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EFF Asks How Big Brother Is Watching The Internet 354

Posted by timothy
from the hey-little-brother-what's-that-in-your-mind? dept.
MacDork writes "The EFF filed a FOIA request yesterday with the FBI and other offices of the US DOJ regarding expanded powers granted by the USA PATRIOT Act. The EFF is making the request in an attempt to find out whether or not Section 216 is being used to monitor web browsing without a warrant. The DOJ has already stated they can collect email and IP addresses, but has not been forthcoming on the subject of URL addresses. It seems the EFF is seeking any documentation to confirm such activity is taking place. One can only hope the automated FOIA search doesn't produce any false negatives or cost the EFF $372,999."
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EFF Asks How Big Brother Is Watching The Internet

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  • Always assume (Score:2, Informative)

    by WarMonkey (721558)
    Always assume that they ARE.
  • Creepy stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dj42 (765300) * on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @06:55PM (#11546208) Journal
    I don't like the idea of them monitoring web browsing, URLs, content, etc, without essentially a "warrant". I also think ISPs should not store any sort of historical browsing information. The fact there is no response as to whether or not this occurs is also disconcerting, because not only are they probably doing it, but they don't even care if we know or not.
    • Re:Creepy stuff (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stephenisu (580105)
      While I also do not like the idea of being monitored for my internet activity, I think we as a community should develop better tools to secure our own protection if we are afraid of being tracked.

      I truly do not like the idea of me being put on a terrorist watch list for reading liberal publications, but I choose to read them anyways.

      Alas, I am less of a coder and more of marketer.
    • Re:Creepy stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Seigen (848087) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @07:24PM (#11546436) Homepage
      I agree, but unfortunately since 9/11 the american government is growing more and more corrupt. The very fact that our government goes out of its way to find ways around its own rules like imprisoning people in foreign countries to get around any rights they might have adequately demonstrates this. It seems that right or wrong has almost gone out of fashion. If you can spin your arguments such that the public buys them, even if they are lies, then you win. A warrant should be required. FOIA inquires that are won in court shouldn't be returned without the information content redacted. To a very great extent the workings of our government need to become less secretive lest we lose the freedoms we cherish.
    • Re:Creepy stuff (Score:4, Insightful)

      by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @07:41PM (#11546550) Homepage Journal
      "I don't like the idea of them monitoring web browsing, URLs, content, etc, without essentially a 'warrant."

      While I agree with that stance on web browsing...
      Requiring a Warrant to monitor URL's and Content would basically put Google and Netcraft out of existence.

      Let's step back and think before we get carried away here.
      Personally, I think all "in the clear" Internet activity should be considered public. Why should the FBI be required to get a Warrant to do what any 13yr old with a network sniffer be able to do with dubious legality?

      Personally, I think a warrant should be required only to intrude upon private networks and encrypted communication protocols.
      So, in my mind, the FBI should be able to snoop on my iChat activity, but required to get a a warrant to snoop my local network activity/Hard Drives/Content if it is behind a secured firewall.

      It boils down to precident in the physical world. When you walk around in public, do you bring out your kiddie porn collection, break into shops, try to abduct little girls/boys, expose yourself to random men/women, talk about crimes you're about to or have commited in broad daylight while dozens of bystanders mill about? Then why the hell should you think that the magical interweb somehow makes that OK?
      • Re:Creepy stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Martin Blank (154261) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @07:51PM (#11546625) Journal
        A 13yr old with a camcorder can also set it up in the bushes to look inside your home and watch what you're doing. This doesn't mean the FBI shouldn't be required to get a warrant to do the same.

        In the same realm, just because they can sniff the network traffic doesn't mean that they should. They have to get a warrant to tap your phone, and they should have to do the same to tap your IM conversations, e-mail correspondence, and web history.

        Just because they can do something doesn't mean they should be able to without restrictions.
      • Since when are Google and Netcraft law enforcement agencies?
      • by dj42 (765300) *
        "It boils down to precident in the physical world. When you walk around in public, do you bring out your kiddie porn collection, break into shops, try to abduct little girls/boys, expose yourself to random men/women, talk about crimes you're about to or have commited in broad daylight while dozens of bystanders mill about? Then why the hell should you think that the magical interweb somehow makes that OK?"

