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Court Rules NSA Doesn't Have To Confirm Or Deny Secret Relationship With Google 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the mum's-the-word dept.
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "A DC appeals court has ruled that the National Security Agency doesn't need to either confirm or deny its secret relationship with Google in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and follow-up lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. The NSA cited a FOIA exemption that covers any documents whose exposure might hinder the NSA's national security mission, and responded to EPIC with a 'no comment.' Beyond merely rejecting the FOIA request, the court has agreed with the NSA that it has the right to simply not respond to the request, as even a rejection of the request might reveal details of a suspected relationship with Google that it has sought to keep secret. Google was reported to have partnered with the NSA to bolster its defenses against hackers after its breach by Chinese cyberspies in early 2010. But to the dismay of privacy advocates who fear the NSA's surveillance measures coupled with Google's trove of data, the company has never explained the details of that partnership."
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Court Rules NSA Doesn't Have To Confirm Or Deny Secret Relationship With Google

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  • NSA 3 Google (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WatchDogs (2637289) on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:32PM (#39972509)
    It's been known for a long time that Google has been secretly working with NSA. You may ask why they do it?

    1) It is beneficial to NSA.

    NSA gets immersive amount of data from Google that they would not otherwise have. Remember that Google logs every and all search requests made, has Google Analytics scripts on basically every site on the internet, owns YouTube (good place to check what videos interest people), and is now trying to compete with Facebook by building the worlds largest social network (with a strict real names only -policy), Google+.

    2) It is beneficial to Google.

    In turn, Google has strong government backing for all their privacy violations, snooping and ignorance of other countries laws. They have and are building a strong relationship with the highest people on US government so that they get free pass on everything and no liability.

    3) Google has got lots of shit lately.

    It aligns with the previous point, but Google has been major target of (valid) lawsuits around the world and U.S. lately. FTC is watching them, KFTC is watching them, European Union is watching them. By strongering their position with someone like NSA they are trying to weasel out of these suits.

    4) Google is a marketing company

    Imagine if you could build yourself as "the marketing company of the internet". You need to gather lots of data for that. By making some favors towards NSA, their upper personal will of course make some back. After all, they are in the same business - snooping people's data. NSA for their purposes, Google for marketing purposes.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:33PM (#39972515)

    GreatBunzinni [slashdot.org], real name Rui Maciel, has been using anonymous posts [slashdot.org] and sockpuppets to accuse nearly 20 people of being employed by a PR firm to astroturf Slashdot, without any evidence. Using his sockpuppets, he mods up these anonymous posts while modding down the accused in order to filter their viewpoints. GreatBunzinni accidentally outed himself [slashdot.org] as the anonymous troll who has been posting these accusations to every Slashdot story. For example, he wrote the same post almost verbatim, first using his logged-in account [slashdot.org] followed by an anonymous post [slashdot.org] days later. Note the use of the same script and wording.

    It turns out GreatBunzinni is actually a 31-year-old C++/Java programmer from Almada, Portugal named Rui Maciel, with a civil engineering degree from Instituto Superior Técnico and a hobby working with electronics. He runs Kubuntu and is active on the KDE mailing list. Rui Maciel has accounts at OSNews, Launchpad, ProgrammersHeaven, the Ubuntu forums, and of course Slashdot.

    Most of the users who Rui targets have done nothing else but criticize Google for something or praise a competitor. Many of them are subscribers who get the first post because subscribers see stories earlier than non-subscribers. After one of Rui's accusations gets posted, the original post receives a surge of "Troll" and "Overrated" moderations from his sockpuppets, while Rui's posts get modded up. Often, additional anonymous posters will appear to give support and receive upmods. At the same time, accused users who defend themselves are modded "Offtopic."

