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NSA App Ideas To Popularize Spying and Big Data 78

Posted by timothy
from the please-don't dept.
reifman writes "Perhaps the reason the NSA's surveillance programs are so unpopular with Americans is that we haven't seen any of the potential consumer benefits that spying and big data can provide. Here are ten ideas for the productization and monetization of the NSA's spying infrastructure to inspire Americans to consider the bright side of the dark arts." In case anyone doesn't notice, these suggestions (at least most of them) are presented tongue-in-cheek; a truly secure email system, though, is another story.
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NSA App Ideas To Popularize Spying and Big Data

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  • Ideas to sell this? Here's a few... 1. The constitution, the foundation and framework of law on which the nation (and all conceptually contained within it) was built upon forbids it. 2. Communism or the many shades of it shouldn't be a real big seller in the U.S. unless we'd like to see Jewish barbeques or some other race on the grill depending upon the bar code series tat on your wrist. 3. See #1.
  • For a small monthly fee, you can retrieve your company e-mails directly from the NSA. Although this will not help with the fact that your "politically connected" competitor will soon inevitably put you out of business due to having all your trade secrets, it does simplify remembering the e-mail address of that guy you think might want to buy the office furniture.
  • by djupedal (584558) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @11:30PM (#45185349)
    Here are ten ideas on how to spend the money that should be taken away from the NSA. . .
    1.) Buy as much bacon as possible before the Chinese decide they need it all for themselves.
    2.) I lied about ten, well, because bacon.
  • by Megahard (1053072) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @11:40PM (#45185391)

    So they can intercept and fulfill requests for slashdotted articles.

    • So they can intercept and fulfill requests for slashdotted articles.

      I'm not so sure. The NSA may be watching us all masturbate via our webcams, but they're still a government agency, and as such there are certain standards they must abide by regarding government services provided...

      "NSACloud(tm) is currently experiencing a high volume of freedom requests. Your freedom is very important to us. Please remain in the queue and your request will be granted in the order we think it should. Thank you for your patience, Citizen." (cheesy muzzac starts playing on the webpage)

  • Unpopular? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EvilSS (557649) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @11:40PM (#45185393)
    "Perhaps the reason the NSA's surveillance programs are so unpopular with Americans..."

    Um, I don't think this is really true. So far we haven't seen a real push back on the NSA programs by the general public. It's one of the things that scares the crap out of me about the whole situation: Joe Sixpack and Lisa Liberal don't seem to care.
    • Re:Unpopular? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 21, 2013 @12:25AM (#45185527)

      "Perhaps the reason the NSA's surveillance programs are so unpopular with Americans..."

      Um, I don't think this is really true. So far we haven't seen a real push back on the NSA programs by the general public. It's one of the things that scares the crap out of me about the whole situation: Joe Sixpack and Lisa Liberal don't seem to care.

      I know its a bit of an over reaction to draw the connection, but that is the same thing that scared me so much about The Holocaust. Something clearly preventable, and obviously bad being done by a government, but very few of the citizens are doing anything about it. Our american students are sitting in their history classes being told how the Germans failed to prevent the Holocaust, and thus we need to be careful about such things, while our government is doing blatantly immoral things (of drastically less severity) that no one is caring about. I don't care if congress has a 10% approval rating; just saying you don't approve isn't going to stop this (especially given that its another branch of government doing a power grab. Oh where have we seen that before...)

      What are we suppose to do? I sent money to the EFF, and I tell everyone I know. I'd consider joining some protests, but there arn't any. Maybe I should be writing my congressmen? Does that actually work?

