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Snowden Strikes Again: NSA Mapping Social Connections of US Citizens 513

Posted by Soulskill
from the raise-your-hand-if-you-are-surprised dept.
McGruber writes "The New York Times is reporting on yet another NSA revelation: for the last three years, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans' social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information. 'The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such "enrichment" data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.' In a memorandum, NSA analysts were 'told that they could trace the contacts of Americans as long as they cited a foreign intelligence justification.' 'That could include anything from ties to terrorism, weapons proliferation or international drug smuggling to spying on conversations of foreign politicians, business figures or activists. Analysts were warned to follow existing "minimization rules," which prohibit the NSA from sharing with other agencies names and other details of Americans whose communications are collected, unless they are necessary to understand foreign intelligence reports or there is evidence of a crime. The agency is required to obtain a warrant from the intelligence court to target a "U.S. person" — a citizen or legal resident — for actual eavesdropping.'"
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Snowden Strikes Again: NSA Mapping Social Connections of US Citizens

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  • Go Team.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by dubist (2893961) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @08:24AM (#44984777)
    It just gets better and better..
    • Re:Go Team.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Sunday September 29, 2013 @03:03PM (#44986887) Journal

      The more we "learn" about this the more it sounds like Naomi Wolf was right, that Snowden was a plant designed to create a chilling effect [gawker.com] on the US populace. After all you can't have a chilling effect if you don't know you are being watched, can you? And you can't have the government just come right out and tell you, there has to be at least some deniability to make the most loyal go with the "if you have nothing to hide" line of bullshit, so by having some "disgruntled employee" do the leaking you have a perfect scenario, all the intelligent ones are spooked and afraid to speak out while the "Joe Six Pack" type just ignores it and goes back to their day to day struggle for survival.

      No matter what your feelings on Snowden this possibility at least deserves to be discussed and if it turns out he was a plant? Then you have to give the gov credit, it was well played as talking to customers the smarter ones are worried about even saying this or that politician sucks for fear they will end up with a file while the more clueless ones go back to their reality shows and don't care.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 29, 2013 @08:30AM (#44984805)

    Unfortunately people just don't seem to care. They say "oh, that's terrible!" and that's the end of the discussion. While they may say it's terrible, they do absolutely nothing about it and just let it be and anyone that tries to do anything about it gets pushed as the enemy. The majority of American citizens voted for this behavior, and the majority of the American citizens support this behavior whether they willingly acknowledge this or not. If they don't support it then they should do something about it, even if it's just writing to their state representatives or something of the sort. Believe it or not, a lot of congress don't even believe this is going on or even know it's happening. They do whatever their advisers tell them to do and they learn about the things their advisers tell them about. Confronting them is the first step to changing the country into something better. You may not believe that congress will listen but this is politics and when people get angry they will listen.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      modern rebellion is only done in 2 ways. 1. stop spending 2. stop working. guns would be ineffective and 'protests' as they are known today are just silly. so logically what is the point at which a critical mass of people will stop spending or working?
      • by BlueStrat (756137) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @09:31AM (#44985111)

        modern rebellion is only done in 2 ways. 1. stop spending 2. stop working. guns would be ineffective...

        Guns, lots of guns, are one of the biggest reasons behind what is currently dissuading the government from just saying "screw it", and going full martial-law/internment camp/mass graves/brutal tyranny. Civilian guns are a strong disincentive against widespread domestic use of government armed force against the population by making it a very very costly and, like occupying/pacifying Afghanistan, likely in reality to be an impossible goal to achieve or maintain for any meaningful length of time.

        One significant "tell" is that all the politicians seem to be talking about lately is regulating/restricting/banning medium and long range semi-automatic rifles that history shows are used in so very few crimes it's ridiculous, not so much handguns. Handguns are not nearly as effective against a military or para-military occupation/pacification force as are rifles.

        Guns, lots of guns, would be one of the biggest reasons the government would not simply immediately imprison/kill all those organizing, promoting, and/or participating in your "stop working and stop spending" plan.

