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Privacy Government United States

The Executive Order That Redefines Data Collection 126

sandbagger writes: " ...it is often the case that one can be led astray by relying on the generic or commonly understood definition of a particular word." That quote apparently applies to words offering constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure. TechDirt looks at the redefinition of the term "collection" as redefined by Executive Order 12333 to allow basically every information dragnet, provided no-one looks at it. "Collection" is now defined as "collection plus action." According to this document, it still isn't collected, even if it has been gathered, packaged and sent to a "supervisory authority." No collection happens until examination. It's Schrodinger's data, neither collected nor uncollected until the "box" has been opened. This leads to the question of aging off collected data/communications: if certain (non) collections haven't been examined at the end of the 5-year storage limit, are they allowed to be retained simply because they haven't officially been collected yet? Does the timer start when the "box" is opened or when the "box" is filled?
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The Executive Order That Redefines Data Collection

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  • by popo ( 107611 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @02:18AM (#48033617) Homepage

    So if I download lots of copyrighted music and films, but never listen to them -- then I'm apparently okay right?

    • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @02:32AM (#48033675)

      Better yet, you can look at the porn you steal, so long as you don't -

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You can listen to them but you must not play them on an instrument of your own. Actually, that's pretty much the same as the "you can look at the porn you steal, so long as you don't" answer.

      Sue me.

    • by bwcbwc ( 601780 )

      ...and if you conspire to commit a felony, it isn't a conspiracy until the felony is actually committed?

    • So if I download lots of copyrighted music and films, but never listen to them -- then I'm apparently okay right?

      Let's turn this idea on it's head. Since NSA is scooping up everything, they most assuredly are "collecting", lots of copyrighted material. All we need is for some enterprising entertainment industry lawyer to see how much money can be made by suing NSA for copyright infringement.

    • So they can put someone in prison as long as they don't press charges?

    • So if I download lots of copyrighted music and films, but never listen to them -- then I'm apparently okay right?

      OP's basic premise is BS. It is not possible to "redefine" common words in a government document. That's not the way the law works.

      Words have accepted meanings. In Common Law countries like the U.S., it is the original MEANING of a statute, or section of the Constitution, for example, that is the governing factor.

      Official (like the President) do not have authority to "change" a law simply by saying "I think this word means something different now than when the law was passed." It doesn't matter what h

    • Actually, that's exactly how copyright should work. If you never view a video, read a book, listen to a song, etc., what value is stolen from the copyright owner? Unfortunately, we didn't have the technology track when people actually do these things so possession became a poor proxy for actually experiencing copyrighted material. With such technology now possible, maybe that will change one day, but I'm not holding my breath.
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @02:26AM (#48033641)

    The recursive expansion will keep it tied up in court forever.

    • The recursive expansion will keep it tied up in court forever.

      ...It's authoritarians all the way down.

      Strat

    • Unless the judge interprets the '=' as an assertion rather than a definition, in which case action must of course equal zero.

      (Assuming finite values, etc.)

  • Doesn't Matter (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @02:31AM (#48033663)

    >This leads to the question of aging off collected data/communications: if certain (non) collections haven't been examined at the end of the 5-year storage limit, are they allowed to be retained simply because they haven't officially been collected yet? Does the timer start when the "box" is opened or when the "box" is filled?

    Doesn't matter, US Govt. will do as it pleases regardless of perceived or actual legality.

    • In other news they have changed the legal definition of "corruption" and "misleading" to be "the unquestioned acts of our benevolent leaders". This was done after the discovery of a long lost document in which the founding fathers agreed that the constitution was "merely a suggestion".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @02:31AM (#48033667)

    I really feel for the poor Americans. What a totalitarian nightmare America has become, with its clapped out economy, militaristic police, authoritarian military/commercial state with effective single party governance, its huge prison population, its high murder rate, and the presence of personal armaments everywhere, simmering racial tensions, lack of personal rights and freedoms, a state that kidnaps and tortures people.
    Couple that with extreme military spending, severe paranoia, and a 'national security' doctrine that comes straight from the nazi playbook, making explicit that America will bomb and murder whoever it wants, as long as it is in 'American national interests', and you have the worst kind of rogue state of all.
    The conditions look ripe for instability, and chaos.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @04:31AM (#48033989)

      ... the presence of personal armaments everywhere ...