        So, then, by your logic, that means they should be allowed to put microphones and cameras everywhere,
      • Requiring a Warrant to monitor URL's and Content would basically put Google and Netcraft out of existence.

        What?! How? Google and Netcraft are *privately-run* entities. They do not need warrants to monitor URLs, because unlike the FBI, they are not part of the government.

        I think a warrant should be required only to intrude upon private networks and encrypted communication protocols.
        So, in my mind, the FBI should be able to snoop on my iChat activity


        For encrypted communications, do you think the FBI
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @06:56PM (#11546212)
    "EFF Asks How Big Brother is Watching the Internet"

    By getting his little sister to do it.
  • by Faust7 (314817) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @06:56PM (#11546218) Homepage
    ...if all our monitors turned out to be "telescreens"?
    • If they are, I would sue the government for distributing child porn. I'm pretty sure I did some things in front of my computer that would qualify as porn before I was 18.

      Pretty damn sure.
    • There would be a lot of government employees watching nerds masturbating, for one.

      The ideas in '1984' always seemed a little simplistic and naive to me. In a society that values fame and media exposure so highly, wouldn't it be easier to get us all to spy on each other? Informant meets reality TV, all in the name of state security and voyeurism.
      • oh, give Orwell a break, he was writing in the 40's. Nobody bitches about Phillip K. Dick for having the most powerful computers in his stories be the size of the Empire State Building.
        • I'm not bitching about Orwell, and I'm sorry if I gave that impression. It just strikes me that there are more applicable scenarios (and metaphors) available. The Panopticon and Brave New World come to mind.
      • The ideas in '1984' always seemed a little simplistic and naive to me. In a society that values fame and media exposure so highly, wouldn't it be easier to get us all to spy on each other?

        That was definitely an element in 1984. People were encouraged to turn in anyone they caught committing a crime. I recall a child turning in his own father for Thoughtcrime.

        It was a complete atmosphere of paranoia and mistrust. Not just the eye of Big Brother, but your fellows as well.
    • I believe in soviet russia they already are.
  • 80% redaction (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MMHere (145618) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @06:58PM (#11546229)
    Whatever they get will likely be 80% redacted. How is that useful? How is that freedom of information? You ask for info and they black out much of the useful stuff.

    NPR's On The Media program (aired yesterday in these parts), talked about ACLU requests in 2003 regarding Iraqi prisoner abuse (well before Abu Graib broke), and the docs they did receive -- after lengthy expensive lawsuits -- was mostly (80%) blacked out.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @06:59PM (#11546242)
    The EFF filed a FOIA request yesterday with the FBI and other offices of the US DOJ regarding expanded powers granted by the USA PATRIOT Act.

    Dear EFF,

    With regard to your surv^H^H^H^Hcustomer service (ref: EFF-KEYLGGR-SECRTRY), we're happy to preempt your request.

    The automated reply to your inquiry is:

    NO MATCH FOUND

    We sincerely hope your request has been fulfilled. We stay at your disposition for further inquiry.

    Regards,

    Joe Snoop, Dept. of Homeland Security.

  • Considerations (Score:5, Informative)

    by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @06:59PM (#11546250)
    Regarding the "false negatives" bit in the summary:

    The story is that an individual made an FOIA request to the FBI for some specific information.

    The FBI claimed that no such information was available.

    The claimant found out in the meantime that such information WAS available and had been previously provided by the FBI as the result of another FOIA request, and, as such, requested a court order the FBI to provide it again.

    The FBI is arguing that its search was reasonable within department regulations and guidelines, and that it cannot and should not be expected to always undercover every single possible document in response to every request. And documents being indexed electronically doesn't make it as easy as one might think: it's precisely because documents are indexed electronically that is creating the difficulty: the FBI is claiming, essentially, that it can't predict every possibly keyword it should associate with a document for search purposes, and therefore shouldn't be held accountable if it misses documents during a good-faith search.

    Whether or not the FBI was intentionally hiding OKBOMB memos, etc., is another story altogether.

