Help ATS with a contribution via PayPal:
learn more

NSA Patents New Technology to Monitor Millions of Phone Calls

page: 1
1

log in

join

posted on Jun, 20 2004 @ 09:20 PM
link   
NSA PATENTS NEW TECHNOLOGY TO MONITOR MILLIONS OF PHONE CALLS By Suelette Dreyfus - November 17, 1999 The US National Security Agency has designed and patented a new technology that could aid it in spying on international telephone calls. The NSA patent, granted on 10 August, is for a system of automatic topic spotting and labelling of data. The patent officially confirms for the first time that the NSA has been working on ways of automatically analysing human speech. The NSA's invention is intended automatically to sift through human speech transcripts in any language. The patent document specifically mentions "machine-transcribed speech" as a potential source. Bruce Schneier, author of Applied Cryptography, a textbook on the science of keeping information secret, believes the NSA currently has the ability to use computers to transcribe voice conversations. "One of the holy grails of the NSA is the ability automatically to search through voice traffic. They would have expended considerable effort on this capability, and this indicates it has been fruitful," he said. To date, it has been widely believed that while the NSA has the capability to conduct fully automated, mass electronic eavesdropping on e-mail, faxes and other written communications, it cannot do so on telephone calls. While cautioning that it was difficult to tell how well the ideas in the patent worked in practice, Schneier said the technology could have far-reaching effects on the privacy of international phone calls. "If it works well, the technology makes it possible for the NSA to harvest millions of telephone calls, looking for certain types of conversations," he said. "It's easy to eavesdrop on any single phone call, but sifting through millions of phone calls looking for a particular conversation is difficult," Schneier explained. "In terms of automatic surveillance, text is easier to search than speech. This patent brings the surveillance of speech closer to that of text." The NSA declined to comment on the patent. As a general policy, the agency never comments on its intelligence activities. Yaman Akdeniz, director of Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties UK, warned that with the new patent and a proposed AT&T and BT joint venture, which will allow US law enforcement agencies to tap the new communications network: "We might have a picture in which all British communications are monitored by the NSA." The revelation of the NSA's patent is likely to cause tensions with the European Parliament. Over the past two years, the Parliament has commissioned several reports which examined whether the NSA has been using its electronic ears for commercial espionage, particularly in areas where US corporations compete with European and other companies. The NSA relies on an international web of eavesdropping stations around the world, commonly known as Echelon, to listen into private international communications. The network emerged from a secret agreement signed after the Second World War between five nations including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Britain and the US. Two of the NSA's most important satellite listening stations are located in Europe, at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire and Bad Aibling in Germany. Julian Assange, a cryptographer who moderates the online Australian discussion forum AUCRYPTO, found the new patent while investigating NSA capabilities. "This patent should worry people. Everyone's overseas phone calls are or may soon be tapped, transcribed and archived in the bowels of an unaccountable foreign spy agency," he said. One of the major barriers to using computers automatically to sift through voice communications on a large scale has been the inability of machines to "think" like humans when analysing the often imperfect computer transcriptions of voice conversations. Commercial software that enables computers to transcribe spoken words into typed text is already on the market, but it usually requires the machine to spend time learning how to understand an individual voice in order to produce relatively error-free text. This makes such software impractical for a spy agency which might want automatically to transcribe and analyse telephone calls on a large scale. It is also difficult for computers to analyse voice conversations because human speech often covers topics that are never actually spoken by name. According to the NSA patent application, "much of the information conveyed in speech is never actually spoken and... utterances are frequently less coherent than written language". US Patent number 5,937,422 reveals that the NSA has designed technology to overcome these barriers in two key ways. First, the patent includes an optional pre-processing step which cleans up text, much of which the agency appears to expect to draw from human conversations. The NSA's "pre-processing" will remove what it calls "stutter phrases" associated with speech based on text. Second, the patent uses a method by which a computer automatically assigns a label, or topic description, to raw data. If the method works well, this system could be far more powerful than traditional keyword searching used on many Internet search engines because it could pull up documents based on their meaning, not just their keywords. Dr Brian Gladman, former MoD director of Strategic Electronic Communications, said that while he doubted the NSA had deployed the patented system yet, the new technology could become a "potent future threat" to privacy. "If the technology does what it says - automatically finding and extracting the meaning in messages with reasonable accuracy - then it is way ahead of what is being done now," he said. The best way for people to protect their private communications was to use encryption, he said. Encryption software programs scramble data to prevent eavesdropping. "I'm afraid widespread interception is a fact of life and this is what makes encryption so important," he said. "The problem in the UK is that our government is working with the US to prevent UK citizens defending themselves using encryption," he said, referring to the continuing use of export controls to hamper the widespread availability of encryption products. The NSA's current spy technology may be more advanced than methods described in the patent because the application is more than two years old. The US Patent Office approved the patent on 10 August this year, but the NSA originally lodged the application on 15 April 1997. The US Patent office keeps all applications secret until it issues a patent. (reprinted with permission)




posted on Jun, 23 2004 @ 10:06 PM
link   
why do they need this much intel i know 911 but this is overkill.



posted on Jun, 23 2004 @ 10:10 PM
link   
Once again....if you have nothing to hide...let them record away...if you have something to hide...don't use the phone....simple.

