I'm not trying to be intentionally obtuse, I just legitimately am curious
It could just be a challenge for them. Where else can you not only get away with, but be rewarded with a good salary and a pension for hacking into the most secure systems on earth? It must be thrilling to be 'Competing' against the best security engineers, best practices, with a massive budget to support your activities.
It could be that with their security clearances, they know things about threats that make their decision to work for the NSA a moral imperative. It's entirely possible that there are some really horrific classified things that were stopped via similar spying activities, so intercepting some Gmail messages seems like a much less evil alternative.
They could just be 'blindly' patriotic, have faith that the faults of the government are outweighed by the need to keep the US on top of the world.
There are many possible reasons.
I also completely buy the competition angle -- especially considering I'm not going to pretend that Google is the "good guy" here, fighting perilously for our freedom against the evil government.
And third, I also see the point that, ya know, at the end of the day, these guys are probably building some useful systems.
I suppose my curiosity is mostly granular; I'd love to read some interviews with people who are directly working on this stuff to get their side. It seems like they have some REALLY good engineers working there, and I'm curious how.
Meh. Nothing cinematic about it at all. You fill out reams of paperwork (address and neighbors back 10 years), get interviewed by a tired bureaucrat, and all your friends, family, and neighbors get grilled by some other tired bureaucrats.
Then, if you're lucky, they grant you an interim clearance so you can start work while they do whatever other research they need to do (polygraph, etc).
And if you're unlucky, they don't grant the interim and you're left in limbo for months on end. And you don't have any say in the matter - if the interim is denied, there is no recourse. And if they take too long, your employer may just decide waiting around isn't worth the time and send you packing before the process completes. And you never find out what red flag they thought they saw.
All in, it's a total pain in the ass.
there is an account of an NSA employee thinking through the morality of his work
This is a number floated as possible years of time, but it is not what he 'would have been' sentenced. We don't know because he decided to turn snitch.
And they're right. You don't need to play devil's advocate. The devil has enough advocates.
What I understand this to mean is that the nature of “rationality” is such that a rational person can rationalize anything. Nobody is saying “EXTERMINATE ALL RATIONAL THOUGHT”, obviously this is just you trolling, but to the extent that anything intelligent can be distilled from your reply, that's my response to it.
We can always rationalise anything, especially misdeeds committed by those in positions of power over us. Sometimes it's important to halt that process and stop and just say "this is definitely fucked up", and yes, not to question it any further. It can actually be really hard not to question it sometimes, especially if you trust, or have been conditioned to trust, those in positions of power over you who are abusing you. You want to find reasons to defend their abuse of their power, you don't want it to be what it looks like. And you can find reasons for it, you always can. You will. But abuse is still abuse. So sometimes you have to stop and just say “this is fucked”.
In my opinion, there are few things more tragic than someone carrying out actions with serious consequences on behalf of a belief that they refuse to question.
I believe I understand your pragmatic concerns. It is hard to act passionately while simultaneously entertaining doubts about your underlying beliefs. Obviously one does not need to set a timer and rigorously question their beliefs every five minutes. However, it is important that one welcomes evidence to the contrary and is willing to engage with that evidence. To do otherwise is to risk becoming a slave to dogma.
The thing you seem to be missing is that there are no “neutral” beliefs. There's no “middle” in terms of ideology. Doing “nothing” is de facto maintaining the status quo, and acting to maintain the status quo is a positive action just as much as acting to abolish it is. The belief that the status quo should be maintained is a positive belief just as the belief that it should be abolished it is. Right?
The thing is, by the very nature of ideology, those who wish to maintain the status quo rarely have their beliefs subjected to the same level of scrutiny as those who to abolish it. Therefore it is very easy for those who wish to maintain the status quo to believe that their beliefs and actions are sane, rational, reasonable, etc., because everything seems to reinforce that, while those who wish to abolish it are often portrayed as insane, irrational, “extremist”, etc., and as someone who does wish to abolish the status quo, it's very hard not to internalise some of that. Being constantly bombarded with that, having all of your beliefs constantly scrutinised from every angle inevitably manifests itself as incapacitating self-doubt that's very difficult to overcome sometimes. Sometimes the only way to cope with this is to temporarily suspend this constant questioning of everything you believe in.
It is far more common that people who wish to maintain the status quo are slaves to dogma than that people who wish to abolish it are. Often, the latter do not have a choice about whether or not their beliefs are rigourously questioned every five minutes. But the former can comfortably go their whole lives without ever having their beliefs rigourously questioned by anybody.
Edit: I think an NSA agent participating in these programs out of a belief that they are “serving their country” and who refuses to question what “serving their country” actually means is a slave to dogma. I do not think that somebody who believes that their communications should not be monitored or recorded without their consent and who refuses to question that belief is a slave to dogma.
I guess I just figured that those with radical beliefs became kind of immune to mainstream views, having rejected them. But you bring up a good point; it can be taxing to be viewed as a fringe element when you feel like you're the one who's right. I can see that being really frustrating.
Anyway, I'm not entirely sure I agree with this:
> The thing you seem to be missing is that there are no “neutral” beliefs.
If one knows nothing about an issue (concerning some status quo behavior), it would be wise for them not to take an action on that issue without first learning more about it. But until they learn about the issue, would we really consider them to have a "positive" belief on the issue?
What about when they knew a few scattered facts but didn't necessarily have the whole picture? Again, we would not want them to take a stance. (Or, at least, I wouldn't.) Would that count as a "positive" action?
I'm not certain if inaction is necessarily endorsement. True, you are allowing something to happen... but you're allowing a lot of things to happen every day, things that perhaps should be changed or stopped but that you don't have the relevant knowledge of or the means to address.
Anyway, I'm generally with you on the NSA stuff... not feeling too comfortable with what they're doing. But radicalization and ideology kind of fascinate me (mostly from a philosophical perspective) so it's always interesting to explore these interactions (though they often devolve into flame wars, sadly).
EDIT: Perhaps you could claim one has a moral obligation to research and judge the impact of the social/economic system(s) they participate in. That feels like a separate (but related) discussion altogether.
If doing nothing is a 'positive action', than the words 'positive action' have no meaning. If think you mean to say that the effect doing nothing is to support the status quo, and morally equivalent to positive action supporting the the status quo, I still disagree, but you're on firmer ground.
Apart from that, all you need to do is thematically replace privacy rights & surveillance with class struggle & worldwide revolution and this is pure Bolshevism.
I don't understand why you equate class struggle and global revolution with Bolshevism, or the implication that there's anything Orwellian about those things. That's completely disingenuous. There are several well known political traditions which advocate class struggle and global revolution but which at the same time have always fiercely been opposed to Bolshevism. Anarchist communism, left-wing communism, etc...
I almost agree with this, were it not equivocating two different senses of the phrase “possible reason”.
There's no legitimate reason for people to support these programs and so it is pointless and even harmful for us to talk about possible reasons.
