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back to article Snowden: You can't trust SPOOKS with your DATA

Irony meters exploded when NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, addressing the SXSW conference via video link today, urged programmers to encrypt their data to protect it from, er, prying eyes. snowden SXSW Snowden wraps himself in US constitutions Snowden, a former CIA technician, addressed the audience in Austin, Texas, in a …

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Anonymous Coward

IMO the only real option here is to completely disband the NSA and start new, with new people - if it's even necessary. From the reports it seems like the only thing the NSA is good at is wasting money and spying on the wrong people.

When an employee is lying and doing what he shouldn't, you can't just issue a slap on the wrist and expect a complete behavior turnaround.

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Why?

They've only done their job as mandated by US politicians, and done it well. Disbanding and reforming would achieve nothing except temporarily destroy the US expertise in signal surveillance.

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done it well?

"They've only done their job as mandated by US politicians, and done it well. Disbanding and reforming would achieve nothing except temporarily destroy the US expertise in signal surveillance."

I'm not understanding what you mean by doing their job well. For one, they haven't been very successful at increasing or maintaining national security. In fact one could argue that they have seriously decreased everybody's security. Also, doing "one's job" without questioning the ethics is often looked down upon in civilized society. A person (like Snowden) who's got guts, does not continue down the wrong road once they realize what's going on. And then there's the little matter of what they've been doing being illegal.

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Re: done it well?

"I was only obeying orders." has not been a valid legal defence for, what, seventy years?

Though the problem of some poor chap at the pointy end actually having the knowledge to decide whether what his boss tells him to do is legal or not is moot: easier for them to assume the boss knows the law better than them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: done it well?

"For one, they haven't been very successful at increasing or maintaining national security"

And you know this how?

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Thumb Down

They've only done their job as mandated by US politicians, and done it well.

Even in a purely US-centric view, compiling dossiers like Hacker Heydrich on US people in full violation of anything their mandate and the constitution says about these kind of activities as well as alienating "overseas friends" (more like useful idiots kept in line by greenback splurges, amirite) by basically behaving like Greys coming back night after night for a good probing is NOT "doing your job well", except in Restaurant-Serving-Stray-Cats-For-Expediency kind of way.

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Disband? only when hell freezes over... probably

There's never going to be enough political pressure for that.

The only example of that kind of action is Northern Ireland, when the RUC(Royal Ulster Constabulary) was replaced with the PSNI(Police Service of Northern Ireland) in the aftermath of the 'troubles' in order to reassert public confidence.

There is just not enough of the public that either understands (or cares) enough about the political ramifications of the spying revelations to prompt any action of that kind.

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Anonymous Coward

if you read this Wash Post article you can see it's not just the NSA...

we might need to completely disband the NSA & the CIA & the..., trustworthy souls all...?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/transcript-sen-dianne-feinstein-says-cia-searched-intelligence-committee-computers/2014/03/11/200dc9ac-a928-11e3-8599-ce7295b6851c_story.html

Transcript of statement to Congress about CIA 'disappearing' documents! - at least it's just documents not %random{snipers:fundamentalists:dr.kelly:lockerbie:truth:justice:kennedy:etc} this time!

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Re: done it well?

> For one, they haven't been very successful at increasing or maintaining national security

You don't know that. In fact, none of us have the slightest inkling of a clue what they have reported or how things would have played out without NSA, GCHQ & friends.

> one could argue that they have seriously decreased everybody's security

No, one could not. They have decreased everyone's privacy, but risk is unchanged or decreased. Lack of information, for instance leading to inability to determine that an informer is lying or if Iran is close to obtaining nukes, increases risk.

> doing "one's job" without questioning the ethics is often looked down upon in civilized society

Yes, but this isn't civilized society: this is national security and war.

> then there's the little matter of what they've been doing being illegal.

Some of it sure, but since they did it at the behest of the politicians no one will ever be sent to prison for it. Except for the spying on that Senate committee, that is the one single thing in the Snowden files which will lead to heads rolling.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: done it well?

"> one could argue that they have seriously decreased everybody's security

No, one could not. They have decreased everyone's privacy, but risk is unchanged or decreased. Lack of information, for instance leading to inability to determine that an informer is lying or if Iran is close to obtaining nukes, increases risk."

Or maybe the intelligence that allows them to launch drone attacks in foreign countries might annoy the foreigners enough to make them want to attack back (and make it easier to recruit for that purpose), thereby decreasing security.

So one can argue it, because I just did.

