back to article Hold on, everyone ... Prez Obama thinks he's cracked this NSA super-snooping problem

After nine months of revelations about the extent of US government surveillance, the Obama administration is floating a plan that will curtail mass snooping by its intelligence agencies and reform the way individuals are investigated. "I said several months ago that I was assigning our intelligence community to bring me new …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Mikel

    If you believe that...

    Bah! What's the use?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you believe that...

      Squid. I tried it & did not at all get on with it.

      I can't remember who said it, ... "it's nothing that an asault rifle can't cure"

    2. NoneSuch Silver badge

      Re: If you believe that...

      Agreed. There were docs put out by the EFF recently.

      Page 8 of the doc shows they are putting metadata into various silos and then hiding the fact from various oversight bodies when they are served by legal paperwork in the silo that gets served.

      When the government no longer answers to the people, is this still a democracy?

      1. Originone

        Re: If you believe that...

        It seems to me that the government is answering to the people, introduction of new laws curtailing mass surveillance is clearly a response to people's concern. The real question should be "When the intelligence agencies no longer answer to the government, is this still a democracy?"

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: If you believe that...

      When Gen Alexander is tried for treason and imprisoned.

      When Snowden is welcomed back and put in charge of the oversight agency

      then we can start to believe things are changing.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If you believe that...

        Now that's Hope and Change we can believe in!

  2. Charles Manning

    NSA has no boundaries

    Give them an inch they will take a mile. Just wagging a finger will change nothing.

    If they are only allowed limited surveillance, but they have piles of toys giving them capabilities to watch the whole world then what will they do? Put all they toys on ebay? Doubt it!

    There are only two ways to address this:

    1) Take away all their toys, then make their budget public record. That will prevent them from growing again.

    2) Investigate them in public and criminally prosecute any that have gone beyond the law, then shut them down.

    So far Obama has failed to leave a favourable Wikipedia entry for future kids to look up. He is desperate to leave a positive legacy, even if it is a one-liner.

    1. petur

      Re: NSA has no boundaries

      Your options to address this are valid, but you think this all started when Obama took office? Really?

      You fail so hard it hurts (the icon can't do it justice).

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: NSA has no boundaries

        >but you think this all started when Obama took office? Really?

        He's had 2 terms to stop it - just like Guantanamo.

        It's as if Konrad Adenauer kept Auschwitz operating into the 1960s claiming he was investigating options for starting a program to wind down the Holocaust.

        1. Nunyabiznes

          Re: NSA has no boundaries

          Did you really go there?

      2. Charles Manning

        Re: NSA has no boundaries

        "but you think this all started when Obama took office?" Nope. I neither think this nor said this. Please read again.

        "Really?" Nope, it's all in your mind.

        You do however raise an interesting point: NSA's ability is largely powered by increases in technology. For that reason, NSA has gone from a small threat to a large threat during the Obama years. That is not to say Obama started the NSA though.

        NSA has been going for long before Obama, but he's deluded in thinking he can fix it as easily as he says.

        This is just political rhetoric not much different from Guantanamo Bay. Obama didn't start that either, but he promised to shut Gitmo down within a year and nothing of consequence has happened... and that was almost 6 years ago.

        What he's doing with the NSA is just talking some talk. There is no evidence that he really wants to put them on a leash. There is certainly no doubt that he is not really able to control them.

        Until the NSA is actually shut down, or at least publicly audited, nobody will believe they have been constrained.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Give them an inch

      More like give them an inch and they'll realize you exist and then they'll come and take everything you've got and bug everything they couldn't cart away.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pottering along in the pawprints of the IBM statement.

  4. chuckufarley Silver badge

    Perhaps this is...

    ...the official raise of the US Government's fourth branch: Corporations.

  5. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    In your dreams, and never so long as pussy is a cat

    Methinks that be a titanic pronouncement, Mr President. Timely information is the master key to advanced intelligence and it does not wait on third party permissions being sought and granted for discovery.

    But I suppose it does play well enough with certain audiences/madding crowds ...... but behind the scenes and in the shadows, you can be sure and assured that it be business as usual ....... whatever it takes, IT takes, and if outed doing the job without preordered supervision, and there is bound to have been much learned to make that eventuality considerably more difficult and less likely, then are there always more earnest apologies available at no cost at all.

    Seems like there's a battle raging and being waged for who be in ultimate command and virtual control of the United States, with secret intelligence and mined information the theatre of operations. How very novel.

    And this be a timely APT* read, highlighting some of the areas of present ACTive* concern? ........

    * Advanced Persistent and Cyber Threat

    1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

      Re: In your dreams, and never so long as pussy is a cat

      well said. I even understood it. And that, in and of itself, is a bit scary...

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        And that is only .....In the Beginning.

        Re: In your dreams, and never so long as pussy is a cat

        well said. I even understood it. And that, in and of itself, is a bit scary… …. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        That then raises other even more telling and interesting questions to ponder and answer, Ugotta B. Kiddingme.

