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N.S.A. Dragnet Included Allies, Aid Groups and Business Elite (nytimes.com)
279 points by weu on Dec 20, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 113 comments

The best bit here is right in the first paragraph: "and a European Union official involved in antitrust battles with American technology businesses."

Spying on foreign governments because you think they might present a threat to you in terms of war/foreign policy is generally defensible (although many on here would disagree with that), while using the apparatus of the state to support select private enterprise through espionage is not.

The US government has still not appreciated the full impact of the leaks or they would be far more concerned about cleaning things up fast as the economic consequences threaten to be huge.

The US has really dropped the ball here. We, here in Germany, have a mainstream political party whose leaders are blindly americophile. The last and current government are dominated by that party.

From the beginning of the crisis, these people loudly blamed the victim, accusing NSA-critics of anti-americanism and telling us that "the NSA discussion is over".

Then, with time, the industrial espionage stories started to emerge (and it became known that Merkel's phone has been bugged since 2002). Turns out, there are quite a few instances where German companies had their trade secrets stolen by American intelligence agencies, which in turn gave those secrets to US competitors.

So now even the most blindly devoted atlanticists in government know that they must do something against the NSA problem, and to make it worse, they have to do something that actually works (as opposed to feel-good measures).

> Turns out, there are quite a few instances where German companies had their trade secrets stolen by FRENCH [1] intelligence agencies, which in turn gave those secrets to FRENCH competitors.

Fixed that for you. Please produce the articles about US companies benefiting from economic espionage.

[1] http://www.france24.com/en/20110104-france-industrial-espion...

You know that the NSA doesn't have to give information to US companies for industrial espionage to have occurred. Any of the hundreds of thousands of Americans indirectly employed contractors providing services to the NSA could have committed industrial espionage. If you don't think people at Booz Allen, Stratfor and other companies largely staff by psychopaths are unlikely to engage in such unethical activities, I have a bridge to sell you.

Individuals are to be assumed innocent until proven guilty, but organizations being made up of many individuals, some of which are likely guilty to to statistical frequency of guilty people in a random population of people, are to be assumed guilty until proven innocent. If we know anything for certain from the last ~7 months, it's that "trust us, we're not doing anything wrong" is a bald-faced lie.

I am awaiting the revelation that Boeing was privy to Airbus secrets. If forthcoming, that would be a bombshell.

Been there, done that. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/820758.stm (Thursday, 6 July, 2000)

Could you provide some information where the NSA conducted Industrial Espionage? Merkel is a politician so I could see why she was targeted.

As far as I know China is the only one being blamed for Industrial Espionage. NSA is snooping on citizens and interest groups.

Note: I am no way in favor of any snooping on any countries citizens foreign or domestic.

Snowden revealed NSA hacked into Petrobras ahead of an important oilfield auction.

The only use for that information would be setting bids. It's no small thing. Bids with insider information could cost Brasil tens of billions of dollars.

Canadian spy agency was also found to be spying on the Brazil mining ministry. Canadian mining companies would clearly have an advantage in bidding for mining rights in that country if they knew what the mining ministry was up to.

Back in the 80s and 90s the Canadian government frequently used ECHELON to help the Canadian Wheat Board win contracts. So this sort of thing isn't new.

The only use for that information would be setting bids.

Apart from one other use: verifying that competitors aren't bribing officials to win the auction.

How would that work?

"We have cought you cheating! We know because… (we've hacked your exchange)"

Actually, yes. See the first two examples given in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON#Examples_of_industrial_...

I wonder why there are no cases of NSA whistleblowing on bribes placed by American.companies in any foreign auctions... Because American companies don't cheat, or...?

Is there any evidence that the NSA distributes any proprietary information about Petrobras or other foreign industries?

How would the NSA choose which US company would receive the information? A lottery?

> Is there any evidence that the NSA distributes any proprietary information about Petrobras or other foreign industries?

Yes. the snowden revelations with tons of documents; i dont know what are you trying to defend here, but you are clearly very emotive in your argumentation line.. trying to dismiss everything without anything to back up your arguments..

are you under fire here?

