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NSA's Legal Win Introduces a Lot of Online Insecurity 239

Posted by timothy
from the or-did-you-think-the-state-was-your-friend? dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "The decision of a New York judge that the wholesale collection of cell-phone metadata by the National Security Agency is constitutional ties the score between pro- and anti-NSA forces at one victory apiece. The contradictory decisions use similar reasoning and criteria to come to opposite conclusions, leaving both individuals and corporations uncertain of whether their phone calls, online activity or even data stored in the cloud will ultimately be shielded by U.S. laws protecting property, privacy or search and seizure by law-enforcement agencies. On Dec. 27, Judge William H. Pauley threw out a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that sought to stop the NSA PRISM cell-phone metadata-collection program on the grounds it violated Fourth Amendment provisions protecting individual privacy and limits on search and seizure of personal property by the federal government. Pauley threw out the lawsuit largely due to his conclusion that Fourth Amendment protections do not apply to records held by third parties. That eliminates the criteria for most legal challenges, but throws into question the privacy of any data held by phone companies, cloud providers or external hosting companies – all of which could qualify as unprotected third parties."
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NSA's Legal Win Introduces a Lot of Online Insecurity

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  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @03:27PM (#45806953)
    Obviously, if you don't want the NSA to read your data, make sure they can't read them. Make sure your data is not stored outside your control by someone who could at least in theory read it (like Lavabit). Make sure the data is not stored in the USA at all if you can avoid it.
  • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @03:40PM (#45807049)
    the NSA is NOT using any of this to prosecute Americans in American courts,

    Probably not - they are on good terms with GCHQ, who will have explained to them that the trick is to use this data to find out what they CAN use against you.

  • by NicBenjamin (2124018) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @04:13PM (#45807257)

    Clue #1 that you're Sheeple:
    You think the US Constitution has anything to do with protecting freedom.

    The US Constitution was created to allow the middle class of early America to get rich. Many of the activities they wanted to do were pro-freedom. Advancing technology, creating railroads, etc. are good things. But others were the exact opposite. In particular protecting slavery and stealing land from Native Americans were two of the top agenda items for the young United States.

    The goal was to allow enough freedom to this very specific WASP class so that they could get rich without worrying about the government, but not so much freedom that the British, nasty abolitionists, or Natives who liked living East of the Mississippi could arrange effective resistance to their get-rich-quick schemes. In this particular case there's no way in hell that the Founders intended Quakers to have the ability to organize peaceful resistance to slavery among slaves, which is why nobody batted an eye when the Federal Post Office started reading everyone's mail and arresting anyone who dared send anti-slavery info. to the South despite the fact this seems to violate both the First and the Fourth Amendments.

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @05:08PM (#45807527) Journal

    Actually, we know they have used this information against Americans in American courts. We had a big story about it a while ago when the feds would call up a state agency and say X is going to happen at Y or something similar, you need to find a way of making it legit and capture them.

    I think it was called creating a parallel construction where they know you have drugs in your car or something but pull you over for doing 1mph over the speed limit and search your car because "you were acting suspicious". []

  • by ganjadude (952775) <> on Saturday December 28, 2013 @05:09PM (#45807535) Homepage
    Last I checked it said

    anything NOT in the CONSTITUTION is up to the STATES, NOT the federal government. Perhaps you should try reading it again. I recommend you start with the 10th amendment to clear up your ill informed understanding of the constitution
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @05:24PM (#45807597)

    Name a single innocent person who has been affected by the NSA. NSA is not the threat, it's the maniacs that for example leave bombs at public sport events or goes shooting at a school.

    I'm sure that, back in the 1700s, if you'd complained to a Loyalist about how a British soldier could just choose to search an American colonist's house on a whim - they'd have given you a similar answer. Which, by the way, was one of the reasons the Founding Fathers thought the Fourth Amendment was necessary...

    But it's also funny how, in trying to defend the NSA, you chose to use examples where it's obvious they completely failed - despite having these overarching broad powers.