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The government has changed its talking points

The government has changed its talking points on this away from the public interest to the national interest," he said.

He speaks well. I'm just so disheartened at the seeming impossibility of convincing the great majority that "national interest" does not include them any more.

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Re: The government has changed its talking points

The "national interest" hasn't included the common person for a long time. The "national interest" is and has been for quite some time about power. Big business = money = power for those who take the lobby and campaign monies. Take the king's shilling, do the king's bidding.

The elected official will tell us (the voters) anything to get elected. Once in, follow the money and you'll see how they use their power.

Lastly, since information is power, having a good intelligence operation is important. Using it on your citizens gives those in power that edge. It also gives those in the intelligence operation the power of pulling strings to keep their power.

So is it in the best interest of "government" to disband the NSA? The answer to that is "no". Which puts it in the "national interest" category and "public interest" be damned as "public interest" doesn't serve those in power.

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Re: The government has changed its talking points

> The "national interest" hasn't included the common person for a long time.

I would argue that it never has.

> The "national interest" is and has been for quite some time about power. Big business = money = power

That was always the case.

Nationalism is irrational, it is, literally and completely, nothing but powerful people's mindgame to get less powerful people to act against their own best interest.

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Re: The government has changed its talking points

>He speaks well. I'm just so disheartened at the seeming impossibility of convincing the great

>majority that "national interest" does not include them any more.

Perhaps the great majority don't want to be lectured to on morality from some self regarding narcissist who makes a big deal about internal state spying then fucks off to a country run by a dictator in all but name that's just invaded a sovereign european nation 1939 style. The US might not be perfect, but I'll take it over Putins oppressive russia any day. Snowden is just another in a long line of Useful Idiots.

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Re: The government has changed its talking points

" fucks off to a country run by a dictator in all but name that's just invaded a sovereign european nation 1939 style."

I didn't know he was back in the US, where did you hear that?

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Re: The government has changed its talking points

>Nationalism is irrational, it is, literally and completely, nothing but powerful people's mindgame to get

>less powerful people to act against their own best interest.

So the best interest of the poor downtrodden prole is not to support his own country is it?

That's an interesting point of view - care to elaborate?

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Re: The government has changed its talking points

>Nationalism is irrational, it is, literally and completely, nothing but powerful people's mindgame to get

>less powerful people to act against their own best interest.

So the best interest of the poor downtrodden prole is not to support his own country is it?

That's an interesting point of view - care to elaborate?

Not the OP, but I see it as in the interest of the "prole" to seek to advance the rights of the individual over the state, to insist upon having the right to not just disagree with the state but to change it if it conflicts with the rights of individuals. For this to happen, it requires that the proles be informed of the actions of the state, and to have both the will and the ability to effect changes. When people realize that the only "state" that matters is this wet pebble we have to coexist upon, as I hope the people will sometime realize, then the states are the entities that will need to be disbanded.

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Re: The government has changed its talking points

> So the best interest of the poor downtrodden prole is not to support his own country is it?

It is in the best interest of the poor & downtrodden to not die, at least when all that's on the line is the interests of rich and powerful people. There are situations when it is in the best interests of the poor & downtrodden to fight -- for instance, to rid themselves of an oppressive dictator, or in defense against an oppressive or genocidal invader -- but in those cases you do not need nationalism to get them to fight. You need nationalism when they otherwise would not have fought. Fighting for < insert country here > was always a bullshit reason, emotive language designed to tug at the heart strings in order to bypass the brain.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The government has changed its talking points

"He speaks well. I'm just so disheartened at the seeming impossibility of convincing the great majority that "national interest" does not include them any more."

One just man can become an army.

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@Vociferous

"Nationalism is irrational, it is, literally and completely, nothing but powerful people's mindgame to get less powerful people to act against their own best interest."

Careful now, you're starting to sound like a socialist

And you know what Americans think of them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Vociferous

Not necessarily accurate matey-bob. The posit that Nationalism is irrational etc. is a sound one in the view of many, other than the socialists alone. Libertarians, anarchists, anarcho-capitalists and other non-state-loving types will readily agree. Individual sovereign liberty is far, far more important than any 'security' consideration of the bloated and flailing state.

This is why the tea-party types in the US are onto a loser. They're so in thrall of the stars and bars yawn bore, that they can't see the woods for the trees. The state is the problem. The state is always the problem. The state as has been discussed in the article, looks out only for the state. This self-interest, and the zealous prosecution of its continued existence, is the real root of all evil.

