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NSA Unlawfully Surveiled Kim Dotcom in New Zealand (thehill.com)
455 points by jorkro on Aug 1, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 125 comments



The only mention of NSA seems to come from Kim... His logic appears to be that as a Five Eyes member the NSA and GCSB have some shared resources and that means the NSA used those resources to spy on him. That might be true, but he has no evidence that the NSA cares one bit about him. I seriously doubt the NSA was tasked with working a non-terrorism related piracy case, but that's me.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?objectid=11897719

> Dotcom, who should have been protected from GCSB surveillance as a New Zealand resident, said the GCSB did not know because its equipment was being used by the NSA, which was "directly involved".

> The GCSB documents do contain an admission of NSA involvement, although it was not made outright. In response to the accusation the GCSB had accessed NSA networks, the bureau refused to answer on national security grounds and acknowledged that under High Court rules that doing so would be seen by the court as an admission it had.

> Dotcom said the details showed some other party was using GCSB systems and he believed it would be the NSA."The US government has requested my extradition. The NSA is clearly the most interested party."

> "The NSA has unrestricted access to GCSB surveillance systems. In fact most of the technology the GCSB uses was supplied by the NSA."


Worth pointing out at this point that Kim is a heavily-documented liar.

If he told me the sky was blue, I'd go outside to check.


Don't worry, he has been meticulously collecting evidence and can prove everything! Unfortunately he can't post it just yet, but he'll definitely post it soon! Maybe next week! Or next month! But it's gonna be huge!!!


(Right after he gives Hannity his other scoop: https://twitter.com/seanhannity/status/866016183815942144)


Yep. He has been for years and years. http://attrition.org/errata/charlatan/kimble/


Mega-CAAAAR!

(One of the first times I realised that the web was going to be mis-used/abused by morons...)


> I seriously doubt the NSA was tasked with working a non-terrorism related piracy case, but that's me.

There are many examples of NSA and Five Eyes spying that have absolutely nothing to do with terrorism (though afaik none specific to copyright infringement). I linked to a handful in this other comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14907667


The GP is still somewhat correct.

All those cases fall within the domain of legitimate foreign intelligence targets of any organization.

Intelligence agencies perform political and economic intelligence all the time.

But Kim is just an irrelevant target he's way too of a small fish for them to bother.


And of course the NSA "doesn't comment on intelligence matters" and so will neither confirm nor deny this.

That means he's entirely free to make up stuff like this knowing that anyone who attempts to call him on it will face the "well it could happen" argument.


The GCSB had no reason at all to spy on Dotcom from a New Zealand perspective. The only case being brought against him is a copyright case from US claimants. Who do you think can request GCSB to do it's work for them? I don't think they would have spied on him and raided his home because a foreign business interest was concerned. Unless the request came from a 5-eyes level organisation, I'm pretty sure it would have been illegal for them to act against Dotcom.


Whether or not the NSA spied on Kim in this instance, it would be interesting to know whether they have the capability of spying on NZ networks without assistance from the GCSB. It would be a classic case of shooting your own citizens in the feet: wire up your telecommunications network to allow unlimited spying on demand, then watch as foreign powers make use of it for whatever purposes of their own.


>the capability of spying on NZ networks without assistance from the GCSB

Of course they do. Read the Wikileaks! The NSA has given itself provenance over the entire planets' worth of digital content. They hack the origin.


> seriously doubt the NSA was tasked with working a non-terrorism related piracy case

They go after literally everything. Do people not remember the snowden leaks?


Which Snowden leak showed that the NSA was being used to aid piracy investigations? I'm not disputing they had the technical ability to suck up various Kim Dotcom selectors, just that they have no public reason to do so and there is no evidence that they have.


While I have had my tiffs with KDC (publicly on twitter usually), this entire thread that seems to ignore the five-eyes loopholes is extremely disingenuous. NSA wants everything, so that they or some other three letter can walk the cat back later from data in their massive data centers. Ever since the 90's and echelon days we knew the 47 UKUS core agreement of the "five-eyes" (which later expanded to more) was abused by letting foreign agencies surveil an allies citizens, bypassing their own domestic restrictions, and then when they handed the raw data over, since it came from another source, and they didn't do the "collection", it wasn't a violation.

