More than 700'000 people or organizations were targeted, usually people on the left: unions, feminists, environmentalists etc.
A friend of my father runs an independent book store and he requested his files after the scandal was made public. He received a stack of paper over 10 inches high. The government pretty much had every part of his life on file. From mundane stuff to him participating in demonstrations (protesting for women's suffrage * , environmental issues). This is a guy who was never arrested in his life. Yet they had a record of pretty much everything.
This was in a time with limited technological capabilities.
In the 70's, the police probably took photographs of public gatherings and sent them to a special group which in turn had to identify the participants with the help of a magnifying glass and reference files.
Nowadays with have facial recognition techniques, cameras everywhere. Yes, this is some Public Enemy No. 1 shit, but it's a good time to be paranoid.
You can be sure that every form of electronic communication is in some form or another under surveillance by governments around the globe.
* Switzerland finally allowed women to vote in... drum roll... 1971.
I feel that spying on other countries (let alone on own citizens) shouldn't exist at all, but it has become accepted by societies as something that the Governments just have to do, to "make their job easier", just like even FBI said recently that they'd prefer if they didn't need to get warrants, because it would make their job easier. Having a democracy and rights for people must be really tough on authorities, or at least that's how they sound.
Thus, from a realistic standpoint, spying is sort of like doing market research for a startup. It allows you to make predictive decisions instead of reactive ones.
However domestic spying seems kind of silly. You should just be able to collect the information you need voluntarily through census and and surveys, without resorting to spying. If they refuse to provide the information, get a warrant.
As far as I am concerned, the two are not simply akin but deeply intertwined. Espionage can greatly improve the effectiveness of your military.
1. A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.
2. A state governed in such a way.
3. The cake is a lie.
But, seriously: the impulse to keep files on "internal enemies" is strong in any state, but it's come to the fore in a scary way in the last decade.
Every time I go to the airport I think this. Those full body scanners? Thanks to Bin Laden, now you practically get strip searched for every flight. You have to take off your shoes. You cannot take drinks on a plane.
You then have everyone on edge no matter where you go. You and a friend play CounterStrike. You get on the bus and start talking about good locations to plant the bomb. You will probably be wrestled to the floor by some over-zealous commuter.
It doesn't surprise me if this is true. The US attitude to privacy and civil rights have been becoming more like China's every year since 2001.
I never understood both sides and their actions. I mean I find both Islamic fundamentalism and American actions all round globe both equally dumb.
I don't think OBL ever had it as an explicit aim to pull down US militarily or culturally transform US into a Islamic state. That is impossible, and I assume somebody like him already understood that. I guess his aim was to drag US into a war and then reduce them to a state USSR, now russia was in 1990 post Afghanistan war. Long wars benefit nobody. They are a huge drain on man power, economy and morale of a nation. Its actually surprising that US fell for it. I was expecting more of a Intelligence based response where the CIA would hunt him down and kill him, instead of wasting trillions dollars.
On the other hand. Afghans seem to be very stubborn people. They don't give up easily no matter how shitty state they are in. Its just in their blood and culture to not accept foreign occupation over them. Even the British that had the entire Indian subcontinent under them couldn't conquer them. In the recent history alone, every body knows what has happened of USSR after going there. So no matter how bad the Taliban is, they still consider them as their own country men compared to Americans who actually released them from their bondage.
As a moderate muslim, I feel bad every time I'm pulled up for an ideology which I have nothing to do with. I've been a subject of religious discrimination many times since 911. I've been asked to come for extra rounds for job interviews, pulled up separately and checked at building security points, had troubles to open bank accounts, asked to delay visa filing for visiting abroad etc innumerable number of times. I feel having an arabicized name a huge liability to carry, a kind of burden for which you have to pay no matter even if you have nothing to do with their ideology.
On the other hand I see so much turmoil in the west, due to the war ordinary people like me having to pay for no mistake of theirs. Wars, economics crisis etc.
When I look at all this, I can't help but wonder that perpetrators of these crimes actually won.
The US didn't fall for anything - 9/11 was an opportunity to advance military goals in the Middle East. We planned to invade Afghanistan before the event. About three weeks afterward this plan was expanded to include seven countries in ten years ("Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran"). Some of those were accomplished by the "Arab Spring", but the State Department wasn't uninvolved in that and asked twitter to reschedule maintenance so that it would be "an effective communications tool" during the 2009 Iranian election.
The only confusing actor is Bin Laden, who attacked a superpower that had already expressed a desire to invade his people.
>The only confusing actor is Bin Laden, who attacked a superpower that had already expressed a desire to invade his people.
