying in taxes, a declining dollar, and a loss of rights that no one gives us but nature.
  • by hoggoth (414195) on Friday April 07, 2006 @09:51AM (#15084150) Journal
    So tell me more about these cracked warez, those MP3s, those brand new Hollywood movies, that child porn, and those terrorist plans you intercepted...
    Are you messenging me on AT&T? I don't know you. Who is this? Don't come here, I'm closing the window! Prank caller, prank caller!

  • by The Wooden Badger (540258) on Friday April 07, 2006 @11:18AM (#15084995) Homepage Journal
    I don't know. Citing wiretapping laws in regards to the internet? Hasn't there been a bunch of debate on about the internet and phone lines? I know the phone companies have wanted to get a piece of the VoIP pie. Nothing else is coming to mind right now, but it seems like there has been a bunch of talk in this arena. I wonder if they're just opening up a big can of worms.
  • by thomasa (17495) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:03PM (#15085526)
    I am just glad I have SBC as my provider. I don't have to worry.

    But wait a minute...

  • by Garse Janacek (554329) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:16PM (#15085685)
    ...the EFF is also supporting a freely available, public anonymity system [eff.org]. Download a copy and browse anonymously!

    You know... if you're into that sort of thing...

    (Of course, using it just proves that you have something to hide... so maybe you'll get in trouble anyway.)

To restore a sense of reality, I think Walt Disney should have a Hardluckland. -- Jack Paar

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