Just how many people were spied on??

Internet companies are fighting to restore public trust. In the wake of the NSA spying scandal, corporations like Google, Yahoo, and Facebook wanted to release details on internet surveillance. Finally, after a six-month delay and a lengthy legal argument, these corporations have been permitted to release some information. According to Google, government officials requested information on more than 9,000 users in the first six months of 2013, and more than 12,000 users in the six months before that.

Facebook was forced to hand over information on more than 5,000 users in the first half of last year, and more than 4,000 in the last part of 2012. Microsoft received more than 15,000 requests for information in the first half of 2013, and Yahoo revealed that government officials requested information on more than 30,000 users during that same time period. While these numbers prove that government officials were not requesting detailed information on every user, they also prove that thousands of people are, in fact, being spied on.

We haven’t heard about 30,000 foiled terrorism attempts, or 9,000 links to terrorist cells. Many of the accounts being spied on were likely innocent Americans that simply have a friend or family member overseas. National Security officials will attempt to point to these numbers as proof of the limits placed on government surveillance, but there is no good reason why thousands of internet users should be spied on without a warrant.


Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 24 weeks ago

It doesn't take hacking tools or cracking passwords or hacking into password protected data bases to find out a lot about people on the internet. Although some hackers and the NSA do just that.

People say they want to keep from being tracked and personal information about themselves kept private from such organizations like the NSA but they are constantly doing foolish things that can allow anyone, who is persistent enough to use only Google searches, to find out a lot more about them than they thought was possible.

One such risky thing is using your real name. But, even if you don't use your real name and use only a moniker for a username...if you use that same username in other web sites... then what you say in those other web sites can be amassed to form a more total persona. And some of those other web sites may even have your email, phone number, address, relatives, your profession, past addresses and a lot more information about you. It could even show that there is a warrant for your arrest. No, I won't mention any names. Some of those web sites may even be personal dating web sites.

It is very possible to even use Google Earth to zoom right down upon... say a very large house (and you can measure it using the Google Earth ruler and determine the square footage of the house or property). There may be a personal tennis court, or another house may have it's own personal dock. And with Street View... you can actually see the details from the street. And while Google Earth tries to not be very accurate as to exactly which address it points to, and Street View tries to blank out the addresses on the houses or mail boxes and the license plate numbers..different street angles and/or zooming in often reveals them...or at least a neighbors address so you can interpolate.

Another way you can be tracked is by the use of certain phrases you use repeatedly or certain spelling errors you make repeatedly.

If you have already participated in various online social sites and have already used your real name or even repeatedly used, across various blogs, the exact same moniker or username then it's too late. The data is already there. But you can help to thwart the proliferation of any more of your information by using a totally different moniker or username at every future site you sign up with.

And of course it is totally very risky to use the same password at every site you sign up with. Because if they manage to breach one password at one site they can easily get into other sites...and if those sites happen to be something like Amazon or your bank then you will most likely be risking a lot more than just your privacy.

Of course, there are some people who just don't care about their privacy. Some people don't even care if the NSA is spying on them. But what about hackers that want to get into your bank accounts? And the NSA and hackers do not draw the line at merely using Google searches...they use sophisticated hacking tools right along with what they can get from Google, Facebook, etc.
Here's an interest 30 minute video and transcript of an interview of Edward Snowden:

ron943's picture
ron943 10 years 24 weeks ago

I do not see a problem with using google earth to measure the square footage of a house. Google earth reveals nothing that cannot be seen by a human beings eyes. It is an instrument just like other devices such as range finders and surveyor's tools. I believe it is legal for law enforcement to stake out a piece of property and keep it under 24 hour surveilllance. What happens under public scrutiny is public and it is the public has a right to see it. The government and any private investigator or anyone else has a right to observe it. Of course inconspicuous observation is one thing but obtrusive badgering such as by paperazzi is something else and could rightly be labeled a nuisance.


ron943's picture
ron943 10 years 24 weeks ago

How can I find out if I am one of the 5000 fb users or 9000 googlers?