The superpower was already occupying much of his people through puppet dictators; the Saudi, Egyptian, Yemeni, Bahraini, Jordanian and Lebanese for example. Israel was created out as a "Jewish state" on 78% of Palestine while the population of Palestine was still only 34% Jewish after mass-migration campaign of the 1900s (1905 Jewish population of Palestine was 3%) but their bombings on Palestinian villagers successfully cleansed some 80% of the native population. The refugees still aren't allowed to return while any Jew (born Jewish or converted) can instantly migrate to Palestine and get a US-subsidized home in a Jewish only settlement.
The US diplomatic, monetary and military support for this 60+ year old occupation and denial of injustice was a major motivation for Osama.
Every year the US and Israel vote against this UNGA resolution while the rest of the whole world votes for a peaceful settlement (i.e. normalization of relations and recognition of Israel in return for a Palestinian state on 22% of original Palestine and a symbolic return of some refugees, some compensation for the rest of the refugees, which would give Israel the chance to preserve a Jewish majority rather than equal rights for all).
26 January 2012
"The Assembly also adopted by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 7 against ( Australia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 3 abstentions ( Cameroon, Canada, Tonga) (Annex IV), the resolution on the “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine”."
Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine
23 November 2009
Negative votes cast by… 2005
Israel, United States , Australia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau
Israel, United States , Australia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau
>I don't think that he was acting on the behalf of Islam.
His acts were as much about Islam as Vietnam war or any American President's mass-murders were about Christianity.
The US was supporting Osama and buddies to kill USSR by proxy. The US was also supporting Iraq's Saddam in 1980s to get rid of Iranian regime (after 1979 when Iranians toppled the 1953 US-UK-installed puppet King), the US continues to support Saudi misogynists who present their fanatic views as Islamist, Obama supported Islamists in Libya (even supported some Al-CIAda terrorists who were on US terror list) and now they are supporting the so-called Islamists in Syria.
Yep. Bush would have been a hero if he hadn't fallen for it. Compassionate conservatism, expressed in Medicare Part C. Tax cuts combined with modest military expansion would have held the deficit in check.
But remember the pundits saying, "this one calles for boots on the ground"? Even Jon Stewart showed a clip of Bush or someone making a compassionate statement, and commented "you're killing my blood lust." And he meant it!
I don't guess Clinton wouldn't have fallen for it -- he didn't during all of OBL's significant attacks in the 90's.
Inevitable as in "in response to 9/11"? I don't think so, it was planned months, if not years before September 2001. [edit, corrected typo to 2001]
US planned war in Afghanistan long before September 11
By Patrick Martin
20 November 2001
Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
US 'planned attack on Taleban'
A former Pakistani diplomat has told the BBC that the US was planning military action against Osama Bin Laden and the Taleban even before last week's attacks.
Niaz Naik, a former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October.
U.S. government documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and recently posted on the website of the George Washington University National Security Archive shed some additional light on talks with the Taliban prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, including with regard to the repeated Taliban offers to hand over Osama bin Laden, and the role of Pakistan before and after the attacks.
It is already known that the U.S. had demanded in secret discussions with the Taliban that bin Laden be handed over for more than three years prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The talks continued “until just days before” the attacks, according to a Washington Post report the month following the attacks. But a compromise solution such as the above that would offer the Taliban a face-saving way out of the impasse was never seriously considered. Instead, “State Department officials refused to soften their demand that bin Laden face trial in the U.S. justice system.”
U.S. Rejects New Taliban Offer
Oct. 1 
The United States today rejected yet another offer by Afghanistan's ruling Taliban to turn over Osama bin Laden for trial in a third country if the U.S. presents evidence against bin Laden and stops air attacks.
"There's no need to discuss it," Bush said. "We know he's guilty. Just turn him over. … There's nothing to negotiate about. They're harboring a terrorist and they need to turn him over."
Couldn't Osama claim that he knew there were criminals in those buildings that he attacked and that there is nothing to negotiate about?
Prior planning is not proof of future action. For instance the U.S. spent decades planning in great detail how to go to war with the USSR, but we never did it.
Put another way--every war-like situation the U.S. has ever entered was pre-planned to some extent. But we also planned for a great many wars that never happened.
From his own point of view. Osama had declared war on the US and picked what he considered to be strategic targets. In purely military terms I think he picked his targets very well.
The other reason was to create a local distraction. To keep "the terrorists" occupied, their violence and attacks confined to that part of the world, and not in the US. In that sense, they "fell for it" too.
If the public need for "revenge" had been satisfied by attacking Afghanistan, I think Clinton would have stopped there. He was not a risk-taker, and he was totally driven by polls.
Bush said he had clear evidence of WMD's in Iraq, that he showed this to Blair and Blair confirmed. I think it would be fair to say that most people would agree that Hussein wanted WMD's.
