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Edward Snowden and Gen Y: a sign of leaks to come? (antipope.org)
198 points by cstross on Aug 16, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 92 comments

Assange's seldom mentioned manifesto[1] talks about the goal of making secrecy impossible by making the secret systems either completely disconnected from the real world, or so liable to leaking that they are no longer secret.

It's difficult imagining that goal being completely achieved, but it is interesting how closely the Snowden story matched Assange's thoughts.

Note that Assange's writing is pretty.. umm.. dense. It is worth reading the commentary at [2] at the same time.

This analysis is excellent:

[Assange] decides, instead, that the most effective way to attack this kind of organization would be to make “leaks” a fundamental part of the conspiracy’s information environment.... the idea is that increasing the porousness of the conspiracy’s information system will impede its functioning, that the conspiracy will turn against itself in self-defense, clamping down on its own information flows in ways that will then impede its own cognitive function. You destroy the conspiracy, in other words, by making it so paranoid of itself that it can no longer conspire

[1] http://cryptome.org/0002/ja-conspiracies.pdf

[2] http://zunguzungu.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/julian-assange-an...


I note that Assange, aged 42, is a Gen-Xer.

(I left him out of the essay because (a) mentioning his name would invite derailing discussion of other personality-related issues, and (b) his being an X-er would obscure the key message in the closing paragraphs.)



Oh I see. Gotcha. Thx.

First, I'm a big fan... but:

I'm struggling with why you don't open arms embrace the Gen-X / Gen Y's actual attitude towards a government that can grab any of them and shame them into compliance is the moral voting decision.

There is an actual synthesis available, the state collects all kinds of data, but it cannot be used against its citizens.

Using any that data to help solve ANY domestic crime becomes the greater crime - it is traitorous for any public employee to do so. We have a long legal history or fruit of the poisoned tree, Gen X / Gen Y can simply ensure PRISM and its ilk - we save and extend that, and harshly punish a few civil servants.

Lesson taught.

Its similar to the militarization of the police. Why not expect and cheer Gen Y / Gen X to say out loud, "we don't care if more cops die because they have only a vest"?

Why not expect and cheer, the total destruction of the bureaucracy your work pillories?

Why valorize the near criminal firm behavior the 40 year s and a watch created?

I'm Gen X and I'm totally comfy with the idea of a state that has to rebuild itself around 1M Snowdens ready to heroically crush state malfeasance for $, fame, or patriotism.

It dawns on me you aren't a fan of Nassim Taleb.

I prefer my sci-fi writers to be dedicated libertarians. So maybe, if you aren't, don't publicize it.

I prefer my sci-fi writers to be dedicated libertarians. So maybe, if you aren't, don't publicize it.

Then you prefer to get your ideology and news pre-digested, do you?

(I reckon it's always a mistake to restrict your reading so that it conforms to your own worldview.)

I'm not a libertarian. Libertarianism is a specifically American ideology that can be pigeon-holed best as right-anarchism. I'm not American: I'm a leftist with a strong attachment to social contracts, civil liberties, and freedom. If it causes you to stop buying my books because it doesn't gel with your preconception of what I ought to be, that's fine by me. But you don't get to tell me not to talk about it.

I've been tempted to try to coin the term "paleolibertarian": the original meaning of the word was much more left-leaning. http://youtu.be/RxPUvQZ3rc

I think there is an oppurtunity for a coalition between the far left and the far right over civil liberties, if only we can "agree to disagree" on economic theories until the rule of law under the Constitution has been restored. (There's even a good brand hook built-in: the Green Tea Party.)

To quote Charlie:

I'm not American

All this talk of "the Constitution" as though it is some kind of 100% correct holy document handed down from on high to our superior ancestors is pretty irrelevant in the rest of the world.

And countries with a constitution often change or reboot it. Not all countries with a constitution view it as some holy sacred document that doesn't need replacing. Ireland reset its constitution a few times, France is on like it's "Fifth Republic" by now.

