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NSA Surveillance May Have Dealt Major Blow To Global Internet Freedom Efforts 327

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-giant-bad-apple dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Simply put, the US government has failed in its role as the 'caretaker' of the internet. Although this was never an official designation, America controls much of the infrastructure, and many of the most popular services online are provided by a handful of American companies. The world is starting to sober up to the fact that much of what they've done online in the last decade is now cataloged in a top-secret facility somewhere in the United States. The goal has been to promote internet freedom around the world, but we may have also potentially created a blueprint for how authoritarian governments can store, track, and mine their citizens' digital lives."
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NSA Surveillance May Have Dealt Major Blow To Global Internet Freedom Efforts

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  • by blackicye (760472) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:07AM (#44004571)

    Is it too late for the NSA to spin this as just a huge misunderstanding?

    I mean PRISM was obviously intended to be a redundant backup of the entire Internet.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:18AM (#44004605)

      Is it too late for the NSA to spin this as just a huge misunderstanding?

      Actually taking this into consideration, no, it's not too late.

      Too many Americans are too fucking stupid to give enough of a shit for these revelations to cause real change.

      Sustained change will largely depend on how the rest of the world reacts, and that's not looking promising either.

      • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday June 14, 2013 @07:22AM (#44005551) Homepage Journal

        Too many Americans are too fucking stupid to give enough of a shit for these revelations to cause real change.

        You have to remember, half the population have two digit IQs. And I haven't spoken to a single person IRL who isn't disgusted by what the NSA is doing. The only apologists I've seen are politicians, a few columnists, and anonymous people on the internet.

        That said, there isn't a whole hell of a lot we can do but speak out loudly, especially to our elected "representatives".

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:28AM (#44004657)

      Is it too late for the NSA to spin this as just a huge misunderstanding?

      I mean PRISM was obviously intended to be a redundant backup of the entire Internet.

      Oh boy you wouldn't want that. Imagine all the mp3s, films and e-books floating in that digital archive. 3-2-1 MPAA, RIAA and their fellow criminal origanizations will sue the US government for copyright infringement.

    • by elucido (870205) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:38AM (#44004709)

      Is it too late for the NSA to spin this as just a huge misunderstanding?

      I mean PRISM was obviously intended to be a redundant backup of the entire Internet.

      It is obvious, but it's also something most of us suspected they were doing all along. The real question is why didn't they just admit to it from the start? Why keep it a secret from us if it's to protect us?

      If you work for a corporation and its telling you they never back anything up and anything you delete is deleted forever and then you find out that they lied and everything any employee every did was secretly backed up for all eternity, this would change how you view that corporation. This would also change how the customers view that corporation which lies to it's own employees about it's practices.

      This is similar to what the NSA has done. It has got caught lying to the American people. It tells the American people it exits to spy on foreigners, but applie deception tactics to the American people as if the American people themselves are the foreigners.

      It's catch 22. They could have a valid reason to have kept this stuff secret but it's up to the NSA to explain their reasoning. The NSA also has to find a way to communicate better with the American people in such a way that the American people cannot disclose those secrets to the enemy. This might mean greater portions of the American people should be given enough of a clearance to know why the NSA does what it does and to make informed decisions in the voting booth.

      How can the NSA expect the uninformed voter to make an informed decision if it keeps the voter in the dark? How can the congress make informed decisions if they are kept in the dark as well? The NSA needs to shed light on this. While I don't necessarily think leaking is the best way to shed light and promote discussion, if the NSA wasn't willing to have this discussion without it having to be leaked to the whole world then that is a problem with the NSA because this is a discussion we need to have.

      • Because informed voters are extremely dangerous, keeping people uninformed is a top priority for any pseudo-democratic government.

        • Think again ! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Friday June 14, 2013 @04:56AM (#44005087) Journal

          Because informed voters are extremely dangerous

          Think again !!

          Voters, whether they are of the "informed" group, or otherwise, most of them can not comprehend that much anyway

          I was listening to BBC's world service just yesterday and they had a BRITISH PROFESSOR spinning his yarn for NSA

          If a PROFESSOR can say things like that, you think Joe Six Pack can think otherwise ?

          • Professors too have the right to be scaremongered into an unrealistic fear of terrorism.

            • Re:Think again ! (Score:4, Insightful)

              by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday June 14, 2013 @07:26AM (#44005559) Homepage Journal

              Professors too have the right to be scaremongered into an unrealistic fear of terrorism.

              Occam says they're better at math than that. However, they can be bought or threatened easily enough.