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @08:05PM (#45808475)

    Freedom is more important than safety. Remember how this is supposed to be "the land of the free and the home of the brave"? No? Then perhaps you're too trusting of the government.

    Or maybe you simply ignore parts of the Constitution that aren't your favorite. If you bother to read the constitution, you see entire sections devoted to the question of providing for the security of the United States. If fact you could make the very reasonable argument that freedom of the individual citizens was assumed and it was security, national defense, that had to be explicitly provided for. Many of the specific guarantees regarding various freedoms are not in the text of the main document itself, but are "add ons" in amendments. The main text of the document, the Constitution, is concerned with explicitly describing authority related to providing national defense and powers of the Federal government.

    The simple fact is that various aspects of security and freedom are tied together. A nation that is conquered by a foreign invader will not be free. A nation that has a breakaway region faces enormous questions as to its fate. If lawlessness in your city is such that you have reasonable fear for your life or limb by leaving the building where you live, what true freedom do you have? If pirates are taking your citizens as slaves [], you are failing to protect their freedom, and yet it isn't clear you would be troubled by that since ".... we have to take some risks. That's what happens when you're free." Would you protect the freedoms of American citizens, either protecting or freeing them from pirates? I have no confidence in that.

    On the whole I find your argument "freedom is more important than safety" to be ill considered, at best, since most people I see making that claim here tend to resolve it towards the direction of "therefore we cannot tolerate steps taken to provide for security, at all," even if not explicitly stated.

    Benjamin Franklin said, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." I think if we look closely at the arguments of those who claim we must only have freedom, and any steps towards security are too many, that they are in effect saying, "Hang the lot of you, but stay away from me." If there was a guarantee that they would be a "canary in the coal mine," the first to be hung to give the rest ample warning, it might be worth considering. But there is no such guarantee, so we must provide for both.

    The Constitution of the United States []

    Article. I.

    Section. 8.

    To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

    To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

    To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

    To provide and maintain a Navy;

    To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

    To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

    To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress; ....

    To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

    Section. 9.

    The Pri

  • by NicBenjamin (2124018) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @09:18PM (#45808761)

    I'm not the best person to ask about that, because there's extra regulations involved. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) lots of patient information is protected from disclosure. Disclosing it wrongly can get medical professionals in deep trouble (including putting their licenses in jeopardy), but they are supposed to turn info over "when legally required." More important then the legal niceties, almost no healthcare professional will turn over a patient record without first being informed by his lawyer that, yes, under HIPAA he is supposed to turn over said record. In writing. Two copies. Of actual writing, with an actual signature (ie: not a print-out). One for his home files which he knows nobody will mess with, and one for work, where he may have to use it.

    Keep in mind there's supposed to be a cost/benefit analysis to all governmental data collection. If the benefits outweigh the costs the search is reasonable, and thus allowed. The benefit to the government (and thus the society that created the government) of knowing the numbers every drug dealer is dialing is very high. It helps cops do their jobs and lock up very destructive people, so it's easy to calculate in dollar terms. The cost in privacy rights is impossible to calculate in dollar terms, and therefore $0.00 in most court-rooms. With medical data the cost/benefit is much different. There is no benefit to law enforcement knowing every person on anti-depressants, and the cost to those people if there's a data breach would be high. Careers could be ruined.

    Prior to HIPAA the only example of a Fourth Amendment compliant mass database of medical info I can think of was a listing of everyone with a valid painkiller prescription in New York State. The people on the list benefited because they didn't have to be hassled by the cops, and society as a whole benefited because the cops were able to do their job of stopping prescription drug abuse more effectively. But I have no idea if they still do this since HIPAA.

  • by YumoolaJohn (3478173) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @09:35PM (#45808831)

    The only people with horrible logic are those that support this type of surveillance. They also have an awful grasp of history and are disgustingly naive.

"Just Say No." - Nancy Reagan "No." - Ronald Reagan