    Rui Maciel's contact information
    Email: greatbunzinni@gmail.com [mailto], greatbunzinni@engineer.com [mailto], or rui.maciel@gmail.com [mailto]
    IM: greatbunzinni@jabber.org [jabber] (the same Jabber account currently listed on his Slashdot account)
    Blog: http://rui_maciel.users.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
    Programming projects: http://www.programmersheaven.com/user/GreatBunzinni/contributions [programmersheaven.com]

    The following accounts have been confirmed to be Rui Maciel, in order of activity. You'll notice that they all share a posting style and often reply to each other:

    HarrySquatter [slashdot.org]
    Galestar [slashdot.org]
    GameboyRMH [slashdot.org]
    ZeroSumHappiness [slashdot.org]
    Jeng [slashdot.org]
    Nerdfest [slashdot.org]
    TheNarrator [slashdot.org]
    flurp [slashdot.org]
    anonymov [slashdot.org]
    chrb [slashdot.org]
    zidium [slashdot.org]
    NicknameOne [slashdot.org]
    Nicknamename [slashdot.org]
    forkfail [slashdot.org]
    icebike [slashdot.org]
    ilguido [slashdot.org]
    psiclops [slashdot.org]
    Toonol [slashdot.org]
    russotto [slashdot.org]
    rreyelts [slashdot.org]
    symbolset [slashdot.org]

    tl;dr: An Ubuntu fan named Rui Maciel is waging an organ

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:34PM (#39972529) Homepage

    What, did EFF ask about cats in boxes or something?

  • by Steve1952 (651150) on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:35PM (#39972567)
    If NSA is not partnering with Google, then probably somebody needs to be fired. If I were them, I probably would have responded with a "well Duh!" comment.
  • Bizarro land... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by daveschroeder (516195) * on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:40PM (#39972665)

    As I said on the Wired article, what should Google, a US company, have done when what are likely state or state-backed Chinese hackers thoroughly compromise one of their services?

    *Not* turn to "U.S. authorities”? Do nothing? It's certainly bizarre when a US company under attack by another nation-state would be expected to *not* involve our own government.

    Guess what: our intelligence activities and capabilities are secret, not because we want to "hide them from the public", but because they necessarily remain secret for the precise reasons the courts ruled the way they did in this case: so that our ADVERSARIES don't understand our sources, methods, capabilities, and responses.

    I know most people here believe the NSA is evil, instead of looking across the Pacific to a country that can scarcely wait to displace the US as a global power, while keeping a firm stranglehold on its citizens. I imagine there will be many tired references to the Utah Data Center in the comments section here, too, from people who completely misunderstand the law, and NSA's purpose and missions.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:52PM (#39972841)

      Yes Google should have gone to the US Government, the question is, is the NSA the correct agency? If a system was compromised, shouldn't it be the FBI or Homeland Security and not an agency who's mission is covert (as in spying)?

      • Re:Bizarro land... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Sarten-X (1102295) on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:23PM (#39973249) Homepage

        A company maintaining a huge amount of information on a nation's citizens has its security compromised... perhaps they should go to that nation's security administration, or something like that, for help in preventing a recurrence.

        • by KhabaLox (1906148) on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:03PM (#39974315)

          As a US citizen, I'm much more afraid of the NSA (or any US agency) getting access to my Google* account data than I am of any arm of the Chinese government getting access.

          *Same goes for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Dropbox, etc.

          • by ffflala (793437) on Friday May 11, 2012 @09:33PM (#39975391)

            As a US citizen, I'm much more afraid of the NSA (or any US agency) getting access to my Google*(*& Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Dropbox,etc) account data than I am of any arm of the Chinese government getting access.

            If you feel that way, you really have been approaching all of those accounts wrong from the outset. You'd have be in a better position now had you assumed they would be compromised before you created them, and used them accordingly.

