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Why AT&T's 'Willingness' To Help NSA Is Alarming
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TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
8/17/2015 | 1:07:19 PM
AT&T has long history of this
If you've ever read the book Exploding the Phone by Phil Lapsley (a history of phone phreaks, the first hackers), this AT&T revelation is not a surprise. AT&T was so irritated by this community stealing free long distance they built their own Big Brother system to capture all phone traffic back in the 60s-70s. They used internally to work with FBI to track the phreaks down, especially the ones selling the black boxes to execute the hack. Once the FBI learned of it's existence, they buddied up with AT&T to go after bookies. Bookies, because of needing frequent long distance calling, were huge customers of the hack.

The most interesting part of book to me was how close Wozniak and Steve Jobs came to getting busted by FBI. They were making some money building and selling black boxes long before Apple was even a gleam in their eye.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
8/17/2015 | 8:05:25 PM
Re: AT&T has long history of this
I'm not sure I see anything wrong with a company trying to prevent theft of its service. It got even worse when the 1960's counterculture decided it was ok to steal services. In fact i think Abbey Hoffman wrote about this box in his book Steal This Book.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
8/18/2015 | 10:44:32 AM
Re: AT&T has long history of this
@tjgkg It was the way they went about it. Their system not only recorded the Caller/Callee numbers of every call in America but also the first couple of minutes of the actual conversation. Think that didn't help FBI bring down bookies?

And keep in mind they broke up the Bells for a reason, they were ripping everybody off back then. I agree with your basic premise it was theft but their approach to security on that old analog system was obscurity. These boxes were just sending tones into the system which got these phreaks into the backbone of the system. It really is fascinating to read how these people discovered and developed the hack. One of the first was actually a blind guy.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
9/19/2015 | 12:14:13 PM
Re: AT&T has long history of this
There are a couple of issues here. The first being that Bell was a monopoly way back when. Yes it was and really it is today, just under a different name. Verizon and ATT are really two of the Baby Bells that were spun off from the original ATT. The current ATT is really Southwest Bell just renamed ATT and Verizon was NYNEX. Essentially they both acquired all the other Baby Bells and small independents until only a duopoly was left.

I am against stealing corporate services no matter regardless of the size of a company.

With regard to bringing down bookies, so what?

We are really in a different era now with digital communications and we have to be careful. THere has to be some way for law enforcement and security agencies to access things  (LEAGALLY of course) otherwise we are going to be in trouble. Frankly i think the government is a lot more into these communications than is let on. For all the hacking we hear the Chinese and Russians are doing to us, you can be sure our abilities are at least as good if not better.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
9/21/2015 | 9:37:38 AM
Re: AT&T has long history of this
>>With regard to bringing down bookies, so what?

The point is they (FBI) couldn't play by the rules any better in 1960's than the NSA does now. You don't see the similarity in the approach? Or is your point as long as you are targeting bad guys (by their definition), anything is OK?
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/15/2015 | 1:50:18 PM
Re: AT&T has long history of this
The way Snowden presents this it is like the Gestapo or KGB and we are all potential enemies of the State. I don't buy that. I think the FBI and NSA have to improvise in order to catch smart bad guys. It is like drawing up gun laws in the hope that outlaws will not obtain guns. It won't happen. Bookies, which were part of organized crime, ARE bad guys and need to be stopped. Terrorists pose a major threat to this country. Of that there is no doubt. So to me going after them is not bringing back the Gestapo/KGB age. We are not that kind of a country. These agencies are operating not on an ideology like Mein Kampf or Communism, they are trying to protect our country.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
10/15/2015 | 2:35:30 PM
Re: AT&T has long history of this
You are pretty trusting soul of your government, I hope you are right. Hitler thought he was doing the best thing for Germany, regardless of what it morphed into.