It's not like they haven't been doing this for years. They just wanted a patent...



posted on Nov, 6 2008 @ 10:33 PM
link   
Uh, it's more than just having something to hide. If you, for example, say anything unflattering about Jews or criticize the Zionist's treatment of Palestinians, for example, you can bet your ass your conversation will be 'flagged,' and scheduled for later review. And that is very disturbing to me.

It is MY God-given and human right to critique anyone and anything I so desire, irregardless if it's politically correct or not.

Edward

reply to post by NetStorm
 



posted on Oct, 3 2012 @ 08:04 PM
link   
reply to post by NetStorm
 


It amazes me how people suggest that having something to hide always suggests something nefarious. People frequently have legitimate reasons to have something to hide. Take, for example a group of people working on a patent. They have reason to hide that information until they're ready to file/have the patent granted. The NSA and CIA have a long history of advancing the interests of big business. What happens when the NSA intercepts a phone conversation between two people about an invention they're working to patent and they pass that information along to the R&D department of a multinational corporation before the inventors have a chance to finish their work and file? Is it reasonable to demand that these people never speak of their work over the phone and put upon them the burden of seriously decreasing efficiency of their work in doing so? Or, how about this one? Say an NSA agent's wife wants a divorce for some good reason. Her attorney's phone calls are clearly compromised by this technology. Try this one. A human rights organization wants to work against the abuses of big business or government but their ideas don't quite fit what "Big Brother" says is best. The efficiency of their efforts are now undermined because they can't use a telephone to talk strategy for fear it will be known by the very agencies working against them before they can even implement it. In all of these scenarios, and I' sure many others are conceivable, people have legitimate reasons to have "something to hide". This technology has way too much ability to remove the basic rights our forefathers thought each and every US citizen should have.



posted on Oct, 3 2012 @ 10:55 PM
link   
Meh. It's no big deal. Whenever I've worked on sensitive designs for the big guys, they've tapped my phone. For a while there, it was a given whenever the listener software kicked on. It sounded like a conference call, plenty of clicks, and other general giveaways. Later on, they do TELL you what's up, especially if you hang up a number of times when it happens, and you're provided a suggestion to use a device that plugs in and tells you if the line is secure or not.

It's for our protection, so I really don't mind. I just watch what I say. Some projects are black, of course, but others can be hinted at to individuals if its affecting your daily life. They are actually very understanding and helpful when it comes to this, especially if the project is your design. The government here isn't always doing this just to "spy." This is for everyone's protection.

International call tracking, I'm all for. I actually wish this had been done sooner. It's taken time, from what I know of it, simply to work out all of the various language's conversational tones, pitches, or pauses, as well as handle any red tape involved with international providers.
edit on 3-10-2012 by SoulVisions because: sent from cell. odd words popping up due to autotype.



posted on Oct, 4 2012 @ 10:38 PM
link   
You miss the point. As you confess you were working on designs for the "big guys". I doubt they'd try to work against you when you're working for them.



posted on Oct, 4 2012 @ 10:46 PM
link   
This subject is so misunderstood. Big Brother less listens than he sniffs. Filters, patterns, key word combinations even tones of voice. Lots of criteria fed through a series of matrices ( filters ) - and all digital communication passes through it. All. 99.9999 makes it through the filters fine. What's left is then analyzed - and most of that is disregarded.

The next phase is already going online and that is using this tech on a broader scale, with better filters. Theoretically now everything you say, in emails, phone calls, etc. could be looked at for patterns of behavior and predispositions. Sort of a computer based psychoanalysis if you will... and then could flag those who, without saying anything illegal or troubling at all - on the surface - might get flagged for discernment based upon their everyday mannerisms. Potential terrorists, spree shooters, and the like...

Pre crime.

That's what's going on in the cutting edge. Game theory meets Freud meets Orwell.

~Heff



posted on Oct, 31 2012 @ 02:57 PM
link   
No surprise here, between echelon and this.............well echelon's been around for a while anyway.





new topics

top topics



 
1

log in

join