              • Occam says they're better at math than that

                Not all professors are STEM professors. You can get a PhD without being any good at HS-level math, much less the sort of math you need to understand "big picture" stuff like that.

        • by tlambert (566799) on Friday June 14, 2013 @07:29AM (#44005569)

          Because informed voters are extremely dangerous, keeping people uninformed is a top priority for any pseudo-democratic government.

          Informed voters are NOT dangerous!

          They only become dangerous when you allow them ballot options which would result in substantive change. As long as you provide them only Aristotelian A/B choices similar to "Heads, I win"/"Tails, you lose", then things keep moving in the direction that the people whose job it is to draft the choices want them to move.

          This is one of the reasons that the California voter initiative process pissed them off, and it's the reason that recent initiative results have simply been ignored, and the powers behind big government has done what it wanted to do in the first place anyway, from funding projects that failed to pass public muster, to ignoring constitutional changes, to slipping in language to prop 13 at the last minute to have it also apply to commercial property, after public debate was complete.

          The upshot, in particular of the prop 13 change, was that each property owned by a large company is actually owned by a newly incorporated holding company. Then, rather than selling the property, as is done with non-commercial property, and having its tax rate corrected at that point, they sell the holding company to another company. Since the property has not changed hands (it's still owned by the same holding company), the tax rate effectively never corrects on commercial property, and the burden, over time falls more and more upon non-commercial property owners, while the commercial property owners get a free ride.

          So as long as the outcome of a vote won't rock the status quo boat, it really doesn't matter which option of those presented wins, nothing changes the progression vector.

          It's kind of elegant engineering, if you think about it; it's on the order of the "Demopoll" concept in Frank Herbert's "The Whipping Star".

      • by NoKaOi (1415755) on Friday June 14, 2013 @04:43AM (#44005027)

        If you work for a corporation and its telling you they never back anything up and anything you delete is deleted forever and then you find out that they lied and everything any employee every did was secretly backed up for all eternity, this would change how you view that corporation. This would also change how the customers view that corporation which lies to it's own employees about it's practices.

        I know it's just an analogy, but here's where your analogy is so fundamentally different that it is completely inapplicable: In the case of the corporation, the corporation is backing up data they own on systems they own. The NSA, on the other hand, is not just backing up data on its own systems. If you visit the NSA's website, and they log that activity, sure, that meets your analogy. But we're talking about the NSA collecting and storing data from systems that do not belong to them. Add to that the fact that they're a government entity and that whole pesky constitution document....

        It's catch 22

        No, it's not. They didn't simply lie about their activities. They lied about breaking the law and violating the constitution. You're focused entirely on the fact that they lied, not the fact that they broke the law. A more appropriate analogy would be if you lied about committing a murder, then were later found out to be the murderer. Which is the sentencing judge going to focus more on, the fact that you lied, or that fact that you committed a murder?

        How can the NSA expect the uninformed voter to make an informed decision if it keeps the voter in the dark?

        Now you're getting it!

      • by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Friday June 14, 2013 @05:15AM (#44005147)

        Why keep it a secret from us if it's to protect us?

        The problem is that when you use "us" you appear to mean "US Americans", who only constitute a fraction of worldwide Internet users. Even if US voters agreed, the majority of the world does not agree to being spied on. The NSA has an (unproven, but well-known) track record of conducting industrial espionage against befriended countries, and spying on any foreigners is apparently considered perfectly legal and constitutional in the US.

        The fact that other countries might attempt to do the same is no excuse. The real problem is that all the data that is collected is already used to undermine constitutional rights. There are quite persistent and credible rumors that when e.g. the BND wants some data on a German they may not obtain legally (according to German law), they'll just ask a US agency. I'm pretty sure this also works the other way around.

        Things might look different if the people in power would really endorse democratic principles and human rights, which they don't.

      • The real question is why didn't they just admit to it from the start?

        That's a pretty trivial question. It's asking: Why don't you share everything, including your deepest secrets, with the government?

        Knowledge is power, they say. Certainly, knowledge about you is power over you. Power to blackmail, obviously - but that's only the crudest tool in the box.

      • by Livius (318358)

        How can the NSA expect the uninformed voter to make an informed decision if it keeps the voter in the dark? How can the congress make informed decisions if they are kept in the dark as well?

        Feature, not a bug.

      • by Hatta (162192) on Friday June 14, 2013 @09:09AM (#44006033) Journal

        The real question is why didn't they just admit to it from the start?

        Because it's a flagrant violation of the 4th amendment.

    • by dragisha (788)

      Is it too late for the NSA to spin this as just a huge misunderstanding?