As a matter of fact, those of us who were warning about the NSA et al before Snowden were heavily relying on these 90's revelations to extrapolate what they were doing given the same system and new technology in a super-connected world.

So, for all the people in this thread to act like it's absurd that NSA was spying on KDC is ridiculously intellectually dishonest. NSA might not care about KDC individually, because they are just backdooring all the equipment (core router/switch backdoors, fiber splitters, etc) at backbone node junctions and they are gobbling up as much as possible for sifting later. Hence the word games the NSA leaders were playing with congress about collection vs wiretaping etc.

It's the NSA sharing raw data with Israelis in reverse, and it's happening all over to the point that the data sharing agreements themselves seem to me to be more of a security risk than the individuals they might deem worthy of a selector.

What's even more amazing to me is that on hn in years past you would have already been called out on this. I think hn is quickly becoming a place for business-people pretending to be hackers instead of the other way around, and it's shameful, but a different discussion I suppose.


> bypassing their own domestic restrictions

This is often repeated, but I don't believe any evidence has been published to indicate this is happening.


So in 7 years when a leaker finally leaks the documents that prove it ala Snowden, I wonder what thing we will be warning ya'll about that you will claim has "no evidence".

Look, as a fairly rational conspiracy theorist, I recognize the importance of evidence, but in cases like this, it's very unlikely unless a leak happens for you to ever get it, and hence instead of looking for deductive evidence you can never rely on getting, you have to use inductive logic instead, and the difference between the two logical methods (inductive/deductive) is an important distinction that isn't made enough.

Do we have hard evidence that KDC was spied on specifically? No. Do we have inductive reason to believe it's probable? Very much so.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/20/us-uk-secret-d...


What is the goal in discussing something if there is no proof? I just don't quite understand.

If there was evidence of such loopholes, people could demand change from their representatives. Without proof, I guess the only thing someone can do is repeat it in any IC-related thread on HN to get some easy karma points (Seens to work well!).


Don't care about the karma, what is the goal of defending those assholes from the NSA, there is loads of things being claimed about shit happening all over the world on HN that are pretty reasonable to discuss even without hard proof, but whenever it's something totally expected the NSA is obviously doing, there's always some patriot going "ah, but there's no proof". These bastards openly deny my right to privacy because I was born in the wrong country, I'm not forgetting that, they don't deserve a benefit of the doubt, nor have they ever shown to earn it. Where is the evidence of that?


Getting worked up about things which may not actually be true will waste necessary energy, so when actual proof arises of abuse, people would think nothing of it instead of being alarmed and demanding change.


I think it is completely possible the NSA was snooping on a non-US citizen running a largely criminal enterprise (especially if you count incidental collection). My point was that despite the headline there is no evidence that they were. The only person saying so is the known liar who ran the scam.


it's time for honest people like you to stop interacting with the plebs directly, and to start to educate them through mass-spectacle more. You're of a different breed; remember it.


What kind of mass spectacle do you have in mind?


The "spectacle of ignorance" on the part of the masses. The most horrific thing to come from all of this, is that we're all not at all interested in the knowledge that we have secret masters who have given themselves the right to inspect anything, alter anything - at all - in the digital world, and use that to maintain and continue to expand their power base.

None of that matters.

What matters is just how little any of us give a fuck.

When Snowden hit the wires, it was a digital apocalypse for a lot of people. The GCHQ "catalog of intercepts", such as it was, just hurt like hell. The details about Keyscore and the technology that out-Google's Google: horrific. I can't explain how depressing it is to know that there are hardware y-combinators out there, in the oceans, providing an elite class with advantages none of us will ever see, in their effort to project power in the new, digital, order.

It was absolutely disturbing.

What made it hard to wake up from the hangover was the realisation: 99.95% of the digital-using world just don't give a fuck, because they don't understand.

We cannot trust our computers any more. We never could, really, but now: we just can't.

How do we back out of this situation? It has to start with a local revolution: roll your own. Grow your own. And, unfortunately, that isn't happening. Technological centralism has enslaved us all - and there are only a few, elite, who can escape these bonds.

Are you one of them, "citizen"?


