back to article FBI screwed up, spied on entire email network

The FBI on Friday revealed that human error led to surveillance of an entire email network back in 2006, rather than the single email address approved by the secretive court which approves domestic wiretaps and other forms of e-surveillance. Although the alleged mistake came to light in an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) …


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  1. b166er
    Black Helicopters


    ISP if

  2. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Door Horse Stable Bolted Stay out of Jail Free Card*?

    "This latest controversy comes as President Bush continues to demand that Congress provide retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies involved with illegal warrantless wiretapping of American citizens,..." The White House E-mails would make a good horror read. I wonder who has them on disc. You can be sure that someone has.

    *aka the Destroy an Economy and Retire Rich and Surrounded by Hostile Natives Plan from the Booby Prizes Book of Spectacular Failings.

  3. Bad Beaver

    Whoops, now that's a slip...

    On the bright side, maybe they can get some help moving in the direction of that poor sod in Nigeria. I hear he's in trouble over some money.

  4. ChessGeek

    If the FBI wants to read my email

    At least they could make themselves useful and delete the spam.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have you read RIPA?

    So FBI got access to a lot of emails they shouldn't have. Well duh, is it any wonder the ISPs don't know what is legal and what not!

    Consider 'Instant Messaging', if a tin pot dictator from the local council comes along, issues what appears to be a RIPA order requiring disclosure of Fred Jones's instant messages by an ISP under an 'illegal to disclose' RIPA order, what would the ISP do?

    They hand over the data.

    They don't know they could seek legal advice, because it appears to say they can't. They don't know if Instant Messaging is a protected thing, because it appears not to be. They don't know if that official is authorized to issue those notices because there's no list of names to check against. They don't know the legal status of instant messages because no warrant is issued and so no judge has ruled on it.

    Is it monitored? Who knows, the watchdog is only told about anything that's totally legal. If it wasn't legal then Mr Tin Pot wouldn't file the paperwork.

    My view is that the secrecy clause should not be there for anything but national security or when a warrant requiring it is issued. Otherwise the ISP should contact the person and tell them they're handing over their emails.

    That way, the person gets to pursue Mr Tin Pot if he thinks it's not legal, and Mr Tin Pot get the route of a warrant if doesn't want Joe Public to know. But I also have to wonder if minor government bodies should even be able to simply ask for information with no checks on their claimed purpose.

    If tin pot suspects a crime, why does he not go to the police, why does he do the investigation himself? When did we go vigilante?


  6. Rick
    Black Helicopters

    help getting my email back

    Anyone know what the NSA email address is, I lost some emails from a while back that I would like to get back. Welcome to 1984...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    More Fuel to the Undersea Cable Cutting Conspiracy Theories

    So an unnamed ISP gave the FBI the keys to the WHOLE chicken coop, instead of just one nest?

    Now I understand why all the undersea telecomm cables got cut where they did. Offshore wiretapping operations fall firmly under the NSA, far away from congressional authority and the resulting hearings. Not that Congress have time right now, being bogged down with the "Steroids use in Baseball Inquisition".

    Typical Bush & Shrub politics... "Don't pay any attention to the FBI black bag job, Steroid use in Baseball is far more important".

    The fact is that this domestic wiretap situation is far more important than Watergate EVER was, but don't look for "Deep Throat" this time. Cheney will have had any whistleblowers "Disappeared" before anything can come of it.

    The quid pro quo will be that Ole' Shrub will have a nice fat paycheck from "Telecommunication Consulting Fee's" waiting for him when he's looking for work next year. And all that for a guy who can't figure out how to comply with ANY law, let alone dial a touch tone phone.

  8. heystoopid


    Bollocks !

  9. John A Blackley

    Dead horse flogging

    A story about some outrageous - sorry, mistaken - wiretapping by the FBI? C'mon guys!

    The FBI has the capability to intercept your electronic communications. The FBi - nominally - needs only a secret warrant from a secret court which, to anyone's knowledge, has never turned down a request for a warrant. If, at any time, someone in the government, the FBI or the telecommunications industry does manage to break such gossamer rules as do exist, George 'Constitution, what constitution?' Bush will provide them with retroactive immunity.

    Now, short of an actual slave revolt, where is there a story left to tell in this sad affair?

  10. xjy
    Dead Vulture

    Inferno time

    We need a Dante to do justice to this lot.

    Something for the eavesdroppers like an eternity in a windowless resonance chamber with no damping where a thousand synthetic voices are yacking away with all the telephone conversations of the world at once with the volume changing arbitrarily over time for each conversation. A bit like an Andy Warhol film but more all-encompassing and nnnnnnnnnnnneeeeeevvvvvvvvvveeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrr-



  11. Brian

    Email backup

    I'm happy to hear that somebody has a backup of all my lost emails...just another service provided by the US government.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Only a matter of time

    One of these days the Fed is simply going to use the commerce clause to legalize any damn thing they want. Hell, if they can stop some schmuck from growing wheat for his own use because it would disrupt interstate commerce (I shit you not, see Wickard v. Filburn) they can make a similar argument that surveillance is legal because suing Verizon and ATT (or any company cum gov't lackey for that matter) would negatively impact interstate commerce.

