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Surveillance Is on the Rise, Straining Carriers 336

Posted by Zonk
from the if-there-is-that-much-we-should-probably-rethink-this dept.
Carl Bialik from the WSJ writes "The number of telephone wiretaps from 2000 to 2004 authorized by state and federal judges increased by 44%, the Wall Street Journal reports, in part because of a rise in terrorism investigations after 9/11, and because the Patriot Act extended surveillance to Internet providers. All the surveillance activity can put a strain on carriers. 'Smaller telecom companies in particular have sought help from outsiders in order to comply with the court-ordered subpoenas, touching off a scramble among third parties to meet the demand for assistance', the WSJ reports, adding, 'Government surveillance has intensified even more heavily overseas, particularly in Europe. Some countries, such as Italy, as well as government and law-enforcement agencies, are able to remotely monitor communications traffic without having to go through the individual service providers. To make it easier for authorities to monitor traffic, some also require registering with identification before buying telephone calling cards or using cybercafes.'"
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Surveillance Is on the Rise, Straining Carriers

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  • Careful..... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Thursday February 09, 2006 @11:40AM (#14678363) Homepage Journal
    It has been said before, but welcome to George Orwell's 1984. The thing that gets me is the lip service paid to liberties. If governments are going to go to these lengths then why deal with the pretense of having "freedom"? What is next? Thoughtcrimes?

    Why not just tell all communication corporations that they are taking them over and they will now be owned by the government so that surveillance can be conducted on the civilian populace? I'll tell you why..... It would be Revolution! So, our government(s) are slowly, methodically, chipping away at individual freedoms under the guise of "protecting" us. Benjamin Franklin had it right. If we are willing to give away all of this, we do not deserve freedom. The time is NOW to reverse these power grabs for Presidential authority and no oversight. Vote out those representatives and senators that have supported eliminating our rights and take back your lives.

    Seriously, corporations are being saddled more and more with the burden of government oversight and expense which ironically, seems to be occurring more and more with Republican administrations. Government is larger now that it has ever been before and the US government is that largest bureaucracy in the history of the planet. There is a price for a government of this size and that is inefficiency and it is being sold to us under an umbrella of fear.

    The other side of the coin is government subsidized corporations that are no longer having to compete in a fair and open market place as long as they agree to do the bidding of whoever is currently in power, further destabilizing the ideal of capitalism.

    Remember people: The USA is only a couple hundred years old. If we want to stick around, we need to be more careful with how we allow ourselves to be governed. Because if we allow the infrastructure in place to arbitrarily discriminate those who may or may not agree with the overall power structure, then you could find yourself easily under investigation. Take a picture of the wrong thing? Say the wrong thing in an open forum like Slashdot? Support the "wrong" political candidate? Read the "wrong" books? Fail to conform in any way to the overall top 40 culture and you might find yourself on the wrong side of the "firewall" unable to get a job or participate fully in society or possibly worse.

    • Re:Careful..... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2006 @11:46AM (#14678434)
      "What is next? Thoughtcrimes?"

      Evidently you didn;t hear that Cindy Sheehan was arrested at the SOTU for the completely legal action of wearing a T-Shirt with a slogan on it. BTW, visitors have STREAKED there before, so the "crime of innappropriateness" of wearing a T-Shirt is essentially just saying "Thought Crime"
    • That was a very concise and thoughtful comment, but I'd like to point something out:

      further destabilizing the ideal of capitalism.

      If you are referring to the ideals of the Founders, capitalism was not necessarily among them. The ideal of Free Enterprise is a certainty, but the 'capitalist' system per se is not directly called out.

    • Why not just tell all communication corporations that they are taking them over and they will now be owned by the government so that surveillance can be conducted on the civilian populace? I'll tell you why..... It would be Revolution! So, our government(s) are slowly, methodically, chipping away at individual freedoms under the guise of "protecting" us.

      So, how bad does it have to get before we revolt?

      I had no clue that they were surveilling so much that it was taxing the providers. Do they get compensated
      • Re:Careful..... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by lawpoop (604919) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @12:02PM (#14678655) Homepage Journal
        " So, how bad does it have to get before we revolt?"

        There's a saying that goes something like "people with full bellies don't revolt."

        What has to happen, in order for some kind of revolution, is that the daily grind for most people has to become such a losing proposition that they would rather march around in the streets instead of go to work that day.

        Personally, I think the collapse of the dollar would be the most likely scenario that would bring about major change in the US in the next 10 years.
        • Re:Careful..... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by LilGuy (150110) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @12:21PM (#14678918)
          I'd say sooner than 10 years the way the world is heating up around us. China will be dwarving us in their shadow within that amount of time (they could crush us right now by not taking our debt if they wanted to, but that wouldn't help them grow to their full potential), we will still be complaining about a lack of oil as Russia uses their deep-well technology to catch up with Saudi Arabia's 2 trillion barrel reserves (and projects to sustain it for the next century), and more urgently Iran may fight back just hard enough to break our morale completely when we try to force their hand. America is looking pretty hobbled these days, and I can only pray we wake up before the shit hits the fan once and for all. We have been lied to for so long now, the thought of rejecting any of it would mean rejecting a part of our lives, which is an incredibly hard thing for a normal human to do. We Americans are GOOD people. We have terrible leadership, and we have become apathetic and lazy, but letting the so called 'leaders' give us our milk and tell us when to take naps, as they go out and rape, murder, and pillage in our names is intolerable.