So I think it's fair to think that most Americans and most in the international community believed that Iraq had WMD's. The argument was mostly over whether an invasion was an appropriate response.
It was only "crazies" who believed both that Bush lied and that he was able to either snooker Blair or convince him to join in the lie.
Sometimes the crazies are right, though.
The television was always sure that the war was necessary, that Powell's speech was coherent, and that the government always knows best because it has access to secret sources that it can't reveal and our best interests at heart. Of course, the television is also in the arms business.
"In London, at least 750,000 people demonstrated in what police called the city's largest demonstration ever."
But they also believed that a war was an inappropriate response to the existence of those WMD's.
Hm... "A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It's a proof. A proof is a proof, and when you have a good proof, it's because it's proven." - Jean Chretien, discussing what type of proof Canadian government wanted before assisting in a war with Iraq (which it ultimately did not)
Of course a (different?) large majority also believe the Earth is only around 10K years old.
So maybe selective/programmed memory is a more accurate term?
Look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_invasion_of_Iraq. There are lot of sources for some of the quotes that I will take here:
* "Four countries participated with troops during the initial invasion phase, which lasted from 19 March to 9 April 2003. These were the United States (148,000), United Kingdom (45,000), Australia (2,000), and Poland (194)." - So out of all the EU countries only UK and Poland went to the war.
* "The invasion of Iraq was strongly opposed by some long-standing U.S. allies, including the governments of France, Germany, New Zealand, and Canada."
* "On 15 February 2003, a month before the invasion, there were worldwide protests against the Iraq war, including a rally of three million people in Rome, which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest ever anti-war rally."
Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.
--60 Minutes (5/12/96)
But a British engineer, Thomas Carnaffin, who worked as a technical manager during the plant's construction between 1992 and 1996, emerged to tell reporters there was nothing secret or heavily guarded about the plant at all, and that he never saw any evidence of the production of an ingredient needed for nerve gas. The group that monitors compliance with the treaty banning chemical weapons announced that Empta did have legitimate commercial purposes in the manufacture of fungicides and antibiotics. The owner of the Shifa factory gave interviews in which he emphatically denied that the plant was used for anything other than pharmaceuticals, and there was never persuasive evidence to contradict his assertion. At the same time, members of the administration retreated from claims they made earlier that Osama bin Laden had what [Defense Secretary William] Cohen called "a financial interest in contributing to this particular facility." It turned out that no direct financial relationship between bin Laden and the plant could be established.
Actually, if you read his letters, he did state some of these as his goals, but more importantly, his advisor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, had this goal in mind, as it was made explicit in "The Shade of the Quran" by Sayyid Qatb who was Zawahiri's mentor in Egypt after they spent time in prison together.
You have to realize, while the money is wasted from the perspective of tax payers, it's a profit from the perspective of, say, weapons manufacturers (just taking those as an example).
Sure, they "wasted" money, that wasn't theirs, on things that enhanced their control. The time and resources of common people actually do get wasted, but other than that, the whole thing was and continues to be a success. Just don't lump a whole nation, the citizens and the policy makers, together. That can only lead to confusion. War is a racket, so is the war on terror - and if these fundamentalists didn't conveniently exist, others would have to be created.
glanch 35 minutes ago | link [dead]
"Fell for it"?
It's easy to "fall for it" when you are in the position to make a LOT of money for that fall. Cheney. Halliburton. Exclusive government contracts. Sickening.
I wish that people would learn what "The War on Terror" really is.
The United States IS like other countries, including China, now and in the past.
In 2001 there was an event in the United States which was very similar to the 1933 Reichstag fire in Berlin. Very few people can accept that reality, so this comment will probably be buried.
I don't think people even know what a State is. The harsh truth is that the State is not your friend.
People are truly living in a make-believe fairy tale land.
In other words, "if you disagree, you're a big stoopid thicko". You're clearly not up for reasonable discussion, you're just soap-boxing.
Well, that and whining about the possibility of being buried, as some kind of reverse-psychology downmod defence.
I have made similar comments before, hoping for some type of discussion, and had my comment buried so that no one would even see it, which makes discussion impossible. So I was actually hoping that my comment would somehow remain visible.
This is really about what people believe, which isn't something you can reason about. You just can't reason someone into having different beliefs.
I think that for people to take on a radically different worldview usually requires some extraordinary circumstances, maybe some luck, and some type of emotional subconscious trigger.
Anyway, if you actually want to discuss it, which likely will go in circles since these are belief systems, what do you think a state is, or what the war on terror is?
"This is really about what people believe, which isn't something you can reason about."
I would hope that reason and logic take precedent over existing belief. At least among the somewhat rational subset of individuals that tend to lurk in these corners.