Forgive me for asking, but as there are tons, can someone point the relevant bits out? I've been following the news and I haven't seen any.

The NSA never used the information they stole. They targeted an oil company before a major auction out of pure intellectual curiosity.


I'd make a terrible analyst because I totally would do that.

Probably whoever's CEO is a fellow member of Skull & Bones.

That could be a side effect of tapping into a network hub or something. Does Petrobas have any ties to organized crime?

I dont see where it says they passed that info to American companies.

Please dont think I am downplaying this I am just trying to understand why.


It's funny how you peg the Chinese industrial spying as very clear-cut and obviously malevolent, but grasp at straws to justify the Pertobas spying as somehow motivated by good-guy American trying to bust some organized crime ring.

Show me the slides I want to see the evidence myself. All I am seeing now is the words of various reporters.

I am trying to grasp at something that would justify it. Its beyond belief that they are actually doing this. Who's the good guys in this world or are the "people" the only good guys left?

"The worst blind is the one who doesn't want to see"

In all the snowden leaks, there are documents to prove what they are saying; go to the guardian, or try to see if theres any attachment somewhere..

It would be very difficult to find something "in the cloud"; cause it would probably be under takedown (people could get into prison or even killed without notice just by porting some of those pen-drives or sd cards.. see David Miranda case in the UK for example)

The nefarious mix of government and corporations into one homogeneous body its pretty well know at least outside of US, and its the reason why governments who dont want to have that sort of relationship, are labeled as outliers ..

to be clear all governements do concessions to companies here and there, but in the US the thing its pretty scary; with the power of the lobby groups have into the politicians decisions

This is one of the greatest threat of the XXI century in the same way facist ideology movements were in the XX century..

If even the governement moves toward profits of its companies, what the future will bring to the population that do not fit in that plan? .. citizenship could be reduced to people being mere tools for profit..

Dystopic? yeah.. but just let the Koch brothers and people like them, take the power to see if this would not happen..

About the slides, on some of the other reports they provided pictures of the slides. On the petrobas article no slides were provided.

> Who's the good guys in this world or are the "people" the only good guys left?

Staat heißt das kälteste aller kalten Ungeheuer. Kalt lügt es auch; und diese Lüge kriecht aus seinem Munde: "Ich, der Staat, bin das Volk."


State is the name of the coldest of all cold monsters. Cold it lies, too; and this lie crawls out of its mouth: "I, the state, am the people."

-- Friedrich Nietzsche

There are no good-guy nation states. It's only propaganda that has led you to believe otherwise.

Petrobras is one of the largest NOCs and one of the biggest trends in the oil & gas industry has been the shift in power from multinational oil companies like Shell and BP to national oil companies like Petrobras and Sinopec.

As you can imagine, the balance of obligation of national oil companies leans in favor of the governments which they represent over shareholders, making the pursuit of profit a lesser factor when political issues are at play.

No Petrobras has no known ties to organized crime. However if you were to ask a Brazilian citizen, they may think otherwise since we consider many of our politicians to be as corrupt as professional crime organizations. Then again, as a US permanent resident, I consider our politicians here to be as corrupt as the Brazilian ones. The Brazilian politicians steal while in office, while American politicians have institutionalized corruption by setting up a system where they get paid back indirectly after leaving office for all the favors they did while in office.

So to answer your question, some would say both the NSA and Petrobras have ties to organized crime, or, more accurately, institutionalized crime.

Secret handshakes and back alley deals...who are the politicians really here for the "people" or the lobbyists. My own views of my Govt are getting tainted more and more each day.

The most high-profile case is Enercon[1], but in general it is a problem that most companies won't admit to it publically (even though everybody, all of a sudden, is talking about it now). Maybe most telling is that the German government wanted the US to sign an agreement which would have prohibited industrial espionage of the US against Germany. The US refused to do that[2].

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enercon#Patent_dispute [2] http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-120780529.html

> As far as I know China is the only one being blamed for Industrial Espionage.

