Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Edward Snowden: A through Z of Electronic Eavesdropping

What we've learned about electronic eavesdropping from the Edward Snowden situation - in a handy print-out-and-keep lexicon of state surveillance.


A
APPLE: Computer behemoth and partner in US government surveillance programs. It revealed it had received between 4,000 and 5,000 US government requests for access to user accounts in six months starting 1 December 2012. Many would relate to criminal inquiries rather than intelligence work.
B
BLARNEY: Collection of surveillance information by tapping choke points on the information superhighway. (Fairview is another project doing the same, but the precise differentiation between these methods is not yet clear.)
BOUNDLESS INFORMANT: National Security Agency (NSA) tool measuring the total volume of communications "metadata" (see below for definition) gathered globally in order to analyse its flows, and the agency's tasking.
C
COMINT: COMmunications INTelligence, in the jargon of the community. This once applied simply to phone and radio traffic between people, but today it includes the full gamut of internet-based options too. The flag COMINT attached to a security classification, as on some of the documents released by Edward Snowden, means that those handling the traffic need to be trained or "indoctrinated" in the special security procedures relating to this material, and subject to special security clearances.

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