back to article New NSA tool exposed: XKeyscore sees 'nearly EVERYTHING you do online'

The cover has been blown on an NSA program which collects data on “nearly everything a user does on the internet” even as the debate rages over the secretive US agency's mass surveillance of innocent people. The XKeyscore program covers emails, social media activity and browsing history and is accessible to NSA analysts with …

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            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: AC Re: asdf Wake up call

              "..... Even with the primitive (by today's standards) phoneme programs and underpowered (by today's standards) computers available in 1980...." Yeah, except I posted on another thread all about that capability back in the Eighties weeks ago. Welcome to the party, you're only about a month-plus behind the conversation.

              ".....Do you really think technology has been standing still for the past 33 years ?...." But we're not just talking about unencrypted landlines anymore, which was pretty much all the spooks had to worry about in the Eighties. Email was pretty rare and the World Wide Web wasn't even around yet, and mobile phones were still in their infancy. Faecesbook probably wasn't even a glimmer in Zuckerberg's infant eye. So to pretend that the "listening" tech has moved forward but the data pool hasn't also explosively grown exponentially is simply stupid.

          1. Werner McGoole
            FAIL

            Re: asdf Wake up call

            Plus you may not be a political activist yourself, but you could well stand to benefit from the efforts of those who are. And they may well have something they quite legitimately wish to hide from the government. Giving the government blanket powers to suppress opposition, which is what this is all about, disadvantages everyone in a democracy.

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Werner McClueless Re: asdf Wake up call

              ".....Giving the government blanket powers to suppress opposition, which is what this is all about...." So, once again, the completely groundless insistance that these tools are being used to "oppress" - if that is so then it should be easy for you to show some evidence of this oppression, but you can't, because it only exists in your paranoid delusions. Come on, where's the evidence if you insist it is happening? I predict a long line of posts shrieking and bleating and zero proof to back up your childish and idiotic prattle.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Werner McClueless asdf Wake up call

                Look mummy. That Matt Bryant sheep thinks it is people! When it goes baah baah it thinks it it talking to us!

                Stay away darling, it looks rabid.

                1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                  Facepalm

                  Re: AC Re: Werner McClueless asdf Wake up call

                  ".....Stay away darling, it looks rabid." Once again, the sheeple demonstrate their inability to argue with logical thought, indeed the seem to hold any form of disagreement with whatever they have been spoonfed as "rabid". Is it any surprise they fall for the scams of conman like A$$nut when they really can't handle independent thought?

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: AC Werner McClueless asdf Wake up call

                    Note how the Matt Bryant sheep begins to froth at the mouth and baaa plaintively, as if it were sad and lonely. Poor thing.

                    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                      Happy

                      Re: AC Re: AC Werner McClueless asdf Wake up call

                      "Note how the Matt Bryant sheep begins to froth at the mouth and baaa plaintively.....". LOL, it is very illuminating as to your desperation that you have given up even the attempt at rational argument. You lose again!

                      ".....as if it were sad and lonely....." And I must have missed the crowds of millions of voters beating a path to Whitehall and Washington DC, to insist on immediate elections to replace the current crop of elected representatives with ones that will enact new laws which you insist are both necessary and overwhelming, popular. Not at all sorry to burst your bubble, but that "99%" mantra you bleat is a myth, as so patently displayed every time there is a general election. You lose again, as you do every time your popularist bleatings are put to the electoral test.

                      "....Poor thing." Yes, you really are. I would have some respect for you if you could at least put up an argument for your faith, but you can't even do that. Enjoy!

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: AC AC Werner McClueless asdf Wake up call

                        As you can see, with continued prodding the Matt Bryant sheep becomes more agitated and begins to paw at the ground. The Matt Bryant sheep is incapable of rationalizing complex concepts and it becomes frustrated when trying.

                        Note how its baaaing becomes more rapid and high pitched and how it walks in a continuous circle. It doesn't realize it is going in circles. Don't worry though, it will soon become distracted and will return to its mindless grazing.

                        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                          Happy

                          Re: AC AC Werner McClueless asdf Wake up call

                          "As you can see...." All readers will see is that you are still running away from the arguments, still posting nothing but vacuous attempts at humour, and still losing. Because we all know that if you did have anyhting even vaguely logical to say you'd say it, yet you can't. Your parents must be so embarassed by you.

                          Enjoy!