While I don't recall any leaks specific to piracy investigations, there were numerous leaks proving NSA involvement in cases which could in no way be described as relating to terrorism.

Off the top of my head:

- NSA surveillance of the semi-public Brazilian oil company Petrobras: http://g1.globo.com/fantastico/noticia/2013/09/nsa-documents...

- NSA tapped the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/merkel-calls-obama...

- NSA spying of Indian diplomats to uncover details about their nuclear and space programs: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-among-top-target...

This article is a decent compilation of Snowden-related stories from the first year after his leaks: http://www.businessinsider.com/snowden-leaks-timeline-2016-9


The US government has interests beyond preventing terrorism. Do you think it should be purposefully blind to facts such as the energy security of other countries, or the capabilities of their space programs? Space programs have a very clear military "dual use" as North Korea has been demonstrating recently.


> Which Snowden leak showed that the NSA was being used to aid piracy investigations?

I'm not aware of any assistance rendered to piracy investigations, but there is ample evidence of them sharing intel for the purpose of domestic law enforcement - which is way worse. So the call for direct evidence is nice (and silly considering the nature of the evidence), but the logic of "our boys would never" is pretty soundly blown out of the water. They have every reason to - and no reason not to, as there is no punitive action even after being caught.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/08/dea-and-nsa-team-intel...


It is fine to speculate, but I believe the "call" for direct evidence (versus unsubstantiated claims) makes sense given the headline stating the unsubstantiated claim as if it were a fact.


I wish more people would call out all stories on this more often. Given the Snowden revelations, this story is very believable to me, but we should never slack in requesting proof.


You (and I) have been given very clear proof that the entirety of our digital technological world has been subverted by an ultra-elite class to serve their (secret) purposes.

The call for proof on individual cases is, of course, a valid one. But to overlook the fact that we have no way to put the genie back in the box - that, in fact, there are two computer worlds - one for us, and one for the elites - is to allow ourselves to be enslaved by secrets.

The secrets that Snowden gave us all have only really further served to enslave us all. We, the people, do not care. And now that we have demonstrated that we don't have the gumption to care about our own enslavement, the deal is sealed. Nobody is fighting back, because nobody is aware, because nobody wants to know the truth: the world has gone computer, and none of us have the keys. Only our masters do.


> The call for proof on individual cases is, of course, a valid one

In this context though, it is because the headline indicates that it is a proven fact. However, it is not, it is an assumption directly from Dotcom. I think there would be no issue if it were more clearly stated as an allegation.


Oh, don't get me wrong, they spy on everyone, so I don't doubt they spied on him. I don't even doubt it was deliberate. I just want to see more proof of the specifics.


The NSA dishes out intel it has collected to other agencies in the US, including to the IRS and DEA etc. There is no such thing as a person not being a big fish. Its the case being supported that matters.

So in this case, the NSA would have a perfectly good reason to have him under surveillance. Primarily, when you think about how Hollywood and the music industry was impacted economically (and culturally) by his company. The DOJ were justified in requesting technical help, and would expect get intel from the NSA (Who in turn would request assistance from the NZ Folks) to support their case.


Since when did the NSA become the copyright industry's police? There were no security implications of Kim's operation; why was he targeted by the NSA?


If you remember the Snowden revelations, then you also remember that the NSA had been using their power for other then "legal" purposes, such as for economic espionage, and for a long time already.


The US intelligence apparatus exists to protect the interests of the citizens of the United States. A foreigner who violates millions of dollars of intellectual property belonging to American citizens and companies is a threat to our interests, and also of the interests of the nearly 200 nations that participate in the global copyright regime, whose copyrights he was also violating. Foreigners on foreign soil have no rights as far as US law is concerned.


You are right, or something resembling right, as regards Kim Dotcom in relation to the US.

But there is still something troubling here for Americans, because it means that there is an existing mechanism (and/or set of social relations) in place by which American copyright interests can turn the intelligence agencies into their servants. Once such machinery exists, it is at least as dangerous to Americans as it is to foreigners.


[flagged]


Would you please not post political or ideological rants to HN? It's not what this site is for.


