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Snowden: NSA Spied On Human Rights Workers 230

Posted by Soulskill
from the also-on-non-human-rights-workers dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "The Guardian reports that according to Edward Snowden, the NSA has spied on the staff of prominent human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. 'The NSA has specifically targeted either leaders or staff members in a number of civil and non-governmental organizations including domestically within the borders of the United States.' Snowden, addressing the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, said he did not believe the NSA was engaged in 'nightmare scenarios,' such as the active compilation of a list of homosexuals 'to round them up and send them into camps.' But he did say that the infrastructure allowing this to happen had been built.

Snowden made clear that he believed in legitimate intelligence operations but said the NSA should abandon its electronic surveillance of entire civilian populations. Instead, Snowden said, it should go back to the traditional model of eavesdropping against specific targets, such as 'North Korea, terrorists, cyber-actors, or anyone else.' Snowden also urged members of the Council of Europe to encrypt their personal communications and said that encryption, used properly, could still withstand 'brute force attacks' from powerful spy agencies and others. 'Properly implemented algorithms backed up by truly random keys of significant length all require more energy to decrypt than exists in the universe.'"
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Snowden: NSA Spied On Human Rights Workers

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  • Outrage fatigue (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Harry8 (664596) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @06:45PM (#46699695)
    Do you think that the reason barricades have not been stormed and every congressperson is not running scared from all responsibility, knowledge etc is because it's another thing with a computer in it so the brain has dropped out of the ear? Same thing as public service spending billions on a solution that boils down to a 286 with a whole lot of workarounds. People stop thinking as soon as "with a computer" is in the sentence? I don't know, I can't fathom it I'm wildly advancing theories to explain how the USA achieved the USSR's wet dream of surveillance and it has less impact on policy than if a pop star got naked on prime time television.
  • Re:Outrage fatigue (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @07:10PM (#46699945)

    Do you think that the reason barricades have not been stormed and every congressperson is not running scared from all responsibility, knowledge etc is because it's another thing with a computer in it so the brain has dropped out of the ear? Same thing as public service spending billions on a solution that boils down to a 286 with a whole lot of workarounds. People stop thinking as soon as "with a computer" is in the sentence? I don't know, I can't fathom it I'm wildly advancing theories to explain how the USA achieved the USSR's wet dream of surveillance and it has less impact on policy than if a pop star got naked on prime time television.

    The reason is--and I know most people here don't want to hear this which is why I am posting anonymously--is because the Slashdot opinion on this is the minority opinion in the country. The vast majority of Americans are either okay with this, ambivalent about it, or are not angry enough to do anything about it. There have been repeated polls that have shown this--I would link to some but I am still at work and my break is almost over.

    Also, in this particular article he provides no evidence of his claim. Past Snowden stories were based on leaked documents while this is just a simple claim. I am skeptical of this particular claim. Given the huge volume of documents, it's hard to believe he doesn't have a single one that supports this claim.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @07:25PM (#46700093) Homepage

    And French intelligence bombed the Rainbow Warrior. Precisely what is so surprising about the NSA spying on political radicals? It's not like every nation state with even a half-baked intelligence apparatus hasn't been doing that for at least 60 years now. God help Snowden if this is the best dirt he has left on the NSA because it's only a matter of time before US intelligence loses all fear of killing him or the Russians grow bored with him and classify him as a loose end.

  • Re:Outrage fatigue (Score:4, Interesting)

    by znrt (2424692) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @07:37PM (#46700181)

    it actually smells like veiled propaganda. the naive, 'ordinary people oriented' enfasis on encryption seems to seek regaining trust in commonly used crypto we know might very well be compromised. 'North Korea, terrorists, cyber-actors' are just classical bait words. 'or anyone else' is just scary because whilst apparently warning against nsa, it automatically entitles them to decide that anyone is targetable. and the reference to "the members of the council of europe' is plain hilarous.

    did this bs really come from snowden?

  • by grcumb (781340) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @08:04PM (#46700385) Homepage Journal

    And French intelligence bombed the Rainbow Warrior.

    To their detriment. It's telling that the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior was the event that triggered so much outrage among Pacific island nations that the practice of atmospheric testing was finally stopped. It also wounded relations between New Zealand and France for over a decade, and resulted in a long period of Labour (i.e. left wing) rule. The Tahitian independence movement also made hay from the event.

    It was, in short, a complete fiasco for the French intelligence service, and for the government of France, an unmitigated failure.

    If for no other reason than realpolitik, governments need to learn to tread more lightly when it comes to abrogating the freedoms that make their societies as peaceful and prosperous as they are.

    Precisely what is so surprising about the NSA spying on political radicals?

    When you call Amnesty International politically radical, you debase the discussion. Amnesty uses non-violent tactics - mostly media relations - to shame governments into releasing political prisoners. If agitating against the imprisonment of your political opponents is radical to you, then perhaps you should revise your opinion on freedom and human rights.

