A day late and a dollar short, but we're the ones who'll pay.

  big_brother calea fbi internet privacy social_networking software surveillance us wiretapping

For nearly twenty years in the United States a law called CALEA (Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994) has been on the books. To summarize, CALEA set the federal requirement that telecommunications companies (phone companies, long distance companies, cellular carriers, and so forth) had to modify their infrastructures such that various forms of wiretapping of customers had to be possible upon presentation of a warrant. Contrary to popular belief, there are methods of surveillance other than recording a conversation. The simplest involves making a list of every phone number that a particular number calls, when the calls were …

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Spooks, dirty tricks, and creative linguistics.

  us 2005 big_brother demands fbi government grand_jury leaks nsa patriot_act phone_bills powers records risen subpoena wiretapping

It seems that the US federal government has been busy lately - a pair of news articles released last week show the lengths they're going to so that they can get their way while seeming to be on the up and up. As you'll recall, back in July of 2005 the city of London, England was rocked by a number of explosions which were placed by suicide bombers to maximally disrupt the public transportation system of the city. The British government probably asked the FBI to assist in the investigation (as suggested by a number of documents obtained through the Freedom …

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Codes, ciphers, and Naruto grounds for suspension?

  wtf ciphers codes fbi high_school juvenile_detention naruto paranoia

Near the city of Panama City, Florida, 14-year old high school student Dakota Gates has been incarcerated in juvenile detention for 21 days following his arrest because administrators of his school are afraid that he was planning to come to school one day and start shooting the place up. Their reason? A note he wrote in a cipher inspired by an anime series by himself and some of his friends. A 'school resource officer' (I guess that's what they're calling the armed guards these days) found the note, sounded the alarm, and picked out the weird kid of the school …

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FBI forgets to pay its phone bill; wiretap goes silent.

  oops embezzlement fbi fisa funding telco us wiretapping

It has recently made it into the press that the FBI has been conducting wired surveillance of an international nature - the specifics of the operation aren't known, which is what one would expect of an ongoing investigation. However, due to an ongoing problem with controlling funds allocated to fieldwork, they forgot to pay the telco bill for the wiretap and the telco summarily shut the line off. The FBI's been fighting problems with mismanagement of money and embezzlement for years now, and while the measures they've put in place are helping to some extent they sometimes cause problems. This is …

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Were they looking for terrorists or a Grateful Dead concert?

  data_mining falafel fbi iran terrorism us wtf

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is so hot to uncover dastardly plots of domestic terrorism in this country that, for at time at least, they were mining such fields of data as who bought what from middle eastern grocery stores to determine who might be a religious extremist and terrorist. Yep - they thought sales of falafel might help them generate the results that they're pressured to produce for the people on high. Thankfully, common sense prevailed (did they hire a four year old to check their logic or something?) and they spiked the plan in 2006. The article makes a …

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The FBI's data mining program took a mile when it was given an inch. Film at eleven.

  big_brother eff fbi link_analysis nsl telecommunications

A number of lawsuits and Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation have confirmed what people have been saying since the get-go, which is that the FBI's telecommunications data mining program went far beyond what it was supposed to (login/password required, bugmenot.com will hook you up). It's well known and documented that the US government's been leaning on telecommunication companies all across the country (and a few rolled over and bared their throats without even being ordered) to provide them with lists of names and numbers of their customers so that who called whom …

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Network monitoring en masse.

  big_brother carnivore_surveillance dcs_1000 fbi internet

Well, it seems that Carnivore DCS-1000 isn't enough to feed the gaping information maw of the FBI. Rather than sniff the traffic associated only with a single IP address they've decided to record ALL of the traffic for a given netblock and analyze it offline. For my readers who don't understand how this might apply to them (you know that I'm headed for the Fourth Amendment already), here's a quick rundown of the principle. IP addresses are organised into contiguous blocks that make them easy to manage. If your DSL provider assigns you the IP address 192.16.10.42 …

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