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Bruce Sterling On Total Information Awareness 488

securitas writes "Declan McCullagh interviews Bruce Sterling about Total Information Awareness (renamed Terrorist Information Awareness and raising concerns) or 'Poindexter's nutty scheme' as Sterling thinks of it. He predicts TIA will destabilize the government and lead to internal KGB-style coups. Whether you agree with him or not it makes for thought-provoking reading."
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Bruce Sterling On Total Information Awareness

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  • Well (Score:3, Funny)

    by Ken@WearableTech ( 107340 ) * <> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:02PM (#6146458) Homepage Journal
    That's all well and good but I think what we all want to know is what William Gibson thinks about T.I.A.

    (Feel Free to Insert another Author's Name, or the people I turn to for public policy, Hollywood Actors.)

    Also in the interview, he mentions that Bruce Sterling is not his real name. With talk of "coups inside the Republican Party" and the KGB, I think that Bruce Sterling is Tom Clancy's pseudonym.

    BTW, when he says "Poindexter" he is not refering to us computer nerds, he means John Poindexter [], programmer, Navy Admiral, National Security Advisor, etc.
    • Re:Well (Score:3, Informative)

      by NiceGeek ( 126629 )
      >John Poindexter, programmer, Navy Admiral, >National Security Advisor, etc.

      You forgot convicted criminal.
      • No. It was later overturned.
    • Re:Well (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sleeper0 ( 319432 )
      Last month there was a /. article about William Gibson addressing the Directors Guild of America. His remarks closed essentially telling his audience that in n years people would be consuming their classic films with software designed to super-impose the heads of dogs over the actors and then pause the action to participate in a kung-fu knock down using Meryl Streep with dog head on top as the protagonist.

      Now Sterling is telling us that deep databases of personal info will destabalize our government causi
      • Re:Well (Score:2, Interesting)

        by SoSueMe ( 263478 )
        How about Arthur C. Clarke, who practically invented the idea of communications satellites []?
        Relevant or not, here are some of his "recent" predictions [].

        I like the 2004 one about human cloning.
        Didn't some crack-pot group claim this last year? (I'm too lazy to google it)
      • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Inspector Lopez ( 466767 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:26PM (#6146912) Journal
        Demanding that science fiction predict the future, and then scoffing when it fails, is really a kind of ad hominem against the genre. Great science fiction need not literally predict as much as it says, "here are some possible implications of X."

        One of the most famous "predictions" is that of Orwell's 1984, which (of course) has not exactly come to pass. On the other hand, many concepts of 1984 have proven tremendously robust and recognizable, such as "double speak" and "double think." You can glimpse shadows of the larger issues, such as three major world powers which engage in shifting alliances of 2 vs 1. ... On the doublethink front, contemplate the fact that approximately half of US citizens think that Saddam Hussein was heavily involved in the September 11th attacks.

        So, read Sterling's "Distraction" and be amazed by an enthusiastic, over-the-top speculation on trends in politics and manipulation of the public, with intriguing little sidetrips on new technology and ancient history (well, not exactly ancient --- but I found the Regulators and Moderators to be truly interesting folk; they don't need to ever come into real existence to be evocative, and to think, "well, really, just what keeps them from existing?") The whole idea of "reputation servers" is coming into existence right now, implemented by Google, blogs, and (yes) Slashdot's
        cooperative editing and posting system. (Not to mention USNews's annual beauty pageant for universities. The USA has such a tremendous stable of great universities, it is pretty discouraging to see a "top 10" gather so much shallow attention.)

        At any rate --- concern about TIA and its kin (which should include Google, you know --- see the interview with Sterling) is perfectly legitimate, and if SciFi isn't perfectly prognostic about what it's going to mean, well, do our leaders really do any better? Does Ashcroft have a conventional understanding of the Bill of Rights?

        Any think tank that wouldn't want to have a Bruce Sterling around is a think tank that's too timid to ever say anything truly mind stretching.

        • Re:Well (Score:3, Informative)

          by SN74S181 ( 581549 )
          Most people wouldn't classify Orwell's '1984' as science fiction. It's not a narrow genre-bound work, Orwell didn't publish his stories in pulp SF magazines. And 1984 was about Stalinism. Orwell was a former Communist, and very disillusioned about the whole thing.
      • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Radical Rad ( 138892 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @12:10AM (#6147432) Homepage
        Now Sterling is telling us that deep databases of personal info will destabalize our government causing shifts in power so fast that it essentially doom our country.

        I have to disagree with him on that point. They who control the TIA would have heavy political clout. They would stay hidden and mostly unknown to average Americans, and a change in political leadership would have no effect on their ownership of the big brother machine. So as long as the smart politician kowtowed to them, his skeletons would stay safely in the closet. If you want historical precedence for this just read up on J. Edgar Hoover.