      I mean PRISM was obviously intended to be a redundant backup of the entire Internet.

      Exactly! http://archive.org/index.php [archive.org] is not personal (or social, or whatever, you know what I mean) at all. With only partial backup of public Internet, it does not provide services at personal level, and we need it, surely!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 14, 2013 @04:20AM (#44004913)

      I mean PRISM was obviously intended to be a redundant backup of the entire Internet.

      Funny that you should say this. An accused bank robber asked his cell phone provider to disclose phone data that he claims would have shown it wasn't him. They don't have the data. Now he is asking the NSA for it [mainjustice.com].

    • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Friday June 14, 2013 @04:22AM (#44004923)

      Is it too late for the NSA to spin this as just a huge misunderstanding?

      A misunderstanding? No. It was all for your safety, citizen! As we all know, America is the home of the brave, so we have to give away all of our rights in an effort to stop terrorism; that's just what brave people do.

      • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

        Is it too late for the NSA to spin this as just a huge misunderstanding?

        As we all know, America is the home of the brave, we ARE SO BRAVE THAT WE HAVE DECIDED TO FREELY give away all of our rights in an effort to stop terrorism

        FTFY

    • by gweihir (88907)

      Indeed. Books by Goebbels are still used as teaching material in the PR field. With PRISM, there should be a lot of material for tried and true approaches available from similar sources.

  • by Kohath (38547) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:13AM (#44004589)

    This Administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.

    - Senator Barack Obama, 2007

    • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:17AM (#44004599)

      All politicians lie.

      No exceptions.

      If they weren't willing to lie, they'd never get elected.

      • by blackicye (760472) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:22AM (#44004623)

        All politicians lie.
        No exceptions.
        If they weren't willing to lie, they'd never get elected.

        Agreed, and all politicians are not to be trusted, which is why freedom of press and transparency of government are of the utmost importance in any democratic republic.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:33AM (#44004675)

        All politicians lie.

        No exceptions.

        If they weren't willing to lie, they'd never get elected.

        Sure but then why didn't the US citizens throw out Obama after the 1st presidential term ? He didn't go to the White House for the second time of his own free will. Lazy, morally corrupt, couch potatoes american citizens voted this lier for a second term. So who the fuck is to blame eh ?
        A 2 party system is no better than a 1 party system especially when the 2 sides agree on almost everything that has to do with fucking the american citizen.

        • by stenvar (2789879) on Friday June 14, 2013 @04:08AM (#44004851)

          Sure but then why didn't the US citizens throw out Obama after the 1st presidential term ?

          Because the alternative didn't look all that different and so people went with the known evil.

          A 2 party system is no better than a 1 party system especially when the 2 sides agree on almost everything that has to do with fucking the american citizen.

          There was a great diversity of primary candidates, but people ended up playing it safe. And our parties are pretty weak compared to parliamentary systems; just look at the wide range of votes on many issues.

          • Because the alternative didn't look all that different and so people went with the known evil.

            Whenever someone claims to not believe that most people are unintelligent, one should probably inform them of things such as that. People who do this are part of the problem.

        • Sure but then why didn't the US citizens throw out Obama after the 1st presidential term ? He didn't go to the White House for the second time of his own free will. Lazy, morally corrupt, couch potatoes american citizens voted this lier for a second term. So who the fuck is to blame eh ?
          A 2 party system is no better than a 1 party system especially when the 2 sides agree on almost everything that has to do with fucking the american citizen.

          You answered your own question... The only viable alternative was just as bad.
          Although technically the people could vote for a third party, you could never get enough people sufficiently motivated or even aware of the third party without significant money and control over the mass media. Since the current system benefits those who have large amounts of money and/or own large media outlets that will never happen.

          And a 2 party system is in many ways worse than a 1 party system. It gives the people a false sense that they have a choice which combined with control of the mass media is sufficient to keep a large majority of the population in the dark.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            you could never get enough people sufficiently motivated or even aware of the third party without significant money and control over the mass media.

            If you continue not voting for third parties because of this, then you're the problem. Voting for 'evil' is not the solution to our problems. I'd feel like an absolute imbecile if I voting for either of the two main parties, so I'm not sure how other people can even stand themselves.