            I don't understand why you'd be so concerned about the NSA having your account details, when all of your information has been most certainly churned through any number of private companies, all trying to actively mine your data for profit. Again, you'd be in a better position now if you'd assumed that they were doing that all along.

            tl;dr Yes, trained spies will probably be able to sneak in and access whatever data you create that leaves your local control. Deal with it appropriately.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:51PM (#39973627)

        The FBI, DHS, and other Federal police agencies have no jurisdiction in China; so yes, a U.S. intelligence agency is the place for a U.S. company to turn, if they are being assaulted by/from a foreign power with which their exists no extradition treaty.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:59PM (#39972939)

      That's fine but the government also has a bad habit or classifying things that should not be classified..... like when they covered-up the journalist that had been killed by U.S. soldiers. "We have no idea what happened to him" they told the family, rather than admit they screwed up (and also killed some kids).

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:00PM (#39972949)

      Your mistake is in tying defense against the Chinese, and spying against Americans. We don't need secrecy. What made this country great was freedom. What will keep us great, and keep us ahead of the Chinese, is freedom, and control of our government. Even at the expense of immediate security. We can't be free, we can't control the government, if we can't see what it's doing. And if we lose that freedom, then we will be utterly destroyed by the population of China... So in my mind, what the NSA is doing IS evil... yes. It's wrong. And it's going to lead to our destruction. Secrecy won't help that.

      China doesn't scare me - not if we are free to innovate. But a KGB-esque organization accountable NOT to the people... now that's terrifying.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:01PM (#39972969)

      Any organization that steals from people by definition is evil(or more specifically, its members are committing evil acts). When someone knowingly works for an organization of thieves(like an errand runner for some local mob) or cooperates with them(like a fence), they too are evil. The NSA is an agency that is part of an organization that steals from people, so by definition it is evil. This isn't a belief any more than it is a belief that 1 + 1 = 2.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:08PM (#39973055)

      I agree a lot of things government agencies do is misconstrued as evil and world shattering. Your bias that the NSA is here to do no harm to domestic citizenry is foolish. Yes, many foreign nation-states would love to get their fingers further into our infrastructure. So would many NGO's. So what? Does that mean that the NSA doesn't breech it's own citizen's rights on a daily basis? Because you say so?

      Don't rely on conjecture and what the "nsa.gov"'s mission statement will lead you to believe. Whistle blowers have been singing the same song about the NSA's true intent for years now. Ex officials, former employee, you name it. But make sure you ignore them... thats conjecture too (/sarcasm font)

      And furthermore, you clearly believe in this ideal far too much for me to try to dissuade you with fact to the contrary. For the sake of gullible people that may read your inaccurate portrayal of the NSA, I am truly hopeful your ignorant point of view will be modded down from "insightful" to at least "funny".

    • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:11PM (#39973081)
      'Chinese hackers' are almost always a scapegoat, and the US probably pays the Chinese state the lion's share of the budget for the state and state backed hackers.
    • Re:Bizarro land... (Score:4, Informative)

      by genkernel (1761338) on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:14PM (#39973123)

      Guess what: our intelligence activities and capabilities are secret, not because we want to "hide them from the public", but because they necessarily remain secret for the precise reasons the courts ruled the way they did in this case: so that our ADVERSARIES don't understand our sources, methods, capabilities, and responses.

      Doesn't this also effect the safety of the public, if the methods, capabillities and legal obligations of the NSA are unknown? Note that the existence of the partnership, according an article in the post linked to by TFA, is already known, and the technical capabillities provided to the NSA by this relationship can therefore be roughly estimated. It isn't like the NSA hasn't violated the US constitution (taking the overly optimistic view that it is still in effect) and due process before.

      I know most people here believe the NSA is evil, instead of looking across the Pacific to a country that can scarcely wait to displace the US as a global power, while keeping a firm stranglehold on its citizens. I imagine there will be many tired references to the Utah Data Center in the comments section here, too, from people who completely misunderstand the law, and NSA's purpose and missions.

      Are you certain it is not you who misunderstands the NSA's purpose and missions? How can you, when the government's interpretation of the law is kept secret? Do you really believe the NSA serves the interests of the people of the USA any more than the TSA? Isn't it possible for both the NSA and the Chinese intelligence agencies to be evil and worthy of mistrust?

    • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:16PM (#39973155)

      The NSA is probably quite evil, however they are OUR evil, not the evil belonging to the the Yellow Peril.

      Or so I have been told.

    • by Mister Liberty (769145) on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:20PM (#39973213)

      Guess who's among the major enablers of your "firm stranglehold"
      on Chinese citizens.

      Btw., I can understand the US would frown upon it -- but displacing
      it as a global power is intrinsically evil how?

    • by kaladorn (514293) on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:13PM (#39973865) Homepage Journal
      Your position seems a bit simplistic.

      I do agree that intelligence personel (I know a few in military intelligence and some who were in federal police agencies' intelligence arms) tend to have better things to worry about than average citizens doing average things.

      On the other hand, I've never met an authority figure who couldn't find a use for more power of surveillance if given it. There are also a lot of people in the apparatus who think that those of us not of in the government (or their agency) need watched for our own good at a fairly detailed level.

      Citizens may disagree.

      The fact that no government, even those like the current one that ran on getting rid of exceptional powers of surveillance, search, seizure, etc., have acutally removed the various secret wiretap and surveillance powers once in place means one of two things:

      a) They got a briefing from the national security adviser and the heads of the agencies that scared them into keeping the power

      b) They recognized that giving up this sort of power means giving up some convenience and some security

      I find the men I know in the intelligence community generally don't think we need privacy if we're not up to anything dodgy. They seem to be of the opinion that they can make the judgement on what's dodgy and they seem to overlook the potential for abuse.

      Even police datasystems that can query national databases can be abused. Officers have been arrested doing things like running background checks for landlords who are friends or who pay them. Imagine the sorts of abuses that the more broad data surveillance the intelligence agencies conduct could generate.

      And it would be harder to catch. The police databases have some oversight and there are public police complaints entities that can raise the question in a way that gets answers. Who would perform this sort of citizen protection function within the intelligence community for individual incidents? Who would listen to individual concerns from citizens?

      I think the answer is pretty much no-one.

      So despite the fact there are real threats out there, despite the fact that our intel guys are mostly good guys, and despite the fact some bad stuff might be prevented by these sorts of powers, I can't support them. The potential for unchecked and even unseen abuse is so great and potent that its likelihood is probably 100%.

      I choose to have some additional privacy, which is really a form of liberty, instead of a further veneer of security. I am willing to live with greater risks in today's world in order to retain some of my privacy. And I am willing to vote with this as one of my primary voting issues.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:47PM (#39972779)

    If the NSA knows you're googling goatse and tub girl all day long? It's not as if we don't already know this to be true. Also, your mom's calling. (I know because I'm in her right now).

    [Captcha is "offend" now that's what I'm talking about]

  • It starts to bug me. Why are there two types of investigation? 1) "The hacker could not be traced as probably several servers were used". 2) "The IP was from China/Russia, so the hacker too". So since it is politically useful to the Americans to point at China, I suggest all hackers to get one of the computer in China. Best is Russia last with all logs at max, then China, then the usual.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:38PM (#39973465)

      They're presumed to come from Russia and China because as criminal hacking rings are busted that's where they've proven to originate. If the M.O. is the same after some break, but the perpetrator is still anonymous, you just connects the dots. Although certainly you can be wrong some of the time, most of the time they're probably right in pointing the finger.

      And the reason criminal rings so often come from those countries is because of A) the excellent technical schooling available to millions of students there and because B) those countries are politically ambivalent about shutting down organizations causing American companies trouble. Contrast that with India, where the political and economic climate is less hostile to American corporate and political interests (less toward the former than the latter).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:01PM (#39972967)

    The Security of a Nation is in its People, each and every one, not in the Security of its Government.

    Secrets mean you Fear, and Fear will put you on the path to Terror. (Sound familiar?)

