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SXSW: Edward Snowden Swipes At NSA 116

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-stab-at-thee dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "In a Google Hangout with an auditorium full of South by Southwest attendees, government whistleblower (and former NSA employee) Edward Snowden suggested that encrypted communication should become more ubiquitous and easier to use for the majority of Internet denizens. 'The way we interact with [encrypted email and communications] is not good,' he said from somewhere within Russia, where he resides under the conditions of a one-year asylum. 'It needs to be out there, it needs to happen automatically, it needs to happen seamlessly.' For his part, Snowden still believes that companies should store user data that contributes directly to their respective business: 'It's not that you can't collect any data, you should only collect the data and hold it as long as necessary for the operation of the business.' He also couldn't resist some choice swipes at his former employer, accusing high-ranking intelligence officials Michael Hayden and Keith Alexander of harming the world's cyber-security—and by extension, United States national security—by emphasizing offensive operations over the defense of communications. 'America has more to lose than anyone else when every attack succeeds,' Snowden said. 'When you are the one country that has sort of a vault that's more full than anyone else's, it makes no sense to be attacking all day.'"
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SXSW: Edward Snowden Swipes At NSA

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  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Monday March 10, 2014 @02:11PM (#46448165)
    As a Canadian, what I'm not clear on is whether there are exact American laws dictating what the NSA can and cannot do? If there are laws, and they have been broken, can anyone be charged, and if not, why not?

    I realize the standard answers involve political interference, corruption blah blah blah, but on a purely academic level is there a means to charge anyone with a crime?
    • by rlp (11898) on Monday March 10, 2014 @02:16PM (#46448211)

      Bill of Rights - 4th Amendment to US Constitution:
      "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".

      • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday March 10, 2014 @02:18PM (#46448239) Homepage Journal

        Bill of Rights - 4th Amendment to US Constitution:
        "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".

        In other words, OP, the NSA has every legal right to spy on you without giving you due process, but has absolutely zero right to spy on Americans without a properly issued warrant.

        • by bberens (965711)
          And it's a little gray as to whether or not the NSA can sell it's data about you to the Canadian intelligence services and/or purchase data about Americans from foreign services. When I say it's a little gray, what I mean is that they do it and it appears to be technically legal.
          • by nucrash (549705)

            They don't seem to have a problem swapping data with GCHQ, nor do they have a problem having GCHQ taking on tasks that are out of the NSA's jurisdiction and vice versa. What's Canada but a good ole offshoot of the UK to swap data with?

            • by PRMan (959735)
              The source of the data doesn't matter. If they trade it with GCHQ or hack it from my PC themselves, it's still an unreasonable search and seizure if I'm not under suspicion of a crime.
              • by Immerman (2627577)

                Ah, but *they* didn't do the search and seizure, they just purchased some information.

                As I once heard a lawyer put it:"People tend to think of the law as a line in the sand, but in truth it's more like a loose string pinned in place in a few spots - lots of play as to exactly which side you are on". I think the current situation is a good example of just how badly that can be abused, especially by institutions that get a say in exactly where the pins are, and how tight the string.

          • by davecb (6526)
            It's legal for them to provide it to CSE, but CSE says it''s illegal for them to ask... and it may be illegal to accept.
        • by s.petry (762400)

          Which is not what was intended. "People" in the Bill of rights unless it says otherwise is a term for all people including non-citizens. Your particular interpretation is publicly claimed but historically incorrect.

          Spying was known to the founders, and they expected that if a Spy was caught the Spy would be killed. That worked in both directions. While spying is certainly something we can see benefit in, the US Constitutional has laws protecting spies. The job of a spy is to break the law and ignore ba

          • Which is not what was intended. "People" in the Bill of rights unless it says otherwise is a term for all people including non-citizens. Your particular interpretation is publicly claimed but historically incorrect.

            Disagree - it's commonly accepted that when the Constitution refers to, "the People," it is de facto referring to "the American People," because the founders themselves made such a distinction.

            Evidence: Check out the difference in wording between the Fourth and Fifth Amendments:

            Fourth:

            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.

