Report: Feds demand Web passwords

How do you say "told you so" in Russian? (AP)

How do you say "told you so" in Russian? (AP)

Somewhere, Edward Snowden is laughing, but probably in Russian and along with the ghost of George Orwell.

CNET reports the United States government is demanding Internet companies hand over user passwords, which are usually encrypted and private.

The passwords would enable federal agencies “to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user,” writes CNET’s Declan McCullagh.

Scant detail is provided.

McCullagh cites two unnamed “industry sources” and does not reveal which Internet firms have received the requests. Microsoft, Google and Yahoo declined to say whether or not they have received requests.

The companies are allegedly fighting the demands. An unnamed Microsoft spokesperson said the company would not share customer passwords. “No, we don’t, and we can’t see a circumstance in which we would provide it,” the anonymous source said.

A Google spokesperson said the company has “never” turned over a user’s encrypted password, and that it has a legal team that frequently pushes back against requests that are fishing expeditions or are otherwise problematic.

According to the report, the feds are not just demanding passwords, but also the master Secure Sockets Layer encryption keys of the Web’s biggest companies.

So, changing your password regularly isn’t going to help.

No one seems to know if the government’s alleged requests are legal. It would likely take a lawsuit and the Supreme Court to figure that one out.

Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives defeated the “Amash amendment” to the Patriot Act by a 217-205 vote. The amendment would have defunded the NSA’s massive data collection program.

Another measure, the ‘Pompeo amendment,’ submitted by Rep. Mike Pompeo, a Kansas Republican, passed by a 409-12 vote, restricts the NSA from collecting or storing the content of U.S. citizens’ communication data, including phone calls and emails. The Pompeo amendment does not restrict the federal government from continuing to collect and store cell phone metadata.

However, it seems the exact wording of the amendment would allow federal agencies other than the NSA to collect and store emails and phone calls.

Pompeo, on the House floor, said, “I want to make clear to everyone that contrary to the suggestions of some, the NSA has not been acting outside the scope of its authorities. The metadata program is carefully designed with program layers of oversight by all three branches of government. This is precisely the way our government ought to operate: with input from Article I and Article 2 and Article III of the United States Constitution.” has a good writeup on the two amendments.

You can see how your congressman voted on the Amash and Pompeo amendments at

The more restrictive Amash amendment brought together Georgia politicians with divergent voting histories as Republicans Jack Kingston, Tom Price, Paul Broun and Tom Graves voted aye alongside Democrat John Lewis.

The entire Georgia delegation approved passage of the Pompeo amendment.

In related news, The New York Times reports Chief Justice John Roberts is packing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court with individuals likely to approve government wiretaps.

46 comments Add your comment

Keith Helms

July 26th, 2013
10:59 am

Just some more Marxist activities by Valerie Jarret, Obama, Holder, and all their supporters seeking to overthrow our government, likely under the orders of Vladimer Putin and Muslim Brotherhood president Morsi.


July 26th, 2013
11:00 am

what the about our 4th amendment rights? “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Where are we headed as a nation? A strong centralized government are the foundations for an oppressive government. We, as a nation, need some serious soul searching.


July 26th, 2013
11:02 am

i voted for Obama, i apologize to all true Americans.


July 26th, 2013
11:03 am

When Obama campaigned for change, i didn’t think he meant communism.


July 26th, 2013
11:05 am

with every new decision,actions and quotes from Obama, I cringe and wonder how long it will take our nation to recover.


July 26th, 2013
11:12 am

Mike and Keith–

Bash Obama all you want…

…but don’t ignore the fact that 134 REPUBLICANS in the House voted to keep allowing the NSA to spy on us.

The corruption encompasses BOTH parties–EQUALLY.


July 26th, 2013
11:17 am

Mike, paranoia is your problem, not Obama.

Don't Tread

July 26th, 2013
11:17 am

So not only do they want to illegally conduct surveillance on you, they want your passwords so they can login to your account and manufacture evidence against you.

The federal government could care less about the Constitution or individual rights, and is the most dangerous thing to liberty since the Nazis walked the earth.

I agree....

July 26th, 2013
11:23 am

with Mike 100%. Obama and all democrats are hell bent on destroying our country. And they have almost succeeded!!! It takes the republicans to keep this nation as great as it once was. I’m republican, always have been, always will be.

I wish Mitt Romney had been elected.

Uncle D

July 26th, 2013
11:27 am

Ugh…do we want to wait and find out if this report is true first, or shall we all just jump off the deep end now?


July 26th, 2013
11:31 am

I’m always astounded at how people twist things. No huge uproar about the Patriot Act under Bush, which many people including myself believe was the slippery slope to what is going on now. But suddenly it’s all Obama’s fault. Not to mention, he and the Democrats are trying to ruin our country. Are you really serious? Obviously 2007 is so long ago that you’ve forgotten the condition the country was in.


July 26th, 2013
11:31 am

They want the SSL keys / certs? Not good. Means they have network sniffers in place to capture traffic.

Devil's Advocate

July 26th, 2013
11:38 am

I agree….

Do you ignore all facts against Republicans on purpose or did someone install a filter in your brain? All of this started BEFORE Obama. There is no safe haven in the Republican party as they are just as guilty as Democrats in trying to strip away our rights.

Stay caught up in political ping-pong all you want but it doesn’t matter if you’re going to subscribe to either side. When Bush introduced the Patriot Act plenty of people from all political angles had issues with it but anyone questioning it was called a conspiracy theorist. Now that Obama is in office those defenders are the ones saying that there’s an agenda to take away more rights…ping pong.


July 26th, 2013
11:39 am

This all begin with the passage of the Patriot Act, which had bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress. Now it’s Obama’s fault.

Partisan hackery, at it’s worst. I thought the PA was terrible legislation from the beginning. No one had a problem with such things when Bush was doing it, but now it’s suddenly a problem?

Mike...not the DB from above tho

July 26th, 2013
11:43 am

In case you’ve been in a coma for the past 10 years, GW Bush is the person you can thank for this. I wouldn’t urinate on Obama if he was on fire, but let’s put the blame where it goes.

motocross survivor

July 26th, 2013
11:44 am

Do any of you clowns actually believe all this fascist snooping is from the orders of muslims? LOL. It is a natural side effect of our zionist controlled fascist government. makes perfect sense. Everyone is a potential enemy and must be “checked out.”


July 26th, 2013
11:48 am

57% of Democrats voted in favor of the Amish amendment (which would have restricted the NSA) and 40% of Republicans did. Yet, it is “Obama’s fault”.

The end

July 26th, 2013
12:05 pm

Just how did we allow these criminals to take this much power?


July 26th, 2013
12:10 pm

why i cringe with Obama and NSA’s request is due to the previous unlawful use of the IRS to target his opponents. Should i not also concur the president will illegally use this information as well. The media doesn’t write about the irs scandal and how it originated from the white house. If he isn’t culpable for the IRS scandal, then it’s even more troubling since he may not have full control of his staff and this would lead me to believe there is rampant misconduct.


July 26th, 2013
12:14 pm

It doesn’t matter who the president is. It would still happen. It’s up to the people to direct change. Our elected officials are nothing more than puppets.


July 26th, 2013
12:15 pm

to mike the DB: Bush didn’t request this type of unlawful search and seizure.


July 26th, 2013
12:18 pm

to MOfaux: Paranoia is defined as being worried about nothing, the act of illegally searching and seizing property, whether it’s a letter or an inanimate object is an actually threat. know the vocabulary you choose to use, but by the looks of your name, i don’t believe you are capable.


July 26th, 2013
12:20 pm

Bush rallied for the patriot act to prevent future terrorism, Obama uses it to instill terrorism


July 26th, 2013
12:25 pm

If they have our passwords, can they not create something incriminating in our name?

This is f-ing scary with a capital F.


July 26th, 2013
12:31 pm


July 26th, 2013
12:46 pm

Congress had an opportunity this week to curtail NSA’s ability to gather so much info on the citizens of USA. Republicans and democrats defeated the amendment, and if you listen to people like Dick Cheney he is completely in favor of the work NSA is doing. The Obama administration must carry plenty of the blame for moves like this, too. They are the ones calling the shots right now. It was a very good thing that Snowden let the cat out of the bag! Now, if We the People can get our government out of our phones and computers.

Just a question?????

July 26th, 2013
1:19 pm

What’s a true American??????

Monkey See, Monkey Do.

July 26th, 2013
1:23 pm

Bush & Cheney started this whole Patriot Act nonsense as their justifiable response to 9/11.

Clearly not smart enough to think for himself, 0bama is simply copying everything that Bush & Cheney did but having a decade’s advancement in technology for superior surveillance.

The only differences between Bush & 0bama are a hyper-dependency on a teleprompter and authentic American citizenship.

Conscious Warrior

July 26th, 2013
1:30 pm

Its amazing to see how many drones here really think one party is any different than another. Two wings of the same bird. That fluoride program is working to perfection I see.smh Oh yeah, your government you love and trust so much enacted that program too. Not familiar? Do some research and you’ll see how your pinela gland has been calcified.smh
On the flipside, its good to see people out here who know what time it really is. Instead of finger pointing at a figurehead who has no real power beyond what the dark forces tell him, you see that this is much bigger than one man. You all give me hope. Now we just have to come together and put an end to all this corruption and manipulation.
True american? WTH is THAT?lol

Monkey See, Monkey Do.

July 26th, 2013
1:41 pm

Bush = 0bama

0bama = Feces

Even Stevie Wonder could see what 0bama/Bush have collectively done to this country, if only he were not blinded by his own racism and worship of 0bama.

[Seriously, No Pun Intended.]


July 26th, 2013
2:22 pm

Don’t forget, it was Bush that signed the Patriot Act. Both parties are guilty of this monstrocity.


July 26th, 2013
2:41 pm

It’s called control, the government wants to control you. There’s no difference between the repub’s and dem’s, they only want money, power, and control. Yes, Obama fought hard for the defeat of Amash, and so did Nancy Pelosi, aligned with John Boehner and many other leading repub’s.
Best learn how to wean yourself from their financial system of control and live as free a life as you can. This will only get worse, so keep in mind that America was formed by revolution and may have to be reformed by it again. Buy as many weapons and ammunition as you can, ditch your smartphone, make efforts to provide your power by natural means, avoid giving the big banks and credit companies more money, and most of all, educate your children and others about what the means of control are and how they can avoid helping them control you.


July 26th, 2013
2:47 pm

I laugh at all the racist jabs tossed at Obama. He won, not once but twice. Apparently doing something right. He’s made history. No more history in having to run again. He’s kicked the box wide open.

And then there’s you…all you racists that can’t get over it. How about “get over it?” Y’all still made because he won. Naturally you’re going to blame every move, every decision, every choice that won’t line your pockets. He’s American whipping toy for folks still bitter and disgruntled that he won…NOT ONCE BUT TWICE! LOVE LOVE LOVE IT.

Get over it and move on!

Sam the Sham

July 26th, 2013
2:50 pm

“all of this started before Obama”….and in FIVE YEARS he has done nothing to stop it; in fact, he SUPPORTS IT. Maybe he was too busy ignoring the economy like he said at Knox College. Anyway, this stuff has become far to frightening to continue to ignore. Oh, did you hear who’s going to be on Idol next season?


July 26th, 2013
3:19 pm

Were you one of those who hated all the things that Bush was doing? Rallied and complained about him starting useless wars? Robbing the American people and redistributing their wealth to the obscenely wealthy? Going after people for speaking their minds? Or smoking a plant? Establishing a state security apparatus that was unheard of before and against the US Constitution?
I bet you were, and I was also. So now that Obama has been worse than Bush about doing this, where is your protest? You’re crying racist when it’s more than obvious that you’re the real racist.
If you supported Bush, then you should support Obama, there’s practically no difference between the two. If you hated Bush, but now love Obama just because he’s a black president, then you’re not just a racist, but a clearly deluded person who doesn’t care about your fellow Americans, no matter what color they happen to be.


July 26th, 2013
3:28 pm

@ I agree…. Really? You wish Mitt Romney would have been elected????? Ohhhh you must make over $250k…


July 26th, 2013
3:56 pm

Read the entire cnet article before you read too much into this condensed ajc article.

Poopy McPherson

July 26th, 2013
9:37 pm

Dookie, just dookie. Miss you Royal.


July 27th, 2013
10:12 am

I hereby nominate Edward Snowden for a Nobel Prize. That brave American is risking his life fo us. God bless him!


July 27th, 2013
9:45 pm

Well we’ve seen this coming ever since 9/11 and the Patriot Act. The government can, and apparently will, do anything to us that in wants in the name of security. This increasing domestic spying and privacy intrusion should alarm everyone.

Next they’ll want to install closed circuit cameras in our homes, just to make sure we’re “safe”.


July 27th, 2013
10:50 pm

Don’t feel bad. I actually recommended Jack Kingston as a gentleman of possibilities to a political columnist. Apparently, boy! was I wrong. Obama, Holden, the Atlanta demo Lewis (I’m an Independent, by the way) and Price have been patently transparent since day 1 but this is too permeating to be real. I don’t change my passwords because I never say anything I’m ashamed of… online or off. Maybe because I’m of the USA and my non-Indian family dates back to 1585, less than a century after CC discovered he was lost. Silly me. So let them pry! They are a bunch of ignorant politicians who would sell their own, their country’s, their mother’s soul to the highest bidder… and have. Good luck with your outrage, everyone. I’ll take my own chances against Islam terrorists. They can’t be any more dangerous than these misguided bigots.


July 28th, 2013
4:08 pm

It’s not about your online posts. What happens when someone less altruistic than Snowden gets the password for your bank account? You think identity theft is bad now??? Consider what would happen if someone had complete access to all of your online accounts. Maybe Ted Kaczynski was on to something all those years ago…

Dr. Socrates

July 29th, 2013
3:13 pm

This is not a Democrat or Republican thing. In fact, both parties and presidents have supported the surveillance. It is a sad statement that this illegal surveillance is being done in the name of security. Sacrificing liberty for security? Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.


July 29th, 2013
3:34 pm

In the course of an investigation, investigators ask for many things. If a Federal investigator has a court order and/or search warrant, based on probable cause, then the ISP can, should, and must provide a password.

The article says ‘hand over user passwords’ which does not mean ALL user means passwords for the baddies who they are investigating.

Even if it did mean all user passwords, then change your password, and now they don’t have it.

There, changed it, now the Feds don’t have my password. (Actually I use Google Authenticator, so you cannot login even if you have my password, but I digress)

If you all are worried the Feds are reading your emails to Aunt Betty, then you have some idea that these investigators have unlimited time and money, and that they even remotely care about you even a tiny bit. Most state/local/federal investigators have case backlogs of many months and only go after the big fish.

Those who believe in widespread government conspiracies have waaay too much faith in the competence of bureaucracies.


July 31st, 2013
7:44 am

George Orwell was right, he was just 30 years off on the timing!