        Such as … Who and/or what be fielding and exploiting the advantage with unparalleled leverage and why can nothing effective at all be done against it with Media and IT’s weary and wary warriors? And is it led and held in arsenals of proprietary intellectual property in favour of Wild Wacky Western Conviction or Exotic Erotic Eastern Persuasion or is it of Novel Noble Alien Confection and a Rare Treat to Savour and Exclusively Available to AI and the Few, AIMaster Piloting Better Beta ProgramMING. …… Mind and/or Mined Infiltration Network Games?

        “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few” .. again. ….

  6. Ole Juul


    Only one rule. Don't get caught. Other than that, they'll do whatever they want anyway. That's the part that isn't being addressed.

  7. Mark 85

    Not much changes...

    Just the one's who "store" the data. Same game, same players.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: Not much changes...

      "each individual monitoring request will have to be approved by a judge"

      This seems like it could be a different game, if they aren't lying like a cheap watch that is.

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Not much changes...

      "Just the one's who "store" the data. Same game, same players."

      And since the NSA likely have a back door to these systems I can really see the required judge's approval being sought. Not

      1. Tail Up

        Re: Not much changes...

        "can really see the required judge's approval being sought" - we have ultrafast trading, why not open the ports for the ultrafast judging? Imagine somebody authorised by a "slowpoke" human machine court sending a tweet (-: describing the circumstances, personality of a suspect and motivations to a UF Court and getting an SMS reply with a path to a PRISM gate near you... or just some nice bit of a Youtube video.

        Luckily, Poe's Crow Law is yet in effect.

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Not much changes...

      Ah, but this way the telecos have to pay to keep all the data, not the government, leaving more tax money for you.

      Oh, sorry, not more money for you, more money for missiles. But you know, they might send you one of those missiles if you're naughty.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trouble is...

    No ones going to believe they're not just revamping the same programme with a lick of paint, but - crucially - out of sight of any inconvenient whistleblowers. I can imagine the plan is for a short wait till the fuss has died down, and they'll back to business as usual, but I just can't see that with the amount of trust thats been lost its going to return any time soon short of a repeat of the Church Commission.

    There's a real malaise across almost all western governments these days; our politicians are clowns who are either lining their own pockets or getting caught with their hands down the wrong knickers. The civil servants they supposedly control, meanwhile, are getting on with pursuing their own agenda without much accountability beyond getting their boss to sign off on the latest crackpot scheme to waste taxpayer funds or pursue a swivel eyed ideology. But what is really abrading public trust is not the doing, or even the getting caught, but that after the event amid the stage managed recriminations, nothing changes, nothing is learned, no-one gets canned, money isn't recouped, businesses fail to lose contracts or get fined, civil servants are not reined in and laws don't change. In fact all we, the public, get as bystanders to events is the ephemeral satisfaction (in the UK) of seeing some Minister or senior civil servant briefly eviscerated by Paxman or Humphreys.

    Set against this, Snowdens revelations on the NSA and GCHQ just contribute to a much bigger, older tapestry of our democracies becoming corrupt, failing and drowning in bureaucracy and corporate self-interest that long ago forgot how to do much beyond feather its own nest. And Obama won't fix that with a lick of paint.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trouble is...

      Trouble is, people like you will never be convinced by anything the Man does. It's all a conspiracy between the evil politicians and the evil corporations, right? Give me a break.

      You have nothing to complain about what Obama announced, so instead you say "its irrelevant that they are doing what I want them to do, because they must be lying".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Trouble is...

        "You have nothing to complain about what Obama announced..."

        Apart from the fact its nowhere near enough? I think I made it pretty clear they're not "doing what I want them to do" - the same thing, by the way, a lot of people from across the political spectrum appear to want as well.

  9. Sir Runcible Spoon

    Now is the time for positive moves, not nay-saying

    If your adversary is giving ground, now is not the time to say 'Why are they giving ground? This must be a trick'.

    Now is the time to push the advantage and insist on public oversight of the approvals process whilst applauding the enemy for their timely withdrawal from the fray and saving lives*.

    This oversight should have teeth and people in charge who are accountable. Their reputation and freedom should be measured by the performance of those they are monitoring. It is important to set up the correct processes that encourage the actions you desire.

    So often these things seem to be set up with 'status-quo' and 'unaccountability' as their core values - time to change that. It's worth a go.

    In this particular context the more people praise Obama for this stance, the less likely he is to renege on it. If enough emphasis is placed on these promises he is encouraged (for his own gain i.e. career) to follow through. The more you can hang on it, the more his reputation will suffer if he reneges.

    Encourage him to believe that this is a major step forward in personal freedoms and encourage the belief that it is all his idea.

    Personally I don't give a monkey's toss who takes credit for us securing personal freedom against the state, as long as it happens. Let historians worry about the why's and wherefore's - I just want the job done and done well. If that means sucking up to the US prez. who thinks this is a PR stunt to quieten the masses then so be it.

    Let's all join together and bring these bastards to their knees with good-will and positive publicity - followed up by repeated requests for concrete laws and public oversight with teeth.