There are possible reasons to support these programs, but they're not legitimate or sensible or reasonable or good. And that's precisely why it is harmful to talk about possible reasons to support these programs. You make it harder for people to be sure in their own minds that they are as fucked up as they seem, which makes it harder to build resistance to them, which is an urgent necessity. It might sound like what I'm talking about is immaterial, but it's not. To build resistance you need morale, to have morale you need at the very least to have the surety that you're right. To participate in the endless repetition of half-baked, rational-sounding defences of the indefensible is to make it harder for those who want to attack the indefensible to believe that they're not crazy. But we need them to believe that they're not crazy.
Obviously there is no objective universal criteria for legitimacy or morality or anything like that. It will come down to what your personal politics are, a fact which will itself be hugely influenced by your material position in the web of power relations that structures your social reality.
And then there's
> "It's entirely possible that there are some really horrific classified things that were stopped via similar spying activities, so intercepting some Gmail messages seems like a much less evil alternative."
"some Gmail messages"? How is this not belittling it? How is that, pardon my french, not a fucking joke to say at this stage to this audience?
And how is that list complete? Why does "sustaining power over domestic and foreign democratic interests" not show up in it? It's not reasoning to just throw out some things, two thirds of it being silly [in the context of legitimate reasons, which is what the post started out claiming to enumerate] and stopping with one nice thing that could be possible, while ignoring not so nice things that could also be possible. It's rationalization.
Are there potentially reasons why "terrorism" might in fact be a greater threat to our ideals and way of life then government power? Sure! Anything's possible. But such threats would need to be justified publicly, they can not be justified behind closed doors with classified documents.
This is, to me, the core point. Government exists to serve US, the People, not the other way around. And to maintain that order of things, government must be held accountable by the People. And we can't do that if our government operates in the shadows, behind a veil of secrecy - regardless of how they justify it.
I know how I'd vote ("fuck no"), but I don't think I could predict whether the amendment would pass.
It's worth keeping in mind that the government exists to serve all of us, not just us noisy nerds on Hacker News, and that we don't all agree on things that everyone on Hacker News believes we agree about.
In Defense of Anarchism by Robert Paul Wolff: http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/robert-paul-wolff-in-...
Democracy, by Monsieur Dupont: http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/monsieur-dupont-democ...
Democracy vs. Desire: Beyond the Politics of Measure, by Andy Robinson: http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/andy-robinson-democra...
Edit: I know there is no malice intended in this, and it's not directly related to the discussion at hand, but I would appreciate it if people didn't assume that my preferred pronoun set was he/him/his. In general, it's best to use they/them/their unless you've been explicitly asked to use otherwise.
A willingness by one side of a debate to consider arguments that favor the other side could be perceived (or misrepresented) as weakness and counted in favor of the debating opponent.
I prefer the system where we actually talk to each other to see which ideas make sense and which ones are insane instead of trying to debate via religion.
We're not congress, though, we're an interest group. We want congresspeople to debate, reason, and compromise; we ideally want interest groups to do the same, but I fear it may be necessary for at least some of us to be relentlessly consistent in our appearance, to counteract the relentlessness of the other sides (NSA, RIAA, etc.).
So do I, but we don't necessarily exist within that system.
Oh, wait. This is an Internet message board. Of course you can't.
For example, it's useful to look at the causes of various evil historical deeds because they shed light on how to prevent them from occuring. To say that exploring the causes of these deeds is tantamount to supporting them is to throw away any sense of rational discovery.
Edit: And also, it has to be said that trying to identify the motivations of an action from the perspective of the perpetrator far too often amounts to little more than apologetics and defence of the indefensible, empathising with the perpetrator and blaming the victim. I'm not saying it's never useful to consider, but it's not like it's an uncommon thing to do. Blaming the victim is nearly always the default in this culture.
This I very much doubt.The builders would have security clearances, because what they're building is classified. But builders would not need and would not have access to intelligence; they aren't analysts or policy makers. They probably have barely more information on intelligence than you or I, and only in the form of more solid rumors than we have access to.
The folks who do know that stuff are still following their own rules, so they can't tell us about them.
So we are all operating from an assymmetry of information. I'm really, really against the capabilities I've learned about so far, but I think it's likely that there are actual results that help NSA leadership rationalize these sorts of programs.
AKA paying the mortgage
Unless they are trying to stop Xenomorphs AND Old Ones at the same time, I'm not sure these measures are really justified.
When I look at history of things "Intelligence agencies" have prevented I see more things that are made up or self made than what the enemy forces did.
Seems like a bad idea to undermine the trust of most of the people (e.g. the tech industry) keeping your country afloat, if you ask me. And I really hope my fear here is unfounded...
By hosting in the US (or with something that the US claims jurisdiction over) you leave yourself open to other US agencies getting access, sometimes with valid legal documentation, or by just seizing the servers.
There's nothing you can do to stop the NSA having access, so you may as well assume that they've got it anyway. If you're worries about a targeted attack from NSA you're toast anyway, and if you're worries about them slurping the data - well, they're going to do it, so you can try to use encryption and hope everyone communicating with you is also encrypting. Obviously, this leaves you with metadata, which the NSA is also slurping.
But I agree that people saying "don't host in the US" seem to have it backwards quite often.
If you are based in, say, Russia, you have the FSS spying on you instead of the NSA, but the NSA is still spying on you, perhaps even harder, and you have less protection from them and third parties.
The fact that the Boston bombings still happened should be proof enough that these systems either A) Do not work or B) are not being used against this type of threat.
If it isn't in defense of incidents of domestic terror, what the fuck is it for?
Terrorism is a small subset of what the intelligence community supports. The majority of intelligence collection is used for strategic military planning and political decision making. See:
Maybe. (This is normally "bear-repellent amulet" type thinking, but I think there's a specific exemption in this case, in that there are good reasons why you'd see no evidence of the system's effectiveness: the government doesn't like to get the public riled up by terrorist threats--terrorism is entirely about riling-up, after all--and so, when the terrorism is caught ahead of time, you'd imagine they'd sweep it under the rug. I might be wrong, though; this still might be a bad justification!)
I'm quite sure that's exactly what the government likes to do. That's the very reason that "terrorism" is in the headlines as much as it is: it serves the government by allowing them to extend their powers and budgets enormously. Feed scary stories about "terrorism" to an uncritical public and they'll beg you to take away their "freedom" in exchange for greater "security".
Yes, it's a pointed example ("TERRIFIC ACTS OF ATROCITY!!!!1111"), but if you're going to tell me that "terrorism is entirely about riling-up", and therefore politics and powermongering aren't, I think pretty much all of known, including recent, history utterly destroys that argument.
Because it was happening all the time before
More people have suffered in Gitmo than were injured in the Boston attack, and more people died from drone strikes than when the towers fell.
I always think about the movie "Carlitos Way" with Andy Garcia, where he plays a ruthless gangster but he develops a conscience. One day this kid crosses him but instead of killing the kid, he gives him a break, then at the end as he is giving this life up and going straight, running to catch his train, this kid pops up and kills him. The U.S. has been this ruthless gangster through the cold war, securing energy supplies, etc, now Obama comes in and thinks he is going to give the U.S. a conscience but unfortunately some guy lost his mother, wife and daughter during Iraq or in another instance and he doesn't care that you have a conscience now. The bottom line is that the U.S. has to watch it's back for a long time because they made a lot of enemies on the road to become the "mob boss", super power of the world.
