back to article Surprise! NSA's first ever 'transparency' 'report' is anything but

The US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has published the NSA's first "transparency report", revealing the number of "targets" spied on by the agency. Its definition of the word transparency, however, makes the data somewhat hard to fathom. "Within the Intelligence Community, the term 'target' has multiple …

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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Mitoo Bobsworth

    NSA Transparency

    Now THERE"S an oxymoron!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NSA Transparency

      It is not an oxymoron.

      It is just a matter of rewriting the dictionary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKL_I4pJs84

      As any ministry of Truth official can tell you the MInistry of Peace can never do wrong and if you have any doubts about that you will have a short conversation with your friendly Night Watch.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Considering the number of digits in their budget

      Are they really targeting only that small-by-comparison number?

      Yeah, right...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't wait

    to read all of the transparency reports from Russia, China and others.

    1. Hollerith 1

      Re: Can't wait

      At least you can't accuse these countries of hypocrisy or failing to meet what they tout as the major differentiator in their favour, as do the Yanks when they spout about their love of freedom, liberty and free speech, while busily not doing them when it counts.

      1. Mitoo Bobsworth

        Re: Can't wait

        @ Hollerith 1

        "as do the Yanks when they spout about their love of freedom, liberty and free speech, while busily not doing them when it counts."

        Of course they practice those things where it counts - it just happens to be a very exclusive club.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can't wait

      to read all of the transparency reports from Russia, China and others.

      1. they don't sell bullshit that they are democracies

      2. strangely, they follow their own laws (the US is busy pretty much ignoring the Constitution)

      3. it's irrelevant in context, don't try to distract from the NSA.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can't wait

        1. sorry, meant Great Britain and France (just guessing about France)

        2. strangely, you think you know whether they follow their own laws

        3. you don't get to determine what is relevant, or haven't you heard of free speech

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Can't wait

          Funny thing. Conservatives think that cutting benefits such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps is desirable because they are 'big government', yet they don't consider the massive spying by the NSA and massive military spending to be 'big government'

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Can't wait

            "Funny thing. Conservatives think that cutting benefits such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps is desirable because they are 'big government', yet they don't consider the massive spying by the NSA and massive military spending to be 'big government'"

            Easy.

            There's "good" big government and "bad" big government.

            But please don't think this is a Democrat/Republican argument.

            IIRC only 1 Senator did not vote for THE PATRIOT Act (from Wisconsin IIRC).

            Because they'd read it.

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Can't wait

          You get free speech. In case you missed it, your government rescinded it. Even talking about a "right" to free speech makes you a terrorist. Now turn yourself in, prole.

  4. Chris G Silver badge

    Perfect transparency

    We are spying on all of you: what you do, what you say, where you go and soon what you think.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Perfect transparency

      We are spying on all of you: what you do, what you say, where you go and soon what you think. ...... Chris G

      That can only ever be at best, Chris G, what another foreign party thinks you be thinking, and be really just their thoughts and not your own at all unless you be thinking exactly like them. In essence, it be just akin to wild guessing unless it can be proven one can be led to think exactly like another ...... which of course is impossible if one is in any way consciously smart and an individual human being and unique body.

      Any problem then is due, and chargeable if accountability and responsibility is sought, to one's leaders who be one's monitors and mentors .......... they/that which is spying on everything and everyone for the good of the nation, and for the greater good of the international and internetional communities too of course, for one wouldn't want anyone thinking it was being done to deliver an absolute remote virtual command and para-physical control over everything and everybody to any one body or any group of bodies. That just wouldn't cricket, dear boy, and be worthy of a jolly thrashing and darn good hiding.

