"I find a Facebook signup page for anti NSA rally to be highly ironic and misguided."
I dunno, it's arguably a _very_ well targeted message… If I were running the Facebook page (and I weren't already an NSA terrorist suspect by virtue of being a non-US person) - the page wold say "to signup and/or indicate your attendance, please post 'anonymous undercover defcon ninja nerd' or any other combination of the words from this list: http://au.businessinsider.com/nsa-prism-keywords-for-domesti... to your Facebook wall."
But yeah - if you're upset at the government _taking_ this personal information, how do you reconcile that with giving it all freely to Facebook Corp. in return for "free farmville"???
That's true, but there's also different behaviour standards expected - a company like Facebook is expected to maximise the amount of money it makes ("generate shareholder value"), where a government has other objectives, hopefully somewhat more aligned with your own.
That's true, but 1) it's a hope we should be somewhat careful about relying on (government abuses happen), 2) there is a massive power difference (I am far less likely to wake up to a SWAT team because Facebook found something they don't like), and 3) data harvested from every organization may be qualitatively different than data harvested from a single organization (like "follow that car" vs. "follow every car", see http://www.schneier.com/essay-109.html).
I disagree. If they want to waste time and money spying on us then that just further proves our point because we are normal patriotic Americans with nothing to hide.
We're not going to play their game and go off and cover our faces in public or not use the most popular sites on the internet because its a stupid game and isn't worth playing when theres real problems this country faces.
I plan on holding a sign at this protest that says "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Once everyday normal Americans realize theres nothing to be afraid of these clear violations of the 4th amendment will stop.
Once everyday normal Americans realize theres nothing to be afraid of these clear violations of the 4th amendment will stop.
Problem is everyday normal Americans fully support these programs.
I really wish people were smarter in these situations and rallied around specific, actionable requests e.g. get rid of FISA courts and have the normal legal process with full transparency. Requests that ordinary people can think are sensible, common-sense improvements to make. But hey I guess people just want a fun day out instead of actually implementing meaningful change.
I remember an organization I joined the board of, where an earlier board had removed a section from the standing rules, leaving a gap. The board immediately before us decided this was silly, and obviously we should just re-number.
Except this meant going through and updating every document that referenced the standing rules, printing out and distributing the new versions, &c, for an entirely superficial change.
We rolled that back.
People need to be made to think about the consequences of policy, and unfortunately we don't have a good venue for that - protests aren't it, but our national discussion otherwise seems to be dominated by sound-bytes, gotchas, and the horse race.
Alternatively, although this'd be a lot of work (and possibly not practical before the 4th) - how about the page organiser/owner publishes a GPG public key, and everybody posts encrypted content to the wall, and the page owner decrypts and reposts them anonymously (as in, without revealing which decrypted wall post came from which encrypted real-world-identity-connected post)?
We might get a bunch of people to become more familiar with GPG encrypted blobs, possibly encouraging people who haven't yet got around to working out how to use GPG/PGP to do so, all the while giving the big finger to Facebook and the NSA…
(You'd want some guaranteed buy-in first though - launching it and then only getting a handful of encrypted posts would send 100% the wrong message…)
Hope to see any fellow Austinites there. Starts at 11AM at the capital building, which has seen plenty of protest in the past few days given Governor Rick Infinite-Special-Sessions Perry's latest call to special session on a controversial abortion bill. Judging by the Austin subreddit, it seems many are in support and plan on being there for Restore the Fourth since it's in the morning and won't interfere with evening celebration plans with family and friends.
Wow, HNers for restore the fourth! Hello comrades.
I'd like to create or join a working technical organization for the creation and distribution of existing of liberating technology, such as distributed social networks with strong perfect forward secrecy encryption, alternative currency systems etc.
RestoreTheFourth protests will be a great place to find more like minded techies, so let's organize before the 4th and spread the word during the protest.
Please join me, `fourthtech` on cryptocat, or see you in front of the Civic Center.
In the meantime keep protesting (to be seen and heard) and use technology to thwart said surveillance.
Don't listen to the "if you use encryption they'll definitely watch you" logic. Your messages are still encrypted until they brute-force their way through (a very long process compounded by how many people are using encryption).
If you don't use encryption they might not watch now you but when they do they'll see everything guaranteed.
Privacy is a basic human right that cannot be granted or taken away by any institution, be it government or other.
What type of nonsense is this ? What that article fails to take into consideration is that ONE just ONE terrorist act can cause unprecedented damage to consumer and business confidence, economic outlooks, employment, tourism etc as was demonstrated during 9/11.
It's like saying don't worry about keeping planes safe because the chance of one crashing is so small.
