Who’s Your Buddy? NSA Gathering Hundreds of Millions of Contact Lists and “Buddy Lists” From Americans

President_Barack_Obama200px-national_security_agencysvgThe Obama Administration — with the clear support of Democratic and Republic leadership — has continued to eviscerate privacy in the United States despite recent controversies over NSA spying on Americans. The most recent report details how the National Security Agency is collecting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts, including those of Americans. The reported collection program is a new operation that intercepts e-mail address books and “buddy lists” from instant messaging services. It is the latest effort by the Obama Administration to turn this into a fishbowl society where citizens and their associations are entirely transparent to the government. Once again, the most amazing aspect of this story is the complete lack of response or outcry. President Obama has succeeded, it seems, in changing the expectations of privacy in our society — a change that is unlikely to be reversed to the great detriment of civil liberties in America. It is the latest example of why it is increasingly curious for Americans to refer to this country as “the land of the free” as we construct a massive internal security state and unchecked executive powers.

The report states that the NSA is gathering contact lists in large numbers that amount to a sizable fraction of the world’s e-mail and instant messaging accounts. In single day last year, the NSA’s Special Source Operations branch has reportedly collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers. This includes a daily collection of an estimated 500,000 buddy lists on live-chat services as well as from the “in-box” displays of Web-based e-mail accounts. That would translate to a staggering collection rate of more than 250 million per year.

These programs are creating a government databank system that allows the government to observe and track virtually every contract and association of a person’s life. It is the total awareness system that we thought we had killed under Bush. Of course, it is now Barack Obama creating this security state so Democrats are not just silent but supportive of the effort. He will of course leave office at some point and leave this security system as his legacy. He will be able to claim (if he was willing to admit it) that he left this country less free than he found it. And Democrats will have secured a place of unrivaled hypocrisy if they try to later oppose the same powers in a Republican president.

Source: Washington Post

106 thoughts on “Who’s Your Buddy? NSA Gathering Hundreds of Millions of Contact Lists and “Buddy Lists” From Americans”

  1. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to
    be really something that I think I would never understand.

    It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me.
    I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  2. “Maybe, as members of Congress and others start to live their lives under the cloud of NSA surveillance, will we see the strong response that is needed.”

    No, we won’t. The reason is that members of Congress LIKE being members of Congress, and will change their position to support whatever their NSA blackmailer tells them…at least if they’ve done some of the things that I’ve done.

  3. “President Obama has succeeded, it seems, in changing the expectations of privacy in our society”

    President Obama shouldn’t get all the credit. Mark Zuckerburg’s Facebook and reality tv shows have made voyeurism and exhibitionism mainstream. Expectations of privacy also ebbed away as kids got used to being monitored and watched every second of the day and adults got used to doing the watching.

    President Obama is just trying to nail the coffin shut.

    “This is the way [privacy] ends
    This is the way [privacy] ends
    This is the way [privacy] ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper.”

    T.S. Eliot, say it ain’t so. Can’t we instead “not go gentle into that good night”?

  4. NSA Director Keith Alexander is resigning his post. His civilian deputy, John “Chris” Inglis will be leaving before the end of the year. Recall that Alexander was caught lying to the Senate recently about all those terrorist plots stopped by his surveillance system, except it didn’t happen.

  5. anonymously posted: Quote from NSA statement “We are Americans first, last, and always. We treasure the U.S. Constitution and understand that a spirited debate is often a necessary precursor to acceptance.” (selected tweets follow)”

    That sounds to me like “ya’ll can gripe about it all you want but it’s here to stay”.

    Maybe I just have a hearing problem.

  6. “What is SecureDrop?”


    “SecureDrop is an open-source whistleblower submission system that media organizations can install to accept documents from anonymous sources. It was originally coded by the late Aaron Swartz, with assistance from Wired editor Kevin Poulsen and security expert James Dolan. The project was previously called DeadDrop. Freedom of the press Foundation took over management of the project in October 2013.”

  7. https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/securedrop#contact

    What is SecureDrop?

    SecureDrop is an open-source whistleblower submission system that media organizations can install to accept documents from anonymous sources. It was originally coded by the late Aaron Swartz, with assistance from Wired editor Kevin Poulsen and security expert James Dolan. The project was previously called DeadDrop. Freedom of the press Foundation took over management of the project in October 2013.