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I think the only country not doing industrial espionage must be Somalia.

There is also this:

> The NSA and its British counterpart, the GCHQ, spied on the official in charge of the European Commission's antitrust office, which has threatened Google with large fines and has already levied punitive fees from Microsoft and Intel, a new report says.

...from this article: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57616173-38/nsa-spied-on-e...

This and my other example are recent enough to have come from the Snowden documents.

> German companies had their trade secrets stolen by American intelligence agencies, which in turn gave those secrets to US competitors

Do you have a source for that? As far as I can tell Germany wants tighter intelligence integration with the US and howls at the slightest mention of even reducing the size of US military bases on German soil.

2001 EU Parliament Report: Echelon Global Private and Commercial Communications Interception System [0]

    10.5.1. Strategic industrial espionage by the intelligence services

    After the end of the Cold War, intelligence service capacity
    was released and it can now be used in other areas. The United 
    States readily admits that some of its intelligence service's 
    activities also concern industry. This includes, for example,, 
    monitoring of the observance of economic sanctions, compliance 
    with rules on the supply of weapons and dual-use goods, 
    developments on commodities markets and events on the international
    financial markets. The rapporteur's findings are that the US
    services are not alone in their involvement in these spheres,
    nor is there any serious criticism of this. 

Before our enternal Innenminister accuses me of naive anti-americanism, let me also point out section 2.5 and 3.3.3.

[0] http://cryptome.org/echelon-ep.htm#2

>German companies had their trade secrets stolen by American intelligence agencies, which in turn gave those secrets to US competitors.

I have yet to see anything like this in the news. Thats crazy to think the NSA is helping companies with trade secrets.

So crazy that the EU parliament was probing US intelligence abuse via ECHELON already 13-14 years ago:


Innocent until proven guilty applies, of course, but there's an irony in the dismissal of a notion as crazy when juxtaposed with all the other Snowden revelations.

I am too naive...

"Thats crazy to think the NSA is helping companies with trade secrets."

For Americans Europeans are crazy, aren't they? For me and a lot of other Europeans (most I think) it would be crazy (stupid) not to believe that the NSA is spying for american companies.

"Do you have a source for that?"

Yeah, I get the reason for asking that, but as a question, its rather devalued these days as far as the US and its TLA's are concerned. Given the disturbing unrestrained scope of US spying its reasonable to start with the assumption that the US has stolen any information that exists and used it to promote itself at the expense of even its allies. Problem is, when the likes of the NSA boldly claim to be able to access literally anything, anywhere, we must assume that all information and data are compromised. Doing anything different would be negligence.

Now the USA is in the same position Iraq was prior to the illegal invasion. It now has to prove a negative. Here is why:

Iraq was accused by the US and its lap dogs of having WMD (which incidentally was redefined to stitch up Iraq. Prior, WMD was understood to mean nukes. It got re-defined to mean bio and chem), and was expected to prove that it did not have them, or face the consequences. It failed in US eyes, and the US responded by killing many thousands of Iraq's people in its OTT invasion of "shock and awe". This was impossible as it is impossible to prove a negative. Iraq could not win in any way. Now, I think, the rest of the world, including its allies, would be reasonable in suspecting the US of having anything it likes in data terms, and must now prove it has not in order to regain any level of confidence. The US has to prove that it has not literally stolen money, IP, and business form non US companies by using stolen data to its advantage. The US has been stinging in its fines for banks acting illegally and defrauding government and public, acting like a moral god. Well, the same standards must apply to the US. If the US cannot prove its innocence, the rest of the world has every right to act in response. Unfair, and very difficult, but the US did set that standard. Like Iraq, the US must now some how prove its innocence. Or admit to its wrong doing.

The UK had no defence here either. We conspired in this. And I as a UK voter would like to know what we got out of it. Or did the US steal our information too? I wonder what Aussies and Kiwis think. Are we willing partners who knew what was really going on, and getting something valuable out of it, or were we all duped by the Americans?

