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Pardon Snowden (pardonsnowden.org)
2553 points by erlend_sh on Sept 14, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 781 comments

Maybe a naive question, but what would the risk be for me to sign this? I wonder if I (a US citizen) might get trouble the next time at the border? Or get a higher score in some database, that combined with other things might get me into trouble? Increased scrutiny from the IRS (which should have nothing to do with this, but "they" might say hell why not?)? Inability to get security clearances in future? Being targeted for more intense data collection by the NSA?

God, I hate how quickly you can get paranoid these days. A mode of thought I would expect in socialist countries, not the US...

This is the so-called "chilling effect" that's one of the most worrying implications of mass surveillance on a society... people feel afraid to speak out due to a concern they may be added to a list of some sort, and face negative real-life repercussions due to expressing their free speech.

There were a couple of times where I actually called the public contact numbers for NSA & GCHQ regarding particular stories about which I was especially upset, identifying myself by name and politely but firmly expressing my views. NSA told me to go away, but surprisingly the woman at GCHQ heard me out for several minutes and let me finish my rant. That's the British establishment for you I guess - they can be assholes, but polite assholes.

Snowden risked everything to inform us all of the crimes of the FVEY governments and the least we can all do is take inspiration from his actions and stand up and publicly make our views known, whatever they may be. The day people stop being willing to express their political views publicly is the day we lose something very important.

NSA - my name and XKEYSCORE selectors are in my profile. Feel free to add me to whatever lists I'm not already on.

It's not so much about mass surveillance but rather things like the TSA and stupid immigration policies which are at play here.

Really, spotting your name on a petition isn't mass surveillance. It's not even a breach of privacy in any sense, because that's exactly what petitions are for.

> Really, spotting your name on a petition isn't mass surveillance.

No. The goal of a petition is to show support for a course of action, and in this context, exercising freedom of speech in a democracy.

Taking the list of people who signed a petition, assigning a "risk score" to them because of their activism, storing it in a database for the future, and using that as a means to make decisions that affect those individuals freedoms is exactly the purpose of mass surveillance. In isolation, for one petition or one activity, it is a sensible thing. As a general practice it promotes the notion of thought-crime or pre-crime in which an individuals freedoms are curtailed because the individuals exercise of their freedoms is unpalatable to either the elected officials, or the entrenched bureaucracy.

Even taking that list and using it to discredit people isn't mass surveillance, it may just be mean, or stupid or even evil.

On the other hand, if I research someone for a position, I would rather not like to see their name on a petition for certain things. It always was this way. You just had to look harder for this information.

You are correct, taking a single data point and discrediting people with it isn't surveillance.

Taking the list, and merging it with the myriad of other sets of metadata, reports, and other resources at the government's disposal is what makes it a contribution to surveillance.

Taking all of those lists and resources, and performing that activity as a blanket activity across an entire population is what makes it mass.

Your argument is entirely unhelpful because you are arguing one specific activity, which on it's own, against a single person or group of people, might be sensible, but across the general population, without any reasonable suspicion of ill intent, leads to exactly the kinds of problems that we all piss and moan about when we get on an airplane (security theatre, screening for brown people, not terrorists, etc, etc, etc).

Also, unless that petition is material to their ability to do their job, what the hell does it matter?

> it may just be mean, or stupid or even evil.

Well, you could say that about the Nazis and Charles Manson, too. Couldn't you basically call anything just a "physical process" and get it over with? The rights of people are being violated by those sworn to protect them, and they feel helpless to change that. That is a problem, to put it mildly.

> On the other hand, if I research someone for a position, I would rather not like to see their name on a petition for certain things. It always was this way.

Yeah, it always was that way with too many people, and left unchecked, it will lead to the destruction of humanity. So I propose a new and much better way: when "researching" people, do not trust anyone who didn't give you positive confirmation of having spine, attention span and responsibility. I'm not saying signing a petition does that, but generally: go the other way. Do not waste your personal and professional time and energy on people who after all may remain on the wrong side of history. If the ground you stand on is not liberated ground at all times, reconsider your life. Don't be that guy obedient to what ultimately amounts to a bunch of deranged folk from a Stephen King novel or something. Realize that it would not be more than that, and that they too shall pass. The only open question is, whether they will take humanity with them, but there is no question in my mind about "their" (our) self-destructiveness. It's just not worth it to give in, in the really long run.

> "Forget the myths the media's created about the White House. The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand."

-- from the movie "All the Presidents Men" (1976)

Not necessarily disagreeing with you, but it's important to distinguish between two things.

One is personal accountability for the views that you express, where people around you might dislike you for it. That's pretty unavoidable, but you can also choose who you associate with.

The other is the government threatening or implying a threat to its citizens for thinking or believing a certain thing. This is very bad in the long run for minorities in race, opinion, or otherwise. Changing which government you live under is potentially quite difficult, certainly harder than choosing who you hang out with.

> It's not so much about mass surveillance but rather things like the TSA and stupid immigration policies which are at play here.

There have been cases in the past where American citizens have been refused entry into the US: they've been denied boarding in a foreign airport, leaving them stuck there. I know, it is hard to believe, but it is true.

What's worrying is not so much that the petition to be considered as Mass surveillance... but that the petition coupled with data obtained through mass surveillance. Who knows what kind of flag it will raise signing this petition will have when coupled with a ton and a half of seemingly unrelated data.

What recourse one has to proove wrong some top-secret algorithm once said flag has been raised ?

Paranoia is extremely contagious and often countered with more paranoia.

This chilling effect has a counterpart which would be directly amplified by pardoning Snowden.

In short, if Snowden gets pardoned, it will encourage further people to leak confidential documents and violate the Espionage act since they will be emboldened by the thought they might get pardoned down the road.

That sounds great to me. We need more whistle blowers and more civil disobedience. We need to change, the US is a joke; a parody of itself. We have all of this freedom branding, but are afraid of that freedom. We cower behind a police state and express our fear as hatred for those who are different from us. We have exported the American Dream to the world and destroyed everything about ourselves that made this place special.

We have demolished the middle class. Our infrastructure is shit. Education is so expensive it often makes economic sense not to get educated. We spend hundreds of billions of dollars on "defense" instead of investing it in fixing all of the broken shit we have going on.

Worse, our election system is so broken that we have to pick between two pieces of shit that don't represent anyone's interests. There is no nuance, it's one tantrum after another.

Who do we hate now? Who's personal life do we need to pry onto? Can we talk about how hot Kurdish freedom fighters are? Hillary is not a criminal, she's like grandma. Can you believe Tump has small hands? Look at his skin! Jobs?! You want jobs? Talk to the Mexicans who took your jobs. TPP? What TPP? NAFTA? What is? You want healthcare? Welcome to indentured servitude. National healthcare is for freedom-hating communist muslims. Public education? Too expensive. Of course, we have to spend $1.5 trillion on fighter jets, but that's basic common sense.

I am honestly disgusted by what we've become. We should change our slogan to "fuck the world, kill them all". Then, at least, we'd be honest.

> We cower behind a police state

I don't think you have any idea what a police state is.

Maybe you could enlighten me?

This is not true. Snowden had to fly to Russia and live there for three years before a hypothetical pardon. If that is the minimum for the possibility of a pardon, I don't think many people would find that emboldening.

That's not really true. Though i'm in favor of pardoning him on balance, it would definitely embolden other leakers. I'm quite sure that if I was someone considering leaking classified documents and I saw him get pardoned after spending 3 years in Russia, it'd embolden me.

Spending three years in exile is not great, but it's a far cry from a long prison sentence for leaking classified documents.

It should embolden other leakers. The official reporting for these things is corrupted beyond viability. But Obama won't pardon him. He's at least as conservative as Bush and in some ways far far worse (that he's a considered a constitutional scholar is laughable).

There are many axes on which you can be liberal or conservative. He is President, not a judge, and his job is to lead the country. There's not much point in acknowledging Obama's security policies without mentioning his social, fiscal, environmental, and foreign policies.

Obama may be one things, but lying on a political spectrum neatly is not one of them. In fact, it's pretty damn hard finding a president who HAS been straightforwardly liberal or progressive, much less one that played well with the constitution. I'm not sure why you expect those two things to align.

Especially if you plan ahead a bit better than Snowden did and emigrate to the country of your choice while you can still travel before leaking the documents.

There's only a handful of countries capable/willing to resist a US extradition request. Your choices are extremely limited.

Sure, you could try to go "underground" but you'd then become a top assassination target for the worlds most powerful security service. No one would ever know of your assassination either - you'd just disappear.

This is true. Still it's a lot of work and prep but I guess If someone is bent on releasing docs they're gonna hopefully plan out for the future.

The other leakers, the ones without great plans, have much weaker media followings.

Those potential leakers might be emboldened, but I doubt many would get away with it. There is also a great deal to be said for Snowden being right.

If the President pardoned him while denouncing other named leakers (Manning, et al), and highlighting that Snowden was the only one protecting the constitution. Then perhaps only the leakers strongly backed by the constitution would be emboldened.

If people are emboldened to blow the whistle on outrageous, secret, unconstitutional, anti-democratic activities of the US or state governments, then this is the best possible outcome.

However, if people emboldened to get their 5 minutes of fame for releasing some really juicy confidential or top secret info that has nothing to do with [your list here], this is the WORST possible outcome.

You act as if it is all arbitrary but I'd assert that, on balance, it's largely not. We have a system of laws and the contention is that many of these programs are extraconstitutional aka – illegal and in contradiction to the US constitution. When things are done in secret, there is no opportunity for the legal process to work, just as it largely has for many other cases over many years. It isn't perfect, but rogue actors and illegal program hiding behind governmental authority certainly cannot be argued as better.