        Also the owners of TIA would have little need to actually destroy someone with the information they would have. They could just coerce candidates drop out of a race (like they did to Perot) or vote a certain way or use the information to further their own agenda (like they used the Office of Fatherland Security recently to track down the Democrat representatives who fled Texas to Oklahoma.) Sunshine laws and the Freedom of Information Act were meant to counteract these type of abuses but the faction in power now flagrantly violates these laws (e.g. Cheney's meetings with Enron and other Energy execs.)

        TIA could be viewed as one more check and balance in the system though one not defined by our Constitution. However just because I don't think it will be destablizing doesn't mean it will be good for America. If Uncle Sam dances to the tune of secret puppetmasters then our system will come to resemble that of the Soviet Union and I think Bruce Sterling's reference to the KGB was an apt one.

  • by Scoria ( 264473 ) * <slashmail@initia ... g minus math_god> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:05PM (#6146472) Homepage
    internal KGB-style coups

    In Soviet Russia... oh, forget it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Nuclear weapons don't kill people, people kill people.

    Support citizens rights to use nuclear weapons for hunting and home defense!
  • by Nexzus ( 673421 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:06PM (#6146477)
    What would Total Information Awareness run on?

    Total Information Technology.
    (with apologies to Robin Williams)

  • We have emarked full tilt into the arena of socialism.

    Its been slow in coming, but since 9/11 we have raced towards it as fast as we can, with the publics support. There is still a ways to go, but the momentum is there.. its a matter of ( short ) time.

    Its sickening. Looks like the terrorists won, their goal was to elimate the way of life we had here here, and they sure as hell did.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      We, as a country, have been headed that way for years. 9/11 just accelerated the pace.
    • by ceejayoz ( 567949 ) <> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:14PM (#6146519) Homepage Journal
      We have emarked full tilt into the arena of socialism.

      Oh? My health insurance is still as expensive as fuck, and my college tuitition is $36,000 a year and rising. Those are pretty bad indicators of a "socialist state" forming...

      What part of "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed" do you not understand?

      What part of "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state" do you not understand?
      • What part of "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state" do you not understand?

        Looks like someone who is just pissing away that $36,000 per year on college if he can't get the concept of 'subordinate clause' into his head.....

        Luckily, the guys who wrote the 2nd amendment didn't work/live in a vaccuum... they left tons of writings on why they believed the things they fought for. Read up on it a bit; I've got a standard $100 bet with acquaintances who are anti-2nd amendmen

    • I love conservative people but not the dumb ones.

      TIA, would be fascism not socialism.
      • Its a bit of both, ill give you that much since there are no true absolutes in this sort of thing

        I personally believe our country is leaning towards socialism more so then fascism, thus my comments are directed towards that end....

      • by SilentMajority ( 674573 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:22PM (#6146881) Homepage
        My definition of "dumb conservative" is a conservative who earns less than $500,000/year or has a net worth of less than several million dollars.

        These poor souls would rather focus on why they (the middle class) have to pay a bit more taxes than the poor instead of focusing on why they have to pay a LOT more taxes than the ultra-wealthy or profitable corporations like Microsoft. You knew Microsoft paid $0 taxes in 1999, right?

        These morons also like complaining about things like a minimum wage bill because it raises the minimum wage rather than complaining about the luxury yacht fuel subsidies buried inside that same bill. "To hell with the undernourished child of a single working parent, my taxes shouldn't pay for that! Instead, my hard-earned taxes are gonna help filthy rich bastards play on their yacht because my misguided middle-class ass is too lazy to get informed."

        smartest: rich conservatives
        average: everyone else
        dumbest: middle-class conservatives

        I hope to become a rich conservative sometime this decade but until then, it isn't in my best self-interest to be a conservative or liberal right now.

        What's your definition of "dumb conservative"?
    • Completely absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ccevans ( 669222 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:32PM (#6146602)
      Might I ask what a economic model has to do with TIA?

      These things can be done in any type of government. In fascism, which you seem to be implying, the people wouldn't have a choice. In a democracy, with the right support from the media, it is also possible.

      None of the indicators of socialism are present, by the way. On the contrary, we are moving further away from socialism. College costs are rising, health care costs are rising, companies (ie SCO) are very busy suing each other over IP violations, tax cuts are being made ...

      Please don't use 'socialism' as term for any bad government. Socialism is something very specific, and not what you are talking about.

      And why in the world are you saying that 'the terrorists' won? What the US is becoming is the opposite of what terrorists would want. How could a group of terrorists want us to invade their home countries?
      • by mrkurt ( 613936 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:16PM (#6146835) Journal

        I think what nurb meant is that we are slouching toward a fascistic state, and I think under the Nazional Republican Party, it's a defininte possibility. Consider:

        • George W. Bush is essentially appointed President by the Supreme Court after tampering with the voter rolls in Florida ( courtesy of brother Jebuzon) disqualifies many minorities who would not have voted for him and brings us to the brink of constitutional crisis
        • The Nazional Republicans in Congress pass the USA Patriot Act, allowing non-citizens, and in some cases, U.S. citizens (i.e., Jose Padilla) to be detained indefinitely as enemy combatants, and be tried in Military courts instead of civilian courts
        • Attorney General (and I use that term loosely) John Ashcroft wants even more egregious restrictions on the civil liberties of Americans with an enhancement and extension of the Patriot Act
        • Despite the noises being made about being even handed toward Israel and the Palestinians, the regime's blatant pro-Israeli tilt is the most outward manifestation of the influence of Christian rightists in the Bush government, whose aim otherwise is to destroy individual freedom in this country in the name of "Jesus Christ": among other things, banning abortion, forcing their version of Christian prayer into public schools, and trying to outlaw the burning of the American flag as a form of protest(truly, idolatry if there ever was).

