Wed. Jul 17th, 2019

NSA sucks realtime data from FIFTY companies

5 min read

  • Companies are all compelled by the Foreign  Intelligence Surveillance Act to hand over any information requested under the  law, but they’re not required to make access easier
  • PRISM data-mining program was launched in  2007 with approval from special federal judges
  • Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo,  YouTube, Skype, AOL and PalTalk are involved in spying program
  • Details of data collection were outlined in  classified 41-slide PowerPoint presentation that was leaked by intelligence  officer

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 08:07 EST, 9 June  2013 |  UPDATED: 08:25  EST, 9 June 2013

Analysts at the National Security Agency are  able to secretly access real-time user data provided by as many as 50 American  companies, ranging from credit rating agencies to internet service  providers.

According to two government officials  familiar with the arrangements, several of the companies have provided records  continuously since 2006, while others have given the agency sporadic  access.

The officials disclosed the number of  participating companies in order to provide context for a series of disclosures  about the NSA’s domestic collection policies.

Many of the details are unveiled by Mark  Ambinder, co-author of a new book about government secrecy and surveillance,  Deep State:  Inside the Government Secrecy Industry.

 

Storage space: NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah, where government records of citizen's phone and internet usage could be kept 

Storage space: NSA’s Utah Data Center in Bluffdale,  Utah, where government records of citizen’s phone and internet usage could be  kept

‘The idea is to create a mosaic. We get a  tip. We vet it. Then we mine the data for intelligence,’ one of the officials  said to The  Week.

In a statement, Director of National  Intelligence James Clapper said that programs collect communications  ‘pursuant  to section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, ‘ and ‘cannot be  used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S person, or anyone  within the United States.’

 

The NSA needs several different collection  tools, of which PRISM is one.

PRISM works well because it is able to handle  several different types of data streams using different basic encryption  methods.

It is a ‘front end’ system, or  software,  that allows an NSA analyst to search through the data and pull out items of  significance, which are then stored in any number of  databases.

No knowledge: Internet giant Google said that it had never heard of the PRISM scheme before reports broke last week 

No knowledge: Internet giant Google said that it had  never heard of the PRISM scheme before reports broke last week

From the different types of data,  including  their credit card purchases, the locations they sign in to the internet from,  and even local police arrest logs, the NSA can track  people it considers  terrorism or espionage suspects in near-real time.

An internet geo-location cell is on constant  standby to help analysts determine where a subject logs in from.

Most of the collection takes place on subjects outside the U.S, but a large chunk of the world’s relevant  communication passes through American companies with servers on American soil.

What is more unclear is how the NSA interacts  with the companies.

Computer giant: Apple also said that it had never heard of the PRISM program until now but reports say it has worked contributed to discussions with the government concerning sharing information 

Computer giant: Apple also said that it had never heard  of the PRISM program until now but reports say it has worked contributed to  discussions with the government concerning sharing information

Several of the companies mentioned in past  few days deny granting access to the NSA. Might be possibly be  lying or is it  that the NSA’s arrangements with individual companies are kept so tightly that  very few people know about it?

One official likened the NSA’s collection  authority to a van full of sealed boxes that are delivered to the  agency.

A court order permits the transfer of custody  of the ‘boxes.’ however, the NSA needs something else, a  specific purpose or  investigation, in order to open a particular box.

Classified: The particulars of the PRISM data-mining program have been outlined in a top-secret PowerPoint presentation for senior intelligence analysts, which ended up being leaked 

Classified: The particulars of the PRISM data-mining  program have been outlined in a top-secret PowerPoint presentation for senior  intelligence analysts, which ended up being leaked

 

 

Participants: This graph shows when each of the nine tech companies joined PRISM, with Apple being the latest addition in October 2012  

Participants: This graph shows when each of the nine  tech companies joined PRISM, with Apple being the latest addition in October  2012

The chairman of the Senate  intelligence  committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said the standard was ‘a  reasonable,  articulatable’ suspicion, but did not go into details.

The NSA can collect and store trillions of  bytes electronic information revealed by American citizens.

In the government’s eyes, the data is simply  moving from one place to another.

It does not become, in the government’s eyes,  relevant or protected in any way unless and until it is subject to  analysis.

Bombshell: NSA and FBI have been extracting audio, video, photos, e-mails, documents and other data from Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL and PalTalk 

Bombshell: NSA and FBI have been extracting audio,  video, photos, e-mails, documents and other data from Apple, Facebook,  Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL and PalTalk

 

Key source: PRISM has been described by NSA officials 'as the most prolific contributor to the president's Daily Brief,' providing analysts with a wealth of 'raw material'  

Key source: PRISM has been described by NSA officials  ‘as the most prolific contributor to the president’s Daily Brief,’ providing  analysts with a wealth of ‘raw material’

A spokesperson for Apple also denied any  knowledge of PRISM’s existence.

It was claimed that the Silicon Valley  companies involved in the PRISM program are Apple, Facebook, Microsoft,  Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL and the lesser known Internet company PalTalk, which has hosted a lot of traffic during the Arab Spring and  the  on-going Syrian civil war.

However, only Facebook and Google have been  shown to have worked toward creating ‘online rooms’ in which to share data with  the government.

The wave of disclosures about the NSA  programs have significantly unsettled the intelligence community.

Targets: The tech giants involved in involved in PRISM are Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL and the lesser known Internet company PalTalk 

Targets: The tech giants involved in involved in PRISM  are Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL and the  lesser known Internet company PalTalk

 

The documents obtained by the two  newspapers  are marked ORCON, or originator controlled, which generally  means that the  agency keeps a record of every person who accesses them  online and knows  exactly who might have printed out or saved or accessed a copy. The NSA in  particular has a good record of protecting its  documents.

The scope of the latest leak suggests that  several people with top-level security clearances had to be involved.

Clapper said in his statement that the  disclosures about the program ‘risk important protections for the security of  Americans.’

'Reprehensible': Director of National Intelligence James Clapper branded the program 'reprehensible' and said it risks Americans' security 

‘Reprehensible’: Director of National Intelligence James  Clapper branded the program ‘reprehensible’ and said it risks Americans’  security

Mining for data: The NSA has been getting millions of phone records from Verizon on a daily basis for months without any justification for the order 

Mining for data: The NSA has been getting millions of  phone records from Verizon on a daily basis for months without any justification  for the order

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