        Strat

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 29, 2013 @10:44AM (#44985457)

          No, the reason for not going "full martial-law/internment camp/mass graves/brutal tyranny" is because it serves no point.

          And for the record, America did built internment camps in the 1940's for Japanese-American US citizens, has used mass graves for Native Americans during the Trail of Tears, and just recently held an entire major US city under lock down to catch 2 suspected bombers

          So much for the "lots of guns" joke.

        • by Culture20 (968837) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:07AM (#44985571)
          And before anyone says "what good are handguns and shotguns against reaper missiles, sniper rifles, tanks, and nuclear weapons?", the benefit small arms provide is a psychological willingness to fight. With martial law, you want the people to continue working for the benefit of the state (either taxing them or confiscating goods). Civil wars are very costly even if the internal enemy can be wiped out in a day or less. If a large portion of the population has even an incorrect belief that they can effectively stand up to tyranny, then outright tyranny becomes a losing course of action.
          • by TheSeatOfMyPants (2645007) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:36AM (#44990493) Journal

            Wrong. Average people actually fare better at resisting military authority when violence isn't a primary aspect of their approach, because it allows everyone to participate in little ways all the time, rather than just the minority that lack dependents and don't mind being killed/imprisoned. (This is assuming the people aren't in a position where they know for a fact that they're all going to die anyway, of course; if they're fucked either way, *then* it can make sense to fight back.)

            For some great examples of what to do and *not* to do if you want to successfully resist heavily-armed occupying forces, check out how different places resisted while occupied during WWII [wikipedia.org]. Areas where non-violent resistance was the foundation of their efforts often achieved a great deal, like the French Resistance [wikipedia.org] and Dutch Resistance [wikipedia.org]. The places whose resistance was based on a focus upon physical violence managed to repel invaders (at an extremely heavy cost) in some cases, but otherwise only achieved temporary liberation of limited regions before being squashed, as in these examples:

            "...the first organized armed uprising in then-occupied Europe which involved 32.000 people. In quick time, most of Montenegro was liberated, except major cities where Italian forces were well fortified. On 12 August—after a major Italian offensive involving 5 divisions and 30.000 armed soldiers — the uprising collapsed as units were disintegrating, poor leadership occurred as well as collaboration. Final toll of July 13 uprising in Montenegro was 735 dead, 1120 wounded and 2070 captured Italians and 72 dead and 53 wounded Montenegrins."

            "Operation Anthropoid was a resistance move during World War II to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi “Protector of Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia” and the chief of Nazi's final solution, by the Czech resistance in Prague. Over fifteen thousand Czechs were killed in reprisals, with the most infamous incidents being the complete destruction of the towns of Lidice and Leáky."

            Keep in mind, we're talking about places and a time period when the vast majority of people were extremely physically fit, had intimate knowledge of their area/countryside from living there most of their lives, and were used to physical hardship -- they had *much* better chances of success via violent uprising than we Americans would have, and their few minor successes using that method could have been (and in other places were) achieved with a primarily non-violent approach.

            FWIW, I'm not remotely pacifistic in nature, I just recognize that regardless of my impulses, history shows clearly that violence rarely wins the day when one is up against trained heavily-armed buff soldiers.

        • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:22AM (#44985623) Homepage

          And exactly what do the tens of thousands of random fire arms do for you in an attempt to foil the powers that be?

          Planning on taking over the neighborhood Air Force base with a few of your friends and convincing the pilots to bomb DC? Overrun the National Guard Armory and steal some Vietnam era trucks and a few radios (oops, wrong frequency ..)

          The reason that Afghanistan is so fucked up and will remain a fucked up, neo feudal society is that they are stuck in small squad infantry tactics (along with a bizarre misogynist, xenophobic religion). Yes, then can fight a asymmetric war, but clean water and power, not so much. For better or worse, the standard of living in the US and similar countries is dependent on a complicated weave of people, business and law. You can break the system, but then you've bought it. How are all the disconnected angry people with guns going to rebuild a society?

          Is it really going to be better than what we have? Can you think of some, perhaps less violent ways of accomplishing something useful?