      I'm a software engineer, and I'm been teaching myself cryptography. I try to design governmental/representative and electoral systems in my free time. I really don't think I can accomplish much though. Maybe propaganda campaigns like this app will help, but I fear not. So much is so wrong, and I just don't know what to do. What can we do?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I don't mean to depress you or kill your hopes, but as someone that has been doing the writing to representative routine for years now. No it doesn't work, I've never once received a personal response and at best was subscribed to their spam mail list. Something more needs to be done.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I know its a bit of an over reaction to draw the connection, but that is the same thing that scared me so much about The Holocaust. Something clearly preventable, and obviously bad being done by a government, but very few of the citizens are doing anything about it. Our american students are sitting in their history classes being told how the Germans failed to prevent the Holocaust, and thus we need to be careful about such things, while our government is doing blatantly immoral things (of drastically less severity) that no one is caring about. I don't care if congress has a 10% approval rating; just saying you don't approve isn't going to stop this (especially given that its another branch of government doing a power grab.

        Oh, the low approval rating is a good match for the parliament at the times of the Weimar Republic. That was the basic situation giving the National Socialists the ability to push through the PATRIOT act, excuse me, I mean the Ermächtigungsgesetz putting aside major parts of the constitution. They subsequently implemented the CIA, excuse me, the Gestapo which would kidnap and kill people without due process. They had concentration camps in Guantanamo, excuse me, in Poland, where they used "enhanced

        • by n1ywb (555767)
          I invoke Godwin's Law [wikipedia.org]. As horrible as some of the stuff our government does is, there is no mass incarceration or genocide period end of story. Comparing a few terrorists in Gitmo to Auschwitz is asinine.
          • by cellocgw (617879)

            I invoke Godwin's Law. As horrible as some of the stuff our government does is, there is no mass incarceration or genocide period yet end of story.

            FTFY.

            BTW, there's significant evidence that other nations had a reasonable inkling of what was going on -- read some of the history books on IBM's explicit involvement in tagging and rounding up Jews. Not that Jews were particularly welcome in the USA either back then.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        To be fair the fact that millions of Jews were being murdered was not common knowledge at the time. The government was aware of how extreme it was and kept it quiet for fear of a blacklash or that it might encourage other countries to join the war against them.

        • by MrL0G1C (867445)

          If you knew the govt was killing Jewish people, coloured people, gays, unionists etc, ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holocaust#Non-Jewish [wikipedia.org] ) you'd think hard about adding yourself to the list, most people don't wish to be martyrs.

        • by Megol (3135005)
          Maybe (historians disagree). However what is known and documented is that the majority of Germans did know of the mass execution of civilians in Poland and Russia/the Soviet union. This partly as ordinary soldiers sometimes was ordered into the execution units and more commonly because German civilians did witness the executions as a form of entertainment. Again this is well documented e.g. from recorded conversations from German prisoners of war and other sources. Is it then a large step to go from knowing
      • As a German-born American, I've been following this with that very eye. And it scares the hell out of me that my countrymen here in the US do nothing. We revolted against Britain for far less.

    • Re:Unpopular? (Score:4, Informative)

      by reifman (786887) on Monday October 21, 2013 @12:57AM (#45185669) Homepage
      Agree at some level but I was following this EFF report https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/10/polls-continue-show-majority-americans-against-nsa-spying [eff.org] "For instance in an AP poll, nearly 60 percent of Americans said they oppose the NSA collecting data about their telephone and Internet usage. In another national poll by the Washington Post and ABC News, 74 percent of respondents said the NSA's spying intrudes on their privacy rights."
      • ... For instance in an AP poll, nearly 60 percent of Americans said they oppose the NSA collecting data about their telephone and Internet usage ...

        Even if 99% of the Americans say they oppose it still doesn't matter.

        Saying is NOTHING.

        What is need right now is for Americans to ACT.

        But are we seeing the Americans doing anything ?

        Nope.

        As long as MOST of the Americans remain complacent and do NOTHING, them fuckers gonna take advantage of the it and will conjure up much more despicable stuffs in order to "keep us safe from ourselves".

        • Show me the people of your country doing something about it, and I will take your US bashing seriously.
          In my country we are worse off and people has no way to "act". It's easy to make demands for others, but how about "acting" yourself? You might be known as a "hero" and everything.
          Your post is also "saying", by the way. By your definition, it's "NOTHING".

    • Learned helplessness (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Okian Warrior (537106) on Monday October 21, 2013 @01:05AM (#45185691) Homepage Journal

      Joe Sixpack and Lisa Liberal don't seem to care.

