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The Courts United States Your Rights Online

Secret Court Upholds Phone Data Collection 174

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the resisting-is-hard dept.
cold fjord writes "The Houston Chronicle reports, 'A newly declassified opinion from the government's secret surveillance court says no company that has received an order to turn over bulk telephone records has challenged the directive. The opinion by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Claire Eagan, made public Tuesday, spells out her reasons for reauthorizing the phone records collection "of specified telephone service providers" for three months. ... 'Indeed, no recipient of any Section 215 order has challenged the legality of such an order, despite the explicit statutory mechanism for doing so.'" Relatedly, the UN Human Rights Council is discussing the surveillance situation.
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Secret Court Upholds Phone Data Collection

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  • No Surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sociocapitalist (2471722) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:17AM (#44883401)

    Why would a 'for profit' corporation go out of its way to protect the rights of consumers that don't even know they're having their privacy invaded to start with?

    USA needs to get rid of the secret courts.

    • Re:No Surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Entropius (188861) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:21AM (#44883473)

      As an American, I am way less worried about foreigners hurting me than my government hurting me, either directly, indirectly by restricting people I'd like to do business with, or by simply confiscating part of my income as taxes to do silly things.

      The check on a democratically-elected government to stop them from doing silly things is for the people to find out about it and vote the fuckers out. But we can't do this if we're not allowed to know...

      • But we can't do this if we're not allowed to know...

        Then you must always assume the worse. And vote out any politician that won't change the law... for what the that's worth. Try to consciously to use your voting power before crying that you don't have any.

        • Re:No Surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Cryacin (657549) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:39AM (#44883723)
          Too bad both sides subscribe to liking secret courts.
          • Re:No Surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

            by danbert8 (1024253) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:43AM (#44883769)

            Gee, if only there were more than two candidates running for any particular office... Oh wait, you wouldn't vote 3rd party because they don't have a chance right? That's just what they want you to think so they can maintain their power.

            • Re:No Surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Kookus (653170) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:51AM (#44883879) Journal

              Either that or it's because the 3rd party is bat$4:^ crazy as well.

              • Re:No Surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

                by AJH16 (940784) <aj @ g c c a fe.com> on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @10:03AM (#44884005) Homepage

                I realize this and still vote that way. Why? Because it will put fear of the people back in the main parties. Large scale abuse of power can only occur when people who are going to do the abusing are comfortable with their power. If they realize that they will lose the power if they abuse it too much, they don't abuse it. Showing politicians that we would prefer batshit crazy to abusively corrupt, it forces them back to the table.

                • Re:No Surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

                  by AJH16 (940784) <aj @ g c c a fe.com> on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @10:05AM (#44884027) Homepage

                  Put another way, honestly the best thing that someone like Ron Paul can do is get like 30 or 40% of the vote and make the parties that are made up of people that aren't fanatical to a fault realize that they need to change if they want to hold on to power. That way, you avoid the crazy people in power but still get the change that is needed. This was the realization that made me switch to voting third party. Winning doesn't matter, showing the amount of loss does.

                  • by hedwards (940851)

                    The last 3rd party candidate to do that was Roosevelt. The only person in my lifetime to get anywhere near that was Ross Perot. And even he wasn't able to crack 20% of the popular vote.

                    • by AJH16 (940784) <aj @ g c c a fe.com> on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @12:01PM (#44885137) Homepage

                      Exactly, that's why our system is currently going the way it is. People have bought in to the idea that voting for a third party means making it less likely to get their way, so they vote for one of the two people that will do the same basic things to take away freedoms and create more abuse of power. There is no incentive to try to do what people as a mass populace want when they are too busy fighting amongst each other to say that things need to change. The more people vote for a third party, the more it forces the major parties to play ball in the middle territory to try and reclaim those "lost" votes. My point was that third party votes actually do more to impact politics as a whole than voting for either party, but people seem to have forgotten that or fear what will happen if they don't vote for their guy.

              • Re:No Surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @10:25AM (#44884201)

                As long as one of the bat shit crazy things they do is make it easier for third parties to get in (and thus easier for themselves to get reelected), I find it a perfectly acceptable tradeoff to have the country run by someone completely insane for only 4 years. Are you sure that someone bat shit crazy would even be significantly worse than the current two parties?