The nobility of man is partially predicated on our ability to carry on and build and dream without giving into fear, rational or otherwise.
The only way out of this mess is to accept that sometimes losses will exist and to be able to overcome them when they happen--even if you've built in N layers of security some day somebody somewhere will cut through N+1 of them, and to pretend otherwise is folly.
It's time for us to grow some fucking backbone.
The only thing that has changed, is the bureaucracy acquired a massive amount of new money and power after 9/11 and they're unwilling to give any of it up. This despite the fact that the threat isn't even remotely as great as they've claimed for the past decade. The security theater production - eg most of what the TSA does at airports, in which they just pretend to work security - is meant to keep Americans living in constant fear.
The US Government's fear business has been booming, worth a couple hundred billion a year these days.
It is possible that he wasn't lying about certain other issues, and concede that he has long been reasonably concerned with poverty in the U.S., but it's clear that the whole "civil liberties crusader" persona he adopted as a senator was nothing more than a facade -- this despite the fact the he taught constitutional law!. It's become apparent (to me, at least) that to Obama, liberty comes in a very distant third after security and prosperity. That's a legitimate position to hold, but the lies he told about this issue to get elected make him just another lying pol.
I do admit the possibility, namely that Obama did hold these civil libertarian beliefs prior to being elected, but gave them up as a practical measure once he learned of the threats we are confronted with. To me, that approach is even more contemptible (you know the Franklin quote "those who would give up liberty..."), so I prefer to give Obama the benefit of the doubt and assume he was simply misleading us with quotes like these:
“This (Bush) administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not. There are no short-cuts to protecting America.”
--Barack Obama (Aug. 1, 2007)
You couldn't be bothered to vote for a third party?
Now you're telling me that will all these apparatus they missed Beavis & Butthead there? (yes, that's what they were) And they had several warnings that went ignored and didn't depend on surveillance.
Looks like extreme incompetency or that they weren't looking for that in the first place.
That said, I've built and run several security consulting practices in the DC area, and consequently have done hiring interviews for dozens of people who were NSA employees (1 of which we ended up hiring). Absolutely none of them have even the slightest apprehension about the nature of the work they were doing (so much as they were able to comment about it during interviews).
In fact, prior to the Snowden leaks, the NSA was pretty much at the bottom of my list for government agencies doing shit I disliked. They have a pretty clear scope and charter (which we've come to learn has been muddied).
But no one I've talked to, either who works there or works at a contractor in the DIB, thinks they've done anything wrong. Did you read those batshit NSA talking points that came out yesterday from Al Jazeera's FOIA request? They believe those things.
They think they're doing important, valuable work to protect the country. I can only imagine that internally within NSA there has been dissent about some of the stuff that's come out. Maybe people have resigned over it, maybe they've sent strongly-worded emails to their bosses. I really hope there was a great deal of dissent about the "intentionally fuck up crypto standards that we push to other branches of the government", but I doubt we'll ever hear much about it.
Your questions could just as easily refer to people who work on SEO spam, or targeted advertisements (I'm not saying those things are equivalent, but they're also jobs I've heard people on here posturing morally about).
Have you considered the possibility that not everyone shares the same moral standard and ideology? People came from different backgrounds and have different experiences, and most things are not black and white, but different shades of gray in this world.
I'm sure there are people who consider the Fourth Amendment to be obsolete just like there are people who consider the same for the Second Amendment.
I'm not saying I agree with it, but for people who believe they are actually serving their country, and in this era's unique geopolitical landscape, all means are justified, they WOULD be proud of their work for the NSA.
You came across as condescending due to the fact that you put yourself on a moral high ground from the phasing of the question.
These people are Wrong. We are Right, because we stand for personal privacy and liberty--ideals incompatible with their ideals.
There's the line in the sand.
Like a poster above mentioned, what IF thousands of lives are saved by sacrificing the privacy of a few million people? Is that worth it? If you say no, then what if I ask you the lives could be that of your loved ones?
Just want to stress from a different perspective, my family grew up poor in a 3rd world country, and they laugh at American's obsession with human rights and they just say "that's what people do if they never needed to worry about putting food on their table".
It's all a matter of perspective actually, and you will NEVER have a productive conversation without being able to understand what the other side is coming from.
"Just want to stress from a different perspective, my family grew up poor in a 3rd world country, and they laugh at American's obsession with human rights and they just say "that's what people do if they never needed to worry about putting food on their table"."
And you know why it's a 3rd world country? Because they lived how they had to and not how they ought to. Progress is not made by simply putting food on one's table.
Look, moral relativism has its place and all, but it lacks explanatory power. Waffling because there's no objective factual right way of doing things keeps you from doing anything meaningful--it's the cowards' way out.
If you want to resort to name calling then so be it, I've met my share of condescending people who always put themselves on a moral pedestal.
So your answer to everyone living in fear, in let's say Juarez, Mexico is that they need to be out in the streets protesting against the psychotic drug cartels, because that's how they "ought to" live, since you know third world country and all?
And yeah, maybe that's what needs to happen. Tyrants have never been disposed of by hiding indoors and hoping they'll go away.
I totally agree that people have varying beliefs on this stuff and for some this might be just as noble as any other way of serving their country.
Because losing their job and being charged with a felony for breaking a TS clearance is totally worth doing that for you. The NSA isn't a startup in stealthmode. I can guarantee you that some HNers know NSAers, and no doubt many HNers are NSAers, but there are very strong reasons why they're not participating in this dialogue.
Read the Wikileaks documents. Triviality. Small-thinking. Nonstrategic low-value goals being pursued. The diplomatic equivalent of spam. Read it, and you will be convinced there is no bear in the woods, no boogie man under your bed that the NSA can't tell you about.
And that last 0.0001%? We can afford that price for freedom. Total transparency won't hurt America at all.
I don't like the fact that they're doing it, but presuming that they should operate in total transparency just so that the silicon valley "proper thinkers" won't assume the worst is fairly naive, IMO. They believe they're fighting a critical intelligence war, and secrecy is an integral and necessary part of that battle.
I wouldn't work there, but I respect the people who do, both for their technical ability and for their patriotism. (I may not agree, but I can respect.) In particular, they're making significant individual sacrifices in order to do the work they do. It's not the same sacrifice as doing IED patrol in Afghanistan, but anyone doing high level crypto for NSA could likely make more money and have a cushier life in the private sector.
Where does the funding come from? From the tax payers. Who gets spied on? Everyone and their dog. So yeah, they're making a sacrifice, but even bigger sacrifices are forced on just about everyone else.
This would be a much more sensible argument if they weren't going around outright coercing Silicon Valley's tech companies into becoming their tools.
If the NSA wants to spy on everyone, they should do it the hard way!