Even the Uniform Code of Military Justice makes it clear that soldiers have a duty to not obey an unlawful order. The idea is that we are all answerable to the principles in the constitution (and, if you believe, to a higher power or to the idea that some rights are considered inalienable).

So, no, I don't agree with your implicit assertion that all of this is arbitrary and depends only on the whims of the individual.

In theory, that's what impartial courts are supposed to be for. To make fair judgements on the specifics of each case.

If the public interest and the principles of freedom were served by the leak, then that should be treated very different than a purely self-serving (or dangerous) leak.

Seriously. I feel the concept of "innocent until proven guilty" has just been thrown out the window. Parent comment is literally advocating "guilty even if you're innocent because someone else might potentially be convinced to commit a crime in the future"

Yes but you're being a bit naïve here. Things never really go like this.

Snowden didn't just blow the whistle on some shady activities, he dumped hundreds of confidential documents that put at risk the lives of hundreds of operatives working for your freedom and others'.

define "dumped." He tried internal channels, which unsurprisingly failed (as several legitimate whistle-blowers and even just employees have expressed) and then went to well-reputed journalists in the most professional, transparent, and safe way possible. They even leaked redacted materials slowly to emphasize this.

So: Why did you use the word "dumped" and can you explain explicitly what he did wrong?

Snowden dumped foreign operations on foreign journalists unredacted... already bad... who also aren't experts at INFOSEC or OPSEC. They then published a bunch of them with some redactions of names but not methods. Many of the methods were quite unique to the point that they helped identify Equation Group and some other stuff later. A number of others would've been blown simply because the targets would know what to look for, what components to replace, what systems were less vulnerable, and so on. I doubt anyone died but they definitely lost lots of SIGINT. It's a natural consequence of their specific mechanisms all being exposed at once to targets that read the news.

So, like Manning, he definitely leaked stuff he didn't need to leak that harmed NSA's foreign operations that Americans were OK with. The kind the NSA was created for. That's not whistleblowing like his domestic stuff that Alexander and Clapper lied about. That makes him a whistleblower on domestic leaks and traitor on most, foreign ones. I put in for pardon given benefit of the whistleblowing but he's certainly guilty of damaging leaks.

I just don't see a reason to charge him if lots of scumbags on top are still walking free despite clear potential for Contempt of Congress or perjury charges. A little unjust, yeah?

You're thinking of Manning, not Snowden.

Ah the Espionage Act. It's written by the organization that will penalize you if you speak out against them - but don't worry, they're dedicated to protect your speech even if you speak out against them.

Yeah, laws, acts, and shit suck, right? Because they weren't written by me, especially, by your tally. Maybe if you folks would stop worrying about being "put on some list" as if that'll happen because you say "Snowden should be pardoned!" What about the list for us good people that say "Snowden should be tried and jailed!" Don't you want to be on OUR list?

Good people? I believe the argument is that these "good people" would be counted as sheep compared to those that would be against the powers that be. So yes, you would be counted as "good sheeple"

Critiques can also be sincere, careful, and nuanced. Language like that permits one to dismiss an adversary without considering the critique.

My apologies. What exactly is your position here?

If doing so proves beyond a shadow of doubt that our government officers are lying both to the people of the United States and to their representatives in Congress, as Director of National Intelligence did, isn't that a good thing?

You could make the same argument about every single pardon, and yet nobody really worries about this outcome.

The solution to that is not to not sign the petition, but to lobby for proper whistleblower protection, so the whistleblowers go through the proper channels to expose the crimes without retaliation.

If the answer to that is "well, they'll never agree to that", then leaking will happen regardless of whether Snowden is pardoned or not.

Sounds like a positive outcome, to me.

And this is a problem how?

What if some whistleblower wannabe releases information about the next strike on [pick a target] just because he thinks words are better than weapons and we should "talk it out."

What about that kind of problem?

It depends. Are we talking about the constitution being violated in the process?


Is it another strike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital? How about a school or a wedding?

What about some jarheads in a chopper gunning down unarmed civilians?

Sounds awesome, let's get the ball rolling.

I used to work for the UK National Council for Civil Liberties - the UK ACLU if you like. (I was trying to prevent legislation removing right to silence in UK).

The organisation was well respected and had before I got there forced Britain's Security Services to admit and release to holding files on all the workers there - people who later became cabinet ministers under Blair / brown.

I have always assumed I also have a very thin file.

I am not ashamed of having that file or have having taken democratic action to change my society. What I am ashamed of is having done it so badly - the campaign did not really use web or email (This was the when of Internet cafes), I had no suit when I went to the Lords and got flustered on radio interviews.

So in answer to you, sign the petition. Be proud of your dissent and mostly do your best to make an effective protester. there is plenty of time to turn the ship around before western democracies become irredeemable. But we do need to Start. Why not here?

What is especially worrying (as partially evidenced by the OP) is that it's difficult--if not impossible, due to the proliferation of secret laws and secret courts--to know what is legal, both for oneself and for the government. Most people are not willing to test the legality of the no-fly list, so they will self-censor to avoid the risk of being added to it. The recent raid of Tor exit node operators in Seattle is enough to discourage future operators even if the raid was illegal. The government leverages a massive power and information asymmetry in the ability to argue its case in court and in the consequences for breaking the law.

chilling effects need to be kept in perspective; for example, while I'm completely fearless about telling off the govt whenever I wish, no way I'm going to reveal how I feel about Snowden to the HN community: I'd be ostracized!

We should hope that all perspectives could be voiced here, if they are reasoned well and non-combative. If we feel strongly about something, it usually signals the end of thought and the beginning of belief. It's valuable to understand an angle that challenges popular opinion, so that we can question our beliefs, begin to think again, and remember that everything is a probability, rather than an absolute.

Please consider sharing!

What about a negative opinions? OSTRACIZED! Didn't like someone's show HN? OSTRACIZED! Didn't make your post happy enough? OSTRACIZED! Cuss a bit? OSTRACIZED! Offend the army of apple/react/nodejs/cloud/social fanatics? OSTRACIZED!

Not that it matters, ostracization means losing a few HN epeen points, so meh :)

(In the interest of keeping topicality, one could argue the above are examples of chilling effects in a community)

>Not that it matters, ostracization means losing a few HN epeen points, so meh :)

people who care to take part and comment here might be more sensitive to social approval than the median - the quest for approval might ba a motive to participate. Therefore the loss of a few points might be more of a loss for them. In the long run that is not so good for the diversity of opinions, but so it goes...

You forgot the Android fanatics.

Got me wondering if one's PGP fingerprint (or other cryptographic fingerprints) are "selectors" in XKEYSCORE

Yeah,I would shocked if it wasn't. Its a unique fingerprint that can be used to collect large amounts of metadata of a subset of the population that is both technically able, not wanting to be listened to.

nailed it.

i appreciate the parent's frank concern regarding signing this Petition "God, I hate how quickly you can get paranoid these days. A mode of thought I would expect in socialist countries, not the US..."

your response is the body punch that reminds us who is the person at the heart of this petition and that whatever the risks referred to in the parent, they are minuscule by comparison

as you said "the least we can do"

Hold on... How is this a chilling effect from mass surveillance? Signing a petition is an act of public announcement that you support something.

It's a chilling effect because the current view in the US is that something as seemingly innocuous as peaceably assembling (virtually in this case) and exercising your right to free speech would possibly result in more data being added to "your permanent record" which, it is believed, has the potential to be used against you in unpredictable ways.

To be more specific, this (let's say) metaphorical file could have entries in it as a result of you signing a petition to pardon Snowden. While such entries could be myriad and varied in detail, I'll pick two hypothetical variations.

1) "Subject exercised right to free speech online."

2) At 1820Z, Subject did willfully and intentionally announce their position against the protection of national security, the lives of US Armed Forces soldiers, the lives of US Intelligence operatives, and the lawmaking authority of the legislative branch of the US Government by supporting an individual charged with espionage. Furthermore, by doing so, Subject did willfully and intentionally foment rebellion within the US general population by the "social proof" of his anti-authoritarian position.

Not knowing if, or which, entry might be made by the mass surveillance of even public forums, where there is no expectation of privacy, is the concern. Not that the speech is public, but that the speech isn't expected to be used in unknowable ways against the speaker.

> A mode of thought I would expect in socialist countries, not the US...

The United States government has done an excellent bit of propaganda to convince the bulk of the public that they are the most free people on earth. We salute the flag and sing the national anthem at games. We have the presidents' pictures on the walls of our classrooms. We chant "USA" at political rallies.

But the government of the United States has perpetrated terrible violence and destruction of liberty against its own citizens and many more abroad. Through endless military engagement abroad to harassment, detainment, and imprisonment at home, the government serves its own interests first, and enhancing and preserving your liberty is not among them.

I should be very concerned about coming to the attention of anyone within government -- at any level. Even the local code enforcement board can extract time, energy, and money from you should you come under scrutiny.

But as others have said, you're already on the lists. No need to be paranoid. Go ahead and sign the Snowden petition. It's just one more data point on your dossier. The government already has enough on you to put you away for life if you become inconvenient to the state. Three Felonies a Day[1] and all that.

[1]: https://www.amazon.com/Three-Felonies-Day-Target-Innocent/dp...

Noam Chomsky talks a lot about "Manufacturing Consent" (he wrote a book with this title). He says that in a democratic society you can't use force to control people, so you have to control them by controlling attitudes an opinions instead.

It works well, and the people of the United States are heavily controlled by the elite, who in this case are the corporations and the media companies they control.



I tend to agree with Chomsky's views, but sometimes I feel he's too extreme and that makes him lose credibility. Maybe it's my misunderstanding, but he often sounds like there is a bunch of people, "the elite" that plan together how they are going to control the rest of the world. I see this instead as a natural, non-coordinated phenomenon caused by various powerful people trying to serve their self-interests.

If you read more of what he says, you'll find Chomsky says exactly this.