Depends on what you mean by "belief"/ Some things that people refer to as "beliefs" are probably more properly called "principles". And if two people disagree on fundamental principles, it's hard for them to reach any sort of agreement, even if they both use rational reasoning and logic. They're starting from different places, and trying to go to a different place, and overlap may be rare.
Take, for example, somebody with a utilitarian "what matters most is the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people" view, vs. an individualist anarchist whose fundamental principle is "no one should use force or fraud to force someone to do something against their will."
On many issues, those two people just aren't going to be able to agree on much, even if they both use logically sound arguments.
Also, on a different note, there is research out there (I don't have citations at my fingertips, sorry) suggesting that it's pretty rare for people to change deeply held beliefs, even when confronted with overwhelming evidence. It seems to be a facet of human nature that we don't change beliefs very easily.
That's just the nature of beliefs. They are default terminals in our reality comprehension frameworks. Not easily replaced.
You're making extraordinary claims regarding the parallels with the Reichtag fire. I won't ask for extraordinary evidence, just reasonable evidence.
The part I don't get is why it seems to matter so much whether 9/11 was an unexpected attack or a planned conspiracy, or whether it was anticipated but not orchestrated by the government. The effect is all that matters, and the effect was, in fact, exactly the same as the Reichstag fire... which is itself not universally agreed to have been sanctioned by the Nazis.
Really? Exactly the same? Socialists taking over and dismantling democracy?
Oh, may be to start doing something to stop such horrible things from happening again. No?
Some Nazis on the night where terifed that it was the start of a counter revolution from the left - read Alex Kershaws Bio of Hitler.
Evidence of what, exactly? Comparing 9/11 to the Reichstag fire is an analogy, and - to anyone familiar with the history of both - the analogy seems to fit. No, the outcome here hasn't (yet) been as dramatic as electing a Hitler and establishing a Nazi empire. But the generalized point of "dramatic event seen as attack on country is used to justify expansion of government power, new limitations on civil liberties, etc." seems to clearly be common to both situations, no?
OTOH, I was a firefighter for a decade or so in the 1990's, and we spent a lot of time studying building collapse, because collapsing buildings are one of the biggest threats to firefighter health & safety on the fireground... and everything I saw on TV on the morning of 9/11 was 100% consistent with what we were taught about how and why buildings collapse.
So color me extremely skeptical of any of this "9/11 conspiracy" stuff, at least as far as the details about the tower collapse.
I am not an expert and I have no idea what actually happened on 9/11. It is up to each of us to form an opinion using the evidence that we have available.
This sounds noble, but in fact it is the way of madness.
Information does not stand on its own. Without the right background knowledge and experience you cannot assign any level of certainty to a deduction you make from a piece of information.
Just because you are capable of interpreting some of the information and forming reasonable deductions from those pieces does not mean you have an accurate holistic assessment. Your ignorance of the entire picture, while unintentional, will invariably lead you to make incorrect assumptions about the pieces you have not considered or do not understand.
An informed populace is, on the whole, a good thing, but the adage "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" still rings true. You simply have to accept that you will not, in your lifetime, be able to understand absolutely everything that anybody knows (never mind all that there is to know), and that you must cede your opinions about such matters to those who do, and if there is reasonable dissent, then you will have to reserve judgment altogether.
Yes, of course you have to identify the "experts" in order to know what their perspective is. In this case, the vast majority of knowledgeable people have settled around the consensus that the "official" explanation (two planes crashed into the WTC) is indeed plausible.
But you ignored my second point entirely: if there is (reasonable) dissent, then you can't just pick one side and say they're correct. In fact, by not knowing the underlying science, you can't even participate in the debate. So there's no point in saying "a bunch of engineers and architects have signed their names to this paper saying it's all a conspiracy" when you have no idea why that's the truth (if it were).
Finally, spreading uncertainty and doubt (what about what I said is spreading fear?) is a good thing where false certainty and false wisdom prevail.
See? That's sophistry. Instead of explaining (or rather, thinking about) how one would identify knowledgeable people, you skip to what they are allegedly saying. Also, citation needed.
"In fact, by not knowing the underlying science, you can't even participate in the debate."
But here's the thing, I do, and I do have eyes. So I'm all up for the debate, but it's mostly hand-waving like you just did. 9/11 was stonewalled and swept under the rug. I payed attention back then and nothing new came up since then, you didn't post anything either.
"what about what I said is spreading fear?"
You cannot possibly know everything, better ask the experts. (Who are the experts? Ask the expert experts?)
1. Defer to the majority opinion of qualified engineers, if one exists.
2. Hold no opinion whatsoever.
3. Become a qualified engineer.
I am currently doing (1) because I believe a majority opinion exists and that opinion is "airplanes hit the WTC on 9/11". If that is not true, then I would accept evidence to the contrary (high statistical confidence, random sample, repeated by multiple sources).