That's very unlikely to happen, because it's all classified and secret or top secret or whatever.
There are a few interviews around.
Here's an ex-director (He stopped being director in 1978) http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b039vhp0 - this is the first time he speaks about his time at GCHQ
Here's a radio documentary from 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p007fqc4
I have written to the BBC and asked what conditions the agencies laid-down but I did not receive a reply.
I'm certainly not a fan of his ideology, but he gives an insight from someone who came from the NSA and is supportive of the executive branch's behavior.
My only objection to the NSA stuff is not the collection of information, but the asymmetry. Snooping on all my emails isn't wrong because email should be private, it's wrong because you have power over me by knowing my email without me knowing yours. Fortunately, things like facebook and twitter acclimatizing people to publishing everything about their lives which will eventually eliminate this asymmetry.
So what? By my standards, they're doing the wrong thing, and my standards are what count to me.
It honestly didn't seem too far off the "Good Will Hunting" recruiting scene. From the start of the conversation all he wanted to talk about was what he did, but at the same time was incredibly vague. When I asked him for a little clarifying information just to keep my coherence of the conversation, he couldn't contain the gloating huge smile on his face. He responded, "I'm not allowed to say. It's classified." At that moment I understood why he had abruptly started a conversation with me. It was as if the whole conversation up until that point had been a setup for him to tell me how cool he was. Of course, I didn't see it that way, but the reality distortion field that he lived in left him with no question that he had the coolest job ever. There didn't appear to be any awareness in his reality that perhaps I intentionally didn't apply to the NSA, nor would I accept an offer from the NSA if one was given.
People like this exist. I know living in a progressive city it seems hard to believe, but not everywhere is like that, and there are people who have positive feelings, even today, towards the US war machine. People who believe we aren't at a juncture where we should take a step back and reflect on what we are doing in the world.
One other hypothesis I have on NSA workers is that working for the NSA is working for the most powerful government in the world. Some people crave power more than even wealth, and some of those people see the US government as the ultimate power on earth. I can't necessarily argue with that logic. That may also be a motive to work for the NSA.
I have seen some g-men and they perfectly fit this. The g-men that tried to recruit me also went for the same route, trying to sell the mission as something super mysteriously cool only a few select even know about. Thats the lure. Like a cult.
I have firsthand knowledge of engineers who work at the NSA, although I have no affiliation with any government agency.
What I can tell you is that these engineers believe that the NSA does not intentionally spy on Americans. This is something that the NSA constantly tells itself. They have various controls and procedures to minimize the data of US persons. They go to meetings about how not to spy on US persons.
I am not saying that these controls are effective. I am just saying that they exist, and they are very visible to NSA personnel. This creates the impression that the NSA takes the matter seriously.
As for non-US persons--they tend to view the US in some kind of infowar with various other countries. What you do in wars is things that aren't very nice. Since they are all adversaries, they act adversarially. So it is A-OK to spy on Germany or whatever, since everybody spies on everybody. The US is just better at it than most.
As for being "just a paycheck"--I think some of them feel very patriotic about it. In their mind, they are assisting their country in a warzone. They are under the impression that their actions save lives.
I gather that the whole thing is very compartmentalized and there are many who found out about PRISM and all these other programs at the same time as the rest of us. However there is a tendency to give your coworkers the benefit of the doubt when potentially harmful allegations come to light.
Do any of the Snowden revelations contradict these beliefs? Having the capability to spy on millions of Americans' Gmail accounts is not the same as unchecked use of that capability. It's interesting that in all the leaks, we haven't (to my knowledge) been given a single example of true abuse of access to intercepts that wasn't caught and punished. Were they just really careful with that information while careless with everything else Snowden made off with?
No, they actually confirm them, or have up until this time. For example, take a look at this screenshot, part of the XKeyscore leaks:
Now to you or me, this is a combo box that anyone could fill out falsely to pull data for Americans, possibly without being caught. To an NSA employee, this is an important safeguard of American privacy that ensures anyone using this system is either doing it for a legitimate intelligence purpose, or, committing perjury and/or treason. Exact same set of facts, just a more favorable interpretation.
Second example. According to Snowden's leak, XKeyScore led to the successful capture of 300 terrorists . So that leak would confirm the prior belief that we are in an infowar and these programs contribute to American defense.
It will be interesting to follow this new leak, as it seems quite clear to me that the NSA is deliberately and specifically spying on American companies even if they are retaining data only on non-American persons. But I expect this fact to be overlooked by NSA employees because they will only run queries about foreign persons.
Finally, I have very much gotten a "take it up with the legislative/judicial branches" vibe from the NSA. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled  that a foreign alien outside the U.S. has no fourth amendment protection against search and seizure. Further, SCOTUS has ruled "That searches made at the border [e.g. of US persons], pursuant to the longstanding right of the sovereign to protect itself by stopping and examining persons and property crossing into this country, are reasonable simply by virtue of the fact that they occur at the border, should, by now, require no extended demonstration." In other words, the US government has the legal right to search anything at the border, full-stop. The fact that the NSA has procedures that minimize searching the network traffic of US persons goes well above and beyond the constitutional requirement, which allows anyone's data data to be searched as it leaves the US, US person or not. So, if you don't like the law, take it up with SCOTUS, or start a constitution convention, or pass an act of congress, or something. But the NSA does not view themselves as the bad guy for doing much less than what the legislative and judicial branches have authorized them to do. It's like getting mad at a cop for making weed arrests; you don't go after the cop, you go after the state law, or the DEA, or federal drug law, or something. Border searches have been authorized by the very highest authorities in American government, the NSA is just the cop that executes the search according to the principles established by the higher authorities.
The people who are working for the NSA are people in the security community. You can see it in the phrasing on some of the material that's been release (WIN! stood out to me w/r/t one of the previously released docs regarding some MITM scenario).
Obviously there are some very smart people in the community who are working as contractors for the government. Ostensibly this community has had a rich tradition of civil liberties, and the current generation is now selling them out for as much money as they can at the fastest rate possible.
Two years ago, we had people like Charlie Miller saying "No more free bugs."
Look where we are today and ask yourself if Charlie has ever had any ideals outside of looking out for number one.
I am turning sour on the security community.
Problem is, if he doesn't, who will? I think that one thing that might have changed in our generation, is that we have the distinct impression that nobody has our back. I'm not saying that politics are more messed up than they used to be, it's just more blatant. Nobody gives a fuck that people are dying in the streets, that we're invading countries to enrich defense contractors, and that we're bankrupting our own country just "because we won't be disrespected". So one guy decides that, fuck it, he has one life, and he'll have his fun. You may call this guy coward, selfish, anything. And maybe you're right. My guts agree with you. My head tells me he's on to something.
As for the civilization is dying thing, I'm not prescient, so I can't give a clever answer. But even if it is so, that has no impact on what the optimal behavior is for someone purely selfish. Like good king Louis XV used to say, while bankrupting the kingdom of France: "After Me, the Flood".