    In the name of Love and Peace, one should never submit to lies and subterfuge under the domain of Fear. To do so is counter-productive to why we are here. Agents of the government are afraid to tell the people of their knowledge. Fear pervades the second most important institution of our lives. They FEAR to tell you the TRUTH of many things. Do not be complacent enough to believe you should be denied knowledge for the 'greater good'. It is done for the 'greater evil', if believe you that evil and negative emotions, fear, anger, terror, are kin.. as good is to love, peace, charity, and gifting.

    This is the spirit in every story you read, Bible to fiction, spanning from the beginning of all things to the very end. And the choice, though it may not seem, is always yours. ALWAYS. Even inaction is a choice.

    Who are you? Where do you stand, what do you know? What will you do for the sake of your brothers and sisters? Will you hide in fear, or reveal with love?

    The choice is yours.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:03PM (#39972991)

    none of this kinky getting down dirty stuff.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:03PM (#39972993) Homepage Journal

    I'm going to try that when my wife asks me if the transexual hooker named Serene who called the house at 4am looking for her "little man, Ratsie" is someone that I know.

    "I can neither confirm nor deny..."

    We'll see how that works out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:04PM (#39973005)

    Yet, they keep the secret from the tax payers. That makes perfect sense.

  • to cynically assume the worst. You'll come up just a little short of reality but you won't be very surprised.

    Considering the NSA is currently building the world's largest data warehouse / encryption system http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/all/1 [wired.com] ... and that google saves everything, and knows who asked the questions.. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/20/AR2006012001799.html [washingtonpost.com], you are well on your way to the NSA knowing what you were looking for, and devising ways to illegalize precrime and do away with the annoying unconstitutionality of prior restraint.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:14PM (#39973131)

    They can just not respond? And somehow they expect that to be interpreted differently than rejecting the request?

    By making that ruling, aren't they making non-response the new rejection?

    So if I put in a FOIA request asking for information about cooperation between the NSA and aliens... a rejection means they cooperate, and a non-response means they cooperate. Thereby confirming not only the existence of aliens, but the fact that the government knows about them and has been covering them up. A lot can be inferred from silence now.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:15PM (#39973137)

    It's irrelevant whether google shares data with the NSA. With or without the NSA, they are highly intrusive to privacy, and anybody who cares about their privacy stopped using google (or running their script tentacles that are all over the damned internet now).

    It just doesn't matter. If you care about privacy, you don't use google, or facebook, or other similar things.

    • by AHuxley (892839) on Friday May 11, 2012 @09:23PM (#39975319) Homepage Journal
      you don't use google, or facebook, or other similar things.
      The problem is your friend with a job offer or your boss or your family is. Your name, interests, friends are floating around. Add in your cell calls, emails, texts to your cell phone.
      Contractors buying bulk commercial data, the US gov and govs around the world, your data been looped around the world - its all fair game to the NSA.
  • by Sprouticus (1503545) on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:26PM (#39973297)

    now the NSA is completely exempt from FOIA?

    they can just ignore ALL requests, and there is no vetting of their reasons. Brilliant.

    Next the CIA and FBI will do the same, so the law becomes meaningless.

    side-note: How does this post fail the lameness filter and look like ASCII art?

  • by ronmon (95471) on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:37PM (#39973449)
    This answers the question. Of course, everyone knew this already.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:38PM (#39973467)

    For those of us with more than 10 to 15 years of life left in us, we are standing on the fringe of a very terrifying, yet exciting moment in world history. On the red corner we have the secret societies pushing as hard as they can for a totalitarian world government seeking to exploit all the resources the world has to offer (including the whole of humanity itself) for their own private benefits at any cost. On the blue corner we have a world population armed with access to more access to technolegy and knowledge than any generation before in human history. Things like instant cost-free publishing and unbreakable encryption have only been in the hands of the people for a sliver of the human timeline. The internet has let the geany out of the lamp, so to speak.

