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United States Communications Government Privacy Your Rights Online Technology

Snowden's Big Truth: We Are All Less Free 583

chicksdaddy writes "In the days since stories based on classified information leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden hit the headlines, a string of reports and editorials claim that he had his facts wrong, accuse him of treason – or both. Others have accused journalists like Glen Greenwald of The Guardian of rushing to print before they had all the facts. All of these criticisms could be valid. Technology firms may not have given intelligence agencies unfettered and unchecked access to their users' data. Edward Snowden may be, as the New York Times's David Brooks suggests, one of those 20-something-men leading a 'life unshaped by the mediating institutions of civil society.' All those critiques may be true without undermining the larger truth of Snowden's revelation: in an age of global, networked communications and interactions, we are all a lot less free than we thought we were. I say this because nobody has seriously challenged the basic truth of Snowden's leak: that many of the world's leading telecommunications and technology firms are regularly divulging information about their users' activities and communications to law enforcement and intelligence agencies based on warrantless requests and court reviews that are hidden from public scrutiny. It hasn't always been so." Bruce Schneier has published an opinion piece saying that while Snowden did break the law, we need to investigate the government before any prosecution occurs. (Schneier's piece is one in a series on the subject.) Snowden himself said in an interview today that the U.S. government has been pursuing hacking operations against China for years.
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Snowden's Big Truth: We Are All Less Free

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  • by Barlo_Mung_42 ( 411228 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @05:08PM (#43989503) Homepage

    Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?

    • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @05:34PM (#43989785)

      Gaining freedom is usually difficult enough. Keeping freedom in a entirely new challenge, requiring virtuous behavior over the long term. That is difficult for most peoples and nations when faced with changing circumstances over time.

      • by khallow ( 566160 )

        Keeping freedom in a entirely new challenge, requiring virtuous behavior over the long term.

        I think the strategy of dividing would-be sources of tyranny against each other has already turned out to be more effective than requiring good behavior.

  • by nevermindme ( 912672 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @05:09PM (#43989521)
    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.

    None of the warrents said something like

    "All emails stored on VZ servers (listed below) that mention pressurecookers as bombs from the 723 people (listed below) who visited terrorist training camps (listed below) in 2010-2013."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @05:12PM (#43989557)

    From the Dictator (2012) [youtube.com] - start at 0:28 for the meat.

    And as somewhere here on /. said (to paraphrase) "NSA's wiretapping stopped the bombing in Boston. Right?"

    We should scream that in every moron's ear who says they "feel safer" with this monitoring.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @05:14PM (#43989575)

    A few things scare me about this topic so far (and it's mostly about discussion rather than the revelations):

    - People aren't doing anything / can't do anything about this issue even if they wanted to
    - People are actually siding with the government and defending them instead of fighting for privacy & freedom
    - Big corporations could help us out but what good would storing every piece of user data in encrypted format do for them (no ad money based on our data = no free site anymore, they would just turn into free service providers for their service)
    - American's politicians & lawyers are completely paid off by major corporations and if the root of all evil is not separated from the law of the land, you should not expect any freedom or privacy, and it's scary that the American population is more concered about TV shows like The Voice rather than their freedom...
    -- No one's really willing to risk their lives or time because right now it's "just good enough", maybe you guys need to hit rock bottom first completely before any change happens or takes place :/

    I'm not really sure what to say or do either, but I'm Canadian and the NSA is probably seeing this as well. Hi NSA, I love you!

    - stoops

  • by rts008 ( 812749 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @05:17PM (#43989593) Journal

    This is what happens when a government declares 'War' on an idea, or other abstract.

    Spanish Inquisition
    The War on Drugs
    The War on Terrorism

    We don't seem able to learn from history, or past mistakes.
    We have allowed the Constitution to be folded, spindled, and mutilated...then used for asswipe.

    We are overdue for another Revolution.