Here's what bugs me about all the people chiming in about how messed up this all is. It's like you all think we live in some sort of utopia whereby we are the only ones doing this sort of surveillance.
Every single sophisticated foreign intelligence is doing this back at us, their citizens and their enemies - probably with more resources and state sponsorship. China, Russia, Israel, Iran, etc. Why wouldn't we continue to push the boundaries and try and have a leg up on this? Should we bury our heads in the sand and hope that China doesn't pwn our entire national electric grid? (google it)
Additionally, these actors are directly targeting and stealing intellectual property, reverse engineering and compromising state secrets in order to gain military & intelligence advantages directly from US based companies (see Boeing - google it).
State actors are embedding backdoor trojans into US destined products (example: look at the wikipedia page on Huawei)
Fundamental extremists do exist and want to destroy Americans at any cost (including their lives). Why wouldn't we surveil their cell phones, email and IM accounts?
Before every gets up in arms about this, consider the world in which we live first.
They should. Ever heard of the practice of getting a warrant before surveilling someone's communications? (google it). At this point this seems to be a foreign concept to so many people because one side is suggesting no spying at all, while the other side is suggesting they're okay with the NSA spying on everyone. There's a middle ground, and it's called getting a warrant.
How do you know the difference between a person who is a threat, and a person who is not a threat, before you look at that person a little to determine they are not a threat?
How much looking is needed to determine "Not a Threat" and put them in the ignore pile?
How long before you should look a little again to make sure they're still not a threat?
Also, how does this not doubly so go for certain agencies and politicians? The transparency mostly goes one way, doesn't it? How deeply does the public need to be able to inspect these agencies before they can be sure they're not a threat? How long before it needs to look again?
Re: your second sentence, my mind asks: "How many people have been tortured?"
My gut tells me that the percent of people alive today who have been tortured by the US intelligence community is nil. I don't even know how to guess. A few hundred? Divided by 6 billion? 5 X 10^-6 percent of the world's population, maybe?
Is the outrage is equal to the hazard in the situation, or is the outrage is artificially high compared to that hazard?
I am not arguing torture is good or bad, I'm specifically saying it as a supporting argument feels like a distraction.
Politicians live in the public eye. This has been shown time and again, in the US and elsewhere, that especially in the Internet age they get all the oversight needed. Obviously the same is becoming true for agencies, given the prevalence of leaks and whistle-blowing.
> "How many people have been tortured?"
How would I know? e.g.
This blob of classified is, to those without clearance, just one, big, and in parts kind black, blob. It seems to like to snatch up things and return them 50 years later. Anything connected to that blob is by default important to me.
There also was something recently about something like this on HN, but I couldn't find the link since the exact title escaped me. IIRC the defense attorney mentioned the plaintiff had been waterboarded 118 times, and the judge called him to order, because torture is classified. The question is, are some things mistakes just mistakes made in good faith, or does this structure of power consider itself beyond accusation out of principle?
> I don't even know how to guess. A few hundred? Divided by 6 billion? 5 X 10^-6 percent of the world's population, maybe?
It would not be 0.00something of some imaginary unnamed unit, it would not be a pure number in a vacuum, it would hundreds of people, each of them indivisible. And the severity matters, too. Don't forget the drone strikes; being killed and then first responders getting hit with a second, delayed strike, is "just" one event, but for how much torture does it count? Why can't honest mistakes not be acknowledged, and maybe even explained? Why can't there be consequences for mistakes out of neglect or other reasons? Because everybody else has to go first? Then we're fucked, because everybody else says that, too.
I would love for US media and citizens to expose such shortcomings in my country and all, nothing could be more helpful and welcome. It's not about pointing fingers because others aren't as bad as the US, not to mention worse, or because anyone could claim to sit on a high horse, it's about everybody else being that bad or worse, and the US being so immensely powerful and influential. In my mind, the US should be the best bet against such things, not the country that does them the best.
And to me a deep, continuous concern is not "outrage", either. Declaring something "too much outrage" is not a valid argument for something, and a useless argument against something. It's really kind of a red herring.
How total has control to become before you start worrying about it falling into the wrong hands, into real deep shit at some point down the road? How would total control be safeguarded? Would even honestly striving for total control for the sake of "good" not be an argument for all other states to completey controlling their own territory, too? How would you try to ensure that you'd a.) always stay "two-tiered but good" and b.) never loose the race against the other fascist systems?
So, assuming the answer is "you really can't, you just have to hope and work hard and what not", how is the race itself not bad and crazy? Then why play with such kind of fires? Because it's like a social nuclear bomb and we can't even comprehend the scope before we detonated a few, a chain reaction with states that are just interacting with each other and all have more scapegoats than things to excuse? Why can't the information age not be the age of being well informed, instead of being well informed on?
> Politicians live in the public eye.
Are you serious? In their private lives maybe, but these power structures are decisively not (trying to be) in the public eye, and as far as individuals are in the public eye.. if almost all things they say are soundbites, and if the public stops adding all those little soundbites and actions together, and has hardly any long-term memory, then the systems the "visible" individuals work for and enforce on others still becomes effectively invisible and untouchable.
> This has been shown time and again, in the US and elsewhere, that especially in the Internet age they get all the oversight needed.
Please, take me to that planet, I just don't see it sorry :/ The internet tells me more and more about how much oversight is lacking, am I holding it the wrong way or something?
> Obviously the same is becoming true for agencies, given the prevalence of leaks and whistle-blowing.
Yeah, and given how those are being treated and mostly ignored, up until Snowden anyway. In reaction to which the NSA said they'd cut down on employed engineering a bit and use more machines, and effectively you're saying this is getting better, well enough fast enough, so nobody should worry about this particular thing - because there was this one guy with this one set of documents, and because you're sure there will be more?
The thing is, the worse stuff like this gets, the harder blowing the whistle on it will be. How much change did whistlebowers achieve so far? Any, at all? And do you think it made secret police in general more transparent, or more opaque?
Do I understand then that the US government is, in this definition, treats everyone like second-class citizens? I'm not quite sure what the punishment has been.
> it would hundreds of people,
A few people are people, a million people are a statistic. Quite true.
> And to me a deep, continuous concern is not "outrage", either. Declaring something "too much outrage" is not a valid argument for something, and a useless argument against something. It's really kind of a red herring.
The hazard/outrage measurement is not a red herring, it's an established risk communication methodology, developed academically in the late 70s (published in the early 90s) to aid environmental activist groups, corporations and governments alike in eliciting effective, responsible actions from corporations or the public, respectively.
> Please, take me to that planet, I just don't see it sorry :/ The internet tells me more and more about how much oversight is lacking, am I holding it the wrong way or something?
Not knowing the scope of our ignorance is a reflection of less oversight, not more. If you know more and more the breadth of what we don't know, oversight is increasing.
> Are you serious?
I think so, yes. I see regularly reports far and wide of misconduct by politicians. I feel like they're regularly being taken to task in their communities. How TMZ would you like it to be for them before you feel they're watched sufficiently?
On the whistleblowers, I really know so little about the topic it'd be dishonest for me to try and add anything on the subject.