    So the question is, by the time my children reach my age (I'm 20, no wife or kids yet), will they be living in a post-imperial age, or will they be brainwashed rfid-tagged livestock who's only purpose is to serve the elite? All I know is no matter how dumb the media may make us Americans seem, there still are plenty of us who DO see what is going on, and it scares the living SHIT out of us... and with all of these government surveilence programs and the military industrial complex, combined with the fact that all of our polititians are owned by the corporations, it looks like it won't be much longer until the first shot will be fired. Godspeed everyone.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:39PM (#39973477)

    This is the same answer the NSA would give if they were asked about a working relationship with any Company in the world.

    They give a blanket, we aren't going to answer that question about everyone. Makes it harder to tell who they are really working with if the response is always the same.

  • Double standards. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Requiem18th (742389) on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:59PM (#39973719)

    Why is the NSA watching me? I've done nothing wrong!
    If you are doing nothing wrong you have nothign to hide!
    Can I see what information you arecollecting then?
    We don't need to respond to FOIA requests.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:02PM (#39973761)

    Sounds like time to wait until the FOIA legal time period runs out, then just absolutely spam them with FOIA requests. I mean, they won't answer them, but at least it'll let them know that breaking the law will cost them plenty of money as floods of FOIA requests come in . (Yes they are breaking the law -- I don't care what these dirty uncle-fucking paid-off judges say, the whole "national security" part of FOIA was to avoid putting in-place spies in danger or blow *SPECIFIC* ongoing operations, not allow a nationwide police state by just claiming it's "national security".)

  • Standard response (Score:4, Informative)

    by tomhath (637240) on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:02PM (#39973763)
    When I had a security clearance "neither confirm nor deny" was what we were instructed to say when asked what we did. If the affiliation with Google is classified then that's the right answer here too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:25PM (#39973991)

    Of course they don't have to confirm or deny the relationship, according to the summary, the court already did it for them.

    A DC appeals court has ruled that the National Security Agency doesn't need to either confirm or deny its secret relationship with Google...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:20PM (#39974473)

      Needs some more specific requests, so they could write "NSA also isn't required to confirm or deny that 2.32 billion dollar contract with Google. Unfettered NSA access to private mail and other data is also neither confirmed nor denied"

      I can't either confirm or deny existance of editors bias on this one.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:41PM (#39974635)

    http://www.yacy.net/en/

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SheevaPlug

    Assume Control Of Your Own Data. Encrypt everything. Fuck the Snooping Pork-Barellers !

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:48PM (#39974707)

    Microsoft has allowed a backdoor for the NSA to enter on its Windows Operating System. Maybe people should look that up as well.

    • by AHuxley (892839) on Friday May 11, 2012 @09:21PM (#39975311) Homepage Journal
      MS seems to have been more a rapid roll out of CPU friendly, rushed beta code to ensure a digital brand and land grab before cashed up start ups got traction.
      Security was to come after as the end users got better cpu's, gpu's, bandwidth and only ***if*** US law ever dictated better digital privacy.
      The NSA would have loved all that clear text, spyware friendly tech been exported, copied, cloned, installed, pushed around the world.
      MS and its rush to build networking gave the USA the gift of a few decades of low cost/easy crypto.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communications_Assistance_for_Law_Enforcement_Act [wikipedia.org] then fixed aspects of wiretapping networkings in place, making new OS security a pure marketing term due to easy tracking of any messages/usage.
  • by lexsird (1208192) on Friday May 11, 2012 @08:44PM (#39975079)

    Seriously people, settle down.

    We all know there is No Such Agency and that they have a mandate to secretly try to catch villains involved in our national security. That means, they don't care about your torrent of that cam of some shitty movie you downloaded. Nor do they care how much music you pirate, or even what porn you watch. We have entrusted them with a shroud of secrecy in order to operate under the radar and find bad guys.

    Now when they start breaking that trust for bullshit domestic reasons, if they ever do, then we hold their noses to the grindstone. But until then, we have to remember why we gave them such a mandate to begin with. We also need to remember that ignorance is bliss.

