Tuesday, October 01, 2013

All your metadata is belong to them

Today's NSALeak: the NSA is storing everyone's metadata for a year, just because they can:

The National Security Agency is storing the online metadata of millions of internet users for up to a year, regardless of whether or not they are persons of interest to the agency, top secret documents reveal.


An introductory guide to digital network intelligence for NSA field agents, included in documents disclosed by former contractor Edward Snowden, describes the agency's metadata repository, codenamed Marina. Any computer metadata picked up by NSA collection systems is routed to the Marina database, the guide explains. Phone metadata is sent to a separate system.

"The Marina metadata application tracks a user's browser experience, gathers contact information/content and develops summaries of target," the analysts' guide explains. "This tool offers the ability to export the data in a variety of formats, as well as create various charts to assist in pattern-of-life development."

The guide goes on to explain Marina's unique capability: "Of the more distinguishing features, Marina has the ability to look back on the last 365 days' worth of DNI metadata seen by the Sigint collection system, regardless whether or not it was tasked for collection." [Emphasis in original.]

So no individualised suspicion at all - its a trawl of everything, just in case they need it. Whether that's for terrorism or to blackmail Senators who want to impose tighter restrictions on them is left as an exercise for the reader.

Meanwhile the University of Lausanne held a Congress on Privacy and Surveillance today, about what we've learned and what we can do about it. The Guardian live-blogged it here. There's some scary stuff there about what the NSA is doing, and what the EU can do about it (short version: build an EU cloud, that the US spooks don't have free access to. Oh, and arrest NSA staff at the border for mass human-rights violations). We need to think about what New Zealand does as well. Stopping being part of the problem (the Five Eyes), and disbanding the GCSB so we can instead be part of the solution would be a start.