Because we're Americans, goddamnit, and that's not what we do.
You're more likely to die by lightning strike than terrorism.
You mean the police right? They kill drastically more innocent civilians every year in America than terrorists do. And that has been true on average for decades.
You mean automobiles? Drunk driving?
Diabetes and heart disease from high fructose corn syrup and smoking?
Yeah, it's the evil doers that we should be giving up all of our liberties to fight. Because they're a big bad threat - somewhere between the number of people that drown by putting their heads in buckets of water, and the number of people that die every year from 60" televisions crushing them.
In fact, the thing that would bring the best rest to my soul would be the expectation of my fellow citizens to pick up the next day where they left off.
You win by showing your opponent that whatever they do it does not matter. That's true strength.
You know how many rigs, refineries, and lives we've lost building our energy sector? How many times Galveston has gotten back after getting wiped off the map by hurricanes?
We're strong, we're stubborn, and we rebuild and recover from any disaster without giving into fear. That's the legacy I want to leave.
We live in a world where a foreign power invaded our soil, captured our capital and burnt it to the ground, and we did not suspend our Constitution to deal with the threat.
We live in a world where an internal faction, in rebellion, threatened to end our existence as a country, and we did not suspend our Constitution to deal with the threat*
We have increasingly abandoned that ideal in favor of "the Constitution is not a suicide pact", but we have faced existential threats before and survived them.
So I, personally, need a stronger argument than "there are threats out there".
* Lincoln did suspend habeas corpus, and legal scholars can argue over whether it was done in the proper form, but the Constitution does permit the suspension in times of rebellion.
There's not really much debate on the matter -- from the contemporary decision in Ex Parte Merryman and the numerous other district court and circuit court decisions finding against the suspension until it was abandoned up through a chain of decisions repeating its logic (the most notable recent example being Hamdi v. Rumsfeld), the pretty clear weight of decisions from the courts -- and there's not a whole lot of contrary scholarship -- has been that, to the extent that the writ can be suspended, it can't be suspended unilaterally by the executive branch.
> the Constitution does permit the suspension in times of rebellion.
Actually, the Constitution does not expressly permit the suspension of habeas corpus in any circumstances, it (in Art. I, Sec. 9, among limits on Congress' powers) prohibits the suspension of the writ of it with some exceptions to the prohibition.
And the only legitimate argument about protecting against terrorism, people are starting to realize that the threat is miniscule and is amplified due to cognitive interpretations of data.
No, they don't want to destroy Americans, they want to destroy America through terror. Killing Americans is a means, not the ends.
And, on the other side, American patriots do exist and want to preserve the freedoms that define America at any cost (including their lives).
It's entirely possible many of the component parts needed for this were developed as "black box" (i.e., they were told not to ask questions as to why this was being developed, and the developers just assumed it would be used on a foreign network.) This is done commonly for graduate students working on weapons research in government labs who do not have the appropriate clearance, for instance. They need to know an explosive force is acting a certain way to model their calculations, but never is the student told exactly who or why that explosive force might ever occur. In fact, they may be told it's a completely theoretical exercise.
A surprisingly small number of people are actually needed to "deploy" something like this in the wild, if you're willing to pay for enough testing to ensure your black boxes work exactly as promised...
And if they were just engineering small parts it was probably hard to see the whole picture, even more so to judge if it's right or wrong.
However, this big PR outrage will probably have them come to their senses and crumble down the NSA workforce. Checks and balances.
This seems extremely optimistic to me. If you're assuming these people joined up because of good marketing by the government, how can you possibly argue that a "big PR outrage" will be an easy and immediate knock on the head resulting in "oh hey, this is terrible?"
I don't doubt that some of the people in these positions were lured in with the promise of helping America or Americans. But at this point they live in the machine. They are its cogs and wheels. That's a very different situation from those of us on the outside looking in, thinking how black and white it all is.
The government and parts of the media are still managing to convince many people -- people who don't work for the government at all -- that this is actually not a bad thing. The idea that they're not concentrating time and resources to keeping the faithful in the fold is unfathomable to me.
Some might see this and bail. But I think many more are somewhere along the spectrum from convinced to brainwashed.
Here's the bitch of the situation, and the part that most who think like you do not understand -- the people that you're hoping will "come to their senses", if they take the oaths they signed seriously (and they signed oaths, the breaking of which are punishible by imprisonment) -- are not allowed to possess (ie, read, since that would involve having a copy of the document on the device being used to read it, even if only temporarily) the documents driving "this big PR outrage", because even though those documents are out in public, they are not automatically declassified.
This is utterly the same as the people who claimed reddit was irrelevant until reddit readership got to be some huge percentage (70M, about the same as Pinterest) of the population.
I also have grad classes with many current employees amd contractors. They are regular nerds. They like building things. They like breaking things. Most of all, they are really smart and talented and pretty straight edge. Usually from a small town.... I have nothing bad to say about any of them. Honestly great people.
They a lot of times end up in the government because of really huge scholarships they give you like hot cakes where I'm at. 20k a year stipend plus free school room board books conferences. After that they are required to work for a few years in the government.
1.03. Approve software only if they have a well-founded belief that it is safe, meets specifications, passes appropriate tests, and does not diminish quality of life, diminish privacy or harm the environment. The ultimate effect of the work should be to the public good.
2.09. Promote no interest adverse to their employer or client, unless a higher ethical concern is being compromised; in that case, inform the employer or another appropriate authority of the ethical concern.
5.12. Not punish anyone for expressing ethical concerns about a project.
If you've not read the SE Code of Ethics, I urge you to take a few minutes to glance over a few of the points.
"With recent revelations about the roles played by Palantir, SAIC, Booz Allen Hamilton, and the NSA, in alarmingly unconstitutional acts, what are people's feelings about these entities recruiting so heavily from our CS program?"
I think the replies are a good representation of what I hear in person from many of my peers, and I don't think the NSA et al. are hurting to find recruits.
Choice quote: ‘Out of the 6 or 7 people I met, everyone but one person responded along the lines, “I believe everything the United States Government does is good.”’
Apparently he was happy producing these tools for use on foreigners, but then they were turned against the domestic population and he had a change of heart. The first interview is an interesting overview from him of how the surveillance works - pulling together all the threads of someone's life from the internet and compiling them into one record giving an overview of their entire life.
I imagine people doing this are both proud and feel they are doing some good, because they've bought into the lie that this is primarily used to combat terrorism or other terrible crimes.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" - Upton Sinclair
Those parsers googlers wrote for the "white" FISA-based datasets probably also work on the "black" datasets from cable-taps.
Contributed to open-source? Your software is probably running at Ft. Meade too. Are you proud of that?
I am not sure if they are proud themselves-- but some people see their work and probably grin.
Also, a caveat on making judgement about information being released piece-meal: You can pick a sentence out of an essay to make the author look to be at fault.
Much (most?) of it is compartmented. One engineer is only working on a small piece of the whole system and almost never is aware of the scope of the entire project.
But that will never happen, because bureaucracy doesn't shrink. Period.
