Re: Various

1

If I'm interpreting Texas law correctly, somebody should do one of those old-school hidden-camera catch-the-cheat-in-the-act shows, except shoot the fucker after the reveal.

"You told her she needed a new distributor cap and charged her $600, when all you did was tighten a loose wire."

"I have no comment."

"It was 30 minutes past sunset when you too her payment."

"Get out of .... What?"

"Boom."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 5:55 AM
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Oh, jeez. I've been trying to think of something to write about all the new surveillance stuff, and I'm just so depressed about it. We're all in the goldfish bowl forever, and no one who thinks that's a bad idea will ever have any power.

Glenn Greenwald is wonderful, but nothing he does will ever make a difference.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 6:15 AM
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Glenn Greenwald is wonderful, but nothing he does will ever make a difference.

In a perfect world, you'd write all the book-cover blurbs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 6:17 AM
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re: 2

Yeah, I have regular conversations with a friend that amount, basically, to: 'It's over. They won.'

I know that historically there have been many times in the past where that might have seemed the case, and 'they' eventually lost, but it's hard not to feel that way at the moment.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 6:20 AM
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I dunno at least it's publicly acknowledged now. That has to be better than the decade(s) that basically all of it (which is to say, all of it since 2006, most of it quite a bit longer than that) has been going on without any disclosure.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 6:26 AM
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http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2013/06/nsa-phone-record-collecting-and.html


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 6:27 AM
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||
On a more soothing note, though: Your Microsoft Excel skills ain't shit.
|>


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 6:30 AM
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The program is probably using a package called Palantir? Goddamn tech nerds ruin everything.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 6:30 AM
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5 - As I said in the other place, when the very best thing you can say about this is "Well, unlike under Bush, this was legal!" I'm not sure that's even an improvement.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 6:31 AM
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It's all legal! No one's ever had standing to sue, right?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 6:47 AM
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The program is probably using a package called Palantir? Goddamn tech nerds ruin everything.

It is really stupid to name your network security company after a fictional bit of communications kit whose most important and memorable feature is that it was easily compromised and taken over by the embodiment of ultimate evil, with disastrous consequences. It's like setting up Hindenburg Airlines.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 6:49 AM
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To be fair, it wasn't compromised without taking physical possession of the infrastructure. The network was only compromised for something like a thousand years about of three ages of the world. Probably far less then 10% of their existence.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 6:53 AM
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That wiretapping article says they only collect metadata and not the contents of the conversations. So isn't this just a more efficient way of tracking people? I don't understand why this is so awful. Bloomberg's racial profiling/stop and frisk program seems a lot more pernicious because it's targeting a vulnerable subset of society.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 6:57 AM
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It's always legal when a secret court that exists to say things like this are legal says they're legal.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 6:59 AM
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re: 13

You don't think tracking every single thing every single person does is possibly a bit suspect?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 6:59 AM
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14 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:07 AM
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13: Think about how metadata can be used. Guilt by association. Material support of so-called terrorist organizations. Human beings look for patterns, even where they don't naturally exist.

I have no doubt that anyone looking at my records could dream up some way in which they could be argued to be Scary!Bad!Stuff!, regardless of the mundane reality.

I think it was Radley Balko's Twitter feed that had something like, "When passing a law, assume that it will be implemented by the douchiest guy in your homeowners association."

Leaving aside the vocabulary, the sentiment is a pretty accurate one, I think.

I feel about this the same way I do every time it comes out that security guards or police with access to cameras end up abusing them to spy on people they think are sexually attractive, stalk them, etc.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:09 AM
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There's an argument to be made that 15 was already happening in full force, and that the government is really just a late entrant to the field. Though the various marketing companies don't have the ability to throw you in a secret prison in Cuba, so there's that.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:10 AM
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Security services usually wind up using their power against other officials. Have there been politicians damaged with the secret information yet?

For example, this system must have had a lot of information about both John Allen and David Petraeus, but Allen's childish use of email only affected his career because of an FBI error.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:11 AM
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"When passing a law, assume that it will be implemented by the douchiest guy in your homeowners association."

I think he should have added "other than yourself" if he wanted to make that work.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:12 AM
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Wikipedia just told me that J. Edgar Hoover ran the FBI (and its predecessor organization) from the Coolidge administration all the way through to Nixon's which, wow.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:13 AM
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17 - Apparently one of the major things thrown up by this data-gathering technique is the suspicious frequency of contact between suspected terrorists and pizza delivery guys.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:15 AM
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I didn't know this until today: Spencer Ackerman joins the Guardian as National Security Editor


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:17 AM
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re: 18

In a less joined up way, yeah.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:19 AM
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21: Yeah, you didn't know that? Extraordinary longevity for someone who was apparently one of the more ineptly closeted queer men in DC.

I was going to respond to 17.1 with something like 18, 'cause yeah, Facebook and Coca-Cola probably have dossiers on me that dwarf my FBI file.

I guess this thing always surprises me a little, unlike the torture stuff, because I thought everyone just took it for granted that the NSA has been doing this sort of thing, legal or not, to the utmost of their technological capabilities, the whole time.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:20 AM
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As atrios said about this, what did you think the 20,000 people who work at the NSA had actually been doing all this time?


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:21 AM
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I knew he was there a long time, and that he died in office in the 70s, but I didn't realize how far back his career started.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:23 AM
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17: That helps, thanks. I guess it's the nature of my work, that makes this hard for me to understand. I spend all data writing about data mining for positive outcomes like finding recommendations for users. Also, there was a joke on Facebook that summed this up nicely, that went something like, "All this wiretapping is awful," Sara wrote as she checked into foursquare and posted this publicly on Facebook.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:23 AM
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Metadata is enough for eg insider trading prosecutors. Officials or others holding clearances contacting reporters on personal cell phones for example would be a searchable list.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:24 AM
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26 - Monitoring overseas communications? (With "overseas" defined very loosely.) Translating documents and intercepted voice communications? Doing fancy cryptography work (largest employer of mathematicians in the world and such)? The NSA is forbidden by statute from listening in on domestic conversations, but ha ha ha.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:24 AM
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I guess this thing always surprises me a little, unlike the torture stuff, because I thought everyone just took it for granted that the NSA has been doing this sort of thing, legal or not, to the utmost of their technological capabilities, the whole time.

Sure, but I think having it out in the open, and the sheer scale of it made public isn't necessarily a good thing. Contra 5.

The whole post 9/11 revelation that the governments of our countries could openly do shit that in previous decades required huge amounts of secrecy and/or denial, just encourages the bastards.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:25 AM
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30: Maybe one day we can restore the constitutional principles this country was founded on, and go back to spying on only 95% of the world's population.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:26 AM
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That wiretapping article says they only collect metadata and not the contents of the conversations.