      Actually personal firearms are an example of the existence of personal rights and freedoms, something that totalitarian regimes tend not to allow. The 2nd amendment is every bit as important as the other amendments.

      • More to the point, the presence of personal armaments everywhere is the last resort to fix all the other problems mentioned.

      • by Bruce66423 ( 1678196 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @09:05AM (#48035561)
        In reality the Feds have overwhelmed every constitutional principle that they've found irritating, and the armed uprising has never happened. But it's a nice fantasy that keeps a few people quiet - because they KNOW they can do something about it when... at which point they will just be mown down in a hail of bullets.
        • Hail of bullets indeed... it's telling that one of the only types of gun that have been nationally restricted are automatic weapons. Despite the fact it's commonly called the "Assault weapons ban", that's about as laughable as the name "Patriot act". Although there are sometimes full-auto weapons used in military assaults, the majority of US Army soldiers only carry single and burst-fire rifles (excepting special forces). Full-auto weapons haven't been standard issue since early-Vietnam when it was realize
          • So much wrong in this post...

            it's telling that one of the only types of gun that have been nationally restricted are automatic weapons. Despite the fact it's commonly called the "Assault weapons ban", that's about as laughable as the name "Patriot act".

            AWB has expired years ago, but even when it was there, it had absolutely nothing to do with automatic weapons. Those have been regulated by NFA, GCA, and FOPA.

            Although there are sometimes full-auto weapons used in military assaults, the majority of US Army soldiers only carry single and burst-fire rifles (excepting special forces). Full-auto weapons haven't been standard issue since early-Vietnam when it was realized full-auto is just a waste of ammunition in most combat scenarios.

            The standard infantry weapon of US Army today is M4A1 carbine, which has two firing modes: single shot, and full auto (they are not fully converted from M4 yet, but they're working on it). The reason cited for this is that experience in Afghanistan has showed that full auto is a necessity.

            Also, US military has been the onl

      • ... the presence of personal armaments everywhere ...

        Actually personal firearms are an example of the existence of personal rights and freedoms, something that totalitarian regimes tend not to allow. The 2nd amendment is every bit as important as the other amendments.

        And in spite of widespread public support for that individual right, the administration, faced with the inability to explicitly change the law, are using its regulatory power over the money supply to basically shut down all commerce that enables that right [offgridsurvival.com]. They are using the same technique to shut down the recently legalized marijuana trade in Colorado, and medical marijuana dispensaries all over the country. Just search on "Operation Chokepoint" - it's basically a program to shutdown businesses they thi

      • ... the presence of personal armaments everywhere ...

        Actually personal firearms are an example of the existence of personal rights and freedoms, something that totalitarian regimes tend not to allow. The 2nd amendment is every bit as important as the other amendments.

        Keep believing that. The only reasons that Americans are still allowed to carry guns is (a) to enrich those making and selling them, (b) because the police have bigger ones (which also enriches those making and selling them) and (c) because those making the laws today generally don't give a shit if average Americans kill each other.

        • So you think without guns, there would be more liberty?
          • So you think without guns, there would be more liberty?

            Do you think that with guns, there is more?

            Other than the actual liberty to carry guns itself, such weapons don't make any difference at all in the true liberty, or lack thereof, that Americans have.

            Carrying a gun does not protect you, as a US citizen, should the government suspect, even wrongly, that you are a terrorist.
            Carrying a gun does not keep you from having your privacy invaded by the NSA.
            Carrying a gun does not stop the TSA from groping you when you travel.
            Carrying guns would not have helped the Oc

    • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @05:03AM (#48034061) Journal

      I really feel for the poor Americans.

