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US Spies Have "Security Agreements" With Foreign Telecoms 181

McGruber writes "The Washington Post is reporting the existence of 'Team Telecom', lawyers from the FBI and the departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security, who ensure that Global Crossing and other foreign-owned telecoms, quickly and confidentially fulfill the USA's surveillance requests. Team Telecom leverages the authority of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to approve cable licenses. The security agreement for Global Crossing, whose fiber-optic network connected 27 nations and four continents, required the company to have a 'Network Operations Center' on U.S. soil that could be visited by government officials with 30 minutes of warning. Surveillance requests, meanwhile, had to be handled by U.S. citizens screened by the government and sworn to secrecy — in many cases prohibiting information from being shared even with the company's executives and directors. A spokesman for Level 3 Communications declined to comment for the Washington Post's article."
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US Spies Have "Security Agreements" With Foreign Telecoms

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  • Yep (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 07, 2013 @11:45AM (#44210233)

    Definetly sounding more and more like 1984 every day... with people opening up their mouths for a taste of frosty piss from the government for first posts.

    • Come on mods - this is one of those rare first posts that is on topic, voicing a valid opinion. It ought to get a +1 funny anyway.

      • The rapid downmods come from secret agent astroturfers.

    • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

      by memnock ( 466995 ) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @02:24PM (#44211283)

      With all this surveillance, it's a wonder there are any large crime rings at all. Yet the rings still seem to thrive.

      • Re:Yep (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 07, 2013 @03:22PM (#44211663)

        With all this surveillance, it's a wonder there are any large crime rings at all. Yet the rings still seem to thrive.

        Large criminal organizations use the same tactics as large legal organizations, i.e. they bribe the relevant people and insert collaborators for leniency and favorable treatment.

      • then they cut their own throat buy losig funding. Image if weed bacame legal, the DEA would lose 10'0's of millions in funding and someone's bonuses would disapear.

        • then they cut their own throat buy losig funding. Image if weed bacame legal, the DEA would lose 10'0's of millions in funding and someone's bonuses would disapear.

          I doubt that would happen, fighting cocain, meth and heroin would easily suck up an extra quarter billion.

      • With all this surveillance, it's a wonder there are any large crime rings at all. Yet the rings still seem to thrive.

        Actually, that's one of the most compelling reasons why not only is what's going on an offense to the spirit of the US Constitution, it's a major waste of taxpayer resources.

        As Isaac Asimov once noted (Foundation Trilogy), the use of statistical methods to predict individual behavior is a flawed concept. And, in fact, one of the most effective ways of deterring terrorism has proven to be the involvement of ordinary civilians on the scene, as witness such events as the Shoe and Underwear bomber incidents.


  • To summarize (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 07, 2013 @11:51AM (#44210277)

    We are shocked. SHOCKED! That the US Government is SPYING on citizens and foreign governments with the assistance of telecoms and leading Internet companies.

    US Congressmen are shocked. SHOCKED!
    European officials are shocked. SHOCKED!
    Slashdot, reddit and cool kids sites are shocked. SHOCKED!
    Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and not so cool not-kids are shocked. SHOCKED!
    Newspapers and universities are shocked. SHOCKED!

    My God what's next... that US businesses might be selling their customer's buying and usage histories to other businesses?

  • by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Sunday July 07, 2013 @11:53AM (#44210291) Homepage

    There is a huge danger in the "we already knew they did this" thinking you see posted everywhere.

    We already had suspicions, and very well founded ones considering AT&T's NSA room, but the information we are getting is different. It has confirmed beyond any doubt those suspicions are true and those who believed them not foil hatters. Why is this important? Because if we do nothing in the face of absolute confirmation, it means that the DC pukes will know they have mandate to do all this and more.

    So quit being complacent "I told you so" time wasters, and get down to working for change. This is quite seriously, a "now or never" moment.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by anagama ( 611277 )

      Yup, in the few minutes it took to type that, AC already got in one of those bullshit comments. []

      Pathetic. Be complacent now and we'll all look like goatse in a few years time, begging for more. And idiots like this AC are gently guiding our hands to our ankles.