ken ware's picture
ken ware 10 years 24 weeks ago

Palindromedary - I have a feeling you may be talking about me, Mark or several other individuals who have used their real names when making comments. As I have mentioned in the past, I will not be intimidated by the fear others may know who I am and I am obviously not concerned about what others may think since I have made my share of criticism towards you and others here. If you feel by hiding your name and other personal info is going to prevent someone with the knowledge of how to use the internet to find someone, I think you may be a little naive. If the NSA wants to know who you are, they have little too no difficulty in finding you. One thing I find amusing is that when I have googled my full name and location, several people appear, none of them being me. As a matter of fact, I cannot find myself when using the tools available on the internet! If someone or some entity of the government wanted to find out who I am or where I originate my online traffic, it would be a piece of cake to simply go to the ISP I am using and pin point my location here in California. I have told you several times the general local of my residence. I do not, however, use the same password or info that can back trace me when using different websites to make comments. If I wanted to back trace your online comments using specialized software, you can be located. If you have a social security number or driver’s license and use these for identification when applying for a credit card or any other service you may wish to use, you can easily be located. If you get advertising info in the mail with your name on it, you have been found. Do I like the idea that we are all very easily spied upon or that corporations have no problem locating our banks or other personal info, the answer is hell no. But, to think by using Palindromedary you are hiding from anyone who wants to know who you are, that is being simplistic in your overall picture of what is really going only. If anyone thinks that our NSA is going to change in anything they do, my belief is that they will just get even more secretive in their actions and close any loop holes that may have existed before Snowden. Is Snowden or Manning heroes to me, I still have to say they are not. My response is long enough and I will not elaborate any further, I have to go over to my daughter’s home and check out her new Apple 5S IPhone she just bought, I use Apples 4S IPhone and I am not worried about who in the government might be listening. Stop fearing technology and start enjoying the benefits it can provide, just be wise in how you use it and what you say. Whether you and I like it, 1984 is here to stay. I will check out your response, and I know there will be one, tomorrow. You all have a good night, Ken Ware. P.S. I am sure one of your responses will be why make it easier for someone to find you, and that is or would be a very valid response. I guess I am just one of those risk takers in life...BUT, I do pay extra to have my phone number unlisted to avoid the phone sales jerks who always call at dinner time!

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 24 weeks ago
Quote ken ware: If you feel by hiding your name and other personal info is going to prevent someone with the knowledge of how to use the internet to find someone, I think you may be a little naive.
Ken, I don't think I have ever said anything that would indicate otherwise. You are quite right...there are lots of people who have the ability to hack, using the many hacker tools that are available, into someone's computer. I would certainly not go that far...that seems to me to be asking for trouble from the law and while many get away with it I'd just as soon not risk it. And most definitely, the NSA has hired a whole bunch of hackers and they have all the hacking tools that our tax money can provide. So, I know that the NSA has this ability. What ever gave you the idea that I didn't think that?

Quote ken ware:One thing I find amusing is that when I have googled my full name and location, several people appear, none of them being me. As a matter of fact, I cannot find myself when using the tools available on the internet!
Yes, I realize that there are many people who have very common names and it can present a bit of a challenge. But when one assesses all of the minutia, all the little tidbits of data, that has been displayed especially from one blog site to the next, then it is not so hard to determine who is whom. Some people have left a trail all over the internet and where, in most of those places, they may have not given out any identifying information, some sites do eventually not only give the name but the address but even potentially embarrassing information.

You, and many others, may feel you have nothing to hide but I believe that a little bit of information can easily lead to identity theft down the line. It would really tick me off if someone stole my identity and stole my savings. And it happens way more often than they tell you on the news. In some cases, if you catch it in time and report it to the bank, you can get the bank to reimburse you...much harder if you are running a business, though. So, businesses have to be even more vigilant.

Quote ken ware:But, to think by using Palindromedary you are hiding from anyone who wants to know who you are, that is being simplistic in your overall picture of what is really going on.
I am fully aware of the fact that using Palindromedary instead of my real name is not much of a cover. And if I used that same user name at other blogs then someone with the patience can read everything I said in those blogs and paste together a bigger picture of who I am.

I initially made the mistake of doing that at a couple of blog sites but then wised up. I have never, however, given much in the way of identifying information at any of those web sites. And since I have never participated in Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, or any of the others (and if I did, I wouldn't use my real name or even the same username as anyplace else), my information will not leak out unless some hacker illegally hacks into a blog site that I've participated in and scans the CME data base for my real name and other info. And, of course, there are other ways...but they are all illegal. Oh, yeah, and I really despise cell phones so don't use them...and I don't have OnStar in my vehicle either.