      To every action is there a reaction, and in practically all cases, a plethora of unknown and unexplored consequences is discovered and uncovered and exploited. and such a proliferating chaos is extremely rewarding, although one does have to be on one' guard against actions and reactions triggering a plethora of unknown and unexplored consequences discovering and uncovering fabulous exploits thought better left for the present, undiscovered, ....... for the greater good of the nation and nations in the international and internetional community, of course.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Perfect transparency

        To every action is there a reaction

        That's already happening, because there is pretty much nobody left who believes in the "benigness" of their leaders (apologies for butchering the Queen's English). Too much abuse has consequences, and I don't the result is very good - it results in a total breakdown of trust in leadership and law enforcement, who then seek more control, which leads to (etc etc).

        This is a death spiral for society. Trust is an essential element of governance, without it you are heading for dictatorships and bloody revolt. That's not something any sane person would want.

      2. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Perfect transparency

        My concern is that behavioural analysis software is being developed and used, it does not have to be perfect, only good enough in the eyes of its users to be deployed. As you say at best it is only a guess but that is a guess that could get people a suite near a Cuban beach. It has become clear that Gov's no longer require courts of law where they cite national security and for them suspicion is proof enough.

        Zero behaviour equals zero thoughts.

      3. KrisMac

        Re: Perfect transparency

        We know we are in trouble when transmissions from amanfromMars are more transparent and coherent than those of the NSA....

    2. knightwing

      Re: Perfect transparency

      isn't that illegal? some kind of crime? just wondering.

  5. defiler Silver badge

    How big of a target?

    Apparently a target is one or more people, up to, including, or beyond 7 billion.

    Phew. Glad there aren't many targets then!

  6. LeeH

    The Question Is

    Can government survive without us or can we survive without government. Likewise, can the US survive without the support of those nations that placed it where it is for the sake of 'world peace'?

    The NSA is not just a US issue. I really do not understand why citizens outside of the US consider the CIA, NSA etc... to be legal entities outside of the US. Makes no sense at all. Are they superhuman??? Get a grip.

    As wonderful as the US is, it has now become a world problem. A problem we Europeans made. A problem we now need to resolve.

    Seriously, if the NSA came to grab you would you give up quietly or scream, shout and fight?

    Man or mouse: which are you?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: The Question Is

      If the legal authorities for my jurisdiction came to fetch me, I would go with them peaceably...or at worst, I would sit on the floor and make the bastards carry my fat ass everywhere they wanted me to be.

      If authorities from another jurisdiction attempt to remove me by force against my will, I will fight them to the bitter end. I can't understand why that would be different for anyone else?

      My local plod have the right to detain or arrest me, and to force me to comply with the use of force. They absolutely will use such force, if they deem it necessary. (They usually do.) If I am murdered by a local police officer for "resisting arrest", it won't even make the paper. It's just business as usual. If I want to change the system, the only real chance I have is to take those police to court for harassment and brutality.

      If, however, $nation sends a spook after me, two things are going to occur. A) I will be made dead, and there is zero possibility of not being made dead. B) If the fact of someone who is not an authorized local plod murdering me gets out, then there is a chance - however slim - that my country will investigate my murder and relations with the offending nation in question.

      That, to me, says that "if someone who does not identify themselves as a legitimate legal authority for your current jurisdiction attempts to harm or abduct you, then you fight back with everything you have. Make damned sure that video and audio of the incident are being streamed to as many different servers in as many different nations as is possible, from as many devices as possible. Ensure that you specify in your will how to access those recordings...or better yet, set up a spook canary that will automatically release the info upon your death."

      Paranoid? Sure. And unless you record everything 24/7, the evil spook boogeyman that comes to get you will probably off you before you even know they're there. That doesn't stop me from setting the damned thing up...if only because it's the only thing that I - as a prole - can do. If the social stigma for my minor act of defiance is to labelled a tinfoil hatter...so be it.

  7. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Is someone lying then or just not reporting?

    Last year federal authorities issued 19,212 national security letters and 38,832 requests for information. That's a colossal amount of penmanship, and also slightly concerning, given the limited data we've had from firms like Google and Apple.

    Cupertino and Mountain View reported getting between zero and 999 national security letters in their latest transparency reports. That suggests there are an awful lot of firms getting served with these secretive orders

    Something smells rotten.. or are we missing stuff like Amazon's Cloud? Yahoo!? Microsoft? and they make the bulk?

