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Tue Oct 2, 2012, 07:44 PM

Documents Show Huge Increase in Warrantless Electronic Surveillance

By Naomi Gilens, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 1:32pm




Justice Department documents released today by the ACLU reveal that federal law enforcement agencies are increasingly monitoring Americans’ electronic communications, and doing so without warrants, sufficient oversight, or meaningful accountability.

The documents, handed over by the government only after months of litigation, are the attorney general’s 2010 and 2011 reports on the use of “pen register” and “trap and trace” surveillance powers. The reports show a dramatic increase in the use of these surveillance tools, which are used to gather information about telephone, email, and other Internet communications. The revelations underscore the importance of regulating and overseeing the government’s surveillance power. (Our original Freedom of Information Act request and our legal complaint are online.)

Pen register and trap and trace devices are powerfully invasive surveillance tools that were, twenty years ago, physical devices that attached to telephone lines in order to covertly record the incoming and outgoing numbers dialed. Today, no special equipment is required to record this information, as interception capabilities are built into phone companies’ call-routing hardware.

Pen register and trap and trace devices now generally refer to the surveillance of information about—rather than the contents of—communications. Pen registers capture outgoing data, while trap and trace devices capture incoming data. This still includes the phone numbers of incoming and outgoing telephone calls and the time, date, and length of those calls. But the government now also uses this authority to intercept the “to” and “from” addresses of email messages, records about instant message conversations, non-content data associated with social networking identities, and at least some information about the websites that you visit (it isn't entirely clear where the government draws the line between the content of a communication and information about a communication when it comes to the addresses of websites). ...

Complete piece: http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security-technology-and-liberty/new-justice-department-documents-show-huge-increase

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Reply Documents Show Huge Increase in Warrantless Electronic Surveillance (Original post)
limpyhobbler Oct 2012 OP
jody Oct 2012 #1
limpyhobbler Oct 2012 #2
OnyxCollie Oct 2012 #3

Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 08:14 PM

1. As much as I hate the state's desire to be omniscience, wireless communication is over the airwaves

 

and free game for anyone with the tools to capture the data transmitted.

The only effective barrier to warrant less tapping of my cell phone calls, email traffic, and all other internet use is to not communicate in the first place.

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Response to jody (Reply #1)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 08:19 PM

2. I think the gov't is plugged directly into the provider networks.

That's not quite the same as grabbing it out of the air. Not exactly like anyone can intercept it. Unless maybe I read it wrong.

Today, no special equipment is required to record this information, as interception capabilities are built into phone companies’ call-routing hardware.


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Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 12:50 AM

3. The retroactive immunity is really paying off.

K&R

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