            ... and the Fifth:

            No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

            Obviously, a distinction was made, therefore it is not unreasonable to assume that the Fourth (and First and Second and Ninth and Tenth) applies only to American citizens, whereas the Fifth (and Sixth and Sev

            • by s.petry (762400)

              Neither of those Bills are restricting to "Citizens of the United States". I'm at work so will have to dig where that specific language is used, but it is used very sparingly intentionally in the rare case that it's used (I believe 1 time).

              If this was not referencing "People" in a general sense why would the founders have complained about England searching all their shit and demanding papers? England's ideology would have matched their ideology if that was the case, and England's ideology did not match he

              • If this was not referencing "People" in a general sense why would the founders have complained about England searching all their shit and demanding papers?

                Well, it is a generality, and it's not; we think of "people" a little differently than our ancestors did. For example, they didn't count African slaves as a whole person, rather 3/5ths of one (at least, for taxation and voting purposes), and Native Americans? Hell, they weren't people at all, but rather savages.

                Also, keep in mind that the Constitution was written after the colonists declared independence from the British Empire, so the stuff written therein is less about "we want the English to stop doing t

                • by s.petry (762400)

                  Nope, I hate to break it to you but you are wrong. I'm going to extract something from the Wiki here [wikipedia.org] for simplicity. Wiki shows both sides of the argument, but Constitutional Law Professor should tell you exactly what I did earlier. There is no differences in terms used in the Constitution between sections, and the words are intentionally used. A word in one section means exactly the same thing as it does in another. The only way your argument works is to try and change meanings and lose coherence wit

                  • Wiki shows both sides of the argument, but Constitutional Law Professor should tell you exactly what I did earlier.

                    I hate to break it to you, but saying "I'm certain an expert would agree with me" doesn't count as an expert agreeing with you, nor does it qualify as evidence. FWIW, I'd bet dollars to pesos that I, too, could find a "Constitutional Law Professor" who agrees with my side in this debate.

                    There is no differences in terms used in the Constitution between sections, and the words are intentionally used. A word in one section means exactly the same thing as it does in another. The only way your argument works is to try and change meanings and lose coherence within the document, which is absolutely incorrect (illogical and irrational in my opinion). The documents were not written haphazardly with words meaning one thing in this paragraph and another thing in that paragraph.

                    I can understand that, but personally would like actual evidence to support this claim, rather than your own confirmation bias. Seems to me more like you've determined that you're right (even for lack of evidence), and there

                    • by s.petry (762400)

                      I hate to break it to you, but saying "I'm certain an expert would agree with me" doesn't count as an expert agreeing with you, nor does it qualify as evidence. FWIW, I'd bet dollars to pesos that I, too, could find a "Constitutional Law Professor" who agrees with my side in this debate.

                      Obviously, there are alleged experts that testify towards all kinds of illogical things when the price is right. Liberal leaning professors are not "new" in Universities or the market place. If you can't understand the language being pointed out to you, that's your issue to resolve. Quixley has a nice book about exactly that type of manipulation, as does Gary Allen, Mark Dice, Stefan Molynoux, and countless others. If you don't look for bias you will never see it. Here is your chance to learn.

                      I can understand that, but personally would like actual evidence to support this claim, rather than your own confirmation bias. Seems to me more like you've determined that you're right (even for lack of evidence), and therefore any thoughts on the matter that contradict your own beliefs are "absolutely incorrect," with nary a second thought. Poor showing, that.

                      The evide

        • by Xest (935314)

          Actually I don't think that's even right, the US ratified the international covenant on human rights which is the legal implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 12 states:

          "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."

          Now I don't know what procedures the US has in place for dealing with bre

      • by blueg3 (192743)

        The problem is that what data is "yours" is a tricky legal question.

        Don't tell me it's not. It is. Certainly lots of people disagree with the current legal opinions on ownership of data and what that means for 4th-Amendment protections. That's fine. But sorting out ownership of data held by third parties is difficult, so simply pointing at the 4th Amendment is facile.