Yeah, I hate to be a pendant (ha!) but this isn't warrantless wiretapping. For a start it's pursuant to a (FISA) court order, and second it's not the contents of the phone calls. That's absolutely not to say it isn't bad, but actual warrantless wiretapping is really, really bad, whether it's legal or not.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:32 AM
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34

You know who would have had a field day with this surveillance technology? Richard Nixon. Poor guy was born too soon.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:37 AM
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35

Pwned by 21.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:37 AM
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36

Also, there was a joke on Facebook that summed this up nicely, that went something like, "All this wiretapping is awful," Sara wrote as she checked into foursquare and posted this publicly on Facebook.

Did she then make a telephone call?

Also, I don't really get the spirit of the joke. (I mean, I know what it's intended to convey.) No one can not be aware that posting something to Facebook puts the data posted in Facebook's hands. That Facebook is then putting it in the government's hands is something else. And people do (rightly!) find it squicky that Facebook can and will track what websites you visit if they're using facebook for comments and you're still logged in to FB. Or any number of other things FB can track based on your behavior just on the site. It's as if people think that once you do one thing that obviously involves giving data to FB, you've lost all grounds for complaining about privacy.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:39 AM
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Yeah, I hate to be a pendant (ha!)

I'd wear you around my neck any time.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:40 AM
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38

What's the big deal? Everyone just needs to install Fakeblock.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:42 AM
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39

Most people don't care if the government has all this data, and/or they assume that the government has always been doing this. False positives will piss people off (if it hits the wrong population; they'll assume that certain races are guilty if the government says so) so I assume there's some fairly high bar in place before taking actual enforcement action against citizens beyond just increased surveillance. I have 3 degrees of separation from the marathon bombers (so you're all 4!) and I assume the government could figure out who we all are IRL in about 5 milliseconds. People authorizing these programs think it sounds really cool and don't have any idea how much noise there is in the system- have you seen the horrible powerpoint infographic Yglesias highlighted? It's shaped like a bullseye, so we must be targeting the right people!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:50 AM
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I think Justice Marshall got it exactly right in his dissent to Smith v. Maryland. That ship has sailed, though.

This revelation is conveniently timed to take the sting out of the AP thing, though. What, those whiny reporters are complaining because something done to everyone in the country was done to them as well. If I believed in eleven dimensional chess, I'd find this an interesting move.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:55 AM
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41

actual enforcement action against citizens

actual data leak action action unfriendly legislators


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:57 AM
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42

:|


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:59 AM
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43

When the phone stuff is combined with the Prism stuff on internet monitoring, aren't we basically talking about the government being able to store and monitor everyone's mail, everyone's diary, and everyone's location all the time? How can that not be serious? Look at what Hoover did with index card files and 'G-men', now multiply by a thousand.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:04 AM
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To echo 13 and 40, though, it's pretty rich seeing journalists and other wealthy non-minority people who would never be randomly stopped and frisked in NYC or sentenced to a year for a pot baggie get all worked up about what their data is hypothetically being used for.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:06 AM
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43. Yes, that's what has me puzzled. After JEH's death, I thought that Congress imposed controls on the FBI to prevent recurrence of blackmail. Possibly congresspeople are as amnesiac as everyone else, or all of those old enough to remember the problem no longer have useful secrets so they do not care.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:08 AM
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43 -- Yeah, the prism thing is much more serious, I think. It's about content, right?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:10 AM
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8: One of their recruiting slogans is "protect the Shire".


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:13 AM
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Those old enough to remember don't use teh Google so they don't care.
The prism thing is probably relying heavily on the bullshit telecom regulation that says anything on a server for 6 months is "abandoned" and doesn't need a warrant to collect.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:13 AM
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The prism thing is probably relying heavily on the bullshit telecom regulation that says anything on a server for 6 months is "abandoned" and doesn't need a warrant to collect.

That is so weird -- I just read about that a few weeks ago for the first time. Is anything that's been in a filing cabinet for six months "abandoned" too?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:15 AM
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Compare:
http://huehueteotl.files.wordpress.com/2007/03/total-awareness.jpg
http://www.whale.to/c/LOTR_Two018EyeOfSauron.jpg


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:15 AM
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No, paper gets much more protection than electrons because old fogey congressmen feel more affinity with dead trees.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:16 AM
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After JEH's death, I thought that Congress imposed controls on the FBI to prevent recurrence of blackmail.

I would assume that the FBI doesn't care what controls Congress supposedly imposes on it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:17 AM
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The prism thing is probably relying heavily on the bullshit telecom regulation that says anything on a server for 6 months is "abandoned" and doesn't need a warrant to collect.

Wow, that is intense bullshit. There's no way a company might retain data for more than six months!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:18 AM
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I think that 52 is wrong, since if congressmen detect that they are being monitored in an FBI search for blackmail material, which was JEH's process (similarly Soviet spooks), the congressmen would then cut the FBI's budget.

Seriously, if Allen was as much of an idiot with email as has been revealed, and if the NSA is effectively monitoring email, why did he retain power?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:23 AM
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55

Lie back and think of England it as free cloud backup.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:24 AM
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Here's a reasonable summary. Since it applies to any electronic content, this means all those Unfoggetycon pictures on Flickr are going straight to the FBI in about 5 months. Apo's nipple sure looks suspicious to me.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:24 AM
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55: Concept via Tom Tomorrow.

Also apparently the UK does have some manner of access but have not seen details.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:25 AM
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I think that 52 is wrong, since if congressmen detect that they are being monitored in an FBI search for blackmail material, which was JEH's process (similarly Soviet spooks), the congressmen would then cut the FBI's budget.

They could do that without there being regulations for the FBI to observe, and this reasoning makes the only effective regulation that which pertains directly to Congress (or pet issues of influential Congresspersons).


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:25 AM
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No need to worry about wiretapping, because we'll all be dead from people deciding we stole their stuff (or money) and shooting us!

Holy crap Texas terrifies me.

The combination of these stories is, truly, a reason I haven't visited the US much. It sounds a bit insane (and if I had reasons to go there I wouldn't actively look to get out of it) but it's not high on my list of "places to go". Oh look, a country with crazy government overreach and lunatics with (legal!) guns. I could go there, or I could go to Spain. Or France. Or Finland (seems popular these days).


