back to article NSA security award winner calls for hearings into agency's conduct

As part of the NSA's ongoing mission to research the finer arts of computer security, it funds and promotes a lot of academic research. And on July 18 it announced the winner of its first Science of Security (SoS) competition after a distinguished academic panel had considered 44 entries covering the latest academic output on …

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Silver badge
Big Brother

What goes around, comes around...

Back in 1965, how we laughed when we heard the East Germans claim the Berlin Wall was to keep westerners out, for the safety & security of the Ostis (East Germans).

How we laughed when we heard the East Germans claim the armed Grenzepolizei (Border Guards/Police) were to keep westerners out, for the safety & security of the Ostis.

"How naive they must be", we thought "to swallow such drivel. Surely they can see they are not at all free and totally controlled?"

What do we hear from pour own "authorities" 50 years on?

"It's necessary to defeat terrorism".

"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear".

Rather ironic, isn't it?

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Re: What goes around, comes around...

But do you remember that before the wall was built, East Germans were fleeing the country? They knew that the wall was there to keep them in. They knew that the West was "free," at least you usually wouldn't be jailed or even shot dead for voicing your opinion. And they knew that if they attempted to cross that border, they would be shot dead.

We now have government agencies prying where they shouldn't, and it keeps getting a rubber stamp by those in power. But we do have something that the East Germans didn't have: a working ballot box. Let's have a bit of global revolution, and revolve some people out of office.

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@Brian Miller

We now have government agencies prying where they shouldn't, and it keeps getting a rubber stamp by those in power. But we do have something that the East Germans didn't have: a working ballot box. Let's have a bit of global revolution, and revolve some people out of office.

Both labour and the conservatives want to hand more power to the more secretive parts of government. And as long as ministers are routinely manipulated by civil servants - remember Charles Farr? - then things are unlikely to change for the better regardless of who wins the election.

So who would you vote for?

Only those who have tarried in the foggy corridors of the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Metropolitan police can have any notion of the Orwellian extravagance of these places. Agencies, units and groups cruise shark-like round the feet of terrified Home Office ministers. Their staffs, expenses, overtime and accommodation are crammed into London's Scotland Yard and Tintagel House. If challenged, they incant their motto: "We keep you safe."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/11/police-reform-mark-stone-terrorism

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Stop

Re: What goes around, comes around...

"But we do have something that the East Germans didn't have: a working ballot box."

While I have to agree with the sentiment of your post I think you'll find that the NSA and their various programs enjoy widespread support with both establishment Republicans and Democrats. This would seem to indicate the presence of a false choice at least on this particular topic. Furthermore, the majority of voters in the US openly support some form of domestic snooping. It would therefore seem to me that the court of public opinion would be the logical place to start if you were interested in bringing about change. Fear of voters in their district doing as you have directed is far more powerful (and attainable) in a country where the donkey or the elephant form such a major component of individual identity.

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Silver badge

Working ballot box?

The people who voted for Obama to shut down Gitmo, end the PATRIOT act abuses etc. probably don't think the ballot box worked very well for them. When both parties support something, given that there is no effective third party (since the two major parties write the rules specifically to insure this) the ballot box is pointless.

Since the soap box and ballot box are ineffective, the next step is the jury box. If it was possible to bring someone in the administration to justice, even some low level Oliver North type flunky, it'll make some of them think twice before proceeding with the next violation of the Constitution.

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Bronze badge

Re: What goes around, comes around...

There are, of course, those of us who are skeptical.

1. "It's necessary to defeat terrorism".

This is a strong claim, not (at least yet) well supported by facts. Maybe it could be, but in the absence of strong evidence we are entitled to conclude that it is untrue and put forward to justify activities that make even the system operators a bit uncomfortable.

2. "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear".

Probably true, for now. Especially for those who enthusiastically supported the present administration in the 2012 election. The large, although not clearly known, amount of citizen-tracking data could be a temptation. There isn't much evidence of that now, but the next administration, or the one after that, might be less benign, and the temptation to make use of the saved data could be irresistible. Further, it sets a precedent that, in the event of another terrorist incident, surely would be used to justify yet more, and more intrusive, data collection. For these reasons, we must look with great distrust on the entire enterprise.

The administration needs to come clean in a way that can be judged independently about exactly what data are being collected, how it is being used, and exactly how effective in serving any public purpose. In addition, they need to show why warrants as described in the Fourth Amendment won't serve. If they cannot, it is justification enough to terminate the program.

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Megaphone

Re: What goes around, comes around...

You are blinder then most if you actually think the ballot box works, especially if you are in the US. You're under a 2 party system. Both parties lie to you and have absolutely no respect for the promises they make. So what are your options again?

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Bronze badge

Re: What goes around, comes around...

And how, pray tell, can American citizens vote the NSA and their ilk out?

If Democratic candidates like notBush™ or Clinton can't or won't, what chance is there that a Republican one will?

The Americans have a working ballot box but it is impotent.

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Big Brother

Re: What goes around, comes around...

@ Brian Miller

You appear to have not quite grasped the point I was making:- In the 50's & 60's our governments were engaged in a confrontation with the 'non-democratic' dictatorial regimes of the Eastern Bloc.

