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The NSA: Never Not Watching 568

Posted by timothy
from the nice-wolfie-niiiiice-wolfie dept.
Trailrunner7 writes "For many observers of the privacy and surveillance landscape, the revelation by The Guardian that the FBI received a warrant from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to require Verizon to turn over to the National Security Agency piles of call metadata on all calls on its network probably felt like someone telling them that water is wet. There have been any number of signals in the last few years that this kind of surveillance and data collection was going on, little indications that the United States government was not just spying on its own citizens, but doing so on a scale that would dwarf anything that all but the most paranoid would imagine." And now the Obama administration has defended the practice as a "critical tool."
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The NSA: Never Not Watching

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  • Constitution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz (762201) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:18PM (#43927911) Homepage Journal

    It's what authorizes legitimate government. Anyone think this is authorized? 4th amendment? Anyone?

    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.

    • Re:Constitution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['ack' in gap]> on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:24PM (#43928005)

      If Verizon agreed to hand over the records (as it appears they did), there's no 4th-amendment violation, at least under current Supreme Court interpretations, because the records are considered to be owned by Verizon (not you), so their consent is sufficient. They're the ones that have a 4th-amendment right against unreasonable search & seizure of their records. So if Verizon refused to hand over the records, that would be another story.

      • Re:Constitution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:32PM (#43928139) Homepage

        If Verizon agreed to hand over the records

        Verizon got informed that they were required to comply, I don't think there was much room for them to disagree.

        When someone comes to you with a National Security Letter (or whatever they're called), you don't even have the legal right to tell someone about it without facing (probably secret) charges.

        But, I gotta say, you make it sound even more depressing -- we're not spying on you, we're asking them to provide us with information about you.

        • Re:Constitution (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Comrade Ogilvy (1719488) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:50PM (#43928313)

          They may choose to disagree with a NSL, and go to court, of course. But being a "free country", corporations are not obliged to do so. They simply have no clear moral or legal responsibility to protect their corporate property, such that you will feel happy about your privacy.

          Really, this is nothing. What about the corporate-owned property called your credit card records? That is up for sale, it is only not easily available because the banks know this stuff is valuable, and they plan on getting their piece of the big data-informed commerce pie by holding tight. But they are allowed to sell it to the gov't for nothing, if they so choose.

          • by Dishevel (1105119)

            Those NSLs did not just go to Verizon.
            They went to Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.
            We know one company just handed it over from a leak. We know one company is fighting NSLs.
            So we know the rest they already have.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by fyngyrz (762201)

          "Would you please provide X" is not an "ask" when it is followed by a directly associated "or you'll go to jail."

          • Re:Constitution (Score:5, Interesting)

            by mc6809e (214243) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @02:14PM (#43928619)

            "Would you please provide X" is not an "ask" when it is followed by a directly associated "or you'll go to jail."

            or you'll get audited by the IRS

            or you'll have OSHA drop by

            or you'll have the NLRB prevent you from opening an office in another state...

            The regulatory power of the executive is enough of a threat.

        • Re:Constitution (Score:5, Informative)

          by turp182 (1020263) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @02:02PM (#43928457) Journal

          And the telecommunications companies have immunity from prosecution for such requests being fulfilled (it was even retroactive at the time to squash active lawsuits).

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/10/supreme-court-telecoms-win-immunity [guardian.co.uk]

        • by griffjon (14945)

          Ask Nicholas Merrill about that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Merrill [wikipedia.org] . If he can do it, so can Verizon.

      • Re:Constitution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Vintermann (400722) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:44PM (#43928263) Homepage

        They didn't agree, they were forced. They were even advised that seeking a lawyer's advice before complying would be a crime.

        You got to wonder, if they had quietly refused, what would have happened to them? After all, trying them in public could compromise the secrecy of this order. Even punishing them would be tricky, you couldn't tell anyone why you were doing it. What would the family get to hear? "My son the Verizon employee is in prison for disobeying unspecified secret orders"? or simply "One day, my son disappeared at work and hasn't been seen since" ?