    Paris because it actually makes sense to her.

  13. Anthony Eeles

    Do we have to have this drivel on the register...

    Ok - I grant that I *might* be interested to read about the mistake by the ISP, or perhaps learn more about the FBI's wiretapping / email surveillance abilities - if, and only if, it were news (the clue is in the NEW part of NEWs...), but frankly I couldn't give a paris hilton for the writer's personal opinions on the the incompetence of the political administration of another country, crow-barred into a rant about IT / Telecoms privacy.

    If the writer is really still daft enough to expect that sending an email is or should be secure from their employer, ISP / MSP, or government - or for that matter the crater-faced kid next door - perhaps they could kindly refrain from writing on a tech news board , and perhaps take up writing the back-page-blurb for the next Andy McNab novel - the techno-hype might be more welcome there...

    Please, please, el reg, could we get back to IT and Science news with a liberal dose of dark sarcasm, brit and, well, Reg-ishness, rather than political agenda-fuelled blather...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    It's the FBI

    They only do these things to let us know they are on the job reading our emails, how many of those viiiiiaaaaagara ads did they read this is why I could never be in law enforcement I would have to kill someone daily just to make myself feel better about my job.

  15. Shannon Jacobs

    Technology is morally neutral

    I hope Anthony Eeles wises up to the implications of immoral use of technology before he gets hammered by it--but it's probably too late. I'm not saying that he's a criminal or anything. However, give me enough of his personal data, and I'd wager I can frame him easily enough. Of course, since this is the FBI, we'd assume they only want to secure his cooperation for purely legitimate reasons.

    Wait, is that I flying pig over there?

  16. Ed Gould

    Lets all encrypt every email

    Lets all encrypt every email we send. Let the government spend gazillion dollars trying to decrypt "Hi Mom hope you are OK, ps the u235 capsules are out back"


  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Email backup

    Umm - don't count on it. If they agree to that they would also have to admit to having copies of those White House emails that were so conveniently "accidentally erased".

    No chance..

  18. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton


    Sad in one way because there are ways and means to check on those who snoop on your email

    for example on digg

    As Paris would say "for every measure there is a counter measure !" !

  19. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Zigzag Curveballs ....... for Carved Paths through Solid Rock

    "Please, please, el reg, could we get back to IT and Science news with a liberal dose of dark sarcasm, brit and, well, Reg-ishness, rather than political agenda-fuelled blather..." ... By Anthony Eeles Posted Monday 18th February 2008 23:35 GMT

    Do we have to have this drivel on the register... ?

    Tone, the One carries the Other ... they are inextricably linked/joined at the hip/Yin and Yang ..... and to have Orderly Power and Control in One will deliver IT in the Other. And I'm pleased to report that there is not the slightest hint of dark sarcasm in that liberal dose of IT and Science news.

    For Real Fun and Games in Electronic Spooksville, just try sending e-mails to the FBI or CIA or NSA or MI5 or MI6 or FSB or or or ........ to discover how far behind the CyberSpace Curves they really are.

    All at Sea and SeaSick wouldn't even begin to do Justice to their Floundering Disarray. Such is their Paranoia and Highly Probable Fear of XXXXPosure to Accountablity and Responsibility that they are Petrified to Use ITs Instant Communications Services, which is just too Sad for words and Bad enough but made much worse whenever they compound their Fears by intercepting Third Party Communications which harbour no such Paranoid Delusion.

    What it will create though is a Frank and Earnest Openness of Communication on the Web, as Communications/E-mails/Chats etc. thought to be intercepted or which solicited no reasonably expected response, are published to Blogs or Fora ..... for Peer Review and Deeper Discussion/NEUKlearer Understanding. ....... much as is happening here, now, as in this Post. :-)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here Rush Limbaugh was advocating FISA without any oversite

    If the government had their way there would be no oversight and pure nefarious practices. Good thing that FISA is still in limbo. The public should be educated over this but they give into bullying rather than sensibility of what is ethical.

  21. Anonymous Coward


    oh god...I actually mostly understood him this time; have I finally gone insane?

  22. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Don't Panic .....the Madness is Housed Elsewhere.

    "oh god...I actually mostly understood him this time; have I finally gone insane?"...

    No, AC, you're just smarter and thinking deeper than you used to be, ... would be an educated, educating guess. :-) A journey which we make every day if we care to choose to care so that we are not guided by the Fools of Folly and the Dogs of War who dodge the Fields of their Play like the Plague for the Paycheck that erases the Memory of the Sufferings wrought ......but only in their Minds.

    As an Outstanding Debt, one must always expect it to be repaid in Full..... which is only natural, as otherwise every idiot would be doing it..... Playing the Fool and Attack Dog Follies.

  23. I.M.Fantom

    The U235 is buried under the garden.

    Hi Mom, I told you I would have the garden dug up, but this year the FBI and NSA people will be stopping by to do it. Happy Planting this spring.

  24. Anonymous Coward


    You haven't gone insane, I understood him too...but I actually like reading what he writes. Sometimes he's the only one who actually seems to "get it!"

  25. Steven Swenson


    "We accidentally gave you access to every email address we have when you only 'asked' for one.

    We are happy to cooperate and look forward to doing such lucrative business again."


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