Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
United States Privacy The Internet Your Rights Online

Schneier: The NSA Is Commandeering the Internet 413

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-mine-now dept.
Nerdfest writes "Bruce Schneier writes in The Atlantic: 'Bluntly: The government has commandeered the Internet. Most of the largest Internet companies provide information to the NSA, betraying their users. Some, as we've learned, fight and lose. Others cooperate, either out of patriotism or because they believe it's easier that way. I have one message to the executives of those companies: fight.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Schneier: The NSA Is Commandeering the Internet

Comments Filter:
  • by intermodal (534361) on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:11PM (#44545461) Homepage Journal

    The only way to win this is to get FISA eliminated. Without first eliminating the gag orders and the Star Chamber...I mean FISA courts, we cannot succeed on the whole.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Desler (1608317)

      FISA is way to entrenched to be simply eliminated after 35 years. Hell even when NSLs were initially created with the 1978 FISA act they were actually voluntary to respond to and there were no codified penalties for not complying. They were also extremely limited in scope for whom they could be used by and against. It wasn't until the 2001 FISA amendments as part of the Patriot Act that NSLs got especially heinous.

      • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:43PM (#44545851) Homepage Journal

        FISA is way to entrenched to be simply eliminated after 35 years.

        That's a good illustration of our system being one that features positive feedback loops. It has to keep getting worse until it collapses under its own weight.

        It wasn't intended to be that way, but empirical evidence shows it to be the case. Judging by how every new law seems to have its own set of unintended consequences, I'm skeptical of anybody who would claim to be able to design a system that would be resistant against such biases.

        Sometimes the only winning move is not to play.

        • by alexgieg (948359)

          Judging by how every new law seems to have its own set of unintended consequences, I'm skeptical of anybody who would claim to be able to design a system that would be resistant against such biases. Sometimes the only winning move is not to play.

          Cf. the Chodorov Principle [mises.org]: "For every social problem A caused by government program X, problem A can be solved by abolishing program X."

      • by elucido (870205) on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:51PM (#44545965)

        FISA is way to entrenched to be simply eliminated after 35 years. Hell even when NSLs were initially created with the 1978 FISA act they were actually voluntary to respond to and there were no codified penalties for not complying. They were also extremely limited in scope for whom they could be used by and against. It wasn't until the 2001 FISA amendments as part of the Patriot Act that NSLs got especially heinous.

        Just because no penalties are codified on the document it doesn't mean unwritten penalties don't exist. Any time you piss a bunch of powerful people off there is a penalty whether it is written into the law or not.

    • The other way to "win" is to move your company offshore - or start it offshore - and not sell your products or services to Americans, and hope the Americans get fed up enough to demand change.

      Of course, that may just be trading one nosy government for another.

      For governments, one way to "win" is to have a policy of creating direct bulk-data communications channels with other countries when possible, and use encrypted tunnels for all other communications so there is a "direct virtual connection" between the

    • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:39PM (#44545781) Homepage Journal

      The only way to win this is to get FISA eliminated. Without first eliminating the gag orders and the Star Chamber...I mean FISA courts, we cannot succeed on the whole.

      Sadly, I think it will take a lot more than getting FISA (and the Patriot Act, and the rest) eliminated. I for one don't believe that they will simply stop their secret spying if those get eliminated.

    • by Tokolosh (1256448) on Monday August 12, 2013 @05:31PM (#44546355)

      If the US wasn't so busy spreading Freedom(TM) around the world, maybe we wouldn't have so much terrorism/freedom fighting and not need FISA, NSA, etc., never mind a standing army.

    • The only way to win this is to get FISA eliminated. Without first eliminating the gag orders and the Star Chamber...I mean FISA courts, we cannot succeed on the whole.

      You don't have to eliminate the gag orders. They're blatantly unconstiutional.

      I see a lot of people taking the attitude of basically "wait and see" when it comes to these gag order. This is absurd in the extreme. All such actions do is reinforce the fear and thrid hand authority of these "orders".

      The best thing everyone in reciept of such a ga

  • by OutOnARock (935713) on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:11PM (#44545473)
    NSAnet?