              • Re:No Surprise (Score:4, Interesting)

                by mjr167 (2477430) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @10:37AM (#44884323)
                So if they won't win, you don't have to worry about them getting elected :) and you still get to send a FUCK YOU to the main parties... If enough people start voting for the crazies, then maybe the main parties will change their ways to woo you back.
            • by LoRdTAW (99712)

              We also need to get rid of the team mentality and eliminate the practice of forcing registered voters to pick a team and only be allowed to vote in their teams primary elections. Why should I be forced to align myself to a single party and then be restricted from voting for other candidates during primaries? Wouldn't it make more sense if I could vote as I see fit? What If I like both a certain Republican candidate and a certain Democrat candidate? I can choose my favorites for both primaries and in the fin

              • You don't have to affiliate with a single party if you don't want to, and it sure sounds like you don't want to. Many people, including myself, are registered independent (unaffiliated) voters. Changing your party affiliation in the US is as simple as filling out a voter registration form and selecting "no party" in the box that asks for your party enrollment/designation.

                • by dcw3 (649211)

                  YMMV. Every state registration is different. In Virginia, we don't have to declare at all.

                  • by Golddess (1361003)

                    In Virginia, we don't have to declare at all.

                    But if you do not declare, are you disallowed from voting in the primaries? As I understand it, in Maryland, if you do not declare a party affiliation, that is fine, but then you don't get to vote in the primaries.

              • In fact, the whole idea of "primaries" (which, as far as I know, do not exist outside of the U.S.) is inherently anti-democratic, and was created to give the early primary states an unfair advantage.
                Case in point: the only reason the U.S. is still promoting corn-based ethanol is because any politician who came out against it would be sure to lose the Iowa primary.
            • It isn't just that the 3rd party doesn't have a realistic chance. The problem is that voting for a 3rd party acts as a spoiler for the major party you most agree with. Casting a vote for a liberal 3rd party candidate is in reality casting 1/2 vote for the conservative main candidate - probably the person you LEAST want to win. Remember Bush vs Gore (+ Nader). Do you think the Nader voters got the result they wanted?

              Yes, its a prisoner's dilemma, if everyone suddenly decided that 3rd party candidates were vi

              • Re:No Surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @10:35AM (#44884299) Journal

                When one party is 99% evil, and the other party is 98% evil, the "spoiler effect" doesn't matter much. The only vote that actually matters is a protest vote.

              • You have to be willing to accept near-term losses in order to get long-term gains. Spoiling the 'less evil' party of your opinion may cause them to shift toward your preferred politics.
              • Re:No Surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @11:20AM (#44884713)

                This is sooo obscenely naive and short-sighted. We will NEVER escape from the two-party stranglehold with thinking like this. Spoiling an election (or even a couple of them) would be totally worth breaking the duopoly in the long term. Anyone who tells you otherwise is making two obvious mistakes:

                1) They are blinded to the overwhelming similarities between the two major parties. Yes, there are differences on some very philosophically significant issues, but when it comes to the actual running of the country, you'll realize those "big" differences amount to a small fraction of actual decisions made. You then see that they drastically overestimate the difference achieved by switching to a govt dominated by the other party.

                2) They underestimate the inertia of our massive government organization. Billions of dollars and millions of participants require extraordinary vision, planning and execution to pull off sweeping changes even in a system that lacks checks and balances. In our system of checks and balances, dramatic changes can take decades and/or massive cultural/technological change to back them up. Those who fear "so-and-so will ruin our country" dramatically underestimate what it takes to do so.

                Both our current problems and our current strengths are unlikely to be dramatically altered in just a term or two of the "wrong guy in office". So stop trying to optimize short-term gains and starting voting for some long-term restructuring of the system.

                There is no way in hell that two parties with so much in common can serve as anything remotely representative of our geographically and demographically complex nation. WE DESPERATELY NEED A SYSTEM OF POLITICS WITH HIGHER RESOLUTION. I'm thinking, probably, no political parties with more than 15-20% support and plenty of viable ones in the 5-10% range, requiring coalitions on legislation and executive candidates. Of course, it would also be fantastic to restore the House of Representatives to its proper ratio to the population. Locking it at around ~430 has proven disastrous and made them very non-representative.

                • No, his explanation of the reality of the situation is not naive. Naive is thinking you can just wish that reality away.

                • by thrich81 (1357561)

                  Damn, I hate to wade into this, but -- does anyone think that the US response to the 9/11 attacks would have been to invade Iraq if Gore had been president? That's one example of a huge difference between the candidates we were offered at the time. Sure, there are issues where the major parties are close, but there are occasional big differences also.

              • by Fjandr (66656)

                No it doesn't. If I don't have a decent third-party candidate to vote for, I will write someone in before voting Republocrat.