        Is that the future in the US? It is unless they change course on these insane secrecy demands, because it's simply not possible to implement without such measures as soon as anyone stands up to it.

      • Re:Constitution (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @05:06PM (#43930543)

        I work for a phone company. You are VERY wrong. The fines for us releasing this kind of information without a warrent are so serious that many people that I work with refuse to take positions where they have access to this kind of data. One poorly written SQL query and you're getting walked out the door. We're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for even small infractions.

        The ECPA also added new provisions prohibiting access to stored electronic communications
        *snip*
        The 'electronic communication' means any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic or photooptical system that affects interstate or foreign commerce
        *snip*
        Title II of the ECPA, the Stored Communications Act (SCA), protects communications held in electronic storage, most notably messages stored on computers.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_Communications_Privacy_Act [wikipedia.org]

        The information the NSA is collecting is the data portion of your conversation.
        This is clearly a violation of the 4th amendment.

    • Re:Constitution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:25PM (#43928017)

      My first question would be WHY do these have to be SECRET? If there's a legitimate need for the government to access them then why not be open about it?

      Fascism begins when the efficiency of the Government becomes more important than the Rights of the People.

      • Re:Constitution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Vintermann (400722) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:49PM (#43928307) Homepage

        They see public opinion as just another battlefield. Truths that may lead the people to oppose "necessary" action, e.g. wars, will be suppressed. Government embarrassment is a grave threat to national security that cannot be tolerated.

        They've dug themselves so deep into authoritarianism that they see no safe way out, and so they just have to keep digging.

      • Re:Constitution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tnk1 (899206) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @02:12PM (#43928587)

        Actually, Fascism has nothing to do with efficiency. Nazi Germany pretty much lost WWII in part because Hitler used divide and conquer within his own supporters, and so there was infighting at every level. That infighting crippled German production until half way through the war they realized "oh shit, the USSR is out producing us in just about everything that matters" and put someone competent like Albert Speer in charge, instead of that flamboyant, fat fuck Goering.

        Efficiency is important, and we need it to have an effective government. I do agree that you have to balance efficiency with the rights of individuals, but a reasonable classification program is not going to lead to totalitarianism.

        The problem is that the classification system is broken and everything and their mother is at least TS/SCI these days. So people are upset about "secrets". I am also upset, but I tend to confine my upset with material that has no justification for classification.

        • Re:Constitution (Score:5, Informative)

          by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @02:33PM (#43928857)

          That infighting crippled German production until half way through the war they realized "oh shit, the USSR is out producing us in just about everything that matters" and put someone competent like Albert Speer in charge, instead of that flamboyant, fat fuck Goering.

          A couple of things:

          1) Speer didn't get that job "halfway through the war" - more like "seven months after invasion of USSR" or "three months after Pearl Harbor". Note that Germany was still pretty much winning then (Stalingrad was almost a year in the future, North Africa wouldn't be settled for more than a year).

          2) Speer didn't replace Goering either. Previous guy was Fritz Todt (what a great name "Hi, I'm Death. MISTER Death to you"....)

          3) And it wasn't the USSR that was outproducing Germany then, it was the USA. The USSR wasn't outproducing Germany for a couple more years....

          • by tnk1 (899206)

            Speer did take over Organization Todt, but Goering was in direct contention for the organization and the Armaments ministry (and every other title he could get his hands on). And yeah, Todt was a great name for a Nazi.

            As for the timeline, Todt died on February 8, 1942, which was admittedly less than exactly 3 years into the war, but close enough to halfway through for a tossed off comment.

            The USA did out produce Germany, however, the USSR (and all the Allies) had a more intensive armament plan than Germany

      • Re:Constitution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kilfarsnar (561956) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @02:57PM (#43929127)

        My first question would be WHY do these have to be SECRET? If there's a legitimate need for the government to access them then why not be open about it?

        Fascism begins when the efficiency of the Government becomes more important than the Rights of the People.

