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Big Brother Watch Vol. 1, No. 9 PDF Print E-mail
Contributed by James Plummer   
Wednesday, 05 July 2006

Claim: NSA began monitoring AT&T calls in Feb. 2001

Plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against AT&T and other phone companies have filed an amended complaint with some startling claims. The lawsuit concerns the companies' allowing the National Security Agency to monitor the phone calls of their customers without the customers' knowledge or consent.

[MORE]

NSA sets its eyes on MySpace etc.

Spycams come to Dallas


Big Brother Watch Vol. 1, No. 9

by James Plummer with Joshua M. Parker
July 5, 2006

Big Brother Watch is published by the Big Brother Watch Center, a project of the Liberty & Privacy Network, a 501(c)3 affiliated with Liberty Coalition. A website is forthcoming at www.watchingbigbrother.org

Claim: NSA began monitoring AT&T calls in Feb. 2001

Plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against AT&T and other phone companies have filed an amended complaint with some startling claims. The lawsuit concerns the companies' allowing the National Security Agency to monitor the phone calls of their customers without the customers' knowledge or consent.

Among the claims in the amended complaint filed June 23 (taken verbatim from court documents):

  • Within eleven (11) days of the onset of the Bush administration, and at least seven (7) months prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001, defendant ATT began development of a center for monitoring long distance calls and internet transmissions and other digital information for the exclusive use of the NSA.
  • The center was put into development by ATT following a proposal by the NSA for the construction and development of a network operations center identical to ATT's own network operations center located in Bedminster, New Jersey for the exclusive use of the NSA.
  • The NSA proposal sought construction of a duplicate ATT Network Operations Center for the exclusive use of the NSA with the capacity to monitor all calls and internet traffic placed on the ATT long distance network, as well as ATT's wide area, fiber optic, T-1, T-3, T-5 and high speed data networks.
  • Such a data center would also enable the NSA to tap into any call placed on the ATT network and to monitor the contents of all digital information transmitted over the ATT network.
  • Said data center would enable the NSA to tap into any phone line and to monitor any digital transfer of information on ATT's networks including voice telephone calls, facsimile transmission and all internet traffic.
  • The NSA program was code-named Pioneer-Groundbreaker and was also known at ATT Solutions division as GEMS (Groundb (Groundbreaker Enterprise System).
  • International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) was one of the parties working with ATT and the NSA to develop the monitoring center and IBM personnel participated in meetings with ATT and NSA officials in the development of the monitoring center.
  • Among the purposes of the Pioneer-Groundbreaker project was the storing and monitoring of all phone call information coming across ATT's networks; by means of this program NSA sought to duplicate all of the phone call information that came across ATT's networks for real time, contemporaneous analysis or, alternately, for downloading and later use by the NSA.

 

NSA sets its eyes on MySpace etc.

Online social networks such as MySpace are the latest target of the federal government and the National Security Agency, reports New Scientist .. A recent paper, Semantic Analytics on Social Networks, offers a means of attaining information about individuals by obtaining data from social network websites and other databases. The "semantic web" described in the article proposes to make it easier to unearth information about individuals by making incompatible data compatible through a common data structure referred to as the Resource Description Framework (RDF).

What's most alarming about the article is not so much the new technology, but one of the footnotes, which cites the Advanced Research Development Agency (ARDA) as contributing to the funding of the research paper. ARDA is part of the NSA, which has been the subject of a great deal of recent press for their invasive surveillance techniques. ARDA's name was recently changed to the Disruptive Technology Office (DTO). New Scientist points out the similarities between DTO's focus on social networks and the Total Information Awareness (TIA) initiative directed by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Projects research Agency (DARPA). TIA was supposed to track data trails, but due to public disapproval and privacy issues, the TIA was officially suspended in 2002.

Yet, the TIA's focus on data tracking appears to be not going away any time soon. The social networks that DTO is potentially going to be accessing tend to include personal information regarding age, sexuality, hobbies, drinking habits, and common activities. Therefore, with this social network information, the NSA has the ability to violate individual privacy on a much deeper level.

 

Spycams come to Dallas

The Dallas City Council voted last week to install 30 surveillance cameras downtown to keep an eye on its citizens. Details on the program were sparse in news reports, but a spokesman for the Dallas Police Department claimed "strict rules" were in place to forbid the cameras from looking into private residences and other private property.

An outfit called the Meadows Foundation will donate $700,000 towards the operation of the cameras.

 

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