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I actually think Yandex is a good alternative. Assume that all countries have similar projects like PRISM. Which one would you rather have: your country spying on you or a foreign country?

If your country is spying on you, it can use the data it gathers against you in a court, etc. If it's a foreign country, what could they possibly do?

Use the information against your own country and the people in it, which likely includes the people you're closest to?

Since you're not a citizen of that country, use the information in your email in far less scrupulous ways? Perhaps they could blackmail you into being a foreign intelligence asset. Perhaps a corrupt employee could slip your information to a criminal organization who will then steal your identity.

All of these things seem rather unlikely, and chances are you're equally boring to both governments. But your assumption that the government of a country you're not a citizen of will treat you better than the government of a country you are a citizen of seems pretty odd to me.

Seriously? Whatever you do for a living, it ain't what most of us do. The fact is, almost all of us ARE boring to foreign governments. Almost all foreign governments WILL treat our correspondences better because of this. If I were designing fighter jets, it'd be different, but I'm making luxury yachts. Russia doesn't care. In fact, a few rich Russians own some of our boats.

unless you make a yacht for someone the russians would like to track or listen in on

I'd be much more comfortable having the Russian mafia targeting me than I'd be with the NSA spying on me. You can pay the mafia.

I think you're conflating television with reality. You don't give or pay the Russian mafia, they take what they want. The Russian government (Russia is a "virtual mafia state" [1] so gov't == mafia) is responsible for some of the most visible politically motivated assassinations and scams in the world. I.e., look at the use of polonium to assassinate Litvinenko in London (the assassin suspected by the British gov't is now in the Russian parliament) [2] or the use of police and official stationary to steal $230 million by quietly signing over companies owned by Hermitage Capital Management [3].

The NSA, as secretive and as evil as it may become, is still a US government agency run by Americans with a moral code. The same cannot be said for the KGB (colloquial for FSB), Russian government, or Russian organized crime (all three of which are pretty much inseparable).

It's far less likely that they'll care about you but if they do notice something that they want, you're fucked.

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/01/wikileaks-cables...

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poisoning_of_Alexander_Litvinen...

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Magnitsky

Of course the NSA would do nothing against anyone, and it only gives access to this data to the people that need and deserve it, and it would never fall in the hands of someone who would betray our trust, or their trust, like this Snowden guy, and...

Oh, wait-.

Of course the Russian mafia state would do nothing against anyone, and it only gives access to this data to the people that need and deserve it, and it would never fall in the hands of someone who would betray our trust, or their trust, like, for example, any bum from the military, intelligence, or business community that offers enough of a bribe for it.

Oh, wait-.

> All of these things seem rather unlikely

More generally, anything that nobody has ever seen happen is unlikely.

I have heard of many occurrences of a government profiling, targeting or even suing their citizens over national security. I have never heard of anyone having their identity stolen by a criminal organization who got it from a foreign nation's government.

If you are in danger from a foreign government reading your email, you are an employee of your own government.

This assumes that you give a shit about the collection of papers with ink that is your 'state'. I don't. I give a shit about not being locked in a cage.

Dulce et...

Technically, the FISA law being used by the NSA to capture phone records doesn't generate evidence that is easily used in court. If you're not a legitimate foreign target, you can suppress evidence that originates from FISA, and the NSA is obligated to destroy evidence it inadvertently collects on citizens.

Do you actually believe what you're writing? Seriously, the NSA or any other govt agency would be stupid to delete data and I highly doubt that the "checks and balances" measures actually care about doing their job. If they had done so then the leak would not have been necessary.

Yes, I actually believe what I'm writing. If you doubt any of the checks and balances work, what's there to discuss? The only conclusion I see you as being able to come to is that we'd have to eliminate all foreign signals intelligence.

Or, hey, we could restore the pre9-11 checks and balances. Just a thought. Maybe we could demand our government not use every small threat to our country as an excuse to move the goalposts, the Overton Window. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window

Why are the pre-9/11 checks more trustworthy than the post-9/11 checks?

tptacek, I can't reply to you directly. The checks haven't changed, the obeying part has. The executive branch of our government needs to return to following them. How to enforce that on the branch tasked with enforcement it the problem. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence seems to lack a backbone. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_Permanent_S...

It is easy for them to use info against you outside of the courts in all sorts of ways, from blacklisting to blackmail. Or if you really piss them off the government can just throw you in jail and refuse to prosecute you, like the guys in Gitmo.

If you think the government is going to disappear you to Guantanamo, what's there to discuss at all? You clearly believe the government is bound by no laws at all.

Are you ok with the information that has come to light about our government collecting masses of data about US citizens under the guise of fighting terrorism? I think what is coming to light here is that the Government does whatever the fuck it wants and justifies those actions in any way they see fit. As a United States Citizen, I am NOT ok with this.

Interesting. I see a government largely doing what the people of the US voted them into office to do: allocating resources to pursuing organizations (or, really, if we're honest, entire ideologies) that "we" perceive as threats to our security; moreover, from what I can tell, they're doing it within the bounds of the law.

I feel the same way about NSA surveillance at this point, on Tuesday June 11, as I do about airport security: it's ineffective and offensive, but not the start of the decline of the Republic.

I don't jive with your analogy on TSA screening/NSA blanket spying on all citizens. Flying is a choice, in one form or another. We volunteer to be subjected to TSA when we buy a plane ticket. We don't agree to give up our rights as a citizen when we vote people into office, even if we support that candidate's views on fighting terror.

Let's vote this gal/guy into office so we can have our rights suppressed in the name of freedom, said no one ever.

I disagree with you that flying is a "choice" that turns airport security into an opt-in procedure.

you can live your entire life and never fly. if you are a citizen of the world communicating inside the US (or internet traffic passing through the US), evidence seems to indicate that some portion of your communications are being recorded and stored under the pretense of fighting terrorism. everyone communicates. these are worlds apart as from each other.

Maybe that was a bit of an overstatement on my part unless you're a middle eastener. But they've proven over and over that they'll throw out the laws when it inconveniences them.

What's the example that most sticks out in your head of the US throwing out its own laws?

Maybe warrant-less mass eavesdropping. Though admittedly they did give everybody retroactive immunity once they got found out.

As you say, this is a technicality. Everyone is guilty under a microscope, and the FISA dragnet can provide authorities with a license to use a microscope on you. That's quite enough to be scared about.

In theory. In practice, they spy on you for a week, and then obtain a warrant because they have "probable cause", taken from all the spying.

Is that how it happens in practice? Interesting. Where can I read more about how data from FISA warrants are used to build probable cause for domestic criminal cases?

I read the Kravets piece at your recommendation only to find that there was no mention in it of anyone using data obtained through FISA to build domestic criminal cases of any sort.

Sell it to your country?

How about an Indian provider? http://mail.sify.com/

The NSA spies on all major email providers.

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