Feeds

Wiretaps, no-fly lists, and suing AT&T

Eavesdropping is an art form

The essential guide to IT transformation

Computers, Freedom and Privacy "What are you doing these days?"

"Suing AT&T."

Ah, eavesdropping.

Day three of the ACM Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference.

The above speaker is Lee Tien, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. His lawsuit ("Hepting") is more complex than the others brought over the Terrorist Screening Program in that it includes the telcos, and more technical because it includes evidence from a whistleblowing retired employee.

Tien has a great map of the wiretapping suits against AT&T in the US. There were only a few dots scattered east to west before USA Today published the news that the government, AT&T, Verizon, and Bell South were wiretapping US citizens. The map broke out in chicken pox a few weeks later. Today, there are just two spots.

And Tien is upbeat.

He needs to be. Most of "suing AT&T" is waiting. And waiting some more.

And now for a word from our sponsor: you have until 8 May to register your comments on the US Real ID card. Go here for details how.

In fact, it has become much, much easier for states to wiretap undetectably. Matt Blaze and George Danezis used the Greek wiretapping scandal as a case study in what can go wrong, based on the work of Vassilis Prevelakis and Diomidis Spinellis.

The public image of wiretapping is the man in a black van plugging a headset into a box full of wires. The US's market size and vendor dominance means that CALEA, which requires a wiretapping interface in telecommunications equipment, has been exported to the rest of the world. US vendors build to US law. Foreign vendors who want access to US markets also build to US law. Foreign governments help their nation's businesses by choosing the same standards the US has already dictated.

A security hole is a security hole is a security hole. The Greek attackers depended on tried and trusted techniques, including programming in a proprietary Ericsson language so obscure that no one can find a manual for it online. What eventually exposed them was their one bit of creative engineering. But it was, noted Blaze, a "relatively low-tech attack against a high-tech system". Cost: probably $50,000 to $100,000. Be the envy of other minor organisations.

If there's one thing this crowd would probably like to wiretap it's the decision-making process for populating (and depopulating) the no-fly and terrorist watch lists.

Lyn Rahilly, privacy officer for the Terrorist Screening Center, and Tim Edgar, deputy civil liberties protection officer from the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence, explained that you can get off the no-fly list. If you were ever on it, and it doesn't mean you're an (alleged) terrorist, and anyway we can't confirm. Or deny.

But who needs wiretaps when you have Google? ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
Apple tried to get a ban on Galaxy, judge said: NO, NO, NO
Judge Koh refuses Samsung ban for the third time
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.