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Senate Advances Plan To Make Email and Social Sites Report Terror Activity 139

Advocatus Diaboli sends news that the Senate Intelligence Committee has unanimously approved draft legislation that would requires email providers and social media sites to report any suspected terrorist activities to the government. While the legislation itself is classified until it reaches the Senate floor, Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) said, "America’s security depends on our intelligence community’s ability to detect and thwart attacks on the homeland, our personnel and interests overseas, and our allies. This year’s legislation arms the intelligence community with the resources they need, and reinforces congressional oversight of intelligence activities." The legislation is based on 2008's Protect Our Children Act, which required companies to report information about child porn to an agency that would act on it. One industry official told the Washington Post, "Considering the vast majority of people on these sites are not doing anything wrong, this type of monitoring would be considered by many to be an invasion of privacy. It would also be technically difficult."
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Senate Advances Plan To Make Email and Social Sites Report Terror Activity

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @07:13PM (#50065913)

    I will dump tea in Boston Harbor, while dressed as an Indian, feather, not dot, and I will then follow it up by riding a horse to Lexington and Concord.

    • Well, that's find, just be sure to sign this document first.

      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.....

      • by LifesABeach ( 234436 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @07:47PM (#50066067) Homepage
        It sorrows me to inform the DOJ, but the Senate Intelligence Committee are a terrorists organization. Their anti american activities to abolish the 1st Amendment is throughly unignoreable.

        And what if those rag headed cock suckers have a valid point? What then?
        • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Wednesday July 08, 2015 @12:41AM (#50067027)
          Considering Senator Peter T. King (New York) proudly supported the IRA (including financially) when it was blowing up people in England and he's a prominent member of that committee things are ridiculous.
        • Most people are amazingly ignorant about technology. The effect of forcing monitoring would be to cause terrorists to encrypt their messages.
        • I certainly regard the bills sponsor Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) as traitor to our nation, which isn't any better than a terrorist. When you take an oath of office that involves supporting and defending the Constitution and then dedicate half your life to undermining the 2nd Amendment, that marks you a traitor in my book. She also has supported the intelligence driven abuses of our civil liberties for many years now as chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

      • by Gription ( 1006467 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @07:53PM (#50066101)
        "America’s security depends on dispensing with people's liberty when we can come up with a scary possibility."

        Liberty is a risk. We are supposed to cherish that we in the "home of the brave" were brave enough to choose the RISK of liberty.
        The endless pulpit banging about risks to the "Fatherland" ... (wait... oops... erase, erase, erase...) I mean risks to the Homeland are still a microscopic percentage of the risk of getting in your car to drive to work.

        QUIT PROTECTING ME FROM LIBERTY! (and pass me the Advil...)
        • So....maybe this makes the argument good once again for running your OWN email servers at home, no?

          It really isn't that difficult...linux, postfix...add in a bit of 'magic' spam filter settings...and email server from home!!!

          No reporting required?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            So....maybe this makes the argument good once again for running your OWN email servers at home, no?

            That will just be made illegal, because Hillary did it and terrorists might do it too. Why would you need to run your own mail server instead of paying a nice American business to do it for you, Citizen?

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Because you want to snoop on the activities of others without justification, potentially to the detriment of everyone, just so you can be seen as "protecting the homeland."

              There is no security if the state does not provide it to it's citizens. Intentionally decreasing security for the purpose of security, does not magically cause an increase in security. It causes a decrease.

              In this specific case, the decrease comes from actively advertising to your adversaries: "We will monitor all communications to detect

              • If I had mod points I would mod you up for this! Also, if you had been logged in I would have added you to my friends list.
                I could not have said it better!
    • We here at DaWeb are reporting a consistent national power attempting to eavesdrop on data moving across our network. we first noticed this when data was delayed and the far end detected stateful detection and attempts to break encryption. there is now evidence the command structure of this nation has been discussing requiring this activity.

      this is obviously state terrorism and we demand to be protected from it.



      PS: these weasels identify themselves with three-letter names.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @07:19PM (#50065935)

    ... as someone operating outside the purview of our court system running around threatening me with prison time should I fail to hand over my data.

