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back to article NSA Prism: Why I'm boycotting US cloud tech - and you should too

So, America's National Security Agency has been tapping up US internet giants to gather information about foreigners online, allegedly sharing that data with Britain's GCHQ - and gobbling up details about US citizens' phone calls. When I was a kid my world was full of pro-America propaganda; I never once questioned American …

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Anonymous Coward

Bravo. Well written and well worth reading even for non-techies.

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"Bravo. Well written and well worth reading even for non-techies."

I agree very much, but I would like to point out that those ideas in the American Declaration of Independence came from Europe.

Referring to the Wikipedia about The Age of Enlightenment (or simply the Enlightenment or Age of Reason) .

..In France, Enlightenment was based in the salons and culminated in the great Encyclopédie (1751–72) edited by Denis Diderot and (until 1759) Jean le Rond d'Alembert (1713–1784) with contributions by hundreds of leading philosophes (intellectuals) such as Voltaire (1694–1778), Rousseau (1712–1778) [4] and Montesquieu (1689–1755). Some 25,000 copies of the 35 volume set were sold, half of them outside France. The new intellectual forces spread to urban centres across Europe, notably England, Scotland, the German states, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Italy, Austria, and Spain, then jumped the Atlantic into the European colonies, where it influenced Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, among many others, and played a major role in the American Revolution. The political ideals of the Enlightenment influenced the American Declaration of Independence, the United States Bill of Rights, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, and the Polish–Lithuanian Constitution of May 3, 1791

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Aye, and before France the idea persisted in various cultures for thousands of years. It was the US that made 'em stick and immortalized them with that constitution. There were other things attached that for the first time designed an entire nation in an attempt to preserve those beliefs. Separation of of power being only the start of the things they tried to put in place to ensure that those beliefs couldn't be corrupted.

Every other time we'd tried in the past it was cute, but layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power and thus severely limited. Though France came damned close...

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Anonymous Coward

"layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power "

I am afraid that the drafters and signatories to the ADI were desperate to preserve their own power in the New World. They wanted to ensure that rich white males stayed on top and their democracy was exactly as democratic as that of ancient Athens, which was a democracy provided you were a citizen who could furnish a hoplite panoply, and not a woman, a slave, or a tolerated foreigner.

N A M Rodger in one of his books, writing about the reign of King Charles 1st, observes that the function of elected assemblies is always basically the same; to ensure that the group they represent pays as little tax as possible.

It's worth remembering that in 1812 the US decided to invade and annex Canada and were ultimately defeated by forces that included British soldiers and settlers, French settlers and Native Americans. I find more to be proud of in Canada's nation building story than in that of the US.

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@Trevor_Pott

I agree, it is a long and bloody story and ten books would no tell it all. No reason to leave China out either. The advantage the US had was that they where able to start from scratch and they did a good job about it then.

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Stop

Actually, the Declaration of Independence had very little to do with French philosophes. It was very much a Lockean document.

First, some history. After the English Civil War a writer called Thomas Hobbes wrote Leviathan. He basically argued that living outside of state control was so horrible that we would/should accept a ruler with absolute power because any kind of civil society was better than living outside of one.

A little bit later (1690 something) a writer called John Locke write "Two Treaties on Government", in which he argued that the state of nature was not so brutal and that (wait for it) man had some inalienable rights because of his God-given reason and that, finally, man only formed the civil state to pursue "life, liberty and the pursuit of property". He believed that the state was a man-made thing and required our consent in order to be legitimate.

The Americans would not have liked Rousseau on little bit as he argued that the state and society had is bound by its laws and people must submit to them (he calls this the "General Will"). Once these are in place people must conform to them. On the plus side, everyone is treated equally before the law but they are expected to submit to it. Given that the American founders were in the process of rebelling against their lawful rulers, I suspect that Rousseau was not their philosopher of choice.

Locke, on the other hand, fit the bill nicely: "No taxation without representation" is a Lockean argument (I haven't consented to you so you don't get my property), Their argument about "God-given" rights and reason is pure Locke.

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Big Brother

@ribosome

"It's worth remembering that in 1812 the US decided to invade and annex Canada"

That is a bit of an oversimplification for the cause of that war given it leaves out things such as Canada being a British colony, Britain's attempts to suppress US trade with France and pressing US merchant sailors into British Naval duty. Admittedly some of the last group were undoubtedly British Naval personnel who deserted and found employ among US merchant vessels but certainly not all. Also note that there were Native Americans allied on both sides and it's a good bet some or most of that was the old enemy of my enemy thing. In short the final insult on one side was probably seen very differently by the other side and the "cause" was more a show of wills and egos than anything else.