  8. Don Jefe

    Accuracy

    It would be fucking hilarious if tech companies started grossly over reporting the number of government data requests they receive. If the numbers are wrong Clapper can correct them.

    It's most unfortunate the glorious pussies running most tech companies simply don't have the stones to tweak the US governments nose. I realize these companies are being unfairly pressured to comply with Clappers fetish for looking through the pictures on kids mobile phones, but these companies should at least wage some asymmetrical, passive aggressive retaliation. I can't think of anything much funnier than forcing Clapper to tell the truth and having nobody believe him.

    Oh well. I'll just have to picture it in my head.

    1. knightwing

      Re: Accuracy

      the reason why certain "passive aggressive" actions aren't and haven't been taken is because they wouldn't be effective don't have much point given the context (at most slight annoyance; they don't care..). if any such actions, passive aggressive or otherwise, existed that would be truly effective, meaningful and productive in some way, you can be sure they would be taking such actions.

      1. Don Jefe

        @knightwing

        I'm going to assume you're rather young, and light on experience, as that explains your enthusiasm for senseless boldness and underdeveloped sense of humor. Experience will teach you how to situationally discriminate between the need for bold action and the need for an easy hand on the tiller.

        A passive aggressive action that's a 'minor annoyance' is by far the best kind of annoyance to bestow on someone. Such actions are not intended to be anything more than sand in the vagina (and hilarious). If you get a stone in there it's fairly easy to remove. But a couple grains of sand in there are much harder to deal with and can just fuck up your whole day.

        If you're going to last very long, and get whatever it is you want out of life, you've got become good at assessing how the recipients of your attentions are the most vulnerable to whatever influences you have the ability to bring to bear. Very large entities are generally not affected by frontal assaults. They've simply got too many resources dedicated to thwarting frontal assaults. You're simply not going to prevail.

        However, tolerance for annoyance falls in direct proportion to the size of the recipient. In a big organization the mild annoyance gets multiplied in severity many times over. A small disruption in a process affects everything else related to that process. The larger and more complex the recipient the is the easier it is to make a big mess with very little investment required. Individuals, groups and departments develop 'undocumented' workarounds to avoid the annoyance. Burdens increase, everything slows down and in process errors multiply until everybody is half dead.

        Ideally those people will lobby internally to change the root cause of the annoyance. But it doesn't really matter if they do or not. You've at least gummed up the works a bit and that's good enough. If they're going to fuck you anyway you might as well make them work for it.

    2. Gannon (J.) Dick
      Childcatcher

      Re: Accuracy

      Dear NSA,

      Oops.

      If those National Security Letters were delivered on Tuesdays or Thursdays and did not have a Buy-One-Get-One-Free Jumbo Jack Coupon attached, I may have thrown them out.

      Could you resend ? (Oh and please attach the coupon, please, it's for the Children)

      Sincerely,

      Ms. G. Oogle

      P.S. Upvote for that kind man Mr. Jefe

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Aren't you guys forgetting something ?

      Those are National Security letters, not some court injunction which companies routinely ignore behind the safety of their legal departments. You do what they say, because if you don't, the consequences won't be another letter and a phone call. The consequences will be a couple of black vans in your parking lot and you being dragged away in handcuffs while desperately trying to convince some sour NSA goons that you were, what, only joking ?

      It's National Security, man. They don't need a warrant, the letter is their warrant.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Aren't you guys forgetting something ?

        "It's National Security, man. They don't need a warrant"

        Got the problem in one.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Aren't you guys forgetting something ?

          Among the implications: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and all subsequent laws and treaties were signed into law with fingers metaphorically crossed behind the back. They like you to believe that you are governed by laws, not men. But whenever the going gets tough (Revolutionary War, 1812, Civil War, World Wars, Cold War, GWAT...) the laws take a back seat and men take over. Men on white horses, for your own good.