And according to the NSA chief (who is unlikely to straight out lie to congress) said that more than 50 potential terrorist events have been thwarted because of these intelligence programs:
He said "more than 50," but Obama said "upwards of 50." I'm sure it all depends on how you frame the key words "stopped" or "prevented" and "terrorist." Also, he's straight out lied before with the statement that the NSA wasn't performing mass surveillance on civilians.
I don't mean to sound like a cynic, but: I don't think much will happen unless the number of protesters is in the many millions. Here's why: think back to Occupy. What did that movement want? A simple prosecution of the criminals who precipitated the 2008 crisis. But till date nothing has happened. Here we're talking about the government itself committing violations; what are the chances they'll do anything, when they did nothing to the bankers?
TL;DR: the only way we have a chance in hell is to have a HUGE turnout.
My current advice/hints/practice (note: this is from a non-US perspective, but apart from the content of emails/phonecalls, most of the points below would still be applicable even if I thought I technically had 4th amendment protections):
Make sure you've got GPG/PGP installed and configured, that you've got a working keypair (with "enough" bits and a securely stored private key and passphrase), make sure your public key is "findable" either on a public keyserver in an identifiable/searchable form or on your own site/blog/.finger/where-ever - and occasionally use it for completely innocuous communication. (I've committed to sending at least one GPG encrypted email a week, and regularly communication with friends who'll deal with it without getting asnnoyed)
Make sure you've got some "disk encryption" installed and configured. Put an encrypted partition on DropBox/GoogleDrive/SkyDrive/BTSync. Keep some innocuous (but regularly changing) data in there - as well as using it to store the occasional file that your really do want encrypted. (I'm using encfs, and the commercial version BoxCryptor on MacOS)
Download and install the TorBrowser bundle - possibly in your encrypted cloud-stored partition. Use it every now and then - I make a habit of using it when browsing government sites for mundane inquiries - including occasionally intentionally "leaking" personally identifying information over an SSL/Tor connection, just so if anyone goes looking they'll see a regular law-abiding(enough) citizen doing mundane law-abiding government interaction over strongly private connections.
Raise the privacy/spying issue when appropriate to people who've probably not considered it. Mention that while Google Docs and Gmail are convenient and inexpensive - that someone might be required to answer due diligence questions about choosing them over on-premises alternatives one day. Point out that Skype/Yammer/AIM/gTalk might not be the appropriate channel for discussing corporate-in-confidence matters. Ask the question about whether the data jurisdiction of MessageLabs or Outlook.com email meets regulatory obligations for business or customer (or patient or child) privacy. Don't be a pain in the ass about it - but become known as "the guy who always makes sure those points get raised and minuted at the appropriate meetings".
I'd love additional input/ideas for that list…
(signed with email@example.com - 432263ED - available from pgp.mit.edu)
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Why don't we just vote the bums out of office? I voted for Obama both times. Going forward, I sure won't vote for anyone who supports this. We should organize and figure out who is for and against this.
As a practical matter, you won't vote these guys out of office because you and everyone else isn't willing to compromise on all the other issues in play. President Kucinich or Paul never would have let this sort of program keep going. But people won't vote for them because, variously, Kucinich is too pre-Clinton liberal (loves regulation and unions), Paul wants to get rid of the Department of Education and overturn Roe, etc.
Indeed, democrats gravitated to Obama, especially the second time around, because he projected a strong stance on national security. He was the guy who killed Osama and that sold really well. Republicans love strong national security, and democrats either do too (Reagan democrats), or are sick of their candidates being considered weak and soft on communisim/terrorism/etc. Democrats wouldn't vote a President Kucinich because he is perceived as weak and at this point neither party wants to put up a candidate like that. Geez, just look at Carter. That was a guy whose politics mesh really well with the prevailing mood on HN, but look at how the democratic party has swept him under the rug. In the U.S., being perceived as weak is fatal in a leader.
And even at the local level, techies, insistant on ideological purity, won't make the compromises necessary to make this happen. Are you going to vote for a Congressman who wants the 10 commandments hung up in schools, wants to see abortion made illegal, and whose objection to survrillance comes from the same survivalist mistrust of government that makes him a top-rated candidate by the NRA? If techies as a whole are willing to do that, maybe they can get some congresspeople elected. As it is, they support a democratic party that doesn't really care strongly about civil liberties. Its Tipper Gore's party, the one that tried to undermine the 1st amendment by banning violent music lyrics from stores and recently tried to ban violent video games with a law that was struck down by the Supreme Court. You think all the "think of the children!" suburbanite Californians share the distrust of surveillance that people on HN do?