          I don't think that an armed citizenry is keeping the government from doing what it wants. Remember, the powers that be don't want any drastic change - it's how they make their money. We still need to role back the intrusiveness of government in the world, but it's a slow, messy process.

          • by russotto (537200)

            For better or worse, the standard of living in the US and similar countries is dependent on a complicated weave of people, business and law. You can break the system, but then you've bought it. How are all the disconnected angry people with guns going to rebuild a society?

            Pretty much the same way they did last time. With the local systems largely intact, use them to rebuild state and national systems. Whether that's possible or not would be a big question.

            Is it really going to be better than what we hav

            • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspaM.world3.net> on Monday September 30, 2013 @07:41AM (#44990655) Homepage

              Armed rebellion is just about the most ineffective way to deal with this situation. The best, in fact the only realistic option is for there to be more people like Snowden and for people to take what those heroes release and use it to change the system. Make encryption more effective so that the spying on everyone becomes impossible, use the information to reveal the secrets for those in power and bring them down.

              The system is far from invulnerable. Politicians in particular are easily manipulated. Human beings are always the biggest weakness in any system.

          • by NFN_NLN (633283)

            And exactly what do the tens of thousands of random fire arms do for you in an attempt to foil the powers that be?

            Planning on taking over the neighborhood Air Force base with a few of your friends and convincing the pilots to bomb DC? Overrun the National Guard Armory and steal some Vietnam era trucks and a few radios (oops, wrong frequency ..)

            Can you think of some, perhaps less violent ways of accomplishing something useful?

            I don't think that an armed citizenry is keeping the government from doing what it wants.

            I'm with ColdWetDog. Look at historical war strategies and you'll see, once again, the Jews had the right idea. Eventually someone else will come around and save the day, we just need to wait it out in 'camps' until that day comes. Unlike traditional prisons where boredom is the enemy I heard the Jews were given quite a few busy tasks to help them pass the time. Hell, they even contributed to scientific and medical research as well.

        • by felrom (2923513) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @01:09PM (#44986219)

          As another "tell," keep in mind that California's own Diane Feinstein is both the largest pusher of gun control and the biggest cheerleader for the NSA's spying in the Senate. It's no coincidence.

          California should be ashamed.

          • I just watched Enemy of the State and was amused to see them supposing this to be some republican dream. Come to find out, when your platform involves the government being responsible for absolutely everything, you tend to want a lot of intel on absolutely everything. Go figure that the most liberal state would have politicans who are incredibly liberal?

        • Not to mention we have undeniable proof that this is a goal thanks to the "Fast and Furious" false flag that got at least one American border agent murdered and countless civilians on both sides of the border yet NOT A SINGLE ARREST of those responsible for what is obviously a VERY serious crime, the arming of drug cartels.

          I personally don't give a shit if you are left or right, I lean so socialist I'm often called "Slashdot's resident hippie" yet I think Obama should be investigated to see what he knew and Holder should be cooling his heels in prison right now, and that he is not just shows what he was doing was approved of by those at the top. Treason can only flourish if none dare call it treason and if you go by the government's own standards and consider drug cartels to be narco-terrorists? Then Holder aided terrorists and should be in jail and possibly looking at the death penalty.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by aralin (107264)

          You don't seem to understand the purpose of martial law. It is a very obsolete low tech technique used to control population movements at times where the humans with guns need to take a rest and your human informers are largely not around. It is to limit the human resources needed to surveil the population. Martial law is only instituted when the positive effects are outweighing the negative effects of angering and radicalizing the society on which it is applied. For example when a suitable justification ca

    • by AHuxley (892839) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @09:18AM (#44985063) Homepage Journal
      The world will just encrypt around a "digital" East Germany. The drones, uniforms, constant surveillance, expensive contractors, searches, expanding budgets, brand name cooperation are all as easy to see as a Berlin Wall.
    • While I am a bit cynical myself, I'd have to disagree with the statement that no-one care about all of this. Despite the mainstream media's systemic attempts to bury this story, the NSA revelations are a sledgehammer slowly pounding at the complacent foundations of the free internet. This issue is simply too huge to go away.