So you might summarise Chomsky's book as "some people are more persuasive than others"

Does he also say that these people may be powerful because they are persuasive?

I think it's more along the lines of they are persuasive because they are powerful. The golden rule: he who has the gold makes the rules.

Well of course they're persuasive because they are more powerful. That's the main theme (as I understand it) and agree.

I was suggesting the other way is true too.

It is easy to be persuasive when you are asking people to simply remain as they are: uninformed on important matters.

David Hume came to this conclusion in OF THE FIRST PRINCIPLES OF GOVERNMENT (in the 1st paragraph).

people of the United States are heavily controlled by the elite is too simplistic and some "elites" make the world better.

Isn't "making the world better" a value judgment that can be shaped by your peers and by your environment, and also not mutually exclusive with making the world worse?

Thus, if an elite makes the world worse in my opinion by reducing diversity of competing opinions in mass media, they could use that platform to propagandize and publicize any philanthropic efforts they may also involve themselves with, such that your opinion of them is neutral or positive.

Do you derive from first principles what things would make the world better and then check to see who might be doing any of them, or do you hear about what certain people are doing, and then make value judgments on their public activity?

An example from the set of making the world better would be Bill Gates' foundation which is helping eradicate polio [0]. If that is not a good thing I give up.

[0] https://web.archive.org/web/20080414095646/http://www.polioe...

Giving these individual examples, anecdotes really, is even more simplistic in a sense. Within just about any social phenomenon, you can find examples of practices/effects that are incongruent, or even opposite, to the “main gist” of the phenomenon itself. It's really not about what any particular individual does at some particular time, it's about the collective effect a certain social group.

Of course, having the state of affairs as we currently have it, B&MGF's efforts are certainly to be saluted, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't contemplate and work towards a world where you don't need to depend on the good will of a billionaire to have a chance of people not dying of various preventable diseases; Or, indeed, even to recognize that such a state of affairs is unacceptable.

Bear in mind that the BMGF is a separate entity from Bill Gates and Melinda Gates, albeit nominally controlled by them. It may control funds that do not even come from the Gates family (most notably Warren Buffett).

It isn't clear to me that establishing yet another donor-advised trust is making the world a better place, and it seems to me as though the foundation funded by the trust is not taking action on its own initiative, but instead just giving money to those people and organizations who are already actually expending the effort in making the world a better place.

Yes, it is a good thing, but don't go overestimating the wattage of that halo on Bill Gates's head. I give most of the credit to the people who actually uproot their lives, go to Pakistan and similar environments, and try to administer vaccines to people who deeply mistrust their motives.

In what way is it too simplistic? Is it not correct? I don't think I commented on whether or not it's good. Though I happen to think we'd be better off with a more democratically organized society.

You are giving them too much credit, we live in a system of rules (loosely speaking) and it is these rules which have the power. In fact "elites" are probably more frustrated by them than the average citizen because they stumble onto them more quickly.

Who is too blame for advertising to children directly? Is it a few people? Probably not, in fact it brings in a lot of talented people, of whom each may in fact have a negative opinion of advertising to children when asked.

If you are talking about giant corps that can influence rule(s), then ok, but these are not individuals but are the stakeholders and can be large swaths of people.

We also compete to rise to the elite ranks, demote persons and families who prove themselves incompetent and boast a competent (a function of competition, in contrast to Europe) and diverse (a function of not killing each other, in contrast to China or Russia) elite.

I think the meaning of “elite” is clear from context here (i.e. C. Wright Mills' economic, government, and military elites). He certainly didn't mean elite academic mathematicians, etc.

As an independent/libertarian, I find this distinction lost on most democrats. Sadly, it seems they define people by income - thus the income inequality debate - which, among other confounding variables, completely ignores things like mobility.

This remark of yours is truly an ideological minefield!

I completely agree that the debate on income inequality and the resulting sorting of people is irrelevant. Income inequality itself is irrelevant, it's just an ideological misdirection. But, since you proclaim to be libertarian, I suppose you wouldn't agree with me on why it's irrelevant: it's being pushed to actually preserve overall capitalist relations. Sacrificing low taxes of a billionaire or two is a small price to pay to help the ruling class keep ruling. This is practically the central theme of Keynesian economics, and thus of a great deal of 20th century. The strategy is still extremely effective, and so in this election cycle we had good old Bernie Sanders act as an acceptable vent for social and economic discontent of working people by ranting about “the billionaire class”. To anyone not horribly politically illiterate (sadly American culture is generally grotesquely politically illiterate) it was painfully clear from the moment he entered the primaries how his “revolution” will end. So income inequality discourse not only does not help alleviate the problem, it maintains it.

Democrat-style liberalism is so effective because it's an ideological Escher drawing. To even start to explain why it's wrong (or even better: why it's not even wrong!) and even in many cases harmful, you have to rewind the arguments aaaall the way to first principles (let's ignore the likely case that then you end up with the problem of getting people to universally agree on a coherent set of first principles) while constantly being under the threat of being, 1930s Pravda style, denounced as pro bigger evil. As a friend of mine recently semi-jokingly said: “There are no bad guys, just a liberal hell in which all is mixed, a hell in which evil people do good things and good people live in a fantasy.”

As for mobility, there really isn't any significant mobility, this is empirical. Unless you count moving from lower middle to upper middle class (I'm not sure even that is a significant case, I just assume it is, but even then it's likely plastered with all kinds of demographic qualifiers). But still, income inequality in and of itself is not a cause of this, it's one of the symptoms, and not a particularly onerous one.

"The elites" are sure changed out a lot.

It's worthwhile thinking of advertising as a persuasion technology ( because that's what it is by definition ) and adjusting your expectations accordingly. A wise man once told me "If yer at a poker game and you don't know who the sucker is, you're it." Or, if you prefer, "Learn or be sold to."

It really helps a lot when you have huge swaths of the population that are simply stupid and you can turn them against minorities to further manipulate and control them. I think the US is far and ahead of all other nations in such means of control and has been employing it for hundreds of years. The difference now is that they have realized that they do not have to control all speech or even most speech and they do not have to use violence to suppress speech. It's a lot simpler to just mark people who the government doesn't agree with as conspiracy theorists or nut jobs and let the idiot masses discount them with their idiocy.

As an US citizen, I no longer salute that piece of cloth or sing the national anthem at sports games. I don't even bother standing for it and encourage others to do the same to show our distaste for how our own government treats us.

I was disgusted in the 2000's when being against the Iraq war was not only being flaunted unpatriotic but not supporting our troops. That's BS. I support our troops and would rather not have seen them deployed to conduct Cheney's bidding.

I will sign the petition and if some asshole gives me trouble at the border for it, so what? I'm a US citizen and entitled to re-enter my country. F them.

"If patriotism is 'the last refuge of a scoundrel,' it is not merely because evil deeds may be performed in the name of patriotism, but because patriotic fervor can obliterate moral distinctions altogether” ~ Ralph B. Perry

> I will sign the petition and if some asshole gives me trouble at the border for it, so what? I'm a US citizen and entitled to re-enter my country. F them.

I posted this reply earlier too, but figured I'd respond here also. The US government has, in the past, refused entry to US citizens. They do this not at the border, but at the foreign airport. Say you fly to Germany, and then try to come back. They'll tell the airline to refuse to board you, and then you're stuck there. Sure, if you managed to somehow reach a US land border, they would have to allow you in (after a lengthy interrogation, I imagine). But that's not very practical or economical.

That's exactly right, here's a real-world example:

But the worst cases are those like Long's: when the person is suddenly barred from flying when they are outside of the US, often on the other side of the world. As a practical matter, that government act effectively exiles them from their own country. "Obviously, I can't get to Oklahoma from Qatar if I can't fly," said Long. "Trying to take a boat would take weeks away from work just for the travel alone, and it's not affordable. If I can't fly, then I can't go back home."

- https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/nov/05/muslim...

This is most probably because no-fly list is a pile of steaming crap, they had Senators, Congressmen, military veterans, toddlers, etc. on the list. 99.99% it has nothing to do with this specific person (though of course not being a Senator, but being a Muslim from Qatar doesn't exactly help). It's not targeting, it's the opposite.

I'm not sure though why he couldn't fly to Mexico instead - is DHS no-fly list mandatory for other countries?

Fly to canada / mexico and then take a bus?

> As an US citizen, I no longer salute that piece of cloth or sing the national anthem at sports games. I don't even bother standing for it and encourage others to do the same to show our distaste for how our own government treats us.

The fact that you can do this and face no consequences says something about our freedoms though. At the very least we have a foundation that is worth taking the effort to improve.

"I'm a US citizen and entitled to re-enter my country"

they think otherwise. they rightfully own you and can do whatever they please with you. feel free to try to prove me wrong and not to sound like minuteman.

I think you are mistaking the resulting meta-consciousness created from the game theory in society and government with individual's based consciousness and some internal intent to deceive. While I would agree the government may try to deceive us, it does so by formally rationalizing government individual's actions as needed to "protect" us from threats. There is likely not one or two people "plotting" out what is happening. It's more probable that something like the angry meme phenomenon[1] has taken root in our government and is now attempting to isolate itself from harm. I think this came about because we tend to become fearful about things that may happen if we don't do X, Y and Z to stop them before they happen and those X, Y and Z things are now hard coded into our government and affecting the game theory around it. As a result, you get a meta-govt-conscious thing acting irrationally and making everyone very nervous as a result.

Or as Gene Belcher put it, "Everything is randomness and chaos."

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE3j_RHkqJc

>"... meta-consciousness created from the game theory"

Could you elaborate on what this is?

A Turing machine is a good example of a construct that is able to self reference and take action based on measurements. In a Turing machine, one can model other machines.