This explains my libertarian-leanings --> laws aren't written by the people, they are written by those who stand to benefit most directly from their passing. And the devil of a bill is always in its details, which laymen (sometimes even the congressman presenting the bill) can't understand/decipher. Read the Pulitzer-prize winning biography "The Powerbroker" if you want a lesson in how to abuse the public's ignorance through the cunning drafting of legislation. There is no CTRL-Z in DC.
There are movements, gaining traction, to introduce state-sponsored "internets" - because this is the path we have prescribed to the world. Yet such a profound outcome was not mindfully chosen by the people, it was incidental to the law.
We therefore have forfeited the greatest invention of our time through our collective lack of understanding and/or vulnerable&reactionary mindsets.
I'll be spending the rest of my life ruminating on this simple fact: the internet is sick, and my government is the disease.
 - And now that caricature-metaphor has a literal face, drawn by one of NSA's own--if you ever wanted to know what Big Brother "looked like."
You may want to consider the economics of why the Internet has turned out the way it is. Why do these companies feel they need to collect so much personal information that it can be abused?
I think the answer is clear. There is no money to be made from a decentralized and free Internet by Silicon Valley...
Up until recently you could have made all sorts of arguments about the rights of women or minorities and how another form of segregation will settle into place -- because it's "natural"
I am sorry for my tone, sir. I didn't want to educate you or spray my opinion in your face. But please understand me, it drives me mad when people still believe that it's natural that the World, the Country, or the Cities must be ruled by one leader. To me it's as if somebody is truly believing that the earth is flat and want's to convince everybody else about that.
Small group, large group, we're all monkeys.
Websites like Reddit and HN are extremely vulnerable.
Hijacking my comment here to talk about a big concern of mine. This EFF article argues that there's a place for Anonymity on the Internet , and I think most of us agree. Especially if we emphathize with those in Iran, China, Syria, and the like.
But anonymity is also the key to websites like Reddit and Twitter (including HN). These websites represent breakthroughs in sociology: memes; open, real-time, transnational, popular (upvote/downvote, retweetable) discourse.
It's not an understatement to say that Reddit, Twitter, even H.N. are some of the greatest manifestations of the Internet-age -- look at the impact they have had on mainstream media and raising the bar for popular discourse.
(Ex.1: I would argue that the Snowden revelations would not have persisted in the public conscious nearly as long if it hadn't been for Reddit's continued rage.
Ex.2: As it is, news outlets hawk Reddit/HN for story-material, and build the story's narrative with Twitter.)
But what HNers must realize is that: The mainstream Internet __can not become__ the Tor-visited Dark-Net that many believe is inevitable -- WITHOUT losing its positive sociological impact.
Yet without the perception of anonymity, sites like Reddit will stop flourishing.
Reddit's culture thrives on anonymity, throwaway accounts, and people being themselves without representing themselves.
There are two issues at play. Now obvious: 1.) Reddit usernames can be mapped to people's actual identity. Not as obvious: 2.) Users up and down votes can also be mapped to their identity. Reddit as a dev-team has retreated from the idea of providing HTTPS for its voting/web API, so people's actions (aside from comments) can be mapped as well. I tried to raise this point 5 months ago . I know there's an argument to be made that SSL/HTTPS is useless anyway (just use Tor!, they say), but the bigger question remains:
Can a mainstream community like Reddit exist in tomorrow's Internet?
People and the press are paranoid about Facebook/Google privacy because its users identify themselves explicitly, but the reality is no different with sites like Reddit - just the perception. Just think about how much more is shared on a site like Reddit by its members because of their pseudonyms!
Few people aside from the avid Tor users have realized this.
Reddit is the internet "as we know it," and I feel the Internet is about to change.
In hindsight - Google's initial "no pseudonyms" policy for Google+ was prescient -- though the company eventually capitulated to popular demand for them.  Perhaps they wished to save each of us the unsavory realization that aliases exist in name-only (pun intended). :/
- The evidence seems to be that the bigger the government, the wider the gap between the rich and the poor. This might sound counter-intuitive, but that's the date we have. The rest is pure speculation. It could be that there is some hidden variable that makes the rich/poor gap and government grow at the same time, but it's not enough to just repeat some dogma;
- I am for communities, but the only point of communities is to make the individuals that compose them happy. If a community is thriving by some metric but the individuals that compose them are unhappy, the community is pointless of even counter-productive.
I think there has been a very pernicious, detrimental focus in recent history on ensuring "happiness." Life is not about being happy. Communities do not exist to make people happy.
A thriving community is one that provides needed support to its members, "needed" and "support" being variables defined by those members.
> The evidence seems to be that the bigger the government, the wider the gap between the rich and the poor. This might sound counter-intuitive, but that's the date we have.
Define "bigger". Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark, all have governments that are significantly more activist in the daily lives of their citizens, and the wealth gap does not exist in those countries like it does the US.
I don't know many that would say, per capita, these governments are "smaller". But they do actively redistribute wealth, a large part through social health care, higher education and retirement systems.
Countries with most Billionaires:
1) USA – 409
2) China – 317
3) Russia – 88
4) Germany – 61
5) England – 56
6) India – 53
7) Switzerland – 41
8) Brazil – 33
9) Taiwan – 32
10) France – 31
10) Turkey – 31
Billionaires certainly exist in every country. The count of billionaires in a particular country, however, does not actually talk to the wealth gap in a country. I'm simply stating that it is suppressed by wealth redistribution, and is not reliably a function of the size of a government, nor am I sure how one would go about meaningfully measuring the size of a government.
I am familiar with the argument and you are free to think that, of course. My view is that happiness is our ultimate internal gauge. Any alternative to wanting to be happy is typically some form of religion (including some political ideologies). I am willing to sacrifice for the people I love or even for strangers, but that's because it makes me happy. Most people will arrive at the same conclusion if they're honest with themselves.
> Define "bigger". Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark, all have governments that are significantly more activist in the daily lives of their citizens, and the wealth gap does not exist in those countries like it does the US.
I define "bigger" as government spending per capita. Take this graph:
Then compare it with this one:
Give the NSA disclosures, the size and activity of the US military and the fact that the USA has the largest percentage of its citizens arrested of all countries in the world -- the majority for victimless crimes, it's maybe hard to argue that the other countries you mention have bigger or more intrusive governments.
I live in Germany and the only intrusion in my life is that I don't have to pay for health care.
Notice that I'm not anti-american by any means. I actually admire America and many of its achievements, and this is why its current direction depresses me.
Could you please link to this evidence? Certainly that doesn't seem to be the case in Europe, and in terms of relative equality in the 20th Century United Kingdom, I think it's the reverse, thanks to big government expansions such as the NHS.
It sounds counterintuitive because it's absolutely unabashedly false. Nordic countries, whose governments are bigger than any, have greater equality than 3rd world African countries, where government is non existent.
This is just more libercrazian BS; the data that you have is completely whack, which is probably why you didn't bother to cite it.
Is it Sergey Brin or Larry Page, before they moved to the US? Elon Musk? Peter Thiel?