      The NSA is literally turning into an Orwellian Ministry of Information. It has commandeered the internet, and is strong-arming American companies into doing its bidding, regardless of the effect on their or their customers rights or freedoms, and regardless of the effect on America's reputation for free speech and free enterprise.

      It might be easy to ignore each individual blow of revelation, but when a big pillar crumbles, it becomes a little difficult to look away or hide the growing sense of dread. The closure of Lavabit and Silent Circle was a body blow to the notion of free speech and free enterprise on the US internet.

      A lot of people probably felt that the likes of Facebook, Google, MS, would be locked down first, with the creep moving down the chain to email providers, independent sites, and finally, in extremis, to small independent secure email service providers. Instead this has been turned on its head; the independent man, in business for himself, was the first pin to fall. The message is clear: You cannot set up a website, email service, or any other internet business in the United States without the prior and/or post-facto approval of the National Security Agency.

      A dream is dying. People like yourself escape through cynicism. Others escape through denial, or fantasy. But the reality is we are living in a nightmare, surrounded by a growing sense of dread in a global spy and surveillance network that has spiralled out of all reasonable proportion and probably control.

      The NSA is turning the internet into at best a panopticon, and at worst a prison for our whole society. They have slowly built a fortress of concrete, wire, and guard-towers around the free web. Edward Snowden is outside, slowly pounding on the wall, hoping some of those inside will hear enough to notice that they need to find a way to break out, to stop the construction before it's too late.

      I think he's succeeding. As cynical as I am, I think that as the revelations continue, more people are starting to wake up to the reality of the nightmare that the NSA was trying to create while they slept. We need an internet that is encrypted, anonymous, and decentralised by default; And Mr. Snowden's sledgehammer may be inspiring a new generation of hackers to finally create it.

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        Re The NSA is turning the internet into at best a panopticon, and at worst a prison for our whole society.
        The need to keep the 1950-90's panopticon secret is now over. The next step, decades of domestic 'lock box' data for use in open court depending on any political whim.
      • by sfm (195458) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @12:45PM (#44986071)

        You want this to stop?

        Then do something about it. The way to make a difference is in the one thing we, ("the people") can directly affect... .Voting !!

        Make it an issue next November. If you make it known this is important to you, it will be important to them. Every candidate should be asked his/her position and be held accountable for following through once elected.

        Keep a flame under the media, they print what they believe is interesting to their audience. If this is perceived as a persistent hot topic, it will not fade from public view.

        I wonder how this would be different if Snowden had waited until 2014.......... ?

    • by sleigher (961421) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @09:48AM (#44985201)
      I think many of you on this site need to study the trading with the enemy act. Look at Bradley Manning. He is charged with aiding the enemy. Who was he actually helping? We the people. Who is the enemy again?

      As for getting angry and bitching. That hasn't worked and isn't going to work. Fire and bullets work. Just ask Thomas Jefferson...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 29, 2013 @08:31AM (#44984809)

    For the last several Snowden disclosures, there was barely a mention on many of the major outlets such as CNN, whereas the earlier announcements made the primary CNN site headlines. Similar for NPR. As I write this, I don't see a single mention on cnn.com of this story.

    It seems that the public and the media has moved on, and no longer cares. It's the "new normal" that we are all spied on all the time. The chance for outrage and change has passed. No one will be held accountable, no government officials who stood up in front of the entire country and lied will be held responsible. Much like a lot of other tech issues, it has degenerated into one of those things that causes some nerd-rage but the general public doesn't really care about.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    After the first few leaks by snowden, we thought "holy shit". but then we got some rebuttals by the nsa/us govt in general, and then more snowden leaks showing that in fact the rebuttals were false statements, etc. even the most paranoid among us were wrong. the scope is still bigger than non-schizophrenics thought possible. Remember a year or 2 ago when there was a claim that the NSA/USGovt had backdoored a widely used crypto? the response was "this guy is either a liar or crazy. how credible is he?" even

  • Facebook 2.0 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 29, 2013 @08:32AM (#44984815)

    Looks like Facebook could have competition.

