The fundamental issue with their new database is that some analysis will be done on all of that data, along with criminal and public records, to characterize someone and store the result in the database. At that point, you’ve been classified and good luck getting out of whatever box they put you in (just see no fly lists for an example).
Now that you’re on some list, it snowballs. Every encounter with agents, every flight, every new relationship, any odd transaction will just make it worse and solidify how much of a threat/person of interest/terrorist/extremist you are.
Source: I’m a former intelligence analyst.
Source: Worked in an intelligence battalion for 5 years.
If you live nearby you might even be visiting a possible terrorist for barbeque or beer entirely innocently. I suspect few will be discussing, or have any idea of, their plans for a bank raid.
We may have a lot of data and meta data but we seem to be asking very unintelligent questions worthy of McCarthy / Stasi era paranoia.
Alternatives include conforming to unjust laws, or violating openly and ending up imprisoned. Neither sound like fun. Or, yes, going somewhere else. But in my experience, there's really nowhere to go. So hey.
Mass surveillance is a direct violation of the fourth amendment, outlawing it completely is the only reasonable solution.
It's easy to cite the Fourth Amendment. But it's all in the interpretation. The War on Drugs arguably violates the Bill of Rights in numerous ways. But try telling that to a judge.
And anyway, as I frequently note, the NSA is a military COMSEC organization. And the US is perpetually at war. So the NSA ignores the Constitution and law. At best, it pretends respect.
Ok, without the VPN part.
In the former Soviet Union, there weren't VPNs, Tor and stuff. But there was samizat. And much conversation, fueled by vodka and bad cigarettes. It ended up working well enough. Except that Reagan, Bush and Carter went on to screw Russia so badly that it embraced Putin.
Surveillance doesn't magically generate blackmail material on politicians if they haven't done anything wrong, and politicians have a vastly reduced right to privacy compared to the rest of us.
"Politicians could be blackmailed!" is a weak as hell argument because if they can be blackmailed then they are corrupt and should be exposed.
The problem is what happens to all the rest of us - private citizens who do not wield power and influence, do not write the laws, and as is noted in the OP here, who suffer very real consequences to our lives from being categorized by intelligence systems.
There are a wide range of things that count as dirt. Legal yet scandalous behavior, various social gaffes, past political stances that may not represent their current views, or criminal acts from one of the many "relationships" tracked. All of these things have been used to attack candidates.
>Surveillance doesn't magically generate blackmail material on politicians if they haven't done anything wrong, and politicians have a vastly reduced right to privacy compared to the rest of us.
If we know these organizations have these extreme surveillance capabilities, they largely can magically generate blackmail. The amount of proof needed to generate a scandal is low, and falsifiable.
>The problem is what happens to all the rest of us - private citizens who do not wield power and influence, do not write the laws, and as is noted in the OP here, who suffer very real consequences to our lives from being categorized by intelligence systems
One of those consequences is the hidden destruction of our democracy. As these powers become stronger, we lose our ability to reject them in our political system.
Furthermore, if politicians want power X but only if X can't be used on themselves, then that power can easily be used corruptly.
$politician went with some supporters to a strip club. News at 11.
You think that won't affect the electoral outcome, even if it is perfectly legal? And if it does, that it could not be used in collusion with security forces to preserve an entrenched power?
In your (formerly) professional opinion, how should we be identifying and characterizing threats? Where does emerging technology (ML/AI, etc) perform well?
It’s very probable that the Chinese have a database on every person in the world. Everything you ever posted, and who knows what else, all sitting on some server, lying in wait. It wouldn’t take much more than an Oracle DB on a single Dell server.
The purpose of this would be something akin to the Soviet “sexpionage” of the 60’s and the 70’s. It’s incredible blackmail material. It doesn’t need
to be used now, but as people grow older and move up the ranks of organizations, all of the naked
photos that were swiped from their iCloud account 17 years before can prove incredibly damaging.
EDIT: Singled out China as an example, but should have said most governments.
I’m sure China, Russia and others have it as well, but right now, as you’re browsing HN on the toilet, a NSA agent could be watching you in real time through the camera on your phone.
Can you point to anything in China and say with reasonable confidence that it's not happening elsewhere?
However, I know this isn't true. Just watched a documentary by Al Jazeera about sheriffs in the US who are in charge of running county jails. This is why we need to protect the rights of whistleblowers.
The funny thing is that here in the US we have somehow placated must people into thinking they're a-ok if they're white. In hindsight, this is the main coup of the civil war and how the South actually won the civil war even after losing the war. Just reframe the question and make it about whites versus blacks.
