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Unintended Consequences: How NSA Revelations May Lead To Even More Surveillance 207

Posted by timothy
from the can't-beat-this-horse-deader-without-more-whips dept.
Lauren Weinstein writes with a slightly depressing end-of-year prediction. An excerpt: "This then may be the ultimate irony in this surveillance saga. Despite the current flood of protests, recriminations, and embarrassments — and even a bit of legal jeopardy — intelligence services around the world (including especially NSA) may come to find that Edward Snowden's actions, by pushing into the sunlight the programs whose very existence had long been dim, dark, or denied — may turn out over time to be the greatest boost to domestic surveillance since the invention of the transistor."
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Unintended Consequences: How NSA Revelations May Lead To Even More Surveillance

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  • Countermeasures. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:19AM (#45817155)

    Yes this is true, But now those that wish to deploy countermeasures can now do so. I am not an American Citizen, the USA is collecting metadata on me and others and has no desire for my well being, so Encrypt and mask is the way to go. I'm not intending to do anything illegal, but I will do my damnedest to make it harder for them and their illegal spying game.

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:52AM (#45817519) Journal

    It is not even theoretically possible for the freedom-loving individual to win against us statists.

    On the contrary, historically, it has happened about once every couple of centuries, and usually begins and ends with a bunch of particularly egregious statists' severed heads stuck on the fence outside the palace. Then, inevitably, a new batch of statists claws their way to power, until eventually it gets so bad that the public does it all over again.

  • Re:Truism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:53AM (#45817529) Journal

    Counterintuitively perhaps, once these programs are made visible they become vastly easier to expand under one justification or another, because you no longer have to worry so much about the very existence of the programs being exposed.

    TFA argues:
    1) Snowden blows the lid off surveillance schemes, many of which are conducted illegaly.
    2) Intelligence agencies would like to continue these programmes and push for legislation to legalize them.
    3) Said legislation is passed.
    4) Surveillance continues unabated.
    5) Profit, sort of.

    Our "profit" is that we now know about these surveillance schemes. The problem however is that they will disappear underground again and increase in size and pervasiveness; once they are made legal, politicians (even the opposition) will no longer be much interested in attacking or exposing individual schemes, they will be attacking the legislation. And if the public forgets about the issue quickly enough, they will not succeed there.

    Only thing we can do now is push legislation the other way while we have some momentum:
    - Make "dragnet"-style surveillance illegal
    - Allow wiretapping in individual cases, after approval by a judge (and not a secret panel of judges)
    - If a company is not compelled by law to surrender information, they are forbidden to volunteer it.

  • by gallondr00nk (868673) on Monday December 30, 2013 @10:51AM (#45818323)

    Every story on Slashdot about the NSA revelations has been followed by a deluge of comments who for the most part been extremely pessimistic, sprinkled with doses of paranoia that almost border on hysteria. All I seem to read now is that it won't make any difference, we're stuck in this forever, "they" won't let us have our liberty back, &c. &c. ad nauseum.

    Whether the leaks are 100% accurate or not (and I can't tell either way), something monumental has happened this year. I would tentatively suggest that we're finally seeing the edifice fall, not just of surveillance, but of our entire socio-economic system. These are the sort of paper cuts that can eventually topple an entire way of thinking.

    The two are linked. The NSA does not live in a vacuum, but as a result of economic and social policies that have consolidated power and influence in the hands of a few people.

    A panopticon cannot survive in the same way our winner-takes-all-and-debt-for-the-rest neoliberal economic system cannot survive. Both rely on holding all the cards, forever. It took one contractor to snatch the deck with Snowden, and whether other /. posters believe it or not, it will change things. In the last five years, we've seen the inevitable failure of our lunatic economic decisions. Things are actually changing, and changing quickly.

    The only question is what do we look to do next?

    We aren't beholden to continue the way things are forever. There is no obligation to constantly think within the same ridiculous boxes, to grant power to the same shitty people. We can look to the future and actually try and level the playing field. A society where power and money are not amassed in such obscene quantities would scarcely be able to enable the sort of panopticon people are now afraid of.

    It is evident that agencies that have access to so many resources cannot help but abuse them. Perhaps now is the time to think of something new, not communism or capitalism or even anarchism, but a way of preserving the pieces of our society that we want and discarding the abuses.

    This is *not* the only way things can be, no more than absolute monarchy, slavery or feudalism were in the past.

    Rather than simply being afraid, I'd rather put my energy into believing, rightly or wrongly, that we can have something better in the future.

The first version always gets thrown away.