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:27 AM
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the only effective regulation that which pertains directly to Congress

Of course. I believe that this how security services work everywhere. However, the PRISM system does not have an apparent congressional or executive exception, so I am puzzled.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:28 AM
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If I were hunting for terrorists, it seems like combing Verizon meta data of phone calls might be a huge waste of resources. Do terrorists even make "phone calls" anymore? I assume that, if they are talking on the phone, they'll be doing it over encrypted voice over IP setups, run through privately owned servers that don't keep logs about who was talking to who.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:38 AM
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Do terrorists even make "phone calls" anymore? I assume that, if they are talking on the phone, they'll be doing it over encrypted voice over IP setups, run through privately owned servers that don't keep logs about who was talking to who.

No, that's just what you would do if you were a terrorist. Real actual terrorists are hilariously inept. Look at this bunch, who planned to attack a far-right rally but got the time wrong and by the time they got there all the far-right ralliers had gone.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/07/would-be-terrorists-edl-court


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:44 AM
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Is there an actual English Drunkards League? Because it sounds like a good idea.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:46 AM
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re: 63

There's no real point in a separate drunkard's league. Everyone is implicitly assumed to be members.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:50 AM
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36: That's why I said "posted publicly on Facebook." I.e., anyone who searches for Sarah's name can see her statement because she gave that information to the world. I wasn't trying to say that because Facebook has your information you might as well give it to the government.

Part of this issue seems to be a generation gap. The millennials (generally) don't care as much who sees their information. Older generations seem more concerned. For example, I don't mind at all that when you search on my name you can find all the bird photography I've posted to G+, the running statistics I put on daily mile, etc. Now I understand that the wiretapping involves a lot of stuff I wouldn't want to be public knowledge, but it's a slippery slope.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:50 AM
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I'm not convinced we need a massive security apparatus to protect us from dudes like that. Seems we have a state where the smart terrorists will be able to avoid the surveillance dragnet, and the stupid terrorists would have been caught without it anyway.

And occasionally a Chechan nutter gets through, and kills far fewer people than your average AR-15 toting mass shooter.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:51 AM
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I think it would be fun to 're-litigate' Smith v. Maryland in state court here, under our state constitution (which provides greater protection than the 4th Amd), on behalf of someone who had put a caller-id block on their phone. The technology didn't exist in 1979, but surely you'd have to say today that using it manifests some sort of interest in privacy.

The Tsarneav brothers seem to have had the exact attitude in 65.2, taking no apparent precautions at all. Which is all very fine, I suppose, so long as you don't do anything illegal. Or which might look illegal to someone who doesn't understand what you're actually doing.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 9:02 AM
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61: It's my impression that that sort of thing is still vulnerable to traffic and network analysis.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 9:07 AM
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We can all rest easy then; LizSpigot has nothing to hide.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 9:08 AM
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Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Count me for team "What did you think the bastards were doing?" Comforting yourself with cliches about the ar of history bending towards justice is a good way to help the bad guys. It'll only bend that way if enough people push it.

I'm old and I'm tired and I'll be dead soon enough.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 9:15 AM
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Per some of the comments upthread on using PRISM-type info against others in the government, I remember these accusation against John Bolton (not sure if they ever went anywhere).

he Bolton confirmation hearings have revealed his constant efforts to undermine Powell on Iran and Iraq, Syria and North Korea. They have also exposed a most curious incident that has triggered the administration's stonewall reflex. The foreign relations committee has discovered that Bolton made a highly unusual request and gained access to 10 intercepts by the National Security Agency, which monitors worldwide communications, of conversations involving past and present government officials. Whose conversations did Bolton secretly secure and why?
Staff members on the committee believe that Bolton was probably spying on Powell, his senior advisers and other officials reporting to him on diplomatic initiatives that Bolton opposed.
As I recall there were some other aspects that potentially tied it to what they were trying to get Ashcroft to approve in the hospital during 2004 (And some concerns about Kerry being targeted--but don't know if there was a there there).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 9:25 AM
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Yeah, the prism thing is much more serious, I think. It's about content, right?

Yes, not just your social network posts but also all your emails.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 9:29 AM
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69: That is not at all what I'm saying. In fact, I specifically said that I don't want all my information being public.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 9:32 AM
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Shorter David Simon: Calm down, tweakers.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 9:39 AM
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55: Using the surveillance cams in London for our vacation photos didn't work (too much paperwork, not enough coverage).


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 9:44 AM
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[By the way, is it wrong wrong wrong that I suddenly found myself wishing that Peter Dinklage would write an interesting op-ed so I could pithily and wittily summarize it and then preface said summary with the words "Shorter Peter Dinklage:"?]


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 9:47 AM
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I started reading 74 and thought it sounded like The Wire. Then he mentioned the Baltimore drug trade and pay phones specifically and I thought, this dude's totally copying The Wire. Then I noticed who the author was.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 9:53 AM
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74: That's a lot of good food for thought.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 9:59 AM
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David Simon seems pretty wrong on this one, as far as I know. First, there's a difference between targeting twenty payphones and all internet/phone communication. Also, technology has advanced since the 80s. It's very easy to (e.g.) filter all phone calls which contained the word 'anarchist', and I'm pretty sure enough officials could be found who would justify doing just that.


Posted by: lwA for this comment | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:04 AM
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Also, Simon basically uses the "sure, they could, but why would they?" argument ("how many agents do you think the FBI has?"). I don't think anybody is worried that the security apparatus is going through 300 million people's calls for juicy blackmail material. The point is that it enables misuse.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:10 AM
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Huh, I find 74 to be a remarkable blend of willful ahistoricism and adroit misdirection. I have no doubt that Simon believes what he's saying, but I think he's just wrongity wrong wrong wrong.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:12 AM
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Yeah, while I generally respect Simon, the "how many agents do you think the FBI has?" argument falls flat when you consider the existence of the Utah Data Center.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:14 AM
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It's very easy to (e.g.) filter all phone calls which contained the word 'anarchist'

Is it in fact easy to do that? You certainly can't do it just with the phone call metadata, since those contain no recordings of the contents of the calls.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:16 AM
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The point is that it enables misuse.

Definitely, but that's endemic to law enforcement generally, innit? I'm kinda torn on this one, in the same way that while I would prefer an America with super-strict gun laws, I know it's not a realistic goal. The end of the link I posted up in comment 6:

No president is ever going to give back the powers that were granted to George W. Bush in 2001. If you're scared that Obama has them, well, shit, a bunch of us warned you that Bush wasn't gonna be president forever. And even if the Patriot Act were, through some miracle, overturned in court or legislated out of existence, it's too late: the web of surveillance has been put in place. You can bet that its future legality has already been set up.

It is a frightening thought, yes, that our responsibility as citizens is not to try to reclaim our lost privacy. What revolution will accomplish that? It ain't gonna happen. It's sad, frustrating, enraging, and ultimately exhausting and enervating. That boat has sailed, and it ain't ever returning to port.

