Yes, tech companies accommodated NSA snooping.
New York Times: When government officials came to Silicon Valley to demand easier ways for the world’s largest Internet companies to turn over user data as part of a secret surveillance program, the companies bristled. In the end, though, many cooperated at least a bit.
Twitter declined to make it easier for the government. But other companies were more compliant, according to people briefed on the negotiations. They opened discussions with national security officials about developing technical methods to more efficiently and securely share the personal data of foreign users in response to lawful government requests. And in some cases, they changed their computer systems to do so.
The negotiations shed a light on how Internet companies, increasingly at the center of people’s personal lives, interact with the spy agencies that look to their vast trove of information — e-mails, videos, online chats, photos and search queries — for intelligence. They illustrate how intricately the government and tech companies work together, and the depth of their behind-the-scenes transactions.
The companies that negotiated with the government include Google, which owns YouTube; Microsoft, which owns Hotmail and Skype; Yahoo; Facebook; AOL; Apple; and Paltalk, according to one of the people briefed on the discussions. The companies were legally required to share the data under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. People briefed on the discussions spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are prohibited by law from discussing the content of FISA requests or even acknowledging their existence.
In at least two cases, at Google and Facebook, one of the plans discussed was to build separate, secure portals, like a digital version of the secure physical rooms that have long existed for classified information, in some instances on company servers. Through these online rooms, the government would request data, companies would deposit it and the government would retrieve it, people briefed on the discussions said.
Good on Twitter, huh?
The denials of these tech giants are beginning to look a little dishonest, due to the selectiveness of what they deny. For example, Mark Zuckerberg has a Facebook post up denying he gave the government “direct access” to Facebook servers — without mentioning the “secure portals” NYT reports. These would not strictly be “direct access.” He also says, “We hadn’t even heard of PRISM before yesterday.” The guys who landed at Normandy had never heard of Operation Overlord, either — despite being right in the middle of it. So what? The name of the program was on a need-to-know basis and tech companies didn’t need to know.
But if the companies were legally required to hand over the information, why the smokescreens and selective denials?
“While handing over data in response to a legitimate FISA request is a legal requirement, making it easier for the government to get the information is not, which is why Twitter could decline to do so,” the Times reports.
Yeah, that would explain it.
On the left side, you see the “bids” that are in the market for the stock. Those are the offers to buy. On the right you see the “asks”, which are asking prices by sellers. Note that next to each bid or ask there’s a “size” which is the size of the offer to buy or sell. Note two things: At the top of the left column, you see lots of bids at $38.00 on various trading platforms. (The BATS exchange, Arca, etc.). What’s more, the size of those bids are HUGE. Hundreds of thousands of shares compared to relatively tiny asks and bids everywhere else.
Should be interesting to see if they’ll still be there to save $FB on Monday.
News Roundup for 10/10/11
-Headline of the Day-
"Poll: Half the country has heard about the Occupy Wall Street protests."
CNN is out with a good news/bad news poll. The good news is “roughly half” (51%) of the people CNN polled were aware of the Occupy Wall Street protests and the bad news is that, of them, 54% don’t have an opinion about them either way. But the bad news breaks down further as good bad news for the 99-percenters and bad bad news for the people backing the suits. CNN reports that “27% say they agree with the movement’s overall position on the financial system and social change, with 19% saying disagree with Occupy Wall Street on those issues.”
In better news for the 99-percenters, Occupy Wall Street is winning the internet by an extremely wide margin. “Those who use social media were more likely to support the goals of the movement, with a full third of those respondents saying they agreed with the group’s overall position,” reports The Hill. “Only 14 percent of social media users said they did not support the protesters.”
It’s a start. Occupy Facebook! (CNN)
-GOP consistency on display-
Click to embiggen
No comment needed, I guess. (DailyKos)
"Almost Twice As Many People Have Heard of Occupy Wall Street As Rick Perry."
Or, “Fun With Mix-and-Match Polling.” (Wonkette)
Stories to Watch: 10/4/11
It’s cool enough now that I feel I can use the oven more, so I’m back to baking sourdough bread. I still don’t have it done as much as I do pitas and pancakes, though. I’ve been using a bread machine to knead it (you can’t bake it in there, though) and I’m thinking it doesn’t work the gluten well enough. The next time I try, I’ll do a windowpane test and, if it needs more work, do additional kneading myself. If not, then it’s back to the drawing board. Now here’s the news…
Ezra Klein has a great post up about Occupy Wall Street and the 99-percenters. TLDR; the movement matters and this blog helped convince him of that. “They’re small stories of people who played by the rules, did what they were told, and now have nothing to show for it,” he writes. “Or, worse, they have tens of thousands in debt to show for it.” Follow it, repost the photos if you’re on Tumblr, share them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+. etc. — just get them out there.
If you want a good place to check for Occupy Wall Street news, Greg Mitchell would be a fine choice.
The protests have the corporate world worried. Rightwing media begins its attack, while at least one suit wonders, “Is this going to turn into a personal safety problem?”
Is it over for The Simpsons?
Now that Christie’s out, the right is back to searching for a viable candidate. Fortunately for dems, they’re doing it wrong.
A GOP Rep. really puts Grover Norquist through the ringer.
Finally, a definition of tone-freakin’-deaf: while people mob Wall Street protesting — among other things — unfair banking practices, the Obama administration sides with debt collectors.
Santorum is Busy Doing the Opposite of Fixing His ‘Google Problem’
Let’s be clear here; Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum will never, not in a million years, ever become the President of the United States. This is partly because Santorum’s politics of hate are quickly becoming an anachronism and partly because the man is just dumber than a sack of hammers. The former reason is well-documented, while he’s currently busy demonstrating the latter.