                The spoiler argument is for those who don't understand why people vote third-party.

                • by danbert8 (1024253)

                  The problem is, write ins aren't counted. Voting for a third party is the only way to count a vote against the two main parties. And it doesn't even matter which 3rd party you vote for since as mentioned previously, none of them have a chance at winning. The point of the third party vote is not to get a third party elected, but to force the two major parties to change to try to attract the voters so frustrated with the parties that they aren't willing to vote for either.

          • Too bad you ignore the other candidates on the ballot because you feel safer trying to stay in the middle of the herd.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          In many cases the other guy is even worse than the incumbent. Granted this is a huge issue, but it's hardly the only issue. The same Libertarians that are usually standing up to this stuff are also the same Libertarians that are for abolishing various workers' rights and generally deregulating things.

          That's your typical alternative.

          Bottom line is that until the states take away the right of the parties to handle their own nominations and the right of the ruling party to draw the districting lines, this isn'

          • by thrich81 (1357561)

            " the states take away the right of the parties to handle their own nominations and the right of the ruling party to draw the districting lines, this isn't likely to change" -- as you probably know, California, the most populous state in the nation, effectively did that in 2010 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Citizens_Redistricting_Commission) so maybe there is hope. Cue the CA bashers but I can't see them (legitimately) spin this recent electoral reform in a bad way.

      • The check on a democratically-elected government to stop them from doing silly things is for the people to find out about it and vote the fuckers out.

        Nice idea. But democracies specialize in creating majorities with different (divergent) interests, and thus no consensus on any single issue, which means that (a) issues fights are perpetual and (b) there's less actual oversight of government.

        • The check on a democratically-elected government to stop them from doing silly things is for the people to find out about it and vote the fuckers out.

          Nice idea. But democracies specialize in creating majorities with different (divergent) interests, and thus no consensus on any single issue, which means that (a) issues fights are perpetual and (b) there's less actual oversight of government.

          On the other hand, when pluralities are fighting it out, there's less opportunity for a government to ram through extreme measures. You have to form a coalition first.

      • Re:No Surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bacon Bits (926911) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @10:38AM (#44884333)

        As an American, I am way less worried about foreigners hurting me than my government hurting me, either directly, indirectly by restricting people I'd like to do business with, or by simply confiscating part of my income as taxes to do silly things.

        This is something I wish more Americans would remember. Our founding fathers didn't fear terrorism. They feared tyranny.

      • This now seems absolutely critical to the national defense, since the GOPTP has decided to ally itself with Al Qieda in a combined effort to bring down the US government and economy.

    • I'm wondering who benefits the most from the existence of these secret courts, secret surveillance programs and never-ending war on terror. Is the answer really as simple as "certain well-connected corporations?" I'm curious to know more details about the structure of the real government of the US (not the puppets in office).
    • Me, myself and I all met and agreed what we're doing is just fine.

    • Why would a 'for profit' corporation go out of its way to not do something the goverment which it can charge for?

      I suspect if the goverment didn't pay for this data, we'd see a bunch of lawsuits to "protect the rights of consumers."

  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:19AM (#44883419)

    Is the U.S. in a constant state of emergency? If so, why?

    "Orwellian" is an overused term, but it applies here. The state in 1984 has extraordinary powers because it's in a constant war/state of emergency.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:28AM (#44883565)

      We've been under a constant state of emergency [wikipedia.org] since 1995. That's almost 20 years. This is shameful.

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        While I understand that the US has a major panic problem, those seem to be trade embargoes pushed through on the premise of an emergency, and not the kinds of states of emergency that are causing us problems here and now.

      • by N0Man74 (1620447)

        We've been under a constant state of emergency [wikipedia.org] since 1995. That's almost 20 years. This is shameful.

        I feel ashamed that I didn't even realize that fact until I read your comment... wow...

    • I agree on both the overuse of "Orwellian" and the appropriateness here. I think we can safely say Godwin's Law is pretty much invalidated at this point as well when discussing the federal government.

    • Well, it's sort of like this XKCD cartoon: http://xkcd.com/149/ [xkcd.com]

      Except instead of "Sudo make me a sandwich", the response is "Make me a sandwich or the terrorists win." Then give knowledge of this to lawmakers and others in positions of power who want certain legislation passed. As long as they can "elevate permissions" via the "terrorist command", this will continue.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sort of. The United States Government has been taken over by the New World Order, over many decades. They truely represent the filthy rich olagarchy with goals to establish a one world governmnet, a one world money system and all under the control of a few. They are doing this now, because the economy is collapsing to the point they are unable to stop it, and it provides the most oportune time.