I am not usually in the "if you have nothing to hide..." crowd, but this isn't some kid in Minnesota who downloaded a Metallica album. This is someone who created a business enterprise to circumvent US law. This is someone who pulled in tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars from this business. For a time this business was the single biggest source of pirated content in the world. All of this was done basically in the open. If this guy was an American citizen I doubt there would have been any resistance to getting warrants for this information. The slope would have to be very slippery for it to get to the level that the average American citizen would be the target of this type of investigation.


> someone who created a business enterprise to circumvent US law

Kinda like Uber? rim shot

But I'm still kinda serious. Your whole comment works if you swtich "pirated content" for "unlicensed, unregistered taxi service"


Uber isn’t stealing the property of others. There isn’t a federal law that you must have a taxi medallion.

Owning a taxi medallion of declining value is a consequence of the market.

Having songs you have recorded, spent money marketing on be stolen? That causes financial harm to the artists.

Imagine spending 40 million to make a movie. Now have your work given away for free to anyone that wants it. That is theft.

An unlicensed “taxi” service isn’t harming the rights of innocent people. It isn’t stealing. Who are the actual victims of Uber (besides women employees?) Really nobody. If you own a taxi, nothing is stopping by you from driving with Uber. Uber isn’t stealing your car.


If you truly wanted to dig through my comment history, you would find numerous posts criticizing Uber and AirBnb for basically establishing businesses on ignoring the law. However there is still a difference between feigning ignorance of the law and turning your middle finger up at it like Kim Dotcom did.


That are a vast number of laws that are designed to enrich one party at the expense of another. They are nearly always portrayed by the captured regulators as being for the safety of the citizenry when actually they are primarily for the purpose of enriching themselves and their cronies. One could argue that it is every citizen's duty to circumvent or directly violate those laws in the interest of fairness to all citizens. One could go further and assert that supporting such laws is immoral since as a result many people lose freedom of choice, freedom of speech, freedom to associate or move about, have reduced access to knowledge and opportunities, and the list goes on.


The ideals behind your post are great, but can we not pretend that Kim Dotcom is Rosa Parks? There is a difference between civil disobedience in which your comment advocates and profiteering from breaking those unjust laws.

Airbnb and Uber certainly broke some laws that were only put in place to protect monopolies. I think that is good for society. But they also broke plenty of laws that were legitimately for public health and safety. I don't think the former absolve the later and I don't think it is up to you, me, Airbnb, or Uber to decide which laws fall into which buckets. That is the job of our judicial system.


I acknowledge your distinction between civil disobedience and profiteering. But a further nuance is that effective civil disobedience may in some cases require a for-profit activity in order for it to become significant. In this case I am more on the side of Kim Dotcom than the MPAA and RIAA. And that is separate from the fact that they were able to use their influence to take down Dotcom in the way they did, an armed raid on his home using scores of law enforcement.

I disagree that it is not up to each citizen to decide which laws are just or unjust. In fact I feel it is the duty of each citizen to do so and to actively work for/against laws that one considers just/unjust.


I don't think the former absolve the later and I don't think it is up to you, me, Airbnb, or Uber to decide which laws fall into which buckets. That is the job of our judicial system.

Strongly disagree. The 4th branch of the government should be called "public outcry". If corrupt laws are on the books, trusting ivy league-trained judges to fix it is foolhardy.


AirBnB and Uber didn’t make a business out of stealing other people’s property and profiting from it.

Everyone in an Uber or AirBnB transaction is a willing participant. Huge difference.


Don't forget youtube. People seem to forget the years that it was almost entirely piracy.


So what happens when a US citizen starts publishing stuff China (or Russia, or the UAE, or England, or any other state that doesn't protect free speech as we do) doesn't like?

What happens in 40 years, when the US is on much less-firm footing as de facto World Cop?


> So what happens when a US citizen starts publishing stuff China (or Russia, or the UAE, or England, or any other state that doesn't protect free speech as we do) doesn't like?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Satanic_Verses_controver...

Didn't take any US precedent.


It is up to a government to protect its own citizens. There is a reason why Kit Dotcom is fighting the government of New Zealand currently and not the US government.

I think it is unrealistic to expect the US government to willingly give up one of their citizens to China or Russia over an issue of free speech anytime soon. And frankly I think it would be irrational for the average citizen to fear they would be involved in such an exchange.