The problem with your idea that anything is fair game to catch "bad guys", not all of us agree what is bad. I don't gamble at all but don't agree gambling should be a crime. Exactly who is the victim in that exercise? Bookies were just trying to make living in a non violent way (versus sticking you up and taking your money).

That's the problem I see with your lack of respect of due process, many things that are "illegal" today shouldn't be in a lot of people's eyes. We can all agree a suicide bomber should be stopped, regardless of his motivation. That's an easy definition of terrorist. What about environmental activists, socialists, atheists, etc? Throw the "terrorist" tag on them and then they are fair game? Hassad calls his opposition in Syria terrorists. You OK with using spy satellites to catch people smoking weed in their backyard? What if government decides alcohol is just too much trouble and now you can't legally drink your favorite beer anymore? Still OK with Big Brother doing whatever the hell they want to catch "criminals"?

That's the problem I have with your position. And of all your posts I've read, probably first time I've ever disagreed with your observations, you are a pretty sharp guy.

One note on your gun comment. Those of you make that comment easily, ignoring the effect of what being legal means to price. If guns were illegal/controlled, sure organized crime could still get them. But the mafia isn't the ones walzing into schools and blowing away kids. Insane, unemployed morons who have been doing this stuff would not be able to afford an arsenal, probably not a single gun. Guns are not easy to smuggle like drugs, black market prices would be astronomical.

And I love the argument owning a gun protects against government turning against the people. Good luck with that when you have a gun and they have a drone. And systems that track your conversations and whereabouts at all times.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/16/2015 | 8:02:33 AM
Re: AT&T has long history of this
The US government is entirely different from the Hitler dictatorship. The NSA and FBI are not the Gestapo. They are targeting terrorist groups and not rounding up ethnic groups for extermination based on the rantings of a single man.

Keeping the country safe is much different than ethnic cleansing and i trust our government to do the right thing. Unlike Hitler or Stalin governments, there are remedies to counter abuse of power.

With regard to gambling, the bookies that were being targeted were tax evaders. That is illegal. Much of the gambling was fixed and sponsored by organized crime which is not non violent. Even two bit bookies are not necessarily non violent either.

You are taking examples and blowing them out of proportion. Smoking weed is illegal in most states regardless of whether it is done on private property. But the government is not going to use drones to track that. Niether are they going to get rid of alcohol. They tried that once before.

The bottom line is that i am all for going after terrorists with every tool we have. They operate outside the law, respect no borders, respect no lives and have a toxic agenda. Sometimes you have to take the gloves off and fight like your life depends on it.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
8/19/2015 | 10:23:18 AM
Re: AT&T has long history of this
"...The most interesting part of book to me was how close Wozniak and Steve Jobs came to getting busted by FBI. They were making some money building and selling black boxes long before Apple was even a gleam in their eye."

 

@TerryB   Thanks for history on AT&T, Wozniak and Jobs. I did not know this.  I will keep an eye out for the book by Lapsley as well.
theb0x
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theb0x,
User Rank: Strategist
8/17/2015 | 1:28:31 PM
Subject of Your Post
While the actions of AT&T is alarming from a privacy perspective, the given information known with the actions of the NSA lead many to beleive that all these different technologies have already been compromised by the orginization in one way, form, or another.

Example:

The rise and 'fall' of the developement of Truecrypt.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
8/17/2015 | 2:37:57 PM
What I worry about
If communication companies are help the NSA counter terrorist threats and treason, such as the doings of Assange and Snowden - Right On! What I worry about is if they are providing ordinary law enforcement with extraconstitutional help in solving ordinary crimes.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
8/17/2015 | 6:00:52 PM
Re: What I worry about
If communication companies are help the NSA counter terrorist threats and treason, such as the doings of Assange and Snowden - Right On!

Wow! I just can't believe what I'm reading. I couldn't disagree with you more on this.

