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United States Cellphones Privacy

The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call In the Bahamas 205

Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes "The National Security Agency is secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio of virtually every cell phone conversation on the island nation of the Bahamas. According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the surveillance is part of a top-secret system – code-named SOMALGET – that was implemented without the knowledge or consent of the Bahamian government. Instead, the agency appears to have used access legally obtained in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to open a backdoor to the country's cellular telephone network, enabling it to covertly record and store the 'full-take audio' of every mobile call made to, from and within the Bahamas – and to replay those calls for up to a month."
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The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call In the Bahamas

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  • the question is (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fche ( 36607 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @05:37PM (#47041559)

    .. what will the Bahama government/people do - will they sue the US for the presumable crime of breaking into their phone system?

  • by mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @06:23PM (#47041921)

    Based on the number of proportional font memos with a blacked out second country name, it shouldn't be too hard to narrow down the other country (in addition to the Bahamas) for which "full retrieval" was possible.

    I mean, it's not Laos, and it's not Nagorno-Karabakh, but with a known font, you could narrow it down pretty quickly based on the redacted images.

    https://prod01-cdn00.cdn.first... [firstlook.org]
    And here:
    https://prod01-cdn02.cdn.first... [firstlook.org]

  • Re:and the answer is (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JMJimmy ( 2036122 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @07:05PM (#47042147)

    As if a country like the Bahamas can do anything like that. The US is the only country they could hook into for internet infrastructure without running a cable to South America or Mexico.

    The US also flies unmarked helos in Bahamas airspace - the DEA would do low level flights up and down the island of Eleuthera looking for crops and attempting to follow drug mules. The mules would drop the drugs off on the south end of the island, transfer from boat to a truck, drive up to the north end of the island and dump them on another boat to get around satellite surveillance. It's scary seeing an unmarked Apache 30 feet off the deck fly over as you're laying on the beach.

  • Re:Cayman Islands? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jahoda ( 2715225 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @07:31PM (#47042329) Homepage
    1) It seems much more likely they do monitor the Cayman Islands in a similar fashion than them not monitoring them.

    2) What you say is indeed humorous, but what isn't funny is that we know that the purpose has never been to catch criminals, it is to catch people doing things contrary to the interests of the state, conduct corporate espionage, and/or gather useful blackmail-worthy information for use at a future time.
  • Re:Favoritism. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @07:40PM (#47042401)

    The US has aggressively been targeting tax evaders since about 2008. They've collected billions in back taxes, penalties and interest. Most haven't gone to jail because they are using the government's amnesty program that grants amnesty from criminal charges and partial penalty relief (but still typically takes better than 50% of the value of the accounts often far more than the taxes and interest).

    The interesting bit is each year you don't come forward the amount of penalties they reduce goes down. If you took them up in 2008 you got a pretty decent deal, not so in 2014. With the steady decrease in what they will forgive they are setting the stage for genuine criminal prosecutions once the amnesty programs winds down in a few more years. IIRC the IRS has estimated they've discovered and taxed better than 50% of the hidden accounts and the people coming forward goes up each year because of the agreements the US is striking with other nations is revealing the tax cheats. Fact is you either come forward using the amnesty program and take your lumps or in a few years you could be looking at jail time.

  • Re:the question is (Score:4, Interesting)

    by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @08:07PM (#47042625)

    That worked once in Cuba. After the Dominican Republic, Panama and Grenada the track record of that kind of strategy looks like poking the wrong end of the 82nd Airborne.

  • the question is (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2014 @09:12PM (#47042963)

    I love how your response is "what will THOSE people do" not "what will WE do", like the NSA is significantly more careful with our rights, or like us and them are separate groups. Obviously military intelligence is completely out of control and doing whatever they have the means to regardless of morality or law. I guess people like you are waiting for some kind of referendum to vote against NSA power. IT'S NOT COMING. The people we've allowed the wrong people to make decisions for us. If one doesn't see that, one is blind, and an obstruction that must be removed immediately. Do you think they're going to serve you the option to take their power away on some kind of platter crafted of precious metals? Do you think it's possible to make big enough waves from the bottom of the power structure up to make a change in the government's behavior?

    Time for revolution.

  • Re:the question is (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Monday May 19, 2014 @09:18PM (#47043001)
    They didn't with Grenada but apparently Thatcher verbally tore strips off Reagan in a prolonged phone call afterwards.
  • Re:the question is (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @03:55AM (#47044393) Homepage

    How about an invasion of the Bahamas and the arrest and imprisonment of all those person involved in the tax evasion industry. That call monitoring is all about gathering data for corporate and political blackmail to do with hundreds of billions of tax evaded currency from all over the world. As for the Bahamians, you want to play tax haven and steal other countries social services and actively profiting from money handling for organised crime, well 'FUCK YOU' and I hope you get it hard and painful, really fucking hard and really fucking painful.

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.