          2. Peter 82
            Alert

            Re: asdf Wake up call

            Please don't let them look at specific other peoples data! (UK Judges, Journalists, MPs, CEOs)

            I really don't think my data is useful or of interest to the NSA/Intelligence agencies. However, the fact that they can (and probably are) looking at all of the phone calls and internet searches and related information that they can get their hands on for some people worries me. This is because I don't want the NSA to be looking for blackmail-able material for UK Judges, Journalists, politicians, company managers etc. Oh! and their families (If I can't blackmail the PM, can I blackmail his cousin/nephew etc).

            TL:DR I'm not too bothered by their access to my info. I am bothered by them reading our Lord Chief Justice's data or his children's data.

            1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Unhappy

              Re: asdf Wake up call

              "Please don't let them look at specific other peoples data! (UK Judges, Journalists, MPs, CEOs)"

              The point is that to NSA you are all equal

              This information is not just analysed in real time.

              It's archived for an unknown period (possibly indefinitely. We simply don't know).

              It is simply wrong whoever they are spying on.

          3. asdf

            Re: asdf Wake up call

            >Don't worry, your paranoid rantings simply don't make you important enough to bother with

            Maybe for now but as you know disc storage is very cheap so they can store everything someone has ever said and with computing power increasing all the time it may well come down to someday one party getting enough power over another to start using this information to start destroying our democracy. Isn't that similar to what the Tea Party folks are upset about right now? People 40 years ago understood this which is why Watergate was such a big deal. Information asymmetry is the true power in the modern world, not so much tanks anymore. That is the true danger of XKeyscore.

      1. asdf

        Re: Wake up call

        >what actual harm does it do you if people can view your emails

        Without a warrant it violates the US constitution for one thing if the US government does it. Even if the SCOTUS doesn't want to do its job and tries to claim our founding fathers wishes don't apply to our new fancy technology or thinks it can issue blanket warrants that apply to everyone. Its a lie to say today's emails are not the same as personal papers and effects in their time.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: emails are not the same as personal papers and effects in their time.

          Unencrypted email messages are the same as sending a postcard in the mail. That can be read and copied by any government agent without a warrant. And that's what the NSA is collecting. Similarly, the routing information for the letter can legally be copied without requiring a warrant. And it was that way even when Ben was alive and advocating for the federal Postal delivery service.

          1. asdf

            Re: emails are not the same as personal papers and effects in their time.

            >Unencrypted email messages are the same as sending a postcard in the mail.

            Except the government isn't allowed to photocopy every postcard and keep it indefinitely without a warrant either. Real time communication interception is bad enough but far more insidious is indefinite storage in a DB that any bureaucrat can access.

      2. breakfast
        Holmes

        Re: Wake up call

        That's fine, as long as you plan to be a non-entity for your entire life, unremarkable in every respect. A laudable aim in itself, and one that may well bring you happiness.

        For anyone who is interested in political change or protest of any kind, for example, this surveillance provides a weapon that the existing establishment will ( not may, or could ) use against them.

    1. smudge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Wake up call

      It's time to start encrypting everything.

      If you read the slideset published by the Grauniad, you'll see that that's one of the things that they specifically look for.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Wake up call

        "If you read the slideset published by the Grauniad, you'll see that that's one of the things that they specifically look for."

        Not when >50% of all traffic goes encrypted.

        This sort of mss spying on the basis of "saving" peoples security will have consequences for both the spies and the spied on.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wake up call

      Agreed, as long as people are aware that typical RSA keys are inadequate and ECDHE-RSA should the chosen encryption method.

    3. erikj

      Re: Wake up call

      True, except they will then summarily capture and store your encrypted stream *forever*, regardless of your (not sure how to put this) "FISA standing" (51% chance you are foreign, etc.). Since they can't read your content in the moment, there's no privacy violation per se in collecting your data.

      I'll bet a separate FISA rubber stamp lets them proactively analyze your encryption method and partially decrypt your data if possible -- just so they can be ready to do it quickly when, well, "warranted".

    4. dougal83

      Re: Wake up call

      "It's time to start encrypting everything."

      Just don't lose the encryption keys because if a government agency asks you for them and you cannot provide them then you can be arrested. (UK)

  1. Joe Drunk
    Big Brother

    What a strange new world we live in - one where the tin foil nutters are starting to sound credible.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      <s>Para</s> Military Intelligence Services are an Oxymoron and *IP and ISP Deficient

      What a strange new world we live in - one where the tin foil nutters are starting to sound credible. … Joe Drunk Posted Wednesday 31st July 2013 18:11 GMT

      Nice one, Drunk, Joe. :-) Have an upvote for that comment.

