Obama administration demands Web firms turn over user account passwords

“The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users’ stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed,” Declan McCullagh reports for CNET. “If the government is able to determine a person’s password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user. Obtaining it also would aid in deciphering encrypted devices in situations where passwords are reused.”

“Some of the government orders demand not only a user’s password but also the encryption algorithm and the so-called salt, according to a person familiar with the requests. A salt is a random string of letters or numbers used to make it more difficult to reverse the encryption process and determine the original password. Other orders demand the secret question codes often associated with user accounts,” McCullagh reports.

Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo would not say whether they had received such requests, but broadly denied handing over passwords. McCullagh reports, “Apple, Facebook, AOL, Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast did not respond to queries about whether they have received requests for users’ passwords and how they would respond to them.”

McCullagh reports, “Even if the National Security Agency or the FBI successfully obtains an encrypted password, salt, and details about the algorithm used, unearthing a user’s original password is hardly guaranteed. The odds of success depend in large part on two factors: the type of algorithm and the complexity of the password… Whether the National Security Agency or FBI has the legal authority to demand that an Internet company divulge a hashed password, salt, and algorithm remains murky. ‘This is one of those unanswered legal questions: Is there any circumstance under which they could get password information?’ said Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society. ‘I don’t know.’ …’If you can figure out someone’s password, you have the ability to reuse the account,’ which raises significant privacy concerns, said Seth Schoen, a senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Obama administration scrambles to shut down imminent U.S. House vote to defund NSA spying – July 24, 2013
Obama administration demands master encryption keys from firms in order to conduct electronic surveillance against Internet users – July 24, 2013
Apple, Google, dozens of others push Obama administration to disclose U.S. surveillance requests – July 19, 2013
Secret court agrees to allow Yahoo to reveal its fight against U.S. government PRISM requests – July 16, 2013
How Microsoft handed U.S. NSA, FBI, CIA access to users’ encrypted video, audio, and text communications – July 11, 2013
DuckDuckGo search engine surges 33% in wake of PRISM scandal – June 20, 2013
Yahoo: Since December 2012, we have received up to 13,000 U.S. gov’t requests for customer data – June 18, 2013
Apple: Since December 2012, we have received U.S. gov’t requests for customer data for up to 10,000 accounts – June 17, 2013
Nine companies, including Apple, tied to PRISM, Obama to be smacked with class-action lawsuit – June 12, 2013
U.S. lawmakers urge review of ‘Prism’ domestic spying, Patriot Act – June 10, 2013
PRISM: Do Apple, Google, Facebook have an ethical obligation not to spy on users? – June 8, 2013
Plausible deniability: The strange and unbelievable similarities in the Apple, Google, and Facebook PRISM denials – June 7, 2013
Google’s Larry Page on government eavesdropping: ‘We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday’ – June 7, 2013
Seecrypt app lets iPhone, Android users keep voice calls, text messages away from carriers, government eyes and ears – June 7, 2013
Obama administration defends PRISM data-collection as legal anti-terrorism tool – June 7, 2013
Facebook, Google, Yahoo join Apple in sort-of denying PRISM involvement – June 7, 2013
Report: Intelligence program gives U.S. government direct access to customer data on Apple servers; Apple denies – June 6, 2013


  1. “The US Government has demanded …” NOT the Obama Administration! MDN again spreads lies! The Government and the Administration are NOT the same. Report news, not conservative propaganda.

    1. The Director of National Intelligence is subject to the authority, direction, and control of the U.S. President as required by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

      On May 26, 2011, Barack Obama signed the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011, a four-year extension of three key provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act: roving wiretaps, searches of business records, and conducting surveillance of individuals suspected of terrorist-related activities.

      1. If you really think Obama controls everything Clapper does you’re sadly mistaken. A LOT of stuff goes on of which Obama is neither aware nor supportive. However, if when this stuff does come to light, there are no changes made, then Obama is certainly complicit at the very least.

        I know Clapper. Not on a personal level, but I worked with him on certain projects over the past decade or so. When Obama appointed him, I told people that this was the dumbest appointment Obama had made.

        And as far as the original Patriot Act and it’s extension goes…
        Sad but true fact: over three fourths of the Representatives and Senators have never read either one — they just expected their staffs to read them and brief them on the interesting points. The same goes for Obama. He’s never read either one. He counts on his staff and advisers to tell him what is in them.

        This is really what our government has come to. The drafters of bills wrap what they really want and what is in their real agenda in so much other crap and flag waving that no one dares vote against it.

        When the original Patriot Act was passed and signed into law, it was considered “Un American” to even talk about voting it down. The 9-11 event had recently happened. The most extreme hawks jumped on that event and used it as an excuse to draft the most extreme measures they wanted then told the world that anyone who didn’t go along was against saving American lives. They said that anyone who talked the bill down was actively inviting another 9-11 attack.

