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NSA domestic dragnet NOT authorised by Patriot Act, rules US Appeals Court

The greater argument, that the Patriot Act itself is unconstitutional, was left unaddressed.

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The "issues" are better separated.

The meta data collection hazard cuts much deeper than tyrannical opportunities for governments. In a perfect Social Networking World(TM) murder and talking with your mouth full, and drunken Selfies would be one single speedy trial. Problems with that, I think; not the trial but rather who presumes to sit in the Judge's seat.

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Anonymous Coward

metadata

1 Metadata refers to information like the number called, the location of the caller and the length of a call rather than the actual content of a conversation.

factually correct, and in isolation doesn't sound like much - the reality is more along the lines of:

1. Metadata refers to information like all the numbers that you have called, the date and time when you made those calls, the location in which you were when you made those calls, the length of the calls and also the same information on all the calls that the people you called made on their own, spreading out like a spiders web, ready to be mined for connections, patterns and behaviours. It does however not contain the actual contents of a conversation, so everything is fine :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: metadata

The metadata alone, if collected for long periods, is enough to detect affairs and abortions, which is definitely not an invasion of privacy in any way.

You also left out powering down and up of mobiles, that metadata/information is collected as well, along with when and where. Every one piece of information alone tells nothing, but together and in bulk it can paint a pretty amazing pictures of peoples individual lives.

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Re: metadata

Well, not only just powering phones on and off, but the sync message every second that can be used to triangulate your location by taking your phone's ID and the ID of the towers it syncs up with. However if they get the relative power levels in those sync packets, they can pin-point your location down to a square-meter.

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Contents of calls

They will know you called a suicide prevention helpline, whilst standing at, or near, a popular spot for suicides, but they will not know what you talked about.

They will know you called an adult chatline for 18 minutes, but will not know what you talked about.

As you say, with the metadata alone, they can paint a very interesting picture.

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impliedly?

Is that a word?

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Re: impliedly?

This is English. New words are invented all the time. And since El Reg happens to call home base in England....

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Re: impliedly?

Hi Johnny,

Ignore the harsh commentard, I also didn't think it was a real word. So I looked it up. Words are cool.

I'll admit I havent cross checked this but according to http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/impliedly

It means:

involved, indicated, or suggested without being directly or explicitly stated; tacitly understood

So yes it is indeed a real word, one that is also quite old too; goes back to the 1500s.

Jonny

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Re: impliedly? Is that as word.

It is now.

Of course it'll only get official recognition if more people start using it.

Start a trend, drop it in conversation more, write a hip-hop song with it. If it catches on it'll be added to the dictionaries.

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Coat

Re: impliedly?

I'm such a div. I didn't even think to look it up.

1500s wahh!, almost as old as 'Pillicock'.

I'd appreciate if nobody asks why I know that one off the top of my head...

(ok, ok, Shakespeare)

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Headmaster

Re: impliedly?

I don't see what the fuss is about, impliedly is a perfectly cromulent word.

(I mean it's on the internet and everything--so it must be OK!)

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Coat

Re: impliedly?

So yes it is indeed a real word, one that is also quite old too; goes back to the 1500s.

Damn Yanks need to update their language.

And their accents, so 1700s...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: impliedly?

> Is that a word?

Hi! Yes, it is. "Implied" is an adjective¹ but since what we are modifying is the verb "precludes", what we require is an adverb... which can be formed from an adjective by adding the suffix -ly.

¹ More precisely, it is the past participle of the verb "to imply", used as a participial adjective.

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Re: impliedly?

Yes, definitely a real word.

Actually, it goes back to before the 1500s. The OED's earliest examples of its use are from 1449 and 1475. And it's not archaic - it also gives examples from 1964 and 1970.

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Gotta hand it to them...(they take it anyway)

"all the numbers that you have called, the date and time when you made those calls, the location in which you were when you made those calls, the length of the calls and also the same information on all the calls that the people you called made on their own, spreading out like a spiders web, ready to be mined for connections,"

They're all ready for the next 'McCarthy-style' circus.

Any idea when they had that scheduled for? There's probably a Gant chart somewhere.

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Re: Gotta hand it to them...(they take it anyway)

That has always been the most logical reason for these kind of programs, STASI style suppression of disent. Dr Cory and xkcd have going into the mathematics of how stupid it is as an anti-terrorist program.

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Re: Gotta hand it to them...(they take it anyway)

'logical'

I'll go with Granny Weatherwax on this one...

"Granted it's obvious, but just because things are obvious, doesn't mean they're right."

- can't recall which book (they're all good)

I thought the McCarthy era was generally perceived as a dark mark on recent american history, anybody who would wish to repeat it should be classified with those who'd like to see a new holocasut.

(I mean I know America mostly invented the TV rerun, but there must be better ways to relieve the monotony).

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Re: Gotta hand it to them...(they take it anyway)

I'm sorry, how does a rerun relieve the monotony? Ah, perhaps it's a typo and you meant relive the monotony.

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Childcatcher

Re: Gotta hand it to them...(they take it anyway)

"I thought the McCarthy era was generally perceived as a dark mark on recent american history,"

In general, but there will always be denialists (sadly, Poul Anderson was one), and of course the current strategy is to pretend that no abuse of rights are taking place, so why are you complaining?

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Re: Gotta hand it to them...(they take it anyway)

Forget the joke icon?

Who would want to relive monotony? (except perhaps Rincewind, and maybe 'Little Britain' viewers).

Perhaps I meant needing something to 'entertain' besides the reruns on TV? As in a media circus of a long running investigative witch-hunt.