I could do (2), which would be perfectly legitimate, but I do not feel it is necessary (I am not aware of any dispute among even a sizable minority--I define sizable here to be at least a third who either disagree or are uncertain).
In order for me to do (3), I would need to take a few years off work and study engineering full time. Even then, I may not have what it takes to become a qualified engineer. Unless you are willing to pay for this option, you can't fault me for it. I am not pretending to be an engineer.
We live in a world of finite possibilities. I am no more demanding that you should understand advanced mathematics (what I know most about) than you should demand I understand civil engineering and materials science. I would expect you to accept a consensus of mathematicians on such matters, just as I've accepted (what I believe to be) the consensus of engineers.
That's what I like to call living in the realities of an imperfect world.
You may want to start with the part 2 of the very questionable zeitgeist movie, not claiming anything. It may be fruitful to assume that what you believe in is not true (no matter what) and try to look at it with a different angle.
Not exactly: http://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/wcpls/this_i_my_friends...
The quotes are from OBL's videos that he made and leaked out to mainly Al Jazeera. They were made after all of this made happened, and OBL obviously knew to read the papers and know how to make good propaganda.
Be sceptics, fokes!
As a rule, most of history's bad actors -- Hitler, Lenin, bin Laden, G. W. Bush (via PNAC), and others -- have telegraphed exactly what they intend to do, years beforehand. Is it really their fault when nobody cares?
As far as what happened within the western world, whether it destroyed itself or continued on in some aspect, he didn't much care (at least in the short-term, in the long-term I'm sure he believed that the whole world would be under the power of a new Caliphate).
It has given the United States an excuse to do that they are doing to its people.
The whole system is based upon fear, which is exactly what the so called "terrorists" wanted to do.
The government(s) of this world don't particularly enjoy the thought of its population having to ability to think for themselves. How can they (temporarily) suspend this? Fear.
Now maybe the U.S citizens lost ...
Considering the amount of money thrown into the Afghan pit (which still is a factor affecting the ability of Western countries to sustain periods of economic turmoil, and even to replenish their own arsenals -- see UK defence cuts) and the hysteric approach to public spaces since 2001, I'd say he's been fairly successful in his endeavours.
Which is not that surprising, to be fair. After all, he was originally trained by the CIA, and was backed by Saudi money and the Pakistani military.
I'm not sure it's how OBL planned but it does kind of look like he might have been happy with our trajectory.
The "the terrorists have won"-notion is based on the viewpoint that terrorists are just evil and want "bad things" to happen to their enemies. So whatever unpleasant consequence for you means that the terrorists have won. In reality, terrorists have specific agendas and goals. None of OBL's goals have been achieved, so he didn't win. If anybody won it was the NSA, DHS etc.
This NSA database has to cost a lot and a) they aren't supposed to admit it to the American people and b) they aren't supposed to even use it. Under what circumstances does it become useful?
Sure, NSA is expensive, but come on, it is not going to bankrupt the US to the extend they have to give up strategic influence in the middle east!
Again, OBL does not care about US healthcare spending. That something is bad for ordinary americans does not mean that it further the terrorists agenda.
"technically Osama bin Laden himself stated that 9/11 was to wake up the american people, to commit an act so harsh towards actual Americans, that they would say "why me" and then research the situation.."
Poster then links to the source quotes from Osama where he explains his motives and reasons. Interesting read, if only for the direct quotes, which are pretty essential for this discussion. Until he linked it, I never realized how strange it was that these discussions happen all the time, without many people actually being able to pull up the source material.
Link to source: http://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/wcpls/this_i_my_friends...
in all fairness, it's not like the American people put up much of a fight ...
I think that by "dossiers" this guy meant "social network information from communication logs". They can start with your number (any number) and see who communicates with it. And then see who communicates with those people, and so on until they find a link to a terrorist or whatever.
If you're doing something that the government doesn't want you to do, use a burner phone. And drive 30 minutes from your home, and use a proxy server to connect to the internet. Any federal agent can get a record of every call you make with a boilerplate warrant. The NSA can dig up the full text of all of your conversations with a tech support ticket. Welcome to 2012.
If it makes you feel any better, facebook has a similar level of information about you and they haven't done much harm with it.
I'd love to hear some details of what you are proposing here. Because right now it doesn't sound like you know what you are talking about.
Um. No they don't.
Using a VPN, you reduce the chances that your internet use will be traced back to you.
Facebook has a staggering amount of personal information about most of their users. While not necessarily on the same level as personal phone calls, it should still be a concern of anyone that uses social networks.
Try to actually make a case next time you post. Saying "Nuh uh, nuh uh" over and over makes you look like an ass.
My point exactly.
