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House and Senate Reject E-mail Surveillance 260

Posted by timothy
from the sweet-of-them dept.
vena writes "The Star Tribune reports the House and Senate today agreed not to allow email surveillance of American citizens proposed by the Total Information Awareness program. Additionally, negotiators agreed to halt all future funding on the program without extensive consultation with Congress."
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House and Senate Reject E-mail Surveillance

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:08PM (#5291018) Homepage Journal

    Does this mean I can stop using PGP?
    • Re:Excellent news! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Smallpond (221300) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:29PM (#5291187) Homepage Journal
      It would be excellent news if Poindexter didn't have a track record
      of lying to Congress about what he was up to. Maybe they can find
      a good military officer, a colonel maybe, to make those reports
      to Congress.

      If I hold my hands in front of my face, you can't see me
    • Re:Excellent news! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by skion_filrod (201359) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:53PM (#5291351)
      It depends on if you are an American citizen or not:

      "The program could be employed in support of lawful military operations outside the United States and lawful foreign intelligence operations conducted against non-U.S. citizens."

      Then again, how do they know that you are an American citizen without reading your email and checking you up?
    • I think it means you don't have to type in l33t with hotmail. "Dude, send me that last letter back in English. They're not watching us anymore."
    • by The Angry Mick (632931) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @07:16PM (#5291523) Homepage
      -----BEGIN PGP MESSAGE-----
      qANQR1DBwU4DFRm5nWRHfUAQCACvS5Q/HAkmsluEsbKSFhwvoK T8/qTNhyumTtQ3 qiROtkgFWoHI7hEzNBx8EBi+ckDUh6LHwhbMEvaRHrgCpCwOQU NJtGODdRRkC9Sp vGVToEJBsxTNEWFB6uKqxh8wZmzwCNY9f8ZZ8MF0LNbkRHsv0i T+4hVf9S3e5N4r GQZBf0vaBgcI/JeC2pnQxiPgxXm/GMhuDlAwPzTZzHxRSvXaJL XSQ2hd6d1FZ204 6za1gkqAE7kK/ewJNKAdJ+bDaapgXEvI72sLNVZp4Vr+xbdM9d mstUCzf3lWxLrc 2yajd3dAR4IvtgPlVocWQ0UHkhKQ+0u+aFaVDS8xb0Rm+DpcB/ 9atVjsBhkjGxrs GacSLX2KKlRhWDvHwwjc4iUPvKCpQ6Ksl2BJZL/pwzoPE1RpB7 70pj37VGHTCAZs Xocqbsmu+0oauT/ZMvzIvZR3QbopiEVLT3eBfp7mZBTfVYIkZh acPD9UQjoIzFNa F/n7QdZrx1jdtITBB7ywr3gkPTdbOOz2leXyETJ6b65Z8gb83f DDec/CMM8Va3av uIczXvBXcYEVE01IZL+m17E0aXSbqE9iBPoXpGuMSoeLZjyJMJ BKDfLMu/nCj2Pc NQjT7j4ElprPpmAeenEVguXvWMW2lZ9jDmy3U0a9eAgnh4VSpt X+ReIf5emolQBR 4zo3VVNRySDViNTepXLCysx3UFp7NrId2BlujK+Gwn6wxLJCVt 6HBA== =yw4b
      -----END PGP MESSAGE-----

      No.

  • by pla (258480)
    Yay! The good guys finally win one.

    Suck on that, herr Ashcroft...
    • Re:About time... (Score:5, Informative)

      by xyzzy (10685) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:12PM (#5291059) Homepage
      They didn't *win* anything. All "they" are required to do is issue a report to congress in 90 days detailing the system's function and scope. They aren't required to stop anything, assuming they file the appropriate paperwork.

      A better version of the article is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/12/politics/12PRIV. html (the one cited by the poster is a boiled-down version).
      • Re:About time... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Total_Wimp (564548) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:50PM (#5291329)
        We still won something very valuable. After 9/11 *everything* was going through without so much as a question. At least now our elected representatives are saying, "hold on a minute," instead of just rolling over. The victory is that someone, somewhere is remembering that we have something called rights and they're at least taking the time to see if they apply.

        TW
        • Re:About time... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by glesga_kiss (596639)
          Please stop deluding yourself. You haven't won anything, your e-mail has been getting scanned for years. Echelon is not some conspriacy theorists wet dream. It exists beyond all doubt. Your rights are meaningless when there are organisations that ignore them.