      So do I, they seem to have completely forgotten their old drive for capitalism. Here they are storing everyone's personal phone calls, electronic documents, photos etc. and nobody in the US government has thought of marketing this as the ultimate solution to everyone's backup problem.

    • Really? Explicitly cited Godwin's Law, modded up to +3? WTF? Why isn't this shit at -1 where it belongs? Jeez talk about hateful wishful thinking...it's like a catalog of what leftists wish were true. And in their playbook, repeating something enough times does make it true. We learned that one in the 20th century.

      "We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually

      • Jeez talk about hateful wishful thinking...it's like a catalog of what leftists wish were true.

        What did he say that's not true? Too much inconvenient truth for you? I'm to the right of Ted Cruz, and I see it happening too.

    • I really feel for the poor Americans. What a totalitarian nightmare America has become...

      You kind of have to appreciate the genius of Osama bin Laden. It is even more poignant that he even described fully what he was doing and the effect he intended to achieve... and it still happened. Absolutely amazing. You would think that with such an explicit description, the situation would have been avoidable, but it seems that the description became a target for Congress, the President, and the rest of the Executive to focus on like a homing missile.

      Just amazing. It is like he had direct control. Gotta

    • Well, it's the government [in this case, a president] that *you* voted for, no?
  • It's amazing the kind of silly alchemy you can pull off after managing to keep your population ignorant.

  • by Ihlosi ( 895663 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @03:16AM (#48033769)
    Convenient, isn't it?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @03:28AM (#48033815)

    Well this is moot since they ARE examined. They are run against a query for a subset of data which excludes that data from the subset. Sure the result of the query doesn't return your data, but it returns the fact that your data didn't match the query!

    e.g. Terrorist is defined someone who reads 4chan AND sites ending .PK. Your data is searched, you don't match, so you don't come up in the results set, but nevertheless your data was searched for the negative.

    The data clearly *is* collected, an executive order from 1981 when the data could *not* be collected in a searchable form back in 1981 clearly does not apply to data collected in searchable form today!

    Lawyers pretending words mean other things, is a lawyers trick that has to be constantly pushed back against.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Like the word "torture", which lawyers creatively expressed as euphamisms like "enhanced interrogation"; or "kidnapping", which they redefined as "extraordinary rendition".

      We are slowly but surely inventing Newspeak.

    • e.g. Terrorist is defined someone who reads 4chan

      finally, a sane definition of the word terrorist! although i would narrow it down to 4chan/b/ and 4chan/r/

  • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @03:31AM (#48033823) Journal
    Can't change the law, or don't want to? Just redefine the words.

    In the introductory class on law I took ages ago, they already told us that "one can be led astray by relying on the generic or commonly understood definition of a particular word.", and advised to always examine the meaning of words like "accused", "summons", etc, as they have a specific legal definition that often differs from the commonly understood meaning. Now I know why...
    • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

      Nice try, but we all know that it all depends on what the meaning of "is" is. I did not have sexual relations* with that woman.

  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @03:56AM (#48033897) Journal

    The voters don't give a damn. The TV still works, what's the big deal?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    No election has happened until the president has acted like a statesman. Obama's terms have not yet started.

    • I see. Which has what bearing on an order signed in 1981 by Reagan? If you invent imaginary reasons to pretend Obama's presidency didn't happen, which is pretty crazy on the face of it, it doesn't actually eliminate this in any way shape or form.

  • Timer... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dowsell ( 3817747 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @05:17AM (#48034095)

    "Does the timer start when the "box" is opened or when the "box" is filled?"

    Neither. The timer simply determines how long the government has to ship the data off to a non-US jurisdiction then deny that they ever collected it.

    • I wonder how long it will be until Mexico needs a huge new data center to help with the war on drugs, Of course America will be happy to fund this providing the CIA can keep a few yottabytes of files there, safely away from Executive scrutiny.

