How, technically, might the US have snooped on Lavabit?


According to this short interview with William Binney, who worked for the NSA for over 30 years, all internet traffic has been captured and stored for the last ten years. This data is shared with the FBI, and others. He also states flat out that the new NSA facility in Utah is for storing all of that data in a single location, because now the information is spread out in various storage areas in the US. This has also been reported by numerous whistleblowers and security researchers, like Jacob Applebaum (@ioerror) at a keynote address last year, where he said that the facility was to store all of this data for at least 100 years. Binney agrees, and says that all of the data stored now is stored in various facilities across the US, but that the new Utah facility, informally called the “The Utah Data Center”, and formally called “Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center” is for storing ALL electronic communications.

After listening to whistleblowers and those in the security research community, I believe that ALL electronic communication, both encrypted and unencrypted, both on the internet and telephonic, has been intercepted for the last ten years, and has been stored. The unencrypted data is readily searchable, and the encrypted data is being stored until it is needed and might be broken.

What worries me even more is 1) that several security researchers, and Sen. Ron Wyden, continually keep saying, even as late as two weeks ago, keep saying, “This is the tip of the iceberg.” and 2) that all of this data has been stored for at least ten years, and, according to Binney, it’s EVERYONE’s data, including past, present, and future politicians. Those of us familiar with history will remember the embarrassing files J. Edgar Hoover developed to blackmail politicians. Hoover only had the facilities to collect data on a relatively small number of potential oponents. But now, we’ve gone and developed a system that stores data on everyone and we’re storing it forever, so even if you’re not one of “them” today, you or your great-great-grand children could become “them” when the definition of “them” changes.


I don’t see how much bigger the iceberg could be, unless they’re actually measuring the spin of my protons.

The part that worries the hell out of me is unauthorized access. I’ve worked with sensitive personal data where there were tough safeguards in place, so I know what that looks like. I also know pretty clearly all the mischief that’s possible without it. Long ago I worked for the phone company, and there were stories about switching engineers tapping in on their ex’es. (But it was always just one rogue guy who was caught and fired and it could never happen again.)

At the IRS we were warned that unauthorized queries would absolutely be prosecuted, and every keystroke was captured. Without that, it would have been child’s play to check out Mitt Romney’s tax returns.

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