          Here is a quote from Echelon Watch's FAQ: [aclu.org]

          Q - If ECHELON is so powerful, why haven't I heard about it before?

          The United States government has gone to extreme lengths to keep ECHELON a secret. To this day, the U.S. government refuses to admit that ECHELON even exists. We know it exists because both the governments of Australia (through its Defence Signals Directorate) and New Zealand have admitted to this fact. (10) [aclu.org]

          This "wall of silence" is beginning to erode. The first report on ECHELON was published in 1988. (11) [aclu.org] In addition, besides the revelations from Australia, the Scientific and Technical Options Assessment program office (STOA) of the European Parliament commissioned two reports which describe ECHELON's activities. These reports unearthed a startling amount of evidence, which suggests that Echelon's powers may have been underestimated. The first report, entitled "An Appraisal of Technologies of Political Control," suggested that ECHELON primarily targeted civilians.

          So, what exactly is this article about? What have we won?

          For the still-skeptical people amoung us, here is a warning from the EU government to e-mail users [bbc.co.uk], originally stated in it's original form here [eu.int]. You can also find an EU resolution on the matter here [eu.int]

          If you are not of the faint of heart, you can see the highly detailed 200 page report into the system here [eu.int] [pdf doc]. This report was originally reported in the news mid September, 2001. Obviously due to other news items, it wasn't widely reported and the whole affair was convienently swept under the carpet.

    • You mean the "terrorists"?!? Just kidding...
  • Double standards (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flowerp (512865) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:09PM (#5291028)
    Then, on the other hand they're spying on international communication lines as much as possible (Echelon, Echelon II, etc...). Of course that's perfectly legitimate for them because it hardly affects privacy of the American people.

    • Re:Double standards (Score:4, Interesting)

      by aengblom (123492) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:15PM (#5291084) Homepage
      In most of the world we call different standards for different classifications "different standards".

      Not double standards.

      The double standard is if Britain watches over the U.S. similarly and then we "exchange" the information about each other's population


      • In most of the world we call different standards for different classifications "different standards".

        Not double standards.


        Uh... not in my "most of the world". Not in Webster's Dictionary's "most of the world" either:

        Main Entry: double standard
        Function: noun
        Date: 1894

        a set of principles that applies differently and usually more rigorously to one group of people or circumstances than to another; especially : a code of morals that applies more severe standards of sexual behavior to women than to men


        One group would be americans, another group would be foreigners. Double means you have two specific standards and the contradiction is when you purport them to be general.
        • Your dictionary ruins my post. You're no fun. Slashdot is not a place for "facts". Please leave! :-)

          No, but seriously, I think there is something missing there. A double standard is a standard which is applied inconsistently among consistent parties. (It's a double standard if men and women are treated differently in the workplace because they should be judged on their ability to do their job. It's not a double standard to have more stalls in a womens bathroom, because it actually takes longer per person to do ones duty . )

          Because States are -- at their most basic levels -- cooperatives to protect the security of a group of people, then one would reason that it is quite legitimate to gather intelligence about other "cooperatives" because they are not "consitent" (They differ in a way that is relevant to the standard). On that basis, I have very relevant differences from the British person.

          Now, if the U.S. demanded other countries to cease their spying -- THAT would be a double standard.
    • by evilviper (135110)
      on the other hand they're spying on international communication lines as much as possible [...] because it hardly affects privacy of the American people.

      Well, you have to look at this in a reasonable way. First off, overseas, the laws are different. If the US could consult a foreign court in order to get a wire-tap or anything else similiar to the way it is done in the US, there might not be a need for Echelon. As it is, the laws in foreign countries are not as flexible. That means, they don't have much choice but to spy illegially.

    • by blibbleblobble (526872) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:45PM (#5291293)
      "It [echelon] hardly affects privacy of the American people"

      Interestingly, that was one of the reasons that PGP export was allowed: American companies operating abroad had to use easily-breakable encryption, becuase it was all they were allowed to take to their worldwide offices. Of course, that meant that the government of any country they operated in could decrypt their comms, and tip-off native companies in competition with them.

      Not that the US would ever sink to such depths... *cough*arms-sales-contracts*cough*

  • "Hey, bob, this thing we all swore to uphold, are they serious?"