    So we were right in the 90s when we thought Facebook was a CIA front?

    Trash cans tracking MACs.....FBI turning on my mic......1984 is only going to be 30 odd years late......
    • We now know it's an NSA front.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Facebook existed in the 90s?? Goodness, I'm soooo late on everything. -.-

      • Effectively yes. It was called AOL.

        Fair disclosure: Facebook is just a place where all the attention whore, idiots hang out. AOL was that once.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by xdor (1218206)

      I kind of wondered about this when the d.root-server moved to the University of Maryland.

      http://blog.icann.org/2012/12/d-root/

      Maybe it's not a big deal, but somehow "University of Maryland" seems like just another way of saying "NSA annex B"

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:13PM (#44545487)

    >> The government has commandeered the Internet

    Somewhere, I'm sure Al Gore is pissed.

    • by JestersGrind (2549938) on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:29PM (#44545689)

      Actually, he is. He believes that what they are doing is unconstitutional.

      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/14/al-gore-nsa-surveillance-unamerican [theguardian.com]

  • by msobkow (48369) on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:14PM (#44545503) Homepage Journal

    We need the illegal surveillance of the world to STOP.

    Now!

    • by Tim12s (209786)

      Well *thats* going to work. Say that to the rest of the world. While I agree with the sentiment, this is done by every good government and every bad government. People are getting upset at one or two countries that are effectively now the focal point for the mob.

      I'd rather lobby for better oversight.

      Its like arguing that Iran/NK should give up their nukes. Hehe.... *thats* successful.

      Fact, that tech isnt going anywhere and its already in use by the side stealing IP from your endorsed pyramid scheme... e

    • by whoever57 (658626)

      We need the surveillance of the world to STOP.

      FTFY

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:16PM (#44545531)

    Drop this idea of the "government" as some evil alien entity with unknown motives. The issue here is that the NSA is being a bunch of assbags to internet companies.. At the behest of other companies. In this case, security services contractors. Why does everyone forget the warnings about the Military Industrial Complex? This is the Security Industrial Complex and we're throwing away our freedoms so some slimy fucks can make a buck. There is a reason most of our "generals" are desk jockeys whose' primary job is shuffling papers and securing funding.

    Some say never attribute to malice what could be explained by incompetence. I say never attribute to incompetence what can be explained by greed.

    • by timeOday (582209)

      The issue here is that the NSA is being a bunch of assbags to internet companies..

      Oh please. The absurdity of Schneier (and your) position is the idea that the companies are on a different side of the issue than the NSA in the first place. Obviously there is quite a bit of value in huge databases of everything. It is companies, not the government, who led the charge in constructing and exploiting the databases. Now that they exist, government is simply horning in on them.

    • by elucido (870205) on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:45PM (#44545887)

      Drop this idea of the "government" as some evil alien entity with unknown motives. The issue here is that the NSA is being a bunch of assbags to internet companies.. At the behest of other companies. In this case, security services contractors. Why does everyone forget the warnings about the Military Industrial Complex? This is the Security Industrial Complex and we're throwing away our freedoms so some slimy fucks can make a buck. There is a reason most of our "generals" are desk jockeys whose' primary job is shuffling papers and securing funding.

      Some say never attribute to malice what could be explained by incompetence. I say never attribute to incompetence what can be explained by greed.

      The point is there is still no way to defend yourself against a pissed off or curious NSA. if the NSA is pissed off you're done. If they are curious they'll learn everything about everything, including all about your life, your friends and family. There is nothing you can do to defend yourself against an agency that knows everything you do. What are you supposed to do? Tell them no and hope they play nice?

      As a result everyone cooperates with any government agency. If you're in China or Russia you're not going to fight the FSB or the Chinese communist party. If you're in the USA you're not going to fight the NSA. But at least in the USA you have some rights and the NSA cannot legally spy on you, if you're in a foreign country then the NSA can legally spy on you and not only can you not fight the NSA but the NSA can use everything you ever did to convince you to cooperate.