      No more complacency!

    • by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @12:00PM (#44210331) Homepage

      Most of the "they already knew this" folks would have called you paranoid if you asserted half of what's been revealed. It's a thin attempt to justify their complacent attitudes, in the face of evidence that radical attitudes were called for all along.

      And hopefully, I'm not going to be called paranoid now when I assert that the government has a social media strategy, and that they know how to play on people's vanities in order to manufacture consent.

      • Within the last year or so I told my Postmaster that all mail was scanned and the data saved. He tried to tell me that they just threw it away after it's used for routing, and wasn't interested in why that was a stupid idea. If I ever see him peek over the counter again, I will get to roll my eyes at him.

      • I'm not going to be called paranoid now when I assert that the government has a social media strategy, and that they know how to play on people's vanities in order to manufacture consent.

        Of course they do. Just this year we got not one, but two Hie Hard remake MURICA FUCK YEAH in PRESIDENT WE TRUST movie blockbusters.

      • by MacDork ( 560499 )

        I'm not going to be called paranoid now when I assert that the government has a social media strategy, and that they know how to play on people's vanities in order to manufacture consent.

        They do, but you will, for the same reasons you mentioned earlier. At the end of the day though, all the wailing and anxiety caused by Snowden's revelations will not lead to much immediate change. Maybe congress will decide its a bad idea to give the executive office this much power. Maybe some European trade agreements will fall through.

        The more important changes will be long term. The next time there's a European ICANN reform proposal, the US will not have a leg to stand on. The next time you submit a clo

      • by s.petry ( 762400 )

        Ahh, my favorite story from Plato's Republic coming to life.. again.. yes it happens all the time. People really should heed my advice and study the book, it's very remarkable how much we can learn from history and politics nearly 2,600 years ago.

        Most people living in the cave will refuse to speak with the escaped prisoner, who tells them they are being held in cave against their will and that there is a whole world they are being kept from. They will fear losing their TV (shadow puppet show playing again

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dryriver ( 1010635 )
      I agree with you, and would like to add another vector to your argument >>> Many of us tech-savvy electronics users strongly suspect that virtually ALL electronic gizmos you can buy contain a hidden hardware or software "backdoor": Everything from mobile phones to tablet computers to smart TVs to business laptops can thus be remotely accessed and spied on with ease by governments interested in doing so. ------ This suspicion (of backdoors built into all electronics) is yet another case where you qu
      • by anagama ( 611277 )

        Yeah -- I wonder this too. I've been thinking about redoing my home desktop with encrypted everything, thinking about going back to a very vanilla OS, wondering if it should be Linux or BSD --- and yet I still question if it even matters from a technical point of view. I have no idea what's really on my mobo.

        As for phones, I would bet that is much more likely considering how there is so much less hardware diversity than there is with PCs, plus they're the perfect bugs with video and audio capability: no n

      • by klui ( 457783 )

        According to either the Guardian or Washington Post, the NSA did have meetings at Intel.

    • by cultiv8 ( 1660093 ) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @12:11PM (#44210387) Homepage
      So Restore the Fourth [] and Fight for the Future []. Attend rallies like this one [] last week, support privacy advocates [], sign the petition [] to shut down the NSA Utah data center, or hell the petition to pardon Snowden [].
      • by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Sunday July 07, 2013 @12:28PM (#44210483) Homepage

        Yeah, the Seattle restorethe4th rally was scheduled for July 6 at noon at Westlake Center/Park. It was about 80 degrees yesterday, and not a cloud in the sky.

        I showed up after driving for an hour and half, walked around in circles looking for the protest. I saw three cop cars, three ambulances, a dozen cops, and a Jesus Freak with a sign asking "what does Jesus mean to you".

        I didn't break out my sign -- I figured it would be bad PR to have a protest only as big as Jesus Freaks could muster, because that makes the issue easily dismissed, ignored, and made fun of.