A Google search for Santorum has generated some inappropriate results since gay columnist Dan Savage organized an online campaign to link graphic sexual terms to the socially conservative senator’s name.
Now, the Republican presidential candidate says he’s convinced Google could do something to remedy the issue, if the company wanted to.
"I suspect if something was up there like that about Joe Biden, they’d get rid of it," Santorum said. "If you’re a responsible business, you don’t let things like that happen in your business that have an impact on the country."
He continued: “To have a business allow that type of filth to be purveyed through their website or through their system is something that they say they can’t handle but I suspect that’s not true.”
Ah, the plaintive and familiar cry of the rightwing victim.
Can Google do anything about Santorum’s “Google problem?” Not anything that would make any sense. Santorum’s problem isn’t with Google, Santorum’s problem is with all the people who define his name as “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.” Google’s search results are the result of a search algorithm that looks at things like relevant keywords, inbound links, and the popularity of the site. Santorum’s problem isn’t with Google, Santorum’s problem is that he isn’t really very well-liked. It’s also the result of something called the “Streisand effect.
Basically, the Streisand effect works this way; the harder you try to remove information from the internet or the media, the more widely available that information will become. Why? Because your attempted removal of said information becomes news. News gets reported. Blogs pick it up. People talk about it on Twitter and Facebook. Put simply, by trying to remove the information, you get everyone to talk about the information. It’s human nature. Without Santorum’s attempt to clean up all the santorum everyone’s left around the internet, the words “frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex” would never have appeared on websites like legal scholar Jonathan Turley’s blog, for example. And websites that are too squeamish to spell out the definition themselves just link to the very site that’s the problem — SpreadingSantorum.com, which is currently Google’s top result for the query “Santorum" — and increasing that site’s standing as the top result. In fact, it’s probably the sites that are too gun-shy to use the phrase “frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex” that do more damage to Santorum’s cause than the sites that do. All those inbound links really count for a lot.
If Google were to do Rick a favor and fix his problem for him, it would involve rewriting an algorithm that’s helped make them a $175 billion company — and worse, rewriting it in a way that would make it less accurate — so I’m guessing that’s pretty high on their list of things they’re never going to do.
Rick’s best option here would’ve been to simply shut up and hope that the transient, fad-like nature of the internet meme would kick in, allowing the whole thing to blow over. But that would be the strategy of a smarter man than Rick Santorum; which is why he’ll never, not in a million years, ever become the President of the United States.
Stories to Watch: 8/23/11
Have no idea what to eat tonight. So that probably means burgers. Can’t go wrong with burgers. Now here’s the news…
That east coast earthquake earlier today? Yeah, that was Obama’s fault.
Bank of America looks to be collapsing. While total failure would no doubt be a big hit to the economy, it couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch.
Rick Perry is now officially at war with Rick Perry. Which is good. Someone’s got to take him down, he’s the world’s most successful serial killer.
Like so many really great Republican economic ideas, raising the eligibility age for Medicare would cost more money than it saves.
Steve Kornacki has a way to rid the world of a high-profile Facebook troll: have her actually run for president. A Palin campaign, according to him, would be an “epic, humiliating defeat, the sort of disaster that might once and for all convince the political and media worlds that the empress has no clothes.”
A former Clinton speechwriter urges President Obama to drop the post-partisan crap. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. And yes. If you need evidence that it’s not working, here ya go.
Meanwhile, Democrats gear up for a decidedly partisan fight on the payroll tax. Note to the White House: lead on this one or get the fuck out of the way.
And here’s what the rhetoric in that fight should look like.
Finally, John Boehner is a shameless liar.
Seems like Ryan has also been on Tumblr too much — not many people tag Facebook with #firstworldproblems. For real though, Adam, stop being a dick. And nice takedown, Ryan!
New Rule: people who can’t spell “genius” should be prohibited from attempting to use the word, as they obviously have no idea what it means.
Bonus fun: Adam is calling for a second economic stimulus and doesn’t seem to realize it.
News Roundup for 2/17/11
Portrait of any Wisconsin Democrat today
-Headline of the day-
"Democratic lawmakers leave Wisconsin to protest union curbs."
Well, it’s not so much a protest as it is a filibuster. But who wants to argue semantics?
See, it turns out that pretty much no one but Republicans and Gov. Scott Walker likes Walker’s attempt to bust public employee unions. Turns out that giving away the state surplus, then declaring a budget emergency because of the newly created deficit, and making working people pay the bill strikes a lot of people as pretty unfair.
And some of those people are all the Democrats in the state Senate. So, on the day that Walker and his pet GOP were going to pop the champagne on the success of their heist, Democrats decided to take the day off and go to Chicago for beer and hot dogs… Or something. No one actually knows where they are.
In order for the bill to pass, there have to be 20 members voting. If it’s not 20, then there’s no quorum. In other words, this thing can’t possibly pass today. Or tomorrow. Or anytime until the dems decide to come back from their little vacation. When will that be? A top dem asked the same question.
"The question is when are the Republicans going to sit down seriously with the other side on this issue and try to work something out," asks Sen. John Erpenbach - which is a real name. "When are we going to be reasonable about this and slow things down?"
Republicans need to answer those questions, because — by wild coincidence — that’s probably when the Democrats plan to get back from their field trip. (Reuters)
-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, we’ve got a special cartoon today. It’s educational and it’s all about math! Yay!
Click for animation
Don’t try that math in school, kids… (MarkFiore.com)
"Runaway Wisconsin State Senator Wins Internet."
Democrat Lena Taylor updates her Facebook status as “brb,” which I guess is some sort of commie code. (Wonkette)