        TIA fits into the pattern. The Nazional Republican inclination to turn over social welfare and other non-military, non-"Homeland Security" programs to the private sector, as you accurately describe, also fits into the pattern of a fascistic ideology: all of the economic and political power concentrated into the hands of an elite few. Information on the citizenry is the key to control. I think Sterling's scenario where the "KGB" apparatus would be used by various branches of the Nazional Republican Party against each other is his fond hope. To take a page from Reichsfuhrer Bush, VOTE FOR REGIME CHANGE IN 2004. This makes a damn good bumper sticker slogan.

        • Kurt thanks for the post, I had a good laugh. With clear thought and wit like this I'm suprised you went to DeVry.

    • I believe the parent was referring to facism. The current administration is trying to remove socialist policies.
    • Go bad and reread 1984, the point was NOT that socialism is bad, the point is that totalitarianism is bad. Strict government control of the populace is not a defining feature of socialism, look at holland ffor gods sake; it does, however manifest in leninist, stalinist and maoist governments.
    • You're a moron. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      We have emarked full tilt into the arena of socialism.

      I read the article, I don't see anything about a changing economic model.

      Its sickening. Looks like the terrorists won, their goal was to elimate the way of life we had here here, and they sure as hell did.

      Yeah, because terrorists just want you to have better health care, right?

      You're a moron. 90% of the world's democracies are socialist. And you know what? ALL of them have a higher standard of living than the USA.

      Perhaps you should learn the r
    • which is loosely a left wing dictatorship, which embraces socialism.
      Do remember that socialism is an economic system where most of the industries are monopolized by the government. This is certainly not occurring. One thing that is occurring that is an aspect of socialism is less attention is being paid to the individual, and more is to the group. This happens whenever there is a common goal. Take World War 2 and the 'greatest generation'. It's possible that this was the least selfish time in the US's
      • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:08PM (#6146798) Journal
        this is a very well taken point and should be modded up.

        I've noticed this on /. - when someone who isn't a continuous poster makes a short well written point they get a 1 because it is a positive number but the people who assign values are too lazy to give it the value it deserves.

        Of course, this means I'll probably be modded down on this post.

        To the point:

        We are slowly evolving into a new form of government:

        democratic fascism.

        People get to vote, there are multiple parties, but fundamentally, it's a one party state - like a hydra - many heads that hate each other, but the body walks in one direction, and we're all trapped on its back.

        When things get rough they throw the slaves some bread (social services) and circuses (TV). This shuts the proles up, and the ruling class stays put.

        Same as it ever was.


    • Looks like the terrorists won, their goal was to elimate the way of life we had here here, and they sure as hell did.

      I work reasonable hours, speak my mind, go out and have fun, and live with the suspicion that our government is involved in things beyond a madman's greatest dreams.

      Which is pretty much what I was doing before "terrorism" became a household word.
    • by js7a ( 579872 ) * <> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:17PM (#6146845) Homepage Journal
      Under progressive forms of socialism [], you can get low unemployment, low inflation [], and still make mothers [] happy [].

      Under the U.S. form of government [], we are getting decade-record levels of unemployment and crime, but at least the rich are a little richer, if you don't coun't externalities like the crime rate and overall property values.

      Just don't count on all those nearly three million newly-unemployed people to vote on election day. I wouldn't put it past Bush to do something "exciting" right before election day. After all, you have a guy who claimed that he didn't tell anyone about his drunk driving conviction because he was trying to protect his daughters, but he doesn't ask the Secret Service to lift a finger to keep them from being caught drinking underage. He simply can not be trusted. How many times did he leave the "have you ever been convicted" question blank on Texas election forms? However, there is still hope [].

    • "their goal was to elimate the way of life we had here"

      No, it wasn't. Most of the terrorist organizations out there couldn't give a stuff what Americans do, as long as they do it in America.

      Most of the serious terrorists these days (Bin Laden et al) want Americans out of the Middle East.