        Posting web pages and not doing anything ... is not fucking doing anything. It is unbelievable to me that Anonymous can organize large protests against the CoS, a group that harms a tiny fraction of the world's population, but Seattle can't get 10 people to show up to protest an issue that threatens almost every person on the planet. That's fucking appalling.

        • We had about 200 people in Boston. Not a huge protest but we got good press and everything went really smoothly, the message was focused and police escorted us the whole way without issue.

        • by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @04:54PM (#44212165)

          Posting web pages and not doing anything ... is not fucking doing anything. It is unbelievable to me that Anonymous can organize large protests against the CoS, a group that harms a tiny fraction of the world's population,

          Protesting on a limited scale does pretty much nothing as well. It works only to bring awareness to a problem that the majority will actively deal with if they become aware. The protests in the Arab world were only successful because they lead to violence, and as such lead to a change in regime. In our country, the majority already are aware of the problem. No one is willing to escalate it to the level of violence because the resulting civil war would be devastating if successful, and painfully bad for the losers (likely the protesters) otherwise. Most people still hold out the hope that normal democratic process' can be used to fix the problem, and will only resort to violent protests when it becomes unavoidably apparent that nothing else will work.

          It is not the spying, nor the increasingly antisocial behavior of our government that concerns me. As long as the military maintains its strictly apolitical stance, I am not worried that our leaders will gain too much power, but sometime in the near future, I see a tipping point when our elected government will do something that will force the military leaders to make a nasty decision. The result of that decision will determine the course of events. If the military decides on the side of we the people, there will probably be an ugly coup and forced military ouster Ala Mohammed Morsi. If the military comes down the other way, there will be a bloody civil war, the outcome of which is anybody's guess.

          • Most people still hold out the hope that normal democratic process' can be used to fix the problem

            And yet they still vote for the same idiots again and again.

          • by jonwil ( 467024 )

            The problem is that most people continue to believe the government when they say "if we dont listen to most of the worlds communications, America is at risk of being hit with a terror attack that makes 9/11 look tiny by comparison" (even though the RIGHT way to catch the terrorists is to stop collecting all this data and spend money on more PEOPLE. People who can analyze the data they do have to find the one needle in the haystack that points to the next bad guys. People who can interpret satellite/drone/sp

          • the outcome of which is anybody's guess.

            No guess needed. Just look to the overcrowded US prison system for your answer. Lots of people living in subhuman conditions many held under false pretenses or rigged court systems.

    • Well said and well written, except for the "DC pukes" part ( but then again, yours truly lives not in the USA, so what the heck ). I already got to work: teaching my partner how to conduct encrypted email conversations, for example. And preparing to vote for a party, here, vigorously opposing any spying on citizens.
    • by Smivs ( 1197859 )
      Lots of righteous indignation, shock and outrage, but one serious question not yet answered. And who better than the /. crowd to ask.
      In real, practical terms, what can we actually, really do about this?
      • The first thing is to contact your representatives and ask them what they think. If they're in favor of what the NSA has been doing, you politely let them know that they are politically dead to you. From there, who knows? At least it's a start.
      • by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Sunday July 07, 2013 @12:48PM (#44210615) Homepage

        As just one thing, vow that you will not vote for any candidate who does not support a full and complete pardon for Snowden. Even if you think your candidate is a "lesser evil" -- all that has gotten us is whole bunch of evil. Make the politicians fear for their jobs.

        Send donations to charities that do good work in nations that will harbor Snowden. Yesterday I emailed public contact addresses at the embassies for Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Boliva requesting suggestions. I hope I get some, but if that doesn't work, there's always google.

        It is important to talk about the issues and protest them, but it is even more important to take concrete steps in support of those issues.

        • by Anachragnome ( 1008495 ) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @01:01PM (#44210693)

          My wife and I have a rule that we began applying last election cycle. If there is any doubt about a particular race that we are voting on (after doing research on each candidate, of course), we apply a simple formula--vote the incumbent out.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            If by "incumbent" you just mean the guy in the chair, then you're not doing anyone any favors. The "incumbent" is and has been the Democrat/Republican machine.

