Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 9th Jun 2013 11:18 UTC
Legal The term 'direct access' seems to be the central issue when it comes to the coordinated PR campaign from Silicon Valley, and a new article from The Washington Post seems to clarify it all quite a bit. "Intelligence community sources said that this description [i.e., direct access], although inaccurate from a technical perspective, matches the experience of analysts at the NSA. From their workstations anywhere in the world, government employees cleared for PRISM access may 'task' the system and receive results from an Internet company without further interaction with the company's staff." This seems to explain why the leaked official documents speak of 'direct access' even though the companies themselves deny it. The leaked documentation probably wasn't written by a technical expert, so he simply used a term that describes the end result (i.e., access whenever, wherever, whatever), but not the actual technical workings (i.e., the system does not directly tap into the companies' own servers). Update: The Guardian has released a new slide from the NSA slide deck: it speaks of "collection directly from the servers" of several US companies, like Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and so on. It also mentions directly tapping into the very cables that carry data to and from the US. I wonder how long Silicon Valley will continue to lie and/or legalese around the issue. Man up for once.
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What copying means
by jgmills on Mon 10th Jun 2013 17:44 UTC
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From reading news reports so far, I conclude that NSA is copying and storing all the content data, but not reading it. Then, when they get a court order to examine the content belonging to an individual who is under suspicion, they can start reading it. That way, they will have access to content several years in the past. It's all legal because they declared it legal.
It's as if they got a warrant to put a wiretap on somebody's phone, but instead of recording phone calls starting when they got the warrant, they can listen to phone calls they recorded before they got the warrant.

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