My favorite story is a young white woman who moved to Overland Park, Kansas is greeted by her full legal name by a neighbor who works for the police. The most likely way he knew her middle name was through a search on their database (afair, she said she usually omitted her middle name). It sounds like nothing but this is a demonstration of power and that he's watching her.
We know all we need to know from the Stanford prison experiments. The guards in the experiment didn't just act rude based on race. I think more people need to be aware that this isn't about the color of someone's skin. This will be a very rude awakening for a lot of people when they get caught up.
The best way to protect your privacy and your constitutional rights is to vote for privacy advocates.
“Homeland Security” is genius naming because you can justify almost anything with that name. They can always need more money “for security”. They can always be granted new powers “for security”. Hell, these ridiculous tariffs are “for national security” because literally nothing else justifies them.
And let’s not forget this is a relatively new government entity: it did not exist 20 years ago. It was created opportunistically (“never waste a crisis”) with full knowledge that it would be very hard to eliminate.
I travelled to the US several times afterwards, landing in either Houston or Atlanta, and the border crossing was always a horrible experience. Thankfully I haven't had to go for years now. Worth noting that I've travelled to many countries, spread over every continent, and never experienced border guards as nasty and vicious as they are in the US - if anything, they are generally friendly elsewhere!
If there was some geolocation between two devices registered to accounts owned by opposite sexes of similar age spending time together, overnight & with time, then you have the data you need?
When Republicans are shaping policy, they tend to target air travel.
The article states that the system gets false denials as much as 1 out of 25 times... 4% is a very high error rate. For DIA alone that would average out to almost ~6,700 false denials a day. And that's not accounting for people who have been miscategorized in the system by the threat detection algorithm. It's another level of worry and potential headache associated with air travel.
Before 9/11, you could arrive at an airport 20 minutes before your flight was supposed to take off and still make it. After 9/11, to get on a plane you had to let the government take a nude picture of you, get a dose of radiation, and expect security lines to take 2 hours or more.
The hassle of flying made the comparative cost of driving places less because there was so much hassle associated with it.
And that's the basis my theory, the government is trying to dissuade people from flying in favor of burning through oil by artificially increasing its cost. Not to mention, like always, lining the pockets of the contractors in what is likely another no-bid scenario.
When 9/11 happened, public resources were poured into buying a bunch of nude body scanners that nobody wanted, were unvetted for long-term safety, and were literally useless for many types of weapons. But the measures were successful at making flying a nightmare.
Now the goal is to pour public resources into broadening the scope of no-fly list and implement a broken computer vision system to figure out who to ground? And for what? Has there been an upswing in terrorists hijacking planes domestically lately that we're responding to?
To my knowledge there have been 0 incidents of air travel terrorism in the US since 9/11.
It seems like the Republicans just like to make air travel as miserable as possible to convince the average American to choose to road trip in the face of cheap and quick air travel to justify their oil interests.
And with people as irresponsible as the ones who put in the Rapiscan machines in charge of evaluating threat levels it seem like a recipe for disaster (unless you are a private prison owner).
Not to mention that with 2012's National Defense Authorization act, America was qualified as a war zone to justify its indefinite detention clause. I don't think anyone what's to live in an America where groups of politically active people could be hauled off as terrorist threats because they didn't want an oil pipeline polluting the waterways of the natives.
Go to the airport for vacation and end up indefinitely detained as a terrorist? That would frighten many people out of flying I'd imagine.
DHS is a bad joke that needs to go away.
I should add that I agree that the hassle at checkout is becoming a impediment to flying, but I still don't believe your theory. I believe the most important driving force paradoxically may be the airlines (in addition to the surveillance state), in a drive to give passengers the sense of security they need to keep flying, it was always a sensitive issue.
But in terms of the financial impact on the 1% and their incentive to try to shape policy, there are a mountain of reasons for them to want people to use cars rather than planes.
For one, there are some ultra rich people that own a bunch of gas stations and the attached convenience store. People flying over middle America hurt their bottom line, and they get to cry foul on the basis of it killing "small town business."
Next, regarding thermal efficiency, planes operate at 35,000 ft (this may be less now as I notice low-cost airlines like Frontier tend to fly lower) but the thing is, the less atmosphere you have above you, the less insulation you have for the heat to be retained inside the atmosphere and the more cooling you have from the cold of space.
Driving on the other hand generates enormous amounts of heat on the surface of the planet. Both with the gasoline burning, but also with the road network.
If you've ever ridden a bike on a hot day and crossed from a concrete to black asphalt, you probably noticed a rather substantial temperature change. Black asphalt, in addition to being yet another way to sell a petroleum product to the masses, is more black than pretty much any naturally occurring substance on the planet and as such generates more heat. And unlike other black substances like volcanic rock, asphalt traps heat (I've definitely had my feet scorched while running across blacktop).
