Imagine European countries denying human rights to non citizens: Okay to torture a Somali? No problem throwing Americans in prison without trial? Sure, let's wiretap cell phones of all Turks in Europe? I don't think so.
Wait, Germany was actually shown to be engaging in surveillance of Turkish telecommunications... for 38 years.
And while you may argue that they're only targeting diplomats, policy makers, etc., NSA makes the same argument: they have to collect a lot to make it even possible to surveil the far smaller set that they target.
Furthermore, German politicians expressly talk about the need for intelligence on human traffickers, drug smugglers and terrorists as a justification to spy on Turkey. How does BND manage to spy on just the bad guys without getting the rest of the law abiding Turkish citizens in their dragnet?
So no offense but leave off with this faux moral superiority, as EU states certainly differentiate in their treatment between citizens and aliens for many "rights" that the state provides, just as the U.S. does. Just ask the Romanian immigrant to the U.K. that lost her 'welfare tourism' case in a recent final ruling in the ECJ.
That was actually a case from Germany, not the UK
However, I agree with your broader point that there is hypocrisy from all sides in this debate.
As for the question of Turkey being a valid target, let me remind you that several people in the Turkish government were planning a false flag operation in order to invade Syria.
Maybe. But how do they do that? Do they individually hack into routers only when and where needed to keep up with their targets? What do they do when the packets used by their targets hop to a different router? What do they do when their target uses a mobile over 4G instead of their PC and Ethernet? What do they do when the data packets emitted by the target's mobile are transferred as a batch with a bunch of people not relevant to the intelligence need?
Maybe they do filter first and only store information relevant to their specific targeted intelligence needs. If NSA limited themselves to that, would your concerns go away?
> As for the question of Turkey being a valid target, let me remind you that several people in the Turkish government were planning a false flag operation in order to invade Syria.
You're preaching to the choir here. But let me remind you, that on Sept. 11, 2001, several people in the al Qa'ida organization actually carried out a real operation that resulted in ~3,000 deaths directly (not all American either), the destruction of a significant amount of property, and the launch of the "global war on terror" and invasion of Afghanistan. Even more, it set the conditions politically in the U.S. for the later invasion of Iraq. Truly, the consequences were quite epochal.
Yet many opponents of NSA surveillance will tell you quite bluntly that even counter-terrorism is not an important enough concern to make surveillance on the Internet worth the cost to civil liberties. They'll even tell you that more people die of car accidents every year than died in 9/11. What would you say to them? Why is it OK to target Turkey to detect covert false flag attacks but not OK to target transnational terrorist organizations that are actually killing people every single day, and plotting further attacks?
To which European countries are you referring? The ones that imposed the Dublin treate which effectively turned Greece and Italy into an huge refugee camp overnight? These countries to give a damn about aliens too.
Those Iraqi, Iranian, Pakistani (soon Syrians to be expected en masse) refugees do not risk their lives to come to Greece. They want to go to Germany, Sweden, France, the UK etc. But since Greece's PM (Kostas Simitis) signed that treaty, Greece is forced to make front on the huge number of refugees arriving from wars that NATO (mostly UK and US) make directly or indirectly (see Syria) in the middle east without any financial or other kind of help from the EU, because of this treaty...
As a result, in Greece we have more than 2+ millions refugees. The government has run a disgraceful program (ironically named "Xenios Dias" - loosely translated as Foreigner Zeus, linked to the ancient Greek belief that foreigners should be protected by Zeusm thus sheltering a stranger was some kind of obligation), which in practice means take all refugees are taken away and put on guarded jails until they die out of something. The rise of the Nazi party in Greece, which has close ties with the current government on so many levels, is partly because of the Dublin Treaty and the incapability of Greece to handle the situation.
Anyway, sorry for the rant...
 Konstantinos Simitis is considered along G. Papandreou and current PM the most hated PMs in Greece's recent history (after 1974). He was the PM when Greece along with Godlman Sachs falsified the Greek statistics in order for Greece to enter Euro, which led to it's current situation along with other strings of scandals.
 http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=424639 (Greek article but take a look at the picture).
The reasoning goes that if these people are genuinely in fear of their lives, if they're running away from somewhere, why are they not claiming asylum in the first peaceful, developed country they arrive at?