  • Obligatory Quote (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @05:18PM (#43989609)
    "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

    Had to be said.
  • civil society (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bitt3n ( 941736 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @05:18PM (#43989613)

    life unshaped by the mediating institutions of civil society

    would this be the same civil society whose past mediations have helped perpetuate the institution of slavery and policies of racial discrimination? or is this some other, perfectly enlightened civil society that has at some point between those primeval days and now descended from the heavens to rid us of the need for such crackpots and radicals as might resist its influence?

  • Ways to help (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @05:31PM (#43989751) Homepage Journal

    From a previous post, here's the collected list of suggested actions people can take to help change things.

    Have more ideas? Please post below.

    Links worthy of attention:

    http://anticorruptionact.org/ [anticorruptionact.org]

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lawrence_lessig_we_the_people_and_the_republic_we_must_reclaim.html [ted.com]

    http://action.fairelectionsnow.org/fairelections [fairelectionsnow.org]

    http://represent.us/ [represent.us]

    http://www.protectourdemocracy.com/ [protectourdemocracy.com]

    http://www.wolf-pac.com/ [wolf-pac.com]

    https://www.unpac.org/ [unpac.org]

    http://www.thirty-thousand.org/ [thirty-thousand.org]

    Suggestion #1:

    (My idea): If people could band together and agree to vote out the incumbent (senator, representative, president) whenever one of these incidents crop up, there would be incentive for politicians to better serve the people in order to continue in office. This would mean giving up party loyalty and the idea of "lessor of two evils", which a lot of people won't do. Some congressional elections are quite close, so 2,000 or so petitioners might be enough to swing a future election.

    Someone added: Vote them out AND remove their lifetime, taxpayer-funded, free health care. See how fast the health care system gets fixed.

    Someone added:You can start by letting your house and senate rep know how you feel about this issue / patriot act and encourage those you know to do the same.

    If enough people let their representivies know how they feel obviously those officials who want to be reelected will tend to take notice. We have seen what happens when wikipedia and google go "dark", congressional switchboards melt and the 180's start to pile up.

    I added: Fax is considered the best way to contact a congressperson, especially if it is on corporate letterhead.

    Suggestion #2:

    Tor, I2dP and the likes. Let's build a new common internet over the internet. Full strong anonymity and integrity. Transform what an eavesdropper would see in a huge cypherpunk clusterfuck.

    Taking back what's ours through technology and educated practices.

    Let's go back to the 90' where the internet was a place for knowledgeable and cooperative people.

    Someone Added: Let's go full scale by deploying small wireless routers across the globe creating a real mesh network as internet was designed to be!

    Suggestion #3:

    A first step might be understanding the extent towards which the government actually disagrees with the people. Are we talking about a situation where the government is enacting unpopular policies that people oppose? Or are we talking about a situation where people support the policies? Because the solutions to those two situations are very different.

    In many cases involving "national security", I think the situation is closer to the second one. "Tough on X" policies are quite popular, and politicians often pander to people by enacting them. The USA Patriot Act, for example, was hugely popular when it was passed. And in general, politicians get voted out of office more often for being not "tough" on crime and terrorism and whatever else, than for being too over-the-top in pursuing those policies.

    Suggestion #4:

    What I feel is needed is a true 3rd party, not 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th parties, such as Green, Tea Party, Libertarian; we need an agreeable third party that can compete against the two majors without a lot of interference from small parties. We need a consensus third party.

    Suggestion #5:

    Replace the voting system. Plurality voting will always lead [wikipedia.org] to the mess we have now. The only contribution towards politics I've made in

  • by ub3r n3u7r4l1st ( 1388939 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @05:42PM (#43989879)

    Edward Snowden has defected to China.

    Currently, only North Koreans will defect to China.

    Therefore we can conclude that Snowden is from North Korea or a comparable nation.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @06:02PM (#43990127)

    The NSA has one last hole in its program to spy on every citizen- the home in which the citizen lives. Traditionally, throughout Human history, the residencies of civilians have provided refuge from organised efforts of intelligence gathering. This fact, for instance, has allowed the emergence of new political and religious movements, movements that the regimes at the time were determined to crush at birth.