  9. JaitcH
    WTF?

    I wonder if, given that their world-wide data is stored in the USA, ...

    if HSBC was searched - after all they were the Laundry for the Mexican Drug Cartels.

    HSBC clients have to wonder just why data from all operating countries are shipped to Newark, New Jersey by HSBC? (Do a Traceroute and check for yourself))

    Even UK users data is handled through their Newark, New Jersey portal.

    1. knightwing

      Re: I wonder if, given that their world-wide data is stored in the USA, ...

      no one besides banking/computer people are going to know what the hell you are talking about. oh of course a "trace-route". I do those all the time.

      1. CaptainBanjax

        Re: I wonder if, given that their world-wide data is stored in the USA, ...

        Why are you reading a technology based publication if you dont understand tech?

        Are you a masochist?

        I didnt know the HSBC banking comms routed through the US. Now I do and I know how one eagle eyed commentard figured it out. That man gets an upvote from me.

        I come here specifically because people do use technical language and can report things they discover in a technical manner. Im pretty certain the overwhelming majority here do as well. Except Eadon and his first church of latter day eadonists (LDEs), he is the Jesus Christ of trolls. He got banned for their sins. Many LDEs proclaim the second coming of Eadon, but as yet he hasnt returned.

        Either way, I think you should rocket over to the BBC news website, let them do your thinking for you. They have FUD, diagrams, pictures and of course the thing people like you love...lots of different colours, you'll like it there. Its a happy place for morons to get spoonfed their opinions and understanding of mildly complex issues.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I wonder if, given that their world-wide data is stored in the USA, ...

          An upvote for your caricature of the BBC Capt'n. Priceless.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I wonder if, given that their world-wide data is stored in the USA, ...

            I agree - except that it is a characterization, not a caricature. It's entirely accurate, in no way exaggerated.

      2. Chad H.

        Re: I wonder if, given that their world-wide data is stored in the USA, ...

        Go to the command line and type Tracert (host name).

        This is a technology news website for computer people. If you can't work out how to use google to understand the things you dont understand... I'm afraid we cannot help you.

        1. Cipher

          Re: I wonder if, given that their world-wide data is stored in the USA, ...

          Regrading tracert...

          According to RFC1393, traceroute implementations are supposed to use the ICMP protocol.

          The windows implementation (tracert) does use ICMP. However, by default, the Linux implementation (traceroute) uses UDP, unless you apply the “-I” option, in which case it will use ICMP.

          It may be that a firewall along the route is configured to block ICMP.

          Happy Hunting...

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: I wonder if, given that their world-wide data is stored in the USA, ...

      In recent times 60% of opium derived drugs i n the US were allowed through by the CIA from Afghanistan, much of the 'captured' drugs in the Carribean were actually put onto boats and ships by FDA stings and a great deal of laundered and confiscated drugs money is used to fund the war against drugs/terrorism/freedom (delete as required) . Banks depend on Governments for their bails outs and their ability to operate in grey areas, think ' financial back door'.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: I wonder if, given that their world-wide data is stored in the USA, ...

        The Australians have the best opium. That shit from the 'stans' doesn't even compare.

  10. Cipher
    Big Brother

    Its Newspeak, the language of today...

    It is "Blackwhite" - Transparency = Unseen.

    Those not grasping the concept may be guilty of CrimeThought.

    Clearer now,Comrades?

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: Its Newspeak, the language of today...

      Do it right! Newspeak grammar places adjective before noun. It's 'thoughtcrime' not 'crimethought.' The word is used several times in the novel, as well as appearing as an example of word construction in the appendix.

    2. Tree

      Re: Its Newspeak, the language of today...

      I, for one, will keep applauding Mr. Clapper until he changes from transparent to invisble. Please disappear, dirtbag. Clap, Clap

  11. Leeroy Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Team America

    America fu@k yeah......

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The NSA's first "transparency report"

    The NSA and "transparency report" don't go in the same sentence ..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The NSA's first "transparency report"

      The NSA and "transparency report" don't go in the same sentence ..

      Sure they do, just add "will avoid at all costs"

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