          The internet is really the only hope we have left of breaking this downward spiral before its TOO LATE and someone else does it for us - and mind you, they're quickly catching on to that idea. I hate sounding like a paranoid freak, but goddamnit that's exactly how this whole shebang works. If you believe in our military-approved medias, you've got a lot of catching up to do. Read as much about everything going on in the world as you can from as many different sources as you can. You still never get a complete picture, but its like getting lasek eye surgery after wearing coke bottle glasses for 10 years.

          Oh and I've turned off scores on all comments and set up my preferences to make them all as near to 0 as I can get. I just realized how much valuable insight can be completely missed by skimming all the highly rated comments. Try it sometime.
          • Re:Careful..... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Urusai (865560) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @02:15PM (#14680212)
            I predict the collapse of the US economy in 2008. Republicans tend to leave the economy in ruins, and this one is doing a crackerjack job.

            Signs of the apocalypse:
            1- China floats yuan
            2- Gold prices skyrocket
            3- Petrodollars become petroeuros
            4- Ford and GM go bankrupt/sell out
            5- US real estate prices plummet in a wave of bank repos

            1 is happening slowly. The Chinese are already adjusting the yuan upward slowly, hoping to avert a sudden collapse of the dollar. 2 looks like it might happen soon; simpletons invest in gold as an inflation hedge. 3 will take awhile, and more likely will happen after the dollar collapse. 4 will happen soon after the second wave of Chinese cars, as the first wave may be laughed off like Hyundai was, although they may have their ducks lined up for a successful first wave. 5 might be mitigated by massive inflation which would erase large amounts of paper debt, although job scarcity might negate that.

            IANAE.
        • Sounds like Iraq...

          You know the one with the insurgencies in it's last throes?
          sri
        • Re:Careful..... (Score:2, Interesting)

          by sdpuppy (898535)
          Yeah, someone a few orders of magnitude more eloquent than me said this a while back:

          "Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed"

          And right after that, answers when people start getting uppity:

          "But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, an

        • Re:Careful..... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by isotope23 (210590)
          Personally, I think the collapse of the dollar would be the most likely scenario that would bring about major change in the US in the next 10 years.

          And fending off this collapse is the real reason we replaced saddam and will IMO start a war with Iran. It's not just about oil, but about oil being defined SOLELY in terms of the dollar [energybulletin.net]

          The dollar is on its last legs [isil.org] IMO.
        • Re:Careful..... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Penguinshit (591885)

          You have just described the exact process for creating a terrorist militant. This has been going on in the Middle East since approximately 1914 and the events of the latter half of the 20th Century accelerated that process.

          Conditions have gotten such that ever-increasing numbers of formerly rational people are now ripe targets for fundamentalist wingnuts with a political axe to grind.

          Remember, people don't put on a bomb jacket just because it's chilly in the morning.
        • Re:Careful..... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by smellsofbikes (890263)
          Well said. I just posted on another /. thread, that the best way to pacify people is to give them something to lose.

          As far as the 'before we revolt' thing, as one of my friends says:
          "Run out into the street with guns in both hands. If there's nobody else out on the streets waving guns, go back inside and wait a while before doing it again."
          And then he says, "I remember when that joke used to be funny..."
      • Re:Careful..... (Score:2, Insightful)

        We shouldn't have to revolt. That's what elections, and checks and balances are for. Changing the behavior of the government. As long as we elect these fools and puppets to office, we are simply getting what we deserve. Pissed that politicians are serving the desires of corporations rather than the citizens of the U.S.? Vote the bastards out. If they don't get voted out then most of the people in the districts that they represent must like what the politicians they elect are doing. They may be fools
        • We shouldn't have to revolt. That's what elections, and checks and balances are for.

          Well, we don't want to revolt. It takes time, effort, and its a PITA. We all want the same thing, a decent life for ourselves and our families. Things like freedoms, liberties, and a feeling of well being.

          Elections. Give me a break. The last two elections were a farce. GWB was appointed on the first one, and he won the second one after Kerry gave up and conceded (right word?).

          Checks and balances. Those have long been
          • Re:Careful..... (Score:3, Interesting)

            by fredklein (532096)
            My 'walking a straight line' analogy for society:

            Imagine you are on a flat plane. There is a line painted on the ground, heading where you want to go. You face yourself along that line, close your eyes, and begin to walk. Will you remain on that line forever? No. Eventually, you will deviate from that line. You see, there are minute differences between the lengths of your legs, the hardness of your shoes, and so on, that mean you will slowly curve away from the line. Normally, when you walk with your eye
      • I also wish the flow of information from the government to the people was much more open. Trial information is open, and we would know if over 50% of the people accused of a crime were acquitted, then we would know that the police and DAs were doing a crappy job of bringing good cases to court.

        Or someone would claim that convictions need to be made easier. It depends if the spin placed on it is "guilty getting away with it" or "innocent people being dragged through court". There are certainly examples of
    • You're wasting your breath. There are a lot of NASCAR dads and soccer moms out in McMansionville, USA who welcome such overreach (you know for the sake of the children) ... this is why the current crop of bastards are in power after all. Nothing is going to change as long as the suburbanites can feed their SUVs and can continue to borrow against their rising home equity to buy toys from China.
      • That's an interesting way to put it.

        It shows pretty clearly what a pyramid scheme "the American Way" has become. Buy low, sell high, get stinking rich. Only, it's not sustainable. You think the government is exerting control now? You think they are engaged in dubious foreign policy? Just wait... As the economic situation becomes more and more untenable, the government will go to larger and larger extremes to "protect the American way of life". Anything to push back that inevitable economic reset.

        Not
    • Re:Careful..... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by david.given (6740) <dg@cRASPowlark.com minus berry> on Thursday February 09, 2006 @12:00PM (#14678612) Homepage Journal
      So, our government(s) are slowly, methodically, chipping away at individual freedoms under the guise of "protecting" us.