    How much you want to bet this gets tacked on to the next "patriot" style bill?
  • On that note... You can get your cool clothes [cafeshops.com]... Any proceeds beyond the basic cost of each product will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union.
  • by mekkab (133181) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:09PM (#5291034) Homepage Journal
    I guess even they couldn't stomach the idea of reading other people's spam.

    Too bad, they could have compared prices on herbal viagra.
  • by cryptochrome (303529) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:10PM (#5291037) Journal
    They won't let the Pentagon spy on Americans? That's OK, I'm sure we can find somebody else to do it for us, and return the favor to them, since we are allowed to spy on foreigners.

    You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Just don't lie to me, pal. Not that I'd know if you were.


    • We all know the US monitors its citizens like it or not. the problem comes when this information has to be used in court. It is not admisable as evidence if the information was gathered unlawfully. This is the reason they are trying to get it passed as a bill.
  • personal emails may be a little to spicy.
  • by BWJones (18351) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:11PM (#5291048) Homepage Journal
    From the article: Lt. Cmdr. Donald Sewell, a Pentagon spokesman, defended the program, saying, "The Department of Defense still feels that it's a tool that can be used to alert us to terrorist acts before they occur." He added, "It's not a program that snoops into American citizens' privacy."

    How can it not be a program that snoops into American citizens privacy? From past experience, I've found that the other issue is that once databases are available, they will be tapped for a variety of purposes not originally envisioned or intended.
    • by xyzzy (10685)
      Well, whether it can or can not is rather open to interpretation, unlike the IRS, which can freely snoop into people's privacy (!!!)
    • by joebagodonuts (561066) <cmkrnlNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:24PM (#5291146) Homepage Journal
      I liked this quote better:

      "Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., senior Democrat on the subcommittee, said of the program, "Jerry's against it, and I'm against it, so we kept the Senate amendment." Of the Pentagon, he said, "They've got some crazy people over there."

      No shit.
    • Re:Hilarious (Score:5, Interesting)

      by symbolic (11752) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @07:05PM (#5291444)

      One thing we've seen, is that terrorists are not stupid. Does Lt. Cmdr. Sewell really think that terrorists will communicate important details through e-mail? I suppose that if the threat of being discovered is there, it's less likely to be used, but there are varied ways of communicating that are not easy to track.

      What worries me is that U.S. 'intelligence,' is taking the view that technology (and the invasiveness that comes with it) will offer a panacea to the current terrorist threat. I'm probably not the first to remind anyone that even WITH all the technology currently utilized by the US military, it has still been unable to bring down a man who lives in caves.

      I agree with you...it's not a question of if, but when the current data surveillance/collection efforts will be repurposed to suit some other, unrelated interest.
  • by dtldl (644451)
    Still, this can easily be sidestepped by the old intelligence trick of you watch our citizens, we'll watch yours, then trading details with a friendly country.
  • by Herby Werby (645641) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:12PM (#5291053)
    all your mail are not belong to us
  • Nice (Score:3, Funny)

    by creative_name (459764) <pauls@[ ]edu ['ou.' in gap]> on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:12PM (#5291057)
    Finally! The black car [slashdot.org] in front of my house is going to leave!
  • Not quite over yet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DalTech (575476) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:13PM (#5291067)
    From what I read in the article, the house and senate have voiced oposition. But it goes on to say, "The only obstacles to the provision becoming law would be the failure of the conferees to reach agreement on the overall spending bill in which it is included, or a successful veto of the bill by President Bush." Looks as if it could still go through.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:14PM (#5291070)
    I was worried about people seeing my love letters to CowboyNeal. That he NEVER RESPONDS TO
  • by Toe, The (545098) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:17PM (#5291096)
    Even if they don't look at it right now, they can always change the laws later and go back and read your e-mail then.

    Storage is cheap, and tape is cheap. The one protection you might have is that they only have backups on tapes and that the tapes go bad after a few years. But if they back up onto optical media, they basically have a record of all your e-mails for all eternity.

    Heck, I run a mail server and a backup server for my company. It's really handy when an IMAP user accidentally deletes an e-mail. I can just go back and restore that mailbox for them. Even for something a year old.

    The point is, just because the law says you are safe this instant doesn't mean squat. All that you do is recorded. If you don't like that, then use something like nonymouse.com and/or PGP.
    • not too sure... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vena (318873) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:40PM (#5291246)
      i was under the impression that you cannot prosecute people for acts committed before they were made a crime. anyone have any info on that?
      • Re:not too sure... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Pharmboy (216950) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @07:06PM (#5291457) Journal
        i was under the impression that you cannot prosecute people for acts committed before they were made a crime. anyone have any info on that?