    Now Microsoft has partnered with the NSA to solve this problem. The Xbox One (now more commonly known as the XBone or XB1) has been designed from the ground up to spy on people in their own homes.

    The XBone comes with a so-called Kinect sensor block. This block contains ordinary and infra-red high definition cameras. It also includes a 'depth processing' system that can easily extract Humans from the background, and apply a skeletal recognition algorithm to track body movement and shape (say when people are having sex). The final sensor is a microphone array that can clearly pick-up the conservations of multiple people in the room (and frequently, adjoining rooms as well).

    While the XBone is receiving mains power, the Kinect is fully functioning and processing input. It CANNOT be switched off. If it suffers ANY hardware fault, the console immediately stops working. If the cameras are set facing the wall, or taped over, the console pesters the user to re-calibrate the Kinect.

    All software developers (games and apps) must, at the very least, include code to request user calibration of Kinect, even if the app/game doesn't use Kinect features to any significant degree. All game/app interfaces MUST be Kinect aware (allow Kinect gestures to replace input from the controllers). At no time is the user allowed to think non-Kinect use of the console is normal.

    Microsoft dedicates at least 1/4 of XBone's hardware resources to processing the data produced by the Kinect sensor system. These resources CANNOT be re-assigned to, say, a AAA high-graphic intensive game. The hardware available to Kinect includes real-time video-compression and encryption.

    By default (and this CANNOT be disabled by the user) the Kinect is set to constantly monitor each new person who enters the room (and the times). A full face photograph is taken of each new person. This data is uploaded to remote servers on the Internet at least once each 24 hour period. While the Internet connection is off, this data is stored in a dedicated area of the HDD as an encrypted group of files, for later uploading.

    All Internet connected XBones can be remotely programmed with a list of 'trigger' events that trigger against various data conditions recognised by the Kinect sensors. The triggers can include things like gunshots, a male shouting at a female, a given person entering the room, or people in the room moving in a particular way. When any trigger condition occurs, the console can begin streaming video data from the Kinect to either the HDD (for later uploading) or to a remote Internet server if the Internet is currently connected.

    Of course, remote intelligence personnel can connect to ANY XBone currently on the Internet, and receive live output from the Kinect sensors regardless of what the console owner is currently doing. The console owner will have ZERO idea this is happening, unless they monitor their outbound Internet traffic. Even then, Microsoft has a program of constantly bursting data to and from each connected console to 'groom' the owner to expect unexplained Internet traffic via the console.

    In many ways, Snowden's announcements (which others have correctly pointed out simply confirm data that leaked years ago) show that the NSA is 'bored' with their current level of data collection, now it is old hat to suck and save all regular Internet/phone traffic. Team Obama is desperate to go into places the NSA has never gone before. Much of the intent is the power powerful scumbags think they gain when they can become the supreme 'peeping-tom' and peer into the homes of millions of citizens at will.

  • by decora ( 1710862 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @06:22PM (#43990293) Journal

    its really presumptous to say someone broke a law without a fair trial

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @06:55PM (#43990611)

    On 9/11 3000 Americans died in terrorist attacks.

    Other losses incurred as a result were much worse.

  • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @02:55AM (#43992831)

    Every month like clockwork 1300 people are killed in this country. No "terror" fearing talking heads seem to give two shits about that.

    A 9/11 every 3 months and still endless shit about us being "less safe" cuz of something that happened 12 years ago.

    The actual tragedy are politicians who waste countless billions on militiary industrial complex with statistically irrelevant results while that money stands a much better chance of saving real lives if used for other purposes...assuming that is actually what they care soo much about.

    Heck you can save lives to unecessary car accidents and save money in the process just by reigning in the TSA.

    I heard on the news that Saddam Hussain was working with the terrorists. Year after year our officials make shit up and lie to us, start wars based on knowingly dubious and false information and none of them go to jail not a single goddamn one of them. Sell weapons to Iranians to raise money to fight wars in Nicaragua and everyone gets pardoned. Lie after lie, abuse after abuse, secret courts, secret laws.

    The government does not deserve our trust. No government on earth deserves the trust of its people.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.