        It's secret because it's blatantly unconstitutional. Also because if people don't know it's happening they won't take steps against it. Also because if people knew the real extent of these types of activities, they'd be up in arms.

    • IIRC courts have ruled in the past that metadata does not require a warrant. Of course, this brouhaha might create some political impetus to change that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ...particularly describing the ... things to be seized.

      But, it's not seizure if they just take a copy (just like it's not theft if I just download a copy ;-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stackOVFL (1791898)
      This is interesting as I recently exchanged emails with Fienstien (D-CA). It was about the 2'ed but her logic was the same. You don't have "absolute" rights! You have rights that can be and are limited under the laws that those folks in DC have been passing without your knowledge. In my conversation with her I got the solid belief that my rights end where they impose any heartache on the government doing whatever the government wants to do. If a limitation to our rights does not exist it will soon after th
    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      What authorizes current government, or any government is not a piece of paper. It's a combination of people accepting the government and big movers and shakers behind the country accepting them to do their bidding.

      Propaganda control is successful enough to push whatever result through to the general public.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['ack' in gap]> on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:20PM (#43927931)

    And now the Obama administration has defended the practice as a "critical tool."

    Not only is the Executive branch in favor, but there's strong bipartisan support in the Legislative branch: immediately after this leak, both parties' ranking members on the Senate Intelligence Committee (Dianne Feinstein for the Democrats, Saxby Chambliss for the Republicans) held a press conference [washingtonpost.com] to defend the necessity of this kind of dragnet surveillance, and to claim that it's not a big deal since it's "just" metadata.

    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:51PM (#43928337)

      From that article:

      This renewal is carried out by the FISA Court under the business records section of the Patriot Act. Therefore, it is lawful.

      Lawful is not the same as Constitutional. I'm pretty sure that our Founding Fathers would NOT have supported this.

      As you know, this is just metadata.

      If it is "just" anything then why are you so concerned about collecting it?

      The information goes into a database, ...

      That's even worse. They're COMPILING information about citizens without even having a "reasonable suspicion" about those citizens.

      ... the metadata, but cannot be accessed without whatâ(TM)s called, and I quote, "reasonable, articulable suspicion" that the records are relevant and related to terrorist activity.

      Who cares? If there is "reasonable, articulable suspicion" THEN you go after the records. With a WARRANT. And the warrant IDENTIFIES those SPECIFIC people you have a "reasonable, articulable suspicion" of.

      As you know, and Iâ(TM)ve pointed out many times, there have been approximately 100 plots and also arrests made since 2009 by the FBI.

      Go on ...

      I do not know to what extent metadata was used or if it was used, but I do know this: ...

      If YOU do not know then who DOES know?

      And if YOU do not know then YOU should not be trying to IMPLY that there is any link between collecting this information and cracking any plots.

      I do not know to what extent metadata was used or if it was used, but I do know this: That terrorists will come after us if they can and the only thing we have to deter this is good intelligence.

      More of our people die when their own family kills them than die from "terrorists" in the US.

      If "the only thing" that will protect us from these "terrorists" is collecting information on our own citizens then I am willing to take that risk.

      • That terrorists will come after us if they can and the only thing we have to deter this is good intelligence.

        "Because we have no fucking intent to ever change our corporate-foreign-military policy of fucking with everyone in their own backyards."

      • Lawful is not the same as Constitutional.

        Constitutional is a subset of lawful. It means that some particular action is allowed by the laws set forth in the Constitution. There is no action that is also lawful that is simultaneously not also constitutional.

        I'm pretty sure that our Founding Fathers would NOT have supported this.

        Oh, I see. By "Constitutional", you mean "whatever I think the Founding Fathers (hallowed be their name) would have thought". We really need to move away from the sanctification of the people who signed the Constitution, away from the sanctification of the Constitution, and especially move away f

      • by mr_shifty (202071)

        The Constitution is the highest law in the land. If it is not Constitutional, it cannot, by definition, be lawful.

    • by bondsbw (888959) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:53PM (#43928357)

      This is why I'm in favor of states' rights.