Anon natch. They're fucking everywhere.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The government has changed its talking points

@Sherrie Ludwig

"When people realize that the only "state" that matters is this wet pebble we have to coexist upon, as I hope the people will sometime realize, then the states are the entities that will need to be disbanded."

As Arthur C Clarke sagely noted "its is perhaps comforting that flags don't wave in space".

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Stop who?

"..he had no problem with commercial companies collecting personal data.."

Well, may be he's well intentioned and wants to tackle 1 problem at once, but how an 8-pixel-font-aggreement link unique on every site in the world is less of a problem than a constitutional statement with almost the same content?

And if availability of opt-out is your excuse, then you can opt-out of the Internet as a whole as well.

But, a big thanks for your suggestion on encryption.

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Re: Stop who?

I can't opt out of my government. Or out from under the thumb of the USA. I can opt out of Google. There are tools that let me defeat a Google. I can install them on my computer. I have fucking nothing that will defeat people who have the legal power to tap trans-oceanic fiber or install MITM equipment in telecoms closets.

So yeah, I've got no big beef with corporations tracking things. Or rather, I do...but that is a technological arms race that I can win because they are limited to the same scope of powers I myself posses.

I have a great many issues with governmental surveillance, especially by my own country and our allies. I don't care about targeted surveillance; that's requisite and sane. Dragnet surveillance, however, places too much power in the hands of petty bureaucrats and border security agents. Both these categories have minimal-to-no oversight and unchallengeable authority.

Maybe China and Russia have similar programs. Oh well. Who cares? Their spying programs won't impact me or mine unless I try to enter their country. The same cannot be said of my own country spying on me, or of allied nations spying on me.

Allied nations share their surveillance with my nation enabling my country's petty bureaucrats to make my life miserable at will. Obey or be destroyed.

Allied nations are also where I am most likely to want to engage in business or travel for leisure. Again we encounter the real world impacts of mass surveillance, too much power and information given tot he petty thugs left to man the borders.

If they want to create terrible societies that is up to them. We claim we're "better" and more "free", we should damned well prove it. Liberty is not an acceptable price for the illusion of freedom.

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Re: Stop who?

"I can't opt out of my government."

Yes you can. You can fly to Ecuador, you can fly to Belarus (assuming they'll let you in), you can jet off to a country with a jungle and live there. Indeed you can, like Eddie baby, fly to Mother Russia and lose almost all of your 'freedoms' in exchange for living under an autocracy that is just barely better than the dictatorship that preceded it. If, on the other hand, you mean 'I can't opt out of my government whilst retaining the comfy life that I have, complete with electrickery, gadgets, organised health and welfare, police officers to prevent people from assaulting me, intelligence and security agents to intercept bomb plotters" you are probably right. We lose much in exchange for these things and, in case you had not noticed, you have an approximation to freedom only once every five years, when you put a X on a ballot paper. You may want to argue that that does not approximate very much to freedom, but that is about as good as it ever gets and is probably better than the 'freedoms' experienced by the like of Snorri Sturluson and others (and note that even Snorri Sturluson's 'liberty' and freedoms were curtailed by a murderer).

As to freedom itself, it is a myth. From a statistical perspective there are only degrees of freedom, meaning the choice between a limited number of alternatives, ranging from one set of outliers through the middle to the other set of outliers. Try living off the land in a place far away from government - the outback will do if you like - and see what freedom means.

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Re: Stop who?

You summed it up rather nicely.

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Re: Stop who?

> Maybe China and Russia have similar programs.

They do.

> Oh well. Who cares? Their spying programs won't impact me or mine unless I try to enter their country.

Except, of course, they use what they find to blackmail you or steal vital secrets from the company you work for (or own).

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Re: Stop who?

With enough effort I *might* be able to convince another government to accept me into their country. At which point I've replaced my current government for another. I have no choices which involve "no government" excepting (possibly) Somalia. Even there, the local warlords that have eeeked out territory constitute a government of sorts. You are subject to the whims of those who claim the land upon you live and seek to rule you unless you are so much stronger than they that you form the ruling class on your own.

Your entire argument is a statement of "this is how it is, so learn to like it." I call that cowardly bullshit. You may be roughly accurate in describing how limited our options are - though I believe you are overly optimistic about how many options the average person realistically has - but we always have the choice to resist.

I don't accept the status quo. The status quo is inadequate and doesn't benefit me or mine. I will resist the status quo and seek change.

People, like you, who believe that the illusion of security is an acceptable trade for liberty are those against whom I the struggle must be directed. Your misguided beliefs must be changed so that the people can stand united against those who would seek to rule us.