      *Looks at Afghanistan, Iraq*

      Yep, that worked.
    • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @12:37AM (#6147540)
      Free Inquiry published a list of the the 14 defining characteristics of fascism [] a few months ago. In case the site gets slashdotted, a quick summary is:

      1. Powerful and continuing nationalism. Hitler had the Nuremberg Rallies, we will have the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City just blocks from "ground zero," and just 10 days before the third anniversity. This is the latest nominating convention in history. (Hopefully it will not also be the "last" one.)
      2. Distain for the recognition of human rights. Forget Guatmo, look at who's on the "no fly" list. When was the last time you heard of a Quaker activist committing violent acts?
      3. Identication of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. All Muslims are terrorists. All "liberals" and "moderates" support terrorism.
      4. Supremacy of the military. This is a weird split - this administration has treated soldiers, ex-soldiers, and their families contemptously. But at the same time, there's no question that these are rich years to be a preferred military contractor.
      5. Rampant sexism. "Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution." No comment necessary.
      6. Controlled mass media. "Sometimes directly controlled by the government, sometimes indirectly controlled by government media, sympathetic media and executives." FCC decision last week, Fox News. No comment necessary.
      7. Obsession with national security. Post 9/11, a lot of this is justified. But the actions don't match the words - Bush talks national security, but has repeatedly ignored pressing matters to focus on things of relatively little importance. The Afghanistan countryside is important. North Korea, with an active nuclear program and proven missiles and located so close to the industrial centers of South Korea and Japan (and potentially able to reach the US within a few years) is important. Iraq, as the professional intelligence corp knew and events have proven, was not.
      8. Religion and government are intertwined. "Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders." Besides the language, Bush always drops into a "Hellfire sermon" cadence when he's trying to emphasize a point.
      9. Corporate power is protected. No comment necessary.
      10. Labor power is suppressed. No comment necessary.
      11. Distain for intellectuals and the arts. Besides the historic contempt for "liberal professors" and any artist willing to speak her mind (Dixie Chicks), I see a lot of anti-intellectualism in anti-tech attitudes. Are so many jobs going overseas (or to H1B workers) here because of economics alone, or because we tend to be highly curious and open to discussing ideas?
      12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment. Ashcroft. No other comment necessary.
      13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Halliburton and Vice President Cheney. Michael Powell (FCC) and Colin Powell (Sec. of State). The Bush crowd - a group with a history that makes the Kennedys look like choir boys (if you can find any media gutsy enough to cover the story).
      14. Fradulent elections. Florida - governored by the brother of one of the candidates (see above). The strange obsession with replacing paper ballots with unauditable electronic voting machines. The connection between those manufacturers and key Republican backers... and the Russian Mafia.

      If you accept the premise of the article, I don't think there's any doubt that we're close to fascism today. It's still early and we could reverse course in less than 18 months. But I think there's little doubt that history will observe that the US came close to losing WW-II 60 years after the fact.

      I'm also sure that many of these people have no idea that they're fascist. Hitler was not Satan incarnate, Nazi Germany did not come into existence overnight, and we must always be on guard against history repeating.

      As for the OP's uninformed comments, the proper description for the countries he described as "socialist" is "authoritarian" -- and there's no doubt that this country is shifting towards authoritarism in addition to fascism.

  • by kurosawdust ( 654754 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:09PM (#6146493)
    I'm all for public involvement in the political process, but I guess the best we can hope for now is that this somehow leads to Slim Pickens riding a descending hydrogen bomb...
  • intersting article (Score:4, Insightful)

    by malocchio ( 678917 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:10PM (#6146499)
    That was a very interesting article, however I do not like some of Bruce's answers. Whether or not I am allowed to approve, well...thats for someone else to decide. However, I want to give attention to one comment:

    Just because it's the atom age, it doesn't mean we'll all have a private atom-powered helicopter. Just because it's the information age, it doesn't mean we're all going to profit or be made happier. It has secondary and tertiary effects that cannot be predicted. You don't envision a phone answering machine and predict the Lewinsky scandal--even though one is impossible without the other.

    I personally believe that the efforts individuals make to better understand things, like computer technology, then living in the "information age" will leave that individual with a greater sense of security--And wouldnt that individual be in a greater position to lead the rest of society toward whatever might be better? Like a security expert speaking out against TIA with a solid argument?
  • relieving (Score:5, Funny)

    by falsification ( 644190 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:11PM (#6146501) Journal
    He predicts TIA will destabilize the government and lead to internal KGB-style coups. Boy, it's a good thing that Bruce Sterling is not paranoid or anything. Otherwise, he'd come up with some really whacky theories.
    • Re:relieving (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ellen Ripley ( 221395 ) <> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:29PM (#6146582) Journal
      Boy, it's a good thing that Bruce Sterling is not paranoid or anything. Otherwise, he'd come up with some really whacky theories.

      The attitude that "it can't happen here" is exactly what allows it to happen.
    • Thank God this came out. I'd been somewhat worried about TIA. Now that I know Bruce Sterling is against it, I feel ever so much better.
  • Always a problem... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:16PM (#6146524)
    Gathering information on people before they have done anything wrong is always a problem, especially if these people know that it is being collected. It makes poisioning the data pool attractive, even if it's only something as stupid as magazine subscriptions, email account names, aliases (which are legal as long as they're not used to deceive for nefarious purposes), and credit transactions.