There are slum-like camps in some parts of northern France that are full of people trying to find a way to smuggle themselves over the sea to the UK. This makes little sense to me, unless they are really economic migrants, not refugees at all.
Perhaps we should have some sort of europe-wide policy, where people must declare as soon as they arrive in the EU, and then each country agrees to take a quota so that the southern/eastern countries aren't swamped.
> [...] if these people are genuinely in fear of their lives, if they're running away from somewhere, why are they not claiming asylum in the first peaceful, developed country they arrive at?
Sorry but that's totally unrealistic. You're making assumptions that do not hold in real life. A refugee which will seek asylum from Greek/Italian authorities will end-up 99.99% in a concentration camp. He might very well be beaten first. Police brutality in Greece is renowned.
> There are slum-like camps in some parts of northern France that are full of people trying to find a way to smuggle themselves over the sea to the UK. This makes little sense to me, unless they are really economic migrants, not refugees at all.
They just try to go, to the place which they believe will be better for them. They might have a family, or some sort of link there, or they just heard from someone that it's better in London.
> Perhaps we should have some sort of europe-wide policy, where people must declare as soon as they arrive in the EU, and then each country agrees to take a quota so that the southern/eastern countries aren't swamped.
Perhaps it should be, or (given the raise of right-wing anti-EU all over Europe) maybe it's just too late. The EU was marketed as something, but clearly turned out to be something else.
 Marrie-Lepen in France (clearly anti-EU), Syriza (is pro-EU officially, but there is a strong left-wing anti-EU segment inside the party) in Greece, Grillo in Italy (clearly anti-EU), UKIP in the UK (clearly anti-EU), not sure about 'Podemos' policy towards EU in Spain but they can't be very positive.
If that really is the case I can understand why they don't want to stop!
>> Perhaps it should be, or (given the raise of right-wing anti-EU all over Europe) maybe it's just too late.
You might be right. There is a lot of public discussion in the UK about leaving the EU entirely. It's not just UKIP, the conservatives have promised a referendum on membership if they win next year too.
This whole area of debate is very sensitive and I think it would probably steer the debate even more towards UKIP if it were to start now. Nobody wants to actually talk sensibly about this stuff.
The rest can be blamed on racism.
Rights are the reciprocal of responsibilities. American law cannot impose responsibilities on a Frenchman living and acting in France. Correspondingly, American law does not extend rights to that person.
And I can't speak to EU law, but my understanding is that Canada's law is similar to that of the U.S. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Liberties is only applicable in Canada: http://pi.library.yorku.ca/ojs/index.php/sclr/article/view/3....
 Rhetoric aside, the tradition of Anglo-American law is that "rights" only bind the actions of the government to the extent that they are recognized by the social compacts that bind the nation together. Someone outside the compact cannot be bound by its rules, but nor can those within the compact be bound as to that person.
This is a design decision that parents have taught their children to believe is normal and sensible. It's also effective. Nothing like an "us vs them" mentality to unify a nation.
But what if some country tried to extend rights to foreigners anyway? There's nothing stopping anyone from doing so.
Does anyone know whether this has been tried before, and how the country fared? Can we look at the data? Did they fall victim to the foreigners taking advantage of the new rights? Or did they encourage a better world as a result of the reforms?
The tendency to exclude is practically ingrained into the human soul. Does it have to be that way? Are people so fundamentally wired to expolit each other that nobody can make the first gesture of acceptance without immediately being exploited?
Sadly, it's possible. But it doesn't seem like we should allow ourselves to believe that people generally aren't trustworthy unless evidence forces us to agree. Imagine living life without trusting anybody.
One way that this is done today is that, for example, persecuted minorities have an easier time being granted asylum in a some countries. One specific example would be that many European countries grant LGBT refugees asylum if they flee from an oppressive country where their lives are threatened.
Alien is simply a historical term. It is derived from the latin term alienus which means something that belongs to another. So an alien to a country represented someone who belonged to another country. There is nothing rude or egregious about that label....
Not to detract from the point you are making, but just to clarify, I would not use the terms 'human rights', 'civil rights', or 'civil liberties' as synonymous. Legally, they have very different technical meanings, but colloquially they not used interchangeably either.
A very rough distinction legally: human rights are those which are bestowed by virtue of being born. Many (though not all) of the rights listed on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights require no active action on the part of a government entity; rather, it would require active action not to respect those rights. Civil rights are those which are bestowed civilly, but are not inherently violated in the absence of government (or another third party).