Quote ken ware: If anyone thinks that our NSA is going to change in anything they do, my belief is that they will just get even more secretive in their actions and close any loop holes that may have existed before Snowden.

I certainly agree with you there, ken! Once the Jeanie is out of the bottle...there's no putting her back! They'll just keep doing what they do best...spying on us and lying about not doing it.

Since this is getting kind of long I'll comment on your Iphone in the next blurb....

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 24 weeks ago
Quote Der Speigel:

Michael Hayden has an interesting story to tell about the iPhone. He and his wife were in an Apple store in Virginia, Hayden, the former head of the United States National Security Agency (NSA), said at a conference in Washington recently. A salesman approached and raved about the iPhone, saying that there were already "400,000 apps" for the device. Hayden, amused, turned to his wife and quietly asked: "This kid doesn't know who I am, does he? Four-hundred-thousand apps means 400,000 possibilities for attacks."


Quote iPhone/iPod Touch Forensics Manual:
While limited portions of data can be viewed using the direct GUI interfaces in the iPhoneʼs software, much more hidden and deleted data is available by examining the raw disk image, which may provide for more thorough evidence gathering.
In an effort to unlock the device and develop third-party software, the iPhone has become the subject of many hacker groups and developers. Many techniques have been found to access its operating system and lower-level components as a result of this.


Quote :.. a new bombshell emerged: specifically the complete and detailed description of how the NSA bugs, remotely, your iPhone. The way the NSA accomplishes this is using software known as Dropout Jeep, which it describes as follows: "DROPOUT JEEP is a software implant for the Apple iPhone that utilizes modular mission applications to provide specific SIGINT functionality. This functionality includes the ability to remotely push/pull files from the device. SMS retrieval, contact list retrieval, voicemail, geolocation, hot mic, camera capture, cell tower location, etc. Command, control and data exfiltration can occur over SMS messaging or a GPRS data connection. All communications with the implant will be covert and encrypted.


bobbler's picture
bobbler 10 years 24 weeks ago

If the purpose of spying is to keep us safe; it seems to me after all this spying, the last chance we had to do just that, was when republicans ignored the Clinton admins group monitoring al Qaeda.. And the Bush had in what's even told by the Clinton admin something was up. Can you imagine if this were reversed that republicans warned a democrat admin, who ignored the warning, then 911 happened. Probably the best way o beep America safe if to get liberals into public office.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 24 weeks ago

It'll be a cold day in hell before I do banking or pay bills online. And I don't care how many people insist that it's "safe". I don't trust it. Meanwhile companies have been trying for years to get us all to pay online. For awhile they even resorted to this sleazy tactic of manipulation, "losing" my checks and then harassing me for nonpayment. I believe they did this deliberately, to make me "get with the program" and pay my bills online. Hah! I refused to budge, and still pay by check, and if they don't like it they can just kiss my A$$.

Far as the NSA is concerned, they too can kiss my posterior. I hate the thought of being spied on, but I'll keep on saying whatever I please, wherever and whenever I please, and take my chances. I refuse to be paranoid and live in fear of what "they" might think or what "they" might wanna do to me. I was born a free spirit and I'll die a free spirit, and that's all I've got to say about this issue of spying... except that I still think Snowden is a hero for blowing NSA's cover like he did. - Aliceinwonderland

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 24 weeks ago

And the authorities had plenty of data about a planned Boston Marathon attack as well but they ignored that too! So, really, the reason they are spying on us is not to protect us...it is to protect the ruling powers against us when we finally revolt against them. It's kinda like when the United States and it's allies put the heavy on Syria to get rid of it's chemical weapons and when they ever do then they won't have any real defense against a US attack. They did that with Iraq as well before they attacked Iraq.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 24 weeks ago

I hope that they eventually release the names of this spy victims. Thom speculates that they have family abroad. I would like to learn that is all there is and nothing nefarious such as, several people simply being people of influence. 30 - 300 people could be national security. 3000 - 30,000 is more like a witch hunt.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 24 weeks ago

In my post #6 I said CME data base when I meant CMS data base.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 24 weeks ago

ken ware/Palindromedary ~ On the subject of iphones... I think this cartoon says it all:


Loren Bliss's picture
Loren Bliss 10 years 24 weeks ago

What is most significant about this information is what the government is NOT allowing Google, Yahoo and Facebook to release: the figures from 2011. Why 2011? Because that's the year the Occupy Movement happened. By every rational estimate, retaliatory surveillance was therefore at an all-time high, with the number of individuals targeted no doubt in six figures at least.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 24 weeks ago

I'm with you 100%, Aliceinwonderland! I will go to the fuss of writing a check, addressing an envelope, putting a stamp on it and taking it to a post office (inside only).