        The problem is that the NSA really is looking at data about you that is held by third parties. (At least, that we know of.) Things like teleph

        • I should point out that rationalle makes absolutely no sense: It doesn't matter if the data is mine or Twitter's or Verizon's, you still need a warrant to serve to whoever owns the harddrives. Verizon doesn't deserve any less protection than me, a sole proprietor.

          • by blueg3 (192743)

            That is particularly complicated.

            The third party (e.g., Verizon) does have some degree of protection.

            I suppose the ugly version is that they're less motivated to protect your data than you are (or, equally, than they are to protect their own data).

            • Indeed, I believe in many cases the NSA outright paid off companies to do their bidding (RSA at the very least). But hopefully now, seeing the flee of business away from the US, they should know to care about customer data more.

    • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Monday March 10, 2014 @02:24PM (#46448285) Homepage

      Lots already. Even if you ignore the Constitution, people running the NSA and general security state have been caught lying to Congress (a crime), lying to the kangeroo FISA court meant to be overseeing them (contempt of court), lying to regular courts about whether defendents were being informed about the origin of evidence against them (more contempt of court), violating FISA court orders (more contempt), and re-interpreting the PATRIOT Act in such a way that even the guy who wrote the damn thing was shocked - that's just normal law breaking: you aren't supposed to be able to "reinterpret" laws however you see fit.

      But when you ask "is there a way to charge anyone with a crime", I think you already know that the answer is yes just because there are so many vaguely worded laws in the USA that basically anyone can be charged with some kind of crime. What matters is whether you actually ARE charged, and that's an entirely politically driven decision.

      That's the situation in the USA. In the UK the laws are much worse and much vaguer, believe it or not, to the extent that there's basically no functioning oversight at all - the UK equivalent of FISA is not only not a court, it's actually staffed by anonymous people! There's no way to find out who even sits on it. And they have never ruled against the intelligence services even once: FISA Court has at least made a token effort to appear useful. RIPA, the law that is claimed to authorise such collection, is so vaguely worded as to be basically useless as a law - it would appear to authorise practically anything. And the Prime Minister, unlike Obama, has rejected the very notion that there might be a debate at all - simply asserting that if GCHQ does it, it must be by definition be OK.

      So even though the situation in the USA is dire, it's actually not as bad as it could be.

    • by bradrum (1639141)

      Specifically, the 4th amendment, to the US constitution protecting US citizens against unreasonable search and seizures. Normally this would involve anything searched or seized without warrant.

      Where the federal government goes to a court and requests some case for the search or seizure of specific information. Anything that deviates from these requests and the specific information they obtain warrants for is forbidden and against the law. So anyone that is involved in any of the warrant-less surveillance

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Whatever they did, James R. Clapper was willing to commit perjury to hide it.

    • by jodido (1052890)
      There are laws, there are always laws, there always have been laws. But the supersecret govt spy agencies--and this is true in Canada, too, and the UK, France, etc--just ignore the laws. The laws are on the books so liberals can claim that there is "oversight." But there isn't any oversight.
  • Not an employee (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2014 @02:14PM (#46448195)

    Correction, Snowden was not an employee of the NSA, Snowden was a contractor.

    And yes, there is a huge difference.

    • by mspohr (589790)

      One of the important implications of him being a contractor and not an employee is that the Federal "whistleblower" protections (such as they are) do not apply to him.

  • Snowden's an expert? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by asylumx (881307) on Monday March 10, 2014 @02:46PM (#46448563)
    Wait a second, what on earth is he speaking at SXSW for? Is he now considered an expert on national security? Typical sysadmin, thinking they know everything about how you should do your job, even if your job has nothing to do with administering systems.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      He's speaking up for the same reasons he spoke up in the first place.

      Because no one else will.

      Which is how we got to where we are.

    • by PRMan (959735)
      And yet he seems to know more about what will happen as a result than the heads of the CIA and NSA, who appear to be raving lunatics.
    • by neiras (723124)

      Typical sysadmin, thinking they know everything about how you should do your job, even if your job has nothing to do with administering systems.

