Feeds

Surprise! NSA's first ever 'transparency' 'report' is anything but

Spies do spying ... and dictionary rewriting, too

Website security in corporate America

The US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has published the NSA's first "transparency report", revealing the number of "targets" spied on by the agency.

Its definition of the word transparency, however, makes the data somewhat hard to fathom.

"Within the Intelligence Community, the term 'target' has multiple meanings," the report [PDF], published today, notes.

"For example, 'target' could be an individual person, a group, or an organization composed of multiple individuals or a foreign power that possesses or is likely to communicate foreign intelligence information that the U.S. government is authorized to acquire by the above-referenced laws."

Applying this logic, the NSA, in 2013, issued just one order under Section 702 of FISA, but that allowed the surveillance of 89,138 targets – be they individuals, companies or nation states. It also issued 131 orders under FISA's tap and trace provisions, affecting 319 targets, and 1,767 FISA orders based on probable cause that were used against 1,144 targets.

Title five of FISA allows the intelligence agencies to search for business records, including the bulk collection of metadata from US mobile phone records. The NSA made 178 such searches, which affected 172 "individuals, entities, or foreign powers."

When going through vast piles of metadata, the NSA approved 423 search selectors and 248 people "known or presumed US persons" under the business records search procedures.

The report also covers the issuance of national security letters, which are subpoenas from the FBI that – pre-Snowden and the rebellion by technology companies – recipients weren't allowed to mention they'd received.

Last year federal authorities issued 19,212 national security letters and 38,832 requests for information. That's a colossal amount of penmanship, and also slightly concerning, given the limited data we've had from firms like Google and Apple.

Cupertino and Mountain View reported getting between zero and 999 national security letters in their latest transparency reports. That suggests there are an awful lot of firms getting served with these secretive orders. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Blood-crazed Microsoft axes Trustworthy Computing Group
Security be not a dirty word, me Satya. But crevice, bigod...
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.