A good number of Americans treat the Constitution the way a good number of Christians treat the Bible. Veneration of its text, deviation is grounds for condemnation, have neither read it nor actually studied it from any useful (historical, ethical, or otherwise) context, asserts meaningless claims about their original intention, and invoke it mainly as an appeal to authority via clobber verses or legal sounding language.

It's extremely frustrating.

Talking about "restoring the Constitution" is a good way to convince me that you don't know what you're talking about and aren't worth throwing in with. I believe in the future, not the past. Rather than holding up a piece of Scripture and warning me not to sin from the straight and narrow, I'd like to be presented with a vision for life lived.

Or, more succinctly, "Build bridges, not guard rails." It irritates me that American politics is often an exclusive-or choice between freedom and justice.

Oh, I totally agree; the Constitution derives its authority from human rights principles which transcend nationality. I would love to see amendments which strengthened those rights and extended some or all protections to non-citizens.

The meme of "Restore the Constitution" can either be seen as a first step towards that goal, and/or a realistic low bar for what can actually be achieved. (The Constitution has always been somewhat broken, given our history with slavery, suffrage, and wartime abuses, but it's a more comforting narrative for most conservatives.)

If we could somehow pass a new constitutional amendment, I think the most urgent matter is electoral reform: instant run-off, and publicly financed elections. Whether you believe in a big or small government, we deserve one that we genuinely believe reflects our values, rather than the blatant corruption and "lesser evils" we live with now. If you remove the left-right smokescreen, Americans agree on more issues than it would seem; restoring faith in the democratic process would catalyze new progress in other arenas from there.

> The meme of "Restore the Constitution" can either be seen as a first step towards that goal, and/or a realistic low bar for what can actually be achieved.

But it's not a first step towards that goal. A significant number of people who chant "Restore the Constitution" mean "before the Fourteenth Amendment".

> If we could somehow pass a new constitutional amendment

That's not restoration.

> I think the most urgent matter is electoral reform: instant run-off, and publicly financed elections.

That's fine. You don't need to rally behind "Restore the Constitution" to advocate for that.

Like it or not, democracy requires coalitions to get things done, most especially in a country as culturally diverse as the US. While I also find some parts of the Tea Party abhorrent, I belive they are a necessary ally against the overreach of government. Note that that the first significant pushback against drones, and genuine use of the filibuster, came from none other than Rand Paul.

We can keep bickering over our disagreements, or we can unite over our common ground. The latter is bound to have much higher efficacy.

Except that our common ground isn't common ground.

Once again, you talk about how the government is sinning against your Bible. Your term for this deviation is "overreach", and your response to it is to "pushback" and put forward a messiah. These are guard rails. You are envisioning a future defined by what is not true: by the dearth of government overreach, by a less indiscriminate usage of drones, and so on. These are not bridges. They are walls.

Forgive me if I don't tithe, but I am not a member of this church.

You can build your coalition, but near as I can tell, you are acting against my interests.

...what? How is putting additional restraints on jackbooted thugs against your interests? Perhaps it's "throwing good money after bad", effort-wise, but I hardly see how the pursuit of due process makes things worse. We can build guard rails while the bridges are in pre-production.

To be clear: are you referring to working within a conventional political system (over 50% consensus), or outside the political system, through NGOs/technology/etc? The former is more easily achieved by allying with those you disagree with. What would be your practical strategy to building bridges instead? Not with long-term "consciousness change", but right now, today?

> We can build guard rails while the bridges are in pre-production.

This is a campaign promise. This is where the jackbooted thugs come from. We never imagine ourselves to be the ones who start the oppression; it's always such a small compromise. We ally ourselves with someone who is distasteful, but gets the job done.

And the bridges never even get a blueprint, because our only concern is the quality and placement of the guard rails. That's all we end up discussing. We talk about freedom as if we knew what it was, and our first step is to curtail it because the people we don't like have more freedoms than the people we do like. And suddenly we look like Mohamed Morsi.

> What would be your practical strategy to building bridges instead?

We do something uncanny: we think about what we're doing. We consider why we want to do what we want to do. We strengthen our own ethical framework and hold it up for others to take apart. We turn our actions into natural consequences of a tested ethical structure. We ask others to do the same. We teach them how to build one if they don't know how. We compare and contrast our results. We argue about them; we disagree about them; we compromise and find ways to build policies despite those merge conflicts. That's a bridge.