      However, do y'all not think it a tad odd that whenever so much is supposed to be known/able to be known about everything virtually, so little of lasting value is realised and supported/created and built upon to deliver a utopian existence ...... ergo is the information being supplied to ignorant morons with no clearly evident idea what to do with it and those who would be providing it.

      *IP and ISP ...... Intellectual Property and Internetworking Server Provision

      Oh, and the civvy street branches charged with leading with intelligence and sensitive information aint no better either. It's enough to make one wonder what they are doing all day every day and pondering on whether they be daydreaming the next crisis to jump in to the rescue in order to justify their classified secret budget claims/dodgy expenses.

      And their abiding Achilles Heel? ....... Pure Honesty and Total Transparency and all who cruise in her in Command and Control of CyberSpace .... the Virtual Machine Place.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: <s>Para</s> Military Intelligence Services are an Oxymoron and *IP and ISP Deficient

        Hey, amanfromMars 1...welcome back, buddy!

        1. Don Jefe
          Happy

          Re: <s>Para</s> Military Intelligence Services are an Oxymoron and *IP and ISP Deficient

          amanfrommars1 with improved syntax and enhanced vocabulary! I don't think I've ever seen him say 'ya'll'.

          1. Michael Thibault
            Black Helicopters

            Re: <s>Para</s> Military Intelligence Services are an Oxymoron and *IP and ISP Deficient

            Or "ain't". Verrrry suspicious!

    2. Antonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Pass the tinfoil please.

      Hasn't the whole "tin foil nutter" meme always been as much a debunking tool for brushing awkward stuff under the carpet as about the (really rather rare) genuine "the mind control rays are giving me nosebleeds" tinfoil nutters?

    3. breakfast

      Most of the time they are nutters, but the ideas of conspiracy would be far less pervasive and there would be far fewer people taking conspiratorial view-points if our governments stopped behaving in such conspiratorial ways.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    A few thoughts on this.....

    1. Should make for a very interesting keynote session at Black Hat. If there was going to be a Q&A session, I bet it has been cancelled.

    2. Using the black helicopter icon, but somehow that doesn't seem to encompass the full shock of these allegations. Can we get an icon of an IT professional hiding under a bed, with a shotgun and a mayonaisse jar to piss in?

    3. While we seem to be making some progress on the civil liberties front in the U.S. and maybe New Zealand, I don't see that groundswell in the UK, Oz or Canada. Considering that this technology was in the hands of the other "4 Eyes" in 2008, and that the system has doubtlessly been upgraded since then, even if we get control of the NSA we are going to get surveilled by the rest of our so-called allies. And if we do halt the NSA's bulk surveillance of Americans, that won't extend to anyone living outside the U.S., because as long as they are living overseas they have no rights under the U.S. constitution.

    4. Well, I guess we throw a "can we find out exactly what is going on with this program" on the fire with the rest of America's "what is happening at the NSA/FISA court" requests. We'll see what happens....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Megaphone

      Re: A few thoughts on this.....

      FYI, in the U.S. NBC is reporting that the NSA recently gave XKeyscore to the German intelligence community. That was supposedly reported recently in Der Spiegel. German intelligence officials said it was done so that they can better cooperate with the NSA on counterterrorism. So the Germans have some version of this as well.

      1. Irony Deficient Silver badge

        supposedly?

        Marketing Hack, there’s no need to include “supposedly”; you can see for yourself what Der Spiegel has reported on XKeyscore here.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All this surveillance and they still can't stop terrorist attacks from happening. Gives credence to the theory that they may be allowing a few through, just to keep their funding up. Fucking horrible stuff, just who do they think they are?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      It doesn't give any credence whatsoever, you conspiracy nutjob. Just because you have access to every email in the world doesn't mean you can read them all, or that your analysis software is perfect

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Indeed, the supposed good guys have to win every time, the bad guys only have to win once...

      2. Dan Paul
        Devil

        Are you really that programmed , fool!

        You would never create the ability to intercept and read every email ever sent if you did not already have the intent to do so.

        FACT: It's no longer a conspiracy, it's proven fact and the only reason we know this is due to Bradley Manning and Ed Snowden who ruined their lives to bring us this information.

        I will believe them long before I beleive anything said by a Bureaucrat or other government entity.

      3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        All that's required for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing. JDX demands you not only do nothing, but you don't even think about doing anything. Just let the evil men[1] win.