With human consciousness, this analogy would be applied to a "higher level" of consciousness forming around/on top of the human's interaction with that particular "thing" that allows the thing to take action on given metrics and share it among other consciousnesses which are in communication with it and assist with sustaining it's existence. In a business, for example, the game theory/model would govern the way the business makes money and the processes in which the company provides product or services to a customer which best ensure the future success of the company as an entity.

If the founders/influencers in the company approach building the model with the assumption the customer facing processes are mutable (which itself is dissonant in nature without customer approval), the resulting "consciousness" of the business might focus on building value by marketing means and acquisition (both viral based growth methods). This "intent" is then translated into the day to day processes required for raising additional awareness of the company's product in the market, again at the customer's cost. In extreme examples where such entities can survive long term, such as with the government, these intents may extend well beyond any intent by the individual's involved. I don't think anyone working for the government really wants to violate your privacy, but they are heavily influenced in their need to rationalize it given they wouldn't want the same thing happening to themselves, nor would they want fail at stopping a terrorist blowing up something on American soil. So, they make it "OK" to deal with personally, and the government entity is able to survive symbiotically with the host which is currently being kept in "stable" condition.

Richard Dawkins calls them memes, but they are likely capable of more complexity than we realize, given the somewhat substantiated claims in the video titled This Video Will Make You Angry on YouTube. It would also make a lot of sense if they worked toward escaping attention, given the awareness of them by the host is akin to inoculation.

>We salute the flag and sing the national anthem at games. We have the presidents' pictures on the walls of our classrooms. We chant "USA" at political rallies.

That does sound very authoritarian, honestly. Maybe that's why there are so many libertarians in the US - it's a reaction to the authoritarianism in American culture.

The word you're looking for is "nationalist", not "authoritarian". Authoritarianism is when you're commanded to do the stuff you quoted. Nationalism is when you do it of your free will or out of peer pressure from others who do it of their free will.

Nationalism is more insidious than authoritarianism. When you have an authoritarian government, you have an enemy you can clearly identify and the resistance feels morally justified. Resisting nationalism often elicits negative reactions, such as branding you as "unpatriotic" and such.

Except that this behavior is not indoctrinated by an "authoritarian" state, publishing you with death, but rather by a omni-present culture punishing you on social grounds.

IMO libertarianism that gives corporation more freedom than people, just make it easier for them to push through any legislation and "cultural propaganda"and they want, not so much solving this problem.

Which country would you suggest is the most free today? Not trolling, just wondering if I was going to move somewhere else, where would I go?

If you want freedom from government interference in your life, Somalia is still a pretty good bet.

And no, I am not being facetious. People like to think of freedom as a scalar, but it's actually a vector with complex interactions among its various dimensions, one of which is the government.

That said, I am absolutely signing the petition. Ed Snowden put a lot more on the line by blowing the whistle than I am by signing.

The question is not "most free from government", but "most free". It's like answering the question about which restaurant is most sanitary by suggesting to eat nothing at all - of course, you'll starve to death but at least no chance for food poisoning!

And you're wrong about Somalia btw: they do have a government, which collects taxes, introduces regulations and does all good government supposed to do, including corruption. [1][2][3]

> Ed Snowden put a lot more on the line by blowing the whistle than I am by signing.

Well, yeah, by signing you are putting absolutely nothing on the line so that's true :)

[1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/5176102.stm

[2] http://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2011/jan/17383/somalia_s_govern...

[3] http://goobjoog.com/english/?p=20975

You're right, the halcyon days of the 1990's, after the complete collapse of the Somali government, do seem to be drawing to a close. You might try Yemen or South Sudan.

Erm no.

In Somalia you do have a lot of government interference - you just have many smaller (wannebe) ones there, fighting against each other for power, vs. one big.

But "one big" vs "wannabe" is the defining characteristic of a government. The reason that Somalia is universally considered a failed state is precisely because it has many smaller wannabe governments fighting each other rather than one big government maintaining order.

And that is precisely my point: people think of freedom as a scalar, as the absence of constraints on their personal decision-making. But this is wrong. Your decisions are always constrained, if not by "government" (however you choose to define it) then by your fellow humans. And if not by your fellow humans (e.g. if you go live in the middle of Nunavut) then by the laws of physics.

That's exactly the scenario that would happen in a libertopia most libertarians describe - minimal government.

It's an incentive for other actors to try to imitate the role of government through other means.

Actually, not just Somalia - Africa is ripe with examples of these.

Power vacuums are not left unfilled for long.

Also, I've never met a "true" (in the sense that they tell you about it as soon as you talk to them) libertarian who isn't also a raging asshole.

But there are assholes on all points of the spectrum, so I'm not sure what that proves. :D

Depends on what kind of freedoms you are looking for. Many European countries, Germany for example, have better protections from law enforcement and crime. On the other hand free speech is more restricted by libel or hate speech directives.

The previous poster was correct - it depends on what sort of things will make you, personally, feel free.

I wound up in Norway, and find a certain freedom here. I don't mind the taxes and such, and I rather enjoy the general equality in opportunity sort of thing. I'm no longer worried that blue hair makes me un-hireable (though it might make it harder to find work). But other Americans here simply hate it and can't wait to wind up going back to the states.

The best bet is if you have some choices in the matter - and know it - join some groups with other americans living there and talk to them about their experiences there.

> I'm no longer worried that blue hair makes me un-hireable

This is also absolutely true in US. Of course, that differs whether you're trying to be a graphic designer or a banker or a trial lawyer. Blue-haired trial lawyer probably would raise more eyebrows.

I was lucky enough to work at a pharmacy that didn't mind the bright hair in the US, but heard a good number of folks lament their employers wouldn't allow such things. I always found it somewhat sad.

Don't get me wrong, there are still some quirks with it here, but it isn't the same sort of hindrance as it was in the states.

It's kind of cool that there are so many different countries with different variables and that some people are fortunate enough to be able to pick the one that suits them best.

Homogeny in this case would actually be a bad thing.

The Heritage Foundation published its Index of Economic Freedom[1], which tracks various factors for many nations. While not a direct analog to personal liberty, economic freedom certainly is something to strive for.

Take a look for yourself and see if their rankings make sense.

[1]: http://www.heritage.org/index/

You can't even chew gum in Singapore. Australia probably is free if you are not an Aboriginal. Hong Kong Free as long as China doesn't want you. This list is crazy. The free countries are probably all third world but then people are free to literally eat you without punishment.

It's the economic freedom index, not personal liberties index.

It is an economic freedom index from a conservative American organization's point of view, actually. Part of the metric is government spending: Another portion rates laws about firing folks, minimum wages, and other such things.

It is unfortunate that the heritage organization is one of conservative leanings and that their chart is definitely skewed in that manner. This chart is really helpful if you think high government spending or having small government is a marker of your personal freedom, economic or otherwise.

I'm not: I'm all for government health care, government supported time off work for sickness or children, and other such things. These push up government spending, but yet can mean freedom from financial burden. When I consider what I paid for health care in the US, the tax rate isn't a big deal at all. For my personal economy, i'm actually more free because I don't have to plan for being sick and going broke from it - I gained some economic stability.

Also interesting is the "labor freedom" metric - basically, laws making it more difficult to fire folks and things of that nature. While there are occasionally downsides to this, it also means there is a sense of job security. If your personal beliefs are such that this is a hinderance, it might be a bad thing, but I suspect most folks would find this to mean more actual economic freedom because there aren't so many surprises to plan for.

I seriously doubt that Singapore is even in the top ten for personal liberty, much less #2. I have heard good things about their economic policies though.

High freedom from corruption in Chile, a country whose government is essentially a kleptocracy? Yeah, I would take that with a hefty dose of sodium-chloride.


"The Legatum Prosperity Index" (1), states that: "Canada is now the freest (sic) country in the world, having risen five places to 1st in the Personal Freedom sub-index." (2)

see this also. "Freedom in the World 2015" (3)

1. http://www.prosperity.com/

2. http://www.prosperity.com/#!/headline-findings

3. https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-...

The Nordic countries probably. Throw in Holland or Germany maybe. Another commenter said there's a bit less room for speech and press but you you're not constant target of police and government. Sounds accurate. It's what I was considering thinking of U.S.'s recent elections plus me being on their shitlist.

They say Switzerland is not too bad. Good luck getting their citizenship though.

Iceland maybe?

Hard to move to as a non-native speaker though.

Yeah, destruction of evidence and seafood smuggling are just everyday activities.

(those are both real examples from the book...whether there was a great deal of intent in the lobster tail case is disputed, but it was a pattern of shipments involving thousands and thousands of pounds of tails)

I've read the book and I agree that a lot of it concentrates on cases which are rather unusual for a common person. Not all of it though.

E.g. evidence rules mean you can be committing a felony just by deleting an email that some prosecutor may consider important - even if you haven't been under investigation at the time. And you can be investigated for things as simple as depositing sums under $10000 in the bank on routing course of business - just because it looks like "structuring". And you can also be prosecuted if you make any false statement to a government employee, no matter if it relates to any crime.

hacker news is becoming crazier every day

You know what? I don't think that's an unreasonable concern and it's exactly why this situation is so horrible. It's the return cold war communism paranoia. "Of course I'm allowed to do this, but will this get me on some watchlist?"

I guess the ethical answer is that, the more people will sign this (think a million?), the less likely it is to be used as some kind of filter. Even though what's one million names in a database? Sigh... Awful.

You're allowed your quota of one medium-impact dissident action per week, just like everyone else. As it helps to keep up maintaining the illusion of democracy and free speech, you are actually doing your country a great service.

If you start to do more, however... Consider yourself warned. ^^

In this case, I can reassure you though:

Online petition clicktivism has been shown to be very ineffective, so it's only considered a minor-impact dissident action. You are allowed five of those per week. ;)

I "love" how China actually tried to formalize this some time ago. Every citizen would get a citizen score, like our credit ratings, but grading how politically loyal they were. There was quite a bit of outrage on the western internet about this.