      Actually, I don't believe they are. I don't think it's anything like as systematic; I think instead that the problem is far more fundamental --- the democratic system of government, with elections every few years, means that:

      • Elected officials are taught not to think in the long term. If there is a problem, they need to do something now --- and doing anything is better than doing nothing.
      • Non-elected officials are taught not to pay any attention to elected officials, because they're not going to be around long enough to matter.

      So you end up with a series of knee-jerk reactions to every minor crisis that comes along. Your intelligence services (with their blinkered view of the real world) are pressuring you to give them greater powers so that they can gather more information; your political advisors (who only care about keeping you elected) are pressuring you to do something to keep your ratings up; you can't think of anything else to do, and doing nothing is not an option.

      So I don't think there is any organised conspiracy of the New World Order trying to control the world via mind-control lasers and chips in people's heads. I think what you're seeing is simply the emergent effect as entropy builds up in your political system.

      • by Jtheletter (686279) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @01:05PM (#14679460)
        So I don't think there is any organised conspiracy of the New World Order trying to control the world via mind-control lasers and chips in people's heads. I think what you're seeing is simply the emergent effect as entropy builds up in your political system.

        You make a good point, but I must argue that I don't care about the cause, I care about the effect! So what if it's not being consciously orchestrated to some grand scheme by an evil secret political cult. The gradual (and rapidly accelerating) loss of freedoms and complete disregard for the constitution in America needs to be stopped. As you stated part of the problem is currently elected officials either thinking too short term or not at all, that means that organised or not they are still part of the problem. We need to get people into office that are going to think past their next election and do something for WE THE PEOPLE instead of ME THE PUBLIC FIGURE.

        I think another thing that needs to be recognized and dealt with in our government (and this applies to all parties, and goes back to Wilson policies [some will argue Lincoln]) is this fine line that policy makers keep walking between what is legal and what is constitutional. For instance the current hullabaloo about Bush's secret wiretapping keeps being touted by him and his cronies as legal under current law and presidential constitutional powers. If it were blantantly so then there wouldn't be the huge outcry that there is now, so obviosuly at best it's a convoluted or extremely technical argument that its legality hinges on. My issue is that regardless of the technical legal loophole Gonzalez et al may present, it is pretty flagrantly unconstitutional and immoral. Someone needs to stand up and say "Even if this is proven technically legal, it goes against the principles of freedom and everything that America should stand for, therefore we should reword the laws to MAKE it illegal!"

        Bully for Bush that he MAY have found a gotcha clause somewhere, that doesn't mean he should get to use it, that means we should PATCH it!

        There is a process in place for performing wiretaps of this nature, and that is the FISA court. It is already secret, wiretaps can already be started 72 hours in advance of even applying for a warrant through that court. It provides oversight and all of the expediency that an intelligence agency requires. And the stupid protest that somehow using that court would tip off the terrorists under investigation is ludicrous. To accept that as truth means either A) they believe the FISA court is compromised and the cases heard are being leaked to terrorists, or B) up until now terrorist cells were so stupid as to think they government isn't trying to find them and eavesdrop on their communications. Frankly B seems more plausible than A, and if A were true then there's a lot more to worry about then the legality of the wiretapping! Studies by the CIA and other government intelligence agencies have already demonstrated that sophisticated terrorist groups like Al Queda already operate with complex forms of communication to hide their tracks. They speak in codes, they use disposible cell phones, they change communication mediums and lines often. They have guidelines that if an operative is late checking in then assume they are captured and scrap the entire plan and come up with a new one. These people are not learning anything new by hearing from the NY Times that the government isn't going through its secret court to get orders to wiretap them. They are aware the government is actively seeking them, what the hell could they think we've been doing since 10 minutes after the first plane struck the towers??

        It seems pretty clear that the only people being aided in any way by this warrantless surveilance program is the administration that has initiated it and is preventing any oversight of their activities. As they say, turnabout is fair play. If you've done nothing wrong Mr. Bush then you should have nothing to hide. Let the FISA court look at these cases and determine if they meet the burden of proof required by law!

      • I agree that oftentimes what appears to be a "conspiracy" is actually just emergent properties of the system as you described. But I also think that there is a certain breed of predator that functions quite while in the modern system. And at least some of those predators (Duke Cunningham? Tom Delay? Jack Abramoff?) are probably involved in very real conspiracies, that are quite harmful to our country, our economy, and the people of the USA.
    • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Thursday February 09, 2006 @12:01PM (#14678641) Homepage
      Benjamin Franklin had it right. If we are willing to give away all of this, we do not deserve freedom.
      The actual quote, I believe, goes:
      They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.
      But using the correct quote would take the punch out of your fear-mongering, would not it? You'd have to — both — point at a single essential liberty given up, and explain how the gained security is only temporary. Oops, it is not longer a clear-cut sound bite now, is it?
      • by Clod9 (665325) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @02:10PM (#14680158) Journal
        The accuracy of your quote is to be admired -- we should always strive for correctness. But the logic of your argument is flawed. The sound bite is just as clear-cut as it always was, and its meaning is exactly what the OP said.

        The liberty that is being given up is privacy: our expectation that the government will not send out agents to watch us without oversight. In the Constitution [usconstitution.net] it's worded thusly:
        "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

        The temporary security to be obtained is the ability to detect more communications between criminals. The reason it's temporary is that the law-breakers are at least as creative as law enforcement agents, so as they learn how to circumvent wiretaps, the effectiveness of the enforcement will wane. Like how most high-ranking terrorists learned to stop using cell-phones when they realized it gave targeting information [swssec.com] to their enemies.