An example of the distinction colloquially: until very recently, marriage equality activists had to be very careful not to describe gay marriage as a 'civil right' in certain contexts, because among the African American community, 'civil rights' has a very specific meaning, and using it to describe the plight of (white) LGBT individuals was not always received well.
 Today we think of gay marriage as a relatively innocuous issue within the LGBT community, but it used to be quite divisive. It was seen as an initiative that affected mostly the white and wealthy members of the community, whereas issues such as LGBT homelessness affected primarily non-white members.
One can make the argument that the literal text of the constitution is "what the Founding Fathers meant", but one can also easily argue that since the Constitution is a living document, the effective interpretation and application of the Constitution by the courts, bound by legal precedent, is "what the Founding Fathers meant" as well.
One can also make the argument that since judicial review as we currently know it began with Marbury vs. Madison in 1803, so the courts should not have this level of authority when interpreting the consitution.
But then one can make the argument that.... well, you get the idea.
This debate predates the text editor wars by a couple of centuries, so don't expect to see it resolved conclusively anytime soon! :)
cough European countries have a history of doing just that. Hence why they don't tend to do it anymore.
In relationship to the age of the planet or the age of the species, no its not a long time. In relationship to the age of the people, it's been long enough.
"The difference between the British and Americans is the British think 200 miles is a long distance and Americans think 200 years is a long time."
I've gotten a kick out of that perspective, as it seems to support some of the odd disconnects people have with times and spaces.
So who is damaged by this european behaviour? American companies.
And now Google is suddenly concerned about our privacy.
This blog post could actually be Google's way of silently signaling us that the US gov't is still strong arming american companies, and it needs the help of public pressure in order to keep our information safe and secure.
Or it could be Googles way of looking like a good guy without actually doing anything. How you look at it depends on how much you want to trust them, or any other company that does something similar.
Personally I will never ascribe good intentions to any amoral entity. Google is going to do like every other business will do, what ever it takes to increase the bottom line.
Do you think that really would have happened if the CEO or a high ranking employee came out publicly and explained what was happening? There is no way the fines would have happened or anyone would have been prosecuted. Sure the USG could have done it but they would have been insane to.
That had to have been a bluff. There's no way to hide that kind of money from the balance sheet of a public company.
But seriously, got some more info on these European services? I don't watch these matters very closely lately, would be interested in looking into it.
But I know that in Germany (for example) this problem is a big thing
In the meantime, Google is trying to push everyone to archive rather than delete emails with its new Inbox client, making it once again very convenient for law enforcement to get this sort of data from us without too many obstacles.
And what's happening with that E2E plugin for Gmail? Is it still coming? What's the progress on that? Will it even work with Inbox? Because they seem to have pretty opposite goals. Maybe I wouldn't mind it too much, if I didn't know Google wants to eventually kill Gmail.com and replace it with Inbox.
Either way though as written it works well enough, the government was never going to raise privacy above the level of gaining military intelligence needed to win in World War 3, or to completely stop law enforcement investigations. Accordingly the Privacy Act would contain exemptions allowing for warrants to still work, if nothing else.
But this doesn't mean that the data, once captured by a warrant, need not be protected by privacy controls in accordance with the Privacy Act, and I think this is the argument Google is making, that the government should apply at least the same standards of data protection to data captured on foreign individuals (however it's captured) as it does to data captured on citizens. Additionally, if the government treats foreigners as if they were protected by Privacy Act it might also reduce the number of ways in which the government could compel production of evidence on those foreigners, especially data held by U.S. companies.
Privacy Act was never meant to prevent the collection of evidence for investigations, or to prevent legally-obtained evidence from being used in legal or administrative proceedings, but those are not the only protections Privacy Act gives, so applying it to aliens could well be a net gain. IANAL though, hopefully someone else can explain what exactly Google is going after here.
Other than in UK I'm more than happy with European privacy legislation compared to US. It's imageable that we could grant Snowden asylum, but you would put him in jail for 20 years at least. There are also - afaik and except UK - no laws which enforce corporations to spy on behalf of the government without being able to stand behind these actions.
Right to forget. Would such a thing come from the US?
