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Privacy United States Government

Privacy Oversight Board Gives NSA Surveillance a Pass 170

Posted by Soulskill
from the raise-your-hand-if-you're-surprised dept.
An anonymous reader writes There's an independent agency within the U.S. government called the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. Their job is to weigh the benefits of government actions — like stopping terrorist threats — against violations of citizens' rights that may result from those actions. As you might expect, the NSA scandal landed squarely in their laps, and they've compiled a report evaluating the surveillance methods. As the cynical among you might also expect, the Oversight Board gave the NSA a pass, saying that while their methods were "close to the line of constitutional reasonableness," they were used for good reason. In the completely non-binding 191-page report (PDF), they said, "With regard to the NSA's acquisition of 'about' communications [metadata], the Board concludes that the practice is largely an inevitable byproduct of the government's efforts to comprehensively acquire communications that are sent to or from its targets. Because of the manner in which the NSA conducts upstream collection, and the limits of its current technology, the NSA cannot completely eliminate 'about' communications from its collection without also eliminating a significant portion of the 'to/from' communications that it seeks."
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Privacy Oversight Board Gives NSA Surveillance a Pass

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  • Shocking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kardos (1348077) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @06:26PM (#47372539)

    "Government declines to voluntarily give up its power, news at 11!"

    What exactly was the expected outcome again?

  • by bazmail (764941) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @06:33PM (#47372569)
    This is absolutely abhorrent. The surveillance is illegal, the NSA even admits they spy on American citizens.

    The US government is not "of the people", nor is it "for the people". The intelligence services exist purely to maintain and protect dynastic power for the privileged few.
  • Re:Shocking (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @06:34PM (#47372577)

    Obama was supposed to fix the world remember? They gave him the Nobel prize for being black, I mean for promoting peace before he even did anything. This must somehow be Bushes fault. He forced Obama to expand the powers of the NSA.....

  • Bullshit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @06:38PM (#47372601)

    Their job is to weigh the benefits of government actions — like stopping terrorist threats — against violations of citizens' rights that may result from those actions

    There is absolutely no valid reason to violate citizens' rights. At all. Ever. There is no way to justify it. These people should be out on their asses, but as we all know, corrupt assholes are in high demand for government positions.

  • Re:Not surprised (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @06:46PM (#47372635)

    Their job is to weigh the benefits of government actions — like stopping terrorist threats — against violations of citizens' rights that may result from those actions.

    Wait, what? All of a sudden we've decided that violating rights is OK if it makes us more secure? When did we decide that? I don't remember any court decisions that said "well, it's unconstitutional, sure, but it's OK because..."

    Because of the manner in which the NSA conducts upstream collection, and the limits of its current technology, the NSA cannot completely eliminate 'about' communications from its collection without also eliminating a significant portion of the 'to/from' communications that it seeks.

    Well, I guess it has to eliminate a significant portion of the "to/from" communications that it seeks, change the manner in which it conducts upstream collection, and develop better technology, then. Right? Or just stay exactly the same and ignore the unconstitutional part of everything?

    There's a quote from Benjamin Franklin around here somewhere...

  • Re:Not surprised (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hamburger lady (218108) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @06:54PM (#47372689)

    Wait, what? All of a sudden we've decided that violating rights is OK if it makes us more secure? When did we decide that?

    just around when the ink dried on the constitution. you don't think this country has a long, long history of violating rights in the name of security?

  • Re:Not surprised (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @06:55PM (#47372691)

    You should blame Google, Facebook and other Big Data companies for making indiscriminate surveillance somewhat palatable to the masses, who'll be thinking, it's okay for Google and Facebook to spy on us merely for profit, so it should be okay for the government to spy on us to prevent (omg) TERRORISM.

  • Re:Shocking (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @06:57PM (#47372701)

    I don't know why this is modded flamebait. It's 100% correct. Until people get seriously pissed at both parties things have no chance of changing. If you're unwilling to vote third party then how the fuck do you expect to rise up if there is a revolution? People need to be angry.

  • Re:Bullshit. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yakasha (42321) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @08:19PM (#47373111) Homepage

    Another example is a person's right to free speech does not include libel and slander. When two or more rights conflict, lawmakers and the courts must sort out who's rights win. So from a purist's point of view, there are valid reasons to "violate" certain rights, since use or protection of one right may violate another.

    The problem with that argument is that your right to speak is specifically protected by the Constitution, without caveats. Your right to not be slandered is not. The Constitution grants Congress various powers. None of which include violating the Constitution in any way, shape or form.

    So from a true purist's point of view, there is never a valid reason to violate certain rights, because nobody has that right.

    Does your right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" have more or less weight than your rights under the 4th amendment et.al.?

    That is up to me to decide, not the Federal Government, because nobody ever gave them the right to decide.

    It is not a black-and-white problem as is often portrayed on Slashdot, such as you have done above.

    I think it is. But I know I'm in the tiny minority that believes if you want an exception to the Constitution, you're supposed to pass an amendment.

  • Re:Shocking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by I'm New Around Here (1154723) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @08:20PM (#47373115)

    Well flamebait and truth are not mutually exclusive.

    Also, see my sig.

    Viva la Revolución!

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