Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
United States Privacy

After LinkedIn Clues, FOIA Nets New Details On NSA's ANCHORY Program 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the taking-a-good-look dept.
v3rgEz writes "After the ACLU's Christopher Soghoian highlighted NSA programs listed on LinkedIn, Jason Gulledge filed a request for details about the program — and turned up lucky. The NSA released 7 pages of database descriptions of its ANCHORY program, an open-source intelligence data gathering effort. The NSA's FOIA office said it would pony up more, but only if Gulledge could prove he was requesting the documents as part of a news gathering effort or if he would agree to pay associated fees."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

After LinkedIn Clues, FOIA Nets New Details On NSA's ANCHORY Program

Comments Filter:
  • news gathering effort

    We're gonna need the 9 wise men/women to define "news". Otherwise he could claim something like "I'm writing for my news blog..."

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Does the FOIA even allow for such distinction?

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 25, 2013 @03:30PM (#44384417)

        "or if he would agree to pay associated fees."

        FOIA does allow for this - it's not carte blanche to bankrupt the government with stupid requests for metric tons of paper. FOIA has always allowed for this - they will often waive the fees for 'news stories,' but will charge fees associated with the processing of the requests for private requests.

        • I would have assumed that anything from the NSA in the current climate would constitute as news. Even if it is just a news catalogue.
          He should just say "I solemnly swear that I will post it on the net".

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            And he should definitely make that argument. As long as the disclosure is "in the public interest" and "not for the commercial benefit of the requester," the FOI Officer can opt to reduce or waive the FOIA processing fees. See the rules at: http://www.hhs.gov/foia/45cfr5.html#Subd [hhs.gov]

            Alternately, he could start a Kickstarter project, and ask for donations. I bet there'd be plenty of people who would contribute a few bucks to covering the processing fees the NSA is asking for.

            • Kickstarter doesn't allow for charities, and is VERY strict about what gets on there. I seem to remember reading a 60% approval rate including projects who appeal the initial rejection.

              The spirit of that idea is fantastic though...surely there is another solid crowdfunding site.

            • Wish I had mod points. Thanks for posting this. Useful.

    • Actually, these days the government decides who is a journalist and who is not.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Actually, these days the government decides who is a journalist and who is not.

        Well, IANACL but, to this citizen allowing such a law or precedent would be tantamount to installing a back door into the First Amendment, for if the Government can say who is or isn't a member of the Press then there is NO Freedom of the Press! This is how the Second Amendment has been succumbing to erosion. There is not now, never has been and never will be a law that does not take something away from Freedom.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 25, 2013 @03:18PM (#44384301)

        Journalist = persons who transmit info from a government authorized leaker
        Not a journalist = person who transmits info from non-government authorized leaker

        • by Laxori666 (748529)
          Funny yet also insightful and informative.
        • Don't you really mean:

          Journalist = persons who transmit info from a government authorized leaker
          Terrorist = person who transmits info from non-government authorized leaker

      • by tacokill (531275) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @03:34PM (#44384457)
        A journalist is a person who reports things that people don't want reported. Anything else is public relations.
    • you dont need nine, just five and the rest could be prairie dogs as far as the law is concerned... as long as nobody knows they are prairie dogs. <_<;

  • Prove why? (Score:5, Informative)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @02:40PM (#44383911) Homepage Journal

    WTH is that about? I'm an American and i want to know what my government is doing. .That should be valid enough of a reason.

    • Fees and "news" (Score:5, Informative)

      by Typical Slashdotter (2848579) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @03:01PM (#44384143)
      Complying with FOIA requests can be expensive, especially for an organization like the NSA which will have to conduct a thorough review to make sure nothing's classified. The FOIA permits agencies to charge fees to cover these expenses (see foia.gov's description of costs [foia.gov]). When disclosure of the information is "in the public" interest, the agency can waive these fees [foia.gov].
      • The presumption that all the information shouldn't be public knowledge before we allow such programs to operate is detrimental to a free society.
        • Ex-CIA chief Michael Hayden thinks transparency is not a virtue. That is, as long as we're talking about goverment transparency, and not yours.
          • by slick7 (1703596)

            Ex-CIA chief Michael Hayden thinks transparency is not a virtue. That is, as long as we're talking about goverment transparency, and not yours.

            The Criminals In Action think transporting heroin from Afghanistan to America without repurcussions or paying taxes is the perfect business model. Why would you believe anything they say?

      • by click2005 (921437) *

        It shouldn't be that hard or expensive, they already have lots of computers to search for data.

      • I'm sure the NSA would be perfectly happy to send you ALL the data they have stored, as long as you're willing to accept it in paper hardcopy and am willing to pay the cost of doing it. All 1.3 Petabytes of it...
      • by manu0601 (2221348)

        Complying with FOIA requests can be expensive

        Keeping your political system healthy has a price.

  • It seems that the way we use digital methods to publish even these silly posts on Slashdot would qualify as a free press. Whenever you hit "submit", you are publishing. Period. Even if you're a complete jackass, a troll, a spammer, or a botnet.

    • A blogger likely would qualify as press for this purpose (but he'd still have to request the waiver). The FOIA has this provision to try to make sure that agencies don't spend inordinate time and money complying with requests that are just for the financial gain of the company/person making them.
      • It seems to me that the professional journalists are more likely than just about anyone else to use these for financial gain, and I don't see that the first amendment allows the government to differentiate based on fiscal incentive for the requesting parties.