        It called "ex post facto" and it is a major part of the US Constitution. No law can be passed to make that provision irrelevant either, it would take a Constitutional amendment to. Ex Post Facto (latin, roughly translated: after the fact) is one of the basic parts of our freedom, and what seperates us from non-democratic societies.

        The goal of the FBI in wiretapping isn't to arrest terrorists, its to find out what is being planned and attempt to prevent or derail it. Many of these individuals *could* be exported as enemy combatants anyway (quietly, Im sure) if they are not US citizens.

        Doesn't make it right to wiretap everyone, but that is the goal.
        • i couldn't recall the term. the mods should have upped your post, it's much more informative.
        • Re:not too sure... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by knobmaker (523595) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @12:11AM (#5292966) Homepage Journal

          I hate to say it, but I would characterize your definition of "ex post facto" as the reassuring version. What I worry about is the redefinition of crimes that already exist. For example, treason is currently illegal. It seems all too plausible to suppose that at some future date, acts which are not now considered treasonous may be redefined as high crimes. In fact, an argument can be made that this has already happened in the case of the so-called American Taliban. That poor confused idiot went over there to fight the infidels for Allah back when our government was praising the Taliban for stopping opium cultivation. Our government was cheerfully giving those freaks over 40 million bucks and a bunch of attaboys.

          Next thing he knows, he's arrested for treason, even though it's really doubtful he had anything to do with the terrorist attacks, and so far as I know, no one saw him shooting at Americans.

          I know, I know. It would still be unConstitutional to arrest a citizen for things that weren't technically illegal when he did them. Unfortunately, this seems not to matter too much to the Justice Department these days, since the Supreme Court has become a rubber stamp for various political agendas. Expedience seems to be more important than justice. After all, We're At War tm.

  • Please stand up... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aengblom (123492) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:18PM (#5291097) Homepage
    Has anyone actually accomplished anything through e-mail? (Other than enlarging appendages, of course)

    I think this amounts to more of "ignoring the massive amounts of nothingness" than a privacy win ;-)

    • Maybe, but that's kinda like saying that the majority of phone calls are personal and of no consequence to national security. That may be true, but you still don't want anyone listening in. Privacy is privacy. Would you let the government put a camera in your house, even if it was only trained on a dusty corner of the floor? Just because the information is inconsequential, doesn't mean its not yours alone.
  • Meanwhile... (Score:2, Informative)

    by MAXOMENOS (9802)
    ...the Bride of USAPATRIOT [com.com] is on the sidelines, with Johnny Ashcroft and his minions rooting for it. One step forward, four steps back. But hey, anything goes as long as you can make the public vagely believe, or even not dispute too much, that it'll help them get Osama Bin Laden.
    • But hey, anything goes as long as you can make the public vagely believe, or even not dispute too much, that it'll help them get Osama Bin Laden.

      Who? Didn't Hussein blow up the Maine, shoot Archduke Ferdinand, stage the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, invade Poland, sneak attack Pearl Harbor, drop nukes on Japan, invade South Korea, cause the Gulf of Tonkin incident, run drugs into the US via Columbia, blow up the Marine barracks in Beirut, and shoot down TWA 800?

  • by vena (318873) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:19PM (#5291109)
    is that i can't spell AT ALL and the editors fixed all my mistakes :)
  • About time we could score one for the good guys. Now, how do we keep this from coming back?
  • by HawkinsD (267367) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:21PM (#5291126)
    This is indeed wonderful news, and can be taken as a victory for people who worry about the potential for the abuse of this kind of aggregated personal information.

    But there are still many, many other ways in which personal information is aggregated and analyzed, without the benefit of an oversight committee, or even significant regulation. So I'm still worried.

    And I have another creeping worry: what if convicted felon Poindexter might have actually done some good with his (admittedly grotesque, and probably wildly impractical) database?

    I mean, I'm always the first to howl about how those who give up freedom to gain a little security deserve neither, but does anybody else wonder about this? I mean, things are getting a little tense in the world these days.