Yeah, it can be argued that that's less practical than getting all the pro-slavery people in power and then hoping they fix our surveillance issues. Or maybe they'll just surveil the brown people and the atheist commies? It's unclear. A good chunk of them are in power right now, and they didn't actually stop this from happening. What would you trade with them for due process? Should we scratch health care? Religious freedom? Infrastructure maintenance? Public education? What would you give them for their support? You should know, and you should know why: that's part of practicality.

Yeah, it will take more time, more effort, more sweat, more tears. It's a harder road, because it's less traveled. But if you're going to pursue due process, why isn't the process due here?

What is government supposed to look like? Surely not "the status quo, minus a panopticon". What does a government predicated on human rights principles that transcend nationality actually look like? Why? What are the necessary demands on a state and society that such principles require? List out the rights. Prioritize them, if you wish, and postpone some that you consider least important. What are the consequences of meeting such demands? What does the resultant society and state actually look like? Who holds what power, and how, and why?

What is the collateral damage of your actions? Justify its acceptability. And try to make it more legitimate than, "This is what I care about most, so it's the most important."

All of that. Because you're promising me to build the bridge eventually, but every time I put down a beam, someone says, "Oh, I need that for another guard rail. Sorry." And pretty soon all we have are prisons and an American dream you have to be asleep to believe in. That's "right now, today".

Show me how you're not just more of the same.

I see talk about 'restoring the Constitution' a lot; but the truth is the Constitution is inherently flawed. It was broken (or fixed) the first time within a few years of its ratification, and failed utterly with the Civil War. In the process, the government of the United States actually became much more stable.

Unfortunately, I don't believe it's about the Constitution right now. I think the problem is that civic priorities have shifted.

The Bill of Rights (first "fix") was mainly to restore certain civil protections that were established in the Articles of Confederation that the Constitutions ratification took away, or didn't expressly spell out (10th Amendment).

I think after the 1830's decision to use the commerce clause in more encroach into a broader role that it was a pragmatic decision at the time... however, that expanded role continued into what we have today. We should emphatically NOT have domestic arms of the U.S. Government with the power that the DoJ, FBI, CIA, NSA, ATF, DEA, ICE and their ilk are holding.

Not really talking Bill of Rights, more alluding to Judicial Review, a process not provided for within the constitution and in fact specifically not included.

And the truth is, after the Civil War we shifted from a Federation into a Nation, with a National government. It's a situation we either have to accept or attempt to change, but that's what exists.

The US Constitution has a bit about privacy for US citizens. People like me, or @cstross would not be covered by it, and the NSA would legally be allowed to spy on us. Go beyond the US Constitution.

Huh, didn't realize that Stross is British. The fight against spying there seems even more uphill, to say the least.

While the existing Constitution should be upheld as a first step, I do believe that some or all of the human rights protections should extend to all persons, not just citizens, and that spying on allies during peacetime is unacceptable. On a practical level, international spying is just a run-around for domestic spying anyway: we snoop on the UK's servers, they snoop on ours, and whoops, data on our own citzens!

I also think there is an oppurtunity for transnational democratic organizations, as depicted in Neal Stephenson's concept of "phyles". With enough people banding together worldwide, we can protect human rights with force, yet without violence.

>Go beyond the US Constitution

Yes. But now your are talking about a world government. Do you think the one you hate would not have a major role? If they didn't have a major role would that really be a world government? Your country could try to negotiate anti-spying treaties, but your government is likely complicit. Maybe there is a seed for world governance here, but more likely politicians will play both sides as they always do.

<snark>The EU.</snark>

In actual fact, you can just expand a constitution to explicitly include privacy for all humans, regardless of citizenship/nationality. The US courts could hold the US government to that standard.

Not that I disagree with your sentiment, but your own concept of Libertarianism seems to be similarly pre-digested as it reflects, not the core beliefs, but the political movement as portrayed by the linear spectrum of news outlets, not the true circular spectrum of political beliefs.