That has some truth in it, but isn't what the OP is proposing.
Try to actually make a case next time you post.
Fair enough. It's worth noting that when I wrote this, the OP was the highest voted comment on this thread.
The NSA has complete financial history of everyone who submits tax returns or uses a credit card, logs of every phone call and email message, and it seems likely they have location data from cell phone providers as well. In the UK their agencies track car movements via registration plates, and it would be surprising if the NSA didn't have similar capabilities.
Saying that is the same as what Facebook has is misleading - it makes the NSA seem like they aren't doing anything extraordinary, and it makes Facebook seem like they are doing things they don't have the right to do.
Of course, they won't have any of your data if you don't have an account, which might be what you're trying to get at.
Facebook can indeed. Your name even without an account can be tagged into photos and status updates by other users. Those photos contain location data. And of course the accounts of other users in the same photo as you contain a wealth of data about their locations and interests and one-degree-further friends, statistically speaking much of which will also apply to you.
Whether Facebook has the ability to automatically aggregate such sparse data into something useful is an open question, but the data does exist. Unless you somehow never let yourself get photographed or mentioned by anybody else who does use Facebook.
It wasn't my point, but is valid too.
Facebook does not have anywhere near the level of surveillance that the NSA possesses. Please read the article again and do some research on the case. That being said, Facebook does have a lot of information about you. It will remain confidential until CISPA passes, at which point it will be legally beneficial for them to hand over this information to the government.
How do you know?
When I read articles like this, I don't wonder if anyone is surprised by these things anymore. I would hope it's understood. My mind instead turns to these questions:
"Who out there expects some eventual return of privacy?" and "What degree of effort do they expect it to require, relative to what they gain?" Surely at some point it is not worth the time/effort to reform "the system", and personal mitigation strategies are more feasible.
I rarely find myself in the role of doomsayer, but I've never lived in a world where the word "privacy" didn't already have an implicit asterisk following it. So my stance doesn't feel apocalyptic, it just feels like the way the world has always been.
Right now, spying on me.
Now, it may just be recording the info and looking for triggers. Wonder if this post will be a trigger. It's definitely possible.
So there has been a massive ramp-up in unethical electronic spying, and unlike you, I have (for some reason) been alert to it.
I'm going to pick on the 5 years & 10 years estimate, if you don't mind.
If no one was spying on you then, it was because you were a child or teenager, and presumably not very interesting. If you were someone of major consequence five years ago (2007, to keep things in perspective), or even a decade ago (2002), you'd surely have at least a minor notation, blurb or profile somewhere. If our government wasted time and money tracking John Lennon in the 60's, it's hard to imagine that by 2007 there wasn't at least cursory analysis available about anyone with a job and credit card. Never mind anyone who attended college/university, purchased car insurance or signed up for a grocery store rewards card.
Let me be clear: I'm not saying the government is specifically tracking on your grocery bill. Instead, you're letting someone else do so, and the data is simply available upon request from most reasonable actors.
Further temporal perspective: Google had long gone public by 2007, and people were long crying foul on privacy with respect to it. So the government may not have even been the first to open some unbeknownst profile on you. It may have just been some data aggregator who put your SSN, DoB and address up for sale after your general practitioner's secretary got some malware (I'm being hypothetical of course, but hopefully you understand the premise).
A counterpoint to my argument is that this is the government, not corporation X or shady data reseller Y. I concede that there is a different feeling associated with the government spying on you (with the assumption of legality), and some third-party actor who maybe, some day, could be brought to trial (we hope?).
Yet the practical result is the same: there are people building profiles of us which we will never see, and judging how best to relate to us based on them. They have been doing it for a lot longer than five years, and I don't see the trend reversing any time soon. It doesn't really freak me out, either. In a way, it just makes sense.
I think this is a much bigger deal than you do. Any government is always a threat to you, because governments weild force, and the actors within government can change rapidly.
A company that has your data is not a physical threat to you. (Unless the government isn't doing its job - in which case disfunctional government is the more fundamental problem.)
So, in summary, it is utterly unjustifiable for the NSA to spy on every average American, whlie it is utterly justifiable for companies to collect what data on you they manage to get their hands on.
By the way, it's not that nobody was spying on me 5 years ago because I was a teenager. Nobody was spying on me then because the government was not as evil. If I was a teenager now, or even a child, the government would be spying on me today.
You can buy a 2 TB HD for $99.99 right now.
The population of the United States is 311,591,917.
That's 7057 bytes per citizen, for a penny under a Franklin.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare can be downloaded from Project Gutenberg in EPUB format, in 2.3 MB.
Therefore, if you wanted to have William Shakespeare write as much text about every single citizen in the United States, as he wrote in all of his Complete Works, you would need 341.74 of those HDs.