Never forget Thucydides' wisdom from 2500 years ago, as true today as then and as in 2500 more years:

"Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must."

Tying our hands today will do nothing to help us when we are the weak and someone else is the strong.


Of course, acting with moral authority extends the lifespan of leaders, because such leaders get more support than the nakedly self-interested. And thus tying your hands today does in fact put off the day when you're weak.


> Foreigners on foreign soil have no rights as far as US law is concerned.

Except for, you know, treaty rights. Which there are a lot of.


And it is indeed incorrect because the constitution and the bill of rights do apply to foreign citizens who are visiting the us. Of course there are laws which are designed to protect citizens but don't protect foreigners but they are not actually part of the constitution


> protect the interests of the citizens of the United States

Namely the RIAAA and MPAA in this particular case.


And the artists that make the content. RIAAA doesn’t actually own copyrights – artists and labels do.


(Un)Fortunately they have the tools that others want to use, so other agencies request info & access. Very similar to how the FBI manages a database of faces for facial recognition [1] and your local LEO can query w/o a warrant or probable cause [2].

1. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/06/smile-youre-in-t... 2. ...I'll try to find the link but recently watched a YouTube video of a government hearing on this where the senator or congressman was very unhappy about this situation.


>(Un)Fortunately they have the tools that others want to use, so other agencies request info & access.

The bigger thing there is the fact that a kind of well orchestrated "operation" took place is now proven, disclosed, and fully admitted by NZ officials. The info disclosed gives a lot of background on how US NSA solicits "favors" from other states and on what pretexts


You phrase it as if this is a daily occurrence, "other agencies request info & access". In Germany, when intelligence agencies merge with ordinary law enforcement, we call it Gestapo.

There should be by definition very little overlap between the two. Law enforcement works nationally, where law applies; intelligence agencies can not work where law applies, because they would be in flagrant violation of it.


> "In Germany, when intelligence agencies merge with ordinary law enforcement, we call it Gestapo."

Who is "we" in this context? At least in the Germany I know most people actually call this "Gefahrenabwehr" (literally: danger prevention) or "Staatsschutz" and can't remember any historic event which has shown that this is a bad idea.

If right-wing terrorist join the party people call it "Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund" (National Socialist Underground) [0]

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Socialist_Undergrou...


I'm more interested in how much corporate espionage and counter-espionage they do. If a foreign company steals/hacks domestic IP and that hurts the US economy, I wouldn't be surprised if they took action. So, if we can agree that this type of action is reasonable by the NSA, then I could see them justifying the surveillance of Kim Dotcom under industrial counter-surveillance.


It's not just protective. Snowden indicated that part of what they consider national security involves economic security. In their interpretation, their mandate includes corporate and economic espionage, and ensuring that the US maintains its economic edge.

See:

Spying on Petrobas, a a Brazilian oil company: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/09/nsa-spying-bra...

Spying on an EU Anti-trust official: https://www.cnet.com/news/nsa-spied-on-eu-antitrust-official...

And there are a number of cases where the NSA spied on payment processing companies. I haven't included those because you could argue that those may be related to tracking terrorism funding.


I thought this was common knowledge long before Snowden, it's been a core responsibility of intelligence gathering agencies from the very beginning.


Economic security is national security. You can't really separate them once you're thinking past the immediate short term. A richer enemy will have better weapons, better technology, better surveillance, and better leverage.


> Economic security is national security. You can't really separate them once you're thinking past the immediate short term. A richer enemy will have better weapons, better technology, better surveillance, and better leverage.

Economic security for the well-connected comes at the expense of economic security for the average citizen.

It gave economic security to Ford Motor Company when a law imposing 30% tariffs on all foreign trucks was passed. Did that give economic security to the average citizen though? They must now pay a massive tax every time they buy a foreign truck.


It gives economic security to about 12,000 Ford employees and their families in Dearborn, MI and Kansas City, and probably another 50,000-100,000 people in supplier and supporting roles.


The agency's existence is politically feasible because people see it as protecting them from terrorists and foreign governments. Peforming spy-work to marginally improve the bottom line of American companies doesn't really stack up on that scale; even if you beleive the beggar-thy-neighbour economics that it implies.