            Third parties need not win in order to bring about some amount of change, either. If the two main parties see that many people are voting for third parties, they might decide to adopt some of the policies of the third parties in

            • by old man moss (863461) on Friday June 14, 2013 @05:17AM (#44005153) Homepage
              I agree. An example is the UK in the late 1980's. At the European Parliamentary elections 15% of the electorate voted Green. They didn't win a single seat, because of the system, but the "main" parties were so shocked at the swing that they immediately set about trying to "green" themselves.
            • Not just that: 3rd parties, even very small ones, may still manage to put issues ignored by the ruling party/parties on the agenda. The Dutch Partij voor de Dieren (Party for Animals, a bunch of nutters who won votes on the strength of astoundingly lavish campaign contributions) did just that, doing some good for animal rights despite having only 2 of 150 seats in parliament. Privacy, "digital" rights and civil liberties are similarly undervalued issues; all parties profess to be in favour of those, but p
        • by pedestrian crossing (802349) on Friday June 14, 2013 @04:30AM (#44004955) Homepage Journal

          Sure but then why didn't the US citizens throw out Obama or Bush after the 1st presidential term ? He didn't go to the White House for the second time of his own free will. Lazy, morally corrupt, couch potatoes american citizens voted this lier for a second term. So who the fuck is to blame eh ? A 2 party system is no better than a 1 party system especially when the 2 sides agree on almost everything that has to do with fucking the american citizen.

          FTFY....

      • by gtall (79522)

        Unless he got into office and realized he security is lot trickier than he thought. A politician that never changes their views is more or less deadwood.

  • Not our fault (Score:4, Interesting)

    by istartedi (132515) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:19AM (#44004609) Journal

    We had absolute power (or close to it) and we know what that does. Here's a disturbing thought: What if the Internet is just unworkable? What if it's just too tempting for *any* caretaker to avoid using as a giant eavesdropping machine? What if people start opting out en masse?

    Somewhere, a postal worker's ears just pricked up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kohath (38547)

      What if the Internet is just unworkable?

      What if big government is just unworkable?

    • by elucido (870205) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:51AM (#44004775)

      Here is my perspective as I view it:

      The NSA expects us all to basically support their agenda.
      The NSA wont tell us any detail on what that agenda is.
      The NSA monitors our every behavior, but uses deception and basically lies to us telling us they aren't.
      The NSA lies to congress, refusing to admit it even after the leak.

      So the problem here is the NSA believes it requires secrecy to a greater degree than the US public can understand. If this is a case where the US public is simply uninformed, then the NSA should give out security clearances to journalists and to more people within the American public so that it can inform them.

      I understand the NSA does not want to tip off the foreign enemy. The problem with what they are doing is when they apply deception, and act as they are acting, the uninformed American citizen feels like the foreign enemy. I understand that leaking to the media isn't necessarily the best way to handle it because the element of surprise is important in warfare. Enemies foreign and domestic did not need to be tipped off along with the American people. But enough American people have a security clearance, these surprises are going to seem directed against the American people as a whole.

      So the question is why do so few Americans have security clearances? Are we supposed to believe that all those American people without a security clearance are "enemies"? If they aren't then why can't they be given enough of a security clearance so that at least the basic agenda of the NSA is known. When journalists don't even known, and when congress doesn't even known, well then who does know? If only the cleared individuals know then why not expand it?

      In 2011 4.2 million people had access to the governments classified information. 4.2 million people is not a lot of people out of 300-400 million Americans. As a result you have a lot of propaganda and misinformation confusing the uninformed American citizen into believing conspiracy theories while the 4.2 million who have access get to know the truth but can't say anything. Until more people know the truth, the only access American citizens get to the truth is through these leaks. The problem with these leaks is the enemy gains access at the same time.

      • by dbIII (701233)
        I'd say the "enemy" or anyone that is interested and has a military intelligence budget bigger than that of Samoa has already found one of those 4.2 million people has a gambling problem and they get a lot more than the "leaks". I don't see that there really is a problem with the leaks, in fact I think it's the opposite and the leaks are revealing things that these agencies should not be doing.
    • by Sockatume (732728)

      It's entirely technically possible for you to have multiple "caretakers" for the internet, setting standards, providing DNS etc. who negotiate with each other to ensure interoperability without a central point of failure. Unfortunately such a suggestion has always been politically defeated because, hey, the US has been a good caretaker so far, with laws protecting basic freedoms, so what could they possibly to do screw this up?

  • by VinylRecords (1292374) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:22AM (#44004627)

    You can erode freedoms gradually or even outright remove them overnight in the name of 'fighting terrorism'. People are driven paranoid by the media and the government. Terrorism, school shootings, global warming, the boogeyman, something is around the corner waiting to kill you and your children. Want to be safe from that? Then get ready to lose a lot of your rights and get ready to pay a lot more in taxes as well to finance the loss of your rights.