Therefore, the raw storage would cost you $34,196.58.
The NSA's annual budget is around $3.6 billion.
Every year, the NSA could buy enough hard drive space to store 105,273 times as much text as the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, on every single U.S. citizen.
My point is that deciding what to store is expensive and error-prone, with false-positives and false-negatives. Storage is so cheap, that there's an argument to be made that they can just store everything they want to.
1) I highly doubt the NSA is buying $100 dollar low grade hard drives. I bet this data is backed up at least twice per site, at multiple sites.
2) The data is not unstructured, it will be structured in some sort of database. Storing your facebook photos alone will be potentially hundreds of megabytes.
3) I doubt NSA is spending it's entire budget every year on hard drives.
Emphasis on the COULD. It's to emphasize how cheap storage is, and how relatively few U.S. Citizens there are. In our day-to-day lives, we think 311 Million is an enormous number. But in the scale of computing, it's actually quite small.
My real point is: storing the data is no longer a challenge. If you want someone (businesses, governments, etc.) to not store data about every citizen of the U.S., you need laws, regulations, and checks and balances.
2) Also, the data could be almost completely unstructured. You mine the data that you have to create structure. If you toss anything, or prematurely optimize things, you're missing out on what the algorithms that you come up with 10 years from now will give you.
3) If you're using enough redundancy to multiply $35,000 into $3,000,000,000, you're insane.
Some stuff I recommend to have a look at... in no particular order.
Challenging the Surveillance State - Pt. 1 to Pt.4
Jacob Appelbaum (Part 1 & 2) Digital Anti-Repression Workshop - April 26 2012
Glenn's Salon Posts
Like randomly doing the exact opposite of what you would ordinarily do on a daily basis. Here are some ideas...
1. Take the bus instead of driving your car.
2. Buy a pack of cigarettes if you're not a smoker.
3. Buy magazines you would never normally buy.
4. Attend a political meeting of the party you typically oppose.
5. Buy vegetarian food for a week if you're a meat eater.
If the dossier is dry and not a useful tool for profiling you then you don't have anything to worry about. If on the other hand the dossier is more sinister in nature you can dilute its usefulness by being a different person every now and then to throw it off track.
OTOH....once might be seen as smoke-screening, making you more suspicious.
They'd have income/employment/tax data, your "network" as defined by google, facebook, the phones #s you dial, the phone #s that call you, family, classmates, etc.
They'd also have information about (and tools to easily search for) internet community involvement, travel history, banking history, credit score, and TONS of clickstream data.
The challenge for the government is that there is so much data on each person (available already or available with a few automated warrants) that creating tools to facilitate automated and human pattern recognition are crucial.
There are likely lots of metrics (formulated similarly to something like a credit score or a life insurance policy quote) that are updated automatically and indicate the chances that you'll do various things.
While it's very unlikely that most of us are of any interest whatsoever to authorities, the power of this information is when it can be used on someone else connected to you who is a target. Suppose the system flags 500 individuals as potential domestic terrorists. There is humint needed to rule these out as quacks, which the intel in your dossier might be useful for.
I think that what we have to keep in mind is that the state having these powers is tolerable now only b/c we are still in the infancy of this kind of technology and those in power haven't really developed a clear path toward totalitarianism yet, though now and then they start to come close.
If you have some spare time it might be worth trying--it certainly couldn't hurt. I'm not familiar enough with the actual procedure to say if it would be particularly difficult or not.
FOIA has an extensive list of exemptions, and pretty much anything relating to do with national security is exempt from FOIA requests. And well, it's called the National Security Agency for a reason; even though the information probably isn't legitimately related to national security, can you prove that it isn't, keeping in mind that you can't see it until you've proven that it's not?
I am positive that the NSAs current charter is to associate the real people to the virtual AMONG MANY OTHER THINGS.
So, with all that said - I have met and talked with a range of NSA personalities and they are the blackest of the black hats. DO NOT TRUST.
ATT carnivor room on folsom street in SF?
NSA Datacenter (I know the bidders to build it)?
History of the US over the last 10 year?
There are lots of things I would never detail on HN, but know this - you are watched, every single bit.
A plot for a novel: NSA operative comes across an identity with no links to any other identity, no social network history. Just an isolated node... curious, she starts investigating and finds all avenues blocked, and her boss asks her to stop. Intrigued, Agent Hernandez continues on her own time...
For example, in order to get an US Visa from the embassy they take your fingerprints. Your visa form also has a lot of data. At least that has to be centralized somewhere.
Add your online accounts to the mix and it's safe to say they have enough info about everybody.
The idea is that there are big companies out there now (including the government) that have huge databases of information on you, and they've been working hard for many years now in the background to find useful patterns in the data in order to sell-to/manipulate/control you.