Also, given the fact that the NSA is government organisation, it could be argued that what the US has engaged in is literally an act of war. There for its reasonable for countries like Germany, or regions like the EU, to investigate the US and if found guilty, demand reparations.

IMHO, its getting close to cards on table time, or the US get treated like an outcast.

Or, do we do what we always do, and ignore it?

I say it time to take a stand. If we dont, we all might as well make our countries US states and be done with it.

There is no stand for you to take. The EU is hopelessly dependant on the US. You don't have to take responsibility for your country so America wins easily.

In the last 20 years several American tech companies have grown huge with very little challenge from European antitrust or tax authorities.

Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Apple, Amazon, Intel, Microsoft...

Rules regarding abuse of dominant position could have been applied much stricter. Some of these companies have 90-something percent market share on several of the geographic and product markets they operate in. But not one of them has been forced to split up. MS was forced not to include IE in Windows and MS and Intel were fined (fined!), but not one of them have been forced to open access to (or just make it possible to export) their social graph. Apple is still allowed to block other content providers from selling movies and music iPhone and iPad. The iphone costs more or less the same all over Europe as does the music and movies on it. Amazon has been allowed to apply predatory pricing for more than a decade.

Tax laws could have been designed so that companies were taxed on their European profits, just like the European companies they compete against.

These companies barely employ Europeans, barely pay any European tax, but they hold thousands of European patents and make hundreds of billions of euro in Europe and operate in markets where there is curiously enough still not/no longer serious competition from European companies.

I don't believe for a second that NSA hasn't used their spying to improve American competitiveness.

> The iphone costs more or less the same all over Europe as does the music and movies on it.

It's supposed to, the European single market laws require that it costs the same in each country.

I have never heard of such a rule within the European Union. Do you have any source for that?

The iPhone in particular does not cost more or less the same all over Europe, if only because of varying VAT rates. Salaries are very different within Europe too, the ratio of average salaries is around 1:10.

What did all of that have to do with the NSA?

How would US espionage force the EU from prosecuting or legislating against these companies?

>How would US espionage force the EU from prosecuting or legislating against these companies?

Well, how about evesdropping on EU meetings where such actions is discussed, and taking the appropriate actions / applying pressure to favor european officials that are against them or remove from office officials that are in favor?

What are "the appropriate actions"?

What pressure do you apply?

You usually have nothing they want.

As a result, pressure you can apply is the same with or without knowing the content of the meetings (IE essentially "take your ball and go home").

Also, you know the content of the meetings because they tell you their positions. In very formal letters. That they will be held to in court.

It's not like any of this is secret.

How do you "favor officials that are against them"? They are appointed.

Why would they care? They usually can't be voted against individually.

Can you point out any that were removed from office?

I'm really trying to understand what such a thing would buy you.

>What are "the appropriate actions"? What pressure do you apply?

Blackmail them. Bribe them. Make them a counter offer under the table that gives them some benefits. Expose something they'd done (that you know because of spying on them) to the press. Play into their parties politics to get them ousted. Sponsor your own lackeys to outvote them.

>How do you "favor officials that are against them"? They are appointed.

Lackeys are appointed all the time too (which can also be their bosses). The number of people paid by agencies like CIA to take specific action against their countries' interest is staggering.

>Can you point out any that were removed from office?

Here's a recentish example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_v._Strauss-Kahn

It's incredible how easy you can setup this kind of situations to "happen" to people you want to take out of the game.

Sometimes you don't even have to set them up, you just know their tendencies (from watching them) and just decide when it's best time to act on them or ignore them.

Of course, those actions being covert, and the quality of police work being what it is, don't expect those things to be unmasked in time and be able to be proved 100%. Usually we learn about those manipulation after decades, when somebody opens his mouth, or some files are declassified.

But if you study the post-war history of places like Latin America, Italy, Greece, etc, you can find tons of such instances that have been verified (by declassified agency files, court documents, reporting etc).