    We all know that airport security and border security failed before 9/11. Letting multiple armed men most of whom had passport and visa violations into airplanes was a colossal intelligence failure. After the attacks security at our airports was supposedly beefed up and billions of dollars were invested in physical security. Did that prevent the shoe bomber or underwear bomber from getting bombs onto their airplanes? No. But it gave everyone the illusion of security and the government made a killing from forcing taxpayers to pay for all sorts of wasteful security theater.

    The NSA is the cyber equivalent of the TSA. Instead of groping everyone and inspecting your person they inspect your internet usage and your phone records. They go after everything you do in your personal life that they can get a hold of and use. And did that prevent the Times Square bomber? Or the Ft. Hood shooter? Or the Boston Marathon bombers? No. But everyone felt secure on the days that there wasn't terrorism. And the government made a killing. And the government got to use the NSA (and IRS, FBI, etc.) to go after political enemies as well.

    You question any of this? And you're siding with the terrorists. You blow the whistle on any of this? It's treason. Get ready to flee to a foreign country or risk being murdered, jailed, rendered, or worse.

    We spy on our own people indiscriminately. Ruin the rights of the people with the destruction of privacy. Intercept and record and document everything. Yet the Boston Marathon bombers were looking at radical Islam videos for months. The older brother had been thrown out of a mosque for preaching violent Jihad. The brothers names had been tipped off at the CIA by both the Russian and Saudi governments that they were linked to Al Qaeda. The Ft. Hood shooter was viewing radical Islam videos online and even told his supervisors about his Jihadist sympathy. But the government somehow in their total surveillance missed all of those things.

    The fact is that most people don't care or understand. George Carlin said "think of how dumb the average American is...and realize that half of the people are even dumber". The average American doesn't care about rights or privacy. They won't defend the Constitution or Bill of Rights. The American empire is crumbling from within. Demographics rapidly changing, politicians and leaders being openly hostile to the Bill of Rights, rapidly escalating bipartisanship in politics and society, increasing loss of rights resulting from alarmist paranoia.

    At this point all we can do is try to stop the bleeding. But eventually the freedoms of America. Its lifeblood. Will be gone.

    • Well, you are American. And you write "We spy on our own people indiscriminately". Which is, of course, a major problem, but still internal to the USA. The USA, however, also spied on other people, many of whom live in allied states, indiscriminately. This undermines the allies' trust. History may deal with the USA as it has dealt with Athens: one more major blunder ( in the case of Athens, the expedition against Sicily ) involving more and more unwilling allies, and the great power sinks. For ever.
      • by Zocalo (252965) on Friday June 14, 2013 @04:01AM (#44004833) Homepage

        The USA, however, also spied on other people, many of whom live in allied states, indiscriminately. This undermines the allies' trust.

        Absolutely this. Many of those allies supported the US in the latest round of efforts to wrest overall control of the Internet from US government appointed organizations and place it into the hands of bodies under the auspicies of the UN or the ITU. When the next attempt starts, and I'm pretty sure it's going to happen really soon to take advantage of the furure over the Snowden and Prism "revelations" (seriously, is anyone surprised this was going on?), I expect at least some of those allies are going to be more reluctant to maintain that support.

        It's probably just a matter of time now, so it's time to pick a side... the UN, or the ITU? Not a good choice.

        • by dbIII (701233)
          That won't change much as the World Bank as Wolfowitz's plaything showed.
    • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Friday June 14, 2013 @04:42AM (#44005023)

      They won't defend the Constitution or Bill of Rights.

      Unless it's the second amendment, or politicians failed to frame their constitutional violations in a way that suggests they did it to keep us all safe from the bogeymen.

  • by TiggertheMad (556308) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:22AM (#44004629) Homepage Journal
    The NSA is a pack of dimwitted fuckers for pulling this, because the blow back when this was discovered (not if) would clearly far exceed any benefit they could possibly gain. Now, I think this might not be an entirely bad thing that they pulled this shit.

    I suspect that as a result, the rest of the world is going to be deeply suspicious of the US in the future, and it is going to be much more difficult to maintain control of the Internet's key systems and keep them inside US borders as much as is possible. I also think this might kick off a new round of encryption and paranoia, which really is a good thing for consumers of tech resources in the long run. Bad for the spy types, because RSA1024 on everything will really put a damper on their ELINT gathering capabilities. They might have to go out and do some honest on the ground trade craft for a change.

