Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government Privacy United States Yahoo! Communications Network Networking Software The Internet Technology Your Rights Online

Yahoo Email Scan Shows US Spy Push To Recast Constitutional Privacy (reuters.com) 65

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Yahoo Inc's secret scanning of customer emails at the behest of a U.S. spy agency is part of a growing push by officials to loosen constitutional protections Americans have against arbitrary governmental searches, according to legal documents and people briefed on closed court hearings. The order on Yahoo from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) last year resulted from the government's drive to change decades of interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment right of people to be secure against "unreasonable searches and seizures," intelligence officials and others familiar with the strategy told Reuters. The unifying idea, they said, is to move the focus of U.S. courts away from what makes something a distinct search and toward what is "reasonable" overall. The basis of the argument for change is that people are making much more digital data available about themselves to businesses, and that data can contain clues that would lead to authorities disrupting attacks in the United States or on U.S. interests abroad. While it might technically count as a search if an automated program trawls through all the data, the thinking goes, there is no unreasonable harm unless a human being looks at the result of that search and orders more intrusive measures or an arrest, which even then could be reasonable. Civil liberties groups and some other legal experts said the attempt to expand the ability of law enforcement agencies and intelligence services to sift through vast amounts of online data, in some cases without a court order, was in conflict with the Fourth Amendment because many innocent messages are included in the initial sweep. But the general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Robert Litt, said in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday that the legal interpretation needed to be adjusted because of technological changes.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Yahoo Email Scan Shows US Spy Push To Recast Constitutional Privacy

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    perhaps its time for paid email service that has more protections.

    • Oh, you mean like Lavabit?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yes, actually, like Lavabit. He fought the good fight, and held out as long as he could reasonably be expected to.

    • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2016 @08:55PM (#53534797)

      With NSLs it doesn't matter whether they're public, private, free, or paid. The problem is the politicians who are passing abusive laws.

      • With NSLs it doesn't matter whether they're public, private, free, or paid. The problem is the politicians who are passing abusive laws.

        Okay, then an offshore paid service might be the answer.

  • Strict scrutiny (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Courts need to apply strict scrutiny to mass surveillance. That means questioning whether the measures are sufficient to significantly reduce terrorism, but that the measures are also the least restrictive way to do so. Because this involves the Bill of Rights, strict scrutiny needs to be applied. If mass surveillance was truly necessary and effective at preventing terrorism, I'd support it. However, it's not, nor does that reasoning apply to the prevention of most other crimes that are typically cited as j

    • Re:Strict scrutiny (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ASDFnz ( 472824 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2016 @07:57PM (#53534561)

      I get where you are going but the US has been into mass surveillance for so damn long with the approval of the American public it has only been a matter of time before those techniques are focused back on their own populous (I say that knowing full well that they probably already have).

      I don't think there is any turning back now, it is like only finding out about the slippery slope when you are already at the bottom unfortunately. I don't think the "it is alright to spy on everyone else, just not us" permission that was given to the US government by the US people was intended to turn out like this but there you have it.

      • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2016 @08:41PM (#53534749) Journal

        > the US has been into mass surveillance for so damn long with the approval of the American public ... I don't think there is any turning back now

        I don't see public opinion forcing major changes, except possibly as part of a larger party platform, if for example the Libertarian party came to power of the next 20 years.

        However, the Constitution already bars unreasonable searches, and the Supreme Court can strike down the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, without any massive political movement or cooperation from any government agency. In fact, the Southern District has already struck down the section of the Patriot Act which allows National Security Letters. The court ruled that the NSA mass phone records program was unconstitutional. That's already happened, and more decisions along those lines may be coming.

    • Re:Strict scrutiny (Score:4, Insightful)

      by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2016 @10:25PM (#53535083) Journal
      AC that should have been the result of the Church Committee in the mid 1970's https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] who had to look into the domestic spying role of the NSA and CIA.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was the fix to allow the NSA to spy globally and to totally stop any new domestic spying issues.
      Now US agencies are again looking into all email use to see if they can find some trace of a code or part of a code with no domestic oversight or protections.
      The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution should protect the USA domestically from any such color of law, acts, findings, security letters or any other not "legal" attempts at domestic spying.
    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      How is that going to work? Standing to bring a court challenge requires either damages which will not exist if you are not charged or evidence of unlawful surveillance which will not exist because of parallel construction. So while the courts may be sympathetic, and I do not think they are, challenging the surveillance is not practical whether it is lawful or not.

      And if you do get standing, the government can play the national security card.

  • Internal emails show the same thing happened (and is happening) in both Canada (starting in the 1950s) and the UK (more recently).

    Rights must be refreshed with the blood of spies occasionally.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "While it might technically count as a search if an automated program trawls through all the data, the thinking goes, there is no unreasonable harm unless a human being looks at the result of that search..."

    If you have an automated search through all data, and then humans are informed of every case where further investigation will occur it is exactly the same as having complete and full investigation of all data. Note also the criteria for search are set by the watchers, and can be changed at any time.