There was a scandal recently with a political staff member being involved in pornos. US papers plastered her face all over while censoring any naughty parts. In the Swiss press her face was covered to protect her privacy while the rest was not covered.
Also if you are accused of a crime and are a public figure you won't have your name and face printed all over the papers because you might actually be innocent.
We really need to fix this.
While the people who formulate and enforce our rights are put there by geographic tribes, you won't see rights that stretch far beyond your borders. It's only when a community that is no longer geographic in nature forms tribes that we see the geographic tribes pay attention to the rights of "foreigners", and not because they're foreign, but because they're important to their own voters.
The two visions are incompatible. If you believe rights are granted by government, then you don't believe in the universality of individual rights -- which take precedence over governments and nation-states.
I find the idea that subjects of a foreign state have any rights not arranged by agreement between our state and theirs fundamentally bizarre. That's what states are for, in a post-Westphalian world.
Legalization of marijuana. The government is absolutely against it but helpless to stop it.
So we see a country where there is capital punishment, but it's fine to smoke weed. It feels a bit like government are more in favor of drugs than they want to pretend, not only for the good of drugs being legal, but because someone who is under influence of drugs - any kind of - is less likely to be politically active or reject orders. This has been used in military and in many authoritarian governments.
It could be even worse. It's a topic, like many others that are mostly artificial. It's not a complex topic at all. It's a good distraction from other things.
When it comes to people dying, be it the death penalty or wars then the US looks like a one-party system. Republicans tend to be for death penalty, but even Obama is according to Wikipedia.
When it comes to war politics it remains the same. Most anti war movements are killed off in many ways: controlled media, violence and arrests at demonstrations, infiltration of social networks (as outlined by Edward Snowden releases), the suicide letter to MLK, that just was on the front page, COINTELPRO, overthrowing (democratic and non-democratic) governments, ... There has been no change in more than 50 years on these.
There doesn't seem to be strong opposition to marijuna, just it gives you a bad image to start out with.
I just don't think that politicians care that much about legalizing marijuana. Why would they?
And the other statement that I made is that legalizing marijuana isn't something successful politicians start out with alone. Usually that worsens there image.
The other (unrelated) things I pointed out was that the US has a history of oppressing opposition, which is history. See the mentioned COINTELPRO. Known history.
Then I pointed out the the US overthrows governments in multiple ways. Also a well-known fact. Obama mentioned it once. The CIA released the documents on it last year. Nothing new. Known history again.
Martin Luther King Suicide Letters. That just was on HN. Official documents again. Again known history.
I am confused about where you see a theory.
The second part of the statement was that it has been used in military and to calm populations. If you think that statement is bold already then you probably don't know about various projects like MK Ultra.
Oh and the effect of drugs being illegal can again be read up in history. There has been prohibition.
If I sounded like marijuana was a conspiracy I am sorry. That's not what I meant. Like I said I just think that the image of a politician who publicly states that marijuana tends to drop. I think that is because a big portion of the population doesn't have a really strong opinion on that topic, but are careful about it. That's a theory now. ;)
There also was a something on political activism of population in relation to the state of legal (or cheap/available) drugs here on HN at some point.
The concept of trusting what is essentially an Ad company with a penchant for spending it's profits on projects to convince the tech community it's "cool" on anything privacy related is either the greatest practical joke of the 21st century or the reason we can't have nice things.
>> Hello, do you need to find someone who might be interested in buying Toyota cars? What's the message that you'd want plastered all over the Internet for this guy? OK, just sign this check and it will be done.
Every software product Google puts in the market, from web search to Gmail to Google Apps to Chrome to Android - they are all about collecting personal information, building a huge bank of data about individuals.
I don't care if they never intend to disclose that information to someone else. I care that they are actively engaged in collecting the information in the first place.
Further more - online advertising can work just fine without collecting such ridiculous amounts of information about people. Let me give you an example.
A Toyota dealer (or the marketing department of Toyota itself) buys ads from a search engine.. let's call it.. Hoogle.
I decide i want to buy a new car, so I go to my favourite search engine... Hoogle... and I search for "new cars in <location>".
Somehow, through the magic of common sense, an ad, placed by Toyota, a CAR company, registers as being related to a search for "new CARS". They show me the ad.