The current mess of offenses perpetrated by my government is far less excusable however. It's bad enough that they have insisted on seeing us naked on their scanners and have finally agreed to overlay an outline of Gumby over our nude form as mild appeasement. Tracking our every move, call, word, association and communique is tantamount to high treason. Have we learned nothing from the perversions of our past? Did Harry Truman's warning about good ol' J. Edgar teach us nothing? It seems too many will not care, nor will they realize that their Google, Apple, etc accounts all do the same thing. Give Uncle Same entry into their hip pocket through iPhone, Android or WP8. Should I hold out hope for the Firefox phone? I don't know but fortunately it's approaching cocktail time when I don't have to care about updating my status.

"yep, son, we have met the enemy and he is us." -- Pogo

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Re: @ribosome

The real story of the war of 1812 is very easy to find: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ety2FEHQgwM

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Re: @ribosom/Trevor_Pott

Adding to 1812 and Youtube what about this, different war, though.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGiz_qbViE0

and the real stuff.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z7h2SXoSDY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H929zyMC7p8

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Re: @ribosom/Trevor_Pott

French horns are awesome. Wish I still had mine.

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Re: "layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power "

Please spare us the feminist revisionist history lesson. Thanks.

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Re: @ribosome

I was being slightly more serious than that, I think.

In response to another poster; the naval issues around the 1812-14 war were very complicated. There is evidence that life on American ships was worse than that in the RN, and that the crews of many captured ships were quite happy to desert for higher pay and free medical treatment. But also the RN came up with the sneaky idea of announcing that slaves captured on American ships would be freed. This idea turned out to have legs.

It was hardly surprising at the time that Britain was interfering with French trade, given what was happening in Europe. The American alliance with a dictator who used his conquests to find royal jobs for his relatives does rather suggest that by the 1800s the ideals of the Declaration of Independence had given way to realpolitik. Really nothing has changed since. I think it was G K Chesterton who remarked that the difference between Britain and the US was not that there were oppressing and oppressed classes, but that in the US it was publicly admitted, while in the UK the myth of "free Englishmen" persisted.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power "

It's you who is dragging in feminism, not me. I merely noted in passing how extremely undemocratic Athenian democracy really was. For your better information, although Sparta was a militaristic society with a form of Government which it is hard to understand, among the ruling classes men and women were largely equal. The argument cannot therefore be made that the subordinate role of women in Athens was simply part of the accepted order of the Greek world.

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Re: "layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power "

Virtually the entire US constitution was either inspired of outright copied from other sources. The American bill of Rights for instance was liberally copied from the 1689 Bill of Rights and parts of the 1215 Magna Carta were inserted into the US Constitution. But the Americans were the first to have such rights of course. Even when pre-dated by other people by three quarters of a millennia!

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Re: @ribosome

Yes, realpolitik has been around pretty much since the inception of the US. Consider that it was only 9 years from Washington becoming the first President and the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts which were later used to stifle political opposition. It then follows step by step to the present day with the heel of government coming down on the neck of someone who only really wants what was promised in a document that is now little more than memorialized toilet paper considering how my government really treats it.

@Trevor: Great vid. Thanks. :)

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A good read and very well written article, regarding the discussion while I agree the US Constitution was an important document, it must be remembered that it was mostly based on British law, for example the English Bill of Rights from 1689, it is also worth remembering that while the Constitution may have laid out the view on freedoms, rights and liberty, in practice for those Americans who were not of a certain skin colour it might as well not existed for around 150 years afterwards, The British abolished slavery a long time before the US, (1772 in England, 1799 in Great Britian,1807 Slave Trade Act stopping the trading of slaves, 1833 Abolishment Act freeing all slaves in the British Empire) and did not have a war over it, under British law no one has ever been denied rights due to the colour of their skin while in the US equal rights is still in living memory.

"No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land."

Magna Carta 1215

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Anonymous Coward

"Every other time we'd tried in the past it was cute, but layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power and thus severely limited. Though France came damned close..."

Perhaps it is the natural state of things, as they seem to have returned to a structure desperate to preserve its own power again.

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Happy

Re: "layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power "

Wow so even then they were copy and pasting from other sources for their homework...