        • The more I think about this, the more strongly I agree with Ben. Why the words ESSENTIAL and TEMPORARY? I think he had learned, through long observation as I have, that when you give power to a government it NEVER gives it up again. Governments are groups of people and people are greedy that way -- I think that's why we name so many things after George Washington, because his willingness to surrender power was so rare (has anyone after him ever left the presidency willingly? I'm not sure.) When we give up a
    • Voting takes too long and the results are not guaranteed to work out. However, civil disobedience, and prompt action definately stir the booties of the ones who think they're in power. Government is basically a backdoor for corporations to push the boundaries what the people will tolerate. How many times has the government held the monolithic corporations at bay to give right of way to the little guy, when recent and similar instances indicated the people would complacently let him be trampled? How long
    • The Department of Precrime is intrieged by your ideas, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
    • The time is NOW to reverse these power grabs for Presidential authority and no oversight. Vote out those representatives and senators that have supported eliminating our rights and take back your lives

      All it would take are a few choice terror attacks and the populace would be groveling for safety again. As pessimistic as this sounds, most Americans today have grown up in all the trappings of comfort and complacency that American living provides, a far cry from the conditions that spurred the Revolutionary w
    • Whoa there -- this particular article is about court-ordered surveillance, not secret wiretaps. If the government can get a warrant, they can come to your house and search through your stuff, they can listen to your phone calls, etc. That's the part of the Constitution where it says "upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." It's not some sort of evil encroachment on our civil liberties.
    • Maybe you should run for Congress.
    • by Belial6 (794905) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @12:18PM (#14678872)
      "What is next? Thoughtcrimes?"

      Actually we have had thoughtcrimes for a while. I'm sure others can add other examples, but the "Hate Crime" laws are specifically and solely thoughtcrime laws. For example, you might get a year for lighting someones lawn on fire. This act, even if it was designed to intimidate the homeowner because you hate them, might still only get you a year. BUT, if you light the fire in the shape of a swastika, you are likely to get 6 years. This means that you will spend 5 years in prision not because you destroyed their property, you threatened them, or even because you hate them. You will spend 5 years in prison because of your beliefs. Because of your "thoughts".

      Now, don't think I am trying to defend neo-nazis or anything. I think that the person that picked a victim out of a phonebook and decided to intimidate them and destroy their property should get the same sentence. No one should sit in jail because of their beliefs. Even if I think their beliefs are vile.
    • I would also like to point out that this two sided coin leaves no room for the people. True, the government is a juggernaut but its only due to the unimaginable size of the corporations spanning the globe. As the government paves the way for corporations to move in an privatize basic necessities in third world countries (such as water in africa - including rainwater) the corporations kick back a cut of those disgusting profits. I'm willing to bet a large portion of the American population has never even
  • by scooter.higher (874622) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @11:43AM (#14678395) Homepage Journal
    They're trying to offset the costs of the wiretaps, and taking a swing at Google, who isn't playing nice with government requests, at the same time.

    Anything can make sense if you look for the conspiracy angle.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2006 @11:43AM (#14678400)
    I thought this was going to be about mailmen with hernias.
  • by Rooked_One (591287) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @11:44AM (#14678410) Journal
    just from the fact that our rights have been violated on such a consistant basis. Up 44%??????? Are you kidding me? I'm *sure* that all these are completely related to terrorism and not other things.
    • Lies, Damn Lies... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Orne (144925) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @12:32PM (#14679069) Homepage
      Interestingly enough, I find that from the WSJ, the number of wiretaps last year is only at 1,710 in 2004. 1,710 wiretaps for the year vs a USA 2004 estimated population of 293,656,842 is 0.00058% of the population (assuming one tap per person). Hardly something to gawk at.

      That made me want to find previous years, so I stumbled on a watchdog group, EPIC, which puts the 2000 wiretap count at 1,190 for a +43.6% ... Yet, 2000 was a local low, the lowest since 1997 (difference of 4 taps), so you could just as easily say "the number of wiretaps from 1997 to 2004 are up 43%". The 1999 wiretap count is at 1,350 [epic.org], which means only a 26% increase from 1999, since 2000-2001 (election year) involved a large decrease (-11%) from the previous year. I'll leave this to others to argue the exiting government's preparedness for 9/11/2001.

      From their data [epic.org], which goes back to 1968, and a few pokes with Excel, we can see that State Wiretaps outnumber Federal by a 3:2 ratio every year back to 1998 .... there's a 16% increase in federal wiretaps from 2002-2003, and another +26% increase from 2003-2004, to a current 730 Federal Wiretaps for the year 2004. Wiretaps are going up across the board, but looking back at history, 1993-1994 shows the greatest increase in federal wiretaps, single year up 32% compared to +26% in 2004-2005.

      The top 3 years of increases in the last twenty are 2001 (25%) 2004 (18%), and 1994 (18%). The wiretaps in 2004 are roughly double the amount in 1991.

      If we group by Presidental Office years (since each president tends to change policies and staff when they come into office, group by 4 years), the Bush Administration increase is +14.6% in the first term... impressive, but short of the Clinton Administration's increase of +17.7% in its first term. However, neither president matches the rates of increases in the 80's, with 35% increase by Reagan and 20% increase by Bush Senior.

  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Thursday February 09, 2006 @11:45AM (#14678421) Homepage
    The balance between security and privacy is affected by fear. On hand, there is a fear of government's abuse and misuse, on the other — that of the foreign enemies and domestic criminals.

    Of these factors, only the fear of terrorists (foreign and and domestic) has risen noticably in recent years. Hence the willingness of the citizens of democracies to accept their governments' attempts to prevent new attacks.