Oh and look. They didn't need to circumvent browser security policies around how cookies are handled, they didn't need to scan all my email, they didn't need to track the SSID of my local Wifi network...
How many people have weev in their contact list? How many of those people have notes about Mr. Auernheimer in their contact entry (phone number, relatives, pets, favorite colors, etc.) that weev would rather not be accessible to anyone electronically? Multiply this by everyone with things to hide.
Keep in mind though that the UK is a special case in the EU in many many ways.
However there are many organizations, countries and interests involved here. There are the US, the rest of the world, the EU, the NATO, the Five Eyes, other trade agreements and even lots of special agreements (partly known for a long time, partly due to the Snowden revelations) with countries such as France, Germany and others, like Austria (there is a UN HQ, next to a espionage outpost by the NSA).
We now know that pretty much every US embassy also has a lot of SIGINT going on, same for US military bases (they still exist!) in Germany. There are "privately" owned places by the NSA, secret agreements with governments, companies, institutions, etc.
When a country secret laws (or interpretations of such), operates secret prisons, outposts, spies on embassies and international institutions, operates spy satellites that happen to be next to telecommunication satellites, etc. then it's really naive to think they you change some laws and things won't be happen anymore.
Do you really think in a country where agencies spy on the senate, where there are secret interpretations of laws by secret courts that democratic means have any chance of working?
Also given economical and military power how do you want to put pressure on the US? Even with some economic power the US military is still the biggest and best funded and as history has shown it's not only there for defense.
I don't think this can be changed easily, not because of thinking bad of the US (government), but because the system is big and strongly relies on these things. Big, complex systems are incredibly hard to change. The technicians here probably understand that.
Don't get me wrong. It may be possible, but the chance is low and fundamental changes might even lead to unrest. That's sad, but changing the system has been tried in many ways, even in the US, but the way the economic and military system works right now usually got strengthened or made more static. It's maybe what you'd call a technical debt in the sense that you build up on something that's not right.
You might wanna try a rewrite, but think about "rewrites" are in the context of a country. I am thinking about the French Revolution or "tearing down" of Germany after World War 2 here.
The US also has no history of that really being possible, because they never lost in the sense of needing to rebuild, while in Europe alone in the past 100 years everything changed completely in the couple of 100 years.
You can't blame the US for not doing that. It's not nice. Maybe a better way is possible, but so far history has no real examples of it, especially not for countries (or realms) that were so big and complex. Maybe it would even be better to do it small scale, maybe even by the states in the US declaring independence, because big realms tend to end up with one or two totalitarian systems in between and millions of death. Smaller countries or simply groups of fewer people tend to be more flexible (see startups).
Maybe there is another way. It would be really great if a lot of things would change, because currently civil rights that were made in order to prevent a lot of bad things from ever happening again are by many not considered something of value anymore (even though people like to pretend otherwise, but civil rights, human rights are by definition and intention nothing that you only care for when things are good).
Zbigniew Brzezinski, who advised many US presidents in the last couple of decades wrote many books. Among those books there is The Grand Chessboard. It explains a really large part of the US politics.
The act already has exclusions for national security. That seems unlikely to change for foreign citizens.
I find the contradiction in that claim at times like this to be especially dramatic. The biggest corporations in America - Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc - are actively being harmed by the US Government. US telecoms are having the doors shut to business in Europe and Asia, because of this stuff. Countless billions in profit are at stake.
Another headline from today: corporations are holding $2 trillion overseas, because of the wonky corporate tax policies of the US. If corporations actually ran anything, that wouldn't be a problem.
I think it was Bill Clinton (among countless others) that elaborated how the obvious thing to do, is to compress the corporate tax rate down to close to 20%, and eliminate most of the tax gaming (simplification).
We could continue to tax corporations at a reasonably competitive rate (vs the rest of the world), simplify the tax code drastically, and keep tax revenue approximately the same. That we can't seem to do something so obvious, which has lots of support from both parties, draws a pretty big sad face from me.
Why not solve the actual problem instead of making small amendments that at best serve as a sales arguments for Google in Europe?
Contracts with private organizations would also be affected. The whole economy would break down! [sarcasm]
Between apply the US Privacy Act to EU Citizens and applying EU privacy rules to US citizens, both US and EU citizens will enjoy less surveillance from governments and corporations.
No, we're really not. We still completely in bed with the ones that are advantageous to us.