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you have some wonderful replies from history buffs, but absolutely, this piece puts widely understood words to a very complex issue.

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@Ye Gads

I wouldn't say the Declaration is either Lockean or Rousseaun. It is a careful blending of the two with a dash of Hobbes informing some concepts. I'd agree it is more strongly tilted toward Locke, probably 70/30. And there was certainly a great deal of concern about Rousseau and his concepts turning into the mob rule that it became during the French Revolution. But there were founders of almost every stripe with input into our founding documents.

The problem is that over time we've moved away from the concepts of Locke and toward the concepts of Marx under the guise of moving toward Rousseau. One of the things Trevor gets wrong is that this hasn't been going on for 30 years, it's been going on for 100 or more. It doesn't help the US any that Europe and even Canada started on the same path and moved down it even further and faster than the US did. It's only now that the poison is visibly affecting the US that everybody else is starting to worry about it.

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Re: "layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power "

As the descendents of Englishmen fighting to protect our rights as Englishmen it was only natural to draw upon those sources. Yet none of those other documents so clearly and cleverly distilled the essence of what those other documents hinted at. And at the time the document was signed it would still be years before England moved to fully embrace what we now call a Constitutional Monarchy.

This wasn't undone until Marx and the idea of the material dialectic which dictated everything that man did came to the intellectual fore that those ideas began to be undermined. It's taken a long time, but it is an ugly thing that work has wrought in the US. Every bit as ugly as it has wrought elsewhere in the world. Yet instead of recognizing it for what it was, and calling it out as such, you gave the current bastage a Nobel Peace prize because you wanted to stick it to the man. Just like Marx asked you to.

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FAIL

Re: "layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power "

"rich white males stayed on top" is more than a touch racist and simplistic.

They wanted to keep the USA on top.

Same thing in Greece and Rome, it is about keeping the power class of their nation on top of the world.

(As long as we're doing simplistic racism) and you do that because power attracts women and women like men who have power, no matter how they get it.

And the Mediterranean peoples are not entirely white, no matter that many "whites" educated in the "social sciences" like to consider that the invention of their oligarchies by northern Mediterranean peoples constituted white people inventing democracy.

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Re: @ribosome

Other than historians, few North Americans know the same War of 1812 was going on in Europe.

The North American side of the war was an attempted land grab by the USA with the aid of their Napoleonic French allies.

Offensive actions were broadly coordinated to keep the British busy on two fronts, in Europe and North America.

In the end Napoleon his American allies were defeated.

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Re: "layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power "

Sparta, that great example of feminist fair play devoted to world peace and equality for all? That Sparta?

Never existed.

Sparta had almost no adult male citizens resident in it. The women kept the state at war to ensure the men were always away doing battle, until they were past age 40.

And like other Greek states, Sparta kept slaves.

Unlike other Greek states, Sparta kept other Greeks as slaves, which was why they had to go.

They also had a weekend where killing non-Spartans was legal.

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Devil

Let's start askin our "multi" national hosting providers

I for one am using Linode both in America and UK, are they subject to same jurisdictions provided that Linode is an American company, or is every datacenter subject to local laws?

All law be it national or international is powerless and old in regards to todays interconnected environment in any case.

#occupygezi #occupyistanbul #direngezi

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Re: Let's start askin our "multi" national hosting providers

Even if they are subject to local laws you can assume that the UK and US inteligence communities consider themselves above the law.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let's start askin our "multi" national hosting providers

If you're a US company, you are subject to US laws. If any of your datampasses through the US or is handled by a US company then it is subject to the patriot act. If you use a US bank, visa, mastercard or you send money internationally themit's hovered up as well.

Strong encryption is your only defense.

I'd use the black helicopter icon except if your bunker is in Montana then your screwed before you start

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let's start askin our "multi" national hosting providers

So what makes you believe that their standing FISA warrant does not compel them to lie in your face?

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Re: inteligence communities consider themselves above the law.

Not above the law, outside the law. Generally speaking laws only exist within nation states. Relations between nation states tend to be resolved only by warfare. In short they exist in the Hobbesian environment.

Oh we paper over it from time to time with treaties. And we get up in arms and issue communiques and denounce our opponents. In rare circumstances you might even get a full fledged trade embargo.