What we are left with is merely electing people who we believe will be wise shepherds of this power to invade our privacy whenever they wish in order to "protect us" from "terrorists" or the fake existential threats of the future. That is a sad reduction of democracy. That is the opposite of hope, no? Merely wanting to be led by people who won't harm us?

Maybe I'm just generally hopeless about America at this point.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:23 AM
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83: Huh, I guess I was so excited to be talking about stuff I actually know something about that I forgot the metadata only thing. My commenting metadata has 'time elapsed between typing comment and hitting post: 0 seconds' far too often.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:28 AM
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86

I haven't read the thread at all, so presumably someone has made the point already, but I've been a bit stunned at people being shocked about the government's collection of metadata. What do you think good old friendly Google is doing as basically its entire business model (answer: collecting aggregate data on you). Facebook? Why do you think you can watch YouTube videos for "free"? I mean my grocery store probably has more information about my personal habits (from the "Rewards Club" membership) than the government could possibly collect from a listing of incoming and outcoming calls on my phone number. If you don't think we already live in a surveillance society that basically collects and compiles massive amounts of "metadata" of various kinds about your life, you're crazy, and in many ways the government is much later to the game than private industry has been.

Now, in some important ways, there are differences between government collection and private data collection, but both are basically governed by some stronger and weaker legal rules and constraints on what can be done with the data, once collected, and what's appropriate and inappropriate use of the data. The fundamental protections are going to have to lie in restraining uses made of the collection of this kind of information -- the cat's already so far out of the bag in terms of collection that simply barring or being shocked by massive data collecting of this kind just seems bizarre to me. And I'm generally much more nervous about these kinds of things in the more or less unregulated hands of private industry than I am about it being in the hands of the government.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:28 AM
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I haven't read the thread at all, so presumably someone has made the point already, but I've been a bit stunned at people being shocked about the government's collection of metadata. What do you think good old friendly Google is doing as basically its entire business model (answer: collecting aggregate data on you). Facebook? Why do you think you can watch YouTube videos for "free"? I mean my grocery store probably has more information about my personal habits (from the "Rewards Club" membership) than the government could possibly collect from a listing of incoming and outcoming calls on my phone number. If you don't think we already live in a surveillance society that basically collects and compiles massive amounts of "metadata" of various kinds about your life, you're crazy, and in many ways the government is much later to the game than private industry has been.

Now, in some important ways, there are differences between government collection and private data collection, but both are basically governed by some stronger and weaker legal rules and constraints on what can be done with the data, once collected, and what's appropriate and inappropriate use of the data. The fundamental protections are going to have to lie in restraining uses made of the collection of this kind of information -- the cat's already so far out of the bag in terms of collection that simply barring or being shocked by massive data collecting of this kind just seems bizarre to me. And I'm generally much more nervous about these kinds of things in the more or less unregulated hands of private industry than I am about it being in the hands of the government.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:31 AM
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presumably someone has made the point already

Me! In 18!

my grocery store probably has more information about my personal habits

Kroger certainly knows precisely which coupons to send me every month (though you'd think I'd be off their diaper and baby formula list already).


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:32 AM
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They know how pretty your babies are, Apo, and they want you to make more of them.

Halford, I'll just say that your 87.2 does some impressive glossing over of the difference between federal and private industry data collection. I notice that the word incarceration doesn't appear.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:40 AM
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Kroger certainly knows precisely which coupons to send me every month (though you'd think I'd be off their diaper and baby formula list already).

Along those lines, something that freaked me out a bit: Sometime last year I stopped at a drugstore which is not part of the chain I usually shop at, so I don't have a rewards card with them. Bought a couple of items. Later that day I stopped at my usual drug store (where I do have a rewards card) to get a few other things, and along with my receipt the register prints me out coupons for the exact same items I had bought earlier in the day at the other drug store.



Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:41 AM
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Lest everyone feel too much doom and gloom about the world, let me present you with the impromptu Philadelphia Orchestra airplane concert for passengers stuck on a tarmac for 3 hours in China. Music starts about 1 minute into the video.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:43 AM
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Mr. Clapper said in a statement that the classified program to collect information from Internet providers is used to "protect our nation from a wide variety of threats" and he condemned the leaks of documents describing its existence.

Fuck youuuuu!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:43 AM
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Then they should be sending me beer and wine coupons.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:43 AM
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71 is interesting, thanks!

The millennials (generally) don't care as much who sees their information.

Neither does my 12-year old, who is unfamiliar with acrimonious divorce, vengeful competitors, addiction, and mental illness.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:51 AM
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If it's no big deal, there's no basis for keeping it secret. Just saying 'sources and methods' isn't enough to justify classification, imo.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:54 AM
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The program is probably using a package called Palantir

That'd be my guess. We use them on a local level for a similar type of database integration.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 11:17 AM
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So Ezra speculates that Obama leaked or ordered the leak of the details to stimulate debate. And if you want to go really meta, maybe Obama also leaked to Ezra that he was the leaker. Shit, 11 dimensions isn't near enough.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 12:08 PM
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91: JM and I got a brief impromptu concert when Megabus stranded us for 3 hours in a Danbury, CT parking lot after the Boston meetup in January.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 12:39 PM
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79: It's very easy to (e.g.) filter all phone calls which contained the word 'anarchist'

If you wanted to find the actual anarchists though, you'd probably want to broaden your search terms to include "nutritional yeast," "tight jeans," and "Derek Jensen is such a fucking asshole."


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 12:47 PM
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Speaking of music, is Peter Grimes supposed to be sympathetic?* Because he isn't.

* On BBC 3 Radio at the moment, with somebody in the orchestra.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 1:08 PM
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Kroger certainly knows precisely which coupons to send me every month (though you'd think I'd be off their diaper and baby formula list already).

Whereas google and amazon have an annoying habit of showing me months of unrelenting ads for whatever-the-last-consumer-product-I-spent-time-researching-and-now-have-already-purchased happened to be. Right now its tent after tent after tent after tent. No, really, thanks--I already bought one.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 1:32 PM
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Amazon in particular seems like it really ought to know that, once I've already bought a particular consumer item on Amazon, I don't now wish to purchase every competing alternative product.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 1:35 PM
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Oh hey, another campus mass shooting.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 1:38 PM
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By a weird coincidence, I just watched Season 3 of the Wire, which has as a minor theme bitching about how the disposable phone companies make it too easy for their customers to maintain their privacy.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 1:42 PM
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There's a certain kind of defeatist attitude, illustrated in 70 84, that while psychologically satisfying (I certainly indulge in it frequently), is guaranteed to achieve nothing. If people didn't realize that the government was spying on them, then correct response is not "Didn't you already know? Everything has always sucked and always will" It's "Isn't that terrible? Let's make the motherfuckers pay."