    Who ever is running the NSA should be sacked on the spot. Not for engaging in massive illegal wire tapping, but for being such a shallow idiot and not considering the fall out of being caught. You have to suppose that there are analysts writing papers about what will likely happen when they get caught, so the Director isn't paying attention to their own intel papers and projections. Fire him for being a fucking inept moron.
    • by pegasustonans (589396) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:34AM (#44004681)

      The NSA is a pack of dimwitted fuckers for pulling this, because the blow back when this was discovered (not if) would clearly far exceed any benefit they could possibly gain. Now, I think this might not be an entirely bad thing that they pulled this shit.

      I suspect that as a result, the rest of the world is going to be deeply suspicious of the US in the future, and it is going to be much more difficult to maintain control of the Internet's key systems and keep them inside US borders as much as is possible. I also think this might kick off a new round of encryption and paranoia, which really is a good thing for consumers of tech resources in the long run. Bad for the spy types, because RSA1024 on everything will really put a damper on their ELINT gathering capabilities. They might have to go out and do some honest on the ground trade craft for a change.

      Who ever is running the NSA should be sacked on the spot. Not for engaging in massive illegal wire tapping, but for being such a shallow idiot and not considering the fall out of being caught. You have to suppose that there are analysts writing papers about what will likely happen when they get caught, so the Director isn't paying attention to their own intel papers and projections. Fire him for being a fucking inept moron.

      The rest of the world is barely surprised, and everyday Americans aren't educated enough to be outraged.

      The recent Pew poll indicating a majority of Americans are okay with warrantless data aggregation is merely a sign of the times to come.

      The supposed blowback from this revelation is barely a collective sigh, and front-page news-coverage already moved on to supposed chemical weapons in Syria and Iran's presidential election.

      In other words, we're pretty much fucked.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      The fact that they thought they could get away with it indefinitely makes you wonder what else they have been getting away with indefinitely.

    • To be honest, I feel all this will amount to some huffing and puffing at first, but in the end nothing will really change and the Average Jane and Joe will just live happily knowing their government is doing all this to stop those evil terrorists. They simply have no reason to believe anything to the contrary.

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        Then change what you do if you can. If you feel the brands were secretly helping the gov try:
        If you helped code for the above in a public, open source way, exit and leave a public note for other top developers/users as to Why you are stopping.
        If you where going to buy their hardware, tell the world Why you are not buying their hardware anymore.
        If their "suit" has the audacity to talk of privacy, tell the world Why you are not buying into their marketspeak anymore.
        See a review of any new product in an o
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by rapiddescent (572442)

      I suspect that as a result, the rest of the world is going to be deeply suspicious of the US in the future, and it is going to be much more difficult to maintain control of the Internet's key systems and keep them inside US borders as much as is possible. I

      That's definitely true. A UK political programme [bbc.co.uk] on TV last night that was focussed on the thorny issue of Scottish independence ended up talking about the US and their spying intentions. Even the politically mixed audience, who had been arguing from different positions all through the programme, joined in condemnation of the US for unwarranted spying on personal communications.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      It's been discovered before (eschalon, carnivore) and they managed to talk their way out of it, and it's too early to say if there are any consequences that will hit the NSA directly. I don't think they care if a few Senators lose their positions next election, and due to the strange US system a second term President is untouchable after a year or so into the term no matter how much of a lame duck they are (Watergate broke into the news almost immediately after an election). I'd say for exactly the same r
    • by aralin (107264) on Friday June 14, 2013 @05:04AM (#44005115)

      The guy running NSA should in the first place go to jail for perjuring himself at a congress hearing, when he denied the NSA is doing any of that couple months back. We are way past the, dumb and right into the territory of criminal. Despite the program potentially even being legal (really? are you kidding me?), he still lied to congress under oath. It's just like with Martha Stewart... to the jail he goes.

    • "According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: 'Everybody&rsquo;s a target; everybody with communication is a target.'" from <a href="http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/06/13/the-nsa-and-the-infrastructure-of-th
  • by AHuxley (892839) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:30AM (#44004659) Homepage Journal
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501465_162-57440895-501465/new-york-lawmakers-propose-ban-on-anonymous-online-comments/ [cbsnews.com]
    This will ensure only comments that support that the USA promotes internet freedom will stay up on some US forums.
    i.e. a proper balance between security and privacy.
    "A web site administrator upon request shall remove any comments posted on his or her web site by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post and confirms that his or her IP address, legal name, and home address are accurate."
  • by vikingpower (768921) <exercitussolus&gmail,com> on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:31AM (#44004663) Homepage Journal
    The US government IS an authoritarian government. Period.
    • by dbIII (701233) on Friday June 14, 2013 @04:50AM (#44005067)
      That's when you get when you have someone like lazy baby Bush who just wants "results" - authoritarian is easy on the rulers and not so easy on the ruled. It's the new normal and someone as conservative as a constitutional lawyer doesn't make a lot of changes no matter what they think.
      If all goes well it's still going to take decades to climb out of the hole caused by taking such shortcuts.
    • by EzInKy (115248)

      The US government IS an authoritarian government. Period.