    • The balance between security and privacy is affected by fear. On hand, there is a fear of government's abuse and misuse, on the other -- that of the foreign enemies and domestic criminals.

      Not forgetting that one of the abuses governments have been known to get up to is the supporting, promoting and funding of terrorism.
      • Not forgetting that one of the abuses governments have been known to get up to is the supporting, promoting and funding of terrorism.
        These allegations have nothing to do with ab/misuses of information gathered via wiretaps — which were the point of my original posting.

        You just had to say something, I guess...

  • by masterpenguin (878744) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @11:47AM (#14678446)
    In David Brin's book "Earth" he talks about a future society with zero privacy. However rather than the Orwellian 1984 version of no privacy, he talks about a world where everyone, from the farmer in the field, to the president of the united states having zero secercy. He debated that with the prolifiation of technology the idea of privacy had become obsolete, and the only way to prevent people with money and power from abusing their ability to spy on the average individual make it so EVERYONE had the capibilities.

    I'm not sure if I agree with this thought, but when it comes to privacy, perhaps we've already gone too far, and privacy IS history. Perhaps it is time for total transpancy.
    • In David Brin's book "Earth" he talks about a future society with zero privacy. However rather than the Orwellian 1984 version of no privacy, he talks about a world where everyone, from the farmer in the field, to the president of the united states having zero secercy.

      I'm all for this. As the saying goes, "You're only as sick as your secrets". I'm open and honest about the things that I do, and some of these things include "illegal" activity. I don't care. I basically do what I want, and I'm confident t
    • "In David Brin's book "Earth" he talks about a future society with zero privacy."

      Yay, just what we need, another idiot utopia.

      The reality is that in such a world the government would have privacy and the rest of us would have none: politicians are never going to allow the proles to spy on them.

      Brin is incredibly naive if he thinks such a society is workable.
      • Don't you get it? The rich, powerful and well-connected already have the power to peer into your life and they always have. You don't have privacy, you just have the illusion of it. The only thing privacy laws do is to prevent us from spying on them. Better to get rid of these laws today because we can't win the privacy arms race....
    • You know, I was thinking about this, and I'm glad someone spelled it out already. They probably explained it much better than I could have.

      The problem is, how do we get there? I think if some political candidate became one of these 24/7 webcam people, the consituents voted for them, and they still managed to be somehow politically successful (none of the people in government or business want to go on record), that would set the standard, and then everyone had to 'go public'. If Joe Farmer does it, he just
    • by RealProgrammer (723725) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @12:31PM (#14679048) Homepage Journal
      In David Brin's book "Earth" he talks about a future society with zero privacy. However rather than the Orwellian 1984 version of no privacy, he talks about a world where everyone, from the farmer in the field, to the president of the united states having zero secercy.

      One trouble with that, as with all utopian visions, is that implementation never follows design. As Communism inexorably devolves into dictatorial oligarchy, a select few would have privacy while the rest lived as slaves to the Eye.

      Even if that weren't to happen, democratic tyranny would be unavoidable. If everyone knows what everyone else is doing, a sheeplike uniformity would be the result, with any oddballs subjected to public disgrace. "You painted your bathroom what color? Weirdo!" "Look, he's got a flashlight under the covers! He's doing something private under there! Pervert!" "You spanked your child? Abuse! Abuse!"

      Some of the greatest joys in life are private. A quiet conversation with a spouse. Reading a bedtime story to a wide-eyed child. Singing off-key in the car. Posting anonymous trolls on Slashdot.

      The right to privacy is not just an invention of the courts to justify abortion, though some read Roe v Wade that way. Privacy is infused in the Bill of Rights, from the right to practice religion as we see fit, the right not to have troops in our homes, the right to own weapons, and the right to be secure in our "persons, houses, papers, and effects".

      Whether abused by the powerful or not, the world Brin proposes is a totalitarian hell.

    • This is something professor Moglen from the EFF has also suggested. I suppose the idea is that if everyone's personal facts are made public then there will emerge social rules that prevent anybody from using personal details to humiliate or discriminate based on that personal information.

      I guess you could say that in a world where everyone lives in a glass house, nobody will be throwing stones.

      Sounds interesting but it would not be easy to achieve in our society.

    • The problem with everyone having the power to spy on everyone else is that social conformity becomes easier to enforce. All the things society thinks you should not be doing will be logged, pointed out, and punished. No more speeding, doing drugs, or extramarital affairs. But, of course, it won't stop there, the society's views being what they are. It will gradually apply prohibitions on all the other deviant forms of behaviour, like thinking about evolution, learning chemistry, theorizing about physics, or
    • As a Christian, I believe that at the end of our lives there will be judgement, where all of our actions, beliefs, and thoughts will be weighed. There will be no secrets that can be hidden from the Almighty. Nothing a person does is in complete anonymity.

      Some of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ take this belief and then say, "Well, since God is watching us anyway, who cares if the government decides to look in on my life? I have nothing to hide. And even if I did something wrong, God is more im

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @11:47AM (#14678455) Homepage Journal
    some also require registering with identification before buying telephone calling cards

    China to require registration for text messaging Thursday February 02, @12:44PM Rejected

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China_Business/HB03Cb 04.html [atimes.com]

    Had this story been posted this wouldn't be news.

  • thats why (Score:3, Funny)

    by dotpavan (829804) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @11:48AM (#14678468) Homepage
    I have resorted to pigeons. This post was sent via a pigeon which flew to India where my outsourced-poster hit the submit button
  • Fourth amendment (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    You know, there's a reason the fourth amendment exists. This BS of "if you have nothing to hide, you don't need privacy" is crap. Why are people ok with handiong power over to the state. What happens when a bad president gets elected? Who honestly think that can't happen? Right now Bush may be good, but many of his supporters will say clinton/democrats are bad. And vice versa. The point is, once the state has all this power good luck trying to curb abuses.