The "funny" thing is, our governments are probably doing very similar things (though still to a lesser degree, and secretly). A big difference is that China often doesn't have a sense of tact when it comes to not sounding dystopian, and happiliy uses phrases like "citizen score", "criminal elements" and "reeducation". Also Big-Character posters are still a thing [1], though slightly modernized.

Although, we are getting there. At O'Hare airport in Chicago I remember seeing a poster urging me to "be vigilant", which has a nice ring to it...

[1] http://justinmccandless.com/files/beijingSpirit.jpg "The Beijing Spirit: Patriotism Innovation Inclusiveness Virtue"

The "funny" thing is, our governments are probably doing very similar things

No, they're provably doing similar things. A "citizen score" only has cosmetic differences to the data crunching done by machine learning predictive policing.

The differences are just as large enough to avoid fitting into any of the identifiers for bad governance that the American collective conscience is already keyed into.

The main difference is you're not getting fired or ostracized or jailed for run of the mill political views or dissidence.

Look at today's Turkey for what it would be if this were true in western democracies (of which Turkey withdrew itself recently).

The main difference is you're not getting fired or ostracized or jailed for run of the mill political views or dissidence.

There are two different aspects.

The difference you're focusing on seems to be setting what positions are acceptable, and what gets done to people who hold them them.

The similarity I was focusing on was that they're being tracked at all. And in the cases that they're not not immediately actionable, I don't draw much distinction between a bureaucrat with actuarial tables and machine learning.

> The main difference is you're not getting fired or ostracized or jailed for run of the mill political views or dissidence.

Jailed, no. Fired and ostracized? Certainly, except for narrow definitions of "views" and "dissidence" (largely calibrated by region and type of employment).

You're conflating government action with civil actions. Civilians do all kinds of things governments are constrained from doing --I can be ostracized by colleagues for being irreligious or contemptuous of management or being pro choice, or conversely pro life or being too PC or not being PC, etc.

I'm unaware of dragnets and massive house to house searches in order to discover and punish people who went out for a brief protest against against a corrupt government office.

> China actually tried to formalize this some time ago [...] The "funny" thing is, our governments are probably doing very similar things (though still to a lesser degree, and secretly).

They may be doing it to an even higher degree (given they are far more sophisticated than CCP) but the key feature is that they do it like criminals that they are and in "secret".

The Chinese are stuck with the CCP and a techno-Scientific ruling elite unless they manage to have another rovolution. The generation that survived Mao is, imo, probably psychologically shorn of any will to express robust dissent given the state terrorism that they had to endure. The new generation is fed hyper-nationalism and has front row seat on the gloabally televised hypocrisy of American governing elite. (Isn't it so fine that in 21st century USA has become the enabler of autocrats the world over?)

We have a constitution that if ever resurrected would deal with all this. We need to focus on that.

The MTA's "See something, say something" campaign in NYC always kind of comes off sounding dystopian to me.

I'd much rather inefficient, racially biased policing come from the population than an ML algorithm in Ft. Meade.

Problem being that ML manifests the unconscious biases of its author -- in the form of its learning set being biased, in the form of not-spotting patterns that are obvious for human heuristics or in the form of training not capturing something the author sees as significant.

I recall a story recently about ML detecting risk for post-op inpatients. Human nurses know not to send people with Asthma home after an operation due to their high risk profile. Because the ML system was always ignoring Asthma patients as they were never queried, it assumed it was safe to send them home.

I would argue that that racially biased policing in ML is just an extension of racially biased data scientists in Ft Meade, or Silicon Valley or Wall St or where ever.

I mean... I'd rather we don't have that kind of policing at all. Obviously...

You now have both.

> The "funny" thing is, our governments are probably doing very similar things

perhaps in capital driven liberal countries it's called Credit Ratings - rather than your worth being judged through your loyalty, it's judged through your willingness to spend and accrue debt.

not trying to sound bleak and cynical, but just a thought.

why so tentative? i pay my limited bills on time, i have taken on debt twice and paid it off as soon as possible, living basically within my means, and because of this my credit score is terrible.

i can't get a phone contract, a mortgage is out of the question. i automatically fall to the bottom of the list when trying to rent an apartment. don't know what went on at the places i applied to for employment that requested a credit score waiver, but can't imagine it was to my benefit.

now i can't even get on the credit train and start maintaining a card because i'm apparently such a poor risk.

its clearly not the same set of concerns as a patriotism score. but there's clearly some kind of profiling and clustering going on.

Have you got any credit cards? Get one. Before trying the crappy "secured" cards, try a Discover, they seem lenient if you don't have cards yet. Stuff it in a drawer, add something small to it, such as Netflix, setup autopay, forget about it.

Your credit score will slowly increase. And at no cost to you (other than the time to setup this, which can be minimal if you can get approvals online).

You can (and should) live within your means and that's fine. What creditors want to see is that you have access to credit and you use it responsibly (eg, paying on time). You don't actually need to use any of your available credit.

have you requested your credit history? you should be able to access that for free and that might give you some insight.


and yeah, it's fucking awful and i detest the whole thing.

It's hilarious I think. It's sort of the same end result, but the means to get there are a bit different.

Having a Citizen Score would send me into a fit of rage, but I probably have some kind of other score I don't know about. Or I'm on a List. Those Lists. Must take much money to maintain them.

No maintenance required really. Once a name goes on a list it never comes off. Weekly backups are probably a good idea though.

Are you referencing Beneath A Steel Sky or did it actually say "be vigilant"? I just finished the game last week :)

It might have been just "thank you for your vigilance" or something similar, but it strongly reminded me of a game. Thanks for reminding me of what it was called :-) great game!

China actually tried to formalize this some time ago. Every citizen would get a citizen score, like our credit ratings, but grading how politically loyal they were

North Korea actually did it https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songbun

Reminds me of Psycho-Pass where everyone is basically assigned a criminality rating and you're arrested or killed on the spot if it gets too high.

And as a result, crime and unemployment are unheard of and the greatest risk to public health (aside from freedom-loving terrorists) is a debilitating LACK of mental stress.

Well... that's one interpretation of it I suppose...

> A big difference is that China often doesn't have a sense of tact when it comes to not sounding dystopian, and happiliy uses phrases like "citizen score", "criminal elements" and "reeducation".

Clintons "basket of deplorables" is a reminder that this sense of tact could change after the election.

It bothers me that one tactless moment from Clinton seems to get more attention than a lifetime of tactlessness from Trump. The guy openly insults anybody who doesn't unconditionally support him, but Clinton has one quotable moment of frustration and it's all of the sudden the evidence we need that politics isn't polite anymore?

Candidate A says that immigrants from a certain country are "bringing crime; bringing drugs; they're rapists; and some, I presume, are good people".

Candidate B says that half the supporters of Candidate A are "deplorable".

If anything, Clinton was going out of her way to be excessively tactful.

To be fair, the number is much higher than 50%.

It's not a binary choice, after all.

Shit slinging during an election is hardly new. And talking shit about the other side is hardly an indicator of some massive policy change.


I'm sorry, you still seem to be treating this like it matters instead of some type of show.

LOL. Seriously?

Who gives a shit anyway? "Offending" Trump supporters isn't going to change anything. Not like they were on the fence.

I love the double standard being applied here. It's like what Trump says is just "expected", but Clinton says one thing you find offensive (oh no, political correctness!) and you're all up in arms. Woe is the deplorable Trump supporter.

I would LOVE to have that kind of formally acknowledged scoring system. I could then actually weigh the decisions - "I'm currently at 523 risk points, which puts me at the 65th percentile of ethical divergence. I can sign this petition and go up 10 points. I'll only be at the 67th percentile and I don't plan on doing anything else subversive so I should be able to decay back down to below 500 before I need to book my vacation next spring."

Instead you have to guess "is this going to put me on a list? What does being on the list mean? Does the list exist?" Well, aside from the obvious list of the petition itself. You know what I mean.

London had a nice "watchful eyes" poster a few years back


Depends on where you are. I have friends in Turkey who signed an online petition and (the next day) lost their jobs over it. Some of the other people who signed that petition are not allowed to leave the country anymore, and some are even being detained. Very scary.

Well Turkey at this point in time looks like THE MOST dangerous place to be if you're not pro-government. The witch-hunt Erdogan set up is crazy.

I used to travel twice a year to Istanbul. Now I don't see myself landing foot there for a very, very long time.

How about Notrh Korea, Russia, China, Syria, ... ?? The list is going on..

Comeon, in Russia, you can sign thousand petition like this, it will be simple ignored, goverment didnt cares that their people sign. I sign a lot petitions and nobody threaten or fire from work

Bear in mind most Americans can't distinguish between Russia and Ukraine on a map... Unless its a board game.


Turkey is at this time no longer a democracy. It's very sad really, although the military coup d'état would have been worse imho. I hope for the Turks to realize how dangerous the current administration is and overthrow it before it is too late.

In Turkey, the very next step is being thrown into jail for voting for some political party which the ruling party doesn't like. Yes a successful coup would have been a hard-to-reach "even worse". An unsuccessful one is a nightmare too: I see many people asking each other: Now what?!

It's like a broken, rotten implementation of IDemocracy. It satisfies all the API but throws a lot of exceptions, and people in jail. Internals has been spilled all over, and you don't know who has access to what and with what kind of execution level.

Go to Istanbul as a tourist and you will see absolutely no problems whatsoever (Well, a different story if you speak Turkish and can understand people when they're complaining). OTOH, being a citizen who has even once touched the surface of "wrong" politics is a game of waiting in fear.

Uhm... what do you think would happen if someone attempted a military coup in any Western democracy? :D

Would be hilarious to find out, to be honest.