Here's some convenient one-tome insight on such affairs (the critisicm to which has been pedantic BS):


By allowing these companies to be one step ahead of any EU action.

Of course their is no way that Europe's tech failings are because of their foolish regulatory nonsense, it has to be that America's cheating. That is a great way to ensure irrelevance.

That's a rather funny comment to make in response to speculation (that I do think sound a bit far fetched) that the NSA has used its influence to reduce the amount of EU anti-trust action, supported by pointing out how easy near-monopolist US companies have had it in Europe.

"how easy near-monopolist US companies have had it in Europe"

This is honestly the funniest thing i have heard. Europe is usually literally fighting over who gets to open and push investigations to regulate these companies first. That is often the main holdup. They sit in rooms drawing straws to see who gets to reap the political benefit of being anti-US.

How easy indeed

So you think America made the EU have foolish regulation?

Not everything is about your libertarian hobby horse. California and NYC are 2 of the "least economically free" areas of the US. Shouldn't they be getting outcompeted by Idaho or something? Or maybe the world exists on more than one axis.

Well there, you've hit the nail on the head. The companies come about where people, innovators, and entrepreneurs, want to live and do business. Taking your comment to the next step implies that European countries do not hold all these qualities or not in sufficient amount. Yet I do read about technology, financial, and energy concerns, in Europe. Hell many energy concerns there own their US counterparts.

It all comes down to perception, the other guy is not the right

How, exactly? I'm trying to understand what is being claimed is happening here.

(Full disclosure: I've been directly involved in the antitrust efforts of at least one of these companies)

Any European citizen know what is needed for the European Commission for Competition to put a tariff to American imports so they stop destroying the European industry making undeclared and illegal subsidies?

If you do not know, the NSA is paying American cloud providers for spying. That is an illegal subsidy that is killing the European cloud industry. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/23/nsa-prism-costs...

I’m not sure why you would choose tech companies to illustrate your point, financial institutions and energy companies might fit your narrative better.

One could argue that the regulatory environment in Europe has prevented local success, you don't get to baselessly blame these companies (none of which have gained their position undeservedly) and spue accusations without proof.

Also you don't get to blame the US for Europe's lack or enterprise, I suggest you ask an economist for a better excuse.

>Spying on foreign governments because you think they might present a threat to you in terms of war/foreign policy is generally defensible (although many on here would disagree with that), while using the apparatus of the state to support select private enterprise through espionage is not.

Exactly. And this is something that has been going on for ages,

To be clear, it's not like they feel they promote "select private enterprises" by doing so. That is, it's not "let's help our pals at company X" -- it's more like "let's give the US corporations a leverage against Mexico / Brasil / France etc".

It already is an unfair (and illegal in most cases) leverage because it's based on huge spying machinery. But when it's also combined with the kind of huge diplomatic, political and military pressure the US has, then it becomes a way to crush competition, in other words post-colonialism at its best.

And no, not "all countries do the same" (a common counter-argument). A lot, maybe all countries do have spying agencies, but most of them are concerned with internal affairs (dissidents and such) and dangerous neighborhoud countries (feuds). And of course, their scale and scope is orders of magnitude smaller.

Only someone watching too much 24 and Homeland would believe that countries such as, say, Chile, Argentina, Luxemburg, Czech republic, Albania, Greece, Portugal, Denmark, Colombia and such have the same kind of spying infrastructure and reach as the US has (and much much less the diplomatic might to take advantage of it, even if they had). It's not called a "superpower" for nothing.

> Only someone watching too much 24 and Homeland would believe that [...]

You're picking up on something very interesting here. Sadly, you don't fully address the issue.

Hollywood propaganda [1] could very well be THE reason why we have become so politically apathetic and hence THE reason why such tyrants have managed to gain power in the USA/UK.

[1] http://www.globalresearch.ca/screen-propaganda-hollywood-and...

Spying on foreign governments because you think they might present a threat to you in terms of war/foreign policy is generally defensible, while using the apparatus of the state to support select private enterprise through espionage is not.