      Some people have been studying the phenomenon of "upheval" in it's generic form. It's spawned a lot of studies/papers and even popular books, viz: The Tipping Point [google.com].

      The overall summary is that you can't just point out how bad something is, you have to give people an action they can take to help fix the problem.

      There is widespread distrust, anger, and annoyance at the NSA due to the revelations. There's no public outrage because there's really nothing anyone can do. "Joe Sixpack" has no actions to take: voting doesn't help, writing congresscritters doesn't help, even public mass demonstrations don't seem to help. What you are seeing is Learned Helplessness [wikipedia.org]: an animal doesn't take actions to help themselves, because they're convinced that the actions will have no effect.

      Consider the recent history of cell phones or music distribution: people were complaining that cell phones were a walled ecology with no innovation and poor functionality. You had to get carrier approval to run a program on a cell phone, and they would only allow the simplest, meager functionality. You were lucky if your carrier allowed you to have tetris.

      People complained that if you wanted music, you had to purchase a physical CD, for an ensemble collection and for an exorbitant fee. Usually you had to purchase an entire CD for a single song you liked.

      As soon as an option was given, people flocked to the new systems in droves, uptake was very fast.

      Make secure E-mail easy to use with trivial installation and the situation will change overnight. There will be a flood of new users.

      Everyone hates the situation, but for most people there's nothing they can do about it.

      • People complained that if you wanted music, you had to purchase a physical CD, for an ensemble collection and for an exorbitant fee. Usually you had to purchase an entire CD for a single song you liked. As soon as an option was given, people flocked to the new systems in droves, uptake was very fast.

        Seems to me the "option" was withdrawn when we moved from records to CD's but then it was returned, ie: a business plan glitch in the transition from records to downloaded mp3's.. My own kids that grew up in 80's/90's paid little or no attention to top 40 lists, what was the point when you couldn't buy the single to play at home?

        I think that financially speaking they shot themselves in the foot with the rush to digital albums. As kids in the 60's / 70's we used to visit the record shop every Friday to pi

      • by couchslug (175151)

        "There's no public outrage because there's really nothing anyone can do."

        Nothing convenient and safe. The inconvenience of being surveilled isn't sufficient for any of the public to give up their freedom in return for (hypothetical example) kneecapping politicians. Since politicians only respect what they fear, and the public won't sacrifice to put them in fear, the elites win.

        After OK City, there were no more "Randy Weaver" or "Branch Davidian incidents". I'm not advocating such acts, but pointing out that

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well...in terms of going out and demonstrating, no. But background, I'm a health care provider. In my office new patients are required to sign a receipt that they have been offered a copy of my privacy policy, part of HIPPA. I've been doing this for over 10 years. In the past few years I added a new section on email. It informs patient that if they want to use email to make appointments or for minor communication they can, but email is not secure and there can be no expectation of privacy. Pre-Snowden

  • The /. article said you had 10 ways, now you have 503 ways.

    Now where is the "next" button? I'm only seeing method #1, "guru meditation."

    In case anyone doesn't notice, these sentences (at least most of them) are presented tongue-in-cheek; a meditation of a guru, though, is another story.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 20, 2013 @11:51PM (#45185429)

    The NSA will eventually get so good with its data collection algorithms that it will be able to know what you will write, 2 posts in advance. This will doubtfully create a sentient internet with our collective conscious.

    • Cool, communist genocide doesn't seem so bad if they don't really need us anyway, they will speak for us, oh wait, they already do that.
  • If want some sympathy, don't look outside. The future of the country is on stake by the actions of the ones that are in power. So, spy on all of them, report to the public (and justice) any misbehavior, bribe, abuse, etc and that threat could be subverted. After all working for america is not working for some particular rich guys but for all its citizens.
  • by reifman (786887) on Monday October 21, 2013 @01:10AM (#45185725) Homepage
    If you're having trouble seeing the live site, you can view the article here in the google cache: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://jeffreifman.com/2013/10/20/ten-ways-to-make-nsa-spying-popular-with-americans/?sdot [googleusercontent.com]
  • I didn't feel very jokey-jokey about the subject, so I decided to write a short story for the treasonous bastards of the NSA. Hope you like it assholes, hope it makes you think about what the future will bring. I am channeling Phillip K. Dick today. Or perhaps I was inspired by this [youtube.com].