May I ask what petition?

I think it was this one http://t24.com.tr/haber/baris-icin-akademisyenler-devlet-sid...

"As academics and researchers of this country, we will not be a party to this crime!

The Turkish state has effectively condemned its citizens in Sur, Silvan, Nusaybin, Cizre, Silopi, and many other towns and neighborhoods in the Kurdish provinces to hunger through its use of curfews that have been ongoing for weeks. It has attacked these settlements with heavy weapons and equipment that would only be mobilized in wartime. As a result, the right to life, liberty, and security, and in particular the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment protected by the constitution and international conventions have been violated.

This deliberate and planned massacre is in serious violation of Turkey’s own laws and international treaties to which Turkey is a party. These actions are in serious violation of international law.

We demand the state to abandon its deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish and other peoples in the region. We also demand the state to lift the curfew, punish those who are responsible for human rights violations, and compensate those citizens who have experienced material and psychological damage. For this purpose we demand that independent national and international observers to be given access to the region and that they be allowed to monitor and report on the incidents.

We demand the government to prepare the conditions for negotiations and create a road map that would lead to a lasting peace which includes the demands of the Kurdish political movement. We demand inclusion of independent observers from broad sections of society in these negotiations. We also declare our willingness to volunteer as observers. We oppose suppression of any kind of the opposition.

We, as academics and researchers working on and/or in Turkey, declare that we will not be a party to this massacre by remaining silent and demand an immediate end to the violence perpetrated by the state. We will continue advocacy with political parties, the parliament, and international public opinion until our demands are met."

I'm the CTO of a startup that's trying to solve this very problem. Online activism isn't very effective, so our thesis is that small groups of determined people can affect change when they meet in person around specific issues and legislation. To facilitate this concept, we've built basically a mashup between Twitter, Meetup.com, and an API feed of legislation.

The goal is to find events going on in your area and you can join and be a part of the change. Sometimes just being able to find the events going on about certain topics is the hardest part.

We're launching on October 1st, so I'm hoping we can make a small, meaningful impact in fixing this.

I wish you luck. But my suspicion is that the most effective way to drive legislation would be to funnel large sums of cash to legislators, the way politics has always been done.

So what's the name of your outfit?

When I was a kid in the 70s, you could listen to distant shortwave stations and if you heard them on a certain time and freq, you could send a note and get a postcard to collect. So we picked up Moscow and thought that would be cool for the collection. We wanted to make sure we weren't going to get in trouble or a watchlist (McArthy was very fresh on our minds) so we called the FBI office first; they were amused we'd ask.



And even as a non-U.S. national I worry if it would land me in trouble if I wanted simply to visit the U.S. on holiday again.

For me it's basically pushed the US far down the list of places to go for leisure. I see the risks as still being very small, but why take the risk when there are so many other great places to visit too?

US immigrations stands out for the least pleasant experiences I've had on entering a country, and that includes entering places like China, despite most of the time being perfectly fine (I used to fly in/out of SFO every 6-8 weeks for a period of about two years, so I got to compare them a lot).

For business, I will still go if necessary, but I'm finding that I'd take the same precautions for the US as I did for China: Make extra sure to have a full, recent backup, and move "everything" off my laptop onto online storage, just in case they decide to seize it.

"I see the risks as still being very small, but why take the risk"

Always reminds me of the line in casino "Look... why take a chance? At least, that's the way I feel about it."

Since 9/11 the US already states very explicitly that it doesn't want me as a visitor - I'm not going to go through the (visa) hoops they hold up to me.

It was actually administratively much easier to cross the iron curtain in the form of the berlin wall back then than it is now to get into the US (me being german).

(This is a bit unfair because there were special regulations for germans inside berlin, and US visas weren't that easy back then either.)

Where does the United States explicitly state that it doesn't want German visitors?

Where do you fill your hourglass?

(The GP's point can be true in the absence of explicit statements from the USG that it doesn't want Germans.)

If I were a non-U.S. citizen I wouldn't want to visit the US these days, and that fact makes me sad.

the number of chilling-effect style questions I have to ask myself increases every damn week.

you know what's even scarier? I'm scared to to even write about what those situations were for the same reason they arose in the first place. Now some friends tell me there is a threat to the legality of tor in the US, I'm actually starting to become a bit panicked by it.

Why don't you see these threats as an occasion to be bold and brave?

I pick my battles - I think a lot of the time I do choose to take the bold move but I'm also aware that just being self-aware of censorship and chilling effects doesn't keep me safe from the psychological impact of those efforts.

What is freedom anyway? Any attachment to external systems threatens it in my opinion. You work through the systems you're attached to and they limit you - for example - me posting my thoughts on HN or reddit is nearly pointless yet a lot of us a spend significant amounts of time chatting back and forth, thinking we're accomplishing something significant - so we're content with that and less likely to spread our message in ways that might have more impact.

I start to laugh at myself when I blame big corporations and shady nations for the mess we're in - but this is a system we ALL buy into. Blaming a corporation is like yelling at an inanimate object when you stub your toe on it. I gave up my smartphone - that's a tiny first step towards taking your privacy back - yet who here would actually do that?

just a thought though.

Quite. I find this short interview with Pete Seeger is interesting in this context:

"Pete Seeger on being Black Listed in America, 1965: CBC Archives | CBC" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0_IME9WsHQ

I find it hard to believe anyone would seriously say that Pete Seeger should be on the list of people that should be feared for their "un-American" leanings today, but in the past apparently several people thought he was worthy of that label.

But it's also worse in a way because many people who sign these petitions think they are actually helping so they are less likely to do something more which might actually help. If they forward it to five people and create awareness then they are helping a little. If they just sign and go on their way they are doing no more than the guy who does nothing.

> A mode of thought I would expect in socialist countries, not the US...

It's ironic that given all the valid concerns in your post, you also fell for the oldest piece of propaganda in the book by the very government you're concerned about and that you think that socialism has something to do with dictatorships, rather than it being just an idea that itself has nothing to do with dictatorships in itself, but was in the past implemented by dictators, same as capitalism was in Latin America and elsewhere.

Nazi ideology is much more inherently tied to strongmen and dictatorships than socialist ideology is.

You also seem to be talking about communism, rather than socialism as such and fail to see the distinction between these two, or indeed between communism and Stalinism, but that's for a longer discussion...

Most Americans have no idea that socialism != communism.

The latter meaning is mostly used when referring to the former. But this is only kind of interesting if you're not American. :)

Nazi and socialist ideology is quite close. After all, the S in NSDAP stands for Socialist, and they targeted same voters.

This is a gross misrepresentation and I hope that this belief isn't more widespread.

The only thing that socialism and naziism had in common was the idea of an economy that will make a group of people better off, (which is pretty much the idea behind every economic model in history), but naziism is based on the idea of a "superior race", which is inherently better than the rest of the population and thus is entitled to the slave labour of the other, lesser races.

Socialism is pretty much the exact opposite, it's about people having equal access to basic set of utilities and services and about large enterprises sharing a proportional amount of its profits with its workers, it has nothing to do with race, in fact it makes things like race, sex etc. not be a factor in entitlement to these things.

Hitler hated the idea of socialism, (as well as communism) and actively prosecuted socialists in Germany, a chunk of which then escaped to Czechoslovakia, which was part of his reason for invading it, same for the Soviet Union.

Unfortunately this "belief" is pretty wide spread on the American right.

It's not actually believed, though. It's just an attack point to try and associate "liberals" with Hitler in Internet comments and what not. Pretty standard troll tactic.

Unfortunately there are people who really believe it. [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_Fascism

This is bad history. The Nazis who emerged in power had no ties to socialism. By this logic, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a purely democratically run country.

huh? The nazis were entirely socialist and ran a socialist agenda. That was their platform. Centralized education, centralized health care, strict gun control laws, the list goes on and on.

As I said above, the "socialism" promised by Hitler was that they should no longer pay for WW1 and since they're a superior race, they're entitled to the labour of Jews, Romas etc. for "free" - that's the "socialism" behind Naziism, just because the words are the same, doesn't mean they're the same thing.

Hitler essentially wanted the superior Germans to do nothing and be provided for by lesser races and I presume that's why you think he was a "socialist", but in reality he was much closer to early U.S. history than to socialist ideology.

> Centralized education, centralized health care, strict gun control laws

More like common sense laws than "socialist" ones if you ask me...

This is what upsets me about the right, they're so easily scammed by random screams of "Big government", "centralised health care", "strict gun control", "centralised education" etc. and the counter is simply "FREEDOM, LOW TAXES, PRIVATE HEALTHCARE, "THE BEST PROVIDER WINS" etc. and I get the appeal, these things sound awesome, but the problem is in the details; the "low taxes" are not for you, they're for Apple, Google, Shell etc. "private healthcare" is not excluded under socialism if you want it and can afford it, it's just that it's not the only option and every citizen has some form of healthcare provided, regardless of their socioeconomic status, just by the virtue of the fact that they're...you know...human.

The people who say it's too expensive ignore how much is spent on the military, (i.e. US military has 800+ overseas military bases, do you really think you need (all) of them?), the fact that US already spends more on healthcare than virtually any other modern nation and despite this it still has the worst quality healthcare of all of them.

"Centralised education" means that creationists in Iowa can't not teach evolution, which I would argue it's a good thing, but again, it's a base, so that everybody gets at least "some" consistent quality of education, it doesn't mean it can't be expanded upon...

> strict gun control laws

Again, more like common sense, than ideology driven, look up gun deaths in the US vs Europe. If you have a gun in the US you don't actually have an advantage, because everybody else is armed as well, i.e. it's basically as if you didn't have one, but with greater risks of getting shot.

There are a lot of "republics" and "democratic" parties around the world that are anything but.

It's called branding.