For many, the "doings" of Assange and Snowden are necessary steps to undermine the power of the empire. Some will call this justice, freedom and them, heroes. Not terrorists or traitors.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
8/17/2015 | 9:05:30 PM
Re: What I worry about
I can't believe anyone would not want to have some sort of security in place to prevent another 9-11. It has nothing to do with "empire" and everything to do with security of a country's citizens. We are not talking about the Gestapo or KGB here. It's annoying like the TSA but i would rather have passengers screened before a plane flight than getting blown up at 35000 feet.
DanK363
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DanK363,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/18/2015 | 11:43:19 AM
Re: What I worry about
The issue with the TSA is that it is all based on a PC version of the world, so you get them checking baby's diapers and old ladies in wheelchairs while avoiding any hint of profiling. With a different attitude toward security Israel has been successful in fending off terrorists - when was the last time you heard about an El Al flight being hijacked? When you add in the stunning lack of competence of the screeners, it is not surprising that over 90% of test bombs made it through the checkpoints in security tests at airports.
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
8/18/2015 | 2:22:22 PM
Re: What I worry about
So how shall we proceed?  Harrass Arab and Muslim Americans mercelessly until they leave the country even though the vast majority of them appear to have no sympathy with terrorist organizations such as AQ or ISIS?  Or do you have a better idea?
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
8/19/2015 | 7:45:29 AM
Re: What I worry about
Sad, but true, the intentional racial bias of Israeli security is effective. They openly admit that they target specific groups, but they do that already on the perimeter of airports, not only in a busy line at the security check point in a terminal filled with hundreds of people.

Focusing on that issue alone is unfair. The problem is that an ethnic group was driven off their land, is isolated in a place that is not sufficient to sustain their lives, and under constant fear. Under those circumstances it is not surprising that a portion of these people considers armed aggression and terror attacks as the only suitable means, although even they should know that it is futile.

This does not apply only to Israel, but to the US and many European countries. If you continue to choke off others for your own benefit they will eventually come to get what is rightfully theirs. In Europe they currently do that in peaceful means by risking their own lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea. The more pushback there is and the longer the problems in their home countries remain unresolved the more likely it will be that they do not use a rusty fishing boat, but an armed cruiser to make the passage.

As far as TSA goes, what do we expect from people who get paid often minimum wage and who are put up as the lightning rods for stressed travelers who demand top notch service all around after being nickled and dimed for every bag and a pack of peanuts.

The TSA even operates under ridiculously stupid rules. There was ONE guy who had explosives in his shoe, barely enough to amputate his own foot. And what happens? Millions of air travelers every day have to take their shoes off at security checkpoints. What does that accomplish other than increased anxiousness and travel rage which only adds noise to the indicators screeners should look for?

So here we have plenty of people who get paid next to nothing and have their work made needlessly difficult by dumb rules. Sure! That will work out great!
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
8/19/2015 | 10:08:53 AM
Re: What I worry about
"...When you add in the stunning lack of competence of the screeners, it is not surprising that over 90% of test bombs made it through the checkpoints in security tests at airports."

@DanK363   Excellent points.   Alot of "lip service" is given to security but to say the TSA represents our best and brightest is a stretch at best.

Anyone who travels to their destination safely should kiss the ground upon arrival because the "safegaurds" employed are an embarrassment for a Country that claims to be head and shoulders upove the rest.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
8/19/2015 | 10:26:50 AM
Re: What I worry about
@mak63   I agree.  Snowden is no hero.  He is a traitor plain and simple.  If he had any courage of his convictions he would not be sitting in Russia right now.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
8/17/2015 | 8:09:25 PM
Re: What I worry about
I agree. Snowden has caused more harm to national security with his release of all this information. It is ironic that he is seeking asylum in an autocratic country with a history of abuses that he is supposedly against.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
8/19/2015 | 7:59:20 AM
Re: What I worry about
Seeking asylum in Russia was not Snowden's choice, but a necessity because in any other place the US would have hunted him down to bring him back to the US for what will obviously be an unfair trial.