Governance of populations is necessary, but I am no slave. I will allow no man to rule me. There is an important difference between the two concepts. Governments are servants to their people. Rules make servants of the people.

And to be perfectly clear: I'll die before I allow someone to rule me.

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Re: Stop who?

"Except, of course, they use what they find to blackmail you or steal vital secrets from the company you work for (or own)."

I don't' do business with them. So what do I care if they attempt to blackmail me? As for stealing vital secrets...so what? So they can make what I make or do what I do? Oh well. Let them. Their society needs people and companies that do what I do. By the time they get tooled up to match me and have enough presence to reach out of their market and compete against me in the markets I occupy I'll be several evolutions beyond them onto "the next thing."

Risk is part of life and it is certainly part of business. Vain attempts to minimize risk at the expense of freedom are pointless. Our own governments and their allies are far greater threats to the average person and business than the Russia/China boogeyman.

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Re: Stop who?

People, like you, who believe that the illusion of security is an acceptable trade for liberty are those against whom I the struggle must be directed. Your misguided beliefs must be changed so that the people can stand united against those who would seek to rule us.

So how is that one working out? Speaking as one to whom you have already directed a stream of abuse .... evil, cowardly etc etc. I find your extensive rhetoric and arguments unconvincing.

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Trollface

Re: Stop who?

And to be perfectly clear: I'll die before I allow someone to rule me.

You've never been married have you?

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Re: Stop who?

So far we've managed to defeat several bills aimed at expanding the surveillance state, gotten all of the opposition parties onside with the idea of completely redesigning our surveillance system and even gotten commitments towards greater civilian oversight.

We've raised millions of dollars towards awareness and lawsuits to challenge the status quo. We've organized letter-writing campaigns that encompassed a noticeable percentage of our population and triggered investigations and mediation. We've even driven down the popular acceptance of the conservative party to such an extent that if the election were held tomorrow they would lose and lose badly.

Fundraising is going well, both from the spying-on-your-own-citizens and the telecoms reform groups. Enough that each has become a powerful lobby in this nation of their own right; given that they share very similar goals and are purchasing political capital with abandon we actually stand a decent chance of making a dent.

Additionally, we've sent some of our top organizers to the states to train their groups. They are responding well and they are seeing an uptick in responsiveness and funding. Enacting change in the US will take a lot longer - and it is a hell of a lot more expensive - but there is every reason to believe we will ultimately be successful.

The UK is a whole other ball of wax. Canada and the US don't have popular support for dragnet surveillance. But he UK has a strongly authoritarian society. Libertainism (either right or left) isn't very deeply embedded into the psyche of the nation and so steering them away from such a path will take decades. First, we must change the society as a whole...that takes time and even more money than lobbying in the US.

But as for how it's going? Well. Piece by piece, bit by bit, the pressure is mounting. The discussions keep occurring and popular support is growing. As for "abuse"...I stand by what I've said, sir. I do hold that your beliefs are in fact evil. You have the right to think of me what you want. It is that right - the right to think what you will and express it openly - that I am fighting for. If you choose to hate me for it, so be it.

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Re: Stop who?

"You've never been married have you?"

Almost 2 years now. Quite happily. The wife doesn't rule me, I don't rule her. The cats, on the other hand....they might well be my masters. I'm down with that, however. Cats are superior in every way. All hail our feline overlords.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stop who?

> There is an important difference between the two concepts. Governments are servants to their people. Rules make servants of the people.

So we're all servants then since ALL governments have rules - aka laws.

Since you don't "accept the status quo", why don't you stop following all the rules and see what happens? You sound like a spoiled teenager whining about doing their chores and having to live under their parents rules, which is natural, but as an adult you sound pathetic. Have you ever lived in a place without rules? Just for fun why don't you babysit your friends kids for a weekend and let the kids know that there are no rules, they can do ANYTHING they want. You'll learn very quickly that rules are a good thing.

If you do not like the laws, do what you can to change them legally. If you can't change them, as suggested by a poster above, move to a country where the laws are more acceptable to you.

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Re: Stop who?

"> There is an important difference between the two concepts. Governments are servants to their people. Rules make servants of the people."

There is a typo here. This SHOULD read:

"> There is an important difference between the two concepts. Governments are servants to their people. Rulers make servants of the people."

A subtle difference that totally changes the meaning.

Understand me clearly: I do not mind that laws exist. I do not mind the existence of rules. I do mind someone who seeks to rule me. I am nobody's subject. I am nobody's slave.