> the S in NSDAP stands for Socialist, and they targeted same voters.

Not "and", but "because". Hitler also talked about peace a lot. Here's a hint: go by what they did. Talk was as cheap back then as it is today.

Your comment puts Snowden's actions in perspective. He risked his liberty, if not life, so that we could learn about the scope of US mass surveillance.

You worry about the risk of being registered as a Snowden sympathizer if you voice your support and the discomfort that might bring with it.

Democracy and rule of law doesn't come for free.

To quote a man who was actively surveilled by the US government for much of his later life and no one believed him...

"They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason."

-Earnest Hemingway

That quote is from "Notes on the Next War: A Serious Topical Letter" which was published in Esquire in 1935 and was about war (based on his experience from WWI), not about surveillance or about standing up for democracy in times of peace.

FBI opened their file on Hemingway in 1942: https://vault.fbi.gov/ernest-miller-hemingway

Nobody in the US will "die like a dog" for supporting a presidential pardon of Snowden and Hemingway did not suggest that one should stay out of politics.

I didn't even spell his name right. Still a good quote.

> what would the risk be for me to sign this?

You could end up in prison. It's not likely, but it's possible. Signing this petition could get your name on a secret list of people who are likely terrorist sympathizers, and that in turn could lead to your arrest on trumped-up charges, or perhaps even non-trumped-up charges based on coincidental circumstances that would never have been noticed had you not signed. There are also a whole host of other less serious possible consequences. You could end up on the no-fly list. You could be denied a government job. Who knows?

And that is exactly why you must sign. Ed Snowden put a lot on the line so that we can know for sure that we are facing risks like this, and possibly even do something about it. The least we can do IMHO is to take a small risk to help him come home. That's why I signed (and made a modest donation).

I signed it and to be honest I'm not the biggest fan of Snowden but think he deserves an opportunity for pardon.

I'm honestly not the slightest bit afraid of retaliation, and if I was targeted it would be evidence in favor of Snowden's cause.

I don't understand how an American citizen could be afraid of exercising their free speech rights -- if they are violated, then one can vocally draw attention to their situation. I'm really not afraid of repercussions as a random American.

> I don't understand how an American citizen could be afraid of exercising their free speech rights -- if they are violated, then one can vocally draw attention to their situation. I'm really not afraid of repercussions as a random American.

Because some random American has no practical recourse in such an event.

Drawing attention is not an effective remedy against abuses by people who aren't held accountable:


"You shouldn't change your behavior because a government agency somewhere is doing the wrong thing. If we sacrifice our values because were afraid we don't care about those values very much." ~ Edward Snowden


Normally I'd call that paranoia. But after reading about the case in which a Goldman Sachs programmer aroused suspicion [0] from the FBI for using "Subversion" and occasionally erasing his "bash history", I think it's reasonable to remember that anything you say can and will be used against use in the eyes of the law

[0] http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2013/09/michael-lewis-goldman...

"They seem to have learned the habit of cowering before authority even when not actually threatened. How very nice for authority. I decided not to learn this particular lesson." -- Richard Stallman (http://www.donhopkins.com/drupal/node/109)

> A mode of thought I would expect in socialist countries, not the US...

what does socialism have to do with this? maybe you meant to say "a mode of thought I would expect in totalitarian police states..."

it's true that some totalitarian police states have, nominally if not really in practice, also been socialist. however, there have been just as many fascist, capitalist, monarchist, and theocratic totalitarian police states as well.

so I ask again...what does socialism have to do with this?

As an US citizen, you don't have to fear, you have freedom of speech.

I hope that was sarcastic.

Otherwise it's hilarious, especially in this context.

I hope that was sarcastic.

Otherwise you are implying that the humor value of a comment is determined not solely by you, but partly from the intentions of the author.

That's a corner stone of comedic value. It is to pretend you aren't intending to joke and landing on one.

The perceived intentions of the author/utterer absolutely affect the humour value of a comment.

This exactly why I think we should sign it. The fact that you now second guess everything shows this is very wrong. It will only get worse if we keep our mouths closed.

First the pardon will never happen. Neither Obama nor any other President can or will pardon him, lest they encourage the next Snowden. So signing it will not actually help Snowden.

Second, it's entirely possible that your fears will come true - obviously the government will receive your information and they can use it how they see fit. Not only that, but they appear to be running a co-registration campaign with the ACLU, and you don't know exactly who else will get your name, email, and physical address, or who those people will sell it to. I would be also curious to see what kind of remarketing cookies they are using. You can easily be put in the bucket of "HN users that visited the support Snowden page" and be stalked accordingly by advertisers across millions of Adsense-supported sites, Google search, Facebook, and the general web with just two or three remarketing cookies.

The creators of this site undoubtedly know that their stated goal will never be accomplished. So this looks more like an attempt to build a marketing database of people with a specific viewpoint than anything else.

All acts of resistance have consequences. That's because it's important, and "they" know it's important. I think it's reasonable to assume this gets you put on a watchlist if you're not already.

As others have (snarkily) pointed out, this is a pretty mild form of resistance, so I'd imagine the consequences would be pretty mild.

Literally millions of Americans think Snowden should be pardoned. Expressing that belief won't make me a target.

That being said, I could see the government trotting it out if there were ever a separate case against you. "captainmuon is already known to harbor sympathies for known traitor Edward Snowden."

I've literally never seen anything like that being trotted out in a case.

It's awful that you are thinking about this, imho, as am I. I signed it, because I'd prefer not to live under an unaccountable surveillance superpower.

Being in Australia, I'm at best, someone that kowtows to a surveillance superpower. Sucks to be me, I can't even vote to not be surveilled.

The link to the international campaign is broken and results in a 404 not found for me... did it work for you?

Strictly speaking I was born in Iowa so I signed it using those creds, but I don't think any of it matters, to be honest.

Assuming any of those lists exist, you're not trying hard enough if you're not already on them.

In fact, not being on any list is a reason for being on a watchlist all by itself. What is that person trying so hard to hide?

Risks aside, signing this is useless. President Obama hates whistleblowers and will not pardon Mr. Snowden. I would be willing to put money on it.

There is no risk to signing this.

That's exactly what they want you to think! :tinfoilhat:

Asking, "Will the government persecute me if I democratically voice my opinion against a crime executed by the same government?", is exactly the type of questioning that should be avoided.

It is same as asking, "Will the mafia kill me if I speak the truth about the murder as an eyewitness?" Government is not supposed to operate like a mafia. (But sure they can violate Human Rights and the Constitution, and public will not even care.)

However, I am afraid by asking that very question we are already talking from within the context of a regime that is "totalitarian". The various degrees to which an average US citizen believes that they are not in a totalitarian country unlike those "other" "socialist" or whatever countries out there, is irrelevant:

Surveillance is Totalitarianism.

It is no surprise for people get paranoid in a country with large-scale surveillance technology. And that's the point. Because it has never been merely about the "terrorists" who are "out there"...

For people who are concerned about getting a "high score" in whatever threat inventory, we are all a threat already. That's the very basic rationale behind mass-surveillance. For the record, a majority of HN members would hypothetically get pretty "high scores"...

Back to the topic of the thread, Obama will not pardon Snowden.

By logging into "hacker news" regularly, mentioning the NSA (and probably other key terms: data collection, US citizen) I'm sure you are already on a list.

> By logging into "hacker news" regularly, mentioning the NSA (and probably other key terms: data collection, US citizen) I'm sure you are already on a list.

If the NSA really does maintain these macabre "lists", it's kind of hard to believe they'd be so unsophisticated as to put you on one for visiting a website called "Hacker News" that has nothing to do with the definition of "hacking" that they care about.

It may be hard to believe, but it's typical of surveillance programs. They aren't run by cunning Men in Black, they're just another government program with bureaucratic directives and clueless people in charge.

Sadly you've almost certainly been added to a list simply for commenting on this article.

If you signed a petition in Thailand, and it had anything to do with the royal family, then you would be arrested and imprisoned under the lese majeste laws. If you signed a petition in North Korea or Syria, you would be tortured and killed.

Be thankful that you can exercise your right to sign this petition in the US, and the only thing you might need to worry about is increased scrutiny from the IRS.

I had the same thought, but I signed it, because he did a helluva lot more for me than sign a petition, and also because "failing to do the right thing because of concerns about your personal safety/convenience" is known more succinctly as cowardice.

(Whether "signing an online petition" is "doing the right thing" is outside the scope of this comment.)

I made a small donation to Glenn Greenwald, back when he was writing for Salon. (Back when concerns were hanging chads, weapons of mass deception, and the like.)

I've had occasion in recent years to speculate how many lists that has put me on. And to explain to a few friends "three degrees of separation" and what that might imply for them, as well.

I don't particularly like being listed. But I really don't like and fear the utter lack of transparency and accountability, and how such information can and apparently is "weaponized" against individuals for personal, political, and financial objectives.

Not only is it scary. It is, ultimately, a wasteful mis-use of resources. All this dirt digging and slinging and lawyering up takes away from more useful activity. Like fixing blight and illness before it engenders disfunction.

Call me an optimist. I believe -- or at least hope -- that we can do better.

I'm tired of living in perpetual fear.

I think you're being ridiculous. This is being run through the ACLU, which has over 500,000 members.

I just signed and donated $50.

I don't know what to make of this. We lose if Snowden is "pardoned", because that would mean he did something morally wrong. Snowden loses his life in the US if he's not pardoned.

I'm not American, but the issue cuts across all countries and Snowden is a representative.

I think about this sort of thing quite often, actually: Your fears are exactly why i've not signed it. I'm American, living in Norway. I don't really plan on living in the states again, but I very much want to be able to visit family. I already wonder if that doesn't put me on some sort of secret list, but there isn't a decent way for me to find out. I don't even feel I have adequate representation anymore - I can vote based on my previous address in the US, but I highly doubt I'd be listened to. Not that it was adequate to begin with, but I at least had the facade.

