Thursday, September 19, 2013

When I'm right, I'm right

The punchline of a shaggy dog story that tormented my childhood was "Patience, jackass, patience." Words I continue to aspire to live by.

As I predicted (alas, over a month ago...I have been very negligent lately), NSA has, indeed, been collecting credit card data, through a program called...wait for it..."Follow the Money" capturing data in a system called "Tracfin". It was just a matter of time and patience until such a system was uncovered.

According to one presentation, the NSA sought to access Visa transactions for customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In a statement, Visa said it was not aware of unauthorized access to its network.....The NSA's Tracfin data also contained information from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT. SWIFT, a cooperative owned by around 8,000 financial institutions, runs a messaging service that enables worldwide financial transactions between banks.
This one was so bad that even GCHQ balked:
Snowden also revealed documents from GCHQ that showed that the UK intelligence agency had misgivings about the NSA’s Follow the Money program. The GCHQ questioned the legality of monitoring bulk data of personal financial information that didn’t necessarily pertain to national security risks.
Apparently "Der Spiegel reported that SWIFT was a target of spying by the NSA's "tailored access operations" division" The tailored access operations division, as I understand it, is responsible for the "good" kind of surveillance - more technically challenging, more labor intensive, more expensive, and therefore much more targeted at individuals we actually have some reason for suspecting. I predict that there will be further revelations of systems bulk collecting credit card data, outside of the scope of TAO.

I will continue to hope for vindication in my earlier prediction that Snowden will produce evidence of misuse of collected information to the detriment of American security.  So far, the speculateddocumented and derided misuse has been limited agents.