    ________

    LAST WISH

    It was a bright little office with an official seal and large letters on the door: The Pact. A hole in the wall really. A series of blurred young faces, documents to sign. A ten minute 'psych' interview with po

  • Can't read the article (server slashdotted?), but, since they have the data-center anyway, I suggest they start a "free" social network, a "free" web-based email service, and a "free" search engine.

  • here is TFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gravis Zero (934156) on Monday October 21, 2013 @05:54AM (#45186585)

    it's just a blog post so...

    Ten Ways to Make NSA Spying Popular with Americans

    posted by REIFMAN OCTOBER 20,2013 in FEATURED, HUMOR

    With a more entrepreneurial focus, the NSA could easily counteract the current unpopularity of its surveillance programs and eliminate concerns over the cost of its multi-billion dollar programs.

    Here are ten services the NSA could offer to make its spying more popular with Americans and offset the costs of its massive data collection:

    1. Make flying easier. Since the NSA knows who the terrorists are, it can generate proceeds from “Not a Terrorist” badges which allow the wearer to bypass security screenings. For an additional fee, it will text you ahead of time if you’re booked in the middle seat between two lumberjacks.

    2. Simplifying tax time. Since the NSA knows everything about our finances and credit card transactions, it will file your return with the IRS. Never be audited again.

    3. Data recovery. Lose your phone? The NSA will restore your contact list. Hard drive fail? No worries, the NSA will rebuild it from the cloud.

    4. Avoid annoying people. The NSA’s new mobile app will help you identify and avoid specific people. Is that chatty coworker in the restroom? Know before you go. Never run into your ex again.

    5. Find your teenager. Kid out past curfew? AT&T and Verizon won’t help? Don’t guess. The NSA’s mobile app will pinpoint your teenager on a moment’s notice.

    6. Private investigations. Is the guy you’re dating married? Is your spouse having an affair? There’s no need to hire a private investigator. The NSA will monitor the activities of those around you and email you if there’s anything you should know.

    7. Improving relationships. Need to playback that conversation with your partner from 3 days ago where they’d agreed to cancel dinner reservations with your mom? No problem, the NSA audio cloud (built in to iOS and Android) will make it easy to retrieve.

    8. Unlimited remote access to data. Out of dropbox space? Need a file from home or from your ex-boyfriend’s computer? No problem, the NSA’s cloud file store has it.

    9. Access to medical records. Need to lookup an x-ray for your doctor? Want genetic testing reports on your date? The NSA mobile app has that too.

    10. Truly secure email services. Using email encryption is hard, a surveillance-free email service would be super popular right now.

    If you have more ideas for the NSA, with the hashtag #NSAapps.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      11 just in - Really piss off the entire population of France. That would get most of the USA on side since they went from loving the place in the 1980s as partners in the foundation of the USA to the disgust, hatred and "freedom fires" bullshit that exists now for some reason.
      Mexico isn't very happy with the NSA today either but with the French it's personal (millions of personal phone calls recorded from nearly everyone in France that used a phone last December).
  • I was at the hospital recently to get an HIV blood test. After I paid, the lady said I could go home. I said "But nobody has taken any blood out of me yet!" Truely, the NSA is good, but they're not THAT good! I think. Maybe they are that good. That would be convenient. No need to send your girlfriend in for a pregnancy check; just e-mail nsapao@nsa.gov and get the results over the Internet.
  • by Ihlosi (895663) on Monday October 21, 2013 @06:36AM (#45186675)
    Instead of you calling in sick, your workplace will call you and tell you to stay home for the next five days, since you showed elevated body temperature on yesterdays IR pictures and they don't want you to spread the germs to your coworkers.

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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