        Now wave your flag and kiss an eagle, boys!

        U.S.A!

        U.S.A!

        U.S.A!

        [1]And just so we're clear...the evil men are the ones running the USA. If you think otherwise then you're dafter than any "conspiracy nutjob".

        1. asdf
          Mushroom

          JDX is just another right wing troll who loves giving the system head so as usual no surprise which side he is on.

    2. Syntax Error
      Unhappy

      Worse still the UK is the number one target for on line fraud yet there is no effective action by the authorities with all their kit to stop it.

      Priorities are wrong.

    3. Grikath

      All the datasniffing in the world cannot protect against an armed conspirationist nutter who decides to commit suicide by cop and starts with the local populace to get things going. And the US has plenty of those.

  4. JDX Gold badge

    Question

    Have they got all the emails and social network data because companies are freely giving it to them, or through some other, cleverer route?

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Meh

      @JDX

      "Have they got all the emails and social network data because companies are freely giving it to them, or through some other, cleverer route?"

      And which one of those options would you view as "right?"

      Or would you consider either of them "wrong?"

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: @JDX

        JDX can't consider either wrong because U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Question

      I reckon they used the word "please" then all those isp, phone and internet companies said, ok you used the magic word, what can we do?

      or...

      They were told in no uncertain terms, we, the us of a will screw you over for your tax evasion unless you bend over and take one for the team so we can eventually use this data to categorise all our peoples into pigeon holes making it easier to control them.

      I doth my tin foil hat to your stupidity

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Don't forget the rest.

      Putting this as bluntly as possible: I give zero fucks about what China and Russia knows about me because I don't have to interact with either nation. I can - and likely will - live the rest of my life without ever setting foot there or having to interact with their government in any way.

      I do have to put up with the USA, loud, proud and in my face every bloody day. Even if I never planned to set foot there again, they are a demented giant with dreams of extraterritorial grandeur that lives directly south of me.

      Dictators like those in China and Russia are evil men obsessed with holding on to the power that they have and ensuring their hold on that nations they rule is absolute. The USA is run by evil men obsessed with taking over the world through economic and cultural imperialism and have no compunction whatsoever about killing you and the entire wedding you're attending with a drone to see their aims fulfilled.

      It's different when you live next to the bastards. It's impossible not to feel like a target, especially when so many of them in positions of power publicly demand that we be invaded. Even jokingly, I'm not okay with a country of nuclear-weapon-toting religious nutjobs making jokes like that.

      Other nations get uppity and sometimes get rules by the truly deplorable, but they are not married to a combination of nationwide moral exceptionalism and pride in their international ignorance. I get sniffy about how the Brits treat us - as just one example - but at least the Brits understand us. We can built a bridge with that understanding.

      The Americans don't understand us, don't want to understand us and in fact view us as nothing but resources that are "rightfully theirs."

      So yeah, not nearly so angsty about China or Russia knowing my life's history. Pretty angsty about Uncle Sam's religious zealots knowing it though. That's just not okay.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Don't forget the rest.

        We aren't all bastards!

        1. Grikath

          Re: Don't forget the rest. @ Don Jefe

          "We aren't all bastards!"

          No, but a significant enough portion or your governement and bureaucracy is, and that's exactly the problem here. This isn't about individuals, but a whole morally corrupt system controlling not just its' own nation, but also trying to hold the rest of the world at ransom.

          The vast majority of US citizens are most likely people I wouldn't mind having for a neighbour or a drinking buddy at the pub. The problem is that those people are not in power, the asshat minority is, and they are willing to do anything to preserve and expand their power.

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Potty Re: Don't forget the rest.

        ".... I get sniffy about how the Brits treat us - as just one example - but at least the Brits understand us. We can built a bridge with that understanding....." Sorry to burst your bubble, Potty, but it's just us Brits have a few centuries more practice than the Yanks at hiding our intentions from you colonials.

        1. Anonymous Dutch Coward
          Pint

          @Matt Bryant Re: Potty Don't forget the rest.

          That must be why that US Revolution thingy was nipped in the butt, wasn't it?

          1. Bernard M. Orwell
            Trollface

            Re: @Matt Bryant Potty Don't forget the rest.

            Dunno. Maybe you should ask France. After all it was their troops that woin that particular war, wasn't it? We should have some way of celebrating their liberation of your nation, some kind of memorial thing? Oh...like "Freedom Fries"...yeah, that'd do it!

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