But when push comes to shove, those laws are usually worth less than the paper upon which they were written. As Russia, Iran, Iraq, China, and other nations have proven again and again. In such an environment, it is inevitable that without assistance upholding higher ideals, even the nation leading the charge for those ideals will succumb to the Hobbesian environment and adopt its strategies.

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Re: Let's start askin our "multi" national hosting providers

American law applies to American companies world wide.

And the USA enforces some of its laws on companies of any nationality doing business in the USA (trading with the enemy act, compulsion to trade with Israel, etc.).

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Re: Let's start askin our "multi" national hosting providers

Problem with encryption is it is bound to red flag you.

Looking at the size of that data center in Utah, I imagine it would take less than a few minutes to break AES-256 and that they could be cracking thousands of encrypted documents per minute.

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Happy

Hello pot, this is kettle.

That's a good argument and I applaud it ... but are you so certain the your spooks aren't doing the same thing?

The stupid thing of course is that this "eye's of others" approach to state security doesn't deter or catch the terrorists because it's quite easy to avoid their nets with some care and inconvenience. Frankly I pity anyone monitoring my email account given the amount of spam that I get every day but there's a gem of an idea in this that I'd like to share.

I suggest that what we need is a LOIC approach to dealing this - a small app that we all run that continually queries search engines and other monitored servers with a slapdash mix of queries for "gay alien sex", "home made biscuit recipe", "bomb construction" and "american imperialistic heros" ... the list goes on ... basically swamp the bastards with data.

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Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

"That's a good argument and I applaud it ... but are you so certain the your spooks aren't doing the same thing?"

Dunno about Canadian spooks, but the GCHQ story suggests that the UK and US are simply using each other's spooks to get around local laws against spying on your own folks. If we all follow Trevor's advice we'd probably end up with many more such bilateral understandings, but probably not much more privacy. The real problem, and I think Trevor's article makes the point perfectly well, is that even the best constitution in human history isn't worth a hill of beans unless you actually enforce it.

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Big Brother

Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

the stupid Kiwi government does it so .....probably. Bureaucrats like to expand their empires and the tech is there so.... shit happens.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

I'm still at a loss about all of this. We KNOWINGLY gave this data to Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook, et al. Their respective sites' terms of use have been regularly shown to give them carte blanche with this data.

Is the implication here that governments or government officials are somehow more susceptible to corruption and snooping than multinational corporations?

Haven't these companies spent the last decade trying to outdo each other on data mining technologies, and hasn't the big buzzword in their boardrooms been "monetizing" that data?

I'm not saying we shouldn't be leery about government snooping in our cloud data; I'm saying we should have been leery about snooping in our cloud data all along, because it's being held by companies who've made a practice of optimizing snooping technologies.

The point about the Constitution is a great one in this regard, because at the heart of it, it's a contract --just like those contracts the cloud providers offer. What real opportunity do those contracts offer for you to determine if, say, Amazon's (or even just one clever and corrupt techie) dipped into your data for their own purposes? How could you prove it, and how long would you have to fight them through the courts before you received any compensation?

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Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

Our spooks tried to obtain the same powers. We shot them down in full public view. Multiple times. They keep trying. We keep denying. If they did it anyways, our supreme court would have a goddamend field day slapping them right back down to earth. There are no Patriot Act style laws here that allow the government to claim "National security" and slap a gag order on it. For that matter if our government attempted to introduce such laws, our supreme court would slap it back down.

So yeah, I"m damned sure CSIS isn't monitoring my internets. The NSA is (hi, ECEHELON!) and CSIS may periodically go hat in hand to them for stuff, but only once they've a warrant and an individual to target. There are no dragnet style snooping operations in Canada. If there were, I promise you, we'd resolve that right fucking now.

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Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

Yes; corporations are by default less corrupt than governments. Corporations do nothing without a profit motive. There is no advantage to a corporation noticing that you are interested in cartoon porn of girls and aliens and then having you arrested and thrown in jail for an indeterminate period of time. Potentially while being held without charge for over a month and not allowed to even contact your family or employer to tell them why you're missing.

There's no profit in labelling a journalist as a "threat to national security" because they spoke out about a problem in their home country caused by an American country an then have them hassled at the border, refused entry or otherwise severely hassled.

There's no profit in digging into text files to identify individuals, claim they are somehow a threat (without saying how, because it's all secret) and then beating protesters (in some cases nearly to death) who are occupying a public park trying to get some banks held accountable and demand social change.

I could go on and on and on. Look; corporations don't have the power of governments to completely ruin your life. They can only do so by involving a government in the first place.