      If Snowden really were a "typical sysadmin", we'd all be better off.

    • SXSW is a tradeshow & alot of the "keynote" speaking slots are for sale. It's a revenue stream for SXSW: keynotes get alot of press for their product therefore there is value to trade. Not that Snowden would have to pay to be a "keynote" speaker but it's possible.

      To go another level, I don't trust anything about the Snowden Narrative from the ***very beginning*** It's fishy as hell, from the Russian poled-dancing girlfriend to his repeated wearing of the same two shirts...on the face of it the whole thi

      • SXSW is a tradeshow & alot of the "keynote" speaking slots are for sale. It's a revenue stream for SXSW: keynotes get alot of press for their product therefore there is value to trade. Not that Snowden would have to pay to be a "keynote" speaker but it's possible.

        To go another level, I don't trust anything about the Snowden Narrative from the ***very beginning*** It's fishy as hell, from the Russian poled-dancing girlfriend to his repeated wearing of the same two shirts...on the face of it the whole thing was backwards.

        Typical sysadmin, thinking they know everything about how you should do your job, even if your job has nothing to do with administering systems.

        Yes. This is a fact that alot of fanbois want to ignore. We all may be happy about the increased awareness of gov't spying, but that doesn't mean we turn off our brains entirely.

        IMHO Snowden was/is being blackmailed. He may have had nothing but good intentions but it's obvious that he's getting worked.

        I tend to agree. But he is also attempting to blackmail the US by holding on to a trove of data as a poison pill. Is this data secure? He thinks it is secure but foreign govts probably have already stole it or bought it. Patriots don't risk endanger national security as as shield for personal protection.

        I know I know mod me down now /.

        • by asylumx (881307)
          It's nice to see a couple of people at slashdot who are still willing to think critically instead of just jumping on the bandwagon. Thank you.
    • Wait a second, what on earth is he speaking at SXSW for? Is he now considered an expert on national security?

      I don't know about national security, but he's shown himself time and again to be a very astute observer. It's the same with Bruce Schneier, he doesn't have a PhD in cryptography but people still listen to him because he's damn good at picking out the relevant bits and communicating them effectively to the masses.

  • From the screenshot I saw it looked like he was getting legal advice from Saul Goodman.
  • by WaffleMonster (969671) on Monday March 10, 2014 @03:00PM (#46448739)

    Google, Twitter and Facebook adding SSL is useless in face of third party doctrine effectively declaring you have no right to any privacy (e.g. "tangible thing") online even in communications between individuals.

    We need viable alternatives to massive centralized systems controlled by a handful of multi-billion dollar media and advertising companies.

    On state attacking the way I see it more attacks from all parties the more pressure on all to deploy secure systems... this is ultimately in everyone's best interests. Closer the day when cost for a systems exploit approaches infinity where only viable attacks are physical force, social engineering and coercion the better for all.

    Low intensity "cyber war" is better than complacency yielding brittle systems contributing to some cheese laden Hollywood doomsday plot line.

    • Websites use of SSL make tracking easier. SSL does nothing to prevent google from tracking all your website searches. SSL does nothing to prevent your employer from monitoring all of your external internet access. What SSL does is make google's tracking easier because it helps them identify who you are.

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      Google, Twitter and Facebook adding SSL is useless in face of third party doctrine...

      It's useful in that it forces agencies that want the data to at least request (or demand) it directly, rather than obtaining it without anyone else knowing and without oversight. It's useful in that improvements to that oversight consequently affect their access to data. It's useful in that parties that are less friendly to you than the NSA and that have no legal power against Google, Twitter, and Facebook are stymied.

  • Full of hipsters, "Makers" and trashy music.

  • Even though we all know that all of our email is being read... email client support for encryption in many cases is still bad or non-existent.

  • Unlimited Asylum (Score:4, Informative)

    by qpqp (1969898) on Monday March 10, 2014 @04:22PM (#46449695)

    Now Russia says it will continue to extend asylum protections to Snowden and won't send him back home.

    (http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/24/world/europe/russia-snowden/ - of all sources...)

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

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