        • by fufufang ( 2603203 ) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @03:03PM (#44211561)

          As just one thing, vow that you will not vote for any candidate who does not support a full and complete pardon for Snowden. Even if you think your candidate is a "lesser evil" -- all that has gotten us is whole bunch of evil. Make the politicians fear for their jobs.

          And you shouldn't be afraid of voting a third-party candidate. Candidates in the Republican/Democrat parties do respond to those third-parties, if the race between the is close, as they want to get as many votes as they can.

      • by Pav ( 4298 )

        My contribution to ideas:

        1) Talk to family and friends about exactly why you think this is horrendous. Perhaps some humour like this [] or this [] might help make your message more palatable, and make them know that you're far from the only person with these concerns. Let them know that the tech world is FURIOUS about this because our community is very aware of what's at stake.

        2) Protecting yourself online is not easy, and may be too complicated for non-IT people at the moment, but there are some simple solutio

        • by anagama ( 611277 )

          Might also want to point this article out when they says they have nothing to hide and don't care:

 [] then click on the link to his article: âoeWhy did you shoot me? I was reading a bookâ: The new warrior cop is out of control
          (for some reason, salon put a " in the URL which makes linking to the article directly really hard).

          Sending in the SWAT team to break up home poker games for example.

          More ominous, using the SWAT team to conduct warrantless searches of bu

          • Things like this degrade any kind of uniform to mere gang-colours.

            If you think this is only an issue in teh US, think again. In Germany we just recently had a high-profile case that backfired on the coppers/DA in ways beyond comedy.

            After a anti-Nazi rally a preacher who organized a youth club got charged for inciting violence. The cops testified that he called for them, to be pelted with rocks. Furthermore they testified that he had sheltered a violent protester in his mini-bus.
            In court they presented
    • The Republicans like this on principle, and the Democrats like it as long as their man is in charge. So there will be no change.

    • My later comment concerning the ownership of so many, if not the vast majority, of foreign telecoms by private equity firms (private banbs/leveraged buyout firms) such as Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, etc., also regards AT&T, reconstituted thanks to Billy Clinton's signing of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and historically owned by the Rockefellers, and very recently granted immunity from prosecution in their part in warrantless wiretapping, said legislation spearheaded through congress thanks t
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 07, 2013 @12:11PM (#44210391)

    This casts a new light on Facebook, Google and Microsoft executives' denials of the NSA having "direct access" to their servers. Maybe the executives are not cleared to know what their tech staffs are doing, and the tech staffs are gagged from telling them. This won't kill the Cloud for users (many value convenience over privacy) but for anyone with confidential information, or entrusted with the private information of others - they don't know who they can really trust and what their liability will be.

    People don't enjoy feeling duped. It's psychologically easier to believe that you knew this all along and you are not surprised.

  • by trifish ( 826353 ) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @12:13PM (#44210407)

    If they treat us citizens of the EU as potential enemies who can be legally spied upon, I consider it a crime if the EU official co-operates with the US. A crime against me, as one of their voter, who are the only party that gives them any kind of power.

    • That's not how it works. Your EU country spies on it's EU citizens at the request of whoever wants the information. It would be a gross waste of effort for every country to have to spy on every other country. Allies share information.

      • Precisely. They spy on each other's citizens and exchange data in order to circumvent "don't spy on your own" laws. All Western countries are complicit in this. Which is why only politicians in opposition scream bloody murder while everybody else tries to smudge it all over. With a few exceptions.

        Snowden hasn't only embarrassed the US but the whole "Free World".
  • This kinda sounds like it to me.

  • Proper compliance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @12:37PM (#44210531) Homepage

    There's at least one US cellular provider which annoys the FBI by obeying the law. They have a contact point for interception requests. That phone is answered by their lawyers, who check the validity of the request before anything happens. If it's an "emergency" request prior to a court order, they insist that the requesting law enforcement agent sign a form.

    The form requires full identification of the law enforcement officer, their contact information, and their supervisor's contact information. The officer must certify that a proper court order will be requested and provided to the telco within a specified number of days. The law enforcement officer has to agree that their agency will indemnify the telco in the event of any later legal dispute, and that should the agency fail to do so, the officer will be personally responsible for any penalties or legal expenses incurred by the telco.

