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.