    Additionally, the article summary is awfully pessimistic: we don't yet know how DOJ will respond to this request. Perhaps it itself hasn't determined whether or not it considers "URLs" to be subject to pen-trap regulations. Additionally, for those who didn't RTFA:

    At issue is PATRIOT Section 216, which expanded the government's authority to conduct surveillance in criminal investigations using pen registers or trap and trace devices ( "pen-traps" ). Pen-traps collect information about the numbers dialed on a telephone but do not record the actual content of phone conversations. Because of this limitation, court orders authorizing pen-trap surveillance are easy to get -- instead of having to show probable cause, the government need only certify relevance to its investigation. Also, the government never has to inform people that they are or were the subjects of pen-trap surveillance.

    Remember, pen-traps were already allowed before PATRIOT. At issue is what exactly PATRIOT's expansion to these provisions further allows. It clearly has been determined to allow email addresses and IP addresses. However, whose IP addresses? The suspect, or a host the suspect is visiting? It would seem clear to me that, virtual hosting aside, if the a target host's IP may be logged, and since DNS names, embodied here as "URLs" and IP are very obviously interrelated, again, virtual hosts aside, it seems this argument is somewhat of a smokescreen to force debate on whether or not pen-traps in general should be allowed.

    And since they were allowed before PATRIOT, the answer seems clear: if PATRIOT's expansions to the existing statues to accommodate new communications technologies were appropriate, all that's left is determining what exactly is included. And if "IP addresses" are included, which would logically include target hosts, it would seem that DNS names used to arrive at said IP addresses are intrinsic to the nature of their usage. So disagree with pen-traps if you want, but don't rant and rave about PATRIOT, because it's not about that (though many would desperately want you to think so).
    • Re:Considerations (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Daniel Boisvert (143499) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @08:12PM (#11546758)
      People don't understand how the FOIA works. I work for a quasi-public agency which occasionally receives FOI requests. We respond to FOI requests as fast as we possibly can (we generally turn them around on the order of days, not weeks, from what I hear).

      The issue is that people think that because they pay taxes, they should be able to get any document they want without paying anything extra. They'll call asking for "All documents related to X, Y, and Z.". Ignoring for the moment that FOI requests have to be in writing, that could amount to stacks of boxes worth of documents. They look at a potential bill of hundreds or thousands of dollars, and wonder how it could possibly cost so much.

      There are a few things that cost money here:

      1) Copying fees
      Somebody's got to copy all those documents. Whether we have them onsite and one of our folks has to do it or we have to pay for outside counsel to do it (We pay attorneys' rates to our counsel, and you will reimburse us for that :), somebody's going to spend a bunch of time at the photocopier in order to fulfil your request.

      2) Transport fees
      If the documents you want are offsite, you're going to have to pay for a truck to fetch them. If we've got a truck coming from offsite storage anyhow, your documents can generally ride for no extra charge.

      3) Time to find what you want
      We don't have every document magically indexed so a minimum wage intern can find anything you can possibly want. Your request will have to go to our human SQL engines. These people are amazing, know a ton, and cost money. They've been working for us for a long time, and are very busy. If they can fit your request into their normal workflow, great, but if not, you're going to have to pay extra for their time.

      We don't price-gouge folks on these things. It's important for people to realise that FOI requests cost agencies money, and we will pass on whatever charges we incur to the requester. Many people decide that they really don't want as many documents as they thought--or any at all--once they realise it'll cost them money.

      I'm not trying to discourage people from making FOI requests. I think it's important for people to know what their government is doing on their behalf. What I'm trying to say is that if you ask for all documents related to X, Y, and Z, and that comes to a few million pages, be prepared to get precisely what you asked for--and to pay for it. :)

      Also, as much as we'd like for our human SQL engines to be infallible and be able to recall every document related to anything you could possibly want, it is possible we'll miss something. We don't intentionally withhold stuff you've requested. In fact, we will give you -precisely- what you've requested, so it's a very good idea to phrase your request carefully, so as to avoid a huge bill and a mountain of paper you don't want. We generally warn you if you request a mountain of data and sound like you're expecting 20 pages, but if you insist you want everything, you will get it. I don't know whether the FBI or the DOJ withholds data, but I'm pretty sure it's against policy and anybody caught doing so will be suitably reamed.