    The government is most likely to be able to track transactions that occur digitally, or require storage of information on computers that are not under the control of the individual whose data is being collected. Do you think that it's likely that terrorists will use these means, now that it's been announced that the government is collecting it? I'd think that they're more likely to buy guns from someone who has switched from running drugs into the country to running guns, to contact their fellow agents through 'chance' encounters, and to transact whatever seemingly legitimate business they use either with cash or through legitimate electronic transactions, which will make them blend into the electronic noise just like everyone else. How is this going to help matters?

    The government already knows when one buys a new handgun through legitimate channels, through the Brady Law. They already should know about most of those who have explosives experience, since that is usually military training based to begin with, and demolitions companies, mining companies, and anyone else legitimately using explosives has to get their employees licensed. "Cyberterrorism" is an absolute joke of a term as long as easily broken-into OSes like anything Microsoft has ever put out is still in the mainstream and is still being used as a server, and there are probably dozens, if not hundreds of other examples like these.

    I don't see how collecting all of this data is going to help.
  • by SparafucileMan ( 544171 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:16PM (#6146525)
    I don't think that Sterling is right when he argues that Total Information Awareness will bring on some new rash of "KGB style coups." Some of you might remember that the NSA has been evesdropping on Congressmen for years (even on the staunchly pro-Defense-Military congressmen) and the CIA regularly keeps full files on all Congressmen with all of their dirty little secrets. The reason that there hasn't been a series of coups yet (well, ignore the 9-11 coup for now...) is that its far easier to blackmail people into having them do _your_ dirty work than to rat them out entirely. The only thing TIA will do is increase the leverage of the executive branch over the rest of society.
  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:19PM (#6146532)
    Lewinsky, Trent Lott, Newt Gingrich's book deal, David Dinkins lack of tax returns.

    Data Mining is here. While the Republicans are more astute in the practical applications of tech and the Democrats tend toward the hip useless gadgets, Both sides are gearing up and will be using data mining against each other.

    I have always said that KGB agents must have wept when they realised the information your typical marketing or credit card company have on the american citizen.

    Poindexter may be a criminal and a boob American Express isnt.
    • P.S. I can recomend Autotrack online and Euifax online to you. It was most enlightening to see that my autotrack report was not only able to estimate the contents of my bank account but the value of my car, my brothers car, and my mothers car.
    • by malocchio ( 678917 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:26PM (#6146574)
      I have always said that KGB agents must have wept when they realised the information your typical marketing or credit card company have on the american citizen.

      But credit card companies don't employ people with guns and badges that can kick in your door and take you to a holding cell without a reason--and thats the difference!

      The biggest threat TIA offers the American public is, if you've read the Detailed report to congress [], they decide who, when, and where to attack Americans-to protect you and me-Americans.
  • Information Excess (Score:3, Interesting)

    by killfixx ( 148785 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:19PM (#6146535) Journal
    Technology has a way of making the world feel smaller: Trains, Steamships, automobiles, airplanes and now googling (ridiculously easy and efficient datat-mining).

    If you live in a small enough town, everyone knows everyone elses business...

    When you remove the distance that geography or caste once maintained you are left with a very small planet where everyone may not know everyone else...but if they need to they can dig up any amount of dirt on you they want.

    TIA is an initial step towards a decentralized type of always on information about anyone you could ever want...

    And the only people who will be safe will be those without govt assigned ID (which means no CC's no ID's no Bank statements etc..) and the insanely wealthy...those who can afford to keep their sins a secret.

    Much like it would be in a small town.

    I hate small towns.
  • by PS-SCUD ( 601089 ) <peternormanscott AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:24PM (#6146565) Journal
    "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonalbe 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."

    but that seems to have been forgotten, along with.."Congress shall make no law....abridging the freedom of speech or of the press."
    Campaing finance reform restrictions on commericals 60 days before elections.

    and "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
    Every law restricting non-criminals from owning certain types of weapons.

    Some times I wonder if legislatures even fscking read the constitution any more.

    • > but that seems to have been forgotten, along with [...] and "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
      Every law restricting non-criminals from owning certain types of weapons.

      Where did you get the restriction to non-criminals from the Constitution? Are you saying that the Bill of Rights is open to interpretation based on common sense and the needs of society?

      • No, it is open to ammendment based on proposal by 2/3rds of the Congress, or 2/3rds of state legislatures, and ratification by passage in 3/4ths of the states, not "interpretation" by 9 people in black robes. As to why criminals can't own guns, and can't vote, it is just punishment, not cruel or unusual. The 3 inaliable rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet a court can certainly take all 3 of these away, but only by the due process of law, and only if they are fitting to the crime.
      • Criminals have always been subject to having their constitutional rights curtailed in various ways. For example, they're not allowed to vote. So, is the fact that criminals are not allowed to vote a justification for poll taxes and poll tests and other 'needs of society' reasons to keep people from voting?

    • Some times I wonder if legislatures even fscking read the constitution any more.

      We just have to wait for a new precedent to be set, overturning bad the Patriot Act.
    • by BernardMarx ( 576104 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @02:26AM (#6147919)

      Rewriting the constitution []: It's not just for legislators anymore!