It's stulff like this that makes me glad that we're all going to die someday. At least future generations haven't learned to mope around and act defeated yet.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 1:51 PM
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It's stulff like this that makes me glad that we're all going to die someday.
Speak for yourself, quitter.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 1:58 PM
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I'm being polite. I'm glad you all will be dead some day. I fully intend to hold onto this world until the sun is a red giant and the Earth is nothing but a cinder.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 2:03 PM
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I heard Greenwald on the radio early get asked the "Why should I care? This was happening anyway." question. His answer included a list of ways that this data has already been misused. Unfortunately, I didn't hear all of it and can't figure out where I heard it.

I think that's what we need to galvanize people on this issue, though, a clear story on how people have been treated unfairly as a result of this program. Do you guys know anything that fits the bill?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 2:19 PM
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We could make some examples ourselves!
I hope you all enjoyed the bomb building seminar at the DC meetup.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 2:22 PM
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in many ways the government is much later to the game than private industry has been.

I'M IN THE CONSTITUTION


Posted by: OPINIONATED CENSUS | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 2:30 PM
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Back in the thread about the financiers giving money away, when some people said oh of course it's not so bad if you're working for Google... did someone win the gloom stakes by pointing out Google's capacity for evil?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 2:33 PM
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...parsi, halford, k-sky. Right then, we have the cynicism covered.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 2:36 PM
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Unrelated to privacy or any of that, Rowan is currently mowing our lawn while the girls play in the neighbors' yard. There are a lot of things in my life right now that are miserably messy, but I'm extremely grateful for the good stuff. (And I'm apparently going to become a foster grandma this winter, at 33. Hence hiring him for odd jobs to make sure he's getting extra cash, because he's still my little kiddo and I want him and his eventual little kiddo do to well.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 4:39 PM
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PRISM definitely seems like the more important part of the story. Some interesting points:

It costs $20 million per year. That's cheap!

From the WP report:

An internal presentation of 41 briefing slides on PRISM, dated April 2013 and intended for senior analysts in the NSA's Signals Intelligence Directorate, described the new tool as the most prolific contributor to the President's Daily Brief, which cited PRISM data in 1,477 items last year. According to the slides and other supporting materials obtained by The Post, "NSA reporting increasingly relies on PRISM" as its leading source of raw material, accounting for nearly 1 in 7 intelligence reports.

I wonder how useful all that data is? Are they relying heavily on it because it's good, or because it's convenient?


Posted by: torrey pine (formerly YK) | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 4:46 PM
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I'm apparently going to become a foster grandma this winter

So cool. Congratulations?


Posted by: torrey pine (formerly YK) | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 4:51 PM
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115: I was actually getting to be cool with the idea, but in the interim he's decided that he's probably not the dad. UPETGI could probably weigh in on whether he should keep giving her money that she spends to party with her ex, who's more likely to be the dad.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 5:06 PM
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114: Or because it has the enhanced capability of producing easily digestible metrics for reports to senior officials.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 5:22 PM
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116: whether he should keep giving her money that she spends to party with her ex

Probably he shouldn't, but there are many ways to interpret "should" in that situation.


Posted by: torrey pine (formerly YK) | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 5:37 PM
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103. Re: College shooting

I got a panicked call from my wife about that. Our daughter had gone to 3rd Street Promonade for the afternoon with some friends. Not really all that close, but close enough.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 5:38 PM
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97: So Ezra speculates that Obama leaked or ordered the leak of the details to stimulate debate.

I sort of thought that was a joke.

I've felt over the last couple of days as though people's outrage is a bit misplaced: it's the Patriot Act that authorized this, I thought, along with the extension of it signed in 2011:

On May 26, 2011, President Barack Obama signed the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011,[2] a four-year extension of three key provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act:[3] roving wiretaps, searches of business records (the "library records provision"), and conducting surveillance of "lone wolves" -- individuals suspected of terrorist-related activities not linked to terrorist groups

Ezra has been good on the history on this (though I don't doubt that others have been as well). See here.

Outrage directed at the executive branch should just as well be directed at Congress for passing both the Patriot Act and its later extension, which broadened data mining permission. If we want this to stop, call for a review of those laws.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 5:52 PM
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Thanks for 56, SP.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 6:35 PM
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OT: 20/20 is now so stupid that I want to dig up Hugh Downs, reanimate his corpse, and let his zombie murder the current cast.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 6:36 PM
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Don't thank me, thank Apo's breasts.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:04 PM
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One interesting (but not surprising) aspect of the whole surveillance thing is how quiet Republicans in Congress are being, compared to how much noise they've been making lately about all those fake scandals. Obviously this is because they knew about this stuff all along and approve of it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:10 PM
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Um, in light of 56, I think I might switch myself back over to non-'cloud' based email. Hm.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:11 PM
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This is amusing: Utah Springs Surprise Tax on Massive NSA Data Center.


Posted by: torrey pine (formerly YK) | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:24 PM
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Are we now calling Apo's bosom "the cloud?"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:26 PM
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124: I'm not sure why they don't jump on board the "Obama fascist state!!!!" train. At least, it's available to them: fascists are just like socialists, after all.

From a link from 56's link, on a bill Patrick Leahy tried to introduce in 2011 to curb government access to electronic communications:

Leahy's bill would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Adopted when CompuServe was king, ECPA allows the government to acquire a suspect's e-mail or other stored content from an internet service provider without showing probable cause that a crime was committed, as long as the content had been stored on a third-party server for 180 days or more.

Anyway, no GOP support. It's a point of tension between the party's libertarian and establishment wings.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 7:30 PM
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I find myself sympathetic to the David Simon piece.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 8:01 PM
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128: I suspect a big part of it is that they sincerely support these programs and don't want to see them curtailed due to public outrage. One factor is presumably that they figure they'll regain the White House at some point and they want to have this stuff available then.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 9:06 PM
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130 is my suspicion as well. This sort of stuff has been their bread and butter for a long time. They just can't pass up a chance to fan some outrage and scream about tyranny.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:00 PM
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They just can't pass up a chance to fan some outrage and scream about tyranny.

Wait, this is sort of the opposite of what I was saying.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:45 PM
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I mean they're torn about how to respond.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:49 PM
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On the one hand, they are genuinely authoritarian. On the other, they've invested a lot of effort in portraying Obama as the one true Hitler.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 10:53 PM
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Ah, okay. My impression is that they're going with their authoritarian instincts on this one, at least so far.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06- 7-13 11:43 PM
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There's always a second Hitler


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 4:08 AM
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He said violating the first two rules of Godwin Club.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 4:08 AM
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Obama is the designated Hitler.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 5:07 AM
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138: Only in the American League. In the Nationalist League he's way out in left field.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 5:23 AM
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138-139: bravo!