      Obama and Bush are both good people. We handed them power based on the assumption that they are good people. But what if the next President, or the one after that, or the one after that, is the next Hitler or Stalin in waiting?

      The more powers we remove from our truest balance on the federal government, the individual governments of the many states and the well-known freedoms of the people, the more likely we prepare a power that can enslave us all or wipe humanity off earth.

      The states need to stand up to this and enact constitutional change, in order to provide recourse against such acts and logistically enable that power to be used.

    • by Vintermann (400722) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:54PM (#43928365) Homepage

      I want Dianne Feinsteins metadata, then. Shouldn't be a big issue, after all Malte Spitz [www.zeit.de] did it, and we didn't find out anything about him... except just about everything he did.

      And even that was just the position data. It did not include who he called, it was just a simple newspaper (with limited resources) doing it, and it was not cross-checked with every other person in Germany.

      • Real threats to our National Security will know better than to use open communications or phones as well. They tighten the grip on the populace and all the rogue elements just dance around the edges and in the shadows anyway.

  • by HornWumpus (783565) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:21PM (#43927947)

    Seriously, I thought it was fairly common knowledge that the NSA had a 'who knows who' database sense before AT&T was broken up.

    No matter how careful you are about not leaving tracks the government knows about who you are by who you regularly call.

    For example, I've never been arrested. But the government knows I'm not a stinking law abider because, basically, none of the people I'm in regular contact with are god damn law abiders.

    • For example, I've never been arrested. But the government knows I'm not a stinking law abider because, basically, I exist and I'm not one of them.

      FTFY

  • Obama? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dripdry (1062282) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:21PM (#43927955) Journal

    Yeah, I think we know who the tool is.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:22PM (#43927963) Homepage

    As someone who frequently gets accused of having the tinfoil hat on a little snug, this is pretty much the worst case scenario.

    "We're going to monitor everything, and maybe we'll get lucky" -- and how long before the technology progresses to the point that they can come back and say "hey, we see from phone records you called this alleged drug dealer 5 years ago, so we'll be charging you".

    If this isn't about as Orwellian as you can get, I don't know what would be. Give up all your freedoms so we can make sure you keep your freedom is a joke -- Freedom is Slavery, War is Peace.

    America is quickly ceasing to be free. And I'm pretty sure this doesn't pass Constitutional muster -- everything nowadays is driven by "we have an opinion which says this is ok, so we're going to do it".

  • That's it! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by briancox2 (2417470) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:22PM (#43927979) Homepage Journal
    We, the voters have a choice. Either start supporting ONLY politicians who fight back against this suppression of our Constitutional rights, or our Republic is doomed.

    Today is the 64th anniversary of the publication of George Orwell's 1984. Support candidates who fight that suppression. Rand Paul is looking really good for 2016.
    • Rand Paul is looking really good for 2016.

      I don't care for his free-trade fundamentalism, but at some point civil rights and liberties must take precedence over economic concerns (a job doesn't make one happy if it's in a hard-labor camp). I'm as glad to have had an opportunity to vote for him as I have been to vote against our senior senator.

      • by Bartles (1198017)
        Civil rights and liberties, cannot exist without economic rights and liberties. The policies of ever increasing regulation and rules are not expanding our economic rights and liberties.
        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          At some point your economic rights can deprive me of my liberties.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Support candidates who fight that suppression. Rand Paul is looking really good for 2016.

      There are 3 problems with your solution:
      1. Rand Paul may oppose the suppression, but his party wholeheartedly supports it. That will prevent him from actually doing what he says he wants to do.

      2. There's a question of whether the various three-letter agencies are doing this without any kind of authorization from any president, or lying to the president about what they're doing and / or why they're doing it. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if career spooks were doing all sorts of illegal things and clas

  • Critical tools (Score:5, Insightful)

    by intermodal (534361) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:22PM (#43927981) Homepage Journal

    If our government believes throwing out the Constitution is what it takes to protect our nation from terrorist threats, I'm less scared of the terrorists than I am of the government.