It also is not an solely American ideology as concepts such as the flat tax and equality before the law can be seen in the Leveller Movement of 17th Century Britain. http://www.levellers.org/lev.htm

The government is not a monolithic entity. The evils of intrusive surveillance doesn't make, say, social programs, or economic regulation, evil just because they're other large government programs. Libertarianism is great if you're already wealthy; it's... problematic... if you're starting off from a position of relatively little power.

> I prefer my sci-fi writers to be dedicated libertarians. So maybe, if you aren't, don't publicize it.

This is astonishingly condescending of you.

I'm not insisting we throw out the state because of PRISM.

It seems like you basically agree with my question of CSTROSS.

The last bit, was just me letting him know, putting his politics in front of his art means some won't make it to his art.

I like keanu reeves bc he doesn't let me know what he thinks. I'm weird that way.

And putting politics "in front of his art" will probably convince some of the, you know, thousands of people who read his blog posts on Hacker News and elsewhere, that maybe his books are worth picking up and buying.

Regardless, what you said was pretty rude.

> that maybe his books are worth picking up and buying.

They are, no matter what your politics. It's good stuff.

> putting his politics in front of his art means some won't make it to his art.

And a lot of artists are 100% ok with that. Mr Stross seems to be among them. Last time I heard that sentiment expressed was recently - a folk band who mentioned that they just weren't interested in playing a paying gig for a British National Party member.

To me it feels like personal integrity. But then I'm in broad agreement with Mr Stross' political views (and the folk band too) so it's not much of a challenge. I wouldn't want to be a fan of a far-right artist anyway.

> I'm weird that way.

Dick. You are a dick. Just letting you know.

"Fruit of the poisoned tree" is a peculiarly American doctrine which is recent as these things go; Wikipedia traces it to a court case from 1920.

And it's a somewhat problematic way of dealing with misconduct by the authorities. For one thing, it relies on them to correctly report where they're getting their information. Fast-forward to the recent NSA/DEA leaks, including memos offering agents explicit guidance in "parallel construction", a euphemism for constructing false case histories in which the existence of evidence from the NSA dragnet is concealed from the courts. Where this is happening, the exclusionary rule has failed as a constraint on the cops.

> We have a long legal history or fruit of the poisoned tree,

We had that. It is eviscerated by things like "Parallel Construction", "Exigent Circumstances", and really low standards for "Probable Cause". WRT domestic law enforcement (like drug cases), police may violate laws, peoples' rights in all manner of ways. Prosecutors usually get to keep the evidence if police can show "good faith".

Personally, I lean very libertarian (with pragmatism towards said ideals). And although i think that GenX/Y (tail end of X myself) are far more open to free expression than many generations (though the 60's/70's did have a lot of protesting, you can see the impacts that started there). I think there are plenty of people that are very closed off, and closed minded.

Positions of power tend to be obtained by those that seek it out. Those that seek out power and achieve it are generally those that are both charismatic, and ambitious. This can be a dangerous combination. When you combine this with people who love raw technology, the opportunity to work with said technology will often outweigh the moral obligation someone should have with their larger community.

This is why things like PRISM can happen, and actually start being used before leaks happen. Many people I know would have not had the fortitude (I think myself included) to actually take the steps to speak out.

Is this Dada?

> the idea is that increasing the porousness of the conspiracy’s information system will impede its functioning, that the conspiracy will turn against itself in self-defense, clamping down on its own information flows in ways that will then impede its own cognitive function.

Consider this in that light: "NSA to cut system administrators by 90 percent to limit data access" http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/09/us-usa-security-ns...

There is a third way: stop conspiring, then there's nothing to leak.

In other words, Assange is conceiving an environment that asymmetrically favors transparent power over clandestine. Which probably also means good, or at least normative power. (Bad things can be normative eg: segregation, but most bad things are not.)