    Second, all humans have an INHERENT right to privacy
    • Terrorists don't deserve due process or privacy .. nobody will dispute that. The problem is that the innocent do, and it's the burden and responsibility of the free to ensure it. Many have forgotten Ben Franklin's words "those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither".

      I will.

      Everyone deserves due process. Period.

  • by Caspian (99221) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @11:50AM (#14678495)
    It's a technological attempt to solve a problem not solvable through technological means.

    Even if literally EVERY phone call was monitored (a nearly impossible feat), what's to stop "terrorists" from talking in code?

    E.g.:

    Terrorist_1: "How's the weather?" ("How's our plan going?")
    Terrorist_2: "Fine." ("Fine.")
    Terrorist_1: "That's good. Is it going to rain tomorrow? ("Are we ready to go with our attack tomorrow?")
    Terrorist_2: "Yes, the weatherman says so." ("Yes, Osama gave me the go-ahead.")

    Once terrorists start pulling tricks like this, then what would the wiretappers try? Arresting anyone who calls anyone in the Middle East and talks about innocent-sounding subjects?
    • Nah, you just wait until 13 people call the same number every friday asking about the weather and getting into long discussions about how the weatherman is angry that people aren't using their umbrellas.
      • And then you arrest a local meteorologist and haul him off to Guantanamo Bay.

        If it's any sort of decent cell system they're not all calling the same guy... one guy calls another guy who calls another guy...
  • Authorized (Score:4, Insightful)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @11:51AM (#14678503) Homepage Journal
    The number of telephone wiretaps authorized by state and federal judges increased by 44%

    And how many more were not authorized?
  • by revscat (35618) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @11:54AM (#14678541) Journal

    The #1 theme of the Bush administration has been fear: terrorists, they say, are an existential threat so dire that any and all means used to oppose them are justified.

    No.

    Various nations have seen and defeated far worse threats than terrorism. Liberty is not a weakness, it is a strength. A robust and fair justice system is not a weakness, it is a strenghth. Democracy is not a weakness, it is a strength. Combined they serve as the absolute best form of not only protecting ourselves from others but protecting ourselves from ourselves.

    I wholly reject the notion that the threat posed by "terrorism" is so substantial as to justify any tactic. I am not afraid, and I will not be goaded into fear by the government. I will fight, but I will fight for liberty, justice, and democracy, and will oppose all efforts to undermine them, whether from abroad or at home. I hope those of like mind throughout the civilized world will do similarly.

  • Water is wet and the sun rises in the east.

    1. I'm not sure why this is an issue. It's been happening for quite a while in one form or another. Doesn't anyone wonder where these personal data companies get their largest customers?

    2. Articles like this assume the gov't entities are super-functional and actually do something with this data. They'll catch a few more of the dumbest criminals and that's about it. It's flushing money down a toilet building giant datacenters storing petabytes+ of information.

    3.
  • CALEA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2006 @11:56AM (#14678567)
    Wire taps my ass. Check out: http://www.askcalea.net/ [askcalea.net]

    Yes, I have worked for various carriers though out my professional career; everything from RBOC/LECs, CLECs, CAP's, Cellular. The current state of affairs is freakin depressing. The old school method of getting a wire tap is:
    1) Get a court order
    2) Submit it to a carrier to get a tap
    3) Carrier puts on tap and makes all sessions available to authorities.

    Ya want to know how it works now.
    1) Remote login (law enforcement)
    2) Start recording (aka run a few commands)
    3) WTF happened to the court order

    All companies that make communications equipment have CALEA access built into their equipment. The system is getting freakin abused and no one has a clue that this *hit is going on.

    PS: Yeah, I am just a wee bit touch about the situation.
    PSS: The telco folks have always done their job; but that wasn't good enough... Direct access is what has been given away.... and that is a load of horse *hit. By the way; CALEA stands for Communications Assistance Law Enforcement Act.
  • "J. Edgar Hoover is on the phone"

    "Why is J. Edgar hoover on your phone?"

    "Well, why shouldn't he be on my phone? After all, he's on everybody else's!"

    <* rimshot *> - Hey, thanks folks; don't forget to tip the wait staff - I'll be here until Wednesday.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @12:01PM (#14678637) Homepage
    One of the problems of trying to monitor a population the size of the US is the sheer volume of information and the time it takes. You may be able to wiretap world+dog but there still has to be someone analyzing that information and listening to those calls. Even with speech compression and automated key word logging, there's still a boggling amount of time involved. Someone has to listen, decide it's relevant, figure out which jurisdiction the case belongs to and who should get the data. Then get a supervisor's approval to release the information.

    With all the increase in wiretaps, all we've really done is bury the important intercepts under mountains of useless data. Like out of all the Bush wiretapping, how many warrants were actually issued? It wasn't that many, less than 20 if memory serves. Out of thousands of wasted man hours combing through wiretap intercepts. Not to mention the potentially crippling political backlash from an electorate that really doesn't like being spied on by anyone, especially their own government.

    This is FEMA and Iraq all over again in intelligence gathering. It's insane, likely illegal and it's not going to work right, ever. So it's illegal AND stupid. What a combination.

    Hopefully we'll get smart before spending ourselves into a hole we can never get out of, but I'm not holding my breath. This is the country where 52% of the population can't tell the difference between a real war veteran and a draft dodging, Conneticut frat boy prentending to be a religious fighter pilot from Texas.