  • Considering... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nyc_paladin (534862)
    that corporations already monitor emails and internet activity of their employees where most people log on to the internet. This may not mean much except for those with AOL accounts.
  • not quite... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joebeone (620917) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:26PM (#5291163) Homepage

    This can still be over-ridden by an executive order of the president... which sounds likely in the "name of national security" and our orange alert level [whitehouse.gov].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:26PM (#5291164)
    [text removed by line eater v9.3 - thanks for shopping with the NSA!]
  • The action was praised by Democrats and Republicans and by outside groups on both the political right and left.

    Nice to see some soundness of mind (for a change)
  • Ummm, what? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DaytonCIM (100144)
    Lt. Cmdr. Donald Sewell, a Pentagon spokesman, defended the program, saying, "The Department of Defense still feels that it's a tool that can be used to alert us to terrorist acts before they occur." He added, "It's not a program that snoops into American citizens' privacy."

    *cough* Bull$hit *cough*

    Of course it "snoops" into American citizens' privacy, that's the primary mission of DARPA and TIA.

    It's like saying the gun I'm pointing at you won't kill you.
  • by jpnews (647965) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:28PM (#5291180)
    They care about themselves. The executive branch is increasingly refusing to even CONSULT with Congress regarding these admittedly outrageous plans. But you'd be wrong to think that they're blocking this because they give a shit about your rights. They just want to be included... to make sure they have a hand in everything. In this case they're just exercising their right to refuse to fund ANY project in an attempt to get the WH to play ball with them. Otherwise they're going to take their ball and bat and go home, I guess.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @07:14PM (#5291514)

      Senators and Congresspersons are just as vulnerable to these insane surveillance proposals as anyone else. And since the military is answerable to the executive branch, if I were a minority member of Congress (Democrats now, perhaps the Republicans in four or eight years) I would be particularly worried that these tools would be used to prop up whomever held the White House, now or in the future. They're just as concerned about their rights as you are about yours.

      I've known a few Representatives; they really do try to do what they consider as best for their constituents. Sometimes, it's just that the most visible of their constituents are big corporations and special-interest groups. But they're certainly not interested in giving up their rights to some giant Pentagon surveillance apparatus any more than you are.
  • Pessimistic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bendebecker (633126) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:29PM (#5291182) Journal
    'agreed not to allow email surveillance of American citizens'
    Maybe they did it not in the interests of the public but simply because they don't want the FBI reading their email. It just seems more likely to me that, as a group, they are motivated more by self-interest than anything else.
  • by Elequin (137149)
    From the article:
    "One important factor in the breadth of the opposition is the fact that the project is headed by retired Adm. John Poindexter. Several members of Congress have said he is an unwelcome symbol because he was convicted of lying to Congress when he was President Ronald Reagan's national security adviser. That his conviction was reversed on the grounds that he had been given immunity for the testimony in which he lied did not mitigate congressional opinion, they said."

    Oh, suuuure you promise it wouldn't be used to violate citizens' privacy. We believe you.
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx.b c . ca> on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:34PM (#5291206) Journal
    From the article...
    The program could be employed in support of lawful military operations outside the United States and lawful foreign intelligence operations conducted against non-U.S. citizens.
    I'm a little fuzzy on what "lawful" military operations could possibly mean... Almost any military operation would be illegal in a country that it was being performed upon. For example, in countries that offer their citizens a right to privacy and security of person, I can't see how something like this *would* be legal in those countries.

    I have a middle-eastern last name, does that mean I'm going to be watched?

    I would say more, but I'm liable to start on a rant that could start a whole mess of arguments I'm not interested in pursuing.

  • by jazman_777 (44742) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:36PM (#5291222) Homepage
    The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Most of us are snoozing while Big Brother is hatching all sorts of nefarious plots to own us.
  • If you read the article, how much more additional funding is needed? The equipment is already purchased, the systems are in place. Yes, they need to pay for expansion, and upkeep, (In other words the rest of the ROI), but that usually is much easier to get than the initial purchase.

    Frightning indeed
  • Action (Score:4, Informative)

    by faeryman (191366) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:42PM (#5291271) Homepage
    This is a good step!

    I just got done writing 4 letters to my Congressmen about the Pariot Act 2 and war with Iraq. I know it is easier to post online about how something should be done, but it only took about an hour to go out, get stamps and envelopes, and write.

    Perhaps take this as a chance to thank your Senator/Representative for voting against this (if they did!), and maybe even let them know your views on the Patriot Act 2, etc.