      In order to make that happen, they need to convert America into a fascist police state, along with most other c

  • not surprising. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nimbius (983462) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:19AM (#44883425) Homepage

    when faced with the option of complying with federal law or challenging it, im willing to guess most major corporations that butter their bread with federal dollars would be reluctant to question so much as the color of the stamp on the envelope in which the request was delivered.

    • Of course they do!

      The patriot act includes a stick and a carrot.

      First, the carrot: The government "shall pay to the person or entity assembling or providing such information a fee for reimbursement for such costs as are reasonably necessary and which have been directly incurred in searching for, assembling, reproducing, or otherwise providing such information. Such reimbursable costs shall include any costs due to necessary disruption of normal operations of any electronic communication service or remote

  • Well, duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paiute (550198) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:19AM (#44883427)
    My experience with telephone companies tells me that their only response upon receiving such an order would be to figure out how to pass along double the costs of it to me and if it ever became public tell me it was an upgrade.
  • No Surprise (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:19AM (#44883431)

    We are cattle. When they want us for dinner they will come calling.

    Our government is so far out of hand that I don't recognize it anymore.

  • Yahoo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arbiterxero (952505) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:21AM (#44883469)

    So is the Secret Court lying, or is Yahoo's Marissa, google, lavabit and a handful of other companies that supposedly challenged their compliance lying?

    because someone is, and my guess is the people that are running the 'secret' courts are lying.

    • Re:Yahoo (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ebrandsberg (75344) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:27AM (#44883543)

      Phone records. I don't think Yahoo or Google is a phone company in the sense AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile are. As others have pointed out, there is no reason for them to challenge these orders, as they a) get paid for the costs of complying (from what I understand), b) the orders themselves are classified, so no real risk (until now) of people knowing what is going on and c) it would cost them money to challenge. The entire system is stacked against privacy.

      • Given that these companies have a fiduciary duty to shareholders, can the even legally challenge orders like this without exposing themselves to liability?

        • by chihowa (366380)

          Unless the actions are grossly negligent or deliberately malicious, there's no liability assumed by failing to make as much profit in the short term as possible. The practice of prioritizing short term gains over long term viability doesn't come from any legal obligation.

          Public knowledge of this whole thing, and the fallout and lost business from that, will likely end up costing more than the legal fees involved in fighting this.

    • Re:Yahoo (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thoromyr (673646) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:28AM (#44883567)

      I differ. The secret court does not have clear reason to have lied: this information comes from revelation of secret court documents, not a PR statement itself.

      OTOH, Yahoo, Google, etc., all have a vested interest in lying to the public in order to assert some damage control. The statements from these individuals were definitively PR and, as such, can reasonably be expected to put as much spin as necessary to put them in the best possible light. I'm not saying they were bad for doing so (though I'm not saying they weren't...), that is a function of their *job*.

      As others have noted, why would they contest it? Anyone who gets federal monies is susceptible to federal manipulation. Look at the so-called "Higher Education Opportunities Act" which uses the threat of witholding federal funding to exert control over universities. Or the use of federal funds to require a speed limit on interstates.

      • by thoromyr (673646)

        You got me: I was too quick to respond. The secret court documents were (according to the summary) about bulk telephone records. Those guys were already granted immunity and it is well known that they cooperated fully. Oh, except for Qwest I think. Which simply never complied and did not contest through the mechanism. So the court records match up with other known facts.

        Yahoo, Google, etc., do not hold telephone records. Well, I suppose google might after google voice, but those calls would be routed throug

      • by DeadCatX2 (950953)

        this information comes from revelation of secret court documents, not a PR statement itself.

        I believe I read that this declassified opinion from FISC was written *after* the Snowden documents were leaked. So we cannot actually be too sure that this opinion was not written as a matter of PR.

  • by hessian (467078) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:24AM (#44883519) Homepage Journal

    Here's the deal:

    Either you go along with our investigation, and hand over all your data on everyone, or we investigate you.

    We'll come in, confiscate a few vital servers, demand all your documents, interview all your staff.

    This will shut down your business and cost you tens of thousands of dollars or more, but that's not our concern.

    So which do you want -- rat out your customers, or get shut down?