    If only the US Govenment would put a nice web interface on the front end.

    • by Phrogman (80473)

      Well they have put a nice web interface on the front end, but its only for NSA internal use :P

  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @08:35AM (#44984829)

    I think it would be useful for the American citizenry to have a copy of this data so that we can know exactly who the NSA employees are, who they know, what they're doing, and where they are at all times. Also the heads of JP Morgan, Citibank, Halliburton, etc, and all the shadowy 1% who are implementing this police state.

    Oh, it's only for informational purposes, you know. Not like we would act on any of that information.

    Seriously, do these people think these tools can't be turned on them? Americans have grown pretty fat and lazy but we are still a relatively heavily armed people, and you can't exactly go around ordering F-15s to drop napalm on suburban Cleveland. That is, the troubles the US Army has had suppressing IEDs and small arms fire in Afghanistan and Iraq multiply exponentially when you're turning your artillery on the friends and families of the very people you count on to manufacture your ammo, grow your food, and ship it to your butt.

    So go ahead, totalitarian fantasists, keep turning the weaponry and spying machinery on the very people you count on to make your activities possible. See how that turns out. ***Spoilers ahead*** It ends with you swinging for lampposts or torn limb from limb by angry mobs.

    • Why not start with a trip over to http://cryptome.org/ [cryptome.org] then look at http://cryptome.org/2013/09/senate-pk.htm [cryptome.org] http://cryptome.org/2013/09/nsa-pk.htm [cryptome.org] http://cryptome.org/2013/09/fbi-doj-pk.htm [cryptome.org] http://cryptome.org/2013/09/house-pk.htm [cryptome.org] http://cryptome.org/2013/09/uscourts-pk.htm [cryptome.org] and http://cryptome.org/2013/09/twitter-pk.htm [cryptome.org] and now seed both email content an headers with this publicly available information. Might well cause some names and addresses to be linked other names and addresses (be they two or three
    • by CODiNE (27417)

      I've seen this reasoning many times before and it seems a bit strange to me. The idea that American army members and police officers wouldn't follow orders and harm their fellow countrymen.

      Civil wars happen, people on both sides believe they are doing the right thing. There's many historical examples of people turning against their own countrymen both oppressing and slaughtering each other. If the government descends into some kind of nightmarish entity (which some argue has already happened) it doesn't s

  • The ability to link records of named associates was standard in law enforcement records management and case analysis tools. After 9/11/2001, an initiative was strted where those records were then shared using data sharing systems. In some cases, directed graphs could be constructed showing the relationships. Cops collected info regarding criminal incidents and ALL parties were in the names database.

    This information helped LE crack many cases as it provided a computerized way to link all those rec

    • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @09:56AM (#44985237)

      Difference in scale. The LE database tracks known criminals and those associated with a crime. The NSA database just tracks *everyone* on the grounds that they may possibly be a suspect at some point in the future.

      • by fritsd (924429) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @02:56PM (#44986851) Journal

        The NSA database just tracks *everyone* on the grounds that they may possibly be a suspect at some point in the future.

        And there's historical precedent for this: The Amsterdam city archive had detailed information about all its citizens, including "religion". When the Netherlands were occupied by the Nazis in 1940, the new government had a new query they wanted to run on this database.

        OK it was manual card search in that time, but still... not many Jews in Amsterdam survived, thanks to a previous government's careful information gathering on its own people (only for beneficial reasons, but that doesn't matter to the people who will have their claws on that dataset in 20 years time).

        Once the tool exists, once the mechanism is in place, it would be a waste of government money to shut it down and destroy the data, wouldn't it?

  • by MrKaos (858439) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @09:10AM (#44985015) Journal
    when you fear your government.
    • by jovius (974690)

      Isn't this more the result from not fearing the government? The amicable facade is impenetrable, and surrogate victims plenty.