And you are wrong, Snowden single handedly did more for national security than any of the goons at the NSA, CIA, FBI, White House, military, Congress or whatever dysfunctional club we have. The administration showed its ineptitude with Snowden. Instead of hunting him down like a rabid dog they should have thrown him a big thank you party, give him some medals, give him tenure, buy him a nice house, and follow his advice. That would all have been better and less embarrassing than having the collected information leak out to the world. But that would have required foresight and intelligence, something totally lacking in the fire first, ask no questions second crowd in DC.

Snowden isn't against spying or against national security, what he could no longer do is sit idly by and watch masses of innocent people getting their personal information abused for no reason. Ever saw the movie "The life of others"? It is about the doings of the East German Staatssicherheit who spied on pretty much everyone in East German for ridiculous or no reasons at all runing the lives of many people. This is exactly the same that the NSA is doing and all the control and oversight that Congress should have is no longer there because the NSA and other agencies became a self-serving, self-centered, uncontrolled bunch that only exists to secure its own existance even if none of their work generates any tangible results. All that effort, time, and yes, money spent would have been much better used for improving relationships and economic well-being in those countries that have terrorist camps. Happy people with a job, enough to eat, housing, and a future do not build bombs and they will easily take care of those few religious nutballs that despite all that have stupid ideas.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
9/19/2015 | 12:18:19 PM
Re: What I worry about
Sorry but i think Snowden is a traitor. You are making out our government to be like the Gestapo and that is not the case.  He is lucky he landed in Russia, that bastion of freedom, otherwise he would have been imprisoned here and rightfully so.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
8/18/2015 | 11:01:58 AM
Re: What I worry about
@Gary, one man's terrorist and treason is another man's patriot. Keep in mind that the British considered Americans terrorists and George Washington guilty of treason. I don't think Snowden had any other motivation in mind than trying to help. Whether you and I agree that helped or hurt is a whole different matter.

I happened to watch The Siege again on TV last night. There are just so many facets of this battle against these suicide terrorists. And is the NSA system really helping? Now you have lone wolves just walking into public places and shooting people. This idea we can secure ourselves back into 1950 is a joke. The world has fundamentally changed and not even a complete police state will make us any safer.

I'll just be happy if we can ever stop people from hacking our IRS records. The incompetence in our IT world is just staggering now.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
8/19/2015 | 7:31:04 AM
What stings even more is...
...that Congress does absolutely not a single thing to effectively reign this in. Legislation will not help since the NSA ignores that anyway. What is needed is putting an end to the secret courts, demand warrants for every operation, and to help that process along drastically cut funding for the NSA and the dozen other three letter agencies who spy on US residents, entire administrations of friendly nations, and other obviously low/no risk individuals and organizations. Cutting funding will force these agencies to end their uncontrolled spying and focus on their main objectives and continue only those programs that actually generate any results.

Out of the gazillion AT&T records, how many solid leads did the NSA get to prevent a terorist attack? I don't know if the Snowden papers reveal that, but I guess the number is 0.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
8/19/2015 | 9:57:23 AM
Re: What stings even more is...
"..Out of the gazillion AT&T records, how many solid leads did the NSA get to prevent a terorist attack? I don't know if the Snowden papers reveal that, but I guess the number is 0."


This news of AT&T working hand and hand with the NSA is not surprising.   It is extremely disppointing though. It marks the clear demise of the principles of Democracy and Human Rights which the U.S. was supposed to be built upon.

As a skeptic already, this news throws me over the edge.  Big Brother is no longer a paperback novel. It is real. And Companies like AT&T are the lead characters. This the most depressing news I have heard in quite some time.

And in the end, as the quote above by moarsauce123 mentions, did it achieve any thing other than to throw the Constitution in the trash ?

As an AT&T customer, I will have to seriously re-think my association with them and any other "communications" company for that matter.


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