Rules that exist to prevent tragedy of the commons, this I accept. Rules that help maintain order, this I accept. Rules that exist in to instill fear in a population or to surveil their every move...these I do not accept.

Rules must exist for a society to function. But no man belongs to another, nor does any man belong to their government. Governments belong to their people. I

I have little real issue with most laws. There are too many and they are overly complicated to the point that a good cleanup could benefit us all, but for the most part they serve society. Even where laws are stupid, outdated or brought about through corrupt practice they usually have narrow impact and the existing processes allow for their redress, alteration or nullification.

This isn't the case with laws aimed to allow dragnet surveillance, remove the right to face one's accuser, strip citizens of the rights against unreasonable search and seizure or those which alter "innocent unless proven guilty" to "guilty unless we allow you to attempt to prove your innocence (which is unlikely.)" These are laws that fundamentally affect the balance of power in our nations.

These are laws that make "the national good" and "the good of the people" separate and distinct items. Those are the laws I have trouble with, and those are the laws that must be fought. The national good must always be the same thing as the good of the people. When it is not, it's time to rebuild.

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Facepalm

Re: Potty Re: Stop who?

".....I have no choices which involve "no government" excepting (possibly) Somalia....." What, all we have to do to stop your constant stream of Yank-envy is find you somewhere free of "government"? Easy! Buy a boat, you'll find a nice patch of government-freeness out in International waters either mid-Atlantic or mid-Pacific.

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Re: Potty Re: Stop who?

".....We've raised millions of dollars towards awareness and lawsuits to challenge the status quo....." LOL! You were duped, you mean! All that cash will do is allow a load of free-loading "intellectuals", lawyers and politicians to live the high life whilst they promise you "freedom".

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@Trevor_Pott

How intriguing.

3 down votes for a reasonable statement of a PoV? And a continuing pattern of 3 all the way down.

How many real, how many sock puppets?

Yet no actual argument.

I will note that cynicism is the simplest political posture.

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Unhappy

Re: Stop who?

"Risk is part of life and it is certainly part of business. Vain attempts to minimize risk at the expense of freedom are pointless. Our own governments and their allies are far greater threats to the average person and business than the Russia/China boogeyman."

Or as Mary Shaefer put it "Insisting on perfect safety is for people without the balls to live in the real world"

The present system gives the worst of both worlds.

No actual security and very little actual privacy.

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Re: @Trevor_Pott

"I will note that cynicism is the simplest political posture."

Personally, I'd argue that "faith" is the simplest political posture, but we're really arguing two sides of a coin there: the extremes of the concept "trust" are far simpler than dealing with the messy reality of the middle.

I am a cynic by nature, but I put actual effort into not allowing that to drive my political views. It's hard to be both a cynic and a socialist! Most people, I think, are inherently good...but most people are also too overwhelmed with the business of daily life that they don't have the means or the time to engage in political discourse about larger items. Fear plays a role: if they keep their heads down they may be left alone to tend their own issues.

It is faith to believe that those in power over us will do what is good and right. It is cynicism to believe they will do what is wrong. It is faith to believe that we can make the world a utopia. It is cynicism to believe that we can have no effect at all. These beliefs are trite and easy to be passionate about. They are views that feel intuitive, and thus it is easy to become attached.

Reality is a lot more murky. Those in power will not do what is good and right...but rarely do they set out do evil, either. In truth, humans build complex systems that they cannot control and a single enterprising malefactor can take control of the machinery to bend it to their own ends. Our entire history is examples of this happening again and again.

The fight for balance will never be over. Pick any two poles (liberty/security, right/wrong, etc) and there will always be forces tugging society to either end.

The price we pay for being part of the governing structure - even peripherally - is that we must remain perpetually vigilant. We must take note when the needle slips too far to one side and take action immediately to remediate the situation.

Sadly, you will never convince those who are currently content with their life to do anything excepting defend vigorously the status quo. Society as it is currently structured has obviously provided them with a life they enjoy and thus any change in these circumstances risks being to their detriment. They will oppose change with what borders on an elemental force.

"I've got mine, so fuck everyone else" is all too common an ideology.

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Re: Stop who?

> So what do I care if they attempt to blackmail me?

If you ask yourself why you care if NSA is spying on you, you likely also answer the question what the FSB or Chinese secret service could do to you.

> As for stealing vital secrets...so what?

I am of course happy to see that you are so on the ball. Wind power, solar power, and IC circuits were industries which weren't able to do what you can -- when they had their technologies stolen and copied, they got outcompeted.