      It's easy to get pissed off at a huge faceless agency and assume they're holding out on you because they're The Man and you're onto them. It may just be that the person who was tasked with your FOI request really truly couldn't find anything. Government agencies are staffed by humans, too.
      • Re:Considerations (Score:4, Insightful)

        by AEton (654737) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @11:52PM (#11547850)
        (We pay attorneys' rates to our counsel, and you will reimburse us for that :)

        . . .

        We don't price-gouge folks on these things. It's important for people to realise that FOI requests cost agencies money, and we will pass on whatever charges we incur to the requester.
        Well, when public agencies use neat tricks like hiring an attorney to examine documents so they can claim attorney-client privilege on files they don't want to reveal (or for various and sundry other reasons not salutary to public interest) can you really complain about the informed public's paranoia?
        • Well, when public agencies use neat tricks like hiring an attorney to examine documents so they can claim attorney-client privilege on files they don't want to reveal (or for various and sundry other reasons not salutary to public interest) can you really complain about the informed public's paranoia?

          We hire outside counsel as needed because it's cheaper than keeping our own host of specialised counsel on staff. I'm not aware of any instance where attorney/client privilege has been used to withhold files
    • And documents being indexed electronically doesn't make it as easy as one might think: it's precisely because documents are indexed electronically that is creating the difficulty: the FBI is claiming, essentially, that it can't predict every possibly keyword it should associate with a document for search purposes, and therefore shouldn't be held accountable if it misses documents during a good-faith search.

      So, basicaly they are claiming that they can't give Google a call and buy one of those "Google for

    • Re:Considerations (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jayed_99 (267003)
      The FBI's argument of "umm, well, it's not indexed so we can't find it" is, at best, moronic -- at worst, it's an attempt to intentionally deny FOIA requests by claiming "keyword isn't indexed, no document for you".

      The whole concept of an index revolves around most-common keywords. You index what is most likely to be searched for -- that's why indexes enhance performance. Indexes are about speeding up queries -- they're not about filtering queries.

      Surely the FBI employs someone that knows about "grep".
  • Heh (Score:3, Funny)

    by vbdrummer0 (736163) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @07:00PM (#11546260)
    There's probably something in the USA PATRIOT ACT keeping them from disclosing stuff about itself in FOIA requests.

    "The first rule about USA PATRIOT ACT is you do not talk about USA PATRIOT ACT," if you will.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @07:01PM (#11546272)
    ... Have to say "Big Brother"? That just sounds like typical /. paranoia. Before you mod me, consider this: By its very nature the internet is insecure. Any email you send passes through and is temporarily stored on at least several computers before reaching its destination. It's not just "Big Brother" who's watching, it could be anyone with an interest in you, really. I'd say it's more likely that a corrupt server admin, or a large corporation is more likely to read your email than the goverment. In the end the answer is simple: Use any of the myriads of free encryption programs!
    • Because the EFF can't file a FOIA request to find out what your server admin is doing. Unless, of course, the government is snooping on your admin, too.

      Whether it's fair to call the government "Big Brother" is another argument altogether, but if they are snooping on us in the way EFF is asking about, it sounds fair to me.

    • Well, I've never heard a large corporation develop a large scale automated system to read, index, and categorize your, and everyone else's, email. That doesn't mean they haven't, it just means I have no concrete evidence I should worry about it.

      The government has shown its desire and willingness to do this, so we have concrete evidence we should be worried about it.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Darn right, dude!

      There potentially plenty of little brothers out there too, and best practices are to encrypt.

      Remember to play them against each other too: if Big Brother ever asks why you encrypt everything, you can truthfully tell him you're protecting yourself from organized crime, nosey snoopers, terrorists, direct marketers, etc.

      "Computer, I encrypt so that COMMIES(!) can't spy on us. Thanks to your teaching, I know they're everywhere! Oh, how I love the computer."

    • An exellent post and exellent point. I just wish you didnt feel the need to have to do it anonymously. Most people here (I would hope anyway) clearly agreed with you - at least the moderators did.
      .
    • Encrypt what? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lysium (644252)
      In the end the answer is simple: Use any of the myriads of free encryption programs!