  • by funwithBSD (245349) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @12:01PM (#14678643)
    Just goes to show how chicken little the left really is on this subject.

    Let me get this straight, wiretaps have not EVEN DOUBLED since 911, despite the war, despite so called invastions of privacy, and you want to cry more about it?

    Personally, sounds like they have not done enough wiretapping, I would have expected a doubling or tripling of wiretaps.

    Instead I find they are very restrained in their requests.

    FYI: here is the baseline for 1999 and why they were tapping. 890 were for narcotics, and only 45 landed in the "other" catagory that was not a criminal investigation.

    http://www.epic.org/privacy/wiretap/stats/2000_rep ort/table300.pdf [epic.org]

    in 2004, 1308 were for narcotics, so there is the growth of 44 percent. Other grew to 64, also an approximately 44% increase.

    http://www.uscourts.gov/wiretap04/Table3-04.pdf [uscourts.gov]

    64 people in a population of 250 million. THAT is restraint, not taking peoples liberty.

    Yes I know that does not include the so called "illegal wiretaps" by the President. I am not too worried unless the taps were not on inbound international calls from known terrorists calling people here in the US. If that is what they are, then there is no crime in doing that.

    Anything else and they have to explain it.
    • "I am not too worried unless the taps were not on inbound international calls from known terrorists calling people here in the US. If that is what they are, then there is no crime in doing that."

      If that is what they are they would not have to be done illegally because the courts would be glad to issue warrants for them. So it is obvious that that is not what they are.

      But it is nice of you to use your imagination to help out the president. I am sure he appreciates it.

    • the problems is, how do you know how many taps are done if they won't tell you or even get a warrant. how do you know if it's for terrorism? maybe martin luther king was a terrorist, so it was ok to tap him. sorry, this is not blown out of proportion.
      • The known ones, listed in the links I gave, show how many wiretaps there are and for what reason. All but a few had criminal investigation as the reason. Less than 100 were "other" by which I presume the bulk or all of are national security.
    • Considering your blatant partisanship, I'm only interested in your opinion about this issue when there's a Democrat in the White House, since your blind allegiance to your 'team' prevents you from seeing the issue from the proper perspective.

      How is wiretapping drug dealers stopping terrorism? How likely is it that the Federal Government will give up it's new powers in the event that terrorism subsides? Terrorism was the justification for all these new powers, after all.
      • I am not being partisan, unless you automatically assume Democrat == Leftist. THat is your perrogiative, but it shows YOUR partisanship, not mine.

        I was referring more to the ACLU (an organization founded by Communists to defend Communists. Read their history) and their ilk.

        But you hit it ON THE HEAD!

        But you are so blind you don't know it. The increase came from fighting drugs, not fighting terrorism. I.E, if there was no war on terror the numbers would be substantially the same.
  • This is nothing more than a government conspiracy to restart the economy by forcing the entire telecom/internet community to upgrade their equipment to accomodate new services and increasing surveillance. The economy was roaring on the upgrade craze prior to 2000 and then went into the toliet after that. On that note, I'm buying more Cisco and Microsoft stock. :P
  • Search Me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @12:11PM (#14678781) Homepage Journal
    All the surveillance is worth it, because we've caught all the terrorists! I feel safer knowing we've got all those Qaeda evildoers. I'm finally satisfied that we've caught Osama in our dragnet. And the byproduct, catching all the drug mafia, has really cleaned up the streets - and our nation's veins. So we've made some Quakers paranoid - they live to quake, right? And, in an unexpected bonus, the Republicans won't be taken by surprise by any Democratic Party dirty tricks [google.com]. If only we'd let Emperor Nixon protect us, in his wisdom, we'd have all the oil we want [sfgate.com], and terrorists would never have attacked us [cfrterrorism.org].
  • by Twillerror (536681) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @12:13PM (#14678800) Homepage Journal
    Criminals will evolve as this techonlogy evolves.

    If they know they are probably being tapped, or that their phone conversation might be being recorded by their telcom company ( something I think will happen given the cheapness of storage ) they will stop using it.

    I'm not in the business of crime, so I have no need to be hiding my conversations. At the same time I don't want my personal talks about marital troubles being recorded and used against me in a divorce court. ( Sweetie if you reading I don't want that it is just hypothectical ). If I was in crime I certainly wouldn't be talking about it on the phone. Here are my alternatives.

    First I'd encrypt several times in a way only know by me and the other side to make it appear to be binary data.

    Then I'd chat on private channels on Counter-strike servers or something. Something that I know is not logging. I suppose the govt could sniff the packets and record them all and try and extract the info, but is it worth it. After the tap had been placed on my internet account I guess they would start recording all the packets, but that would sure add up. Heck I'd stream movies in the background just to make it harder. If I was being really paranoid I sent chunks of the message through several channels.

    On top of that I'll use a code agreed on by the both parties. "I hate the Dallas Cowboys" means meet me here at xyz time or something.

    I think it'd be better if they could tap into my machine via backdoors and take screenshots, however, this would probably require a human, and would be pretty detectable.

    If the govt thinks they can just start a blanket approach to this problem, I think they'll find that it will just change the problem. Better to over use taps so people are lazy and continue to use easy to monitor channels.

    The argument that we might have stopped 9/11 by having programs like this is a bit silly. We had so much more evidence then phone calls. The FBI and several people knew about the people who where going to do the attack, they just didn't act. Hindsight is 20/20, and if something even remotely like that happens again it will be taken very seriously.