Many Americans need not look further than their grandparents to see a 'foreigner' (and, excluding a few natives, the entire nation has been built by foreigners). Would it not makes sense to show the same courtesy for peoples privacy to people who weren't necessarily born here.
But it is infinitely more legal. The government has all sorts of restrictions on what it can do (e.g., the 4th amendment), that apply to citizens, but not foreign nationals.
If they are not even bothering to respect the distinction, it's the case that they violate both the spirit and the letter of the law without a care; it's a much more dangerous position of disrespect for regulation.
Infinitely. And I don't get the outrage that foreigners have that the American people aren't outraged that we are spying on foreigners. That's what spies do - for both sides. The electronic monitoring of foreign communications is the charter of the NSA. By the way, China is quite silent on all of this because they are hacking the shit out of the US trying to steal everything from political to military to commercial secrets.
The outrage about the NSA is domestic spying. Intercepting communications of Americans outside of the US is a gray area but doing it to Americans on US soil is completely against the NSAs charter, tramples due process, and takes a dump on the Constitution. Anyone who said that was ok needs to be thrown into prison.
Well, for many people, the spies have gone too far (and apparently you think they have domestically). To my mind what you are defending here is the building of a tyrannical superstate the likes of which the world has never seen, with absolutely no restrictions on spying because 'spies will be spies', and spying easily crosses boundaries. To apply that rule domestically and then give free reign when turned on others is the height of hypocrisy, and will gain you nothing anyway, because the NSA interprets anything involving foreigners or crossing a border as within their remit, and of course your laws have no meaning for fellow 5-eyes states in your view, so all your data is fair game to them, and they'll just have to share it with the NSA. If you don't like that and you think others should be spied on in the same way, frankly, why should we care?
If you accept restrictions on spying and gov. intrusion, they should apply equally to all people, at least that's what the founders of the US thought:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
They were responding to an unreasonable, tyrannical state which wanted far too much control of their lives, but now we have come full circle and the US, with UK connivance, is behaving in exactly the same way toward its vassal states and their citizens (in fact toward the entire world), and yet we still hear that as long as it is done to foreigners, it's ok, because everyone does this sort of thing. Well no, everyone doesn't, and because some governments do doesn't make it ok with the people concerned, just as its not ok with you. This spying should be cut back right to the essential purpose, which is protecting the nation from attack, not economic espionage, political espionage, or dragnet surveillance of any kind - that is just far too dangerous in my view.
The electronic monitoring of foreign communications is the charter of the NSA. By the way, China is quite silent on all of this because they are hacking the shit out of the US trying to steal everything from political to military to commercial secrets.
Great to hear that compared to the totalitarian regime in China, the US is not quite as evil, that's quite an achievement.
What is a valid cause of outrage is being spied (to this extent) from a country that states to be your partner/ally. More than outrage, it's a valid reason to change allies and commercial partners, too (or at least to seriously look around). I think this is stupid and probably very bad at long term for US tech industry.
Are you sure about that? IANAL, and I've not kept up with more recent laws, but the forth doesn't say anything about "citizens", it says "people".
We the People of the United States
There is no way to interpret "people" in that line as including Saudis and Chinese.
Michigan is admittedly weird but it's not technically another country.
The rest of the world needs to encrypt and, where possible, route around the damaged areas.
The same happens for social rights when moving countries: When moving, say from France to Australia, you temporarily or permanently lose your social cover: unemployment, health, retirement, unless you pay 2 systems at a time. Today's civilization is international and we ought to protect "mobile citizen" under an equality banner.
It's actually really short sighted, because by costing US companies the rest of the world as customers or forcing the rise of zero-knowledge companies, they're losing the ability to subpoena information on credible threats and actual criminals.
Google should change the algorithm to prefer sites that support HTTPS everywhere. Matt Cutts should make some video like: "Google uses over 200 different signals to determine page relevancy. Our users value privacy, so one of the signals we use is whether the site uses HTTPS. We tend to prefer to send search users to secure sites... blah blah blah ... Enabling HTTPS with PFS will increase your search rank. HTTPS will slow page load times, but the privacy boost exceeds the speed penalty for 99% of sites."
The only reason I don't use HTTPS always is because it slows down page loads, and page speed is huge for PPC performance, and big for SEO. Google needs to hardcode a "privacy" boost into the rankings and make that public.
Within a year, 80% of the web would be HTTPS.
I just see big "evil" vs small "evil." I'm not seeing much of a difference.
Also, would you be okay if another government had access to your data in Google's cloud?
You guys are probably not seeing the futility of it all.
If you think it's futile, I suggest you leave us to our, 'lost cause,' and get on with living in a world where things can't get better at all.
I am not sure I said they were equivalent-- they are two sizes of evil.
Besides, "stealing" is a relative term, and the government does not consider what it is doing as stealing.
A lot of peeps in HN seem to have this expectation that their data is somehow secure when they give it to a third-party. This is a completely false and an impossible expectation. To me, this _is_ and has been reality for a while. If an entity with resources really wants to get to your data, they will get to it. It doesn't matter if they steal or get a court order-- that, to them, is just semantics.
I'm not the one having trouble accepting this. It's just everyone suddenly realized this last week.
No one "has an expectation that their data is completely secure when they give it to a third party", you literally just made that up. Regardless, this statement is still different from the original implication that people were "stupid" because they would give their data to Google and have the audacity to be upset that the government stole it. But hey, don't let me disrupt your snarky, disingenuous bullshit? Hopefully you pretending strangers on the internet you assigned emotions to are dumb and you are smart helped your issues.
Looking forward to utterly insane snarky sentence that completely ignores that you are laughably incorrect followed with an emoticon! ;)
You also need to learn to quote properly since I did not claim anyone to be "stupid."
Also, it has not been shown that the government has stolen anything. People are upset that the government has an indirect mechanism to access their data. And I am saying that giving third-party your data implies that other entities will get to it if they want it.
Not looking forward to your ad-hominem reply. ;)
"Wait guys, let me get this straight: You guys are not okay with the US government accessing your data that Google has, but you are somehow okay with sharing your data with Google?
You guys are probably not seeing the futility of it all."
If you can type those two things so close together, you literally have zero self awareness. This started with you actually having the gall to imply that strangers on the internet stupid because of an insane projection you made up.
Now your brain has managed to twist you insulting random strangers into someone else trying to feel superior.
"Also, it has not been shown that the government has stolen anything. People are upset that the government has an indirect mechanism to access their data. And I am saying that giving third-party your data implies that other entities will get to it if they want it."
It takes a record breaking amount of obtuseness to claim that the government doesnt steal data and then saying "the government has an indirect mechanism to access this data". I genuinely am unable to accept that a human brain can cloud logical thought that much.
Anyway, you clearly are going to prop yourself up as superior in your own mind no matter how many times I quote you contradicting yourself and making no logical sense, so I'll leave you to whatever you hope to gain from being a disingenuous jerk to strangers on the internet over a point you quite literally made up...? Cheers.