    • Great! Let's see you enforce it :-)

      • You and what army? Why, this army ... er, where do I get an army exactly? Maybe I just need to get a bunch of smaller government types to go along with me, maybe get a bunch of states together and make our own country? Has anybody tried that? Oh. How'd that work out? Oh.

        So, yay America I guess?

        So... hypothetical question, exactly what do you have to post in an internet forum to get put on watch lists and no-fly etc?

    • The senate intelligence committee has access to all the classified information, and feel they provide oversight on the program. That is why they feel confident introducing bills like this one. They say, "We will watch and make sure nothing goes wrong." Congressional oversight, all that.

      If you trust these people [] you might be crazy [].
      • by suutar ( 1860506 )

        They think they have access to it all, anyway. If so, they're dealing with the first bureaucracy in history that doesn't hide stuff from the boss when it looks bad.

  • by GrandCow ( 229565 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @07:21PM (#50065945)

    Do they expect email providers to flag every email with keywords in it? Because I'm sure they'll love hearing about all the bath bombs people order. Or the new version of death and decay from warcraft patch notes.

    You'd think any kind of organized terrorist would use codewords and not actually write an email saying "the bomb will be placed at and it's set to blow up at 3:00pm, We expect 100+ deaths"

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Obviously, people who encrypt their emails will be reported instantly.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      Imagine how "Little Bobby bombed a test at school yesterday" will go over.

    • Yes, essentially they want ISPs to be responsible for policing what we do, and handing it over -- for now if it's terrorism, eventually for anything else they can think of.

      What they're saying is sites should be monitoring our activities to report us to the authorities.

      They have coopted the internet, and essentially turned it into the thought police. They've basically privatized the surveillance state.

      America has finally reached the point of turning into bad cyberpunk, and people are saying yes.

      Papers, plea

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Thank god president Obama is there to stop them.

      • I've got an idea. Let's enlist the children to report suspicious activities!

    • I would also think that any organized terrorist would not expect to get away forcing access to an airplane cockpit and using the plane as a destructive device.

      By extension, this would render the render the vast majority of the TSA unnecessary. This would free up an amazing amount of money that could then be used by the Senate Intelligence Committee in their attempt to extract useful data from social media.

    • Why flag emails when you can already designate evil intent at the packet level []?
    • Same way it works for banks. In other words, it doesn't, but it makes them into awfully convenient scapegoats who can be blamed for any social ill on the grounds that "they could have stopped it but didn't because they're all greedy capitalists".

      It was inevitable that things would go this way the moment encryption started getting good. As NSA/GCHQ are now much more limited in what they can see, and privacy advocates are trying to stop them getting more power, the obvious 'solution' is to outsource the costs

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      They are trying to get the social networks to do what the NSA was doing before they all found out and closed off their systems. They want units within these companies set up to snoop through private Facebook groups and Twitter feeds, checking for suspicious activity. If anything remotely interesting is found, dossiers are created for all associated users containing their full email, message and browsing histories and handed over to the FBI.

      Basically outsourcing illegal mass surveillance work to save money a

    • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

      grep "terror" /var/log/mail.log

      The article left out that terrorists will be required to send from a hostname that has the word "terror" in it. Failure to do so, is a violation and will be punished!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    His name is Richard Burr and he appears to be trying to subvert the Constitution of the United States. Where do I turn him in?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    well, time to run my own email server from home and pull a Clinton when they ask for data...

    • ...and pull a Clinton when they ask for data...

      You misspelled Romney []. HTH. HAND.

      • Re:Pull a what? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @07:39PM (#50066033)

        No, didn't misspell. Clinton is the one who ran her own server from home and trashed the data AND server when asked for it..knowingly. Even if other POS elected representatives wiped data from state servers it doesn't diminish the fact that Hillary did it AFTER she was told to give up the goods, hence my original comment and your moronic response that had nothing to do with it, but I shouldn't be surprised from this sites; liberal readers.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I'm guessing you're a Democrat and can't believe that "you're team" could ever do anything wrong. But I highly recommend you look at the front page of basically any major news outlet right now. Pulling a Clinton is completely accurate.

  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @07:33PM (#50066003)

    But the politicians won't care, they will all be seen as "doing something" by passing another law that purports to fix something. All they will really accomplish is leveling undue hardship on E-mail and social sites and get a flood of useless information nobody at the NSA is prepared to deal with. Well, that and driving business off shore where they have no rights to force the collection of any data.