  8. Court Rejects Appeal Bid by Writer in Leak Case

    Published: October 15, 2013


    WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Tuesday declined to hear an appeal by James Risen, an author and a reporter for The New York Times, who was ordered in July to testify in the trial of a former Central Intelligence Agency official accused of leaking information to him.
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    The decision, by the full United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, is expected to set up an appeal by Mr. Risen to the Supreme Court in what has become a major case over the scope and limitations of First Amendment press freedoms.

    “We are disappointed by the Fourth Circuit’s ruling,” said Joel Kurtzberg, a lawyer for Mr. Risen. “My client remains as resolved as ever to continue fighting.”

    In July, a three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled in a 2-to-1 decision to order Mr. Risen to testify in the trial of the C.I.A. officer, Jeffrey Sterling. It is rare for a full appeals court to grant petitions to rehear cases that have already been decided by a panel. Still, the vote count was notably lopsided: 13 voted to reject the petition, while only Judge Roger L. Gregory, who had cast the dissenting vote in July, wanted to grant it.

    A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. The Obama administration had urged the appeals court not to rehear the matter, saying the ruling by the panel had been correct and that no reconsideration of the matter was justified.

    Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. recently issued new guidelines for leak investigations that are intended to offer greater protections against subpoenas involving reporters’ phone calls or testimony, and the Obama administration has backed legislation in Congress that would create a federal statute giving judges greater power to quash such subpoenas.

    Still, under Mr. Holder, the Justice Department has pursued Mr. Risen’s testimony for years as part of a broader crackdown on leaks. The case against Mr. Sterling is one of seven such cases it has brought, compared with three under all previous administrations; an eighth, against Chelsea Manning, formerly Pfc. Bradley Manning — who was convicted of giving files to WikiLeaks — was handled by military prosecutors.

    The judges who rejected Mr. Risen’s appeal did not explain their votes, but Judge Gregory wrote a brief dissent reprising his view that reporters should have some legal protection from being forced to testify against an alleged source. Calling the issue raised by the case one of “exceptional importance,” he said that for “public opinion to serve as a meaningful check on governmental power, the press must be free to report to the people the government’s use (or misuse) of that power.”

    He also wrote that “some reporters, including the one in this case, may be imprisoned for failing to reveal their sources, even though reporters seek only to shed light on the workings of our government in the name of its citizens.”

    Mr. Risen has said he would go to prison rather than comply with a judicial order to testify about his sources, and on Tuesday he said, “I am determined to keep fighting.”

    It is unclear whether the Constitution gives any protection to journalists from being required to testify against their alleged sources in criminal trials.

    The main Supreme Court precedent on the topic, which is more than four decades old, involved grand jury investigations rather than trials, and it is considered by many legal scholars to be ambiguous. Mr. Risen’s case could provide clarity — one way or the other — about the scope of the First Amendment’s protections to reporters.

  9. Randy & Jill,
    No one is “censoring” comments. As I mentioned yesterday, seems that Askimet (the spam filter people) have the filter set to “Extra Grumpy.” We have no control over that; it is provided by WordPress.

    Let someone know if your comment disappears. It will be rescued unless it contains more than two links, one of the four words not allowed, or something that could get both you and the professor sued. I just pulled one of Randy’s comments out of the spam filter.

    We have figured out long comments with a lot of formatting are more likely to be intercepted, but have no explanation for short ones. One more thing. If the spam filter grabs one of your comments and it is not rescued, there seems to be at least a chance Askimet will identify your IP or username as a suspected spammer. If that happens, subsequent comments might be blocked.

    If you make a long comment you put a lot of effort in, suggest you copy and save to a text file just in case. As Gene mentioned earlier this morning, sometimes it swallows a comment whole and disappears it. I had that happen to an entire story I was working on for the weekend.

  10. http://world.time.com/2013/10/14/greenwald-on-snowden-leaks-the-worst-is-yet-to-come/

    Greenwald on Snowden Leaks: The Worst Is Yet to Come

    By Vivienne Walt / Rio de Janeiro @vivwaltOct. 14, 201394 Comments



    Although four months have passed since Edward Snowden’s explosive NSA surveillance leaks, the most revealing details have not yet been published, and could be rolled out in the international media over the coming weeks and months, beginning with U.S. spying activities involving Spain and France. That’s according to Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who broke the Snowden story last June, and whose life has been drastically upturned since. “There are a lot more stories,” he said on Monday in Rio de Janeiro, where he lives. “The archives are so complex and so deep and so shocking, that I think the most shocking and significant stories are the ones we are still working on, and have yet to publish.”

  11. Jill,

    I wondered… (: I tried to post a portion of the article but, when that didn’t work, I went with the link.

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