>an environment that asymmetrically favors transparent power over clandestine

This asymmetry only exists as organisations scale. Keep your Clandestine organisations small and your transparent organisations big. But there are two problems with making Clandestine organisations small:

1. it is dangerous: smaller Clandestine organisations would by necessary concentrate more power in fewer hands, combined with secrecy that actually works and you have the perfect breeding ground for a coup,

2. it is politically sensitive: managers in organisations grow in status as they hire more people below them/lose status as they lose people below them, any budget or size cuts will be used as a way to past the blame after the next intelligence failure (consider how the NSA/CIA would've reacted to the post-9-11 review if Clinton had reduced their size to 0.1%).

> smaller Clandestine organisations would by necessary [sic] concentrate more power in fewer hands

I think that "by necessity" is not true here. A smaller organization can not do as much as a larger organization. Ok, a handful of people could stage a coup. Then what? They still need bodies for tax collecting, law enforcement, jailers for the secret prisons, whatever. Those people need information to do their jobs, which increases the circle size, etc, and we're back where we started.

Assange's insight into clandestine organizations as information networks that can be disrupted is profound. You get the choice between large, effective, and open; or small, ineffective, and clandestine.

>A smaller organization can not do as much as a larger organization.

See 'The Mythical Man Month', SpaceX vs other aerospace companies or the writings of R. V. Jones on the advantages of keeping intelligence agencies small.

>Ok, a handful of people could stage a coup. Then what?

I agree staging a coup is not the same as running a government. Not sure what you point here is.

>You get the choice between large, effective, and open; or small, ineffective, and clandestine.

The current choice is between: large, ineffective and semi-transparent or large, even more ineffective and semi-opaque. I agree with Assange on this.

The danger is that we could get small, effective and truly-opaque, but it is unlikely to happen due to political concerns.

> See ... on the advantages of keeping intelligence agencies small.

Excellent resources. For a counterpoint on the specific organization type we're discussing, governments, see libertarianism.

> I agree staging a coup is not the same as running a government. Not sure what you point here is.

You brought up coup as a potential consequence of tightened lines of communication and increased secrecy & concentration of power in a few hands. My point was that even in that hypothetical, in order to transition from coup to government you have to widen the circle again, dilute the power, and we're back to the large-ineffective paradigm again. Short term: maybe maybe consequences; long term: same old story.


The recent news that they would be reducing their outside sysadmin workforce by 90% I think may be the most interesting example of shooting themselves in the foot.

Look at it this way: One sysadmin leaves with a lot of information and then leaks it to the press. In an effort to plug that hole, you announce that at some point in the future you are going to eliminate 90% of the people who did the job of that person. Now everyone who is currently doing this job looks around and thinks to themselves "Gee, I'm probably going to lose my job in a couple of months. I have two choices: try to apply for a direct employment role in the agency I was contracting for or I can choose not to utilize my top secret clearance and change jobs." Now I would bet that those 90% comprise thousands of people, some of which may have the same technical prowess as Snowden and who may also be as disillusioned with the corruption of the current system they are whoring themselves out to. I can only imagine that this reduction in force will lead to a lot of new juicy details of wrongdoing being leaked.

> "that the conspiracy will turn against itself in self-defense, clamping down on its own information flows in ways that will then impede its own cognitive function. You destroy the conspiracy, in other words, by making it so paranoid of itself that it can no longer conspire"

This was probably one of the big reasons USSR fell apart. The attempt to make everything secret made discussing real problems very difficult.

This may work.... Of course, the other serious question if nation states as we know can exist without conspiracies and if we would be better without them.

Employee-employer loyalty in situations like these is often substituted or at least augmented by patriotism, the moral obligation to serve some conceptual ideal that is presumably exhibited by the motherland.

Such motivations, especially when entrenched early in life can be quite powerful. I think there is some truth to the fact that Gen X/Y members will be harder to keep buttoned up when given secret clearances but it won't be quite as hard as it would be without the patriotic angle.

What the probable response will be against these leaks is a change in hiring practices (less reliance on subcontractors) and more thorough vetting procedures.

Rather than, what we'd all like to see (huge assumption on my part there): a more transparent and surgical use of these capabilities with much better oversight in place.

I think that patriotism is a very powerful motivation in the actions of potential whistleblowers.