  • Re:Outrage fatigue (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @08:41PM (#46700629) Homepage Journal

    Do you think that the reason barricades have not been stormed and every congressperson is not running scared from all responsibility, knowledge etc is because it's another thing with a computer in it so the brain has dropped out of the ear?

    No. It's because people are so busy just trying to survive that they're too worn out to storm any barricades.

    This is by design. The elite know very well that you can only exploit people so long before they start breaking the china, so loss in real income and the decline in standard of living for most people is absolutely being done on purpose.

    Also note the ramping up of a ubiquitous surveillance state and the militarization of local police forces. They're really worried that people are a lot closer to revolt than anyone cares to admit.

    The reason the NSA story is such a scandal is because of the domestic aspects. Few people care if the US is spying on foreigners, but when they find out that some grimy bureaucrat is upskirting their personal information and communications, it makes them crazy.

    This is also why you're seeing a massive movement in many states to suppress voter turnout, to gerrymander congressional districts and even to repeal the direct election of the US Senate, giving it back to state legislatures.

    There is a real fear of democracy in any form, and a greater fear that people have just about had it. 11-15% real inflation while incomes are shrinking is a recipe for beheadings.

  • Re:Outrage fatigue (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blahplusplus (757119) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @10:11PM (#46701137)

    "Actually the main problem I see with this is how ineffective it makes the NSA."

    You assume that the NSA's real job is to "deal with enemies" and not enhance the profits of those who benefit from the NSA's existence.

  • Re:Outrage fatigue (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AlanObject (3603453) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @10:14PM (#46701161)

    If you spy on every damn thing then there is no way you can adequately cover the important things.

    I don't agree with this -- they are taking the same approach that I would have taken given their mission statement. They want to collect everything then go through it later when a need arises. This is sound engineering and it can be effective law enforcement. Anyone can think of many scenarios where it would be desirable if not vital to track back what an identified person has been doing for the last 30 days.

    The flaw is their assumption that nobody should mind having everything about them recorded as long as nothing but a computer program looks at it. After all I have to show my ID to police on request and the requirement on their side is that they don't do it arbitrarily. The NSA officials see what they are doing is the exact same thing. The flaw with that is of course I have no idea what NSA is doing or has done with the data they have already taken with me. Nor do you. Nor anyone. Their "internal procedures" to prevent abuse have been shown to be not trustworthy.

    So NSA is on a track where they are sound technically, but way off legally and ethically.

  • Re:Outrage fatigue (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flaming error (1041742) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @10:41PM (#46701347) Journal
    AlanObject says:

    the same approach that I would have taken given their mission statement

    What "mission statement"? This? [nsa.gov]

    Collect (including through clandestine means), process, analyze, produce, and disseminate signals intelligence information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes to support national and departmental missions;

    GP is right. They can't process and analyze as much data as they collect, so they don't produce useful intelligence.

    They want to collect everything then go through it later when a need arises

    That's forensics, not intelligence.

    So NSA is on a track where they are sound technically, but way off legally and ethically.

    Just curious - if they are way off ethically and morally, why would you take that same approach?

  • Re:Outrage fatigue (Score:5, Interesting)

    by s.petry (762400) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @10:57PM (#46701453)

    While this is partially true, there is an issue with information starvation in US media. CNN for example has turned into "Missing Airplane News" for nearly a month. Which of NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, or any of their affiliates have covered any of the Snowden leaks beyond a brief mention? Compare their coverage of what an intellectual would call news to their coverage of celebrities and sports, and of course people are ignorant. They are starved for real information and are bombarded with what I would consider garbage.

    That's not to say that there are no other sources of "news", but more pointing out that if you want to be informed you really have to dig for information. The amount of research you have to do is incredible. This is what some people still believe that "News" agencies are doing. The last poll I saw had trust of "News" at about 17% so that base is dwindled drastically.

    For those that wish to believe "it's all about money" consider that 17% for a moment. Any "News" agency that offered an alternative opinion instead of fluff and celebrity news would make a mint in viewership, yet all of these "News" agencies operate exactly the same way.

  • Re:Outrage fatigue (Score:4, Interesting)

    by camperdave (969942) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:21AM (#46701815) Journal

    It's amazing - fucking amazing - that while the NSA was busy spying on Americans Putin was able to invade the Ukraine and surprise us.

    You may have been surprised, but who says the invaion of Ukraine was a surprise to the joint chiefs?

  • Re:Outrage fatigue (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @03:26AM (#46702521)

    The flaw is their assumption that nobody should mind having everything about them recorded as long as nothing but a computer program looks at it.

    This is touches an interesting subject I have seen reoccurring in articles occurring on Slashdot.
    It appears as if people think that actions should be legally different when automated instead of manually done.
    When Facebook served ads encouraging a minor to take up nude modelling it was not considered a criminal act because it was automated and unverified.
    When Sony claimed the copyright on Sintel and shut down the original version from Blender it was not looked upon as a copyright infringement because it was automated and unverified.
    When NSA wiretaps everyone it is not considered.. well, not as bad as if they had done it manually.

    In all those cases the actual result is just as bad as when done manually. People have to start take responsibility for their automation.

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