    Personally if you do make a phone call out of the country I think the govt has a right to monitor it. They setup the infrastructure and they have jurisdiction to anything dealing with the border. If you fly out of the country they can check you bags at customs and a whole slew of other things. The thing that they need to do is just lay that out. Let people know that they can be tapped, and if they are notify them. When you call long distance before the call starts play a message. "This phone call may be monitored by the U.S. govt for security reasons".

    People will say that terrorist then won't use the phone system and we can't catch them that way. Well news flash they already are not.

  • by Tengoo (446300)
    Freedom 9/11 victory 9/11 lurks freedom internets 9/11!

  • Ok...I have had about enough of this spying nonsense. Lets just admit that its going to happen, noone is going to stop it and just deal with the future. First I propose that since the government is digging so deep into the telco world to spy on everyone, why don't they just deliver the final blow to the industry? Lets just go with government owned communications infrastructure.

    We won't have to deal with these dirty money grubbing telcos anymore (see Bellsouth's behaviour over free wifi, or Verizon's wa
  • scarier overseas (Score:2, Insightful)

    by slackaddict (950042)
    Some countries, such as Italy, as well as government and law-enforcement agencies, are able to remotely monitor communications traffic without having to go through the individual service providers.

    I think this is much more interesting than the constant railing against our government's efforts to monitor terrorist and foriegn government agent communication. At least in this country there are several hands this information has to go through. Like the article says, outside of the U.S., governments have the

  • I'd rather (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slashdotmsiriv (922939) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @12:35PM (#14679113)
    Cynicism alert:

    I dont know about you, but personally I would rather get used to the idea of having a 9/11 once every 2-4 of years, than give away my real freedoms, not the ones advocated by our Texan Overlord.

    Hell, I will ever risk my life and I would bare with the risk of having my kid becoming the victim of a pedofile than allowing those shady people to go through all our personal data (general pornography statistics my arse, google hold on there).

    • Re:I'd rather (Score:3, Insightful)

      by smellsofbikes (890263)
      How about one every 40 days? Coz that's roughly how long it takes for us to kill the same number of people with automobiles that died in the planes and the towers. I don't see Bush invading Detroit to seize and destroy their Weapons Of Mass Destruction, though. We've been killing off 25,000-40,000 people a year for decades with cars, and not only are we not fighting it, we're raising speed limits because we've decided that the death rate is okay and since it was dropping with widespread use of seatbelts
  • Seriously, it's like human civilization is developing schizoid paranoia. I do not want to be alive right now. Please, can someone hurry up and perfect cryogenic technology so I can be frozen until everyone gets done with their authoritarian jonesing and the world lightens up to a reasonable level?
  • by XMilkProject (935232) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @12:48PM (#14679269) Homepage
    Many posters are trying to come up with explanations as to why the public is not outraged at this Big Brother situation. I would like to provide a very simple and clear reason why the general public does not really care.

    The public does not care about these privacy invasions, patriot acts, wiretaps, etc, becuase they hear people whine about how our privacy is being invaded everyday, but it has yet to actually happen.

    Let me clarify.

    There has yet to be a single major case of someone who wasn't really evil being anything other than mildly inconvienced. If and when some average joe is taken advantage of, or criminally or financially damaged, THEN you will see people upset.

    I'm not saying I agree with any of this big brother crap that the government is doing. I'm just saying that so far, they have actually used all of these technologies as they promised to do, and have not targetted anyone innappropriately. Until they do, no real effort to battle these invasions will begin.
    • you're right. martin luther king and his wife really needed to be tapped. they were up to no good.
    • There has yet to be a single major case of someone who wasn't really evil being anything other than mildly inconvienced. If and when some average joe is taken advantage of, or criminally or financially damaged, THEN you will see people upset.

      And by then, of course, it's far too late to change it - that's why action is needed sooner rather than later.

      It's almost like leaving the gate open and your 2 year old playing in the yard - "but it's ok, he never goes out the gate "

      Famous last words.

      There was a deba

    • by Cheeze (12756)
      The problem with the current surveillance is it's illegal to talk about it. If you work at a company and the government comes in and requests information or wants to monitor someone, it is against the law for anyone to talk about it or alert the user.

      How is there supposed to be any oversight or public outrage if it's illegal to talk about it?
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @01:02PM (#14679432) Homepage
    The problem with "wiretapping" in the US today is that the courts aren't in the loop. The way this ought to work is that the actual setup of the wiretap request is made by a court clerk, not law enforcement. The court clerk's office should be automatically logging everything law enforcement is doing. Then, it's possible for the judicial system to verify what law enforcement is doing.

    But today's wiretapping system isn't set up that way. The way it actually works is that there's a back door into the routing system for telephony, SS7. The back door is run by private companies, mostly Verisign. Verisign calls this their NetDiscovery Service [verisign.com]. Wiretapping is done by issuing commands to switches (phone, cellular, IP) over the SS7 network.

    Take a look at what Verisign describes as the subpoena processing [verisign.com] flowchart. Note that there are no blocks on that chart for the court system. There's no data transfer back to the court system. The "legal review" step is marked as "optional". There's supposed to be a subpoena to start the process, but there's no external validation that what is monitored matches the subpoena.

    That's the real problem. We need to put the courts back in the loop. It's wrong for them to be out of it. Courts have an obligation to monitor compliance with their subpoenas, and to oversee law enforcement. They're being denied the tools to do it.

  • Fight Back (Score:4, Insightful)

    by scottennis (225462) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @01:08PM (#14679507) Homepage
    So, start "straining" the onerous government agencies with FOIA (freedom of information act) requests.
  • No free ride! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MrNougat (927651)
    Shouldn't the carriers be shouting "No free ride for surveillance!" and charging the gov't a premium for this service?

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