      • The data should be available by default. Part of any unclassified government purchase order should include keeping accessible records. We are NECK DEEP into the Information Age, its time we demand more access.
    • It seems that the way we use digital methods to publish even these silly posts on Slashdot would qualify as a free press. Whenever you hit "submit", you are publishing. Period. Even if you're a complete jackass, a troll, a spammer, or a botnet.

      And, in fact, look at the bottom of the page, and you'll notice that whatever you post is copyrighted.

      Although a really complete jackass shouldn't be wasting time here. That's what talk radio is for. Why be a jackass for free when you can make millions doing it?

      • Being a complete jackass doesn't guarantee a person has ambition. I've known an awful lot of lazy jackasses.

        • Being a complete jackass doesn't guarantee a person has ambition. I've known an awful lot of lazy jackasses.

          But you can be a fat, lazy, drug-sozzled idiot who spends 2 hours a day or so yakking on the radio and own a mansion in Palm Beach. We have living proof of that!

          • We have several television channels that exist specifically so people with the same fine character traits on the opposite end of the political spectrum can do exactly the same thing, so I'm not going to join you in singling out a single radio host when there are so many worse people out there. Rev. Sharpton comes to mind.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "if he would agree to pay associated fees."

    If this isn't a kickstarter that gets funded in 45 minutes, we are doomed as a nation. Finally, a way for Kickstarter to get back in the good graces of the internet after that whole "Veronica Mars" thing.

    • by jxander (2605655)

      Only if the NSA is willing to sign, notarize, etc. a document clearly spelling out exactly how much is required, to whom it must be paid, when, etc.

      Otherwise : I am altering the deal. Pray I do not alter it any further.

  • It says a lot about the esteem our government is held in when requesting information about how our tax dollars are being spent, upon reply, is considered equivalent to winning the lottery. Bonus: The NSA will only give additional documentation without charge if you claim you're a journalist. Mere citizenship is not enough!

    • Re:Lucky? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SunTzuWarmaster (930093) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @03:54PM (#44384641) Homepage

      They complied with the request, they sent him the information, and they told him that he could get more. As part of a FOIA request, the agency can charge a fee, http://www.foia.gov/faq.html#cost [foia.gov].

      There is no initial fee required to submit a FOIA request, but the FOIA does provide for the charging of certain types of fees in some instances. For a typical requester the agency can charge for the time it takes to search for records and for duplication of those records. There is usually no charge for the first two hours of search time or for the first 100 pages of duplication.

      They say that they will waive the fee if the information is in the public interest, and that the requester has no financial interest in the matter, http://www.foia.gov/faq.html#fees [foia.gov]. In short, this rule appears to exist to narrow the search.

      You may request a waiver of fees. Under the FOIA fee waivers are limited to situations in which a requester can show that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.

      These rules are quite reasonable and appear to exist so that you can't just say "Tell me everything that the NSA knows about semantic processing" and expect the taxpayer to foot the bill. His request appears to be of the "tell me everything about this project" nature, which can be a time-consuming effort. They prepared a 7-page manuscript for him, with his/our taxpayer dollars. I find their actions reasonable.

      • Shouldn't that data be available by default? Why is every single person who asks on the hook for it? Shouldn't it be part of their mandate to provide free data access considering they are spending OUR money? Shouldnt part of their funding include public accessibility?
  • by gmuslera (3436) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @02:50PM (#44384029) Homepage Journal

    If is open source, under which license? If is agpl, as is used on all of us, should it be released to public?

    Anyway, is not that US government cares about intellectual property of others.

    • by Desler (1608317)

      You're welcome [wikipedia.org].

    • Re:License? (Score:5, Informative)

      by oodaloop (1229816) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @03:12PM (#44384237)
      Open source has another meaning in the intelligence community. Open source refers to unclassified information, such as the internet, newspapers, and other media. It's used as opposed to signals intelligence (SIGINT), human intelligence (HUMINT), etc. Often referred to as Open Source Intelligence (OSINT).

      (IAA Intelligence Analyst)
      • by nsaspook (20301)

        Open source has another meaning in the intelligence community. Open source refers to unclassified information, such as the internet, newspapers, and other media. It's used as opposed to signals intelligence (SIGINT), human intelligence (HUMINT), etc. Often referred to as Open Source Intelligence (OSINT).

        I worked with FBIS in the 70's down in Key West. Cuban TV was pretty cool and totally uncensored when they showed US movies. Fidel had a thing about 'Smokey and the Bandit".
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Broadcast_Information_Service [wikipedia.org]

  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @02:58PM (#44384111)
    I think RMS' head just exploded.
    • Exploded from hatred of Open Source?

    • by Idetuxs (2456206)

      A couple years ago he came to my university to talk about, well.. free software. When he finished his presentation, he would take some questions from the audience to answer. The conference room was full, so It was great to hear doubts and questions answered by sir RMS.

      So, I asked him something like "Is it okay to use free software for military purpose?". To my surprise he said yes.
      Great Isn't it? If a missile is going to be conducted by software, it should be free software! privative software is EVIL!!

      My op

  • Republic.
    Can See You.
    Say. Oh.

  • He should submit a snarky OpEd to the NY Times (or better yet The Register) detailing the hoops US citizens have to jump through to get information from their government. If sufficiently well written he would stand a good chance of getting published. As a now bona fide journalist, he could be granted the remaining information for further publication.

Gee, Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.

Working...