I am genuinely curious why the former would be defensible while the latter not. The former in this case would trend toward causing (at some point) some level of death an destruction, the latter amounts to high level piracy.

Is the basis for the former's defensibility the assumption that it is strictly defensive in nature?

Why would a country not have a program to enhance it's own industry through espionage?

>I am genuinely curious why the former would be defensible while the latter not.

Because the one is (supposedly) defensive tactic, the other is offensive.

>Why would a country not have a program to enhance it's own industry through espionage?

Because the country being a superpower gives all other countries an unfair advantage. Even if you don't believe in morality and ethics, so you don't care about that, this can still get to bite its ass at some point.

Second, because it's also hypocritical with said country paying lip service to "free markets".

Oops: "gives [compared to] all other countries an unfair advantage".

Because who would be so foolish then as to invest in R&D?

Seems like it would be the same as any other secret program and continue fairly unabated. Open R&D, as is 90% of basic research, would certainly stay the same as there would be no need for espionage in those cases.

Many industries (food, steel, electronics, energy, mining) are considered to have military strategic importance.

For instance, Japan works very hard to grow rice even though it would be much cheaper to import rice from China. It's because not being able to feed your own population is bad in a war. Energy (oil) is the same way.

The line between military and industry is often not very clear.

This little snippet is some mindblowing doublespeak - they know full well what they're doing.

“We do not use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of — or give intelligence we collect to — U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line,” said Vanee Vines, an N.S.A. spokeswoman.

But she added that some economic spying was justified by national security needs. “The intelligence community’s efforts to understand economic systems and policies, and monitor anomalous economic activities, are critical to providing policy makers with the information they need to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of our national security,” Ms. Vines said.

Not only that, think about what a security contractor with no positive incentives was able to collect and publish without NSA knowledge. We honestly have no idea what state secrets might have been sold to the highest bidder.

It seems the damage has already started, and deservingly so: Brazil awarded a $4.5 billion contract to Saab AB on Wednesday to replace its aging fleet of fighter jets, a surprise coup for the Swedish company after news of U.S. spying on Brazilians helped derail Boeing's chances for the deal.


There are some curious things about the response to these revelations:

1. Zero "friendly" nations have gone beyond carping. If the NSA still thinks they can put the toothpaste back in the tube it's because nobody who matters has told them otherwise, much less acted on such a declaration.

2. Even more surprising is that zero small nations who are far down the "Eyes" hierarchy, have concluded they can't win, so they should not play the game. That is, nobody has said: "It's unacceptable for our citizens, industry, and government to be an open book to the NSA, therefore we will take action to make communication secure." You would think some nation would seize the opportunity to become the "Switzerland of data."

Given the inherently interconnected and international character of the Internet, as well as the fact that many of its key network peering and exchange points are in countries fairly high on the "Eyes" hierarchy, I would be deeply sceptical of the viability of any effort to become "the Switzerland of data".

So, you build a data centre in a "Switzerland of data" and throw something like national government-level resources into its physical security, and buttress it with legislation highly supportive of nondisclosure and customer privacy. So what? To get any utility out of such a place, outside users need to send traffic to and from it. Unlike, say, copyright enforcement takedowns or what have you, the NSA's surveillance isn't highly reliant on physical proximity to that kind of facility, or nearby listening posts. Much of the Sigint took place at vulnerable transoceanic Internet traffic convergence points in countries like the UK and Germany.

How would a Switzerland of Data stop that? :-)

I'd love to see a Switzerland of data, but these days Switzerland isnt able to hide money any more, under pressure from, well, guess who...

Somehow I have a feeling in federal government circles of smaller countries it is a quite bit more clear-cut on what your options are.

Either play along with the 14 eyes, or join some loose alliance with the BRIC countries.

The result of your decision, combined with your country's geo-political circumstances, could range from political/economic isolation and worst-case scenario military invasion, to mild prosperity in exchange for total colonialist-like obedience at the expense of your own citizens' full potential in prosperity and living standards.