It is really unnerving truth be told.

When you start to feel that way is when you need to stand up the most. We get further into this mess by staying silent out of fear and we get out of it by being millions strong and protesting the state of things.

> I wonder if I (a US citizen) might get trouble the next time at the border?

I would be hugely surprised to learn that anybody would spend any time or attention to whoever votes how on a petition. There are thousands of those and only so many border agents, and making trouble to an US citizen carries a non-zero risk. Your profile is too low for that.

> Or get a higher score in some database, that combined with other things might get me into trouble?

Possible, but other things should be like donating to known ISIS front or frequenting a Hezbollah darksite, or something like that. Otherwise it's just noise.

> Increased scrutiny from the IRS

Unlikely, IRS is interested in money, not online petitions. You'd need to do something more spectacular to deserve special scrutiny, that puts you out of the crowd. Voting on online petition puts you in the crowd.

> but "they" might say hell why not?

Customized treatment on these scales is rather expensive. If voting on online petition had triggered customized treatment, they'd have to do a lot of useless "increased scrutiny". If they did, you won't be different from millions of people, but most probably they don't.

> Inability to get security clearances in future?

Security clearance is one area where such scrutiny could be warranted. But given who gets clearances, at least at low levels (like terror operatives working at airports and security companies, etc.) not likely unless we're talking about very high clearance levels.

> Being targeted for more intense data collection by the NSA?

Unlikely, again, you'd have to get out of the noise level for that and voting on a petition does not do that. If you'd be a close personal friend of Snowden then it'd be a different thing...

If Snowden revealed something is that the NSA and accompanied services are very smart, very powerful and very resourceful in achieving their goals. Nothing suggests they are so stupid as being unable to distinguish between signal and noise. They may be collecting a lot, but it all would be useless if they couldn't distinguish between interesting things and noise. Signing an online petition is noise.

I don't think the paranoia is unreasonable, however, it is exactly this sort of self censorship that dictatorships bank on to stay in power. People don't speak out for fear of repercussions. Snowden sacrificed almost everything to do what was right by not only the people of the U.S. but what was right for the people of the world.

I think it's only right that we all put our neck out for him, the same as he did for us - if only to say thank you for having our backs. I'm signing it.

Edit: I have signed it

Why do you think this won't happen if you write that exact comment here? Quite sure for writing here we are all added to the database or our attention factor gets slightly increased if we already are in it, maybe depending on how critical the word cloud of our comment looks to their analytics software. And don't think it's different if you are a US citizen or not. They probably add people from everywhere. A few billion data sets are probably not as big a deal anymore nowadays.

I tend to doubt your fear is to have your "terrorism points" incremented in some database, but rather the cold and distant nature of the federal government makes it nearly impossible to reason through how you're _not_ a terrorist (assuming you're not). There's no organized mechanism by which you can disprove your terrorism affiliations. Otherwise, being put in a database would be as much an issue as changing the wrong address on your insurance policy.

Better to be on the right side of history. I mean, if you are asking the question, you have already made a personal decision that you would like to sign it. Not doing so would be betraying yourself. That would be worse than not getting a security clearance I would have thought. In any case, I doubt the spooks would be really that bothered. You can still spy AND take the moral high road :-)

I had a similar thought, but it was more just normal internet guardedness: I don't know who these people are that are asking for my PII.

I am reasonably certain signing this petition would increase your bad karma with NSA. This in itself may not cause a problem but next time you come on their radar this might hurt you.

> A mode of thought I would expect in socialist countries, not the US...

USA is moving rapidly towards socialism though it is much behind than say UK or France. This sort of government overreach is inevitable.

The UK's "peak 'socialism'" time was in the past. Depending on how you apply metrics to socialism it would either be the good parts (Attlee/Bevan establishing schools and NHS after the war) or the bad parts ("winter of discontent" 78/79).

UK surveillance is part of the permanent state and is imperialist in nature.

In some ways, the UK is less authoritarian than in the past - the Human Rights Act has had a real effect, along with the Good Friday Agreement. There are no longer troops deployed in the streets with live ammunition nor elected MPs who are forbidden to speak on television.

More than one historian (e.g. Dominic Sandbrook) has pointed out that the "winter of discontent" wasn't caused by socialism in the Attlee & Bevin sense but out and out naked self interest in a way that was closer to the "no such thing as society" of the Thatcher years.

I love Thatcher's description of Attlee:

"He was a serious man and a patriot. Quite contrary to the general tendency of politicians in the 1990s, he was all substance and no show."

I think we're back to debating what is and what is not socialism here, but the conflict was between labour unions and the state-owned enterprises that employed them. Both of which are very social democrat / mixed economy kind of institutions. Hence the Thatcherite response to both privatise everything (making employee relations someone else's problem, and also making it much easier to fire employees), severely restrict the unions, switch UK power generation away from domestic coal, and finally have a punchup between the police and the NUM.

The Labour party failed to develop any effective way of saying "no" to naked self-interest in unions (In Place Of Strife passim). Intrinsic problem in 'socialism'? Possibly.

That is a great quote on Attlee.

The fact that you, the US citizen, asks this questions and has these worries says everything about what US has become, unfortunately.

North Koreans see themselves as 'The Cleanest People'. We see ourselves as the freest. We're both wrong.

There might be a risk. But if you do not act the risk is much higher. I am not talking about social good or sacrifice. Just think about the state in which your children's and their children's will live in. It is not worth living in a state like that. Its like we are being prepared for breeding future slaves.

Paranoid? Naah. I'm working on the assumption this site (pardonsnowden.org) is run by the CIA, or one of it's proxies, whatever, to gather the names of Snowden sympathisers.

Surely, right. If history has taught us anything. I mean, we know some of the things the CIA has gotten up in the past.

> A mode of thought I would expect in socialist countries, not the US...

What is your definition of "socialist" ? A lot of European countries are "socialists" in a way (always a nuance) but they don't have an aggressive kind of local NSA (even if some have a local NSA).

I don't think they would have a problem with people signing this. It lets the people blow off steam with no real effect. Once you sign it, you think "well, I've done my part. I signed the online petition, and changed my Twitter/Facebook icon."

The fact that the United States government can indiscriminately designate people as being "in trouble" and then use this as an excuse to trample upon their rights. The real trouble is a situation in which Snowden is not pardoned.

I think the point is, the reason you are doing this is to mitigate the very same effects you are afraid from.

You are now concerned about getting on the no-fly list.

Think about being concerned doing a Google Search, Buying this item, Putting much money into this and this.

> A mode of thought I would expect in socialist countries, not the US...

I hate this notion. I stay in India -- a socialist nation, which has its own problems but "lack of freedom" compared to any other nation in the world is not one of them.

I accept that I've probably said enough nice or not-bad things about Ed Snowden that I'd probably never get a security clearance as a U.S. citizen; and as a dual citizen I have no hope at all to begin with.

I think signing that petition is the least of your worries, the amount of data already collected about you including this comment here will be used to profile you for years to come.

A lot of Germans had this attitude back in the late 30s early 40s.

If you aren't willing to risk being on the NSA's shit list, we will never be able to break free of their oppression. Action breeds confidence.

They would have to man in the middle the petition site to log you as it is in https. Can they do that for everybody just like that? I am not sure.

The problem seems to be that you use "socialist" as a replacement for totalitarian. And since you don't even know your enemy...

Even if there is some correlation between signing this petition and some of the things you say, the expected (in the statistical sense) damage to you is tiny compared to the cause in question and the principles, so frankly I think it is lame of you to even be writing about this, and I don't think it should be the top comment. It makes HN readers look like a bunch of #firstworldproblemers lacking perspective and fretting about minor inconveniences to their privileged lifestyles.

Chilling effects have a long tail.

Pretty sure I was denied clearance because I had made pro-Snowden remarks in public.

The NSA most likely already knows this about you if you have a twitter or facebook.

I'd be more worried about the consequences of not signing it.

Uhm... Bernie Sanders signed this. I think you'll be okay.

According to a journalist who gave a talk here (Stuttgart, Germany) last week, there is a speed radar and license plate scanner at the local NSA installation, and going by too slow gets you on the 'suspicious people' list.

At the very least you'll be placed on some form of watch list and labelled a domestic extremist.

In socialist countries... they sign it all for you already.

For a non-US citizen it might be a case, especially if they are thinking about moving there eventually.

About 3 years ago, a story broke up about a three-letter agency requesting from Twitter (subpoena IIRC) the list of handles who were following a particular Swedish Pirate Party politician.

I remember reading the article via twitter and after a while watching a tweet from the politician in question appear in timeline.

I didn't even recall following her, but at some point in time I did. I froze and panicked, my twitter account is eponymous.

What will happen to me when I cross the US border? Hopefully/Probably nothing, but the thought lies in the back of my mind.

Okay, not to break up the tinfoil hat party here, but you're not going to get dragged off to US prison for following Birgitta Jónsdóttir (Icelandic, not Swedish) on Twitter.

Yeah, if you post threats on your Twitter account immediately before visiting a country that could be an issue. So don't do that. Threats against persons or property are reasonable things for public officials to be concerned about.

I repeat: you're not going to get dragged off to US prison for following Birgitta Jónsdóttir on Twitter.

I strongly agree that Ed should be pardoned and that the US government has a lot of problems (like any country), but let's not go completely overboard here and write off the entire country as North Korea meets McCarthyism with a heaping side of Turkey. You can't and won't be prosecuted here for having a political opinion or for following people that do on Twitter.

If I had the slightest hint that I will be prosecuted or go to prison,I would never risk traveling in the US. I am not a person of interest by any means for any gov.

I was referring to a possible detention in the borders, stripping, electronic devices control and so forth.


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