    Sincerely,
    The Government

  • by ehack (115197) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:26AM (#44883535) Journal

    If none of the tech-savvy phone corps objected to turning over bulk data, when the process gave them that opportunity, one can conclude that Americans are mostly happy to the surveillance, probably because it gives them an illusion of safety.

    I have a tip for our sheepish friends: Appoint a dictator, totalitarian regimes are much better at policing than democracies.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      American's "appointed leaders" prefer the illusion of security over freedom.

      FTFY

  • by wcrowe (94389) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:27AM (#44883549)

    Wow. That statement sounds like something that could have been written by the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union back in the 1970s.

    • by MRe_nl (306212)

      "The opinion by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Lavrenty Beria, made public Tuesday, spells out his reasons for reauthorizing the phone records collection "of specified telephone service providers" for three months. ... "Indeed, no recipient of any Section 215 order has challenged the legality of such an order, despite the explicit statutory mechanism for doing so."

      Supreme Court of the Soviet Union, 1938.

      Yep, that statement doesn't just "sound" Stalinist.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:30AM (#44883603)

    I know it is popular to blame the phone companies here, but don't forget what the government did to Qwest. [eff.org] The CEO of Qwest stood up to the government and said "NO." They put him in prison for insider trading because he sold shares months before the government canceled classified contracts in retaliation.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And he is a hero for standing up to that. And let that be a lesson to everybody, that it's still not okay to just go along with government illegal activity, but instead one must remember they are a bunch of gangsters, that are violating the law, all in the NAME of the law.

      They play their games, and we play ours. If government does not stand behind the law, then they do not have the weight of law, and we the people have no obligation to it either.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:34AM (#44883641)

    It also says that FISA court believed that Congress has been told about the programs, when they voted to renew it. However we learn that this is not true. Congress members were kept in the dark by Mike Rogers (Michigan's rep).

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130917/14032124558/fisa-court-pretends-congress-actually-was-told-details-bulk-surveillance-even-though-it-wasnt.shtml

    FISA court thought one thing, and NSA's stooge Mike Rogers of Michigan decided Congress should be kept in the dark and vote based on lies. So the court voted to uphold it.

    Curious how secrecy can be leveraged into laws by these creeps. The Telco's are not the ones being spied on, so they're not the 'protagonist' in any lawsuit. Worse they make a good profit from the NSA, so they're more like NSA contractors, paid to spy on Americans. Hardly likely to complain!

    • by JigJag (2046772)

      MOD PARENT UP, even if it's from AC. Very informative

    • by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @11:59AM (#44885125)

      The Telco's are not the ones being spied on, so they're not the 'protagonist' in any lawsuit.

      That's the first thing I thought the court meant. That since nobody who was being secretly spied upon protested, the secret spying could continue. Of course, if someone who was being secretly spied upon DID protest, they would first have to prove standing - that they were secretly being spied upon - without having access to any classified materials which proved they were being spied upon... An impossible task which ensures that nobody can challenge the law.

  • by DigitalSorceress (156609) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:46AM (#44883801)

    The sad reality is that you should assume that any electronic communication you make - any electronic transaction you're a part of - is at least ~able~ to be read by the NSA if not actively being seen.

    Now, from a practical standpoint, chances are that unless you're being explicitly targeted by federal agencies or law enforcement, no human being is actively looking at YOUR records.. but they ~could~.

    However, it chills me to the bone that our government has and uses that power and the potential for abuse is massive... I really do feel that our government has seriously crossed the line... and we the people ~let it happen~... hell, a large number of us (I was not one of them, but I use "us" collectively) screamed to congress in September 2001 "DO SOMETHING" and they did.

    The only way this can stop is if the American people decide that the level of surveillance and eavesdropping is unacceptable and demand that it stop. We need to elect lawmakers that value our privacy and freedom and we need to vote out those who would trade our essential liberties for security theater.

    We did this to ourselves, and we are the only ones who can stop it... by speaking loud and strong that we DO NOT WANT.

    • by FridayBob (619244)

      Agree. I would even go so far as to say that 9/11 may actually have been a conspiracy... by the Bush administration to ignore Richard A. Clarke and others who were sounding the alarm before that fateful day, precisely so as to end up where we are now.

      The question is how to turn this situation around. In theory this is possible simply by electing honest people to represent us in the federal government, but the root of the problem is that 95% of the time the candidate with the most money is the one that ge

      • by dcw3 (649211)

        I would even go so far as to say that 9/11 may actually have been a conspiracy

        You lost all credibility right there. No point in reading anything else posted by you, ever.

        Please pull your head out of your anus.

