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Last post Author Topic: Worth Reading: Trevor Pott's editorial on NSA PRISM and its real ramifications  (Read 64692 times)

wraith808

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Sorry about chopping this up so much. I just wanted to share what went through my head as I read it.

You cut out the most telling line, however... :P

The problem isn't in that.  The problem is in the policing, i.e. who watches the watchers?  How can we know that they can't get access without a court order.  The court order isn't an encryption key- it's a standard court order.  So they *always* have access... we just have to trust them not to use it unless due process has been followed.

...

I got nothing.  I don't trust human nature that much.  And once you do have oversight to that extent, more people have access. I just don't trust the checks and balances.

And one other point...

Now all of a sudden this (allegedly) non-existent content just magically appears out of thin air.

From what I heard in the testimony (I was forced to watch it as it was the only thing on while waiting at the IRS office for a stupidly long time), this data isn't said to not exist, nor to just magically appear.  It's just not in what they can look at without a court order.

Quote
“If we didn’t collect that ahead of time, we couldn’t make these connections, so what we create is a set of data and we put it out here and then only under specific times can we query that data.”
That was National Security Agency (NSA) head Gen. Keith Alexander in testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 12 admitting that phone metadata on everybody is in fact being collected in real-time.

Courtesy of NetRightDaily.com
« Last Edit: June 13, 2013, 06:50:46 PM by wraith808 »

Stoic Joker

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However if there truly are no supporters of that side (which I highly suspect - But have been wrong before) of the discussion ... Then A. we have in a microcosmic fashion proved my theory, and B. afforded some breathing room for the threads safety here.

Unfortunately, I have some evidence refuting your theory. It appears that public opinion overall is much less clear than within this community.

Hm... not exactly. My initial assertion was that the statistics were being tampered with to reflect a bleaker view in that they always show either majority support for the governments misbehavior, or very little objection to it. Anything in the vicinity of a 50/50 does not depict a clear hell no response.

Stoic Joker

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Sorry about chopping this up so much. I just wanted to share what went through my head as I read it.

You cut out the most telling line, however... :P

Sort of ... I was actually agreeing with you on that part by using the 40s phone shenanigans bit. Outlining a history of untrustworthy abuse and all that sort of thing. ;)

Stoic Joker

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And one other point...

Now all of a sudden this (allegedly) non-existent content just magically appears out of thin air.

From what I heard in the testimony (I was forced to watch it as it was the only thing on while waiting at the IRS office for a stupidly long time), this data isn't said to not exist, nor to just magically appear.  It's just not in what they can look at without a court order.

Holy crap man ... Now that's a bad day!

But as you mention it was only after suffering through the entire protracted spiel that this little detail was "clarified". None of the official 6 O'clock news (hand feedings...) ever mentioned the existence of anything other than the ~mostly harmless~ metadata.

Tinman57

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  Stoic Joker, by looking at your "Chopped" post, methinks you have a very good understanding on this.  +1000

wraith808

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Holy crap man ... Now that's a bad day!

Even worse... it gets to 4:30 and only because the guy knows me was I seen.  That IRS office is *way* understaffed.  And they're having a furlough on which day there is *no* staff.

But as you mention it was only after suffering through the entire protracted spiel that this little detail was "clarified". None of the official 6 O'clock news (hand feedings...) ever mentioned the existence of anything other than the ~mostly harmless~ metadata.

I really think that by hiding what they were really doing they shot themselves in the foot in the end.  That's what the problem with the whole thing is- if we can't trust them to tell us the truth without hours of questioning, how can we trust them not to look at the data that they've collected?

barney

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Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I don't trust that quote.  I've known of several instances where an absolutely corrupted person never even approached absolute power.  While the statement is true, it is an Aristotlean statement - it needs a qualifier or three (3)  :-\.

wraith808

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I think it is only a truism, i.e. if you get absolute power, you will eventually be absolutely corrupt.  Not that you can't become absolutely corrupt without absolute power.  See: politician.

barney

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I think it is only a truism, i.e. if you get absolute power, you will eventually be absolutely corrupt.  Not that you can't become absolutely corrupt without absolute power.  See: politician.

Even truisms need qualifiers.  And politicians ... yechh  :P.

Stoic Joker

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While the statement is true, it is an Aristotlean statement

Wasn't really going into it that deep. I was actually just thinking of a Clint Eastwood movie.

@wraith808 - Yes, that's where I was headed. Unfettered access begs for misuse. Is starts with just an innocent little peek, and then goes completely off the rails as exceptions become easier to concoct.