    Find your Senator [senate.gov]

    Find your Representative [house.gov]
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:43PM (#5291278)
    but this acticle only says a provision has been made that the surveillance information is not to be used against American Citizens and the bill is likely to pass unless Bush vetoes it or the spending is not approved.

    The only obstacles to the provision becoming law would be the failure of the conferees to reach agreement on the overall spending bill in which it is included, or a successful veto of the bill by President Bush.

    Is therefore safe to assume the Pentagon feels entitled to surveil the rest of the worlds population on the off chance they may spot a terrorist at some point ? I'm not trying to flame here but the article seemed a little short on fact and I am unclear as to the levels of surveillance the bill supports in its current form. If I understand it the overall plan has not actually been killed, just subjected to more congressional oversight and currently exempts American Citizens
    • by praksys (246544) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @07:06PM (#5291451) Homepage
      Is therefore safe to assume the Pentagon feels entitled to surveil the rest of the worlds population on the off chance they may spot a terrorist at some point?

      Yes they do feel entitled, and they have been doing it for some time - at least since the end of WWII. How do you think they get all those voice intercepts that have been playing at the UN recently?

      Really it shouldn't be that surprising that the rights established by the US constitution, or US legislation, don't apply to non-citizens who are not in the US. It would be kinda weird if they did. The US is not the world government yet.
  • by hether (101201) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:45PM (#5291289)
    According to a slightly more inclusive NYTimes article [nytimes.com] I read on this earlier today, one of Iowa's senators - Charles Grassley - co-sponsored the bill. I wrote him a letter this morning thanking him for it. It's the first time ever I've felt like I had a reason to do so.

    I appreciated his quote from the article,

    "Protecting Americans' civil liberties while at the same time winning the war against terrorism has got to be top priority for the United States. Congressional oversight of this program will be a must as we proceed in the war against terror. The acceptance of this amendment sends a signal that Congress won't sit on its hands as the TIA program moves forward."
  • WHAT THE FSCK? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:45PM (#5291295)
    So the US Government can't tap e-mails of suspected terrorists, but the RIAA can drag you into court just because they say they have a .txt file to "prove" you downloaded stuff.

    Greeeeeeeeeeat. I LUV this country.

    • Re:WHAT THE FSCK? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by praksys (246544)
      So the US Government can't tap e-mails of suspected terrorists...

      Not quite, it just means that they still need to get search warrants before they start reading their e-mail (inside the US anyway - once it leaves the US it's fair game for the NSA).
  • You are the RIAA in which case feel free to not only look at web traffic but look at peoples HD's..
  • by Rocko Bonaparte (562051) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:48PM (#5291312) Homepage
    All of my friends have been asking me why I keep randomly throwing spy USCOI Mena bluebird virus Sears Tower electronic surveillance Vince Foster White Water ASPIC industrial espionage Semtex CBNRC Mossad Juiliett Class Submarine all these strange words into my emails. It's from spook, a military asset class struggle AUTODIN Mafia MDA genetic cryptographic South Africa Crypto AG keyhole Rubin Medco eavesdropping Chobetsu little emacs script that adds high-risk words to my emails. The theory is, the extra traffic of false-positives will overwhelm any Steve Case North Korea Cohiba computer terrorism PGP SCUD missile AIMSX ARPA CISU arrangements class struggle chameleon man ISEC security espionage effort by the government to gamma Uzi FIPS140 bemd assassinate CDMA ANDVT Elvis USCODE 22nd SAS threat Bletchley Park colonel industrial espionage csystems monitor email traffic.

    Does that mean I can stop doing this now? My coworkers think I chameleon man SWAT PGP JFK ANZUS top secret Cohiba USCODE Delta Force ASDIC virus assassination Noriega World Trade Center cryptanalysis have Tourettes.
  • by PingXao (153057)
    What scares me about all this is that in the future they can start this activity by just repealing the legislation that prohibits this surveillance in the first place. Someone needs to step up and get a consensus that this is flat-out unconstitutional and declare it as such, and make it clear that this kind of surveillance will never be allowed. Furthermore, anyone who proposes such a program should be expelled from the House or the Senate for violating their oath.
    • ...get a consensus that this is flat-out unconstitutional and declare it as such, and make it clear that this kind of surveillance will never be allowed...

