Yesterday I wrote about the complacency about NSA data surveillance. Meanwhile, every day, we find out that the NSA surveillance program ran deeper and wider than anybody imagined. It turns out, at least some judges are pissed off.
The story breaking today is that there is a secret court — I’d never heard about it — called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) that didn’t like what the NSA was doing and warned about it. Call it “Judge vs. Spy.” The government is starting to trot out de-classified documents that say the FISC was trying to stop the NSA surveillance and may have deemed it illegal.
Let’s wrap up all this NSA news:
- The Washington Post says this “secret” judicial system, the FISC, has found the NSA was acting beyond its legal authority and may be guilty of criminal violations. Newly declassified docuements indicate that the NSA for years unlawfully gathered tens of thousands of e-mails. Judges from FISC said the government misled the public on this and possibly violated federal law.
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) wants some credit for some of this. The EFF has been fighting the federal government, and today printed a statement reminding us all that it has been suing the Department of Justices (DOJ) to get more answers about the NSA’s surveilance program. It also pointed out that its lawsuit led to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to release documents.
- The thing is, it’s not exactly clear how many of the documents are out. After trawling lots of stuff on the Internet, I’ve so far only found a statement referring to the release, rather than the documents themselves. Several sources say they will be released today. At any rate, beyond Ed Snowden’s computer, it’s now clear that there are many smoking guns and the government is starting to release them.
- The Verge says: When in doubt, blog about it. Clearly, President Obama and his administration have their hands full with this. So, naturally, what do you do in crisis? They have launched a blog. The blog is actually useful, if you have weeks to peruse declassified government documents on surveillance. What’s interesting is that they chose Tumblr. Hmm. Is Marissa Mayer involved? Is this another conspiracy
- Call it spin control. Director for National Intelligence James Clapper is taking the lead role here in educating the public about what’s going on. Look for the blog and a regular release of information and de-classified documents. Where it leads, we don’t know yet, but it’s some form of progress. Will the public get all the relevant information? Of course not. But at least the heat is on.
- The Germans don’t want our spys in their e-mail. Can you blame them? Deutsche Telekom and United Internet have launched a new secure email service in response to the revelations about the NSA and the now accepted fact that it can pretty much spy on anybody. It’s even got a cool new marketing spin: “email made in Germany.” Nice. Does this mean the interface will come with slick German engineering, lots of gizmos and gadgets and confusing LEDs, just like the cockpit of an Audi? I want one.
- The Wall Street Journal has a nice primer on the NSA data scraping. It put out a detailed report on Tuesday. What do you telecom geeks need to know? The technology behind the spies is certainly interesting. Apparently the NSA was copying the whole Internet by splitting out fiber-optic lines and then siphoning off the data. That is some serious data gathering. “Bob, want to go to lunch? Nah, too busy copying the Internet”
Now, we all know the NSA surveillance program did not consist of a bunch of young bucks reading all the e-mail in the world. Most of this was done by huge data mining operations looking at things such as the e-mail headers, where they came from, IP addresses, e.t.c. Imagine a giant algorithm churning through the entire Internet looking for bad guys. And your taxpayer dollars funding it.
I’m sure there’s more to come. Following it is exhausting.