    Hey, bone heads, stop messing with stuff you don't understand... Didn't the ACA teach you anything? Besides, if you wanted to do something like this, why in the blazes did we give up control of the top level domain servers?

  • Terrorists (Score:5, Insightful)

    by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @07:49PM (#50066079) Homepage Journal

    Terrorists are attacking our homeland, reading our mail, threatening the security guaranteed to us by the First and Fourth Amendments. And if the terrorists find something they don't like, expect to see a large group of them show up with guns and take you away.

  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @07:49PM (#50066081)

    It would also be technically difficult.

    Nothing is too difficult for the person who doesn't have to do it their self.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      That's what tax money is for. Congressman XYZ has a brother-in-law with a software company that can solve that for the small price of 348 million dollars. As a bonus they also do healthcare websites.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It has ever been the way of the coward and despot to force citizens to inform on their neighbors. This behavior is antithetical to the ideals America was founded upon; unfortunately, there is always another Joe McCarthy waiting in the wings. Land of the free and home of the brave, indeed.

  • Report to which government? My email is at Yandex in Moscow. I moved it there from gmail just before Ed Snowden's revelations. I don't want ANYBODY knowing EVERYTHING about me.
  • It's too late (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AndyKron ( 937105 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @08:16PM (#50066201)
    The noose is tightening. Pretty soon we won't even know that it's too late.
  • by NostalgiaForInfinity ( 4001831 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @08:28PM (#50066261)

    Senate Intelligence Committee has unanimously approved draft legislation that would requires email providers and social media sites to report any suspected terrorist activities to the government.

    Why stop there? If you're going to have various private parties report on each other, why not go full Stasi []? Have teachers report on students, kids on parents, parents on kids, etc. And we clearly need a Division of Garbage Analysis and a Main Administration for Struggle Against Suspicious Persons.

    Come on Dianne Feinstein, what are you waiting for? We all know it's what you really want anyway.

  • The Magic Words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @08:28PM (#50066263) Homepage

    "This year’s legislation arms the intelligence community with the resources they need"

    Translation: There's nothing here that really needs to be illegal; and we do not expect this to be enforced regularly or equitably. We just want to be able to declare as criminal anyone we take a disliking to, or who doesn't bend over for us on demand.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) said, "America’s security depends on our intelligence community’s ability to detect and thwart attacks on the homeland, our personnel and interests overseas, and our allies."
    I refuse to refer to the USA by that totalitarian-tinged term 'The Homeland'... by the same token, I refuse to use the word 'consumer' to refer to the citizenry. Those terms say a lot about the people using them.
    Apparently, Burr has no problems with monitoring everyone on Earth, becaus

  • The laws surrounding terrorism are already nearly as toxic as those surrounding child porn. No one ever voluntarily reports child porn on a server they control, because possession itself is a life-ending felony. Terrorism laws are about as bad, so once again, no one would ever volunteer a report to law enforcement about terrorist activities. Law enforcement is entirely too likely to take the bird in the hand and arrest the messenger.

  • "Senate Intelligence" Committee. If ever there were a contradiction in terms.

  • Seems they need to stop running off "employees" if they will have to deal with regulations like this. Place is full of keywords to scare the paranoid idiots in the government.
  • by J'raxis ( 248192 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @09:25PM (#50066493) Homepage

    These idiots always like coming up with pithy and (in their opinion) appropriate names for their laws, so here's a suggestion for this one: The Send Your Customers Over Seas Act, or SYCOS Act for short. Why? Because this will drive anyone interested in privacy to overseas email providers like Startmail [], a company who intentionally set themselves up outside U.S. jurisdiction for reasons exactly like this.

  • Identifies it it as double plus ungood.
  • ISAGN for an e-mail system that makes it easy to get an x.509 certificate associated with your e-mail address, pull in the certificates for other users so you can automatically encrypt messages to them, and handles all encryption/decryption on the client side (whether in an application like Thunderbird or in client-side Javascript in a Web browser). The infrastructure's there except for the ability to generate a CSR or retrieve a certificate in e-mail clients. In fact with client support it's not even neces

  • Has changed me from a Conservative (not to be confused with Republican) to more and more each day to a Constitutional Libertarian. I've gotten to the point in my life (mid 50's) that I see myself more as a libertarian, than anything else. I do not trust government. I believe governments sole purpose, as written in the constitution, is to provide for the defense of our nation, promote general welfare. THAT'S IT! The rest, should be left to each state. Government now, wants to be our mommy & daddy for
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      THAT'S IT! The rest, should be left to each state.

