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Ecuador Using Copyright To Try To Take Down Leaked Docs About Its Surveillance (techdirt.com)
75 points by Libertatea 1632 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 22 comments



I find it interesting that the entire debate has shifted from US surveillance to be about what is happening to Snowden and whether he is/isn't a traitor and now even about Ecuador and how they do/don't protect their citizens.

Personally, as a non-US citizen outside the US, I feel incredibly uncomfortable that the US govt spies on me and everything I do online as much as it can. As far as I know, Ecuador or any other government doesn't yet exercise such monitoring, I'm pretty sure they don't poke into my facebook messages or worse, can look at my Gmail hosted emails.

I know that the big deal is that US citizens got spied on [because that's illegal .. apparently], but to me, it's equally bad that innocent civilians around the world have their data up for grabs. You never know when and where and how this kind of stuff can be used against you. I don't like the fact that the US can make laws within their borders and get access to my data (which may even practically be hosted outside their borders). So where it's convenient, i.e. US citizens cannot be spied on, the concept of a nation state is invoked, but then non-US citizens basically have no right to privacy, not even the ones their governments give them, because the US can look at anything. Not cool.

Why don't we look at it from the perspective that the US government can pretty much see what any online Ecuadorean is up to. That's a big enough offense in itself, Ecuador is just working on of buying some surveillance stuff, the US has already been doing this for years. Smells like a smear campaign.

Again, I just find it interesting how quickly this became about Snowden this and Ecuador that, etc. rather than the central debate which is on my mind "What about my data ?!!"

The US government can obviously spend a lot of marketing $$$ and basically keep repeating "Snowden = Traitor" until everyone believes it and don't even remember why. It's almost like 1984 ... I'm scared.


The other thing that is so worrying about the US having the communications of people around the world indiscriminately is that it basically means that the NSA is in a position to blackmail any citizen of any country that enters into a position of power in that country.

Forget installing a shah of Iran or propping some dictator in a South American country. They can now do the same at an arms length. Just collect dirt on all foreigners, wait until they get into power, then use whatever dirt you collected over many years to blackmail that person to do things that are in the self interest of the people at the NSA instead of the self interest of the people that duly elected that representative.

This whole situation is a legitimate threat to democracy in this country, but Congress may try to put checks and balances in place to slow the rate at which it erodes democracy at home. However, of more immediate importance is how this is a legitimate threat to democracy everywhere outside the US.

Many Americans may hear the NSA say things like "We don't do anything illegal and coercive with this information at home" and may believe them. But do most Americans think it is reasonable to coerce elected officials or other countries using any information gathered by the NSA? Should we not be asking the NSA if they actually do that?

This is one of the questions I most want to see asked:

"General Keith B. Alexander, has the NSA ever wittingly used collected information on any foreigner elected to office by his or her citizens to coerce or blackmail that duly elected official to pursue policies that may not be in the interest of the citizens that elected them?"


Despite that I agree and that I think that Assange and Snowden didn't have a better course of action than asking for asylum, I still think it's good to expose dirty things that the Ecuadorian Government is doing.

This is the first article that I see on HN front page about surveillance in Ecuador. If we got this everyday, I would agree that it is a misdirection.

Every day I see stories in the front page about the revelations itself. So I don't think we're getting too distracted. Right now:

The NSA Can't Tell the Difference Between an American and a Foreigner (foreignpolicy.com)

Lawyers said Bush couldn’t spy on Americans. He did it anyway. (washingtonpost.com)

New leak shows NSA harvests To, From, and Bcc lines of e-mail data (arstechnica.com)

Let's keep it healthy.


> So where it's convenient, i.e. US citizens cannot be spied on, the concept of a nation state is invoked, but then non-US citizens basically have no right to privacy, not even the ones their governments give them, because the US can look at anything. Not cool.

Look, when a dog bites the hand of its owner and then bites the neighbor, the greater outrage is that it bit the hand that feeds it.

You're not looking at this from an objective perspective, because you're the neighbor and well, understandably pissed.

Now me? I would put down the dog. But that's just me and it's probably not going to happen.


Umm, no. From the perspective of the neighbor and the whole community, and from the perspective of an educated person who knows the limits of his rights, the greater outrage is that it bit the neighbor. It could have bitten the owner for a number of reasons, such as not having been trained well; the neighbor on the other hand had no choice, he never signed up for a dog but he got bit anyway--and further there's little he can do to prevent it from happening again.

