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View Diary: NSA spying: Germany accuses US of using Cold War methods against its allies (245 comments)

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  •  ALL data (voice, text, video) is stored at various (6+ / 0-)

    nodes when it is transmitted over the internet. It has to be for the system to function properly. The data is broken up into packets at the transmitting end and then reassembled at the receiving end - this requires storage.

    One could argue that the only difference between the computers that comprise the internet backbone and the computers in the NSA system is the time-to-live value of the packets. The internet assigns a very short value, whereas the NSA can assign a long value. In both cases the data has not been accessed by humans and is therefore not in violation of the 4th.

    In this way, the NSA can analyze the meta-data of data movement over a period of days, weeks, months or years and if something suspicious is found they can get a court order to open up the data packages and view it.

    Another factor which makes this scenario likely is that the speed and quantity of data sent over the net makes real-time scanning and analyzing extremely difficult. It's better to just suck it all in and set a time-to-live at whatever the NSA system has the capability of (temporarily) holding. This could be weeks, months or years.

    •  One could make that argument, but it would be (13+ / 0-)

      fatuous because there's another huge, fundamental difference between the computers that comprise the internet backbone and the NSA computers: the NSA computers are being operated by government employees whose actions are tightly circumscribed by the US Constitution.

      Correction: ought to be tightly circumscribed.

      "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi // Question: "succeed" at what?

      by nailbender on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 09:29:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Government lawyers do fatuous very well (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nailbender, PeterHug, Wolf10, lotlizard

        Look no further than legalized torture and wars based on twisted information. The NSA can look you straight in the eye and say "We do not read or listen to anyone's conversation w/o a court order. The only thing we analyze is metadata."

        The 4th needs to be redefined in light of today's technology.
         "It Depends on what the meaning of the word is is."

        the NSA computers are being operated by government employees whose actions are tightly circumscribed by the US Constitution.
        Most of the people working for the NSA are doing
        so under contract from corporations such as Booz Allen, Boeing, Computer Sciences Corporation, CACI International Inc., Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM and a hundred others.

        Just look at Snowden's employer: Booz Allen.

        I defy you to see daylight between government and corporations when it comes to the massive surveillance industry. The line is also blurred between contracted mercenaries and soldiers. The standards under which each must function are much different even though they share the same master and in many cases the same job.

      •  That's right! (0+ / 0-)

        Snowden and the other 5,000 spy-system related employees of BAH, not to mention SAIC, and all the others, are all actually government employees, not employees of private companies.  Phew, glad you straightened that out for us!

    •  Uh, your definition of stored is disingenuous. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      emal, Johnny Nucleo

      Stored data generally means its been written onto some long term storage device be it a hard drive or flash memory.  In other words, not RAM.

      Sure, data is stored for a fraction of a second before it is retransmitted but that is fundamentally different from storing data for years.

      "It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said." "The War Prayer" by Mark Twain

      by Quanta on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 11:00:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for the comment; I have one point (2+ / 0-)

      upon which we may disagree:

      In both cases the data has not been accessed by humans and is therefore not in violation of the 4th.
      This has not as far as I know been litigated freely in court (by which I mean, without classification issues preventing a full discussion), and therefore is not yet established IMO.

      The question is, what constitutes a search?  Is it the act of appropriating the information, or the act of reading it?  If the first, these are warrantless searches and clearly illegal; if the second, you may have a point.

      •  I was playing devil's advocate and being facetious (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard

        We need an open and honest discussion of these matters. Of course this would require more transparency and less secrecy from the feds but I don't think it will happen under Obama's watch. Despite his rhetoric, his government has taken Bush's programs and set them in stone.

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