This surface heat generation has a compounding effect for the 1% as America has an unhealthy obsession with climate control and by generating more surface heat, they are essentially selling more coal to power the air conditioning units (places like Arizona where heat is the worst are not even mildly interested in ecologically responsible power generation - the retirees living there by and large support Trump who's putting through legislation like PV tariffs). And any heat is good in the eyes of a coal tycoon because it creates a positive feedback loop - the hotter it gets the more coal they get to burn and the hotter it gets.
Plus the hotter it gets, the more people can make an excuse to drive their air conditioned car to their local whatever rather than riding a bike or walking because "it's just too hot" or "it's unsafe to be out in this heat."
So I guess I'm just saying that I think air vs car travel has a much bigger impact on the bottom-line of the 1%ers than most people account for.
To your point of average BTUs, I think you also have to average out passive BTUs generated by all cross-country roadways against cross-country travelers to get an accurate number and a multiplier effect of coal & gasoline fueled climate control (I assume fuel efficiency with driving goes way down when high temperatures cause people to blast their AC), and also account for added thermal efficiency of air travel in terms of how much of that energy is actually captured by the atmosphere and how much is negated by space cooling.
There's also the point of average environmental cost vs marginal environmental cost to the consumer. The average cost might be really high if my $20 flight was under-booked and there were only 40 passengers onboard. But if that flight were going to happen anyway because the airline had already passed the threshold to justify not cancelling it, then the marginal environmental cost of me flying is low. I'm essentially just a 200 pound weight on a 135,000 pound machine. Fuel efficiency-wise for the plane, I am equivalent to a ~3 lb weight in a 1 ton automobile.
Interesting graph, though also curious that it would appear that the intersection point of the airlines incrementally improving efficiency trend line and the auto's relatively stable trend line appears to have happened around 2000/2001 right around the time of the 9/11 attack. (Not that I'm suggesting anything nefarious, but Ooooooo....)
And agree to disagree on the airlines being the driving force for these measures (or any related measures like the travel ban).
I actually do believe in the existence of the deep state, which may explain some politicians'reluctance to reining in the intelligence community. (However, it's also absurd that corrupt-assed people have latched on to that idea to defend their blatant corruption.)
And I did mention 2012's NDAA as a big part of the problem, that was all President Obama. He said he needed the power but swore to not use it. To which the logical response was, "Yeah, great, but then why fight for the dystopian clause in the first place and also, what if the person after you is a complete nutter?" Then we got Trump.
Both sides have also engaged in illegal warfare that as you put it, we have all been complicit with. The movement towards a surveillance state seems like an act of war against our own citizens. So no argument here, whether it is the system or the politicians who are corrupted, something is definitely amiss.
It is a very real dichotomy: if you want things to change, then you need to vote for the largest group which is vaguely aligned towards your interests, and then wait for them to split into two new, largest groups.
First past the post is a terrible system, and spoiler candidates are very real in it. If you want this to be a false dichotomy, get rid of FTTP and implement preferential voting (and mandatory voting, which is how you get it to work).
Any data available from data brokers is available to gov agencies. It's being obtained via legal means, and therefore (afaik) is not covered by privacy law and other legal protections.
if it goes beyond legal mandate and the framework for that agencies legitimacy, collection method is somewhat irrelevant.
A couple years ago there was a thing that you couldn't get through airport security with an Arizona drivers license but had to go get an ID card that complied with federal rules, not sure what ever happened with that though.
My theory is it has something to do with DLs being valid until you're 65 so there's a bunch of old ones floating around without all the fancy modern technology built in but who knows?
This is still a thing, not sure about AZ specifically.
Basically says that if your state doesn't dump DL/ID info into federal databases, and some other requirements, you can't use it for some things federally - and so effectively creates a 'National ID' without overtly doing so.
But now we have the worst case, where there’s a database but no coherent national identification scheme.
This is getting out of hand. Bad enough bloody Facebook has entire continents of social graphs. Governments DEFINITELY DO NOT NEED THIS.
This is how you erode or work around legal protections for your citizenry. Once one country starts, others will implement the same, then the information sharing starts.
NO. Just NO. The cat is probably already well out of the bag, but the world really doesn't need this.
This is in the site guidelines: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.
On another note, I can only imagine what some of the less-accountable governments would to do with this information if they looked at the DHS as an example. Any authoritarian government wanting to maintain their position above the public would love to have complex PII available at the execution of a query.
Been rewatching Person of Interest lately and kind of think that's Homeland Security's wet dream...