And even if we naively assume some economic gain to the US, isn't that outweighed by the cost of their own war on encryption and instence on backdoors and other meddling in the ordinary functiong of the US tech industry?


>The agency's existence is politically feasible because people see it as protecting them from terrorists and foreign governments.

I don't think the US public really cares about the privacy of foreigners against US intelligence agencies. Further, it's not just some marginal benefit. If piracy became user friendly (think Netflix or better) and easy to do with impunity, it would be a massive threat to the entire American creative industry. No one is under the fantasy that we can root out piracy altogether.


> Peforming spy-work to marginally improve the bottom line of American companies doesn't really stack up on that scale

That's laughable. The Russians and Chinese have made a gold mine out of ripping off America's military and commercial technology. The cold war would have been very different if the Russians/Soviets hadn't stolen the US (and allied) technology on the atomic bomb.

It's neither naive nor some economic gain to be had. It's blatantly obvious and it's vast. If - as one example - China is really going to be a serious long-term competitor to the US economy (and its technology interests) over time, and it certainly appears they are, then the US needs to be capable of advanced economic espionage, exactly the same as China has been doing to the US on their way up. If they come up with some new marvel of technology (it's bound to happen given their economic scale at this point), the US should plunder it exactly the same as China and Russia would happily do to the US.


You are assuming they are. This Dotcom clown could say there were aliens in his bedroom, would be compelled to believe that?


Something surely went on between the NZ Key government who were negotiating for the filming of the Hobbit. The studio seemingly found that massive tax breaks weren't enough, and it's been suggested that the curtailing of Dotcom's efforts was part of it.


As long as the US wastes tax payer dollars doing investigations and enforcement of Hollywood copyrights, I'd like to see them pay some dumb as agent to do a comparison of the total number of copyright violations on YouTube vs the total number of copyright violations on Mega servers.

For fun they could do a comparison of the number of copyright complaints both YouTube and Mega received and the number of those complaints they have acted on. Maybe for extra bonus we can also compare the number of counterfeit products on Amazon (violating copyright or trademark).


But is it a waste? The export of American values through their media is an incredibly powerful tool. Ignoring their goals and values, which I disagree with, the tactics and strategy make complete logical sense.

There is a reason that military agencies get to edit scripts before they allow the use of their resources in movies and it's not because they're stupid people.


>The export of American values through their media is an incredibly powerful tool.

If American made media is such a powerful tool you think American tax payer dollars would go to something like Mega maximizing distribution of American values through this media, rather than spending (tax payer) money to limit the distribution of said American values.


True, if America had the same propaganda goals but a much more socialist attitude. As it is, one of those values is that the people who own this media should be incredibly rich. And those rich people should have more of a say over what is allowed, and they love copyright - the longer the term and the more violent the enforcement the better.


Voice of America. See also military censorship of military resources used in movies.


I'm not shocked in the slightest - spying is likely the most harmless of actions performed by US and NZ against Dotcom.

It's still much more shocking to me how NZ authorities de-facto renounced their sovereignty, by letting US agents free to walk all over their laws when they raided him. They did that with glee, with the happiness of a servant who knows he's making a great job for his master and rewards will ensue. It made a mockery of the NZ justice system, all involved police chiefs and politicians should have been thrown in jail for treason.


Unlawful in New Zealand. I'd be surprised if what they did wasn't legal under US law.


I think it's probably legal given he is a foreign national on foreign soil. (I'm not sure if there is anything in the laws that empower the NSA that limits their scope for what matters they investigate on, if so, they may have violated that. If not, there probably should be.)

A fairer question might be, why is the mission of the NSA to enforce copyright law for media companies? Shouldn't they be busy trying to hunt down terrorists, prevent attacks against the USA and it's people abroad, things like that?


No, he was a legal NZ resident, the law protected all residents equally

The GCSB was found to be illegally wiretapping him, sadly since that time the govt changed the law to make all that stuff legal. It's election year here in NZ if we want to change these laws we need to change the govt.


Correct. I was wondering the entire time reading the link what exactly was illegal since it is fairly common knowledge that all nations spy on each other and in the US it is totally legal for the US government to spy on foreigners who are not on their soil.


It's a confusing headline. What the NSA does is probably illegal in every country but the US, but the implication is it's illegal in the US.

