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I had this strange thought occur half way through the article.

The US government is storing, analysing and recording all internal electronic transmissions so that US civilians can be protected from external aggressors. Doesn't that then provide a hypothetical aggressor a simplified target. If they can access these data hubs then havent they hit the motherload?

I wonder how secure the governments facilities are in retrospect.

Furthermore, doesn't this make the task of detecting or hunting non-state aggressors that much harder now that they know all electronic transmissions are recorded (and thus forcing them into an electronic darkness where they can't be spied upon).

I think PRISM and all these internal external spying facilities are inevitable but the ramifications of their public knowledge are going to be interesting.

Edit: Im also surprised by the complete lack of interest by the general US population. Maybe because HN readers are educated and technical they understand the implications but you would think there would be some kind of public uproar over this, especially considering the myths that Americans are brought up upon (freedom from tyranny etc.)




I wonder how secure the governments facilities are in retrospect.

We'll find out, I imagine, as soon as Anonymous gets their press briefing finalized.

But I wouldn't say there's a complete lack of interest. For most Americans,this is just another in a series of scandals that play out on television, abstracted from their real lives. And as someone pointed out to me recently, almost no one seems to care when facebook and gmail mine your data. If it weren't for social media, I don't think PRISM would have been as acceptable culturally.

Although I am a bit disturbed that the threat of affordable healthcare seems to have been far more revolting to people than this.

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>Furthermore, doesn't this make the task of detecting or hunting non-state aggressors that much harder now that they know all electronic transmissions are recorded (and thus forcing them into an electronic darkness where they can't be spied upon). >I think PRISM and all these internal external spying facilities are inevitable but the ramifications of their public knowledge are going to be interesting.

I think an adversary with any chance of succeeding already assumed this sort of program was in place. I don't think this revelation will force any adversaries into electronic darkness--I imagine any actual capable adversaries were already there. That's one of the most ridiculous parts of these programs to me.

>Im also surprised by the complete lack of interest by the general US population.

I think there will be some major objection and noise from Americans about this. I just don't think there's a full realization of what's going on yet. Many people are just a single debunking of "nothing to hide, nothing to worry about" away from being upset about this. And a lot of people are passionately doing just that.

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There is a certain beauty to the PRISM idea though. You're right that a capable adversary will already have been avoiding U.S. nets for obvious reasons.

But if you're going to recruit new soldiers, bomb-makers, suicide bombers, etc., you eventually have to go to where the people themselves are. So someone in the terrorist group will have to dip their toes into those dangerous waters.

If a cell is smart that one person will be the only one who does so, but that is still one link into the overall terrorist network, if the NSA can find it, and that can help lead to IP tracking, which can lead to drone surveillance, which can lead to a boots-on-ground raid to grab the computer (and maybe even the recruiter), and go from there.

Obviously the hypothetical "capable adversary" can be resistant to a lot of tracking techniques, but that doesn't mean you give up. They may very well make a mistake eventually and then you've got them.

The NSA's precursor once even cracked part of a one-time pad because the Soviets reused individual pages from their one-time pad codebooks. Breaking the parts of the code they did took lots of time but by 1946 revealed the existence of Soviet spies in many high-level organizations, including the Manhattan Project, which was a pretty significant coup of its own for U.S. counter-intel.

And all that by pursuing an enemy using theoretically unbreakable crypto...

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That's true--the Prism program really could have the positive effect of making recruiting harder. That's definitely the most sensible argument I've heard for it.

It's interesting that the program being useful in that way doesn't require the program to be secret...

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Well, secrecy had its uses too. People might have assumed about Facebook and Google being susceptible to FISA warrants (not to mention PRISM), but I'd never even heard of PalTalk until this.

Either way though the cat is out of the bag so there can be no further national security interest from a lack of transparency around that program.

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There are a lot of Americans concerned about this, in my opinion. However, most Americans go to work, get home from work, eat dinner, surf the web, watch tv, mow the lawn, pet their dog, play with their kids, and go to sleep like it's just another day, same as the prior and same as the next.

The NSA is currently doing very little to physically intrude on the lives of the typical American. Like most people, if a threat isn't in their face, they generally will not respond to it. So it doesn't seem real (making it very easy to cower in fear and avoid confrontation, with statements like: I have nothing to hide), and by the time it does, it'll be far too late to stop it.

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I agree--most Americans have probably been going about their lives and not paying too much attention to this so far.

But I think this issue is going to be in news cycles for quite a while. The more news cycles, the more likely people will start to think about it, the more likely they will run into the friend who feels passionately about it, and the more likely they are to decide it doesn't belong in their America. (Or that if it does belong in their America, that it shouldn't be kept a secret.) It's important for those who feel strongly about this to speak up now.

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You must be Dutch where surveillance is assumed.

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Not Dutch but I have lived in a few places around the world and never assume I have any privacy, unfortunately.

Im sure any HN readers from the Middle East, Eastern Europe or Asia would probably know the feeling.

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I'm from former soviet country and even I personaly am a bit too young to have experienced full force of soviet surveilance - all this current NSA crap hits quite close to home.

And I do feel that i have more privacy. My governmet is rather to busy trying to shoot itself in the legs repeatedly to implement surveilance of any significant scale.

My online presence probably end's up in NSA hands though. Since it is rather insignificant (i don't use facebook or any other "social" crap) I don't think much of it. It DOES annoy me, don't get me wrong.

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I'm from an Asian country, and I have always assumed I have privacy, but that's only because my government is too incompetent to set up any reliable surveillance system.

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May I ask which country?

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