Previous generations had the Nazis and then the Soviets as the 'enemy' and they were tangible opponents. Potential whistleblowers might have been able to convince themselves that they were acting for the greater good, and kept themselves quiet.

The new 'enemy' are the terrorists, and they are neither particularly tangible or visible. It is not so easy to convince yourself you are acting for the greater good in these circumstances.

In actuality, the reverse happens. Snowden's patriotism convinced him that the actions of the NSA could not be justified as 'greater goods', and so he became a whistleblower.

It's the double-edged nature of imaginary threats: you can invoke them to justify pretty much anything (invasive airport searches? Al Qaeda! invasive net censorship? Paedophiles!), but the number of people actually believing the bogeymen exist gets lower and lower every time you use them.

Isn't the saying, to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic?

By rights the Marines should have been kicking the NSA's doors in.

Why would the Marines do that though? The NSA is the ones telling them whose doors to kick down in Iraq and Afghanistan, as opposed to the normal 2006 routine of getting blown up every convoy by an IED.

Funny they couldn't tell them Iraq did not have WMD when it mattered.

I seem to recall that's exactly what the Intelligence Community did tell the Prez, was that the public claims were all out of proportion to what the intel community knew, or even has hints at knowing. But of course Saddam threatened his Poppy and off we went...

But just think of the bright side, if we accept as true the claims of those using the Arab Spring erupting from Manning's diplomatic cable leaks, that it's all worth it if we get more democracies in the end, then I suppose all's well that ends well.

Mind, I don't personally agree with that but apparently I've been the idiot here the whole time. :)

The 'Arab Spring' is called a bit early in my opinion, chances are that it will be an Autumn.

Kicking the first stone of an avalanche downhill is easy but there is no way of knowing when the stones will stop rolling and if the new configuration is a favourable one and what the damage incurred along the way is.

Probably not actually; the NSA isn't big on HUMINT.

And because no-one wants to win a war against a repressive political ideology and come home to find more of the same?

Kicking in doors: something you'd totally never see in a repressive political ideology.

Also, if newer generations are more independently minded, i.e. less influenced by patriotism and the like, then I guess they are likely to support a David over a Goliath. Pressuring people like Assange and Snowden is just making them into historic figureheads.

I think it has more to do with whether you were imbued with conformity or not. It's hard to argue that Snowden's behavior isn't patriotic, much as Obama and the NSA keep trying.

No doubt at all that Snowden is patriotic in nature. But that won't stop a lot of well meaning people from doing the opposite in the name of patriotism either.

>Employee-employer loyalty in situations like these is often substituted or at least augmented by patriotism, the moral obligation to serve some conceptual ideal that is presumably exhibited by the motherland.

This statement seems ambiguous. In the context of Snowden, are you claiming he is motived by patriotism to go against the wishes of his employer or would be motivated to stay within the constraints of his employer both due to patriotism?

That depends on the person. Some will go against their government out of patriotism, others (the vast majority) will likely support it due to the same.

Whose reasons are better is subject of much discussion, I merely note that patriotism can be used to push people into a more conforming role than a mere employer employee relationship would. I can't imagine those that start out to be against their current form of government to either apply for or to be able to easily pass attitude screening, which I would assume to be sop for such positions.

Of course any screen is imperfect and I would think that right now a lot of people are trying to figure out how they missed Snowden. Which effectively increases internal paranoia in the various agencies.

While there is some truth to this article about the change in work culture, there is a fundamental piece which isn't being addressed that makes me think the government will be able to prevent leaks quickly.

Each successive post war generation has become increasingly complacent about government abuses of power.

When the Snowden scandal came out, it felt like only 1 in 5 Gen-X/Gen-Yers even seemed to care. Most of the people I talk to say things like the following:

"Well if you're not doing anything wrong, why do you care that they are monitoring us?"

"Of course they are monitoring everything, they have to do that since 9/11."

"Are you actually surprised they can read your Gmail and Facebook messages?"