That was a mind-bender, at first I thought I'd spelt monotony wrong, nope, the correction was identical (cleans glasses lenses just in case), maybe I'd mispronounced it (silly-billy, its typed not spoken).

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If, we take the referenced commenters in the article seriously, then why is NSA still slurping the metadata? One other article I read on this and that other rulings lately, pointed out that basically the courts will take no action except to "ask " Congress to fix the law and clarify it. Which means that if they kill it, then the collection will have been illegal and no one takes the heat (oops.;.. we blew it) or Congress will authorize it and what was shady will now be legal.

I'm not going to even try to speculate what's coming down the road at us as Congress seems pretty much all over the map on the so-called FREEDOM Act as well as the renewal of the PATRIOT Act. (god.. who names these things? Is there a department for that?) I don't believe for a minute though, that domestic spying will go away.

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Missed opportunity

Which act covers "The War Against Terrorism"?

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Metadata, so unimportant

Metadata is so tiny and unimportant and trivial to us that we are going to fight to the bitter end to defend our right to collect it.

Anyway, soon we will go back to denying that we collect any information, because we don't, and if you say you don't believe us we can label you as a crackpot. Whatever happens, don't think about other data that we might be collecting, because we're not, you tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist. Why are you thinking about it? I told you not to think about it! (Sometimes the mind control ray takes a while to warm up..) Anyway, there's no "it." There's no reason for us to even be having this conversation. Why are we here anyway? Look, a sporting event is on the television! Why don't you just watch that, drink some sour, watery, "American" beer made in a factory owned by foreigners, and think about how bad people have it in other countries, while I go... check on something... behind this curtain...

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Re: Metadata, so unimportant

<waves hand> This is not the metadata you are looking for.

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The NSA...

...never metadata it didn't like.

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Metadata

Collective Noun:

Anything we can get our hands on, by whatever means we can get away with.

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Anonymous Coward

I read the whole decision

And the Justices didn't actually call the DoJ laywers idiots...but they got close.

I think that if/when this gets to the Supremes, that some disgruntled acolyte of David Snowden should show up at the courthouse with a binder detailing all of the justice's movements over the last 10 years and just hand it to one of the ACLU/EFF attorneys, and turn around and leave.

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FAIL

Re: I read the whole decision

Quote: "...some disgruntled acolyte of David Snowden should show up at the courthouse with a binder detailing all of the justice's movements over the last 10 years...."

I recall that this was done for Senator Diane Feinstein, and her husband a bunch of years ago, all from public records. She did squat to help protect SSN, and bunches of other stuff that had been in paper records and got moved to the net without appropriate redaction so I'm not sure the Supremes would be all that much better.

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Anonymous Coward

I usually understand the arguments being made in these law articles, but I just can't fathom how, in any country ruled by laws, there can be laws that are not subject to judicial review. (Though I suppose you could consider the US constitution as such.) I'd always understood that the judicial review process was an integral part of getting rule by law to work. Without it, the country just goes back to rule by executive fiat.

Can anyone offer any insight on the district judge's opinion?

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Get OUT of jail??

You have to be IN jail for a "get out of jail free" card to work. Nobody at the NSA, nobody in government, not one corporation that collaborates with them will EVER see anything resembling jail time for the ongoing trashing of American rights. So using the term "get out of jail" is a misnomer, at best, and misleading, at worst.

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Facepalm

Re: Get OUT of jail??

what rights? didn't the Patriot Act et al remove such emcumberances? from those that are not megarich anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

Simply clueless

Some folks couldn't buy a clue with all the money Bill Gates has stolen. Recording phone numbers is completely legal and will be proven to be legal as this silly case continues. Eventually the clueless will come to understand this is the 21st century and that mass communication needs to be monitored to protect society from itself - which is quite unfortunate.

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Re: Simply clueless

"Eventually the clueless will come to understand this is the 21st century and that mass communication needs to be monitored to protect society from itself"

Sorry, are you attempting irony or parody here? I didn't want to down-vote you until it was clear...

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Anonymous Coward

I would comment but.........

I have been warned that work has been watching me and my posts (whatever). If I have a beef with some asshats, it is seen.....and If that's my work, imagine the ASSHOLEs in the NSA / FBI / GHCQ / Gestapo (alive and well) ..........So for now I have to be an anonymous coward - For now. I will be back "Jester * Asshole"!

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Devil

Re: I would comment but.........

If your work requires you to use a proxy server, they can log your http traffic . . . such as that which communicates with El Reg. Posting as AC is only a useful defense if your work doesn't care enough to do that. Actually, if they care enough, they can just capture all your network traffic. Using your work PC to do something your work doesn't want you to do is a losing bet if they want to catch you badly enough.

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Anonymous Coward

No story here.

"may be illegal".. even if that's "definitely is illegal".. means they'll just change the laws.

Just as Theresa May is about to do here.

I've nothing to hide though, so it's all good. And I trust all the police who'll have access to it. It's not like they sit around misusing PC's and getting the sack for it. Oh wait, they do, on another Reg story I read 30 seconds ago.

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That's my reading of the ruling. "It's not the law, but Congress can make it the law, adn then it'll be fine by us."

And you can bet that Congress is already drafting the legislation to address this ruling, should the appeal to the Supreme Court go a similar way.

This will only be interesting if the Supreme Court not only says that it isn't supported by present law, but is also unconstitutional. That would throw a wrench into the NSA gears, so to speak.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't worry folks. The US government wants to spy on everyone in order to suppress dissent. The Constitution will be modified if need be. After all, someone living in the US might disagree with government policies and the government considers that person to be a danger to its existance

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