back to article No day in court: US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court rulings will stay a secret

The US Supreme Court this week refused [PDF] to hear a case that would have forced the country's hush-hush Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to explain its justifications for giving the Feds the right to help themselves to bulk amounts of the public's data. The FISC decides who the Feds can follow according to the …

  1. NoneSuch Silver badge

    The US government routinely hides massive cost overruns, black projects with little accountability, black ops and general feck ups behind Top Secret stamps. Their drone program has killed thousands of innocents and the few good people that have come forward to expose that were threatened with jail in a SuperMax isolation cell for the rest of their lives.

    There is a often a viable need to keep things secret, but governments should not be able to classify bad decisions, poor performance and overreaches of power from the people they serve.

    When governments hide behind secrets, it never ends well.

  2. Chris G

    Tax dollars at work

    Americans (and probably citizens of most countries) are paying their government to spy on them.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Tax dollars at work

      Yes, Tax dollars at work ... but increasing Malware attacks are making everyone try to be a lot more cautious although I wonder who has the most data, the NSA or Google?

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: the NSA or Google

        I was going to reflexively reply saying : the NSA, but then I gave it a pause and thought it over.

        Now I'm not so sure any more.

        Google has oodles of data, lots more hardware and tailored software than the NSA, but it is only looking for ad targetting data.

        The NSA hasn't nearly Google's budget (thank $deity for that), but the NSA has backdoors (legal or not) into almost all communications providers and is looking for a lot more than a chance to sling an ad at you.

        The real point, I think, is the fact that E2EE is going to put a big crimp on the NSA's data gathering, while I'm not so sure Google is going to feel such an impact.

        So, in the end, I guess its a victory for Google.

      2. Tim99 Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Tax dollars at work

        They're pretty much the same: The Corbett Report.

  3. Omnipresent

    Let me answer that one.

    They spy on you A LOT. Like , all the time. All those "updates" that don't do anything at all? Spying. They watch your ip address, and they have deals with your service provider, they even directly scan your photos and images on your phone (with facial recognition). They have your whole self databased... even your finger print and retinal scan. They know who your kid is, where they go to school, and when you pick him/her up.They can even tell you which way you drive ... yeah.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: finger print and retinal scan

      I think you're reaching there. I can positively assert that I have never had a retinal scan, so "they", whoever you may think "they" are, certainly do not have that on me.

      As for my fingerprints, I seriously doubt they have that anywhere either, because they've never been to my house (I do think I'd notice someone trying to lift prints off of my furniture) and my prints on a shop door won't last unsmudged more than a few minutes at best, not to mention how curious it would look to have someone dusting for prints on a shop door without any cops in the vicinity.

      So let's dial down the conspiracy theories, okay ? The NSA does not employ a legion of 007s.

      It's bad enough that the NSA can listen to practically any conversation in the world, no need to add biometric data.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: finger print and retinal scan

        You have an EU passport or at least an ID card which hold your biometric data, don't you?

        I'm not saying that the NSA also has your biometric data, but I wouldn't be surprised. Would you?

      2. Omnipresent

        Re: finger print and retinal scan

        I don't normally reply, but most modern phones use a fingerprint entry at this point, and many use facial recognition... so....

      3. Eecahmap

        Re: finger print and retinal scan

        You've never had a comprehensive eye exam? They photograph my retinas every time, to watch for potential disease.

      4. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: finger print and retinal scan

        I don't have facial recognition or fingerprint unlock on my phone.

        However authorities could get my retinal data if they wanted it. I'm in the UK and have regular eye tests, most UK eye tests involve retinal photography so that data available for a big chunk of UK population.

        So if the authorities wanted my biometrics, retinal data by far the easiest for them to get as that's available digitally (albeit at my opticians). Fingerprint data would require non digital methods.

  4. Clausewitz 4.0

    In Control

    QUOTE: "After all, you shouldn't worry about things you can't control"

    There is quite a difference, between, let's say, choose to reverse-engineer / sell / improve a tiny microchip and not to be in control. Just saying.

    Quite a lot of folks seem to to be interested to pay really well for the technology and people involved. Really, really well.

    Patriotism above all.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quote: "...broad surveillance programs are by their nature applied to the innocent, criminals, those suspected of crimes... indeed, pretty much everyone..."


    So......I'm sure that this quote is true. And I'm also sure that the NSA (and others) have unrestricted access to networked communications. But I'm not so sure that citizens who avail themselves of PRIVATE ENCRYPTION have much to worry about! This example of IDEA encryption was encrypted BEFORE it was sent...the NSA (or GCHQ) people reading this post can let us know what the message says....if they can! I've kept it short......the quantum computers in Cheltenham shouldn't have any should they?