I got caught in a "you didn't pay"/"yes I did pay" fight back when the internet first came into being and I thought it was a good idea to pay my bills on-line. I had no processed checks to prove it like I would have had. The problem was eventually fixed with no explanation as to who was at fault...the bank that indicated the amount was debited or the mortgage company who claimed it wasn't paid.

Of course, they don't even mail you processed/cleared checks anymore but I still cannot trust on-line transactions in light of all of the hacked accounts that happen all the time.

Even checks are not all that safe either...all those people that might handle your letter could easily get your account number and routing number along with your name and address. But I'd rather help keep the Post Office in business.

I had that happen once when mail was stolen out of an overstuffed outside mail box located right in front of the post office just before Christmas one year. What a hassle...had to go to the bank..cancel those checks... and switch to new accounts and it took the bank over a month to investigate and restore my funds. No explanation as to what happened.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 24 weeks ago

Aliceinwonderland ~ We've been doing online banking for years without a problem. A super convenience. The bank has a great way of intercepting fraud. After all, that's their bread and butter nowadays. Anything suspicious sends up fraud flags and you get a phone call to confirm the transaction. You don't answer and your account gets frozen until they find you. Routinely I will get calls to confirm various transactions. So far all have been false alarms; but, the efforts by the bank really makes me feel secure. I also like the ability to access my accounts 24/7 to see what's up. Doing a quick transfer at 10pm at home in my pajamas is so much easier than standing in line at the bank during my lunch hour. Online bill pay is a life saver too. You can even set the account to pay automatically and the bank saves the records of all your transactions so there is no, "Your check got lost," or, "Your check is late." So far nothing weird. Probably best of all I don't keep a lot of money in the bank. Money saved is a bank is money lost. That is no place for your life savings. The interest paid does not keep up with the rate of inflation. I just keep there what I need to pay bills. You should check it out. Maybe just put your toe in the water with a small checking account. Just enough to take advantage of the conveniences; but, not enough to lose sleep over. In the long run, you might be glad you did.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 24 weeks ago

>>>Mozilla Calls on World to Protect Firefox Browser From the NSA<<<
Mozilla Firefox is the only browser to have completely open source code for anyone to analyze. If the NSA attempts to put in a back door..it is possible for someone to catch it..and even correct it and publish it for others to download and use. This isn't possible for any of the other browsers because they are all, in whole or in part, proprietary (ie:closed software). Just like the NSA did with Lavabit...forcing Lavabit not not to reveal to the public that the NSA installed a back door...the NSA could install back doors in all those other browsers and force the vendors to keep quiet about it.


DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 24 weeks ago

Loren Bliss ~ Very well said. I agree. Thanks for pointing out that little tidbit about 2011. Basically, that's why I want to know who have been targeted. The very suggestion that at any moment there could be 30,000 potential terrorists walking around this country is absurd. That would be like 1 out of every 15 people in the Bay Area. I want to know what else these people may have had in common to justify targeting. To learn that occupy protesters were targeted would certainly prove my suspicions.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 24 weeks ago

DAnneMarc: Funny cartoon and so true! ;-}

By the way, speaking of Mutual Funds....
"The 2010 Flash Crash resulted from a mutual fund firm's algorithm gone wild. Knight Capital lost $440 million on a buggy algo last summer. Computerized trading has also been blamed for the volatile markets of the past few years." And that $440 million loss occurred in just over 1/2 hour.