      So how exactly is it realistic for anyone not to cooperate with agencies that have so much power? You can cooperate or be destroyed trying to fight. The destruction of your business, but possibly of your personal life as well, most people aren't going to risk it.

      • There is nothing you can do to defend yourself against an agency that knows everything you do. What are you supposed to do? Tell them no and hope they play nice?

        I've said it once and I'll say it again. "Enemy of the State" is a movie that gets more scarier and more precient with each passing year. It's only a matter of time until a senator really is outright murdered.

      • Drop this idea of the "government" as some evil alien entity with unknown motives. The issue here is that the NSA is being a bunch of assbags to internet companies.. At the behest of other companies. In this case, security services contractors. Why does everyone forget the warnings about the Military Industrial Complex? This is the Security Industrial Complex and we're throwing away our freedoms so some slimy fucks can make a buck. There is a reason most of our "generals" are desk jockeys whose' primary job is shuffling papers and securing funding.

        Some say never attribute to malice what could be explained by incompetence. I say never attribute to incompetence what can be explained by greed.

        The point is there is still no way to defend yourself against a pissed off or curious NSA. if the NSA is pissed off you're done. If they are curious they'll learn everything about everything, including all about your life, your friends and family. There is nothing you can do to defend yourself against an agency that knows everything you do. What are you supposed to do? Tell them no and hope they play nice?

        As a result everyone cooperates with any government agency. If you're in China or Russia you're not going to fight the FSB or the Chinese communist party. If you're in the USA you're not going to fight the NSA. But at least in the USA you have some rights and the NSA cannot legally spy on you, if you're in a foreign country then the NSA can legally spy on you and not only can you not fight the NSA but the NSA can use everything you ever did to convince you to cooperate.

        So how exactly is it realistic for anyone not to cooperate with agencies that have so much power? You can cooperate or be destroyed trying to fight. The destruction of your business, but possibly of your personal life as well, most people aren't going to risk it.

        Whoa, whoa, whoa...first off the NSA's job is monitoring electronic communications. There are other ways to communicate that they can't "listen" to, and they are...were limited in what they can do. The CIA on the other hand is the proverbial "hound" in the statement, "Release the hounds!" They dispose, while the NSA listens. Everyone is barking about the NSA, I'd be more worried about the CIA operating on American soil. So far, that has come to the surface. They are far scarier in action than the NSA, folks

    • Basically if you are offering any products or services over the Internet now you are baiting your customers into being spied upon. Every email you send is inviting the recipient to reply and be spied upon. Its not just about what you do. Its about what others on the net do in response. Every action you take condoning the use of this medium is tricking other people to use it too.

      They havent just usurped the Internet. They have contaminated it. They have defiled it.

  • No WE must Fight. Go to public meeting when the ELECTED Congressmen/women who write these laws. Question then send a clear message change it or be removed from office. The reason it has gotten so bad is not because big company's dont fight it its because we the electors choose to ignore it. I'm guilty as well but i do vote. Hound the bastards they dont want to get voted out of office the perks are great. Stop blaming others blame ourselves.
    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      You wouldn't be suggesting making a public protest within 1 mile of a secret service agent, would you?
    • by Culture20 (968837)

      Go to public meeting when the ELECTED Congressmen/women who write these laws.

      They don't hold public meetings as much as they used to, especially if they're entrenched.

    • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:41PM (#44545819)

      >> Go to public meeting when the ELECTED Congressmen/women who write these laws. Question then send a clear message change it or be removed from office.

      Recently, the Tea Party folks tried this and the Occupy folks tried this. Result? Universal derision from major media, and specific derision from the opposite party's political leaders. Almost no changes to the insulated agencies or policies that ticked off ordinary people in the first place.

    • by Tokolosh (1256448)

      What if Google, Yahoo, AT&T, Microsoft, AOL, Charter, Comcast, Verizon and all the rest stood together and told the government to piss off, and get warrants in open court? Sure, they could be sued, prosecuted and shut down, but the collateral damage would be so huge that even politicians would hesitate.

      In short, I am calling for some backbone and civil disobedience from those whose business models are at stake.