      ARTICLE IV OF THE UNITED STATES 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 received.

      Recent decisions handed down by the United States Supreme Court have held that police can:

      Search you home upon the consent of someone who has no authority to give same. (Illinois vs. Rodriquez)

      May search every room in your home including the basement and attic without a warrant if they are arresting you in a private residence. Evidence seized may be used in court. (Maryland vs. Bule)

      Hold you under arrest and incarcerate you for 48 hours or longer without charging you for a crime. (County of Riverside vs. McLaughlin)

      May question you and elicit confessions from you while you are incarcerated without identifying themselves as police officers or advising you of your rights. (Illinois vs. Perkins)

      Subject motorists to mandatory sobriety tests without any indication that they have been drinking, or their driving is impaired. (Michigan State Police vs. Sitz)

      Stop your car based upon an "anonymous tip" which the court described as "completely lacking in the necessary indicia of reliability." (Alabama vs. White)

      May stop, detain and question you anytime, anywhere and for any reason even if there is no evidence or indication of any illegality or wrong doing. (Orange County vs. Lopez)

      May record and use as evidence telephone calls made or received from a cordless phone without a warrant and without violating your right to privacy. (Tyler vs. Berodt)

  • by tchdab1 ( 164848 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:28PM (#6146579) Homepage Big Brother and the Holding Company.
  • He discussion of a "Community Watch" system, but with a pervasive internet cams and either cheap labour or trade offs (I'll watch your's if you watch mine).

  • Don't forget (Score:4, Informative)

    by c64cryptoboy ( 310001 ) * on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:31PM (#6146600) Homepage Journal
    Total Information Awareness underware is still available []
  • by SilentMajority ( 674573 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:32PM (#6146608) Homepage
    It shows that they THINK we're gullable morons.

    Just by renaming it to sound anti-terrorist, are we supposed to shut up and stop questioning it?

    Instead of making our government BIGGER & MORE INTRUSIVE & STRIPPING AWAY OUR RIGHTS, why don't we investigate how 9/11 was allowed to happen when we had ALL THE INFO REQUIRED to prevent it?!?!?

    Oh, I forgot--the investigation into that was quietly squashed without much media attention but we got color-coded alerts to make us feel that something "real" appropriate is being done.

    "Hey, lets rename this unpopular law/project/war/etc. so people think it has to do with anti-terrorism, they'll shut up for sure especially if the media makes anyone speaking against it appear stupid, weak, liberal, unpatriotic, etc. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a bunch of unpopular shit done what would've caused riots/impeachments just a few year ago! Best of all, when people start to ask questions about the Pres or VP dealings with Enron or Halliburton again, we can just change the terror alert color so the media can refocus on that without resorting another murder case in California."

    "And just in case we don't have any more terrorism in the USA, lets go piss off the Palestinians and make the Middle-eastern countries think we're gonna invade them--that'll stir up enough shit to make at least another group of crazies blow something up here--and we can milk that bombing to our advantage just like 9/11! We'll be silencing our critics and getting unpopular initiatives done for the next 50 years using this strategy!"

    I'm obviously exaggerating to make a point but really, don't you think there's a grain of truth to associating unpopular initiatives with anti-terrorism just to get people to stop questioning it?

  • Sour Grapes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hawthorne01 ( 575586 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:36PM (#6146632)
    If it's anything like his columns for Wired, it will be filled with bitterness over the 2000 elections spilling over into everything he writes about. That detracts from my enjoyment of his writing. He's one of the best SF authors out there, but as of late everything he's done seems to reflect his dissapointment over the outcome of the election.

    At some point, you realize you lost, pick yourself up and dust yourself off, and plan for the next one. It's done, there is no chance of the election being reversed or any other outcome. Get over it, and try to get Dubya out of office this upcoming election if you don't like what happened.

    • Re:Sour Grapes (Score:5, Informative)

      by Allen Varney ( 449382 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @02:59AM (#6147995) Homepage

      If it's anything like his columns for Wired, it will be filled with bitterness over the 2000 elections spilling over into everything he writes about.

      Can't believe I'm taking time to refute this silly and groundless statement. Sterling's first column for Wired, issue 10.12 (December 2002), covered Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index -- no mention of the 2000 elections. Subsequent issues to date:

      • 11.01 (Jan 2003): "The Cybersecurity Industrial Complex" -- upbeat overview of various government bureaus
      • 11.02: "Dumb Mobs" -- protests in Florence against globalism; mentions "The New Imperial Order" in passing, but basically about European protest movements
      • 11.03: "Silent But Deadly" [] -- parallels between Enron and the old Lockheed aerospace skunkworks
      • 11.04: "The Secret War Machine" [] -- about the Iran-Contra scandal, and how the same spirit motivates the current War on Terror; maybe you could wilfully distort this into "bitterness about the election," if you didn't mind sounding like a complete nutcase
      • 11.05: Space race between China and India
      • 11.06: "There's Something About Rummy" [] -- this is the only column that meets the "bitterness" test. Jeez, pretty sensitive, aren't you?
  • Well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by heli0 ( 659560 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:38PM (#6146641)
    It seems that they can not even perform basic background checks on their own employees: CIO of Department of Homeland Security Suspended []. Seems she got her "doctorate in computer information systems" from a phony college.