Isn't Brazil doing just that (#2)? I thought they were planning to build fiber lines directly to Europe, and implementing a domestic secure email system. Good for them, by the way.

Somehow I imagine the plan involves Brazil being able to tap the line...

I guess this revelation should permanently put to death the canard that the NSA surveillance is strictly "for our safety" and only against suspected or potential terrorists.

Of course, there will be hordes of people claiming that this piece of the puzzle is "nothing new", but it is-- this reveal is another very meaty piece of evidence for the thesis that the NSA's goal is universal control and that the terrorism justification is merely a pretense. There is literally no room to argue that eavesdropping on UNICEF is making Americans even an iota more safe.

Intel agencies fill these charities with spies so they can identify targets families who show up for medical care in middle of nowhere Somalia. Despicable practice that lead to lot's of shootings and kidnappings of aid workers

Another example (of using humanitarians organizations or pretense for their own ends, and not giving two fucks about the fallout, I mean):


To locate bin Laden, the CIA launched a fraudulent vaccination campaign in a poor neighborhood, then switched it, uncompleted, to a richer area where the suspect was thought to be.

The CIA operation violated fundamental principles as old as the Hippocratic oath. It also endangered health workers associated with a polio vaccination program in Pakistan, several of whom were abducted and killed, prompting the UN to withdraw its anti-polio team.

The CIA ruse also will lead to the deaths of unknown numbers of Pakistanis who have been deprived of protection from polio because they fear that foreign killers may still be exploiting vaccination programs.

I wonder what this is all going to look like when it comes out that the NSA spying has at times helped companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Cisco and Oracle compete with domestic and foreign competition, as well as deal with foreign government regulators.

There is zero evidence in the NYT article that started this discussion that any NSA surveillance directed at EU antitrust bureaucrats would benefit US software companies.

The particular EU antitrustocrat was involved in decisions relating to many other firms that FedGov might find of interest, including Gazprom, Citigroup, JP Morgan, HSBC, ICAP, ISI, UMG, EMI, Panasonic, Toshiba, Intel.

I'm not defending use of the NSA's surveillance apparatus for economic espionage; in fact, I'd be happy to see all relevant FedGov employees fired, denied their pensions, and prosecuted if that's true. What I'm saying is simply let's not assume software companies are the beneficiaries when there may be legitimate reasons to spy on companies like Gazprom, which is controlled by the Russian government and likely the largest natural gas extractor in the world.

No one seemed to care when the French did it.

I agree that industrial spying by national agencies is rather common across the globe. The only difference here is the perception and magnifying glass / media spotlight.

Magnitude isn't a meaningful difference?

Sounds like saying "everybody has an army. there is no difference" in response to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_e...

Magnitude variance is assumed. Nobody would be surprised that the Russian army can best the Georgian army due to the difference in scale. Nor that the Chinese army with its 1.2 million soldiers can best Vietnam. In the same vein, I don't think anybody has ever had an expectation that the multi-hundred billion dollar US military was going to be spying as much as the Danish military. I think it has been understood post WW2 that the American DoD does a lot of spying in general. The revelation is primarily the total invasiveness into civilian lives, and willingness to flout laws everywhere.

It's a good bet that intelligence/surveillance spending is roughly proportional to military spending.

Also, the combination with having a military mestastazing like mad all over the world is what makes the spying kinda extra creepy. I guess there were times when France was declaring itself as the beacon of freedom and democracy while waging war on the poor and non-aligned (internationally, that is), but that was before I was born.

That the spying itself is out of control, too, doesn't help. Then there is the amount of international communications that go through the US, versus the amount that goes through France.

There's not even a comparison -- a far cry from "the only difference is media spotlight". (reminds me of Bush voters talking about liberal media btw... if that offends anyone, good, because it takes real energy or natural talent to dismiss differences of orders of magnitude that easily)

> media spotlight

And as soon as that passes no one will care again.

How about you?

They spied on UNICEF? Really? Why?

If you look at the way NSA's been operating over the last little while a sensible answer seems to be a belligerent "Why not".