Of course, several other entities moved in to "save the day" but it goes to show that even Mutual Funds are not really very safe. When you are gambling your money to get a few percentage points of interest per year and you could lose it all...well maybe half... in just a few minutes...it's really not a very good bet.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 24 weeks ago

Palindromedary ~ As the saying goes, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." Compared to other ways to risk capital Mutual funds are far less risky. Try starting a business. Talk about putting all your eggs in one basket. At least with Mutual funds you spread those eggs amongst many baskets. If you're afraid to step off the curb you will never get anywhere. Mutual funds are baby steps; but, if you're patient enough, they will get you across the street. Just remember to diversify with several firms. The more baskets the better. Also, don't get discouraged because you take a hit. That will happen. The strategy is a long term one... if you have the time you will benefit.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 24 weeks ago

DAnneMarc: One could also say that spreading your money around to a number of different banks (or even mattresses) would help to lessen risk. The problem with taking any risk when you get to be my age...(ie: one foot in the grave) is that you would likely not have any time at all to recover any loss. I may not have 10 years. No, the risk is too great. And I think banks are risky enough even in savings accounts. I am more worried about another financial shocker than I am about inflation. And as Thom Hartmann predicts...2016 is right around the corner. Some analysts even believe it will be sooner. I wonder if I will have time to dig holes in my back yard to stash the loot before the banks collapse and FDIC will not be able to cover any of it?

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 24 weeks ago

By the way, here's a diagram that might be easy to understand:

And even if mitm (man in the middle) isn't happening between you and your bank... how much do you trust that you don't have a root kit installed key-logger and trojan on your computer that evades detection from virus checkers. Yes, there are also rootkit checkers but do they always catch them all? How often do people run them?

I would think that instead of using one's main O/S that is vulnerable to malware, that one should boot up an O/S on a thumb drive...some Linux distro..like Ubuntu Live...or something like Tails or Backtrack...something you use exclusively for banking and nothing else. Although it's hard to imagine that you'd use Backtrack for nothing else. ;-}

You know, if the Banks would only give their customers a bootable thumb drive with a specially tailored and encrypted O/S for only doing bank transactions..protected, of course with a password and a fingerprint scanner...that would be a lot safer than using one's home computer with it's possibly corrupted O/S. It would be easy...with the computer off...insert the thumb drive into the computer...turn the computer on...and hocus pocus...you're on-line to your bank and you are not using your main O/S or possible corrupted hard drives. It boots up with only the O/S from the thumb drive using only the computer's RAM memory. Then when you are done banking... power down and remove the thumb drive till you need to bank again.

But there would still be MITM....;-{

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 24 weeks ago

Palindromedary ~ In your case I would agree.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 24 weeks ago

If you're young enough..still working..maybe it's a good idea..but I am, obviously, very untrustworthy of the current system....casino capitalism.

michaelmoore052's picture
michaelmoore052 10 years 24 weeks ago

Like Patton said, it is not for our soldiers to die for our country, but to make the other guy die for his country.

Don't fall on your swords. Fight back. Bring people to justice. Neutralize the enemy.

You know who they are.

bobcox's picture
bobcox 10 years 24 weeks ago

Those who worshpped FBI's Hoover will always want to use whatever techniques that are available to get information they can use for personal advantage. Tthis is the reason why the denial of the first 10 Amendments by various justices and members of Congress are so dangerous. We MST rise up and change Congress!

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 24 weeks ago

Bob Cox, I couldn't have said it better. And this is why I keep insisting, there's no excuse for not voting! Those who sit home on election day are a big part of the problem. - AIW

MontanaMuleGal's picture
MontanaMuleGal 10 years 24 weeks ago

Mutual Funds are engineered consent...

Mutual Funds give Average Joe/Jo America tiny pieces of many pies. Avg Joe/Jo is investing, most likely, in his/her retirement. If those mutual funds include microscopic bits of Mobil Exxon, Monsanto, Dow, MIC contractors, etc., it is in Avg Joe's best (financial) interest to be on the side of the environment destroyers and labor-exploiting corporations.

Yes, there may be a handful of "green" mutual funds, but they are not in the majority.

Therefore, Avg Joe, in order to keep his retirement intact, silently goes along with corporate agendas.

MontanaMuleGal's picture
MontanaMuleGal 10 years 24 weeks ago

Bobbler (Comment #8)

I know you mean well, but…

The NSA “spying” is to keep those at the top of the heap safe from the rest of us (aka, the “rabble below”).

By knowledgeable accounts, Al Qaeda is a construct of the CIA.

911. Please go to “Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth” to learn that 911 was an inside job.

As for getting liberals into office… you do know, don’t you, that with computerized voting machines, there is no way to verify the voters’ intent, and that it is really easy to “flip” the results of a vote?

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