US Mining Data from 9 Leading Internet Firms; Companies Deny Knowledge

Yesterday’s story continues to unfold in the Washington Post:

The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.

Honestly, I’m not surprised the slightest bit. Anyone following this stuff over the past decade has at least run into the bits and pieces summed up by Bruce Schneier in The Atlantic:

We don’t know a lot about how the government spies on us, but we know some things. We know the FBI has issued tens of thousands of ultra-secret National Security Letters to collect all sorts of data on people — we believe on millions of people — and has been abusing them to spy on cloud-computer users. We know it can collect a wide array of personal data from the Internet without a warrant. We also know that the FBI has been intercepting cell-phone data, all but voice content, for the past 20 years without a warrant, and can use the microphone on some powered-off cell phones as a room bug — presumably only with a warrant.

There is more. Just read the whole piece.

His conclusions is quite apt, too:

Knowing how the government spies on us is important. Not only because so much of it is illegal […] but because we have a right to know. […] Otherwise, we’re living in a police state.