The US government employs over 2 million people. 2 million! The overwhelming majority of them accountable to no one. The bureaucracy has become paranoid, defensive and dedicated to preserving their own jobs above all else.

Most of them are good people, but good people can to terrible things when bored, scared or apathetic. When you start to develop and "us and them" mentality you dehumanize the people you are paid to serve and that's where this whole mess starts. Border guards, the tax man, cops, the DMV, you name it! THe US governmental apparatus is deeply embedded in "us" versus " them" where "them is not only "other countries" it is their own damned people!

So yes, I believe that the cumulative actions of 2 million bitter, disillusioned people who just don't give a damn led by a handful of the truly corrupt are a heck of a lot more damaging than any corporation I can name.

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Stop

Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

There are no dragnet style snooping operations in Canada.

That you know of.

I'm willing to say that given the culture in Canada, such things are less likely, but to make a blanket assertion like that is either incredibly arrogant, fucking naive, or most likely, both.

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Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

"So yeah, I"m damned sure CSIS isn't monitoring my internets."

And you'd be wrong. Look up "United Kingdom – United States of America Agreement", AKA "Five Eyes". In operation since 1946. Echalon (note spleling) is a subset of this network. Yes, Trevor, your .gov is in cahoots with us eeeevvviiiilll Yanks. HTH, HAND.

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Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

We have recently (as in with in the past year) dragged this through our parliament, our senate and our judicial system. We have had three separate law enforcement/spy agencies investigate eachother to ensure that they are not overreaching and breaking the laws that are very much under debate in our country.

What's more only one and a half (as in Bell and the eastern portion of Shaw's network) are even capable of massive dragnets involving more than phone records. In theory, it is possible that you could pull the phone records of the cell phone providers en masse. I have my doubts about the landline/sip providers. Retention requirements aren't exactly eternal, and I know a few who are privacy types who will delete the instant they can.

If there was room 641A-style dragnet snooping going on in Canada it would legitimately be a conspiracy. The kind of conspiracy that has people lying under oath. The kind that is really, really hard to keep a tight lid on and would have quite a few people in the not very nice jails until the end of time when it all came out.

I am as sure as it is humanly possible to be without actively monitoring every single person at all levels of our government 24/7 that nobody in Canada is operating a dragnet-style monitoring operation on our citizens. Given that I can only point to a handful of politicians in all of Canada that are legitimately corrupt (and not mistakenly trying to do do the right thing while having lost what that right thing truly is) I'm willing to accept the word of the people involved that we are not spying on eachother here.

That doesn't mean our cops don't want to...but it does mean that they go through proper channels to do so. Those proper channels - in this country at least - require public debate. Besides, I know one of the blokes that runs the tech forensics side of CSIS; he's a good chap and he'd not stand for that sort of thing. Since he's still working there, I have to assume they've not gone yank on us quite yet.

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Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

I could go on and on and on. Look; corporations don't have the power of governments to completely ruin your life. They can only do so by involving a government in the first place.

I don't think so. Corporations don't need government intervention to illegally pollute, to destroy someone's credit rating, to create dangerous workplaces -- in fact the only reason they don't do more of that crap is because of government intervention.

The US government employs over 2 million people.

Actually, the Executive branch employs approximately 2.75 million people. (source: http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/data-analysis-documentation/federal-employment-reports/historical-tables/total-government-employment-since-1962/) -- by the way, this has remained steady (within ~200,000 or so) since 1962. But that's everybody they employ, the vast majority of which aren't involved in this particular scandal and don't have the power over individuals you're trying to ascribe to all of them. The size of the relevant groups (the NSA/CSS, maybe the CIA, and if you're feeling particularly paranoid, the entire FBI as well) is classified, and I've seen estimates from 100,000 to 200,000 people.

The overwhelming majority of [US government employees] are accountable to no one.

Says who? How many US government employees have you observed being "accountable to no one"? Give me some real data on this. Most US government agencies are answerable to at least two of the major branches (often Executive and Legislative, but also Executive and Judicial (think law enforcement), and even Legislative and Judicial) and there are more regulations targeting government employee behavior than targeting corporate employee behavior.

Most of them are good people, but good people can to terrible things when bored, scared or apathetic. And this can't apply to corporate employees as well?