> Our own governments and their allies are far greater threats to the average person and business than the Russia/China boogeyman.

How do you reckon? I've never even heard of anyone getting arrested by the NSA or based on NSA evidence; the number of cases must be very easily counted.

Like I've said before: the focus on NSA/GCHQ is a bit unfortunate, not just because it ignores the equally big threat from other countries, but especially because it ignores that most people are under much greater threat from the rising capabilities of "standard" law enforcement agencies. NSA and FSB wont give a crap that I've got a copy of the "Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars" DVD on my computer, but the FBI or Metropolitan Police would kick my door down and haul me off to prison.

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Re: Stop who?

> You've never been married have you?

Not in a GOOD marriage, at least. Insisting on deciding everything is possible, but so very not worth it.

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Re: Stop who?

"Your entire argument is a statement of "this is how it is, so learn to like it." I call that cowardly bullshit. You may be roughly accurate in describing how limited our options are - though I believe you are overly optimistic about how many options the average person realistically has - but we always have the choice to resist.

Perhaps you were addressing me, I don't know. However, and as far as the subjective material is concerned, you are reading a crystal ball that does not work. For one thing I do not recommend that you like it. How you respond is up to you. Hate it, love it, like it, dislike it, ignore it, I could not give a tinker's cuss; your projections and imagination are of no consequence nor of relevance. As to the cowardice, I have worked in dangerous occupations that have nearly killed me - including a year on active duty - and no one has ever accused me of cowardice, whatever that means; in fact, cowardice probably means something to the effect that an individual places its well being over that over others. Now the interesting thing here is that the group security that I outlined is the opposite of cowardice, because people are called on to make sacrifices, but I don't give a damn, and that is not surprising. I once nearly died of losing more than half my blood supply, never mind the narrow escapes, including one or two defending a country whose citizens are completely clueless when it comes to the meaning of the word 'freedom'; but there again, it's whatever wobbles your trossachs, whatever gets your rocks off, whatever helps you to vent your imaginary spleen, all the while ignoring the fact that coming together as a group a) makes you a target b) reduces the number of variables (degrees of freedom) that you have and c) requires you to do something that psychopaths cannot; follow rules, engage cooperatively, work as a group, something which probably emerged in human behaviour once the opposing thumb and forefinger evolved, thus encouraging hominids to develop the concept of working together.

Perhaps you don't understand that, but I could not give a farking damn. I certainly am untroubled by the silly notion that you seem to harbour that governments should bend for you, when in fact they are made to respond first to protecting the maximum number of people; that means your petty desires are unimportant whilst the bigger issues of the day exert greater pressure.

Meanwhile your 'I bow to no man' speech is belied by your failure to piss off into the bondu and look after yourself, independently and out of range of a government. That if anything is the message behind my words. It is of the shape up or shove off variety that I learned as a soldier. Now perhaps you'll go and find yourself an alternative; go on, be brave. Meanwhile I'll continue my own quest. The one which has nearly killed me on several occasions.

HTH.

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Re: Stop who?

"If you ask yourself why you care if NSA is spying on you, you likely also answer the question what the FSB or Chinese secret service could do to you."

I care that the NSA is spying on me because what the NSA finds they share. I don't give a shit what Russia or China knows about me because they aren't going to affect my life in any meaningful way.

"I am of course happy to see that you are so on the ball. Wind power, solar power, and IC circuits were industries which weren't able to do what you can -- when they had their technologies stolen and copied, they got outcompeted."

Americans and Brits conduct economic espionage against other countries too. Don't pretend otherwise. Political machinations at this level are way beyond "the average guy". Defending home infrastructure is exactly the sort of job the NSA should be fucking doing, and this is exactly the sort of shit they should have prevented. Had they not been pissing away their resources on surveiling their own citizens for drug crimes they might just have been able to.

Strategic companies and tactical government investments need defense. The best defense that the nation can afford. That's the job of the spooks. It's not the task they're currently engaged in.

"How do you reckon? I've never even heard of anyone getting arrested by the NSA or based on NSA evidence; the number of cases must be very easily counted."

Your inability to actually read the news isn't my problem. They have passed along all sorts of info to the DEA, the FBI, etc. They snoop, they pass along, regular joes get nabbed for petty shit.