        We’re now getting what was put into place over a decade ago.

          1. We should be blaming all of them. These people have been hired by the american people to ensure that the constitution is protected and enforced. It does’t matter which team you root for, they are all failing to do this basic requirement of their positions.

          2. Yes I would and did, and do blame Bush, and Congress, and Obama. I also blame the electorate (all of us) for letting fear drive our political decisions and increase our tolerance for invasions of our privacy. We have given up significant freedoms in pursuit of an illusive safety. The terrorists have won this one.

            1. I’d start with Congress, which voted down a bill which would have limited the NSA’s surveillance of American citizens… so let’s keep our understanding of what the American government actually is… and who is behind it pulling the strings. This goes way beyond the president, and will still be there long after he’s gone. It’s just too easy to blame Obama for everything, and put our heads in the sand about who we elect to Congress and the Senate. Who are they really “working” for, if you can call it work at all?

            2. On May 26, 2011, Barack Obama signed the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011, a four-year extension of three key provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act: roving wiretaps, searches of business records, and conducting surveillance of individuals suspected of terrorist-related activities.

              Another goddamned idiot.

          3. I did at the time and still do. In fact, I blame them all. Both from that era and the current era.

            There really is no excuse not to read the document when it is truly a government changing bill. The changes to the U.S. Government and how it operates were the greatest during 2011 through 2004 since the 1930s — and excluding the 1930s probably since Reconstruction. Something that significant should not have been taken so lightly.

            Yes, 95% of bills only tweak how the government operates and how far reaching it is. Those can be relegated “to the staff”. But when you are fundamentally changing how the U.S. Government operates and deals with its citizens, the persons making the decisions need to get off their lazy asses and read the document word for word. there really is no excuse to not do so.

            Yes, I blame Bush & Cheney. They allowed this asinine ball to get rolling. Cheney even actively promoted it. (He didn’t get the nickname of “Darth Vader” in D.C. for nothing.) I also blame Obama for not stopping it.

          4. Would. Did. Also blame Obama. Both big parties have abandoned defending the Constitution. Bipartisan support for gutting the First Amendment. Republicans defend the Second Amendment (sort of). Democrats partially defend the Eighth Amendment (many against death penalty, but then again, they continue to use the torture of solitary confinement to psychological destroy the minds of whistleblowers).

            Basically, we’re screwed, especially if the people of this country keep allowing themselves to be turned into partisan hacks. By the time enough people wake up to how the two crony-capitalist-corporatist parties are stripping away our liberties, there might not be any safe way to fight back.

        1. You forget the Obama playbook… Fast & Furious, Benghazi, IRS / TEA Party, AP, James Rosen, DoJ, take your pick, Obama and the Administration, the most transparent **cough-cough**, and to some extent the career bureaucrats,, delays and obfuscate and cry “PHONY SCANDALS” until the public has moved on and with the aid of a willing Liberal media, no harm will EVER come to the first “black” president! Limbaugh Theorem, folks! Obama, as PART of the system i.e. politician, campaigns against the ills he’s trying to fight as opposed to take ownership of the nations problems and actually leads and governs! In other words, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Obama is part of the problem but acts like he just arrived on scene and had nothing to do with anything.

          1. Clearly, you didn’t forget the GOP playbook with your list of crap.

            Obama is no socialist, he is no progressive and finally even progressives are waking up to the fact that the new guy acts just like the old guy. Obama is a corporatist, military industrial complex, bank loving conservative at heart. Wake up R & D are owned by the same people, they are both actively destroying America.


          2. Almost all of the so-called scandals were furiously hyped and largely political, but when the real facts came out there was no scandal there, except for the use of these incidents/situations to fail to govern this country. If facts matter, look them up. If not, keep yelling “scandal.”

      2. The NSA, FBI and other agencies work in accordance with laws and are independent agencies. They do not act from whims of the White House as much as republicans would like to believe so.

        Republicans didn’t have a problem when the republican congress passed the Patriot Act and Bush signed it into law. Now, that it’s a black guy in charge, they have all sorts of problems with it as if Obama wrote and passed the law himself.

            1. • uh Obama is not “a black guy.” He is a mulatto.
              • the NSA, FBI and “other agencies” are in the executive branch of the government and ALL of their employees work at the behest and pleasure of the President of the United States.
              • Many republicans warned of the tyranny of the Patriot Act, chief among them: Ron Paul.
              • You are a goddamned idiot.

    2. ” target=”_new” rel=”nofollow”>”The Buck Stops Here” sign:

      The very first thing Oblahblahblah chucked in the garbage when he moved his empty chair into the oval office.