It's probable they do things that are illegal under US law, but I doubt this is one of them.


The concept of legality gets awkward when talking about the military force of a nation, but even in the United States there are limits to what the military (NSA, DOD, etc.) are authorized to do. Though the matter at hand could be framed as a matter of 'economic security' to the US, it is unclear that such an argument is sound. And if that argument is not sound, the consequences that stem from the US military being involved in the domestic law enforcement of another state against their will are not desirable to the US from a policy perspective.

Though NSA's actions may or may not be illegal in the US, there are other standards used to judge or analyze military action in the global economic marketplace.


I don't know enough about US law, but if the president is required (at least in theory) to receive authorisation from congress before (or after) attacking an enemy nation, is there not some equivalent requirement for using the military apparatus against an ally?

Perhaps the constitution allows the president to do whatever he or she wants with the military (as long as it is within the historic bounds of what militaries do) without triggering the need for congressional approval unless it reaches a "state of war" at which point people might actually start dying.

That would seem like the sort of practical level of discretion that a country would give its executive branch, but I can't help thinking that there could or should be some law somewhere that gave the president's actions against allies some type of legislative basis, so that voters had an idea of how the president would use these secretive powers, and could hold the executive to account at the ballot box.


Short of political assassination, is anything done by the US government outside the US illegal under US law?


Political assassination has been a thing for the US gov for a while https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/05/cia-long-his...


Yes, thank you.

Similar to how "The president can't have a conflict of interest", the three-letter agencies can basically do whatever they want and get away with it.


There's a difference between being illegal and there being a precedent of it being illegal.

The government does lots of things that are probably illegal but there's no precedent set. That gives them the opportunity to argue in court why the specific instance in question is different.


It should be, the US Constitution should apply to government actions ANYWHERE not just actions on US Soil, the US Constitution was never designed to be geographically limited, it was designed to limit what the government was allowed to do, period, in all cases in all lands, everywhere

Sadly the US Court Systems has stated it does not have the authority to apply the Constitution to the US Government when the US Government is acting outside US Soil, it is a ridiculous standard but....


>It should be, the US Constitution should apply to government actions ANYWHERE not just actions on US Soil, the US Constitution was never designed to be geographically limited, it was designed to limit what the government was allowed to do, period, in all cases in all lands, everywhere

No. There's no support for this view in constitutional law.


How so, the entire purpose of the Constitution is to be a limiting document on what the States and we the people have authorized the government to do on our behalf, not just do on our behalf with in the Geographical regions commonly known as the United States


If the IRS can collect taxes from expatriate US citizens living and working overseas, the federal courts can certainly prosecute US citizens for breaking other federal laws while abroad.

Otherwise, those people might as well wipe their backsides with their Form 2555s and mail them back without checks attached!


The courts have no problem enforcing many many criminal laws on people even when the crimes occur over seas

They just have a problem applying the law to the government when the actions are over seas..

Nice little loop hole they carved out for themselves...


Exactly. It's extremely hypocritical.

And that's before you even consider the willingness of US courts to prosecute foreign nationals for breaking US laws on foreign territory, where one or more US citizens may have been tangentially affected by it.

Law enforcement cannot be above the law. It destroys the principles that make laws worth having and enforcing.


Congress is capable of enacting laws with extraterritorial reach. I am unaware of any law that should be interpreted to criminalize the NSA's international spying.


for starters 4th Amendment, and 10th amendment,

then there Article 2 Section 8 which does not grate the authority to create and agency such as the NSA or preform international Spying thus since the constitution does not expressly grant such authority the Federal Government is barred from such activity


Strictly staying within US law is not the only thing that the US intelligence apparatus tries to do. There are also agreements not to monitor the citizens of "Five-Eyes" citizens in those countries without due process; even if not illegal, it would violate the intelligence-sharing agreements we have with those nations and would be highly improper due to the damage to national security that risking those intelligence-sharing agreements would entail.

That being said, this story is incredibly thin.

>It aimed to explain why Dotcom and others charged in the FBI's Megaupload investigation were spied on for two months longer than previously admitted.

There's no reason this would even be improper, if the FBI had gone through due process in the US, which it appears they had. This story appears to be entirely Kim Dotcom's lawyer trying to politicize his case in order to fight a lawful extradition.