        • by HiThere (15173)

          No, he didn't. There is reasonable evidence that the government either knew, or had reason to know, about "something like" the 9/11 event before it happened. And interestingly within a couple of days they had authorizing legislation in front of congress that essentially authorized much of the current police state.

          So. Maybe they knew. They definitely had reason to know, as they were informed both by FBI agents and by foreign intelligence agencies that an event was coming, and about when. The FBI even id

  • I'm confused.

    Were the corporations expected to challenge this? Is that how the system works?

    I thought the courts enforced the law, by disallowing blatantly illegal procedures.

    Does this mean that anything not specifically challenged is OK?

    • by Cassini2 (956052) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @10:32AM (#44884253)

      In America (and Canada, Britain, and Australia) the law is based on an adversarial legal process. If everyone is friends, then this process doesn't really work. Theoretically, the government isn't supposed to be friends with anyone. The founding father's never trusted government, and hence they built in safeguards to protect the country from tyranny. Today's situation where the government is closely linked to large corporations is a new and different form of tyranny. Unfortunately, this was not invisaged when the founding father's wrote the constitution, and hence the courts are not set up to deal with it.

    • Yes, they were supposed to challenge this.

      However, challenging it is treason. http://tech.slashdot.org/story/13/09/12/228239/yahoo-ceo-says-it-would-be-treason-to-decline-to-cooperate-with-the-nsa

      Therefore, since nobody challenged it, it is just fine to do.

      (This ends our lesson in Secret Court Logic. Any resemblance to Real World Logic is completely accidental and will be fixed immediately.)

  • Civil liberties? What's that?

    "I am above the law!"

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @10:07AM (#44884049) Journal

    They work for the government, not the people, even when they pretend that they're "judges". The FISA court is not a court of law, it is an unconstitutional rubber-stamp that only exists to allow criminals to pretend to themselves that they're not violating their oath.

    A "secret cout" is very clearly prohibited by the bill of rights.

    -jcr

  • I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel so much better about my government violating my 4th amendment rights six ways from sunday as long as the phone companies aren't challenging it, as told by a secret court.

    Whew!

  • by jfischersupercollid (99938) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @10:38AM (#44884337)
    Except for Joseph Nacchio of Qwest, who openly defied the NSA in 2002, and demanded a court order. He was then prosecuted for "insider trading" for selling some stock just before the US government pulled all Qwest's contracts as revenge for helping to expose the program of illegal surveillance. Nacchio was a hero, and no one even noticed. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-nsa_x.htm [usatoday.com]
    • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @03:36PM (#44887629)

      " Nacchio was a hero, and no one even noticed."

      I did.

      And, if he ever runs for office (don't care which one) in a district I can legally vote, he has my vote. Same goes for Ladar Levison (Lavabit). When it comes to politicians, actions are all that matters--what they say can no longer be trusted. Granted, these guys are not politicians, but as far as I am concerned they've already met the requirement for pretty much any position they could hold in government, that requirement being at least a scrap of social-responsibility and morality.

  • The courts and judges are part of the same system as the NSA and the president and the congress, whose political goal is the defense of capitalism. When their core interests are threatened there are no laws that can keep them from doing whatever they think they need to do to stay in power. The courts will put a "legal" seal of approval on it. As Malcolm X so insightfully pointed out many years ago--you can't rely on any part of the government to protect your rights. Not Congress, not the White House, no
  • nobody fights it because everyone who has gets shut down by the government. lavabit anyone?
    • by HiThere (15173)

      Lavabit wasn't shutdown by the government. He shut down to avoid violating his customers trust. The government didn't WANT him to shut down, they wanted him to secretly open up.

      • by Xicor (2738029)
        yea, but then they opened up criminal charges against the owner for shutting down instead of doing what they wanted him to do
  • Does this mean that one may use this precedent as a defense when one publishes the campaign damaging phone records of the politically elite? If there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, then why not?
  • Let's suppose for a second that Yahoo's CEO was telling the truth when she said that refusing to comply with the NSA was treason [slashdot.org]. Now suppose you run an ISP (or any other business for that matter) and you are approached by the NSA. Chances are they aren't going to ask politely whether they can spy on your network/customers. Instead, they'll order you to comply with threats of treason, expensive lawsuits, having your business shut down, etc. if you don't immediately fall in line. Anyone who pushes back a

  • Of course they're not going to protest the Federales wishes if the threat of money loss / promise of money gain is on the line.
    Even now, these money-grubbing cowards still have to band together in a large colony to try and construct an artificial spine.

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