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 5:39 AM
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136: Jeez, how about a spoiler alert, man? I haven't finished ASOIAF.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 5:44 AM
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Obama, bama, bo-bama,
Banana-fana fo-fama
Fee-Fi-mo-mama
Hitler!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 6:57 AM
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Does the government have the right to read mail left in a PO box for more than 6 months? Christ, what a law.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 7:17 AM
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The founders didn't intend for people to send messages electronically. Except for Franklin, that dude was on the ball.
I'd call Obama a Nazi Muslim collaborator except I haven't seen him using DC bikeshare much.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 7:22 AM
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143. It would have been presented as the right of post office officials (government employees) to open unclaimed mail to look for a return address if there wasn't one on the envelope. Perfectly sensible, what reasonable person, etc., etc.

The courts can be relied on to do the rest, if anybody notices.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 7:34 AM
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The greatest trick the Devil ever played was convincing the world that he was only aggregating metadata.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 7:45 AM
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Metadata, what is it good for? I expect everybody's seen that already.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 7:58 AM
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||

Just out of curiosity, does anyone have an opinion about this: Africa: Continent of Plenty?

It appeals to me because it's an optimistic narrative about Africa, it focuses on a solution (improved agriculture) rather than a problem (famine), and it puts Africans themselves (rather than international aid organizations) in the spotlight.

However, I know next to nothing about Africa, and the article is pretty sketchy (heavy use of anecdotal evidence, statistics presented without sufficient context, etc.).

|>


Posted by: torrey pine (formerly YK) | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 8:03 AM
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Hmmm. More GMOS! More cut flowers! More petroleum-based agriculture!

It all sounds great if you are a multinational speculator like some of the people he quotes. Not so great if you're looking at what things will be like 50 or 75 years from now. India's been "green revolutioned" to death at this point. Many people in Africa are probably waiting to ascend the same gibbet.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 8:24 AM
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Speaking of Hitler.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 8:39 AM
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148,149: A Great Sucking Sound

Triplecrisis

If you hear a kind of whooshing, rushing noise, don't worry--it's not US jobs moving to China. Today's great sucking sound is the sound of agricultural wealth being siphoned off into the global financial system. Dragging poverty and insecurity in its wake, this broad movement of wealth from agriculture into finance is enriching and empowering finance capital at the expense of farmers, traders, consumers, rural communities and the earth. In fact, that sucking sound is really the sound of injustice.

In most of these cases, financial firms are collaborating with agribusiness to create gigantic irrigated monocropped farms planted to genetically modified crops using massive amounts of industrial pesticides and fertilizers. In many cases, the farmers that live and work the land are relocated (sometimes forcibly). Indeed, it is not only monetary wealth that the financial system is sucking out of African agriculture, but people, crops, water and soil as well.

The New York Times reported that Swiss banking giant UBS had bought almost 10,000 acres in Wisconsin, while TIAA-CREF now owns 600 farms in the US (this land has long been planted to industrial monocrops, a practice that will continue under the new ownership).

Lots more, part of a series.

Category:What the fuck did you expect? Happy family farms?Also:Marxists love this stuff, rationalization of agriculture, creation of reserve labor armies, is a debt-serf in capitalism, even tho she isn't wage labor.

Fucking do-gooders complaining about building standards in Bangladesh...sheet, we will just create a labor force in Sudan and move the factories there. When there is this much capital floating around and technology moving this fast and transportation and communication this cheap, fuckers can move full factories every couple years, arbitraging like a motherfucker.

Cheers


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 8:56 AM
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It's gonna get fucking awesome!

You thought the last age of accumulated capital and imperialism was neat, this second Imperial age is gonna be ten times as fast and hard raping and pillaging and looting.

Capital accelerates as it accumulates. Has to.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 9:03 AM
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147 is fascinating. I hadn't watched that before.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 9:19 AM
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"Fascinating" might not be the right word. "Appealing to someone who's just sitting and staring at a screen and doesn't want to get up" might be better. [joke about German words omitted]


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 9:21 AM
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Thanks, that is helpful. So, shorter 148: African agriculture has a lot of potential. And shorter 151: global finance is aiming to collect all of it.


Posted by: torrey pine (formerly YK) | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 9:22 AM
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So do people not believe that the telephone metadata the NSA collects cannot be analyzed or scrutinized for information about a particular person or set of persons without an additional FISA court application showing cause? That had been my understanding: that the data was being simply gathered and stored in the event that it might be needed in future. We have no way of knowing whether that procedure is adhered to, but still, I can't help but understand why the NSA might want to have the data at hand on short notice.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 9:39 AM
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The fourth item about rediscovering local crops is largely positive, although the idea of Roundup-Ready cassava makes me want to cry. The ninth seems kind of nuts, like saying it will be so nice to have mild winters in Buffalo. I think Natilo has it right for the big picture, although he's leaving out the advantages for big US agriculture businesses like Monsanto and ADM to have a bigger client base.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 10:06 AM
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I'm naturally suspicious of anybody who makes predictions on the basis of the future effects of climate change, because the worst aspect of climate change is that its effects are notoriously unpredictable.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 10:10 AM
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Speaking of science and the surveillance stuff, the person who runs the Science New twitter feed is a total rightwing asshole who at times seems to forget what he is on about:

Science News retweeted
Howard Notelling @BluegrassPundit
Scary thought: If Adolf Hitler had the surveillance technology Obama is using on Americans, every Jew in the world would be dead. #tcot


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 11:18 AM
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Scary thought: if Val Kilmer had lived in Germany Hitler would have killed Churchill with a space based laser beam.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 11:33 AM
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If Napoleon Bonaparte had the drone technology Obama is using to kill Pakistanis, we'd all be speaking French right now, n'est-ce pas?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 11:41 AM
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N'est pas vrai! Il n'y avait pas de l'essence en 1800. Les avions ne pouvaient pas voler.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 11:46 AM
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They could have used bitumen-soaked mummies.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 11:51 AM
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And if Genghis Khan had used a time machine to spring Tukhachevski from the Lubyanka in 1937, the Mongolian tank divisions would have overrun Europe before Philippe le Bel had a chance to dissolve the Knights Templar, so Lyndon Larouche would be President of the Confederate States.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 11:55 AM
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||
The food truck with the pasties is going to be at the event I'm going to tonight!!!

I think I will move to Williamsburg and open a restaurant serving ironically artisinal Cornish cuisine called "The Nasty Pasty."
||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 11:57 AM
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Glenn Greenwald sure is on a roll.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 12:52 PM
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Speaking of music, is Peter Grimes supposed to be sympathetic?