    Yeah, that is the type of thing that inspires confidence.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:51PM (#6146704)
    ..but this time you and I get to be in front of the cameras, unasked, and everything will be archived and indexed on permanent storage, including (especially) a complete record of your online and telecommunication activity. Scott McNealy would say "get over it", but government will use this data to protect society against potential threats - and eventually, any kind of dissent may be considered the seed of a potential serious threat to society, as Orwell predicted.
  • by Esion Modnar ( 632431 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @09:54PM (#6146728)
    The aim is to collect information ranging from financial and medical records to data on the way individuals walk.

    You heard it here first. Poindexter and TIA is the Ministry of Silly Walks.

    (And I'm supposed to feel better because they changed "total" to "terrorist"? That's just insulting to everyone's intelligence... grrr.)

  • Interesting how "total" became "terrorist." Foreshadowing anyone? ;)
  • by slashdot_commentator ( 444053 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:07PM (#6146795) Journal

    Why not use pseudonyms?
    That's baloney. I happen to do that myself. I do have two data identities. I have my name, Bruce Sterling, which is my public name under which I write novels. I also have my other name, which is my legal name under which I own property and vote.

    So what's the name of your other identity? It would take you all of 10 seconds to figure it out on Google.

    10 seconds my ass. I stick in the search terms "bruce sterling", "real name", & "fiction" (after all we need to separate BS the science fiction writer from BS the plumber), I get 390 hits. After glancing through likely pages, I get the real names to a half dozen different writers, but not Bruce! I even go to vivisimo, get some hits unique to google, but still no real name. Man, the New World Order better not depend on my lame ass skills.

    Now I know I could track it down if I spent two hours going through search engines, varying search arguments, but what the hell am I doing wrong??? *sigh*

  • by DGolden ( 17848 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:18PM (#6146850) Homepage Journal
    Personally, I'm not particularly against massive databases, provided they're real-time public access, and the maintainers of the database are also represented in them like everyone else...

    Given that the databases will exist - large corporations and government agencies will just not tell you they exist and keep using them if they're made "illegal" - and can only get more powerful and far-reaching, I think that the best choice is to make the database read-accessible to everyone rather than limit access to a powerful and unaccountable elite.

    Note that I am NOT asserting that it's particularly nice that the databases exist in the first place - just that the genie's out of the bottle, and that the best way to minimise abuses of power would be to minimise secrecy. Otherwise we'll probably end up with 1984.

    It's amusing that personal privacy advocates are often the same ones screaming for government or corporate openness - while privacy (== secrecy) exists, anyone handed power will have a screen to hide behind to hide abuses of said power. Yes, humans like privacy. But privacy, whether for the government or the citizen, may prove fundamentally in opposition to the maximisation of the freedoms a civilised society can provide, while still remaining a civilised society.

    This is explored further in David Brin's excellent book: "The Transparent Society: Will Technology force us to choose between Privacy and Freemdom?" As he points out, "people generally seem to want privacy for themselves and accountability for everyone else...".

  • People will never accept the head of CIA as their leader. I don't know what the guy is smoking.
  • by Indy1 ( 99447 ) <> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:37PM (#6146984) Homepage
    The day this sucker goes live, you know its going to get the most viscous slashdotting imaginable, not to mention all the spammers, script kiddies, pro microsoft, pro linux, jehovah witnesses, jews for jesus, etc who all are going ddos, port scan, submit fraudalant information, etc etc etc.......

    By the time its all over, we'll have Furher Ashcroft annoucing they are searching for a heinous terrorist known as "Heywood jablowme" aka "Al Coholic".
  • by whereiswaldo ( 459052 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @10:38PM (#6146990) Journal
    And if the Bush administration overcame congressional objections and got a deep data-mining system working?
    An insane information-hungry KGB or a relatively open and decent government? Vote with your feet. Get the hell away from those lunatics. Who the hell wants to live in a USA with a TIA in it? Why would you want to invest it that country? The currency would crash. The political elite would annihilate one another.

    Mr. Sterling is making a big assumption here: you will always have somewhere that is different to move to. One _conspiracy theory_ I've been harbouring is that the USA's plan is to politically assimilate the rest of the world so that there will not BE another place to go to, in effect. Everyone will have basically the same privacy, human rights, freedom of speech (or lack of it) laws.
    • One _conspiracy theory_ I've been harbouring is that the USA's plan is to politically assimilate the rest of the world so that there will not BE another place to go to, in effect.