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @05:20AM (#48034101)

    Never in my life have I read a "collection" of words that more succinctly summarized the level of corruption within our government than in the summary we've read here.

    I don't even know why it ended in a question when the answer will be whatever the fuck they want it will be. They've mad that abundantly clear with the manipulation of wordplay to dismantle every Right you read about in the "collection" of books we use to educate our youth.

    Want to ban more books in school? Might as well start with the US Constitution. You'll find it accurately filed under fictional humor because it's a joke.

  • inb4 Obama haters (Score:2, Informative)

    by wbr1 ( 2538558 )

    On December 4, 1981 President Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12333, an Executive Order intended to extend powers and responsibilities of US intelligence agencies and direct the leaders of U.S. federal agencies to co-operate fully with CIA requests for information.[1] This executive order was entitled United States Intelligence Activities. It was amended by Executive Order 13355: Strengthened Management of the Intelligence Community, on August 27, 2004. On July 30, 2008, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13470[2] amending Executive Order 12333 to strengthen the role of the DNI.[3][4]

    - From WIkipedia

    Thanks Obama

    • On December 4, 1981 President Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12333, an Executive Order intended to extend powers and responsibilities of US intelligence agencies and direct the leaders of U.S. federal agencies to co-operate fully with CIA requests for information.[1] This executive order was entitled United States Intelligence Activities. It was amended by Executive Order 13355: Strengthened Management of the Intelligence Community, on August 27, 2004. On July 30, 2008, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13470[2] amending Executive Order 12333 to strengthen the role of the DNI.[3][4]

      - From WIkipedia

      Thanks Obama

      Very interesting ;)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... The 4th amendment prohibits unreasonable searches AND SEIZURES. Regardless of the attempt to redefine "collection", the gathering remains a seizure of the data and is just as legally invalid.

  • I can't help but to hear Inigo Montoya's voice saying "You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means".

    George Orwell got it right. When you're free to redifine what words mean, you can justify and get away with anything.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."

  • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @08:25AM (#48035059) Homepage

    the term "collection" as redefined by Executive Order 12333 to allow basically every information dragnet, provided no-one looks at it. "Collection" is now defined as "collection plus action." ... This leads to the question of aging off collected data/communications:

    No it does not. Do not go gentle into that good night. There is no reason whatsoever for us to accept the giant leap into unconstitutional territory and debate the fine points left to us, settling for scraps of liberty from dictators who have derived no just power from the consent of the governed. Rage against this machine until you die or it does.

    • Exactly.
      The law is constrained by the constitution, orders (executive, and otherwise) are constrained by the law.
      The point at which the constrained item reaches beyond its container is the point at which the item becomes invalid.
      In other words, unlawful orders are null be definition. Unconstitutional law is no law at all. Unconstitutional orders are not orders.
  • Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society.

    - John Adams

  • sigh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Libertarian_Geek ( 691416 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @09:07AM (#48035589)
    Que the "See Reagan did this, so Obama is still my hope and change." BS.
    ...and "Bush was so much worse."

    While we're bickering about "my team" vs "your team", the constitution erodes further....
  • Americans accept this when it comes to terms like "speech" or "arms" all the time. Rather than change a law or amend the constitution, we just accept subtle redefinitions of terms. We don't want people to own own nuclear weapons, even though we have the right to bear arms. So we redefined "arms" to not include certain kinds of bombs. Similarly, the first amendment protects speech, so we redefined "speech" so it does not include shouting "fire" in a crowded theater.

    Unfortunately, this is a dangerous solu

  • ... For the Executive order redefining PI as 3.2 [wikipedia.org].
  • Obama has turned into such a vile sack of shit. I may never vote Dumbocrat again.

  • by silfen ( 3720385 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2014 @10:00AM (#48036221)

    Executive orders are issued by the president; our current "constitutional expert" in the White House could change this any time he wants to with the stroke of a pen, like he promised during his campaign. The fact that these policies remain in place is solely the responsibility of the president.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No worries - this president has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, so we can all rest easy.

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