      I can run a 6400000-bit encrypted stream between site A and site B, but if I am financially attached to one of the nodes they will get the information they are looking for. This isn't about reading text as it flows through a router, it is about noting where a suspect communicates, how often, at what times, etc. Perhaps then expanding the search to other users of that location, as warrants are not needed for execution.

  • Not to nitpick (Score:2, Informative)

    by Arbac (775768)
    But that wasn't exactly filed yesterday. According to the EFF website it was filed on Jan. 14th [eff.org]
  • Dear Diary (Score:3, Funny)

    by Thunderstruck (210399) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @07:03PM (#11546285)
    I wrote my uncle a letter yesterday. I used some nice stationary and envelopes from a shop in Bismarck. I asked him what he thought about the current administration, and if he could lend me his copy of a certain antisocial treatise. Unfortunately, the envelope did not have enough space for me to write a return address on the outside.

    (Attention Carnivore, this post is intended as a joke, for the recipient only.)

  • Good! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ktulu1115 (567549) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @07:03PM (#11546286)
    I think this is excellent. Even if they get nothing, I still think it's a step in the right direction. Let the people be aware of what's going on.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @07:04PM (#11546292)
    Is that nearly every single packet that flows on the internet is routed through a facility in Virginia. At that facility, the print out each packet and examine it for illegal activity. They then copy the packet in triplicate, fax one copy to a vault in Colorado, and file the rest in the file of whoever originated the packet. Interesting or suspicious packets are emailed to the CIA and occasionally to the Mosad for further examination.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Please be available at your place of residence (already known to us) at 0700GMT February 2 for questioning and possible detainment. You have been invited to assist the Ministry of Information with certain enquiries, the nature of which may be ascertained on completion of application form BZ/ST/486/C fourteen days within this date.

      signed,
      the Ministry of Information, c.o. the CIA
  • by game kid (805301) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @07:06PM (#11546304) Homepage
    Its servers and clients are connected to others around the world. How people decided to do credit-card commerce there is still beyond me, however revolutionary or secure it is now. While there are fair uses of information and rights to privacy, "Internet privacy" still feels like an oxymoron, and technology like quantum computers may soon crack encryption like SSL, so I'm doubting we can stay private for very long. (Please correct me if SSL/other forms of "https" can never be cracked.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @07:30PM (#11546481)
    We can see you through your monitors. You have mussed up hair, thick glasses, and no girlfriend. You are currently picking your nose thinking that nobody can see you.

    You self gratify in front of your computer at least 3 times per week.

    And now you are looking at the back of your monitor to see how we did it....
  • by Ostie (851551) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @07:40PM (#11546542)
    Someone at FBI watching ...

    Joe#23153445 : URL http://www.*censored*.com
    FBI guy : Great p0rn!
    Joe#23153445 : URL http://www.*censored*.com
    FBI guy : Damn, that user got tastes!
    Joe#23153445 : URL http://www.*censored*.com

    FBI guy to others FBI agents : I will keep watching user Joe#23153445 for a while, his activities seem suspecious. I will need extreme concentration, you can dismiss now.
  • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @07:55PM (#11546655) Homepage
    Why doesn't someone set up a "honey pot" that automatically trolled through the nastiest of the nasty of the various "terrorist" web sites, and see what happens?
  • by Efialtis (777851)
    The internet is a very big space...
    There are millions of "transactions" going on every second
    If someone wants to listen to YOU specifically, they need to know you exist...
    Carnivore is dead, but what good was it anyway? With anon servers, and other tricks, like encryption, and attachments, how could they even know what is going on?
    So, if the FBI or anyone takes an interest in YOU it is because you came to be on their radar in some way...either by visiting a suspected web site, or sending e-mail to a sus
    • If we had any control over where that "radar" was pointing, I wouldn't have an issue.

      Is it monitoring "terrorist" websites? Maybe. What about child porn websites. Possibly. Those are all concidered "legitimate" targets, right?

      Who decided?

      What if they decide to monitor pro-marijuana sites? Well, people shouldn't be smoking that stuff anyways. Hmm. Okay, then what about sites with the word "gay" or "lesbian". We can weed out those underisables. They can tag any "abortion" sites too.

