Tuesday July 17, 2018 INDEX
Tyranny by numbers

The Patriot Act, American legislation introduced as a reaction to the destruction of the New York twin towers, enabled a regime in which electronic devices, credit cards and old fashioned landlines, became spies.
The legislation was promoted as a means to counter terrorism but almost all the people who have been spied upon (including you and me) have nothing to do with terrorism. In reality it is all about social control: the rich and powerful fear the poor (you and me again) and they want to know what we are up to.
Now you may think, quite reasonably, that the Patriot Act has nothing to do with the UK and it's different over here. Of course, you would be right. Things are much worse in the UK than they are in America where people have some rights, even though the intelligence community seems to delight in trampling over them. In the UK you have no rights.
Edward Snowden who was employed by a defence analyst but attached to the National Security Agency (NSA) the American secret services, leaked a vast quantity of material in 2013 that showed what the "intelligence" services were doing.
In a documentary, titled Citizenfour, Snowden says "the surveillance that we (in the USA) live under is the highest privilege compared to how we treat the rest of the world. (10:20)".
What follows is a number of snippets taken from the documentary with the times that they occur in the video bracketed.
"There is an infrastructure in place in the United States and worldwide that NSA has built in co-operation with other governments as well, that intercepts, basically, every digital communication, every radio communication, every analogue communication that it has sensors in place to detect and with these capabilities basically the vast majority of human and computer to computer communications, device based communications, which sort of inform relationships between humans, are automatically ingested without targetting and that allows individuals to retroactively search your communications based on self certifications. So, for example, if I wanted to see the contents of your email or, you know, your wife's phone calls or anything like that, all I have to do is use what's called a Selector, any kind of thing in the communications chain that might uniquely or almost uniquely identify you as an individual. I am talking about things like email addresses and IP addresses, phone numbers, credit cards, even passwords that are unique to you that aren't used by anyone else. I can input these into the system and it will not only go back to the database and go have I seen this anywhere in the past, it will basically put an additional level of scrutiny on it moving into the future that says if this is detected now at any time in the future I want this to go to me immediately and alert me in real time that you are communicating with someone, things like that. (27:55)".

"GCHQ has probably the most invasive network intercept programme anywhere in the world. It's called Tempora and it's the world's first full take, they call it. That means content in addition to meta data, on everything. (34:18)"

"SSO, Special Service Operations, this is the worldwide passive collection on networks both domestic to the US and international. (41:30)"

CORPORATE PARTNERSHIPS: (1) Coercion. (2) Pay. (3) Help you set up system if you give us the data.

Ex Key Score: front end for retroactive searches and live searches.(42:10)"

"As of fiscal year 2011 they could monitor one billion telephone internet sessions simultaneously, per one of these devices and they could collect at a rate of about 125 gigabytes per second which is a terra bit. (42.50)"

"Back then there were 20 sites. There's ten at DoD (presumably Department of Defense) installations but these are out dated. We've expanded pretty rapidly but still 20 sites that's at least 20 billion (simultaneous telephone sessions). (43:10)"

Glenn Greenwald on CNN "The law that this was done under, which is the Patriot Act an act given in the wake of 9/11 was law which allowed the government very broad powers to get records about people with a lower level of suspicion than probable cause, the traditional standard. So it's always been assumed that under the Patriot Act if the government had even any suspicion that you were involved in a crime or terrorism they could get a lot of information about you. What this court order does that makes it so striking is that it's not directed at any individuals who they believe or have suspicion of committing crimes or part of a terrorist organisation, it's collecting the phone records of every single customer of Verizon Business and finding out every single call that they have made internationally and locally so it's indiscriminate. (44:50)"

CNN: "The Washington Post and the Guardian in London reporting that the NSA and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading internet companies including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AoL, Skype, Youtube and Apple. The Post says they're extracting audio, video, photographs, emails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person's movements and contacts over time. (52:55)"

William Binney is introduced (at 5:30) as a former NSA crypto-mathematician. He, somewhat immodestly, claims to have done most of the work on mass data analytics on the internet. If the good guys had white hats and the bad ones black, his would be at best grey.

Q: "What do you think they are doing to reporters, those of us that are working directly with Snowden documents? How do you think they would approach dealing with people like us?"William Binney: "You are on the cast iron cover list, which means any electronic device you use that they can attach to you they will record and capture all that data. Q: and what do they do with that data? They just trying to figure out what we are doing?" Binney: " That's part of it but the other part, the primary part for them, is to find the sources of information you're getting." Q: So if I have a confidential source who's giving me information as a whistleblower and he works for the US government and he's concerned about what he perceives as violations of the constitution and he gets in touch with me..." Binney: "From there on they would nail him and start watching everything he did and if he started passing data I am sure they would take him off the street. "(1:43:20)

Watch List. At 1:48:30 the documentary shows Snowden looking at a note written by Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald. It says that there are 1.2m people on various stages of the 'watch list'. This, of course, was many years ago and there's no way of knowing how many are on the list today. One thing is certain though: the number vastly exceeds the amount of people the 'intelligence' services could reasonably believe to be terrorists, or the associates of terrorists.

Citizenfour, a film by Laura Poitras, is a Dogwoof and Britdoc production. In 2015 it won the Academy Award for the best documentary.
Posted by Jonathan Brind.
Tuesday July 17, 2018