Posted on | June 9, 2013 | 1 Comment
It has come to light that the NSA, via a secret court order, is being handed the information on the calls of millions of people on the Verizon network.
The order, signed by Judge Roger Vinson, compels Verizon to produce to the NSA electronic copies of “all call detail records or ‘telephony metadata’ created by Verizon for communications between the United States and abroad” or “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls”.
The order directs Verizon to “continue production on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this order”. It specifies that the records to be produced include “session identifying information”, such as “originating and terminating number”, the duration of each call, telephone calling card numbers, trunk identifiers, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, and “comprehensive communication routing information”.
The Obama Administration is defending it’s right to do so. I don’t know if this constitutes a “warrantless wiretap” since it’s by way of a court order but it’s still unnerving to say the least. This order is for an ongoing basis and includes local calls, so this clearly is the government listening in on everyday Americans. According to the court order, the request satisfies the requirements to do so as laid out in 50 USC § 1861. (Read the court order here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2013/jun/06/verizon-telephone-data-court-order) It appears, from the court order, that the ongoing basis lasts until July 13, 2013. Parts of the order specifically states that this information is to be kept secret. Whoops. Also, this is a curious line, “This Order does not require Verizon to produce telephony metadata for communications wholly originating and terminating in foreign countries.” If you aren’t interested in those calls then it says to me that they are specifically looking at us. What do I know…I”m no lawyer.
Mr. President, I am disappoint. If I’m reading the flow of events correctly, in regards to the NSA and Verizon, then this isn’t an “illegal wiretapping of American citizens” however it’s still a very uncomfortable violation into one of the aspects of what is supposed to be good about life in America and the American way of life. This is not supposed to be who we are.
The Verizon records aren’t the only one’s passing through government hands. Other major information and tech companies have been implicated in such activity. The government allegedly has direct access to the servers of at least 9 power processors of American’s personal information and habits through it’s PRISM program.
The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.
Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.” – washingtonpost.com U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program
Those companies cover pretty much everything most people do online. Of course several of those heads of the companies in that list of nine have come out saying that it isn’t true. Even, Zuckerberg himself said the government doesn’t have direct access to Facebook’s servers. Others have said if this were happening they weren’t aware and have denied knowing about any program such as PRISM. I’m sorry but we don’t believe you. It’s bad enough that those companies are keeping massive database records on user’s activities on and off their sites but the U.S. Government and Britain are peeking in as well. This isn’t anything new either. PRISM started back in 2007. Wired.com wrote about the massive NSA data center in 2012. The majority of it all goes back to that dreaded Patriot Act. For the curious, propublica.org posted an unofficial timeline that brings us up to present day in an article titled “Mass Surveillance in America: A Timeline of Loosening Laws and Practices“. George Orwell says “Hi”.
Now before the partisan battles start happening, this is a methodology that started with George Dubya Bush and Obama is now a continuing sponsor of those tactics. So there is fault to go around, however we Hoped for Obama to Change the course we were headed towards, not continue some of it. Again, Mr. President, I am disappoint.
This is a pattern that has been slowly building in our society to the point where people are becoming more and more comfortable and apathetic towards this type of privacy intrusion and erosion. Even the latest cool, comfort, or convenience feature for your smartphone plays a part into people being more at ease with corporations and the government knowing our every move. Looking at you Google Now. How’d we get here? How’d we let it happen? 9/11 birthed the fear that set this all in motion. It’s because we are scared and fear makes us comply. Scared of the shadows, scared by the media, scared of each other, scared of opposing views, scared of red or blue in addition to brown, black, yellow, and red. We’ve become quivering masses of easily entertained in-fighting anxiety sufferers. Not quiet the nation of which Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in the film Tora! Tora! Tora! spoke about after the Pearl Harbor attacks by saying, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
In what should have set the Internet on fire, the Verizon and NSA revelation, seemed to have been shrugged off to some degree; at least according to the Huffington Post. Remember how the Internet went after the politicians when the SOPA came out and how bunched up the collective cyber-panties were at Instagram’s proposed TOS change? Nothing seems to have happened. The usual suspects are protesting like Freepress.net with their “Dear President Obama: Stop Spying on Me” petition. (I signed. You should too.) But, I haven’t seen a major online uproar. Maybe I missed it but where’s Reddit or Anonymous even? Are we at the point where we’ve given up? Are we more comfortable with the government having that information than companies? Maybe we just don’t know what we could possibly do about it.
I posted the Verizon/NSA article to Facebook (yea they recorded that I suppose) and one response was, “What can be done?” Good question. The government won’t listen to the people directly so pressure has to be put on the parts. Any elected official that voted in favor of this should never see an office again. Likewise any of these major corporations should immediately see a drop in their customer base and by extension their bottom line. That will force the corporations with the deep pockets, connections and high powered lawyers to lobby the government. The people need to be vocal about these movements so the powers that be know that this is exactly why people are doing these things. It’s not enough to just cut off your Verizon phone but you need to send them a letter telling them why. Granted they were under court order but some companies just hand the information over. Plus if a major corporation gets a million letters stating that they just lost as many customers because they don’t trust them then the company will put up a fight with the government. Don’t get that new iPhone and tell Apple why. Tell Microsoft where to shove the Xbox One and why they are shoving it. This list supposedly shows which companies have publicly fought the government in order to protect your private data and who hasn’t. Although, with the secret PRISM program coming to light it may all be for show while your information is handed off in secret.
The point is, the people are the power but that power needs to be strategically applied. The people need to act cohesively. Fox and Friends are now against the wiretap even though they were for it when Bush proposed it. After you’ve briefly shook your head open the doors for them to join in. The government bows to big corporations and big corporations are bowing to the government and we the people are fodder in the middle. That being said, I still believe in the power of the people in mass. Mike Lupica at the New York Daily News says we are losing the war on privacy. It’s true, we do have our backs against the ground and a boot on our necks. I don’t think this is a fight that will be won with a single march or a petition or two. I encourage those as well but as I said in regards to fighting Monsanto our greatest weapon is the Capitalism that we are under. Make people’s cash flow shake and things start to happen.