I know of a number of cases where state secrets was claimed, then later it was proven that there was no actual state secret proven. (Including the very first case where state secrets were used as a defense in a court room.) I know of no cases where state secrets were claimed, and then there turned out to be an actual state secret at issue.
Call me paranoid, but this is the reason I'm frightened of setting foot on U.S. soil.
It sucks. A lot. (And I still visit, even.)
Germany has a real economy, the Germans believe in good education (or at least skilled vocational training), there are tons of hackers, a great nightlife, and the rule of law.
A big one for me was that the cops here ignore people who aren't criminals. Coming from the USA it's like a breath of fresh air.
They've experienced what can happen if you don't.
There is a section on the Wikipedia page about the USA PATRIOT Act that illustrates the parallels with the Reichstagsbrandverordnung (Reichstag Fire Decree).
The first section reads (translated):
"Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124 and 153 of the Constitution of the German Reich are suspended until further notice. It is therefore permissible to restrict the rights of personal freedom [habeas corpus], freedom of (opinion) expression, including the freedom of the press, the freedom to organize and assemble, the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications. Warrants for House searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed."
There are more people working REAL jobs in America than the total number of people in Germany.
And you just insulted all of them.
And this is from experience in having to work with german parent companies on behalf of their uk subsidiaries on web/internet work.
Makes working with France Telecom in Agust seem childs play
You have heard of the recent fiasco where one of the local secret police forces manged to miss (for several years) a neo nazi group under its nose who killed several people form ethic minorities finally committing suicide
First of all, this is done by the government, not the police. Second of all, this happens in the US as well. It's just done passively, when you file your taxes instead of actively.
At least here the police are missing stuff. In the USA they just kill/beat/arrest unarmed folks.
Part of the reason for this is that the US, unlike the UK, does not have state secrets law, so there is no actual legal definition of a state secret in the US. It's just a couple of words lawyers mumble in hopes that a judge will defer to their desires not to confront some fact.
At this point however, it is probably a safe assumption:
No matter what the NSA/NRO/CIA/DOJ or anyone else says, the US gov. in one form or another is monitoring every single Phone call, E-mail, Chat, Skype and any other form of electronic communication into and out of the USA. Also the location data that your cell phone leaks pretty much makes physical surveillance superfluous.
The Technology has been too cheaply available and the temptation too great for the truth to be anything else.
What the EFF should also be doing is launching a campaign to make end-to-end encryption the default everywhere. Every e-mail you write /Chat session/Skype session should be encrypted in transport for every one. Make the cost of doing this mass-surveillance so expensive that the Govt is forced to prioritize on the actual targets.
1) expensive is still relative. Even if there is a short cut it may be only feasible to decrypt a small part of encrypted communications. So they may have to prioritize.
2) If everything is encrypted, they may still have to start somewhere.
so yeah, it's not a bad assumption even if it is wrong.
Speaking of which, https works with HN, not that this likely matters much.
(But of course not NYC where you are subject to illegal search just riding the subway.)
I ain't holdin' my breath. :(
It sucks because I don't have any good ways of securely communicating with voice and/or video to people on mobile in the US. PGP, OTR, SSL, etc work well, but there aren't any good PGP or OTR clients for iPhone AFAIK.
I mostly just censor myself until I can speak to people in person, or communicate only unimportant things.
Apple are bound by the PATRIOT act.