The ability to vote someone in and out every N years is not nearly sufficient to ensure that the constituents' interests are represented. What is really needed, in my opinion, are the following:
* The ability for the constituency to override important votes if thresholds are met
* The capacity to initiate a vote of no confidence in an elected official at any time, and for such an action to take effect immediately should it pass, establishing new candidates and elections for the position
* Public financing of all campaigns, with free and open access to all media channels required by law, as a duty such companies must shoulder in exchange for the privilege of operating their businesses within the United States
* Declaring that money is property, not speech. Lobbying must be performed by no more than one degree of separation from the original sponsor, and utilizing chains of shell companies and organizations to mask the source of lobbying becomes a criminal offense with a mandatory prison sentence for every link in the chain
* EDIT (forgot this one): Requiring all public data --laws, emails, chat logs, sanitation test results, etc, etc-- be digitally available over the internet and accessible to everyone with a free and open API as well as simple web portal
* Legal teeth built into election law that establishes the following for all elections at all levels:
+++ A none-of-the-above candidate. Should it take majority, all candidates that lost to it are barred from the next election, which takes place N weeks later with new candidates
+++ Implement an Instant Runoff voting scheme
+++ Implement a Mixed-Member Proportional Representation districting scheme.
But... that's just me. I think the mechanics of how we do "democratic-republic constitutional federalism" is more important than any particular issue.
It's not that hard, you just have to convince half the voters the 4th amendment is more important then being afraid of terrorists. No politician wants to support this they just think they have to to appear 'tough' on terrorism for their constituents.
Voter turnout for primaries is usually really, really low. You don't need to convince half of those who do vote; if you just convince 1/4 of those who could vote but don't, you can dominate the primaries.
"I voted for Obama both times. Going forward, I sure won't vote for anyone who supports this."
In other words, you are waiting for this guy:
"I am major party candidate so-and-so, and I swear to you that I will not allow the government to spy on you!"
Why would you have voted for Obama the second time after seeing what sort of president he was in his first four years? Did those four years not give you a clue that maybe Obama was a wolf in sheep's clothing?
Because the alternative wasn't any less spy-happy, things were less solidly confirmed, and there are other issues?
Simply choosing between major party candidates in the general election isn't going to get the job done - we need to find ways to apply pressure earlier in a meaningful way and get both parties shifted away from the authoritarianism that dominates.
That's why I voted third party. It would have been great if a third party candidate won, but more importantly, third party votes send a message to the major parties. If the major parties want my vote, they better do something to earn it. Even more so in a battleground state: hit the major parties where it hurts, and change might happen.
> That's why I voted third party. It would have been great if a third party candidate won, but more importantly, third party votes send a message to the major parties. If the major parties want my vote, they better do something to earn it.
But...they don't. At least, not collectively. Under the status quo system, each major party has preferences, numbered in order (letters distinguish approximately-equal-preference alternatives within the numbered category):
1. We get your vote,
2a. Your vote goes to someone other than the other major party
2b. You don't vote,
3. The other major party gets your vote.
In fact, each major party has a pretty strong incentive to want people that aren't sold on their platform to blame the two-party system and opt out entirely either by not voting or voting third party, since you voting for the other major party is going to be twice as bad for the major party you aren't voting for than not voting or voting third party.
> On issues like this one, where party positions seem to depend only on whether it's their guy doing it, I'm not sure what the appropriate strategy is.
It requires looking beyond voting. The only reason issues like you describe exist is because there isn't a sufficiently strong committed electoral constituency around the issue that will vote, run primary challengers, and provide money and boots on the ground for campaign operations around the issue, so that it just becomes a tactical issue of convenience to the major parties.
Voting behavior, alone, isn't going to do anything to change that. Voting is important in a democracy, but it isn't the only -- or even the most important -- form of political participation.
> It still leaves the direct question - while less important - unanswered: when we do go to vote, what is the optimal approach on this kind of issue?
Voting is a blunt instrument that's very rarely useful -- especially in one election -- at affecting change on any specific issue of this type (that is, one on which the major parties have no real distinction, though they exploit any opportunity to take PR pot-shots at the other party.)
If you haven't changed the landscape by political action before the election so that the issue you are concerned about is no longer that kind of issue, then there isn't an effective voting strategy available.
It's a mixed bag. True that the threat of third parties "stealing" votes pulls the major parties somewhat, but at the same time the direct effect of your vote in the general is less to your favor than if you had voted strategically. I am not convinced regarding which effect dominates.
Yeah, US citizens are pissed their own government is spying on them. Spying between foreign governments is a given, but why should you care: your government needs to protect your rights, not somebody else's government.