I would not have said so, no. I think he's meant to be a pitiable monster, but mostly a monster. It's not one I listen to much, though, or know well, so this is not a very well-founded opinion.

Sorry, I'm not totally ignoring the OP topic. For some reason I do find it hard to engage with, both from a standpoint of resignation and just...having more to say about other things. I think also some little part of me is susceptible to the "yes but it's for your safety" stuff. Ugh.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 2:18 PM
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105F before three in the afternoon. I think I must have something that needs doing in Berkeley.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 2:46 PM
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64 degrees and sunny here. I should go outside.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 2:52 PM
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77 and grilling.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 3:19 PM
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72 degrees, resting in preparation for a night of art.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 4:18 PM
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Update: I did go outside and walked around for a while. It was nice.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 4:54 PM
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So this USA Today article from May, 2006 about NSA metadata collection & aggregation is for real, right? So that kind of obviates like the entire controversy? USA Today says it is real. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/06/06/nsa-surveillance-pits-liberty-against-security/2398987/

Journalism is so dead in this country. Except for USA Today.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06- 8-13 7:17 PM
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I haven't written anything in a while, but I feel like I have to say something about the recent PRISM/NSA stories.

META: I think this is an improvement over the previous 3 bullshit Obama scandals. Even if its not really a scandal or even news really, it is still a story that deserves some attention.

I can't remember all the back story that I'm aware of but I do remember a bit. I first became aware of the general shape of the thing somewhere around 2005 I think. There was a POOR MAN post about data that also talked about people in the Bush administration threatening to resign over the, then without any legal cover, program and people trying to get Ashcroft to sign off on it in his sickbed.

In 2007 there was the washington post story about how the NSA had installed splitters in a trunk line (fiber optic) for sweeping up internet communications.

Which lead to my insight that maybe the NSA doesn't have a "back door" they just get copies of the latest proprietary software from facebook et al so that all that traffic they are sweeping up (ie all of it) makes more sense.


Posted by: Frank Shannon | Link to this comment | 06- 9-13 1:30 AM
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The whistleblower went to China, in case anybody is still wondering how the Republicans are going to respond.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 9-13 4:03 PM
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Kieran Healy is awesome.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 3:22 AM
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The whistleblower went to China, in case anybody is still wondering how the Republicans are going to respond.

Actually Hong Kong. There's quite a difference in terms of freedom of speech etc.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 3:45 AM
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176: He really is, isn't he.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 3:50 AM
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176: that whole argument seems to miss the point in a pretty obvious way - it's just demonstrating that, if you want to find people who are actually centrally involved in violent conspiracies against the government, analysing metadata is a great way to do it. Healy's making the government's argument for them. What he should be doing is showing how much information that we innocent non-terrorist types think of as private can actually be revealed through metadata.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 4:17 AM
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A) It's an elegant statement of the power of the tools; B) emotionally, for Americans, using Paul Revere makes it about the evil oppressor trying to hunt down our heroes (despite the fact that you're right that he was involved in a violent conspiracy against the government) rather than a good government finding terrorists, and C) he's funny.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 4:23 AM
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176 and 179 are both right. Healy's article is amusing and clever, but ajay is right that he is ultimately just making the government's case for them. I'm not sure that the suggested argument in 179 is much different though.

Both consist of: 'look how much you can learn about someone, without ever reading the content of their emails, or listening to their conversations.'

Kieran: 'Let's imagine this happening to a bunch of sainted ancestor figures.'
ajay: 'Let's imagine this happening to you.'

Ajay might be right that the latter may have more emotional appeal, but the appeal of 'if you've done nothing wrong, you've nothing to hide' is pretty strong, too. The worry I have, is that almost all the good arguments one might make are going to rest on a strong statement of a right to personal privacy. And that might be, in terms of public opinion, a right whose time has come and gone.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 4:28 AM
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And that might be, in terms of public opinion, a right whose time has come and gone.

Well...

People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time... But we viewed that as a really important thing, to always keep a beginner's mind and what would we do if we were starting the company now and we decided that these would be the social norms now and we just went for it. - Mark Zuckerberg, 3 years ago

I'm interested in finding an argument against government surveillance at this level that doesn't depend on appeals to the right of privacy. Can you construct one?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 4:40 AM
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re: 182

Well, I think the implicit argument that is sometimes being made isn't so much that it's about a right to privacy, so much as that it's creepy; it's an emotional appeal. So, it takes the form: 'wouldn't it be creepy if faceless bureaucrats/Facebook stalkers could access this information about you?'

Discuss of rights seems to have become hollowed out and etiolated of late. Rights being things that we now have contingent on our having those rights not being too much of an inconvenience to the powers that be (state or corporate), rather than things that are inalienable, or only violated in extremis. Freedom from torture, freedom from unjust imprisonment, the right to hear the evidence against you, the right to privacy, and on and on, all no longer _rights_ in some strong sense of the word.

I think we should appeal to rights, I'm just worried that those appeals don't have as much strength after a decade or more of security-state propaganda efforts and appeals to corporate convenience.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 4:50 AM
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The potential for non-legitimate law enforcement related misuse. Nixon's plumbers, breaking into Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 4:53 AM
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"Freedom from torture, freedom from unjust imprisonment, the right to hear the evidence against you, the right to privacy, "
I don't see any of those exact words in the Constitution.


Posted by: Opinionated Antonin Scalia | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 4:55 AM
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Of course those rights were, in practice, violated quite often, but the fiction that they somehow mattered and ought to be respected was maintained until quite recently.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 4:58 AM
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I'm interested in finding an argument against government surveillance at this level that doesn't depend on appeals to the right of privacy. Can you construct one?

184 is a good one - add on abuse for more personal reasons (reading your ex-wife's emails, etc) though I suppose that's privacy-related. Or abuse for commercial reasons: imagine getting your healthcare premiums doubled because, hmm, that's interesting, you've emailed your friends to cancel that hiking holiday, you're googling search terms to do with abdominal pain, and you're shifting your online grocery purchases towards blander foods... maybe you've got some sort of medical problem?

Another one is false positives: the more information you collect about people, the more likely you are to detect false positives linking them to Persons Of Interest by pure coincidence. This is the six steps argument. So you get a deluge of alerts that a) harasses innocent people and b) means that the real threats get hidden in the haystack. b) is the good one here: more data means that the terrorists are more likely to get through.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 5:04 AM
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183.3. Agreed. I just feel that from a pragmatic standpoint I'd feel happier if I could back up the appeal to rights with something that has more immediate resonance. I regret that, but still.