  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:17PM (#44545551)
    Unless the green robot has a new age weapon I suspect the faction with the guns is going to win over the interests of the technology industry.
  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:22PM (#44545621)

    When you're focused on sucking in everything, you're not focusing on analyzing anything. Somehow, we didn't have the resources available to keep the Boston bombers under surveillance, but we have the resources to keep 300+ million innocent citizens under watch.

    • by Laxori666 (748529) on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:34PM (#44545725) Homepage
      Yes, but if they have a target they can analyze the data with respect to that target. If you get on their radar they can pull up & analyze everything they have on you. And it's cheap to store massive amounts of data. What it comes down to is the government will have supreme power over anybody they don't like... which is not a good thing.
  • by ClassicASP (1791116) on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:33PM (#44545721)
    We might as well just throw in the towel and go back to using kite string with styrofoam cups to communicate (kidding). Seriously though, all the "fighting" in the world doesn't stand a chance against the almighty dollar. Anyone who fights can either be forced to cooperate or else probably be bought-off. Since clearly after all that CISPA protesting the govt just went ahead and did it anyway, that pretty much says loud and clear weather or not they have any interest in what the public has to say in the matter. So the only solution I can think of is that we gotta find an alternative; something decentralized that can't be easily bottlenecked and used as a point-of-origin to intercept and track what is supposed to be private. Global wireless mesh networking is the only alternative I can think of, but for as many times as I've brought it up, someone always shoots the idea down and insists its not possible (just like going to the moon used to be "not possible", right?).
  • It's not like there is equal power here and there is any way to put up much of a fight. Either they give the information to the NSA or the NSA takes the information. It's a lot easier to sell it than to deal with the hostile takeover or the underhanded means or the legal offensive. The average CEO is defenseless not only against the NSA but against any government agency.

    Fighting is only a symbolic gesture. There is nothing anyone can do really to stop the NSA from getting what it wants.

    • Re:Fight with what? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by markjhood2003 (779923) on Monday August 12, 2013 @06:39PM (#44546941)

      If corporations are really people, maybe they should take a look at the concept of civil disobedience.

      What exactly would happen if Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft told the NSA to fuck off? There might be a few high-profile arrests. Internet services could be severely disrupted. But these companies have the greatest platform for expressing their views and fighting back since the beginning of history. Can you imagine the effect if Google dedicated their search portal to explaining what they were doing, why the Internet was suddenly broken, and urging ordinary people to flood Congress with demands to restore our civil rights?

      These are huge public companies, but at least at Facebook and Google, most of the voting shares are controlled by the founders. They have almost complete control over their companies, and with that kind of power, they should perhaps consider exercising some responsibility.

  • Use the Deep Web and darknets. The internet as a medium is useful, you don't have to use one of a finite list of known gateways/providers.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Plan:
    First you commit an unbelievably heinous and cowardly act.
    Then you sit back and watch as they eat their own laws and freedoms...the very things you despise.
    Then you win.

    Why would terrorists waste the energy trying to change western culture when we'll happily do it for them?

    • by Valdrax (32670) on Monday August 12, 2013 @05:47PM (#44546513)

      Why would terrorists waste the energy trying to change western culture when we'll happily do it for them?

      Because they don't actually give a flying flip about our laws or our freedoms. All they want is us out of the Middle East, all of the secular rulers of Islamic countries that we favor out of power, and for Israel left to their tender mercies.

      As long as we stay on our side of the planet, they're relatively okay with mere contempt at us having our vaunted freedoms.

  • One in 20 million (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:52PM (#44545971)

    Those are your chances of being a victim [reason.com]. 230 deaths a year is the justification for all the tax dollars, trampled rights and illegal activity.

    • by SoTerrified (660807) on Monday August 12, 2013 @05:42PM (#44546481)
      This right here. Rights are being trampled, billions of dollars are being spent by TSA, NSA, and other 3 letter organizations to protect the average American from something (terrorist attack) that is less likely to kill you than spider bites or shark attacks and FAR less likely to kill you than driving a car or standing on a ladder. Even if you agree with the mission, surely it's obvious the money is being misspent. (Or, more likely, being funnelled off to make a select few very rich.) It's clear we need to bring this all out into the light and stop spending billions behind the scenes on a 'hush hush, you don't have the clearance to know' way.
    • But of course we all know it's not just about terrorism. It's about control.