    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      "While it might technically count as a search if an automated program trawls through all the data, the thinking goes, there is no unreasonable harm unless a human being looks at the result of that search..."

      If you have an automated search through all data, and then humans are informed of every case where further investigation will occur it is exactly the same as having complete and full investigation of all data. Note also the criteria for search are set by the watchers, and can be changed at any time.

      Or you could go the other way. If the data was searched then it was seized which also requires a warrant whether the data was searched or not.

  • If you want a lessening of the restrictions placed on your godsforsaken cursed asses, get a fucking AMENDMENT.

    Best of luck, you're going to fucking need it.

    What you're doing is VERY MUCH ILLEGAL. In fact, those little orders where you had a SECRET court, which is IN VIOLATION of the Constitution, are also in violation of the Constitution. There is no "reasonable" qualification in the Fourth Amendment. And...as rightly observed by the Supreme Court in Marbury v. Madison...

    Thus, the particular phraseology

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2016 @07:40PM (#53534469) Homepage
    If a tree falls in the forest, and the only robot that heard it only logs the metadata, does it make the parallel construction to implicate it in the 2001 World Trade Center Bombings to aid in justifying a clear-cut logging operation?
  • by WolfgangVL ( 3494585 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2016 @07:42PM (#53534477)

    "Plebs are already sharing all of this personal information with various online services anyway, why cant we just have the data they are already giving away?"

    I personally enjoy my dangerous privacy/freedom over some illusion of safety at the expense of my keeping personal papers and effects to myself. To that effect, I don't use cloud services, I handle my own communications and pay a premium for privacy when its to much of a hassle to handle something on my own hardware/software.

    On the other hand, my countrymen choose to trade their personal details away, and willingly track their own every move, in exchange for free email and instant communications. That is not enough of a reason to take from my choice to not willingly hand over a log of my daily activities and shopping habits, nor is it justification for my government to collect all of this data "just in case"

    You want MY data? Pay for it. It is not on the barter table.

  • by penandpaper ( 2463226 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2016 @07:43PM (#53534481) Journal

    Well, it's a private business so there is no expectations of "rights" when using their service, right? A private company can work with the government for any manner of searchers that are not protected because a private company is free to do with their data as they please and as a user you have no rights beyond a EULA that can change without warning for any reason as per said EULA.

    That is what I hear whenever there is an issue involving the rights of citizens on websites. Website is private therefore you have no rights using their service. You can just use a different website. Impartiality for public accommodations is so last century.

    • by flink ( 18449 )

      The companies that run the old POTS lines are private businesses as well, and yet we had the right to privacy when communicating using their equipment. The right thing to do is for the courts to rule that Google Facebook et al have risen to such importance in our social fabric that they should be granted common carrier status right alongside the phone companies and ISPs. It still won't stop spy agencies breaking the law nor will it halt the collection of metadata, but it would at least be an additional bu

      • by Agripa ( 139780 )

        The companies that run the old POTS lines are private businesses as well, and yet we had the right to privacy when communicating using their equipment.

        I have concluded that the old POTs lines were never protected despite what the courts and legislatures have said.

        Only the routing information of an IP packet is metadata necessary for the internet companies to know so the only thing the government should be seizing and searching without warrant is the IP addresses and length. Since they consider the data portion to also contain metadata and are searching that to find it, the privacy of the data is an illusion and always was; it is being seized whether it i

  • How many decades?

    5? 6? 10? 15? 20?

    Inquiring minds need to know!!!!

  • One word, Illuminati.
  • by evanh ( 627108 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2016 @08:58PM (#53534813)

    Of course government agencies are going to go after this stuff. And it's not just governments diving in either. The whole ad structure business is flawed to the core.

    The problem is the existence of that data in the first place! I don't understand how businesses have been let away with such a free for all. It should have been knocked on the head a decade ago.

  • Update the laws (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DMJC ( 682799 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2016 @09:28PM (#53534911)
    Yeah the Director is right. They should update the laws. TO STRENGTHEN CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS. The judges should be coming down on this shit hard. Your e-mail is exactly the same as your private mail. They couldn't open it then and they shouldn't open it now. It's not rocket science. Your communications are yours and not the governments. Is the post office allowed to read your mail? Fuck no.
    • Yes, but, but... there's no harm done.
    • It's not though. If your emails are unencrypted they are literally broadcast over the internet in plain text.
    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      Yeah the Director is right. They should update the laws. TO STRENGTHEN CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS. The judges should be coming down on this shit hard. Your e-mail is exactly the same as your private mail. They couldn't open it then and they shouldn't open it now. It's not rocket science. Your communications are yours and not the governments. Is the post office allowed to read your mail? Fuck no.

      I disagree. The courts cannot stop this and do not want to. It would be better if they stopped lying and giving false assurances of privacy and lack of 4th amendment violations. That would encourage citizens to take steps to protect their data.

There are two kinds of egotists: 1) Those who admit it 2) The rest of us

Working...