"Like I've said before: the focus on NSA/GCHQ is a bit unfortunate, not just because it ignores the equally big threat from other countries, but especially because it ignores that most people are under much greater threat from the rising capabilities of "standard" law enforcement agencies. NSA and FSB wont give a crap that I've got a copy of the "Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars" DVD on my computer, but the FBI or Metropolitan Police would kick my door down and haul me off to prison."

I don't disagree with this, but I think you live in a fantasy world where you envision a separation of powers here that doesn't, in fact, exist.

If the NSA/GCHQ/CSIS/etc were to limit their snooping to national security issues, I wouldn't have a problem with them at all. Hell, I'd cheer them on and might even want to work for them. They don't. Not even remotely. They backchannel shit to other enforcement agencies all the time.

Therein lies the problem. As a society we decided that "regular" law enforcement should have X capabilities and national security interests should have Y capabilities. This is because we believe that there is a difference in priority between the two. Breaking some laws just isn't as important as breaking others. (See also: criminal versus civil division.)

And yet, people selling mary jane are being picked up because the machinery of national security is hijacked to fill quotas. City councils abuse CCTV installations to catch people putting out an extra bag of trash.

You argue that the concept of the NSA is necessary and good. I don't disagree with you one whit. Where we disagree is in our acceptance of how this concept has been implemented, and how much corruption of the basic separation of enforcement capabilities we are willing to tolerate.

The state should not be able to tap an undersea cable to catch me downloading Farscape. That falls into the realm of "petty crimes" for which the state should have to have reasonable suspicion and there is the whole concept of "innocent unless proven guilty" to cope with.

The state should, however, be able to install equipment required to detect spying from international interests. Foreign govenrments don't get the benefit of "innocent unless proven guilty." I do, however, argue that allied citizens should.

And there's the rub. Innocent unless proven guilty. When the government can spy on everything that everyone does how does that concept apply? How do we enforce it? Where do we enforce it?

From what I see today it is largely being ignored "because we can." And that, sir, I have a huge problem with. That is the bit that needs some real fixing. And that is why I decry those who would support dragnet surveillance as "evil."

I believe in "innocent unless proven guilty" as a fundamental concept. A idea of such importance that it is, in fact, worth dying for. Those who advocate abridging it for convenience or the illusion of security, well...I find it hard to express the true vehemence of my disregard.

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Re: Stop who?

I never said a government should bend to me. I said said that governments are instruments of the people. People are not instruments of the government.

Unlike your antiquated and simplistic advice I don't believe in simply "me for me." Upping stakes and going elsewhere because I don't like the choices made by governments elected by a minority of individuals would be cowardice.

Bravery is found in driving change. In putting one's time, effort and resources towards achieving the desired outcome. I find no valour in meekly accepting what is. I see no honour in capitulating. Right and wrong are not dictated by those in power; especially when those in power are emphatically not elected by a majority. (There's a proportional representation discussion to be had here.)

I certainly don't see any bravery in allowing foreigners (Americans, Brits) to dictate to my nation - and thus to me - what will be, what is right or what to believe. Instead, I choose to push for change. To stand up for what I believe and to encourage my nation to stand up to those others who would have us compromise our values.

I am defending my home using the only means I have available to me. I will not run and hide. I find it incomprehensible that anyone could advocate such under the guise of bravery."

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Re: Stop who?

> I care that the NSA is spying on me because what the NSA finds they share.

To standard law enforcement? They don't. They have a very limited set of interests, which do not extend to, for instance, my pirated Farscape DVD. The reason they don't pass material to law enforcement is that they have a task considered more important than catching murderers, tax evaders, or even software pirates, and passing on information would expose them and harm their ability to carry out that more important mission.

If the Metropolitan police early one morning kick down my door for that pirated DVD, it will not be because NSA or GCHQ intercepted this conversation and tracked it back to me. It will instead be because the Metropolitan police did, all on their own.

> Americans and Brits conduct economic espionage against other countries too.

Military secrets yes, commercial ones not so much. Mainly state surveillance comes into play during arms deals or bidding for very large contracts, as in the west patents are enforced. If a start-up wind power firm in the UK stole vital technical details from the market leader they would be sued. When start-up firms in China did it, the Western market leader, Vesta, got harassed by the Chinese government until they signed away their patents.

> The state should not be able to tap an undersea cable to catch me downloading Farscape. That falls into the realm of "petty crimes"

I agree. And so do, to the best of my knowledge, all defense intelligence organizations. There have been calls recently that the GCHQ should use its surveillance to catch pedophiles; I oppose this because it isn't their job, and using military capabilities against citizens sets a bad precedent. Of course, soon standard law enforcement will have capabilities similar to those of the military organizations -- and then what?