    Before I sound like a complete lackey, let me say this; shaking the mechanism that houses the safety on No Such Agency and making sure it still works is a wise idea. Somewhere in the machine there are safeties should they stray out of their mandate to correct themselves. They would have to, in order to remain off the radar and not make domestic enemies. You step on toes, people notice and start looking.

    Are they working with Google? Who cares? If they did in light of recent events, then why would that be a bad thing? We should be happy about it. Again, stop being paranoid about your own shit and letting it paint your image of them. Yes, it's a monster, but it's our monster. Stop poking it with a damn stick to see if it will bite your goofy ass.

    Look on the bright side, if they are overtly working with Google, (at least to Google) then there is a level of accountability even if it's from exposure. Bluntly put, if they do something fucked up and leave Google holding the bag, Google has enough money to at least punch someone from No Such Agency in the dick. Getting punched in said region isn't good for business and puts No Such Agency on the radar where it becomes vulnerable. Assured mutual destruction can be a wonderful diplomacy tool. Honesty is the best policy, if you start messing around, you shake loose "things" that turn up at the worse possible moment.

    It's probably a nervous date between the two. They want to catch bad guys, Google wants to make money and not be sued shitless over privacy rights violations. There is probably an annoying amount of "cover your own ass" protocols that have to be followed that people are getting carpel tunnel signing forms. Anyway, that is how I see it. I don't envision dark evil plots being carried out by minions, that's a DC thing.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday May 11, 2012 @09:09PM (#39975245) Homepage

      We all know there is No Such Agency and that they have a mandate to secretly try to catch villains involved in our national security

      ... or they might have some other mandate. We the People have no way of knowing what they've been ordered to do, nor what they're actually doing (which may or may not coincide with what they've been ordered to do, again we have no way of confirming anything)

      Now when they start breaking that trust for bullshit domestic reasons, if they ever do, then we hold their noses to the grindstone.

      And how exactly do we find out whether the NSA is breaking that trust, when all definitive about their activities is classified? What the public does have access to are a number of former NSA officials who've stated publicly that the NSA is committing serious crimes and provided some evidence to that effect - those former officials are now in prison.

      Yes, it's a monster, but it's our monster.

      Who's "our"? Which side of what conflict is the NSA actually on? I don't know that either, because all of their activities are classified.

      The short version of your post is "We should just trust with no evidence whatsoever that the US government is following it's laws and doing the right thing." That's just plain stupid, at least as dumb as "We should just trust with no evidence whatsoever that George W Bush personally organized the 9/11 attacks" or "The CIA assassinated JFK".

      • by lexsird (1208192) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @10:04AM (#39978515)

        I'm not saying it's a perfect world. If you have an axe to grind with them, run it through the system and our representatives. If that doesn't satisfy you, get someone elected in that you trust to take a gander at them via the oversight mechanisms. Poking around with a stick their operations isn't serving anyone. They do have a serious job and we do have a world hell bent on causing us trouble. We have to expect some percentage of shenanigans out of something like this, but it's nothing to go crazy over, it comes with the territory.

        I can't imagine it not being a dirty, messy job, can you? All things considered, I think we are doing well. We pay for this illusion called the "American Dream", do you really want to peal back the curtain? Ignorance is bliss. I know that doesn't make for sexy idealism, but it's pragmatic.

    • Now when they start breaking that trust for bullshit domestic reasons, if they ever do, then we hold their noses to the grindstone.

      OK, they are breaking that trust for bullshit domestic reasons right now, by not revealing the extent of cooperation. We're paying them to spy on US. Fuck THAT.

      • by lexsird (1208192) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @09:51AM (#39978455)

        Well, I imagine it's hard to run a secretive national security agency when any passerby who wants to know the company business can poke his or her head in and ask "what's cooking?" and by law get a response. If you feel like they have gone rogue, why not bust the balls of those who have direct oversight of them instead of trying to pry into day to day operations? Want an in depth investigation of and an accountability for their actions? There is a process for that I am sure. But it's not open for prying public eyes. This is why it's important to elect good trustworthy people.