  • Critical Tool (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gewalker (57809) <.Gary.Walker. .at. .AstraDigital.com.> on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:22PM (#43927987)

    In this case, the "critical tools" are Obama, Eric Holder, or who-ever is behind this large-scale invasion of privacy. I know plenty of people (mostly liberals) complained when the warrant-less wiretaps happened under Bush. It appears that these are considerably larger in scope.

  • Now that this information is known to be collected, it should be subject to subpoena. One application is to detect bribery of politicians by correlating who they talk to, who they get contributions from, and their voting records. It should be possible to statistically demonstrate corruption with a specific confidence level using Bayesian statistics.

    Politicians need to be informed of this option.

  • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:24PM (#43928011)

    I've heard people say repeatedly that complaints about privacy make little sense in the age of Facebook. After all, the line goes, when people willingly share so much about themselves on the internet why should the government requesting phone logs matter? You've nothing to hide, do you? At least, nothing you've not already shared on Facebook.

    I've never joined Facebook because I find the whole system rather intrusive. But these days, being on FB is so expected that you can't even arrange an office party without having to confirm on FB. At some point it becomes a great inconvenience not being on FB. If I didn't dislike the hassle of FB (or its corporate) I might now even be willing to entertain the opposite of the above argument: When the government so regularly spies on all of your activities, no matter how private you might deem them, why should joining Facebook matter?

  • by pubwvj (1045960) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:24PM (#43928013)

    Because frankly, it isn't paranoia.

    Assume all communications are open to government, and corporate, snooping unless you're whispering in someone's ear, and pssst... between you and me, I don't trust you.

    • Thats not the problem. The problem is that our taxpayer money is going to the funding of this project and its being done by the wrong assholes and we are SANCTIONING it.

      There's a difference between a crooked street and a crooked street with a crooked cop on every corner that you were TAXED to fucking pay for. They have better places to spend this money. It is not keeping us safe. It is dividing the American public against each other and making people extremely pissed off and paranoid.

      It is costing you an ar

  • Spending (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The ultimate goal of any police state is merely to justify more spending and expand the business of government. Power and control are merely the stepping stones to riches, not a goal in itself. Many people have trouble accepting this, because they focus on the injustice and assume that injustice is the goal. Or they focus on the power and control and assume that power and control are the goals. Or they focus on the failures and assume that the "intentions" are correct but the "implementation" is wrong.

    On th

    • Re:Spending (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kilfarsnar (561956) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @04:19PM (#43930017)

      The ultimate goal of any police state is merely to justify more spending and expand the business of government. Power and control are merely the stepping stones to riches, not a goal in itself. Many people have trouble accepting this, because they focus on the injustice and assume that injustice is the goal. Or they focus on the power and control and assume that power and control are the goals. Or they focus on the failures and assume that the "intentions" are correct but the "implementation" is wrong.

      On the contrary, intentions are the smokescreen, power is the stepping stone, injustice is the "collaterage damage", and money is the goal.

      At a certain level, yes. But that is not the top level. Do you think a Rockefeller wants more money? Once you have multi-billions, it's not about the money anymore; you couldn't go broke if you tried. Once you're in the upper echelon it is very much about power and control. Haven't you ever wanted to remake the world as you see fit? There are some who operate at that level.

  • by mveloso (325617) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:26PM (#43928037)

    Metadata isn't data - it's data about your data. So it's not really subject to protection, because it's not what you're doing, it's information about what you're doing. It's not an illegal search, because we just want to know about what you're doing, not what you're actually doing. OK?

    It's not like we're listening in on your calls, we're just watching to whom and when you call. I mean, it's not like we're doing a database join to find out who's on the other end of the call. That would be an invasion of your privacy. It's just their phone number, IMEI, network identifier, and the start/end geopoints. That's OK. I mean if your parents were at home they could see your phone bill and see who you called too. So we're like your parents that way. We would't give that data to another agency either. Well, unless they asked for it. But they probably won't do that.