If it's done by a member of the United States military, there's the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I'm not sure if it applies to the NSA or CIA, though.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_Code_of_Military_Justi...


Doesn't apply to the Intel agencies, at least not fully.

That's why drones and seal teams are transferred to those agencies for short periods of time.


To quote Malory Archer: "It's the government! Even if it wasn't legal they'd enforce it."


only if its forbidden by treaty.


Even then it doesn't really matter. I'm pretty sure it's now fact that the US broke the United Nations Convention against Torture during the war on terror. I seem to remember the USG even admitting this. Nothing was done. For now the US is powerful enough that it will do what it wants.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_war_crimes#Comma...


Can someone state in a nutshell why this guy keeps getting bullied by the government?


Piracy. MegaUpload was a huge warez distributor around the same time as RapidShare. File Hosters over HTTP


I think it's a little more to it than that - it's not just that they made money of piracy, but also the publicity and prestige around the case. I'd liken it to what happened with Kevin Mitnick - when he eluded the FBI for so long - and the surrounding pressure to increase sentencing around unauthorized access to computer systems. The lobby powers are a bit different this time around, with copyright being the main issue - but "damages" are just as, if not way more, overblown IMNHO.

Piss off large conglomerates, and they'll in turn get the government to throw the book at you, even if they have to write a new book to get it done...


So why are rapidgator and uploaded or any other upload services getting off the hook


From what I recall, MegaUpload was accused of not only providing incentives for uploading files, but also ignoring the fact that some files were very obviously pirate content.

This page seems to have more information about that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seizure_of_Megaupload#Indictme...


I'm not sure they are, they're just not nearly as public. Kim Dotcom is / was notoriously boastful about his actions, and all the money he made off those actions. I've never heard similar things about the founders of any other file hosting service founder/owner that is well known for piracy. Makes him an incredibly appealing target I think.


Same as PirateBay, which made its name when they publicly replied to copyright enforcement letters with insults. Refusing to be humbled by established authorities is the real crime, because it corrodes their legitimacy and hence their whole existence.

It's a bit like being homosexual in countries with harsh state-religions but tolerant attitudes: keep it quiet and nobody will bother you, but if you flaunt it then the law will crack down on you, because you're attacking the basis of the whole legal edifice.


Don't make fun of the state.


Oh look, the NSA using its extraordinary capabilities solely to ensure the military security of the United States. Kim Dotcom surely represented a strategic threat to our interests. /s


Was Kim dotcom considered a national security risk because of Megaupload or because of other things he did / or planned?


Putting aside the target of the surveillance -

Yes, the NSA is a spy agency. It's their job to spy outside the country. And of course the spying is illegal outside of the country - no country endorses being spied on by foreign governments.


> And of course the spying is illegal outside of the country - no country endorses being spied on by foreign governments.

Isn't this exactly what the Five Eyes surveillance agreement is? It certainly seems extremely relevant and may also explain why the NSA's surveillance here was possible.


It's illegal for these countries to spy on their own citizens so they get their friends to do it instead.


None of the information obtained by a spy agency can ever enter a court of law, and none of it should ever be "passed" or "shared" with ordinary law enforcement so they can act on it & parallel construct.


[flagged]


Irrelevant. The story is not about him.


It's quite literally all about him, he's the only one making the allegations! If you read past the headline there is no source for NSA involvement other than Kim himself.


>He ripped of tons of people with a subscription scam in Germany a couple of years ago.

Can you provide a source relate to the subscription scam?


And now waiting for the other shoe to drop: FBI doing parallel construction with evidence obtained through that illegal NSA surveillance.


Except for the part he's not an American so it wouldn't be illegal for the NSA to snoop his emails and no parallel construction is needed to know that Kim Dotcom ran a massive pirate site. He boasted about it and his wealth from it openly!

Kim's great at getting press and that's about all there is to see here.


No need - there’s nothing in the article that indicates any US laws that were broken...

-edit to correct autocorrect


"The Good Wife" is a great source of information on this.


Thinking about it, Watergate came after we left the gold standard. The more money being spent on the NSA, the more government debt increase and benefit contractors like Snowden.




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