      Did someon

  • by ClarkEvans (102211) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @07:58PM (#11546669) Homepage
    I found the CBS link, where the FBI was unable to find documents that were previously released under FOIA, particularly troubling. Either there is a direct effort to render FOIA useless, or, perhaps more likely, that the FBI's computer systems are just incapable of managing even the most basic intelligence queries.
  • I don't expect anything to come of this search. Indeed, as the FBI refines the indexing algorithm, I expect less and less to be found. The referring articles were disturbing, in this, to say the least.

    There are databases out there which index every single word in a document. I think one of them is called "Google". You might have heard of it. The idea that the electronic records cannot be indexed or searched by Glimpse, Harvest or some other search engine is stupid. We may be uncouth, unwashed and undesira

  • by the-build-chicken (644253) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @08:20PM (#11546794)
    ...what are your chances of being threatened, blackmailed or falsly accused of a crime based on evidence gathered from your web browsing...I would guess pretty low. Now, lets have a look at some other statistics:

    Chances of a child dying in a third world country before you finish reading this post: 100%

    Chances of corporations being allowed to pump shit into the atmosphere until everyone with beach front property ends up having a really bad century: 100%

    Chance of a really imporant species becoming extinct for no other reason than to increase shareholder value before the end of today: 100%

    Chance that Monsanto is not telling us the 'whole truth' when it comes to genetically modified food (they've done it before guys): very freakin high

    etc etc

    Not trying to knock peoples beliefs here, but seriously...for sheer return on investment, isn't there a bunch more useful things to get angry about?

    There are some real threats to this world, generally, your government is too stupid/apathetic/disorganized to be one of them.
  • by timcowlishaw (855572) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @08:28PM (#11546847) Homepage
    Think about the massive amount of data that would be (or is being for the paranoid) collected if everyone, everywhere's internet activity is monitored. How would this be stored, and more to the point, searched through in a statistically useful way? Far more effective is the threat of constant surveilance. People keep themselves in line when there's a possibility they're being watched, but they don't know if they are or not. In general, obviously. This is known as Panopticism [geneseo.edu] [geneseo.edu].
  • by torpor (458)

    the internet was -never- free, nor -ever- safe from big brother. its pretty ludicrous that we're 'fighting for the Net', when in fact it was the 'net info apparat which gave Big Brother the leg-up it needed in the first place ...

    the big question is this .. who knows if NSA hasn't hacked our compilers with certain decoder-friendly higher-frequency 'signatures' which can be used to see what a computer is doing, remotely, from .. oh .. say .. geosynchronous orbit .. ?

    every computer in existence is prime tar
  • by Doppler00 (534739) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @09:02PM (#11546995) Homepage Journal
    Does this mean they can also read any information we post on forms that use the GET method instead of POST? Since GET encodes the form information in the URL, by recording these URL's that would be the same as tapping a phone conversation.
  • Death To FOIA? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sanityspeech (823537) on Tuesday February 01, 2005 @09:02PM (#11546998) Journal
    A while ago, I saw a TV show which suggested that George W. Bush has ...eviscerated the Presidential Records Act and FOIA... [pbs.org] for "national security" reasons?

    Can anyone substantiate this argument? If so, how can an act that is used at least two million times a year [gao.gov] be killed without any outcry from the public?
  • by pgilman (96092) <never AT ga DOT in> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:52AM (#11549202) Journal

    there are quite a few threads under this story about civil rights in the usa and their abridgement since 9/11.

    remember when it happened? the immediate consensus afterward was that we needed to carry on with our lives as before, or else "the terrorists would have won." we couldn't allow them to cow us, by god!

    but, after all, we did change the way we live, with all this "homeland security" and "USA-PATRIOT" and guantanamo and abu ghraib and all the other abridgements of civil and human rights... the sad truth is that, thanks to the current administration, "the terrorists" did win...

    i leave you with this quote from louis brandeis:

    "experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purpose is beneficent. men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

As the trials of life continue to take their toll, remember that there is always a future in Computer Maintenance. -- National Lampoon, "Deteriorata"

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