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This whole story has had a baffling effect on HN. For the last few days 4/5ths of everything on the frontpage has been related to the NSA. I'm not saying that its not an important issue, but Christ do we need to have every bloggers opinion upvoted to the top? Even Apple was only able to make the top of front page for a short time. This is HN and Apple's latest news is not the top story. It's like I'm on a completely different site.



Devil's Advocate: are we really upset that an unfolding scandal involving the right to privacy is displacing content about a shiny new product launch?

It's kind of interesting to witness the interaction between HN's overlapping circles of technologists, civil libertarians, and entrepreneurs.

To be fair, I agree that we need to avoid letting this discussion devolve into a frenzied mob of speculation. Misinformation can almost be worse than ignorance.

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I'm not saying its terrible that HN is in an uproar over this, its just that I haven't seen HN this dominated by one topic since Steve Jobs died. There does seem to be a major lack of information on the issue though and unfortunately this topic always brings out some of the more "eccentric" members of the tech industry. I'm sick of seeing hyperbole comments like "we need a revolution", "we are in a police state", "America is done for time to move", etc. If all of our worst fears turn out to be true then it should be a call to action not a call to abandon ship.

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The entire frontpage was Aaron Swartz links when he died earlier this year.

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Ahhh that's the event I couldn't think of. Yes the Aaron Swartz totally took over HN for a while.

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You're not wrong that it doesn't feel the same his week, but is that a bad thing? Seems to me that even from a technology business perspective this is vastly more important than any iOS revelation could possibly be as fun as it might be to read about. I find the constant NSA discussion depressing and exhausting but not baffling. Its very relevant to hn IMO.

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What astounds me is that the mainstream media is not similarly in uproar. People don't seem to understand what this means: the government is spying on us, it is lying about the spying, and now it is telling us to not worry about it, to just move along, AND WE'RE DOING IT.

This is the most alarming thing I've seen in my adult life.

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This is the second most alarming thing, on a national discourse level, that I have seen in my adult life. The first being the lies and media complicity readily swallowed by the u.s. public preceding and during the invasion of Iraq.

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Considering how codified lying to the public is in American law, I have to start wondering how codified lying to the President is in Intelligence Community practices.

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The government isn't really spying on us en masse, any more than terrorists are out to get us en masse. for one thing, people are more concerned with external threats than internal ones (and I think that's reasonably rational, because the US is really a very long way from anything resembling totalitarianism); for another, most people assume taht the government already has/had access to what you do on your cellphone/facebook/internet searches so actual evidence of data manaing doesn't seem all that big of a revelation. Most Americans are already used to having everything they do entered into a database already; consider that the course of most people's lives are already shaped by their credit scores without any particular help from the government. At least you can FOIA the government to see what information they have on you. Good luck getting any private firm like Google to give you that information; we had to pass a law to ensure people have access to their own credit report, and that only entitles one free request annually.

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>The government isn't really spying on us en masse

Actually they are.

>most people assume taht the government already has/had access to what you do on your cellphone/facebook/internet searches

I think that most people assume that email is just like mail: private, and protected by the 4th amendment. I think most people assume that their phone records are similarly protected. And I doubt that most people, possibly including people in Congress, know what is possible to infer from the data they are collecting.

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I don't count trawling data as described so far to be spying, any more than I consider my back yard getting photographed by spy satellites to mean they're spying on my place of residence.

I think that most people assume that email is just like mail: private, and protected by the 4th amendment. I think most people assume that their phone records are similarly protected.

The law has said otherwise for >30 years, and I think most people who think about it are aware that their email and phone records are stored by 3rd parties. Do you have evidence for your view, or are you just projecting what you think should be the case onto everyone else?

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> are you just projecting what you think should be the case onto everyone else?

Projecting, mainly. Just like you. Pew did a phone survey that shows 56% of people believe it's okay to give up privacy to defeat terrorism. But even that doesn't really go to what people believe about their privacy right now.

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Projecting, mainly. Just like you.

No, I think we should have more robust privacy protections and that this would require a constitutional amendment, but I'm also aware that my view has little traction at present. I'm sanguine about monitoring of things like CDRs because it seems an inevitable result of technology, and it's unrealistic to expect the government to put itself at a legal disadvantage compared to individuals and businesses. On the other hand, this fact of modern technological life is why I choose not to put my life on services like Facebook, despite the significant social disadvantages that entails.

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> people are more concerned with external threats than internal ones

> most people assume taht the government already has/had access to what you do on your cellphone/facebook/internet searches so actual evidence of data manaing doesn't seem all that big of a revelation.

No, you're not projecting at all, are you.

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When the matter is considered a good punchline on late night chat shows, I think there's some evidence for my view of what people in general think. I spent over a decade working in customer-facing IT so I'm summarizing my experience of the attitudes I encountered. I'm not sure what axe you're trying to grind here.

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OK let's talk about Apple and their new NSA-sponsored iCloud keychain then :P

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For one thing, it's the only interesting thing that has happened in American politics since... Watergate, maybe?

Second, if the resolution doesn't go far enough to restore confidence in US cloud and telecom technology companies, it could have a large effect on the tech economy.

Third, the only practical solution may to adopt real security measures: End-to-end strong encryption. Encrypted storage. Audited open source systems.

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