(as an example of how far things can get pushed) A recent radio news story stated that there was a county that was going to start fining people $250 for smoking (cigarettes - which are "legal") in their own car...if their children were present. Now ones car, being an extension of their home...is supposed to afford some semblance of privacy. But now that smoking has become so incredibly demonized in society - Smokers are the only minority that it is Politically Correct to discriminate against.. - The sanctity of ones own home (by way of its legally defined extension to ones car) is being brought under fire.

I can't help but think that this is a test bed for something much larger and more insidious.

wraith808

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I can't help but think that this is a test bed for something much larger and more insidious.

That's more like the SJ I know... let your cynicism flow!

cynicalmaster.jpg

40hz

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I can't help but think that this is a test bed for something much larger and more insidious.

That's more like the SJ I know... let your cynicism flow!

SJ is a network systems person like me. So he knows what's possible. But I don't think that's cynicism. I think that's just experience talking. ;D

And FWIW I agree with him on that worry. I also think this is just the tip of the iceberg - and a harbinger of what's to come if it doesn't get stopped right now. :tellme:
« Last Edit: June 14, 2013, 07:57:38 AM by 40hz »

app103

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Data mining, for fun, surveillance, and profit...

Silicon Valley builds amazing spy tools, is horrified when they’re used for spying

Quote
“What I would like to see right now is for people at these internet companies to stand up and say the truth, all of it, about their dealings with the NSA.” – Michael Arrington

Arrington, along with the rest of Libertarian-leaning Silicon Valley, is right to be wary of the way the government is able to use technology to track our every move. He’s also right to criticize the double-speak of any Valley company that prevaricates on its true level of involvement in programs like PRISM.

The only odd thing is why Arrington doesn’t go even further in connecting the dots fully between Silicon Valley and government snooping.

a bit of history...

Quote
As the Financial Times’ April Dembosky reminds us, the relationship between the Valley and Homeland Security is nothing new. The Internet started out as a government project, designed to keep communication lines open in the event of a nuclear attack. In 1999 the CIA established In-Q-Tel, a venture capital fund to invest in technology companies that might be useful to the folks in Langley or Fort Meade.

And then it gets rather interesting...and quite revealing...

Quote
According to CrunchBase – the technology investor database founded by Arrington himself – Cloudera, iMove, 3vr, and Mocana – all share one additional investor in common: SV Angel, one of the Valley’s most prolific “micro VC” firms. And whose name do we find on the firm’s list of limited partners? One Michael Arrington. (In a neat piece of symmetry, SV Angel’s co-founder, Ron Conway, is an investor in Arrington’s CrunchFund.)

Once you start digging into the data, the connections get really entertaining: Arrington is also an LP in Benchmark, which invested alongside In-Q-Tel in data-storage company Decru. And in Andreessen Horowitz, which co-invested with In-Q-Tel in Silver Tail Systems and Platfora. CrunchFund also invested in Facebook, which boasts Palantir’s Peter Thiel as a board member, and from where former data team leader Jeff Hammerbacher left to head up technology at Cloudera.

Data mining is fun!

Quote
The only people who love big data more, and who care about our privacy less, than the NSA are the outraged Libertarians of Silicon Valley.


CWuestefeld

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Data mining, for fun, surveillance, and profit...

Two crucial differences are that
  • in the private sector it's pretty much impossible to put together a database as comprehensive as what the government can gather by force
  • if you talk about the data collection of the private sector, you're not in immediate danger of becoming a non-person

app103

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if you talk about the data collection of the private sector, you're not in immediate danger of becoming a non-person

Does your definition of "private sector" also include those companies that are contracted by or heavily invested in by the government, that either develop the technologies used or do the actual collecting, storing, sorting, or analysis of the data??

wraith808

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CWuestefeld

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Does your definition of "private sector" also include those companies that are contracted by

No. The fact that they're acting as agents of the government makes them an extension of it. (Fake corporate shields shouldn't allow private companies to hide from view, nor should the government be allowed to hide that way either.)

40hz

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in the private sector it's pretty much impossible to put together a database as comprehensive as what the government can gather by force

True. But the private sector (insurance, credit reporting, medical, telcom, etc.) can freely collect personal information that it would (technically) require a court order for our government to gather - assuming government even had any legal authority to collect it to begin with.

So one insidious manifestation of our surveillance state is that the government to allows  the private sector to do the heavy lifting and routinely abuse our privacy. Which is why there's so much reluctance to provide any comprehensive privacy protections under law. The fact you don't have much privacy in the ironically named "private sector" is a goldmine for government snoops. Which is why (I believe) there never will be any meaningful privacy legislation passed on the federal level in this country.

Consider, Uncle Sam can't demand to know where you're spending your cash. And if he does you can always refuse to answer. But your credit card company and bank are very accommodating when Uncle comes calling and asking for information. And subpoenaing phone and credit records has been a routine part of police procedure for the last thirty years.