      Myself, I would much rather live in a country with a tiny risk of terrorism than a marginally safer, ostensibly terrorist free police state.

      And those are pretty much the de facto choices.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 12, 2013 @05:10PM (#44546157)

    Sheeple are frequently painfully unaware of the processes that create decent societies, so when their once decent society comes under attack from within, don't even realise what they risk losing if they refuse to act.

    The USA is an a cycle of spending ever large amounts on its Earth threatening military machine. The more the military grows, the more powerful the supporters of the military become, until every aspect of American life is shilling the wonders of a society that exists to serve and grow the military. No American now dares to question the obscenity of America's mass murdering butchers in uniform.

    Spying follows the same pattern, but worse in this way. Whereas military investment usually fails to show clear positive results, spy programs merely have to prove they grab more data about more people to be seen as successful. Take Bill Gates and the NSA's ultimate spy platform, the Xbox One. This puts a camera, microphone and motion recognition system into the home of MILLIONS of Americans at ZERO cost to the US government. The sheeple actually pay to have the world's most sophisticated real-time spy device in their own living rooms (or children's bedrooms).

    What US government would have said "No!" to Gates' proposal? Bill Gates promises to provide a running tally of each person who enters/leaves the same room as his console, 24/7. He promises that the running cost to the NSA is minimal, as each Xbone reports daily its record of individuals that appeared before it (the console sends head shots to the NSA cloud servers, so the NSA can link location with straightforward face recognition to put a name to each person tracked by the Xbone). Microsoft has already declared that the Kinect sensor system that allows this is always running, and the encrypted traffic that constantly flows from the console to the cloud defies the ability of any investigator to identify exactly what the Xbone is doing at any one time.

    The vicious circle, or positive feedback, is fully active. All that remains is to worry about what future use a government may put the information it gathers to. America jails more people than anywhere else, and as with the military and spying, is rapidly accelerating the grown of the prison industry. How easily Clinton II or any future US dictator (your presidents ARE dictators, but with fixed term limits) could introduce new classes of 'thought crimes'.

    The US Constitution should be amended to make all forms of government surveillance EXCEPT clearly targeted acts with individual court approval, illegal by principle. This especially applies to 'anonymous' full surveillance projects that claim that if the sources of data remain anonymous, that is OK. Freedom from ALL unwarranted surveillance should be added to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Conscience. The vast majority of the NSA and similar agencies should be dismantled (and there are plenty of real examples from history where nations have dismantled their spying organisations when they became abusive).

    But good is NOT going to happen. The sheeple have been carefully groomed, and more importantly dis-empowered. The sheeple therefore do not provide a countermanding societal force of any kind, so the military, prison system, spying, and mainstream media propaganda programs continue to grow at a truly alarming rate. What happens when only one side is pushing? If you know anything about the History of our Race, you'd realise the answer is almost too scary to comprehend. America is going to be responsible for WW3. This cannot be prevented now. Every aspect of American society is preparing for the next World War (even if most of the sheeple are too thick to notice this, as they cheer their murderous troops in whatever nation exterminating slaughter they are currently engaged in).

    When the real war finally kicks off, the NSA will provide the most comprehensive list of all those that need to be rounded up. Google's algorithms will weed out leaders and potential leaders of all effective anti-war sentiment. In many ways, this whole technological farce is playing out to return us to the times when the King could declare war, and the sheeple had no choice but to go along with the declaration.

  • by arobatino (46791) on Monday August 12, 2013 @05:59PM (#44546627)

    Schneier is assuming that it matters if a company's customers trust it. But with the relative lack of ISP competition in the US, where are customers of large ISPs supposed to go? What difference does it make whether their customers trust them?

  • by Grand Facade (35180) on Monday August 12, 2013 @09:42PM (#44548447)

    to ID the spammers and nuke the fuckers from orbit!

It is not every question that deserves an answer. -- Publilius Syrus

Working...