> Innocent unless proven guilty. When the government can spy on everything that everyone does how does that concept apply? How do we enforce it? Where do we enforce it?

The answer to all three of your questions is "randomly". That is effectively how it works. The entire population is criminalized by this approach, and police, politicians and journalists randomly pick citizens for prosecution.

If I was feeling charitable I'd say the "random sampling" approach is intended to reduce crime by making examples, but I don't believe it. I believe the "random sampling" is the result of an unattainable ideal of zero crime colliding with the reality that it is not possible to go through life without committing petty crimes on a daily basis, often without even knowing.

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Unhappy

Re: Stop who?

"I agree. And so do, to the best of my knowledge, all defense intelligence organizations. There have been calls recently that the GCHQ should use its surveillance to catch pedophiles; I oppose this because it isn't their job, and using military capabilities against citizens sets a bad precedent. Of course, soon standard law enforcement will have capabilities similar to those of the military organizations -- and then what?"

In a word. No.

The NSA has supplied information to the DEA about drug deals and DEA agents have lied about the source of that information.

You seem to have a problem with the idea that people oppose the idea of dragnet surveillance because a)It fosters a view that "Everyone's guilty." Or as the GRU used to put it in Stalin's time "We never make mistakes." b)It's grossly disproportionate. c)It's not my problem as they've never come for me.

The point is you don't have to do anything to have a file constructed about you on-the-fly by these organizations for what is effectively no reason.

I guess your so used to having no privacy in whatever job you do or have done that you've forgotten that normal people might get a bit p**sed off about that.

I suspect you won't "get it" until someone actually waves a full file in your face and shows you exactly how much data can be be collected on a nobody.

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Re: Stop who? @Trevor Potter

Unlike your antiquated and simplistic advice I don't believe in simply "me for me." Upping stakes and going elsewhere because I don't like the choices made by governments elected by a minority of individuals would be cowardice.

Bravery is found in driving change. In putting one's time, effort and resources towards achieving the desired outcome. I find no valour in meekly accepting what is. I see no honour in capitulating. Right and wrong are not dictated by those in power; especially when those in power are emphatically not elected by a majority. (There's a proportional representation discussion to be had here.)

Hmmm it is nice to see you accusing somebody else of cowardice again or at least implying it. That said this really doesn't add to the discussion and really just annoys those of us responding to your posts.

I certainly don't see any bravery in allowing foreigners (Americans, Brits) to dictate to my nation - and thus to me - what will be, what is right or what to believe. Instead, I choose to push for change. To stand up for what I believe and to encourage my nation to stand up to those others who would have us compromise our values.

Yet your quite happy to let China etc spy and gain advantage?

I am defending my home using the only means I have available to me. I will not run and hide. I find it incomprehensible that anyone could advocate such under the guise of bravery."

You really believe this, I mean really? I have seen stuff where you argued similar points for anonymous I guess you really do consider yourself brave and the rest of us cowards. Oh well.

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Re: Stop who?

While I don't have much disagreement with this in general, a couple of minor points are worth noting.

First, as Snowden states, properly applied encryption can protect communication privacy against signals intelligence collectors, and that would include protection against those who can tap international data links. (He is simply wrong about the surveillance, though; most of that derives from metadata.) Encryption is unrestricted in the US as to both use and type. As far as I know, that is basically true in the other Five Eyes countries, although in many others it is not, specifically including Russia and China, which among other restrictions authorize use only of government approved encryption methods.

Petty bureaucrats here in the US (including border guards) certainly do not require anything CSEC or others might pass to them through NSA to harass me if they wish; I doubt things are much different elsewhere. And so far, reports of actual harassment of citizens based on signals intelligence analysis seem to be pretty much absent. The closest thing I recall in the US is of NSA passing information to the DEA about smuggling of illegal drugs. Both the utility and the existence of oppression based on signals intelligence have been enormously overstated.

Based on reading some of the documents rather than only the news articles, the degree of oversight, at least of the NSA, appears to have been seriously understated or even suppressed. The New York Times article this morning describes loosening that the FISC approved in about 2002, with accompanying documents that describe restrictions that still are fairly restrictive on release of US "person" identifiers to law enforcement officials. One may wish to argue that the NSA did not adhere to the restrictions. There are known cases of that, but they appear to be aberrations, ones that were known because the NSA internal oversight organization reported them.

Probably the best argument against collection of domestic data by the likes of NSA and the like are that the costs probably far exceed any conceivable benefit.

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