      True. Can you provide a list of goverments which are not?

      • Yes. Norway, for example, an example of an "incorporative" state, which is a state that delegates activities typically monopolized by states ( in other countries ) to citizens' groups and initiatives.
  • by elucido (870205) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:31AM (#44004667)

    I don't think "we" consented to this. The NSA did it on it's own and then lied to congress about it. Is it even legal?

    • Yes, there is a "we", for Americans. All citizens are engaged in a vast collective effort called the State. The NSA is an offspring of that state. Hence and therefore, yes there is a "we".
  • A South-African singer sang, already some years ago : "The sun is going down over America". How true.
  • by some old guy (674482) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:35AM (#44004691)

    The whole sordid wiretapping & internet monitoring mess comes as no shock to some (those who care about the associated issues and have keep abreast of the situation), and as no big deal to the vast majority (those who don't). In a trans-national globalized world, the quintessential paradox of government v. freedom now knows no flag or borders.

    As the sound-bite value of the initial shock fades and the lowing herd is calmed by condescending platitudes, we sink back into business as usual, as it has since the first paleolithic tribal chief.

    A lot of us saw the dawn of the information age as the potential for a second Enlightenment, when a universally free flow of ideas and wisdom would lift mankind as a whole into an era of freedom and prosperity. Universal education and information was going to save humanity. Silly us. All we really did was give the despots more tools.

    What comes next? We'll probably have to wait for http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izQB2-Kmiic [youtube.com]

  • said so (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tom (822) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:36AM (#44004693) Homepage Journal

    I've been posting for years every time discussions about ICANN, DNS and other US-centric Internet systems came up that the party line "but only US control guarantees that it remains free and open" is bullshit at best.

    Frankly, putting everything under UN control is probably the best thing we could do. Not because the UN were any less power-hungry or insane than any individual government, but because they have more trouble ever agreeing on anything, and less resources to do crap in secret.

    Cue the USA-USA-USA answers...

    • This is obvious to a diligent engineer. One central lot of despots and bureaucrats to bribe and cajole instead of lots of little national ones.

      We can combine the efficiency of the EU with the scale of the UN. Brilliant!

      • by Tom (822)

        The difference is that the "central lot" in case of the UN doesn't hold any power.

        Name the UN representative of your country. You can't? I wonder why that is. Probably because he's not important. He's just a diplomat following orders, that's all.

        You would still have to bribe and cajole all the national governments. The advantage would be that you'd have to do it to all of them (or at least a majority), and not just one.

        It would be more distributed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:36AM (#44004697)

    If you haven't connected the dots yet, it's simple.

    They hoover down all the internet data, most of which crosses US Fibre and can be freely read. That's email, texts, VOIP, GPS, Maps, your photos, your videos. As US companies switched to https, that wasn't so useful. So they started an agenda of 'going dark', demanding CALEA II/UK 'Snoopers Charter' laws and using the secret courts to grant them direct access to Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple servers, 3 months at a time, using a power granted to the FBI, but used by the FBI on behalf of the NSA.

    Sweden's FRA spying law, nobody could quite figure out why Sweden did that in 2008, but now we know the NSA started its program in 2007, a year before, its now clear:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FRA_law

    All that data together with all government data on you, goes into a central database, where it can be data mined and searched at whim of the US military, without a warrant. There are no limits and no checks on the access to that database. Reporters, politicians, competing generals, all had leaks on them recently. In Europe politicians seem to face leaks regularly.

    The excuse given is terrorism, and the military man testifies how he won't sacrifice "one American life". As if someone put him in charge and he can decide to throw away the constitutional balance and replace it with this "one American life" test. Obama has so far killed 4 Americans in drone strikes, 3 Americans were killed at Boston. 3 is less than 4, so much for terrorism as the excuse.

    Lots of new databases are springing up and NSA is working hard with leaks and lobbying to get hold of them. e.g. Europe is to switch to its own banking system next year, SEPA, watch the PR and smear battle unfold, which will ultimately lead to the EU signing over our SEPA bank data to the NSA, 'for our safety'.