We saw right through the Eastern Bloc's propaganda concerning imaginary imminent threats from the west, and how their draconian powers were to protect their own populace from the terrible Westerners...

I just see the irony of the NSA and our own GCHQ etc. taking the same line now...

I accept our ballot boxes work as a means of counting votes; it's our system of so-called democracy which denigrates our votes into a meaningless charade...

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Silver badge

Re: What goes around, comes around...

Follow the money...

Lawmakers Who Upheld NSA Phone Spying Received Double the Defense Industry Cash

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/07/money-nsa-vote/

The politicians must still feel reasonably safe though, since this is despite:

http://www.people-press.org/2013/07/26/few-see-adequate-limits-on-nsa-surveillance-program/

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What goes around, comes around...

> But we do have something that the East Germans didn't have: a working ballot box.

Erm... Working in the sense that you can stuff a ballot through the opening, you mean?

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Anonymous Coward

"But we do have something that the East Germans didn't have: a working ballot box."

Sometimes, I'm not so sure of that anymore.

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Meh

Even a single party state

Has a ballot box.

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Unhappy

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear

Of course most people have things that, while not illegal, they still don't necessarily want on record for any small-time power-abuser to access. And that is in a society that (for now - no guarantees for the future, of course) has legal structures to support relative freedom of opinion and activity.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nothing to hide, nothing to fear

" Of course most people have things that, while not illegal, they still don't necessarily want on record for any small-time power-abuser to access. "

There was a rather interesting, and candid, comment in that sense in yesterday's Financial Times interview with a Russian businessman, Dr. Vladimir Evtushenkov. He said something along the lines of "I never killed anyone, never put a price on anyone's head, never ruined anyone, but we all have skeletons in our closets that we do not want to make public". Sometimes I wish we could all be frank like that.

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Anonymous Coward

Congratulations! You've lost.

At least Bonneau as well as everyone here acknowledges the facts:

It is the representatives of We The People, doing this to The People.

In other words, we got exactly what we voted for: an elected group of self-important losers who's main interest seems to be keeping themselves in power at almost all costs. Every action for the past 14 years has flown in this direction and it is only getting worse.

Welcome to the Future! Tammany Hall is waiting for you.

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Anonymous Coward

The real problem is...

...that the populace is dumber than shitze.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The real problem is...

..that the majority are rarely right..

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Anonymous Coward

Go back to how this started.

Americans need to re-evaluate the whole 9/11 thing.

Let me say that I am not a conspiracy nut, just someone who understands the laws of physics.

I do not want to bore you with old arguments so here is just some facts to chew on.

Prior to 9/11 no steel framed building had ever collapsed due to fire. Three on the same day defies statistics.

Regarding the twin towers:

They collapsed into their own footprint, the path of maximum resistance. This is impossible, at least part of the building should have toppled to the side as it hit the undamaged structure below. Even if you believe the pancake theory the central cores would have survived to some extent.

As for building 7, that was so obviously a controlled demolition that I'm surprised anyone doubts it.

Buildings do not collapse like that. Maybe one end would and leave a tangled mess at the other. But straight down over the whole ground plan? Sorry but that is totally impossible.

Who gained? Certain people have made billions out of the ensuing war on terror.

Can we have an anonymous drone icon now?

.

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Bronze badge

Re: Go back to how this started.

"Prior to 9/11 no steel framed building had ever collapsed due to fire."

Prior to 9/11, no steel framed building had had 7 tons of burning aviation fuel poured into it. This may have some bearing on the matter.

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Re: Go back to how this started.

Indeed, aviation fuel burns incredibly hot, its also the reason why special secretive alloys are in the jet engines. These alloys have caused some of the greatest advances in power and engine usage(and spurred the development of bigger engines and not narrow longer ones). The sovjets had to use a few creative tricks in procedures to allow their planes to land/takeoff on similair runways.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Go back to how this started.

The twin towers where built differently, the floors hang on the walls and when one floor went it knocked out the next floor all straight down.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Go back to how this started.

And very few had taken the impact of a fully laden commercial jet plane.

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"I don't condone the NSA's surveillance. Simply put, I don't think a free society is compatible with an organisation like the NSA in its current form."

Yet he works for Google ...

And here I was thinking that Americans didn't do irony ...

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Google is opt-in. People use it for personal\business benefit and advantage.

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Devil

>Google is opt-in. People use it for personal\business benefit and advantage.

Oh - the optimism of the young..

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Google is not opt-in as far as its data collection via its ad services, Google Analytics and G+ goes. In fact, even opting out from these is difficult if not impossible.

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Silver badge

Well said sir.

"We'll kill the golden goose if other countries think US corporations can't be trusted with their data due to the local government, particularly when the law provides virtually no protection from eavesdropping for foreigner's data held by US companies," Bonneau said. "Can we honestly tell people in other countries that they should trust all of their data with US companies?"

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FAIL

RE: King Leopold's Ghost

...and look how well Congo has done!

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Bronze badge

Oh They Are, Are They?

"Companies [...] collect large amounts of data [...] but such commercial systems are opt-in"

Odd, I don't recall ever giving corporations permission to collect my data...

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