      Only the Supreme Court can do that, and even they can change their minds about it.
  • by Iakona (649806) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @06:51PM (#5291336) Journal
    I was hoping to send some nice emails in arabic like:

    Jihad to Microsoft! Linux has risen in an explosive blaze of fury! I like VX works. Food tastes good with ricin it. Death to BUSH using new hedge trimmers. 90% off swedish made penis enlargers! (Which is what they're really looking for)
  • I hope this doesn't mean that they're going to stop cranking out creepy logos!

    http://www.computerbytesman.com/tia/ [computerbytesman.com]

    (Link for creepy logo only! Well, the cached pages are kind of interesting too.)

  • ...the shipping confirmation for my Total Information Awareness thong [cafeshops.com].
  • Americans ?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @07:01PM (#5291413)
    House and Senate negotiators have agreed that a Pentagon project intended to detect terrorists by monitoring e-mail and commercial databases for health, financial and travel information cannot be used against Americans

    So, American agencies have some limitations on how they may spy on American citizens. Likewise UK agencies may not spy on UK subjects. Fair enough, until those two agree to swap notes, so US spies on Brits (freely and legally) and the Brits spy on the yankees (freely and legally).

    I think we need some international treaty, on the level of the Geneva convention, that limits the sharing of "intelligence" information to the level that would have been legal to obtain if it had been done by local authorities. And strong (death?) penalties to those who break the convention.

    Well, I am (still?) allowed to dream...

  • yea, right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frovingslosh (582462) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @07:02PM (#5291429)
    So now they are not even going to admit they read our e-mail?
  • If he really wants to read my email, I'm going to sign up for all the pr0n spam I can get. Let that puritanical a$$hole freak show and his Christian Soldiers(TM) sort through all the live cams, teen fetishes, fisting sessions, and goatse.cx pics they can get :)

  • by fjm03 (548420) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @07:07PM (#5291460)
    I seldom reply on this forum but I couldn't resist.

    Apparenlty few read the article (including the poster) before replying.

    If all take a moment to read any of the 3 articles published today reporting the conferees agreement, it should be clear that the agreement does not prohibit surveillance of electronic communication between US citizens.

    The agreement addresses the use of the data collected in prosecuting citizens and includes congressional oversight of further funding and reasearch but does not prohibit the evesdropping.

  • The article seems a bit weird.

    Doesn't the house propose laws, then vote on weather or not they should be sent to the senate, where they are voted upon to become law? Isn't this how it's been done for over 200 years in the US?

    Granted, it's really hard to pass a law if either the house OR the senate are in disagreement. Of course, it can be voted in if there's an overwhelming majority in the other direction. Of course, given the state of American political parties, that would be highly unlikely.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @07:31PM (#5291634) Homepage Journal
    While this may seem like a victory for personal privacy, lets wait until the war starts to be sure it sticks.

    Congress has been known to often go back on their decisions, when the american peoples rights are concerned... and rarely the correct direction.

  • by Not Quite Jake (315382) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @07:40PM (#5291679) Homepage
    I really don't get it when it comes to the big fuss over this Total Information Awareness. The structure to do it is already in place and it comes in two forms, AOL and AIM. All the government has to do is set up an account, add everyone to their buddy list and hire some goons to check away messages, you always know where people are by their away messages. How easy is this, and it's free too!
  • The New Cold War (Score:3, Interesting)

    by peripatetic_bum (211859) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @08:12PM (#5291859) Homepage Journal
    I was thinking about this this morning after my mom called up and was worried because bush wanted everyone to have 3 days of supplies. This is probably what it felt like to live in the 50's. The old duck, and cover.

    Anyway, What I am saying is that now only is this the new cold war, but the Old Cold War Warriors are back witha vengence. Rumsfield, McNamara.

    The only good thing I can see about all of this is that the country will experience another revolution (like the 60's following the 50's) and maybe this action that congress took is a first step.

    I would like to hear comment from the rest of you
  • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday February 13, 2003 @06:04AM (#5293396) Homepage
    You can see it here [userfriendly.org]. Also, there's lots of encrypted communications programs or file transfer programs out there, if you feel the need for it. Stenograhy works too. Bin Laden was sending people to aviator school. Why wouldn't he be sending someone to do a CS degree in encryption and stenography too?

    You may keep strong encryption out of the hands of the general public, because they have no real interest in it. But for a determined group, the cat is out of the bag many years ago. Throwing together some AES + SHA + Diffie-Hellman reference code I could probably make a secure tool before the end of business today. And I'm hardly an expert on the subject...

    Kjella

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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