      That's the bit that always confused me about libertarians until I finally found out that by government they always mean Federal.
      Good luck with your 13 colonies and King George running the military - worked so well last time. I've got no idea why you people want to get rid of the best thing the USA has going for it.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The federal government is the best thing the US has going for it?
        Jesus things are worse than I thought.

  • Richard Burr is a traitor along with the rest of DC as well. A traitor to the foundational rights our country has cherished since it's birth.
  • According to this article [], Robert R. Doggart posted a Facebook item, which asked other people to join him in burning down a mosque in New York state. He was arrested in April.

    Court documents say Doggart talked with a confidential source and with others on a cellphone the FBI was monitoring, saying he wanted to firebomb several buildings, including the mosque, a school and the cafeteria.

    I'm glad the FBI was monitoring his phone calls. And I'm glad someone reported the Facebook item to the FBI.

    • Then you have no critical thinking skills. Robert Doggart has been released to the custody of his family, and the judge has asked the prosecutor to come up with a shred of evidence that Doggart actually posed any kind of credible threat whatsoever.

      Talk is cheap, and doesn't blow up or set fire to anything. Doggart is guilty of running his mouth, nothing more.

    • I'm glad someone reported the Facebook item to the FBI.

      What's really odd and exceptional about that situation, is that they did it without the government sticking a gun in their face and saying "I dare you to not report that. Make my day, you piece of shit citizen." It's almost as though they wanted to report what they had noticed.

      Oh wait, that's not odd or exceptional at all. I almost think it's human nature that, when you stick a gun in someone's face, it just makes people treat you as less of an ally

  • I'm sure it will follow the same sort of rules that lands one on the do-not-fly lists.

    I suppose we can start using encryption but, knowing what level of intellect is writing these laws, using it at all is probably one of the triggers for reporting " suspicious activity " :|


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    • Oh and while I'm thinking about it. . . . .

      "America’s security depends on our intelligence community’s ability to detect and thwart attacks on the homeland"


      With nearly zero oversight and the bending or outright breaking of many constitutionally protected rights, you all have done an outstanding job thus far at preventing such actions on US soil.

      *** Just how many failures does it take before Congress realizes the common denominator for failure here IS the intelligence com

  • As an ISP/mail-hosting provider, I can't tell if my clients are speaking in code-talk or not, so I could interpret such a rule as requiring me to forward all of my customer's communications to the government and let them sort it out.

    Of course, that would get me sued by my customers, but that's the point - get it in the courts and get the media buzzing all over it.

    Even if the courts rule that I only have to report "obvious terrorism" that ruling would, by itself, tell terrorists that all they needed to do wa

  • by LostMonk ( 1839248 ) on Wednesday July 08, 2015 @02:34AM (#50067179)
    My Solution: Cry Wolf
  • I have my own email in my house which makes me immune to crap like this... ISP's can only see my email in transit because the drives are in my basement. I wonder if we can't produce a device that will give people control over their mail and take it out of the hands of google.

    The device is about the size of a Netgear ReadyNAS (in fact maybe we just use the ReadyNAS for this... Its linux after all)... Just a couple of disks driven from a small low performing Linux controller. It runs a mail server (postfix +

  • Since you can't be sure if someone is just speaking in code, just send the government everything and claim you think it could be terror activity. In fact, send them 10+ copies of everything and inundate them with the reports. Hell, generate random email messages and submit those. Let them set loose their analysts trying to puzzle out randomly generated garbage.

  • All by itself, their use of the word "homeland" kind of implies/engenders the feeling that places not inside the United States are not somebody's home - and therefore free for the droning/bombing/cruise-missiling.
  • I've been part of a conspiracy to overthrow the government and have discussed it on email.

    The government in question was the Empire from Star Wars, and I was playing a character in the Rebel Alliance, and none of the planning had anything to do with the real world. I hope everybody understands that.

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker