Free your mind

Recently, a bit of fuss has been made about Sprint (3G) IP addresses resolving to or connecting to the Department of Defense.  That's good fuss, but it's easy to understand why there's no real need to worry, even if we can't or don't know the whole story.  And let's face it -- it's the U.S. Government, so we probably won't know the whole story here.  Here's quick look at a few things that can put your mind at ease.

First things first -- the government probably can tell what you're doing on the Internet any time it wants to.  As long as this "power" isn't abused (and abuse can be defined an infinte number of ways, right?), most of us won't complain.  If the government can't tap right in to your traffic, it can just get it from your carrier (all carriers, not just Sprint), or from your ISP if you're using the computer in your house.

It's a huge debate, but the powers-that-be have decided that it's in the best interests of national (and your own) security.  Even Google had to give up information about the Wikileaks documents recently, because that's the law.  Google expressed its displeasure at the law, but it had to release the info.  Same goes for Verizon, or AT&T, or Comcast.  Debate it to your hearts content in the comments, but that's the way it is.  Things in other countries are different, but in the U.S. we're bound by the law of the land, and so is any company that provides you access to the Internet.

Now to get specific with Sprint, and explain why some folks have 3G IP addresses that resolve to the DoD.  Guess who provides voice, data, and other services to a large portion of the Defense Department?  You guessed it -- Sprint.  Direct from their website:

Sprint Government Systems Division (GSD) has been working with Defense agencies for years to provide solutions that can meet their critical communications requirements. Along with integrated voice, data, and video solutions, Sprint is a leader in cutting-edge technologies...

Sprint is the full service provider to Navy/Marine Corps organizations in CONUS and overseas.

Sprint has been contracting with the DoD for years.  And lest we forget -- the DoD helped Al Gore invent the Internet, and a huge portion of traffic goes through relays and is routed through government machines -- including the DoD's.  There is no need to get alarmed if you see traffic being sent to, or coming from, the DoD.  Even if they are spying on you, they don't care that you're downloading the latest Black Eyed Peas track without paying for it.  Old timers will remember going through all this fuss back six or seven years ago when P2P downloading became popular, and government computers started showing as peers.  Unless you're plotting something you shouldn't be, you can stop worrying.

Let me wrap up by saying that, yes, you should ask around if you see U.S. Government networks (or any government) apparently connected to your smartphone.  It's our responsibility as good citizens to police our government and express displeasure at any actions we don't like.  This article is meant as information, and not to belittle or mock anyone.

That said:


Reader comments

Sprint, the Internet, the Dept. of Defense, and you


Interesting interpretation of the 21.x.x.x IP address usage. Generating another useless conspiracy theory without actually asking Sprint.
More than likely they needed more IPv4 address space and had or received permission from the DoD to use the space "Internal" to the Sprint network. They NAT the 21.x.x.x IP space to a Sprint owned IP address before delivering to the Public Internet.

It would be interesting to know if they had permission or just started using the space without permission. Isn't the DoD all IPv6 these days?

wrong u do not nat 21.x.x.x that is public address u only nat 10.x.x.x 172.31.x.x 192.168.x.x 21.x.x.x normally by default class a address nat = private to public address

This is foolishness. News that our phones are relaying data to Dod is so easily dismissed as nothing to be concerned with?

"because that's the law" - Hitler never commited a crime in germany..

"Law of the land..."?

100,000 peoples of varying lands stood together yesterday as collective democracy's stating that they do not approve of what is supposed to be the laws of the people. Not whomever owns the most land.

This was aneedless story, Jerry, and has politics written all over it..

Feel free to try and change it.  Complaining on the Internet won't help much.

Or switch to a phone company that doesn't have several thousand DoD computers as an integral part of their network if having traffic routed through them bothers you.  And never visit or live in Northern Virginia, because you surely won't like some of the hops your traffic makes regardless of your Internet provider.

This isn't about conservative vs. liberal, right vs. left. It's about consistency in reporting. Afterall, those shiny press passes you love to show off might warrant similar trust and professionalism.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Why so much ballyhoo over AT&T the iPhone and even Android devices phoning home (as reported here), if we're now encouraged to look the other way once you report that data is being offered to none other than the Department of Defense??

Really? I really have no problem with the article, other than your repeatedly opining that we, your fan base (literally) should not care this one time since it's being reported to DoD.

In layman's terms, AC is on record stating that we should fight for change *on the internet* when we discover that mobile devices are sending data home. Yet conversly, we should not fight for change on the internet *because it won't do any good* when we learn that the data that shouldn't be shared is now confirmed to have been shared with DoD.

Again, really?

"Complaining on the internet won't help much.." Again, "Really"??

Had AC not stirred the pot re devices phoning home, then you'd have legs, but you've absolutely none, considering you chose to enter the conversation when it was convenient and your arguement has now come full circle.

Jerry, this isn't personal. I don't know you. I love your website and visit it five times a day. There is, however, no spin you can run to clean this up.

Just be consistent.

What data is being reported to the DoD?  it's just a DoD machine assigning an IP address.  If anyone has proof of data being trafficed and collected by the DoD with Sprint's blessing, I think they should come forward.

1.  The gov watches (or can watch) everything you do.  If you don't like it, do something about it.  Nobody wants to hear my ideas of what to do about it, and AC is not the place for me to express them.  But it is what it is.

2. Having an IP address assigned by, or routing through, the DoD means jackshit if you're a Sprint customer.  Sprint tells you they supply data for the government, and they have big fat pipes that go right to places like the NRO, CIA, FBI, Guantanamo Bay Cuba, Stuttgart Germany, Papa Hungary, etc.  Those folks need voice and data services, and Sprint gets a nice check for providing them.  Just because a computer is owned by the DoD, doesn't mean it has anything to do with what you may have seen in the latest Tom Clancy movie.

Relax man.

Jerry, I was on my way to writing you a nice public message, but now you've really set me off!!!!


Thanks for the follow up message. You make good points. I think you understand where I'm coming from, too. The news does seem similar to that of what we read re the iPhone and Google devices.

We didn't know exactly what data was in question then either, yet the media stirred the pot and we - we got angry. So when I read similar and the same article states Dod, yeah man.. just like they've key words that raise flags, it did as much for me.

Again, love the site, but I do and still feel that were those three articles to be placed next to one another - any or all of us might have a similar reaction.

Has anyone really loked at the reports when the NSA scandal broke it was learned that Sprint was one of the biggest abusers. because of their contracts. When I called them direct they tried to send me to the store to get an answer. I said really? Go to a franchise for Sprint and ask why my IP address is being routed without a warrant?? No I will not accept the "Law of the Land" because we the people not the sheeple say what is right and what is wrong. The 2nd amendment is the Law of the land and a hell of a lot older than this shit law. But it doesn't stop the libtards from trying to infringe on my rights. Laws were made to be nullified or revoked or even better revolted against.

Really? I found that Jerry stripped as much politics out of it as possible, leaving nothing but the real story here. No politics, just facts as I see it.

Yeah, I increasingly get the feeling this is a right-wing website, even though it's supposed to be just about a phone/tablet OS. Reading the stats, I'm always surprised that iOS users are more progressive than Android users, since I consider Android's open source nature and lack of corporate controls (relatively speaking) as more progressive. But articles like this, of the "calm down and just bend over when corporations decide to screw you" variety, make me think the stats are right.

I don't think Jerry is saying "Calm down and just bend over," I think he's outlining the details of what's going on so that people can make their own decisions. He provided enough information that if somebody were (and here's MY political leaning shining through) a crazy libertarian conspiracy nut on Sprint, they would be suitably well-informed enough after reading the article to want to leave and take their data with them.

I think he may have had a generally assuaging tone, but only as a matter of qualification--which is what the whole article's about: How big a deal is this? What I took from Jerry's answer: Kind of a big deal, if it's the sort of thing that matters to you. If not, then it's not.

Sorry, Jerry, if I've twisted your words at all.

Edit: I just realized I wrote Phil three times when I meant Jerry. Sorry, Jerry.

Right wing dude, seriously? Everything about Android (read: Linux) is leftist in nature. Including some of the thoughts and notions shared by a lot of the people on AC.

Jerry did a very good job of pointing out that the government has the power to obtain whatever they want, whenever they want, when it comes to data being transmitted to and from our devices. And it's up to us to demand the changes in laws that grant them the power to do so. We're just too damn lazy or complacent to do anything but bitch and moan on forums and websites like AC.

Not sure if a firehouse will work. Might have to supply them some stiff bristle brushes with some Lava soap.

Wow if I didn't know better I could swear that was a threat? Please verify, I don't want to call you out if I misunderstood. I for one never have hidden behind my keyboard shouting out comments I wasn't willing to back up person. So please explain

It's no more of a threat than yours to use tactics utilized by the racist law enforcement of the deep South during segregation and civil rights movement of the 1960's ;P

Well how else are you going to make the image of someone wearing a material that actually can increase radio wave strength supposedly in an attempt to block them out even more ironic? That's right, by adding an antenna for extra gain! lol

NSA does monitor all electronic communications and have been doing it for sometime. If you put the right combination of words in the same message they will monitor you much more closely. This is indeed fact.

Jerry is being as neutral as possible. And, yes, people can complain as much as they want, typing in all caps on here, but it won't affect anything. This is definitely a good read and I take it as it is - good information.

I would say i'm an over-cautious person of the government because it interests me to know (or at least feel like I know) what's really going on. I read about conspiracy theories all of time and I (sometimes) will listen to an Alex Jones show or two if I have time - not that I agree with everything he says (if you don't know, he's one of the biggest mainstream Journalist/conspiracy theorists). I've talked to Alex Jones before and they use Linux servers in their studios..although Alex is an iPhone user...eck.

I at least think it's cool we are aware (from articles like this) what is "potentially" being done with our data - it keeps us thinking.

If you're not doing anything wrong you need not worry. If you are a questionable character doing nefarious things buy a burner phone. All you other guys don't worry, the government won't tell you're wife about your girlfriend.

I get the feeling "Jerry" wouldn't actually care what Sprint was doing right up until the point he was put on a boat to Guantanamo.

People should be concerned about their privacy in this era, more than ever. Sprint, all the carriers, Apple and Google all need to be shamed into being much more conservative than they'd like to be. Look at Facebook - it's clear that we're no longer the customers, we're the product. These companies are making lots of money selling our data, and that's more than a legitimate concern.

Or I just tried to say how it is, thinking that nobody comes to Android Central to hear my politics.  They are what they are, change them if you think they need changed.  I have a feeling my political views would likely shock the shit out of ya, and make you feel a bit conservative  -- which is why they don't come into play here.

I get into enough trouble on Google+ over them :)


Unfortunately, Jerry, it seems like most of the people commenting just read the headline and first paragraph and now believe that Sprint is "ratting" everyone out to the DoD.

Guys, Sprint isn't sending you info *to* the DoD. The DoD handles and routes a large portion of *all* internet traffic, not just Sprint's. It has for years, mostly because they have a huge backbone connection to the 'net. Why do they have this huge connection? Probably because they do monitor a lot of data floating around out there but, unless you're planning to blow something up, you've got nothing to worry about. I don't think the DoD gives a shit if you're downloading music, or cheating on your girlfriend, or even if you bought a Justin Beiber album.

Just relax. Sprint doesn't have to *send* them data. The government can get hold of all the data they want with enough probable cause to obtain a warrant. The sky's not falling. Men in black suits will *not* be knocking on your door because of this.

My advice would be to sit back, turn on The Doors' Riders on the Storm and relax. Maybe play a game on your smart phone. And as you hit that new high score on Angry Birds, think to yourself "that's right! Suck it DoD spy! You'll never beat this score!" ;)

All of you saying Jerry is acting all right wing and corporatist obviously don't know about Jerry's politics...

He's just giving the facts here. No politics, nothing more, nothing less.

Wait...are some of you guys implying that the USA isn't the land if the free? That can't be. I mean, we keep *saying* we are, don't we?

Sad but true.
The world used to like us after ww2 but then the govt decided to occupy half the world, getting into others business without being asked, telling them how to run things. Now everyone hates us and wants to blow us up (thank you US govt), so we are no longer safe and *need* govt "protection". Now it is conquering us little by little. Unfortunately we are well on our way to becoming a totalitarian state. The govt enjoys control it has and seems to want more. I doubt this process can be stopped.
I'm not paranoid about Uncle Sam watching me, but just sad to see our rights and freedoms eroding little by little, and yet we continue deluding (ourselves first of all) that we are so great that others want to be like us. No they do not, and they don't want our "help".

Partially correct but way off. Our government actually still gains support from more countries than any singular nation in the world. Don't believe me? I look at the number of coalition forces backing America and Afghanistan not just 10years ago but today. That's why terrorists strive to discredit us, because we have so much influence on not only governments but cultures.

Funny all you people bitching about what the gov sticks its nose in would be the same to condemn them when they lack intelligence of an attack like 9/11. Calling them incompetent and accused them of not conducting more surveillance. Lol you want the meat but scoff at killing the cow. Get a grip, learn the guidelines of the patriot act and quit bitching about a situation you don't understand and honestly never will. Until you grow the spines to take care of the borders of your own country damn sure believe someone will. Even IF they were listening to your data who the frak cares. Americans gave up the right to bitch about it when they quit being patriots and started being whistle blowers and rights activists. Wanna see why the government has to do crap like that? Go look in the mirror.

Agencies in our govt keep a loose eye on all comm traffic (data / voice). That's been known.

What the conspiracy theory nut jobs ignore is the evidence of how loose that eye is. They don't give a crap about us little fish. There isn't an encryption routine commercially availible that the government isn't able to read clear without any decryption. As someone already said, all traffic is monitored for certain key words. Use them enough and someone will give the conversation a glance.

Seriously, why do you think it takes the LEOs so long to bust our everyday criminals? Cause the government doesn't give them any assistance. And honestly, the only time the average person would know any of the serious government agencies (NSA / CIA / DoD) was looking at them is when they woke up with a barrel against their head.

Ya know, I work at a govt facility, and I have Sprint service. I can tell you first hand ...the coverage at work SUCKS! If I were Sprint I would be embarrassed to have anyone know I have anything to do with a govt entity and have such horrid service. VZN has the same CDMA service and those users at least get 1-2 bars (which really doesn't mean anything). Sprint 0-most of the time, 2 if you stand at a window or go outside. If it wasn't for the fact I have 5 lines on my acct, I would go to T-Mo ( which has full bars all over the place). They can have the greatest line of phones, but if you don't have the backbone to support them, you got nuthin.

We the people should not trust the government.

They are the hugest threat to our freedom and liberties. They wish to remove them and find loopholes on how to screw us.

Everyday, we lose a little piece of our freedom and our privacy. The more and more you allow them to be intrusive, the more and more you don't realize that you are losing your freedoms and piece of privacy.

Keep the government out of your lives. You keep allowing them to get bigger and bigger. Big govt = bad = more debt and problems.

Some additional context for this article would have been great, this is the first I've heard of anything on this topic. I'm assuming the article is referring to this:

But like 502BadGateway said, it is fairly common for organizations to use someone else's public IP addresses on their internal network. It's bad practice, but it still happens. I'm a network engineer and I've run across several corporations using DoD IP space before on internal networks. I can assign IP addressing on my home LAN, that doesn't mean the DoD is spying on me. Seems like a lot of hoopla over a misunderstanding of public vs private addressing and misinterpretation of networking tools output.

Someone at Sprint should have seen this coming though and that people would freak out over it. I would imagine they assigned it temporarily because they couldn't use anymore RFC1918 space for whatever reason and their IPv6 migration isn't there yet.

Godwin's law notwithstanding, it shows a complete disregard for history to say that if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about from government surveillance. One big reason so many people refer to the Holocaust is that most people are aware that it happened. Did millions of Holocaust victims have nothing to worry about from their government because they had done nothing wrong? Did the German government advertise its intentions beforehand? The economic problems that smoothed the way for the Nazis were similar to the economic problems of today.

Well I read as much as I could,and the back and forth is funny. Both sides or pov has legitimate points. Hat Jerry is stating is something we I. The security industry inevitably come to realize at some time or another.. The gov does what it wants.. It's not right, it should be changed but it will just be buried in secuitu clearance too high for anyone to find and then the ppl will be told OK were done sorry.. Or the biggest hack of government networks will happen months after the pot gets stirred about domestic spying by certain agencies.. A sort of hey look we need them to protect us.. Kinda shades of past years in early 2000's... Anyway, accept it or don't. Spend time hacking sites an protesting or picketing or or privacy online. And use TOR to hide itself from the entity that invented it years an years ago, and discarded it when it was obsolete.. Just to clarify TOR doesn't hide anyone from the large gov agencies.. I explain more on my site. Anyway, good article Jerry. If u want to try n ight against the people actually protecting this country go ahead. Yea its corrupt, but its a fact we know and read for our safety. Scoff if you will, but this to me is reminiscent of a 7th grader yelling anarchy and hating government, but whining to the teacher that the bully beat him up.. Anyway, they take what they want to provide what we need... Dont like it? Unplug ur box.