    So you see, you really have nothing to worry about. It's not a violation of your rights, it's a strengthening of your rights. Because like other government agencies, we only have your best interests at heart. Well other agencies that aren't the IRS. But you know what I mean.

    • The reason they need the metadata is to index the calls stored on the NSA system. They record everything, its not eavesdropping if you don't listen to it or process it. With the meta data they can tie individuals to time and data stream. Get it now? At anytime if they need decide to listen on a persons conversations, they search using the meta data.
  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:28PM (#43928053) Homepage Journal

    they joined the Verizon Share Everything plan.

  • by lesincompetent (2836253) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:31PM (#43928105)
    This large scale surveillance bullshit has been so useful against terrorism that nothing happened in Boston.
    They've built something which is demonstrably (unable || unwilling) to do its job.
    Whatever they say its job is.
    • This large scale surveillance bullshit has been so useful against terrorism that nothing happened in Boston.
      They've built something which is demonstrably (unable || unwilling) to do its job.
      Whatever they say its job is.

      I agree with your point, but I find making that argument a dangerous one. When you argue that their methods are ineffective, the implication is that if they were effective, it'd be justified. So they will come back with, "obviously what we're doing isn't enough, and we need to be able to do more."

      Instead we should get to the heart of the matter and point out that even if they could eliminate 100% of terrorism, it wouldn't be worth it to ignore our constitution to eliminate or reduce the already extremely

  • by sjbe (173966) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:32PM (#43928121)

    And now the Obama administration has defended the practice as a "critical tool."

    I might be willing to believe that if they would explain what they are doing and why and do so like we are all adults. Instead we get nonsense like the TSA claiming that someone is somehow going to blow up a plane with 4oz of liquid but it would be too dangerous to actually explain and details of this improbable threat to our safety. Frankly I just don't find their explanations (when they bother to provide them) satisfactory and so I'm forced to conclude that they are not acting in manner consistent with appropriate respect for my civil rights.

    If there is a genuine threat out there I expect our government to explain what they are doing and why in terms that a reasonable adult can understand. I'm willing to extend some amount of trust to our elected leaders but that trust has very sharp limits and is contingent on continued evidence that they are behaving in a rational and respectful manner. I've seen rather little of that in recent days.

    • by Jockle (2934767)

      satisfactory and so I'm forced to conclude that they are not acting in manner consistent with appropriate respect for my civil rights.

      If they were acting in a manner consistent with appropriate respect for our civil rights, the TSA wouldn't exist at all. Whether or not a 4oz liquid bomb can be made, freedom is more important than safety. The problem with your comment is that it almost seems as if you would be willing to give up your freedoms if it would truly keep you safe, and that absolutely should not be the case. Or maybe it just seemed that way, and you wouldn't actually do that, but I still feel the need to stress that point.

      I'm willing to extend some amount of trust to our elected leaders

      Given h

  • Surprise Surprise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzznutz (789413) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:35PM (#43928163)

    "As far as I know, this is the exact three-month renewal of what has been the case for the past seven years," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California. "This renewal is carried out by the FISA court under the business records section of the Patriot Act. Therefore it is lawful. It has been briefed to Congress."

    Finally, the truth wins out. All of us "gun lovers" have been trying to tell everyone that Dianne Feinstein is anti-freedom, anti-civil-rights, ant-privacy, and anti-American.

    • by fuzznutz (789413) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @02:41PM (#43928939)

      But former Vice President Al Gore summed up the feelings of many when he wrote on Twitter: "Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?"

      Al Gore, not exactly a great bastion of conservatism, makes a statement that this activity is "obscenely outrageous" and I get modded flamebait for noting that Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat and chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence is anti-civil-rights thinks that this is lawful and right. She applies the same curtailment logic on other rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

      Apparently, slashdotters think not all rights are created equal. Is your 4th amendment rights more valuable than my 2nd amendment rights?

  • Obama (Score:5, Informative)

    by codepunk (167897) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:51PM (#43928327)

    "You've grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that's at the root of all our problems," Obama said. "You should reject these voices. Because what these suggest is that somehow our brave, creative, unique experiment in self-rule is just a sham with which we can't be trusted."