It's easy to paint any large organization with broad strokes, but the fact of the matter is that more than 90% of the 2 million US government employees you mention have (a) no access to the data discussed in the original article, (b) little to no direct control over the fate of individuals, (c) a hell of a lot more people looking over their shoulder than you or I have and hence way more accountability than you think, and (d) would really rather you just left them to do their job, rather than lumping them in with all of those shady types.

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Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

I don't think so. Corporations don't need government intervention to illegally pollute, to destroy someone's credit rating, to create dangerous workplaces -- in fact the only reason they don't do more of that crap is because of government intervention.

Absolutely correct. Don't mistake me for a pro-corporatist...I"m not. I am saying very specifically that I trust a corporation with my personal data more than a government. I don't truly trust either, but I find the government far more likely to do something untoward with that info. The corporation is probably just going to advertise at me (or maybe hike my insurance premiums.) There is a place for government. Public health care. Environmental regulation. National defence, emergency services and policing. That place is not "spying on it's own citizens.

Says who? How many US government employees have you observed being "accountable to no one"? Give me some real data on this. Most US government agencies are answerable to at least two of the major branches (often Executive and Legislative, but also Executive and Judicial (think law enforcement), and even Legislative and Judicial) and there are more regulations targeting government employee behavior than targeting corporate employee behavior.

Obama's former director of speechwriting. Look up the interview on the Daily Show between Stewart and Jon Favreau. He is very frank about how damn-near impossible it is to create change int he government because each section reports to a different committee made up of members of the house. Decisions on what to change (if anything) are politically motivated, not based on requirements.

He makes specific mention of how intractable most agencies are and how resistant to change they have become. He is not remotely the only one to have said so of late, but is the only on at the top of my mind that I can remember a name for.

It's easy to paint any large organization with broad strokes, but the fact of the matter is that more than 90% of the 2 million US government employees you mention have (a) no access to the data discussed in the original article, (b) little to no direct control over the fate of individuals, (c) a hell of a lot more people looking over their shoulder than you or I have and hence way more accountability than you think, and (d) would really rather you just left them to do their job, rather than lumping them in with all of those shady types.

Far more of those people have access to the data than should have. Many of them abuse it. Far - far - to many of them (especially border guards) take obvious and notable pleasure in making others suffer. Ultimately, it isn't required that to totality of the organization be corrupt. Enough of the wrong people in the wrong places having abdicated their duty of care is more than enough to turn the whole thing into the very monster it exists to defend against.

It's too bad, too...because there are examples of governments that actually work well in other parts of the world. Places where accountability and transparency are more important than anything else. Where the government's duty is to the people, not merely keeping one's head down so that they can stay employed.

Apathy is not an excuse for abdication of ethics.

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Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

The contracts you talk about are 'adhesion contracts'. I ignore them because in my opinion the most noxious terms are patently unenforceable on the part of the culprits that created them.

To be legal and enforceable contracts must have a number of characteristics. Nominal agreement is necessary to be bound, but not sufficient.

From the Cornell University Legal Information Institute:

"Courts carefully scrutinize adhesion contracts and sometimes void certain provisions because of the possibility of unequal bargaining power, unfairness, and unconscionability. Factoring into such decisions include the nature of the assent, the possibility of unfair surprise, lack of notice, unequal bargaining power, and substantive unfairness. Courts often use the “doctrine of reasonable expectations” as a justification for invalidating parts or all of an adhesion contract: the weaker party will not be held to adhere to contract terms that are beyond what the weaker party would have reasonably expected from the contract, even if what he or she reasonably expected was outside the strict letter of agreement."

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Mushroom

Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

The NSA monitors the Brits. The GCHQ monitors the Yanks. It has been going on for some time didn't you hear?

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Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

>There are no dragnet style snooping operations in Canada

There doesn't need to be, unless you are calling Nunavut from the Norther Territories your data is going to go through an American cable and American servers

The CICS has also shown that it puts "national security" ie being nice to the Americans, ahead of the interests of Canadian companies and citizens

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Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

Funny, I know where almost all the routing and even POTS switching is for western Canada and neither my calls nor my packets hit the US when I'm calling another Canadian, unless I'm going way out easy, in which case my packets are probably going through Chicago.

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IT Angle

Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

You mean like emacs' spook.el?

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Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

"even the best constitution in human history isn't worth a hill of beans unless you actually enforce it"

Enforcement depends upon the very institution that is ignoring that constitution.

I think you mean:

"even the best constitution in human history isn't worth a hill of beans unless you actually fight for it"

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