  • No Surprise (Score:5, Informative)

    by Virtucon (127420) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @10:12AM (#44985295)

    If you look at the roots of all of this it goes back to the 1979 Supreme Court Ruling in Smith vs. Maryland [wikipedia.org] where:

    “A person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties’’

    The case centered around the installation of a pen register, which records phone numbers dialed in the phone company office. As all of the current press indicates the NSA and other Federal Agencies and Administrations to justify scooping up all of information they can. In 1979 it was difficult to trace phone calls because most of the local COs were analog and getting this kind of data meant installing devices, requiring court orders, anybody remember rotary dial? The 1979 ruling has therefore been applied now in our current era where this information is "at hand." Using this we can now see why the large Data Center in Utah is being built to collect the billions of Call Detail Records and other Internet IP data that the NSA can gobble up. Strangely enough the safeguards that protect a US citizen fall down suddenly if you have contact with a foreign country. Let's see, going on vacation to Europe this year? You're sucked into the system. Have friends or family members overseas? You're sucked into the system. Compound that over zealous approach to collection and the fact that they can save the data for up to 10 years for historical analysis and you have a huge storage problem. Now if you add it Network Graph Analysis, you'll be sucked in if your friends or family members have contacts with people in other countries. That means effectively everybody in US is on a graph somewhere and it's being used to create fake evidence chains against your fellow citizens. [disinfo.com] I'm not advocating crime or terrorism in any way but there has to be oversight of law enforcement in this nation, with the NSA scoping up everything they can you have a police state where evidence can be created out of thin air and you can't challenge it's authenticity.

    The ramifications of this are staggering and I for one have been in touch with my congressman and written to both my Senators to voice my opposition to it but the only way to fix this is to end the two party stranglehold of our government that has allowed this to happen behind closed doors. The FISA court needs to be abolished and the NSA systems need to be dismantled. That won't happen when you have elected officials who don't fear the electorate and the only way that will change is to force our government to enact:

    • Term Limits. Stop allowing the same assholes who get re-elected over and over again from serving on these committees. Look at the Senate Intelligence Committee who has partial oversight of the NSA, how many members have changed over the past decade? [senate.gov] Despite Republicans or Democrats running the Senate, the players strangely enough remain the same. Fuck that and start electing people who have your interests at heart, not the defense industry!
    • Campaign finance reform. Washington politics runs on money, no money, no incentive for these fucktards to constantly get re-elected or to have the process corrupted by corporations and lobbying groups up on M street. Plus it will free up a lot of office space in DC.
    • Get off your lazy butts and vote! General Elections get shitty turnout, [gmu.edu] it's time we take back our nation and get this career politicians afraid of the electorate again. Stop voting on pure party lines too. Democrats and Republicans could give a shit about you, it's about them maintaining power and getting re-elected so wake up.
    • Stop Gerrymandering. Every 10 years we go through endless redistricting battles with lawsuits over
  • by Jahava (946858) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @10:12AM (#44985303)

    Keep in mind that Facebook and countless other sites are already admittedly collecting the same (and more) information and behavior associations, oftentimes with as little publicly-released details, accountability, and oversight, and then using it actively and aggressively to manipulate every single person (American or otherwise) into altering their financial behaviors, public perceptions, political persuasions, social interactions, and much more.

    This is obviously not the same as a government agency per se, but it is useful to reflect on the differences and (more so) the similarities between what is specifically unsettling about a government and a large corporation having this information. Throughout this series of revelations, I've found it useful to contemplate any concern that I feel regarding my government possessing this degree of intimate information in the context of the Facebooks, Googles, and LinkedIns of the world. They are (to a far wider degree) actively targeting you (and everyone you know) directly and collecting and using all of the same associations with no need for suspicion of terrorism, illegal associations, FISA courts, or any real oversight. They sell this information in troves to the highest bidder with loose terms and are willingly or unwillingly subject to their members' respective governments' information request laws. They and their associates and clients are applying that information actively to change you.

    While I can't stress enough that the gravity of one's government's actions should not be grouped with likeminded corporations, I do worry that Internet corporations are collecting more information with less oversight and accountability and using it in far more objectionable ways against a far wider audience! It's a different kind of threat, but in many ways I fear them far more than the government.