      In case you missed it, the US basically said (at least everybody outside the US read it so) that either you're with us, or you're against us in the war against terror. And of course everybody that is against us is terrorists or supporting terrorism, and must be neutralized. Hence, it's not over until all are with the US, either t
  • Terrorist? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Servo ( 9177 ) <dstringf&gmail,com> on Sunday June 08, 2003 @11:11PM (#6147171) Journal
    If the purpose of the "Terrorist" Information Awareness database is to collect information on terrorists, then why would all US citizens be included?

    It doesn't take a conspiracy theorist to realize that the government is making suspects of us ALL.
  • by BrainInAJar ( 584756 ) on Sunday June 08, 2003 @11:14PM (#6147194)
    Just reading this thread I've noticed that this is the most offtopic story I've seen yet.

    The threads spawned by it range from everything from Marxism to gun control.

    It's great, there aren't enough OT modpoints in the world to take care of it
  • by mrmeval ( 662166 ) < minus pi> on Monday June 09, 2003 @01:06AM (#6147638) Journal
    It's really a stupid idea. If you consider that the guys are white hats (yea yea), then it's just noise that has to be filtered. Law enforcement by database, ubiquitous and just as stupid rather than targetted and accurate.

    They are just to damned lazy to get off their dead asses and do the Human Intellegence they are paid to do.

  • by Garry Anderson ( 194949 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @09:26AM (#6149365) Homepage
    I posted this several times before - nobody has argument against it - so here it is again :-)

    Government Surveillance

    Why do government have no respect for your right to privacy?

    Liberty has to be one of the most important things in life. Well up there, behind health and safety of your family, must be the right to go about your daily life without being forced to live it under oppressive surveillance. For it surely is oppression - being spied upon by the authorities in all that you do. Knowing this information could be used against you, for any purpose they see fit. The so-called all-seeing eye of God over you - meant to instil respect of them and fear of authority.

    It can be proven they use propaganda to deceive you into believing them. How?

    Ask Security Services in the US, UK, Indonesia (Bali) or anywhere for that matter, to deny this:

    Internet surveillance, using Echelon, Carnivore or back doors in encryption, will not stop terrorists communicating by other means - most especially face to face or personal courier.

    Terrorists will have to do that, or they will be caught!

    Perhaps using mobile when absolutely essential, saying - Meet you in the pub Monday (meaning, human bomb to target A), or Tuesday (target B) or Sunday (abort).

    The Internet has become a tool for government to snoop on their people - 24/7.

    The terrorism argument is a dummy - total bull*.


    This propaganda is for several reasons, including: a) making you feel safer b) to say the government are doing something and c) the more malicious motive of privacy invasion.

    Government say about surveillance - you've nothing to fear - if you are not breaking the law

    This argument is made to pressure people into acquiescence - else appear guilty of hiding something illegal.

    It does not address the real reason why they want this information (which they will deny) - they want a surveillance society.

    They wish to invade your basic human right to privacy. This is like having somebody watching everything you do - all your personal thoughts, hopes and fears will be open to them.

    This is everything - including phone calls and interactive TV. Quote from ZDNET []: Whether you're just accessing a Web site, placing a phone call, watching TV or developing a Web service, sometime in the not to distant future, virtually all such transactions will converge around Internet protocols.

    Why should I worry? I do not care if they know what I do in my own home, you may foolishly say. Or, just as dumbly, They will not be interested in anything I do.

    This information will be held about you until the authorities need it for anything at all. Like, for example, here in UK when government looked for dirt on individuals of Paddington crash survivors group. It was led by badly injured Pam Warren. She had over 20 operations after the 1999 rail crash (which killed 31 and injured many).

    This group had fought for better and safer railways - all by legal means. By all accounts a group of fine outstanding people - with good intent.

    So what was their crime, to deserve this

  • by Chriscypher ( 409959 ) <slashdot@metamedia . u s> on Monday June 09, 2003 @09:35AM (#6149443) Homepage

    On the radio show This American Life [], a segment [] described how police used the case summary of an FBI profiler as a template for a forced confession. Under pressure to find the killer(s), police used intimidation and duress to coax a suspect to sign a false confession, the conviction since overturned by DNA evidence. The suspect, unaware of case particulars, was given a confession to sign lifted verbatim from an FBI profiler's report. The police used a best guess of how the crime occurred based on the evidence to frame a patsy.

    In the not distant future with Total Information Awareness, it will be trivial to find a patsy for any crime. The person murdered attended the same university and you shared a class or two (enrollment database). You enjoy violence and murder (video store database). The murder occured a mile away and within 30 minutes of when you filled up your car at the gas station (credit card database). We have established relationship, motif, and opportunity.

    My point is that extremely causal data will be used to make relationships where none exist and to support conclusions which no hard data supports. It will become trivial to gather a group of suspects for any crime, none of which have anything to do with it.

    The databases will be used to get tough on crime, which was a euphemism in the 80's for put pressure on police and courts to find a patsy and put them away to make us politically significant. The wave of released prisoners based on evaluation of DNA evidence in recent years is proof of this.

    Are you a terrorist? I bet if we look at the proper data points we can make anyone look like one...

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson