The Latest Phone Dragnet Addition: Imminent Death Overrides

As I noted in this post, I Con the Record has released the latest phone dragnet order, this one signed by Oregon judge Michael Mosman.

As with the last order (which added language ensuring the government do a First Amendment review even when obtaining emergency orders), this one made a subtle, but potentially very significant addition. In a long-running footnote noting that technical controls prevented analysts from chaining on a selector that was not RAS approved,

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This order added language noting that NSA could override those controls in case of imminent threat to human life.

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I’m glad they specify “human life” here — because elsewhere NSA has defined “life” to include “property.” And if this is truly about overriding technical controls in case of threat to life, I’m fine with the change. And while the footnote isn’t terrifically clear, I assume this might be used (and since it shows up in the order, might have been used) in a case where NSA was sure a selector was Reasonably Associated with a terrorist affiliate, but had not gone through the formal approval process yet, and therefore had to override the software.

All that said, one thing I saw a remarkable amount of in the IOB reports was software controls (particularly purging functions, but also access controls) that weren’t working as intended.

Let’s hope this is just a way to turn off the safeguards in cases where really necessary and not another (as the IOB repeatedly call software failures) “glitch.”

6 replies
    • GKJames says:

      Could be years, given the government’s having redefined the term into oblivion in connection with the GWOT.

  1. wallace says:

    The Latest Phone Dragnet Addition: Imminent Death Overrides = One Response

    NCAA Football Championship Trash Talk (after NFL games)=144 Responses as of 8:12 pm

    I rest my case. Do your thing emptywheel might consider changing emptywheel’s name to Trash Talk.

  2. greengiant says:

    Differences in Jihadi and Occupy surveillance and entrapment? A few years of court dueling versus firing tear gas grenades as deadly weapons. If there are no court cases there aren’t so many opportunities to reveal the surveillance.

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