ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, December 30, 2005

Help! Help! I'm being repressed!

(H/T Glenn)

The latest in the MSM's attempt to really really expand the NSA kerfuffle comes from an AP report in the NYTimes:

The National Security Agency's Internet site has been placing files on visitors' computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most files of that type.
Files? You mean ultra secret software that turns your Dell 15" monitor into an emitter for Karl Rove's evil mindray beams? Or is it a virus that changes Grandma's cookie recipe in Microsoft Word from using chocalate chips to arsenic pellets?
The files, known as cookies, disappeared [!] after a privacy activist complained and The Associated Press made inquiries this week. Agency officials acknowledged yesterday that they had made a mistake.
Where did they go? Was the NSA trying to coverup the nefarious cookies! Cue the ominous Karl Rove Mindray background music. Lots of sites use cookies to maintain state. It's not criminal.

And whats with "Federal rules"? We've moved from violating the constitution, to violating the law, to violating federal rules now? Talk about lowering the goalposts. The headline just inflames the issue though: "Spy Agency Removes Illegal Tracking files" (emphasis mine).
Nonetheless, the issue raised questions about privacy at the agency, which is on the defensive over reports of an eavesdropping program.
Did it? Is the NSA on the defensive? I haven't heard them being defensive. In fact, the NSA is pretty quiet on the warrantless wiretapping "scandal." As they should be for an agency that is nicknamed "No Such Agency."
Daniel Brandt, a privacy activist who discovered the N.S.A. cookies, said mistakes happen, "but in any case, it's illegal."
Help! Help! I'm being repressed!

So, is the NSA starting up some new super-secret American spying program? Well let's see what they say:

Don Weber, an agency spokesman, said in a statement yesterday that the use of the so-called persistent cookies resulted from a recent software upgrade.

Normally, Mr. Weber said, the site uses temporary cookies that are automatically deleted when users close their Web browsers, which is legally permissible. But he said the software in use was shipped with the persistent cookies turned on.

I think we can let this one slide don't you think Mr. Brandt? It's not like they don't have more pressing issues.

The real question is. Are there editors left at the NYTimes or the AP?

If the agency wanted to do nefarious things with citizens computers they likely already have the power. I don't remember the NYTimes saying the NSA was on the defensive back when this story came out in 1999.
NSA Builds Security Access Into Windows

NSA Builds Security Access Into Windows
By Duncan Campbell, TechWeb.com

A careless mistake by Microsoft programmers has shown that special access codes for use by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) have been secretly built into all versions of the Windows operating system.

Computer-security specialists have been aware for two years that unusual features are contained inside a standard Windows driver used for security and encryption functions. The driver, called ADVAPI.DLL, enables and controls a range of security functions including the Microsoft Cryptographic API (MS-CAPI). In particular, it authenticates modules signed by Microsoft, letting them run without user intervention.

At last year's Crypto 98 conference, British cryptography specialist Nicko van Someren said he had disassembled the driver and found it contained two different keys. One was used by Microsoft to control the cryptographic functions enabled in Windows, in compliance with U.S. export regulations. But the reason for building in a second key, or who owned it, remained a mystery.

Now, a North Carolina security company has come up with conclusive evidence the second key belongs to the NSA. Like van Someren, Andrew Fernandes, chief scientist with Cryptonym of Morrisville, North Carolina, had been probing the presence and significance of the two keys. Then he checked the latest Service Pack release for Windows NT4, Service Pack 5. He found Microsoft's developers had failed to remove or "strip" the debugging symbols used to test this software before they released it. Inside the code were the labels for the two keys. One was called "KEY." The other was called "NSAKEY."

Captains Quarters has a great post on this and points out all the MSM media cookie's on his computer. And Wizbang notes that the DNC was using persistent cookies until Tuesday.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Comments (3)
Anonymous said...

Hey Brian,

The www.dnc.org site is STILL passing out persistent cookies as of about 10 minutes ago.

St Wendeler said...

BTW.... Full Disclosure. Another Rovian Conspiracy is tracking everyone's web-surfing activities and reports that information back to Gruppenfuhrer Rove.

Brian said...

Yes, but do we download "files" "illegally" and use them, you know, to further the mindray project?

Brian