        You can't have public outings of these kinds of ops. Let's not kneecap our own intelligence agencies, please? You know who wants to "know what's going on" besides our own paranoid citizens? The bad guys do, and frankly it's more important that they don't know, than you do. It's not pretty, but that's the world we live in. Again, we have representatives that have oversight into this, right? Let's chose the intelligent avenue when it comes to intelligence.

  • by PPH (736903) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:10PM (#39975623)

    ... where "Don't ask, don't tell" went.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 12, 2012 @02:55AM (#39977087)

    It's something I've been saying for at least five years (somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but there you go).

    Coming up with a credible plan to coax people to hand them over their data willingly is Just The Right Thing To Do for the NSA. One might even argue that they ain't worth their salt if they didn't. For an added bonus, this scheme is financially self-supporting by a comfortable margin.

    So it would have made a hell of a lot of sense for them to "invent" Google.

    Taking into account that NSA employs many of the brightest mind around, this {hypothesis|conspiracy theory} is just... plausible.

  • When one voluntarily participates in activities via the Internet, does he have a right to believe that he may do so anonymously or in any sort of private forum? I think not. The Internet is the world's largest "public forum". I believe the World Wide Web was designed to be just that--- a public forum for the exchange of ideas and information. I don't believe that Google ever made any representations to the contrary. They have always admitted that they maintain records of the searching activities of all who use their search engine. The question now, is whether they freely exchange this information with the National Security Agency, and what other items are part pf this agreement between Google and the government. I think the public has a right to know. When one conducts a search on Google, they record his IP address along with the searches, search results, and the specific links the user clicks. Unless of course the user is logged-in at the time of the search. If so, his name will be added to the rest of the information Google maintains. When a use goes from his open Gmail account, to the Google browser, he is automatically logged-in to the search engine. However, the user may log-out of Google before browsing. Google makes it easy for the user to be logged-in, because they want the search information for their marketing efforts. It's all about money. Clearly, this agreement between Google and the NSA, may affect Constitutional safeguards and protections to U.S. citizens. Because of this, the public does have a right to know. Seems to me that this case will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court. The NSA will defend itself by saying that the war on terror and homeland security override any Constitutional protections Google users have. They will demonstrate countless cases where convicted terrorists used Google to search for means and methods to conduct their criminal activity. Google will defend by saying that a user may simply use their browser anonymously. The Supreme Court will balance the interests of Google, the NSA, and the rights of the public to know about the "secret agreement". Stay tuned to Part II-- "Google and the Government Do the Supremes".
  • by iter8 (742854) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @11:11AM (#39978891)
    It used to be that the magic words were "abracadbra" or "presto chango", but now the new magic words are "national security". Those words hypnotize judges into giving the government anything it wants. It seems to even work on corporations: Google, ATT etc.The NSA is the Fight Club. The first rule of the NSA is you don't talk about the NSA

    It leaves me wondering exactly what kind of security system we really have. It seems to be some unholy tangle of secret government combined with corporate indifference to laws and civic responsibility. Ike warned about the military-industrial complex. Today he would probably be warning us about the national security-corporate alliance that has taken root in the US. We pay for the NSA, but we don't get to ask about what they do. Our representatives oversee them in secret, give them money in secret (we can't see the "black budget"), and don't talk about what they oversee. Is the money worth it? Who knows? You and I will never find out. Is the NSA spying on US citizens? You and I won't get a straight answer. Does the government issue death warrants for US citizens without due process? You bet, but we are not privy to those decisions until CNN announces it. Is Google assisting the NSA? My guess is yes. And I'll bet everyone else, ATT, Microsoft, etc., at the top of the food chain is also. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain for both sides. Customers and stockholders don't care and you can't prove it because the government will invoke the magic words.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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