    I (personally) hope that the outcome of this series of revelations is a global reflection on privacy and information sharing and not just a narrow-minded focus on a particular agency's actions.

    • Somehow I'm less upset that Amazon thinks I'm a 'Hello Kitty' addict because, last year I bought some USB sticks embedded in the stupid animal to keep people from stealing them (sort of worked). Now, every time I log in, I get greeted with the stupid feline despite the fact that I have purchased many other things in the interim.

      If that's the level of integration and coordination that Amazon has, if Experion still thinks I started working for Boeing when I was ten years old (confusing my father with me, com

  • by rootrot (103518) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:25AM (#44985635)

    I am an old geek and one with both a long background in sec matters and a law degree (though I'm pleased to say I don't actually use the later). None of this should be surprising or, in most ways, particularly annoying. A great deal of 'this' falls under a rational extension of the Plain View Doctrine (e.g. if you place your pot plant in your front bay window facing the sidewalk, you can not reasonably expect a foot patrol cop to avert his eyes...or complain when there is a knock on your door). I and others have long said that what you do online is 'public' (unless you are using encryption and/or various various methods to make yourself anonymous)...unencrypted email, social networks, etc...all pass as data streams that can be 'seen' by any server they pass through. Unless you are encrypting your datastream, you simply can't reasonably expect people (governments, especially) to avert their eyes from the waves of data washing over them.

    There are huge, important privacy/security issues in play...but getting wound around the axel in a dogmatic response of "OMG, the [insert favorite agency here] is aggregating openly flowing datastreams" is a waste of time and effort and decreases the signal to noise ratio as to the substantive issues in play.

    Also and more broadly, read Brin's Transparent Society. Still the best foundational work on this subject area...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 29, 2013 @12:26PM (#44985969)

      There are huge, important privacy/security issues in play...but getting wound around the axel in a dogmatic response of "OMG, the [insert favorite agency here] is aggregating openly flowing datastreams" is a waste of time and effort and decreases the signal to noise ratio as to the substantive issues in play.

      Quantitative differences matter: one person investigating another is NOT the same as an organization investigating a person, and NOT the same as Orwellian governmental agency with unlimited budget, unlimited political and legal power, and worldwide reach investigating everyone.

    • I am an old geek and one with both a long background in sec matters and a law degree (though I'm pleased to say I don't actually use the later). None of this should be surprising or, in most ways, particularly annoying. A great deal of 'this' falls under a rational extension of the Plain View Doctrine (e.g. if you place your pot plant in your front bay window facing the sidewalk, you can not reasonably expect a foot patrol cop to avert his eyes...or complain when there is a knock on your door).

      What are you

  • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:37AM (#44985709) Homepage

    "I was talking to a senior government official of this government about that outcome and he said well you know we've come to realize that we need a robust social graph of the United States. That's how we're going to connect new information to old information. I said let's just talk about the constitutional implications of this for a moment. You're talking about taking us from the society we have always known, which we quaintly refer to as a free society, to a society in which the United States government keeps a list of everybody every American knows." —Eben Moglen, "Innovation Under Austerity" [softwarefreedom.org]

    Eben Moglen gave a talk where he warned us about a conversation he had with an American government official who wanted a "robust social graph" [digitalcitizen.info] of Americans. And again at Moglen's re:publica talk [youtube.com] as Nicole Brydson reminds us [brooklyntheborough.com]. Of course, I'd prefer to point to a copy of this talk in a format friendly to free software, but I don't know of one.

    Moglen reminds us in his talks about how right Richard Stallman (RMS) is, and how we need to do the work of sharing what RMS teaches to others. RMS was right (as per usual) we need software freedom more than ever [slashdot.org]. Social action based on an ethical grounding (not mere technical convenience or speedy development) is exactly what this situation calls for. I hope everyone will take the time to read or listen to Moglen's insightful talks and take them seriously. They're deeply engrossing and filled with interesting history, so much so that they reward repeated listening and social action.

Repel them. Repel them. Induce them to relinquish the spheroid. - Indiana University fans' chant for their perennially bad football team

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