    Power to the people.

    (*metaphorically speaking of course)

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Positive AIMoves ...... Free of Nay-Sayers

      Power to the people. ... Sir Runcible Spoon

      Power to the right people, is that which the System and Systems within Systems in the COSMIC System and NEUKlearer Cyber Literate Great Games Players are presently addressing for a better beta future, Sir Runcible Spoon. And certainly more likely a highly geared GCHQ than NSA InfoSec Operation given the fact that the Snowden Files are squeaky clean of any mention of such ....... well, let us just call such as would have many ranting and raving Bull Shit, Bolder Shenanigans.

      And power to the right people not on the right is also a comfort for those on the left too, whenever IT be an inclusive enterprise and not just an exclusive venture.

      New Grand AIMaster Pilot Players with Command and Control of ZeroDays = New Great Virtual Reality Game Plays and Changed Days with more than just Empty Promises filled with Hopeful Rhetoric and Teleprompter BullShit.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: Positive AIMoves ...... Free of Nay-Sayers

        "Power to the right people" - amanfromMars 1

        It is my dearest wish to be inspired to invent/manifest a method* of identifying people of sufficient character and discipline that can be trusted (with power) to do what is right**, not what is easy.

        I await that day with anticipation of being deemed worthy. In the mean-time I persevere.

        *This method might already exist, but it isn't in place anywhere as far as I can tell. I also think making such a thing public would attract a lot of negative interest at high velocity :)

        ** To clarify, 'right' in this sense is in the 'conscience' sense of right.

        1. Tail Up

          Re: Positive AIMoves ...... Free of Nay-Sayers

          "It is my dearest wish to be inspired to invent/manifest a method* of identifying people of sufficient character and discipline that can be trusted" -

          Isn't there one method scoring already? Proven to bee effective... and no, it's not Obama's tail to step on, and not any administration's at all. The 1st of April is going to inject some more fun in plaintext mode, not yet sure where it would have a reliable reach the 360 degree master audience (-:

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, back to how it should have been in the first place?

    In addition, when the intelligence agencies want to investigate a specific number, each individual monitoring request will have to be approved by a judge, rather than the yearly blanket approval given currently.

    Ah, that's called due process AND WAS ACTUALLY IN PLACE until they decided to bypass it post 9/11. Nice try, but it takes more than some promises abroad to fix the mess at home.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I fail to see how any of these platitudes ...

    ...Will clamp down on the abuses and lack of oversight of programs such as XKeyscore...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: I fail to see how any of these platitudes ...

      The programs will be renamed and reclassified

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The only way to fix the NSA... to uproot it completely and then kill its budget. In fact, we should undertake to eliminate the "Department of Homeland Security" while we are at it. I have never seen so much spent on so little positive good in my entire life.

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    5 years --> 18 months is a *start*

    But is this just because they are now slurping up so many more phone calls/texts/emails they just can't store as much as they used to for a single victim "targeted" intelligence subject?

    But remember this "FISA Modernization Act" does not get rid of THE PATRIOT Act

    All your data (If it's a)Going through a US based company b)Going through a US based server) belong to Uncle Sam.

    Just another proof that bad cases --> bad laws that take decades to (begin to) fix.

  14. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Keeping who safe exactly ?

    "We look forward to working with our colleagues in the House and Senate to enact a bipartisan proposal that will ensure the highest levels of privacy and civil liberties while still maintaining the tools our government needs to keep us, and our allies, safe," said the select committee chairman Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI).

    When you say "our allies", you mean the same people it has been proven that you're spying on ?

    You really think we believe that this is about keeping us safe ?

    What was actually said :

    We look forward to keeping all our politicians under heel in order to enact the necessary actions that will ensure we can continue screwing over the world and its dog in complete and utter invulnerability while mouthing platitudes about civil liberties and respecting . . what's that word again ? . . uh, right : privacy."

  15. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    Words are Words

    Will it affect funding stream to said organisations?

    If so, how will the reassigned or recovered funds be used?

  16. David 45

    Same for UK?

    Is GCHQ going to be cut back as well?

  17. agricola


    “I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”

    ― Friedrich Nietzsche

  18. McHack

    Forward to The Old Normal

    The "metadata" is what number called what number, when, and for how long. For mobile/cellular, also location of phone, which might be GPS info or which cell towers were used.

    This is the data that's collected for the bills. To consumers the phone companies may "redact" unlisted/blocked numbers from the bills, but they still know what they are.

    So the phone companies will be keeping the data they already are keeping. And they'll have to keep it at least 18 months. How far back can you currently dig up your old phone bills online at your provider's site? Two years, or three?

    In addition, when the intelligence agencies want to investigate a specific number, each individual monitoring request will have to be approved by a judge...

    But that's not a warrant, just a common court order for the phone records, as "normal" law enforcement gets anyway.

    So this is just "going back" to what always has been.

    Obama could order that tomorrow, without even one executive order.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dangers from a terrorist attack

    'Statistically speaking, Americans should be more fearful of the local cops than “terrorists.”` ref

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like