If you can do the same research with your own data, you can know in advance (or catch-up to) what those companies already know about you. With that knowledge, you could perhaps develop something like an anti-malware application for "you".
So if sometime in the future, you begin seeing very targeted ads that begin manipulating your purchasing behaviour or even manipulating your opinions and thoughts... then the system could notice these attacks and warn you (because it knows your data, your interests and your weaknesses).
The end-game of what these companies are doing is to have so much data on individuals (and the distribution channels), that they are able to subtly manipulate and program their minds without the individual even noticing.
If you know the algorithms they've discovered within your data, you can protect your mind.
Anyway, that's just one advantage. I'm working on a startup now that does this.
We are sitting in the theater and the curtains are closed, we are reading the program. The program says "It's okay, nothing is happening behind the curtain." After everyone read their program 99% of the crowd leaves because they think they know enough. Then that 1% is eagerly waiting to see the show. And there are a few people trying to sabotage the place and open the curtains so that the people can see the show. Those curtains are not going to open themselves.
With Facebook, Twitter and face recognition, privacy is truly dead. Heck, even from public records you can get a lot of information about anyone, and if you have their SSN, you can increase that to a metric sheet ton. Any database and method of communication can be easily tapped for surveillance, too, so if they really want you, they're gonna get you.
And doesn't do anything about it.
It's one of the reasons I got out of the US. My worry is I won't be allowed to return one day.
On the authoritarian left, we have Obama:
- Ordered the killing of US citizens with no due process.
- Signed the National Defence Authorization Act, so now any American, at home or abroad, can be locked up with no trial at Guantanamo.
Many other examples. Not all the right is authoritarian and not all authoritarians are right.
I imagine this is where Palantir is being used. About building the connections through large data sets on the science of ontology.
In the same way, the NSA having a dossier on everyone is the same as them having a dossier on no one.
Perhaps the NSA has tools like pipl or spokeo to build dossiers, but not that it has every person on file, right now.
That's why we should ENCRYPT EVERYTHING possible. Use HTTPS as much as you can.
My point being is that https is probably equivalent to plain text when it comes to government surveillance.
Pretty much every OS/browser comes with root CAs belonging to the U.S. government (on OS X I see "DoD Root CA 2" and "DoD CLASS 3 Root CA", see also http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4415). As I understand it, if they wanted to, they could MITM any HTTPS connection by forging a certificate using their root CAs.
This is why people were upset when a root CA for some Chinese government agency was added to certain browsers. We don't trust the Chinese government, but we do trust the US government, I guess.
Of course, if they regularly forged certificates someone would notice. Right?
Which begs the question, how would we notice? If you diligently check certificates for sites you visit you might happen to notice facebook.com's CA suddenly changes from Verisign to the U.S. DoD.
Is there a better way? How can we automatically check that the certificates we get are legitimate?
At a minimum it would be nice if there was a warning when a cert doesn't match a previously seen one (similar to SSH)
I feel like a "web of trust" needs to be layered on top of the certificate authorities to really solve this problem. If 10 of my friends have seen the same certificate for a given website I'm inclined to believe it's legitimate. I'm also likely to trust certain organizations (EFF, etc)
Of course it's also a user interface issue. The average user wouldn't understand a single sentence I wrote above.
This might not be a laymen solution, but it's a very simple procedure in most browsers.
Furthermore, Chrome (and soon Firefox) ships some known certificates for privacy important widely used sites (e.g. the major webmail services, torproject, etc) which prevents even this attack. This defense has already caught Iran using a compromised CA.
(I'm not a cryptographer though, so please correct me if I'm wrong.)
Check out http://src.chromium.org/viewvc/chrome/trunk/src/net/base/tra... for the list of what's in there (linked to indirectly from http://dev.chromium.org/sts).
So no, government pressure on CAs wouldn't make all https like plaintext, but it does make active impersonation possible. Some initiatives like the 'SSL Observatory' or the EFF's 'Sovereign Keys' proposal could make it possible for clients to notice when a fishy new certificate is introduced for a previously-known identity -- much like the 'key has changed' warnings you may have seen when SSHing to a host whose keys have changed since your last session.
Better, IMO, to just assume they read and listen to everything digital, and work around it.
Id be more worried by the fact the in the USA its common practice to register with the govenment what political party you support.
You can see all the information asked for when registering to vote here:
I think you're reading too much into this one. The fact that not every state asks should also point to a lack of any grand conspiriacy here.
"There are two ballots here which one am I interested in again? Better ask the State which one I registered for.." Seems like a stretch.
- Cardinal Richelieu
Not to mention all the fun machine learning and analysis that could be done.
: Exhibit A; http://groups.google.com/groups/dir?hl=en&lr=&safe=o...