PRISM is the most egregious attempt on the part of our government to spy on its own citizens. But it's really only an additional and highly centralized version of something that's been going on with increasing intrusiveness in the USA since the start of the Cold War.

I think the main reason why PRISM finally was created was purely for efficiency. And because certain elements in our government are now firmly convinced that most Americans no longer care and have concluded they can finally get away with it.

And if they get away with it - or simply stonewall and hope the public will not be able to remain focused on the threat PRISM represents long enough - then we're all screwed.

Right now I'm waiting for a 'distraction' to be introduced.  :huh:

Maybe a major US military action in some other part of the world (like Syria)...or some crisis escalation with a major power like China. It worked for the Bush administration when our deployment into Iraq got everybody's mind off the Enron fiasco. Waving the flag is hard work. Especially when saying good-bye to loved ones who may not be coming back.

A similar 'distraction' could work the trick for this administration too. Right now my money is on Syria. :-\

TaoPhoenix

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Accused bank robber wants NSA phone records for his defense

And so it begins...

Well it had already begun ...
This is just where it starts to get really really funny!
It's a brilliant defense! Especially if in fact he is innocent! (Wouldn't he be able to get them from the telco first - then purposely ask the NSA for their copy?)





IainB

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IainB

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Ron Paul apparently warned about this sort of thing in, erm, 1984...
September 6, 1984: Ron Paul Warns of Surveillance State - Don't Ever Say We Weren't Warned.


app103

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Ron Paul apparently warned about this sort of thing in, erm, 1984...
September 6, 1984: Ron Paul Warns of Surveillance State - Don't Ever Say We Weren't Warned.

Quote
Honestly, though, I’m being unfair in singling out Michael Arrington here. Really the only remarkable thing about his involvement with CIA-friendly big data companies is his hypocrisy in attacking those Valley luminaries who won’t admit to exactly the kind of spying his portfolio companies help facilitate. (In the hypocrisy stakes, though, Arrington comes a distant second to Ron Paul who this week told Fox Business, “I’m worried about, somebody in our government might kill [Edward Snowden] with a cruise missile or a drone missile,” after Snowden exposed the mass government surveillance facilitated by companies like Palantir. Last year Ron Paul received over $2.5 million in donations from his biggest single donor… Palantir’s Peter Thiel)

I'll post the link from above here, so you won't have to scroll up to click it: http://pandodaily.co...yre-used-for-spying/

CWuestefeld

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Uncle Sam can't demand to know where you're spending your cash. And if he does you can always refuse to answer. But your credit card company and bank are very accommodating when Uncle comes calling and asking for information.

Not to disagree, but to show how this operates in the real world:

Quote
Nacchio alleged that the government stopped offering the company lucrative contracts after Qwest refused to cooperate with a National Security Agency surveillance program in February 2001.

That claim gains new relevance these days, amid leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden that allege widespread domestic surveillance by the NSA.

Back in 2006 Leslie Cauley of USA Today, citing multiple people with direct knowledge of the arrangement, reported that shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks America's three largest telecoms signed contracts to provide the NSA with detailed call records from hundreds of millions of people across the country.

Cauley noted that Qwest's refusal to participate "left the NSA with a hole in its database" since the company served local phone service to 14 million customers in 14 states.

From USA Today (emphasis ours):

Quote
The NSA, which needed Qwest's participation to completely cover the country, pushed back hard. ...

... the agency suggested that Qwest's foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government.

Nacchio's legal concerns about the NSA program at the time mirror those of civil liberty groups today.

http://www.businessi...o-and-the-nsa-2013-6

My conclusion from this is that the government accomplishes this not only (or even primarily) through legislative means, but through financial coercion. Our government has grown so large that servicing it alone is major part of many industries. If you want to stay in business, you've got to go along with the government's wishes. And because this isn't a legislative problem, I don't see how legislation can be a cure for it. The only cure I can see is to neuter the beast: take away its strength. And the way to do that is to shrink it, so it's no longer the 800-lb gorilla that can push everyone around.

wraith808

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Accused bank robber wants NSA phone records for his defense

And so it begins...

Well it had already begun ...
This is just where it starts to get really really funny!
It's a brilliant defense! Especially if in fact he is innocent! (Wouldn't he be able to get them from the telco first - then purposely ask the NSA for their copy?)

Oh... I was referring to the actual fallout from this from the public's side.  So far, there has been very little in the way of anything concrete from this.  Freedom of Information act, baby!  *This* will be quite interesting to follow...

IainB

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Before I ever read anything about the NSA leak, I had found these two items rather interesting:
If it is/was common knowledge that all the vested interests have/had their feet firmly in the public/private data trough, then, maybe the most surprising thing about it all might be that there is any surprise at the Guardian's publishing details of the leak.