Without revealing my specific generation. . .and agreeing that these are common responses. . .the first response makes me want to scream, the second simply rubs me the wrong way.. .and I admit that the third is pretty close to my initial reaction. As someone said humorously/saracastically. . .NCIS has been one of the top-rated shows for about 10 years. Did you really think that everything McGee does is fiction?

I don't believe anyone well versed in technology was really surprised.

I didn't want to believe it initially as the proof seemed questionable at first, but when it did become obvious that PRISM was real, I was less surprised and more saddened.

Well I wasn't surprised that there were technical reasons they could do it, but I was surprised at the number of companies that were found to be complacent in the monitoring. It ran deeper than I ever expected.


People in these position are selected for patriotism and devotion to their country. That cuts both ways. If they manage to convince them that government=country than whatever they are told they will listen and go to any lengths to execute orders. Some realize what is going on but saying anything would at best result in revocation of security clearance and loss of job, at worst imprisonment. BUT the other side is, some people don't think country=government. The see country=Constitution, country=citizens and so on. A different ideal. A very very tiny proportion of those people will have balls to come out and expose lies and shameful things hidden under the carpet at the cost of heavy possible repercussions.

I am waiting and hoping for more Snowdens to show up.

To the side of the discussion at hand: I don't think anyone except 'Gen Xers' call 'Gen Yers' as 'Gen Y'. That's not something we do. Ever.

I'm in the Gen Y bucket and I refer to people born in the mid to late 1980s until the mid 1990s as Gen Y. I'm not sure if this range is appropriate or the standard.

I've made the distinction between Gen Y and the Millennial as "people who remember a time before computers were so ubiquitous" vs "people who have always lived entrenched in technology".

But what do Millenials think of the issues?

The article makes sweeping generalizations about Gen X/Y based on just two annecdotes (Snowden, Manning).

The author is eager to blame deregulation for the rise in leaks. But last I checked, people still leaked documents before the 1970s.

Nice story. Simple, and reassuring. But complete BS.

If anything, the mass availability of massively interconnected networks, and cheap compact and plentiful digital storage is what has led to Manning and Snowden-style leaks.

As you mention it's not as if previous generations were less complacent about government. If anything generational angst was a far worse problem back then (e.g. late 1960s, or the Communist pushes in the late 40s, or the fascist sympathizers during the Great Depression).

We don't hear about that angst for the most part since it didn't succeed, but it certainly left its mark at each point in time.

In agreement with you on this one. Exceptions to the rule don't make it the norm. In fact, people like Snowden and Manning are making it more difficult for Gen Y's to work in environments such as theirs because they are viewed cautiously by the people in power (Boomers).

I believe you made the same mistake as the article: Making sweeping generalizations about people of a certain age group without empirical evidence.

How well is this working in China? Is there the same generational effect there as there is claimed to be in this essay in NATO countries? In particular, do the intelligence services in China seem to be dead-end career paths for ambitious young people there? Who is providing leaks from those?

(I ask, as a speaker of Chinese, because I like to reality-check statements about invariant social trends cross-culturally.)

I would give credit to the internet to making issues more readily available from a wide range of sources. Perhaps all generations now will get a full understanding of how invasive government is in their lives and just how far it has drifted from its intent.

It would be a great disservice to focus just on intelligence agencies, all agencies of the government with their access to vast amounts of data should be subject to extra scrutiny. Not only does the NSA and FBI combined with the FISA courts pose a threat to the privacy if not freedom of Americans and others, the IRS has elements within it that show a disregard for expression of free speech. Combined with a Congress looking for more avenues to circumvent the Bill of Rights and Administrations who selectively apply the law and everyone is threatened.

So perhaps with so much information at hand people will finally realize that big government may be too big to protect freedom.

Yup you can rest assured that if any of my future employers ever engages in such behavior, I won't rest easy and I hope today's young generation won't either.