  • Faith versus Reason (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @01:53PM (#43928353) Journal

    Some news sources have speculated that this program was related to the Boston Marathon Bombing [npr.org]. However The Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] sys that

    ... the order appears to be a routine renewal of a similar order first issued by the same court in 2006. The expert, who spoke on the condition
    of anonymity to discuss sensitive issues, said that the order is reissued routinely every 90 days and that it is not related to any particular investigation by the FBI or any other agency.

    This particular order was classified as Top Secret/NoForn/SI. The routine nature of the order was likewise highly classified.

    Ordinary people-- those not initiated into the orders of nobility associated with "clearances"-- cannot select their government based on real, verifiable information. They have no means to judge the effectiveness, or lack of effectiveness of their political candidates. Instead, they must have faith that their government is either incompetent, or competent.

    Do you believe that your government is doing its best to protect you? Surely its effectiveness would be diminished if carefully guarded secrets like this got out, and were use by enemies of the nation and of the state?

    Do you believe that the government is doing its best to cynically exploit the security apparatus for its own political benefit? Surely this is but the tip of the iceberg. Were it not for classification, the entire enterprise would be exposed as a cesspool of corruption and criminality.

    But in the absence of good solid, reliable data, both of these viewpoints can be freely adopted by any voter who chooses to have an opinion on the matter. Instead of a mass of peoples carefully using their judgements to select the good leaders over the bad, the entire electorate, kept in ignorance, has been reduced to flipping coins.

    Government, it seems, is to important to be left to the governed.

  • American Spring (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Phoenix666 (184391) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @02:03PM (#43928477)

    I'm a progressive. Not in the rebranded liberal sense, but in the T. Roosevelt, get your government and big business out of my business or I'll kick your ass sense. I don't oppose Obama because I'm a reflexive Tea Party guy who ridiculously, famously, calls him a muslim and radical Christian, socialist and fascist, at the same time.

    But the US government is beyond out of control. Elections don't matter. Courts don't matter. The press is as much the problem, as the problem itself. Every peaceful avenue for reform and redress has been shut off or co-opted. Meanwhile, the thieving classes, meaning the 1%, are doubling down on their behavior thinking that no one in the 99% will ever hold them to account.

    That means the clock is ticking for an American Spring. We are not hapless, disarmed Libyans. We are heavily armed Americans who have been raised from birth to believe we have a God-given right to be free. Those in the army are our brothers, sisters, and cousins. They are us. So if the 1% truly believe that they'll simply follow orders and drop napalm on the neighborhoods where their friends and family live, then they are due for an extremely rude awakening.

    Go ahead, 1%'ers, move all your wealth to the British Virgin Islands and secrete yourselves there. Much good it will do you. Justice is coming, it's coming very soon, and you have a giant target painted on your ass.

    YMMV

  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @02:06PM (#43928505)

    What if it IS a critical tool? Huh? What if it's a fact about the world that this is a critical tool and is being used in the way it should to be used?

    Is that possibility so counter to known reality that it should just be rejected out of hand the way you-all are doing ?

    Because most readers here are acting on the premise that it's a true fact about the world that it is NOT a critical tool.

    How did you acquire that certain knowledge about a set of facts in the world that you have no special knowledge of- the information contained in the President's PDBs?

    I don't think it's unrealistic to the world as I understand it. Even if today, it is strictly not necessary because , say, we are overestimating the capabilities terrorists, what about tomorrow?
    Nano-technology and artificial biology and genetic manipulation and high tech fabbing will come down to something close to the personal level sooner or later.

    Civil secular society doesn't WANT to use those things to cause mass casualties to civilians and destablize the modern world, but sooner or later the steady increase of destructive power and the steady decrease in the number of people and resources it takes to wield that destructive power will intersect at an unfortunate point and it will be wielded by Christian or Islamic religionists who place no value on the affairs of men but only live to fight an unseen war taking place on some cosmic plane.