Rights have a tremendous appeal if you haven't got them. "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity", "Peace, Land and Bread" were eloquent rallying cries to people who had none of the aforesaid. The ideologists of the enlightenment can be forgiven for not realising that people would become so accustomed to the appearance of liberty and peace that they lost interest in examining the reality underlying it, but we have to deal with this situation somehow, and it's not clear to me how.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 5:05 AM
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The potential for non-legitimate law enforcement related misuse.

I'm afraid I see this as something like a tautology only different. If you're not bothered by warrantless surveillance anyway, why would you be bothered by non-legitimate enforcement?

Ajay's points have more resonance for me, but these are complicated arguments to make, and a lot of people won't see the connection with security theatre.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 5:13 AM
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So you get a deluge of alerts that a) harasses innocent people and b) means that the real threats get hidden in the haystack. b) is the good one here: more data means that the terrorists are more likely to get through.

I think those ones are likely to be stymied by the vulnerability of politicians and the media to technology bullshitters. Think of how often you see claims for the efficacy of some technology or other, especially in this area, pass completely unremarked or accepted as if true.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 5:18 AM
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Why trust the government to know your bank account information if they can get hacked by the Chinese government? Or some private operator? Why trust the government's assurances that they aren't storing your bank account information when they seem to have been lying about what they are doing?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 5:30 AM
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191. The first part of that seems quite strong. The second part is open to "Yeah but they always have and nobody cares yet" refutation. But I think you're on the right lines here, even if the result is Rand Paul in the White House.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 5:45 AM
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I may be a technology bullshitter but I don't think it's true that more data necessarily means less specificity.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 6:00 AM
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What's lame about the "Paul Revere metadata" argument is, as I said above, that it is precisely that kind of social network construction that Google, Facebook, your local supermarket, etc etc have now been doing for many many years, to essentially no public outcry. I mean that's not some shocking revelation, it's how a huge part of the American economy has been constructed for at least 10 years now, using exactly the models Kieran is talking about and many other ones.

184 -- worrying about government officials using this kind of information for illicit purposes -- is exactly the right worry, but is also why what we need are strict limits on what USE is made of the collected and analyzed information. We all know that (putting aside the metadata issue completely) that governments and businesses already have tons of information (bank records, tax returns, etc) that if, they wanted and were allowed to, they could use for completely improper purposes. This has been a feature of modern life since at least the 1950s. What keeps that from happening is a combination as well as transperancy about its gathering. The world is going to work based on massive collection of metadata, like it or not. What we need is transparency about how the analyses are being used and strict controls on using the information for improper ends, and that applies to both industry and government. But just framing things in terms of a nebulous privacy right in metadata doesn't seem like an approach remotely consistent with the world we actually live in, and have lived in for a long time.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 6:14 AM
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Most people will care when it passes over in to actually messing up your life- the doubling of insurance premiums, the release of your psychiatric troubles, the all expenses paid one way trip to Cuba. Some people get exercised about the creepy part, but personally if I never find out that people are snooping on me and nothing ever comes of it I find it hard to care about some hypothetical people laughing at my blurry genitals in a TSA office. I think to make it concrete you have to 1) find examples of corporate or government misuse/abuse/false positive that actually screws up someone's life, and 2) show how it can happen to anyone- otherwise it will be, "Oh, that guy who was falsely accused traveled to Saudi Arabia, he was asking for it."
Just speaking in terms of public opinion, of course the "acting out of the ordinary, you're asking for it" is pretty chilling, but still hypothetical to most people.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 6:15 AM
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I just wish they went after people who misuse the data as hard as they go after the people who leak the existence of such data.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 6:16 AM
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What we need is transparency about how the analyses are being used and strict controls on using the information for improper ends, and that applies to both industry and government.

And how do you suggest enforcing this?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 6:27 AM
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194 -- The problem is that as to use we're totally at the mercy of the Executive. OK, sure, you can have an exclusionary rule, but that only gets to the tip of the iceberg of improper uses. The point at which you have another branch of government authorized to weigh in is when they are collecting. I don't see a constitutional grounding for use restrictions, which means that (a) limits can be changed from time to time by statute and (b) the interest in punishing wrongdoers is less.

Interpretations of the Fourth Amendment have been bad bad bad since Smith v. Maryland and before. But as you can see from the experience with FISA, the Fourth Amendment may be all we've (barely) got.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 6:28 AM
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197 -- there are tons of ways, which of course apply differently to business and government, and no pat one sentence blog post answer. That's the conversation we'll have to have, over many years. Some simple ones are imposing civil and criminal liability on those who misuse collected data, for instance by strengthening the privacy torts. Some is by just imposing strict subject matter restrictions (ie, you can use this to sell ads, but cant sell it to anyone else) and dissemination limits. I don't know all the answers, and they're complicated, but we've got to start by asking the right questions instead of pretending we exist in a different world than the one that we do live in.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 6:38 AM
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FISA has civil penalties for unauthorized collection, but one is prevented by secrecy provisions from proving one's suspicions about it. United States v Reynolds stands as a real barrier to the kind of thing you're talking about.

I agree with you that we should have a regime of civil and criminal liability, but we have to start with ratcheting back the government's ability to hide it's abuses.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 6:42 AM
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Maybe the NSA could start by making everybody take a data protection/privacy training from a poorly designed website. Because that's apparently how HIPPA is enforced and I'd like to spread the annoyance.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 6:44 AM
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182: I wonder if Zuckerberg has ever thought about his very company's role in changing social norms, which change he can then enthusiastically embrace and further.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 8:09 AM
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202 -- a few years ago I went to a small talk given by the guy who was then their chief counsel for privacy issues. Creating that kind of change is pretty much their explicit and admitted business plan, and it has largely worked.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 8:21 AM
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201: HIPAA as I experience it is one of those things that doesn't accomplish what it's supposed to, or anyway kills flies with a bazooka. I remember right when it came out it was going to be illegal to have a folder open on your desk, and I don't think I'm exaggerating. I would call clinics and, especially if they were drug/alcohol-related, the people were so scared of violating HIPAA that they wouldn't agree to give a message to my client who I knew was there. I'd say "I know you can't discuss whether this person is there with me, but if anyone named [X] is there, please give them the message" and some people would say "I can't even acknowledge that they might be here, sorry."

It's eased up a lot, it seems to me, if only through people not being willing to let it run their lives. Once in a while I can get people to talk to me without even sending a release, which is great or terrible depending on your POV.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 8:23 AM
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I don't actually treat people, so those aren't really my concerns. I'm just complaining about the trainings.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 8:44 AM
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IME people invoke HIPPA as a reflex without actually being aware of what's in it. Like, claiming they can't disclose if a person is even in the hospital or not when it's a wounded murder suspect we had transported there from a crime scene.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06-10-13 9:34 AM
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