When I was reading about the loyalty bit discussed here, It made me think of these lyrics which kind of describes the break in the social contract between a large government and its citizens (I mention this because it seems to be the attitude of more and more of the young men I grew up with, maybe because of media like this…):

'Feel my pain, going insane, I’m ashamed. Cause I ain’t got shit but an EBT card from a fiend. That owe me and it’s in her daughter name. How the fuck is they pose to eat? How the fuck am I pose to eat? Got a nigga in the streets, no health care, Tryna slang weed just to put shoes on his feet. So fuck you, you don’t give a fuck about me. Can’t get a job if they drug test me. Got a nigga stressed depressed. Got a feeling in his chest. And the world’s stripped of happiness"

And maybe more interestingly enough, the song is entitled "Terrorist Threats"

Watch the imagery in the video and listen to the lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_71q5lVEjc

Surprised hayden didn't mention them in his remarks…

This article seems to moan the destruction of a job for life culture where employees value loyalty to their employer over their own free will.

I think most on this forum celebrate that change instead, as the alternative seems like slavery.

No. Is describes the unintended consequences of it. That's not moaning or complaining, its pointing something out.

No. It claims these "consequences" are in some way negative, which is what I meant by "moan". In my view, every consequence mentioned is a good thing. It's a good thing people are not loyal to their employers. It's a good thing people want to change jobs regularly.

Do they want to or do they have to? People having the freedom to change jobs is a good thing. People being forced to change jobs against their will is a bad thing. Which factor is more prevalent today?

People being used to having a "job for life", and society approving of this is a bad thing.

Well today we have a society that approves of "jobs for life" and no jobs for life. The US has an employment-to-population ratio of 66%. Sounds like the worst of both worlds to me.

What % of that ratio is intentionally "unemployed"? I am. That statistic is similar to the commonly quoted % of US residents w/out health insurance, which ignores that a good deal of these people (again, like myself) choose to forgo this due to careful cost/benefit analysis.

Leaking is also the future of investigative journalism. Investigative journalism already relies heavily on leaking, but I'm talking about "user-generated" leaking or Leaking 2.0 (as in Web 2.0).

Even if the print media dies, and it's harder to do investigative journalism at the national level, and even more so at the local level, leaking by normal people will take its place.

There's one caveat, though. We also need a system where it's easy to do it anonymously, so you don't face the repercussions from the powerful, and/or we need stronger laws to protect leaking of wrong behavior (whether "legal" or not).

I normally hate articles that try to frame culture neatly into generations when its frequently very chaotic in reality.

But despite depending on x/y for labeling the overall cultural change, covered in this article, away from jobs for life is very real.

Most likely starting with our grandparents and more recently accelerating along with increases in university educations (not needing to be dependent career wise).

I don't think this has anything to do with Gen Y or whatever you want to call non-old people. Every generation begins with a desire to change what the previous generation did. Some of us don't lose that desire, many do as life's responsibility requires less desire to force change. Branding this as something new is what every generation thinks it is.

I was hoping more people would leak/whistle blow, so I created http://valleyanon.com/ which gives anonymous features to bloggers.

Unfortunately, it is now riddled with spam. all the spam on the internet.

The following might not help:

- insanely long response time/application error

- not on a secure server

- hidden registration, so no way to check who backs this (it could be a honeypot).

i'd always hoped gen y were smart enough to not need to be told the obvious via leaks.

i applaud snowden for his courage, but the aftermath is completely the wrong thing to have happened. its a fantastic distraction from the /really/ important issues which otherwise might have gotten some more attention... :/

Generation identities? What a 'divide and conquer' tangent to the issues.

I refuse to focus on the man. He is not the story, what he told us is the story.

Which is why you should probably read this article, and not just the title.

Brilliantly written - thank, you.

I'm not even going to bother reading this article. What the hell does "Gen Y" have to do with anything? Have there been big whistleblowers in the past? Yes, of course, some of them extremely big. The Pentagon Papers being an excellent example.

Indeed, here's a list of major whistleblowers in relatively recent history (20th century): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_whistleblowers

Keeping in mind the bias of any historical list toward the present, I don't see any evidence in this list which indicates "Generation Y" is somehow different in its ability or tendency toward whistleblowing.

> What the hell does "Gen Y" have to do with anything?


> I'm not even going to bother reading this article.

Are a little silly in the same comment, since exactly that question is answered in the article at some length.

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