If it hasn't become clear yet, they spy on everyone.

We prefer the term "indiscriminate wideband metadata and source data aggregation".

Let's assume you wanted to send money to help terrorists in Somalia. What better way then funneling it through a charity that already has boots on the ground? Or at least I could see a paranoid person at the NSA coming up with such a theory.

My guess would be for the benefit of undercover CIA spies working as aid workers.

UNICEF help people who can't help themselves. There for they are leftie liberal socialists and a great threat to the American way...

I cant believe people aren't shocked that they even spy on Israel's PM. To me that is stunning. I, clearly wrongly, assumed that where it counts the US and Israel are glued to the same page. So, why spy on them? Its almost like the NSA treating some US states as enemies to spy on. Does the US consider any nation a trusted ally? Well, clearly the US and Israel are not quite as chummy as I had previously thought.

BTW, is Snowden done yet? Is there a chance that we'll find out that the NSA spies on the US President and the UK Queen? (I'll take as a given that they spy on London Mayor Boris Johnson for pure entertainment value. Hell, even I'd do that.)

All we need now is the head line "NSA spies on NSA", and the whole thing will implode.

Sorry HN. Its just that it is getting so absurd, it has to be funny.

Every organization generates information of some kind; nation states especially, but even aid groups and corporations. Spying on the heads of these organizations is a very efficient way to get at the most important, post-filtered information these groups have uncovered or generated.

If you assume NSA spying net benefits the United States, then a U.S. citizen should count it beneficial that the extent of the surveillance is so comprehensive. If you don't, or have interests not aligned with the U.S., these revelations are pretty horrible.

I don't get it. Why Unicef and other aid groups? I mean, foreign leaders I can somewhat understand. But what do we have to gain from spying on aid groups?

For example to know what is the best offer for a Unicef call for bids. There are lots of american companies who depend on this kind of informations.

Hmmm... although this article does not suggest it, I wonder if the surveillance of EU antitrust officials indicates a willingness to subvert the rule of law in overseas jurisdictions?

Well, yes. Otherwise, why bother?

Put it this way, if you or I hacked say, I dunno... NASA, looking for proof of , oh random subject... aliens... Would it be a defence to say, "I was just looking, I did no harm. I didn't use any data I saw"? Or would the US try to prosecute such a person? Hmmmmm

I'm not surprised, they apparently capture everything that they possible can and search it later for items of "interest", whatever that may be.

To me all of this: NSA, Wars, Obamacare, IRS, Iran-fail, etc. just screams "Enough big government!".

Do you guys understand just how much all your efforts in tech could be for naught when you have government acting against you every step of the way? I would think that eventually it's got to sink in just how damaging all of this is to you. You could be an oncredible engineer or scientist and have a guy (or gal) you supported politically destroy your efforts through action or inaction. Time to really pay attention folks.

Yeah, but, who will build the roads and stuff? Most people would rather sacrifice their civil liberties so they can continue to get free ponies.

And it just keeps on getting better.

Gentle reminder: Google willingly co-operated with the NSA and provided direct access to their systems: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-...

We can affect change by boycotting the services of Google and other tech giants. We all know that the Senate only listens to rich Corporate lobbyists rather than citizens.

Of course that article was back in June, and if you read the followup, a day later, written by yours truly, you'll see your assertion is untrue: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57588337-38/no-evidence-of...

I'm not sure "gentle" is the right word for creating throwaway accounts to post rephrasings of that daily. Do your cause more good by coming up with some noteworthy action.

i thought it was determined that the access was obtained by tapping unencrypted interlinks between datacenters? can you provide citations of the 'willingness' part of this?

No, because the allegation is untrue.

In fact Google was challenging the legality of FedGov national security letters in two different courts (my article in May was the first to disclose this) even before the Snowden documents began to appear.

edit: here's the link: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57587005-38/

and did you see the transparency report Google released with the censored bar on the secret us gov requests? I loved how you could see bits of the graph peeking through :)

They didn't provide direct access.

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