    That's what CALEA says a telco is supposed to do. The FBI hates being accountable like that.

  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <> on Sunday July 07, 2013 @12:38PM (#44210537) Homepage

    More added to the snowball that Edward Snowden started rolling. I accept that a certain amount of targetted monitoring is needed, but what we are being shown is on a different scale. What really annoys me is how the politicians have lied and told us that we should not worry our silly little heads. Now is the time to hold the politicians to account -- not accept the ''I will not discuss operations'' answers that they fob us off with. Time for honesty and heads to roll.

    It will be interesting to see how much attention the mainstream media pay to this or if they will try to bury it.

    • "Trust us" when this involves trusting they follow the rules voluntarily is a crock of poop.

      Snowden claimed, and tested, that he could listen in on phone calls of important people without warrant and without setting off alarms.

      It would be trivial for either party, or other large factions with connections, to insert an operative among hundreds or thousands of agents who listens in on political opponents. Prevention of that is the most important part of unreasonable search, not them listening to you wishin

  • by water-and-sewer ( 612923 ) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @12:42PM (#44210575) Homepage

    Dude, why so surprised? You read it here first: []

    From the dictator's handbook, chapter nine:
    You own the hardware. Internet access passes through the infrastructure of your state-owned telecommunications systems, or at least the infrastructure of private telecoms that depend on your goodwill for their existence and continued operations. As such, you have a high degree of control over what information enters and exits your national territory. The Chinese have proven you can safely filter out âoeharmfulâ information from the outside without stifling economic activity.[180]

    You control the purse-strings. The Internet is run by corporations, and corporations are most influenced by economic, not political considerations. Google was forced out of China by economics, not human rights concerns; both Twitter and Facebook have refused to join the Global Network Initiative (an organization focused on the right to expression and privacy). Research in Motion (RIM) offered access to its otherwise encrypted and protected messaging servers as soon as Bahrain asked for them, prompting other nations to do the same.9.1

    No better resource than the Internet has ever existed with which an individualâ(TM)s life and movements can be tracked via their cyber footprints by any curious autocrat. Imperial Russiaâ(TM)s Okhrana, the East German Stasi, and the Soviet KGB: each was feared for its ability to track and monitor its prey. But they would be astonished with how much easier technology has made their work.

  • ..reveals some upcoming /. titles:

    US spies on non-US citizens
    Western countries spy on US citizens
    Western countries spy on Western citizens
    Western countries spy on non-Western citizens
    Non-Western countries spy on US citizens
    Non-Western countries spy on Western citizens
    Non-Western countries spy on non-Western citizens
    US spies share information with Western spies
    US spies share information with non-Western spies
    Western spies share information with non-Western spies
    US spies on US social networking
  • by sgt_doom ( 655561 ) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @02:14PM (#44211227)
    Duuuuhhh. . . last we checked, most those "foreign telecoms" were owned by private equity/leveraged buyout firms such as Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, et al. Of course, the banksters (private equity category) who have long been the Wall Street overseers of the Financial-Intelligence-Complex will control the global telecommunications, as they control the global news, etc.

    Should be rather obvious by this time. . .
  • Any telecom who wants to claim to provide security cannot have any US office, branch, subsidiary head office or holding company in the US or any part of its empire.

    Happily, this will still leave them 95% of the planet to do business on. A small sacrifice to ensure acceptable practice.

    The flip side of this is that any provider that is vulnerable to illegal actions from US spooks cannot reliably claim to have any security. And all this is before they start to consider their own legal system.

  • At least this isn't another story about China hacking us, putting backdoors into everything, stealing nuclear secrets, etc etc etc while the US appears to have zero technical abilities whatsoever. It turns out we're just better at hiding stuff like that. I find it extremely comforting and somewhat unsurprising really. Us hacking stuff, spying on stuff with backdoors, etc really evens the odds in cyber war and it was there all along.

The game of life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later with astounding accuracy.