      1. … has not been in the oval office since Nixon arrived. Perhaps since Kennedy arrived. It CERTAINLY wasn’t there during either Bush’s reigns, and I doubt Clinton hauled it out of the trash.
        Clinton and Obama are Lefties only compared to Nopublicans, who are to the right of Genghis Khan.

        1. The sign “The Buck Stops Here” that was on President Truman’s desk in his White House office was made in the Federal Reformatory at El Reno, Oklahoma. Fred M. Canfil, then United States Marshal for the Western District of Missouri and a friend of Mr. Truman, saw a similar sign while visiting the Reformatory and asked the Warden if a sign like it could be made for President Truman. The sign was made and mailed to the President on October 2, 1945….The sign has been displayed at the [Harry S. Truman] Library [& Museum] since 1957.


      2. Now that is a succinct classic!

        Oblahblahblah is so true … good one. Same old, same old tired meaningless words over and over that change nothing.

        No wonder his agenda is failing. When you rule by executive order, spy on citizens and journalists, et al — compromise is impossible for this President. And in the left corner we have the adoring media with their thumbs up their arse looking the other way, because, we only GO after Republican presidents with pulitzer prize winning journalist zeal. Their is always Apple.

        Summation: My liberal way or the highway …

    3. You are full of complete shit. The Obama administration is the leadership and direction of “the US government” and by the way that’s the executive branch that’s doing this. The president is the leader of the executive branch. Might want to study up on the subject a bit more before you spout off.

    4. Your as stupid as a stump on this forum. I usually don’t resort to calling people names, but in your case I’ll make an exception. Carry on with your dogma, brain closed and eyes shut while worshipping in the church of Obama. Have you knelt and kissed his ring yet?

    5. Specifically, only certain government agencies such as the NSA and FBI can request for such info and only do so based on existing laws. This cannot be done from the whitehouse. It is illegal to do so.

      It”s funny how Rush refers to liberals as low information voters for not beleiving all the crazy, 2 = 2 = 6 lies he attempts to pass as facts.

      MDN = lies

  2. If ‘other people’ have access to your account, how exactly are the government going to prove that information found in your account hasnt been planted by someone else in order to incriminate you in some way.

    1. That’s the essence of reasonable doubt. Unfortunately they won’t be bound by it under NSA policies. Even on a local level I’ve seen that reasoning rejected (on possession of narcotics, stolen property and subversive materials). Even with a crack legal team against them if the prosecution wants to blame you they will at least succeed initially. And once it starts it’s hard to stop.

      1. Fuckity fuck fuck fuck… fucking fuckity fuck fuck fuckers.

        I for one am not against a few well placed expletives from time to time, but just FYI, your possibly valid points are relegated to inanity with their overuse – especially that one.

  3. Silly Liberals:

    1. Libs lose their minds over Bush and the PATRIOT ACT
    2. Libs and the low-info crowd elect someone promising to fix it along with promising the moon; they believe it all
    3. Libs’ perpetual candidate in chief becomes Bush on steroids and acts to extend government intrusion into every corner of our lives, making the PATRIOT ACT seem quaint
    4. Libs blame Bush, as usual – like pre-schoolers who haven’t yet learned the concept of personal responsibility

      1. I’m not entirely sure, but isn’t “free press” one of the first freedoms to fall? I don’t think anyone anywhere has ever read a news article that told of freedom being taken from them!

          1. I might assume that too – it’s just that is sounds like Think is completely disassociated with the “they”. If your assumption is correct then all of us are the “they”, including Think. A subtle but important point.

        1. “I keep waiting for the news articles about our freedom being taken from us.”

          “They” would be the thumb-sucking, adoring liberal media … duh.

    1. Silly conservatives.

      At least there are many liberals man enough to call their guy out on his administration’s BS and broken promises. When are conservative supporters going to admit Bush’s failures and BS?

  4. This is from CNET. The “salt” they refer to in the article is the truckload of salt one must take when reading any article from CNET. The more sensational the headline, the more salt is needed.

  5. Everyone please remember – Barack Obama is “not” the President. He is a very smart guy who is simply trying to protect all of us from dark evil conservative forces. It just happens that he gets to live in this big light colored home in DC and fly in a big plane, with a Marine standing at the bottom of the stairs as he boards. These things mean nothing. The actual President is still the conniving and murderous George Bush, who has been secretly controlling all the levers of power since Barack Obama was elected President, twice. Obama is always trying to foil Bush and protect us, from Martha’s Vineyard, from Aspen, from the golf course, from his African vacation, and the Chicago bathhouses. But Bush is super-evil so he is still expanding the Patriot Act and now demanding every bit of information about every citizen. Don’t despair, if we can get a Democrat President this can all be fixed.

    1. I was just going to say, who says Democrats can’t be fascists, but maybe the real issue is that we don’t have a genuine, socialist-leaning, liberal for a president after all. In part, I think many of us, both left and right, have assumed that if a person isn’t male and white, then they’re going to be liberal-leaning if not a down-right lefty, and certainly our current president, at first, appeared to do all of the correct things to make us believe he was an extremist, but maybe not so. He really hasn’t undone much of anything that he promised he would as he entered the oval office for his first term.

      Also, I think in part that, now days, when a president enters that seat of power there’s an enormous reality check that us lay-people sense is there, but will probably never have any solid evidence for. That is, when a new president comes in they get a super secret meeting with the real powers at hand, and are basically given the rules of the road, and then the sitting president either conforms, or gets lost in the malay. To some extent I feel like we saw some evidence of the later as Bush finished his second term, and are beginning to see it as Obama looks forward to completing his. Two things happen:

      1) They get accused of being members of the opposite party that they claim to represent, (Many extreme right-wingers I now personally accused Bush of not being a real Republican as he completed his second term.)

      2) They finish their terms in relative obscurity.

      It isn’t simply too much power, it’s too much power unaccountable to the people.

      I hate fear, but I almost become fearful that there is coming a day when many of the comments made by the liberals, conservatives and independents on this very blog, will come to be “illegal”, or at least cause for investigated suspicion. Let’s hope I’m totally wrong.

            1. sort of difficult to do when Congress wouldn’t authorize it or funds to do it… I imagine he’d have gotten a lot more done if Congress just sat on it’s ass (oh… wait, that’s what they’ve been doing…) and let him do whatever he wanted. Funny, it doesn’t work that way. I guess he could have tried to be a dictator and done every single thing through executive or emergency order, including removing Congress’s authority to approve any federal spending… but then all his critics would blame him getting too much done…

            2. “sort of difficult to do when Congress wouldn’t authorize it or funds to do it… I imagine he’d have gotten a lot more done if Congress just sat on it’s ass (oh… wait, that’s what they’ve been doing…) and let him do whatever he wanted.”

              Are you trying to change history here and think people are as stupid as you?

              Quick quiz: Who was speaker of the house and what party was she from the first two years of Obama’s first term?

              I’ve read your posts, you’re a Republican HATER, selective apologist and lie by omission. Congratulations! You immediately QUALIFY for a lucrative career in journalism! Your White House press pass has already been mailed.

  6. Well I’m not going to doubt any of the right wing’s justification for the Patriot Act in the first place. Yes Obama did resign it into law after a huge outpouring of terror support by the right wing. In order to try to appeal to the right and thinking they would learn to compromise he signed the bill. Does he regret it now? I’m sure he does but no one is trying to blame the bush adminstration. They are just pointing out fact. Seems when these facts are pointed out that many on the right cry foul.

    The fact is true if the Gov gets access to your password how are they to prove repudiation? I know most of you on the right have no clue what that word is or even if that is a word.

  7. I remember saying to supporters of the Patriot Act: “Just wait until someone you don’t like and does not have your agenda gets into the White House.” Bush or Obama does not matter, the Act itself must go.

  8. The guvment is now going into the wealth confiscation mode re SAC. They are the fist. I’ve always believed hedgies trade on inside information. Nothing different here. Just like the Apple prosecution. Wasn’t based on feeling sorry for the small guy. Based on getting $ for Obama’s agnda.

  9. Sure turn this over to the government and then watch as this data at some point is stolen through some security breach and the government going “Oops! We’re sorry!” The more people who have this data the greater the potential for it’s leaking, going even beyond the morality and Orwellian issues of having it turned over in the first place.

  10. One other thing. Paying lip servcie to helping out Detroit which has 30% pluus unemployment. Offer $10 per hour jobs to any of the detroit youth who want one, to tear down hoses/clean up lots. Bet only a handful would show up. Offer resident Visas to illegals who work for 3 years on the project, thousands would show up. Offere investors visas to those who invest $500,000 in the project, a lot of foreign investors will show up. $500 K would pay for 5000 hours of labor in the clean up. No easier just to scam Apple and go after SAC, BAC, JPM and any other deep pockets. Now they want my passwords so than can skim my pay pal account.

  11. I just love the Obama minions rushing to protect their savior as he destroys this country from within. 17 Trillion Dollars in debt and a hundred million is spent on a trip to AFRICA! Worst president in history elected by people like the woman in Chicago who voted 6 times to the right of Eiic Holder, I’m sure! Blame everyone but Obama! It’s the liberal way!

  12. My dear underlings, do no the alarmed. I have all my people in all positions of power, the IRS, DHS, FBI, CIA and most importantly NSA.

    Tell all your racist friends to vote next time, but it will not matter, because my NSA people control the voting machines.

    Soon you will enjoy my Kenyan Communist Paradise you racist white scum.


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