    Then what?

    Be truly rational and entertain the notion in your mind as a hypothesis that there is now or will be shortly something about the world that makes this measure necessary to countering acts of mass terrorism. . Now. What SHOULD we do?

    We should have a national, open thorough, skeptical, informed and honest discussion across a wide range of topics around the security / privacy / liberty triad work out , aloud publicly and together what tradeoffs we're willing to endure and what ones we're not. What level of destruction and death and societal disruption we're collectively willing to endure and when - and if - that level ever becomes unacceptable.

    We need to talk about this consciously and on a national scale. We need to talk as a nation and be explicit and be formal and capture as well as we can what we'll do and not do BEFORE anything happens.

    Because what we have now is a strictly reactionary populace and to a degree government, who decides what the privacy liberty / security triad is going to look like right after and in response to terrorist events.

    The result is anything but solidarity and unity. The Government hides its actions from the People. The People don't trust their Government and impugn ulterior - nearly insane - motives and this is as true on the left as it is on the right.

    We are failing this national imperative. We are failing to plan and harden civil society for an inevitable war. We are at once protected, coddled and violated by our national security apparatus because it - and we - think we can't handle the truth.

    I would love to think America would lead here, but America rarely leads. It's what Churchill said America will always do the right thing after every other possibility has been exhausted.

    I think it has to be the EU that leads here. They are much more rational , less fanatically religious and absolutist in their world view , and inclined more towards collective action than the US.

    Someone somewhere has to start talking about this and someone in government needs to give that discussion the imprimatur of officialdom and lift it up. We have to do this because the alternative is structural, institutionalized extremism, borne in reaction to random events, fueled by reactionary impulses and finally codified into law.

    That is when civil society stats to break down, not because of a bomb or disease or anything else but because we permitted ourselves to continue exist in a fantasy land of 18th century perspectives and values until that fantasy was exploded and we had no idea how to carry on.

  • by gatkinso (15975) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @02:08PM (#43928535)

    So in actuality, they aren't "watching" at all.

  • The Real Story... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SuperCharlie (1068072) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @02:59PM (#43929147)
    I have all but stopped posting online and know without doubt that I am potentially being monitored at every opportunity, every transaction, every stoplight, fly over cameras.. ad nauseam. This is not new or news.

    What should be gained from this "story" is not the shoveling of data to the government. what you should ask yourself when you hear a blatant and obvious illegal and unconstitutional usurpation of rights is... why am I hearing this.

    Think about that for a bit and then realize what this "story" is about.

    For those who cant or wont make the logical leaps.. let me spell it out.

    This information is not some news scoop. If you dont think the US govt and mass media outlets can and do make information (and people for that matter) disappear then I envy your bliss.

    No, when you see these headlines, what you are seeing is a focused and intentional psychological exercise to let you know how it will be, not some lucky journalist who got the next big story. Look at it for what it is.. not what it is intended to do.
  • by kaptink (699820) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @03:37PM (#43929601) Homepage

    This has been going on at least since 2005 and its more than just phone call records - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A

    "Room 641A is located in the SBC Communications building at 611 Folsom Street, San Francisco, three floors of which were occupied by AT&T before SBC purchased AT&T.[1] The room was referred to in internal AT&T documents as the SG3 [Study Group 3] Secure Room. It is fed by fiber optic lines from beam splitters installed in fiber optic trunks carrying Internet backbone traffic[3] and, as analyzed by J. Scott Marcus, a former CTO for GTE and a former adviser to the FCC, has access to all Internet traffic that passes through the building, and therefore "the capability to enable surveillance and analysis of internet content on a massive scale, including both overseas and purely domestic traffic. Former director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group, William Binney, has estimated that 10 to 20 such facilities have been installed throughout the United States.[2]"

  • by mu51c10rd (187182) on Thursday June 06, 2013 @03:41PM (#43929647)

    I guess there is good reason to build this [gov1.info] in Utah. Once they start collecting the content and not just the databases...all that data must go somewhere.

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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