  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ....then again............

    ....the same message can be rendered using a private citizen's book cipher........please enjoy where you are in Cheltenham!














  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ....perhaps Blowfish is easier.....

    ....just trying to help people who work in Cheltenham.....









    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: ....perhaps Blowfish is easier.....

      No one cares what random characters an anonymous conspiracy nut posts on the register forum. not in Cheltenham, Fort Meade or anywhere else.

      1. Bill Gray

        Re: ....perhaps Blowfish is easier.....

        Ah, but how do we know our AC friend is really just an anonymous conspiracy nut?

        If I were trying to communicate securely in the face of a nation-state adversary, I wouldn't send my messages directly to the recipient; I'd post them on a forum such as this one. And it now occurs to me that might add something to make the post appear as if it came from a harmless nutter not worth decrypting. I'd start and end with a few bytes from /dev/random.

        `%98N2DqZ<d2V/!O62s0*4-i1L>n+z2Mkg, etc.

        1. Clausewitz 4.0

          Re: ....perhaps Blowfish is easier.....

          Most anonymous conspiracy nuts, cannot get even a few inches close to the insanity of reality.

  8. thx1111

    accounting adjustments

    QUOTE: Since the USA Freedom Act was passed in 2015 – as a response to the backlash from the Snowden revelations – FISC has been forced to publish statistical information annually, but the ACLU has pointed out that any review of FISC behind-closed-doors decisions is solely "conducted ... by executive branch officials, not a court."

    Rather than worry about "what they know about you", a person might be more concerned with "what you DO NOT know about them".

    In the US, the Constitution requires that "No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time." But then, the above mentioned Executive Branch, in the "Statement of Federal Financial Accounting Standards 56", October 4, 2018, addressing federal financial reporting, with measured words, provides that: "omitting or misstating information about the item makes it probable that the judgment of a reasonable person relying on the information would have been changed or influenced by the omission or the misstatement.", even though these very same acts of fraudulent financial reporting are also criminal acts under 18 U.S. Code § 1001.

    To put this intentional US government fraudulent financial reporting into context, consider that, between 1998 and 2016, DOD and HUD balance statements included $21 Trillion in Unsupported Journal Voucher Adjustments. Over the following 3 years, 2017, 2018, and 2019, Bloomberg reports an additional $94 Trillion in DOD accounting adjustments. So, roughly, $115 *Trillion* in "accounting adjustments" over two decades. For perspective, the entire US National Debt is less than $30 Trillion. And this is only the amount actually reported in their own financial statements.

    The analysis of this Missing Money by "debunkers" is amusing, where they argue that there is no "missing money" but only some misleading instances of replicated accounting transactions, due to an antiquated government accounting system - I suppose, in the same way that Bank Robbery is not really a criminal activity, but is merely a mischaracterization of an "unauthorized withdrawal".

    All the while, in the midst of over $100 Trillion in "fuzzy accounting", publicly, the US Congress bickers over the cost of Child Care and a national Health Care system. Follow these links to see the DOD Financial Statements and read the entertaining disclaimers by the auditors:

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Remind me

    How is this different than the Middle Kingdom's High Court deferring to their intelligence agency?

    Or any country's High Court (if they bother to have one) differing to their intelligence agency?

    Everyone, east and west, north and south, is spied on all the time.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Remind me

      Remember this is a country founded by rebellious terrorists - it's a good idea to keep them under control

      1. Tim99 Silver badge

        Re: Remind me

        Er, I think you will find it was founded by rich men...

    2. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: Remind me

      It is no different, except "we' are the good guys.

      In reality Erich Honecker would have been thrilled to have access to the various secret police agencies the US maintains.

      The one thing America is really, really good at is propaganda.

  10. stiine Silver badge

    I wonder if all of the smartbombs that the Air Force has in its inventory have guidance computers that will actively disabe detonation when dropped on NSA or CIA headquarters?

    1. Clausewitz 4.0

      From my experience, everything that can be disabled remotely, can also be enabled.

  11. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Secret court decisions are corrosive in a democracy

    "incompatible with" rather than "corrosive in"?

  12. elregidente

    This is not a conversation for a surveilled medium

    I have strong feelings about this matter, but I'm very guarded these days in what I write electronically where I criticise the State.

    When you know your neighbour has a rifle and you do not, you become increasingly conscious of doing anything to upset him.

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