What makes you more anxious, when you lose something you owned or when you lose something a friend lent you? When the latter happens, all I wish for is that it were mine (or that it's an item easily replaceable with money.)

It seems the government has long forgotten the good manners it's Founding Fathers taught it. I can only hope the American people at large have a bit more sense.


Neither Snowden nor Greenwald have revealed any more documents so all we have is a powerpoint presentation, a letter from attorney general Holder, and a document saying the USA tapped a cable connecting to China. Without more information, what else can be discussed?


If Snowden hasn't revealed more then what's the source of the periodic additional leaks Guardian has been publishing? Admittedly the added leaks don't seem to be blockbusters compared to the initial story but they are definitely extra news.


I'll admit I haven't read anything from the Guardian since Greenwald's opinion piece explaining his IRS bill (which was only 2 days ago). Has there been anything interesting since then?


I don't know about since 2 days ago, but before that was news about NSA harvesting From/To/BCC metadata on emails, for example (which wasn't part of the initial leaks).


>"As far as I know, Ecuador or any other government doesn't yet exercise such monitoring,"

Venezuela does it at phone level, I wouldn't be surprised that Ecuador does the same considering that they are very close in terms of political vision.


Yes, everybody is talking about Snowden, and nobody is talking about the facts he revealed. It's distressing, but IMO not surprising.

People love human-interest stories. You see this all the time. In any news story where there's anything resembling a central figure, the stories will be mostly about that person, not about the overall event.

Combine that with the difficulty of asking hard questions, and you get what we see. The government probably doesn't even have to exert any kind of overt pressure.


One reason there is a "crisis of trust" surrounding the revelations Snowden made is that, variously, other governments are complicit in the surveillance, or they are lackadaisical in actually implementing privacy protections by allowing services and products into their communications infrastructure that enable surveillance.

That may change, but I don't see a lot of concrete results in that direction, yet.


FTA:

> Are there any places left on earth that actually do respect basic civil liberties?

I would really like to know the answer.


Since you said places and not nations, well, you do have some options.

1. Antarctica. South Pole. Parts of Siberia and Alaska. Essentially where it's too much trouble to reach you.

2. On a boat. If you got enough money, go cruising for the rest of your life.

3. International Space Station.

4. Jungle. Desert. Mountains.

5. A key rule to remember is that the nail which sticks out is going to get hammered in. Don't stick out and you'll find you have all of the civil liberties you lost. Be smart about it and you can live in the middle of Washington DC and be freer than any man who has ever lived. The notion that somebody has to give you that freedom is bullshit. You have to fight for it. And you have to do it intelligently, but not sticking out. Get my drift?


> 3. International Space Station.

That has about as good privacy as a goldfish bowl, if the bowl is hooked up for intensive medical monitoring of its inhabitants.


moreover, technically, it's not "on earth"


Switzerland is the closest thing I can think of, and even that country has some of the same surveillance/privacy issues that spawned most of the current discussions. I don't know if we qualify CCTV as a violation of a civil liberty period, or only if abused.


If you consider the amount of negative foreign influence that some Swiss corporations have across the globe for their, this statement might not that accurate (I'm thinking Glencore and others)


You and I are just afraid to face obvious and true answer, which is "no".


The problem here is that we inevitably start moving the goal-posts every time we try to nail down the scope of what constitutes a basic human right. Do you want freedom of speech and the press? Many nations can offer that.

Do you want the power to piss off prominent and powerful government agencies without serious repercussions? You'd have to move somewhere without prominent and powerful government agencies, because we've yet to figure out a way to effectively limit their power.


And let's face it, you have more power to do that in the U.S. today than pretty much anywhere in the world. Listen to the kinds of things people say about Obama, his mother, etc. How many places could you get away with that?


There are places which might not respect civil liberties but which do not surveil (by the state) the population: third world. Is there a place where both are true?

I don't think there is a place where there is 100% of both (respect for civil liberties and do not do any surveillance) and also not sure a place free of surveillance would by any better in practice, except in theory (to confuse a Yogiism). As many things, it's a balance which needs to be struck and it remains to be seen where that will be or if it's pendulum-like.




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