    And the Canadian military leader has confirmed a Canadian surveillance program, nobodies quite sure whether their spying agency is loyal to their own country, or to the USA military.

    There's dark days ahead.

  • by Camael (1048726) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:45AM (#44004749)

    Countries such as Saudi Arabia and India have successfully demanded for access to blackberry mail.

    Countries such as Syria and Turkey have demonstrated that they can cut off the internet from their country at will.

    Iran is actively trying to promote their own intranet over the Internet at large.

    The disclosure of the PRISM programme will only accelerate this trend and I forsee three major consequences arising from it :-

    1) Now governments all over the world will demand that internet companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft etc disclose data that they want including the data of parties who are not their citizens. If the US will assert extra-territorial jurisdiction over the data of foreigners, so will they. And I don't see any excuse that these internet companies can use to refuse to disclose without being seen as hypocrites and as tools of the US government.

    2) Governments all over the world, especially those who have not been historically friendly with the US will restrict or hinder the use of internet communication tools such as Facebook, Twitter, GMail and the like and accelerate the development of their own internal versions. To a certain extent this has already been taking place, for example VKontacte has largely supplanted Facebook in Russia, and in China Tencent, Sina, Baidu and its legions of smaller competitors rule.

    3) PRISM will be a large or even fatal blow to internet freedom. Authoritarian governments will argue that they are justified in monitoring their citizens because the US does the same through PRISM.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      Which sucks immensely if you've got stuff hosted on a server these spooks have access to, you're someone like Airbus and an intelligence connected company such as Boeing wants your stuff. I know that the Boeing example didn't happen on the internet but it's an example of US taxpayers footing the bill for private industrial espionage that was proven in court around a decade ago. Don't think that being a US company will make you immune from a rival that has intelligence connections.
      • Which sucks immensely if you've got stuff hosted on a server these spooks have access to, you're someone like Airbus and an intelligence connected company such as Boeing wants your stuff. I know that the Boeing example didn't happen on the internet but it's an example of US taxpayers footing the bill for private industrial espionage that was proven in court around a decade ago. Don't think that being a US company will make you immune from a rival that has intelligence connections.

        Well the Airbus affair has been public knowledge for years. Hopefully Airbus only made that mistake once. Prism is nothing more than a logical evolution of the ECHELON system and anybody who was surprised by finding out about it should reexamine their world view. That being said, nobody has the kind of access to the Internet backbone that the USA has and few have the economic resources to build the kind of surveillance systems the Americans have even if they did have access to the key points that 90% of all

        • Hopefully Airbus only made that mistake once.

          There was no "mistake", they were targeted, and now anyone with "cloud" storage on a machine that the NSA or similar can get to can also be targeted.

          So what do you think their "mistake" was? Competing with a US company?

          I try to make things easy for people each time on this site with simple examples but even then I get people getting things backwards :( Please drink coffee or whatever gets your brain going before replying guys.

          • by dbIII (701233)
            Above should read "and now anyone with cloud storage on a machine that the NSA or similar can get to can also be targeted far more easily than Airbus was."
  • Ours to lose (Score:5, Informative)

    by ebonum (830686) on Friday June 14, 2013 @03:50AM (#44004771)

    One area the US has dominated is all things internet. We don't focus on manufacturing things, so the internet is somewhat important to us. We provide a huge number of great services to the world. We might find that we have done billions in dollars in damage in the name of fighting terrorism. This is self inflicted. We may have already done more damage than any terrorist could ever dream of doing. Governments around the world may start to ban using internet companies based in the US or with US operations for their government workers. Public companies around the world have a duty to keep non-public data non-public. MS 360 is all about the cloud. This product might be DOA. Skype, Linked In, Facebook, etc. You don't want your banking data, business plans, unreleased financial data, etc. being accessed illegally. What is worse, is that this might have nothing to do with terrorism, and more to do with spying:
    www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-14/u-s-agencies-said-to-swap-data-with-thousands-of-firms.html

    What to do now? Invest as fast as you can in every little internet company outside the US that provides services that might compete against the US giants. Once they get a little momentum, they could take off and make huge profits.

    It was for the US to lose. We chose this path. The traitors should be shot for treason (This is slashdot. Irony never seems to be understood. I'm not talking the guy in HK), but that will never happen.

    • Re:Ours to lose (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BlueStrat (756137) on Friday June 14, 2013 @04:23AM (#44004931)

      What is worse, is that this might have nothing to do with terrorism, and more to do with spying:

      Or maybe it has more to do with this: http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/55749 [canadafreepress.com]

      I sincerely hope that story is pure BS, but at the same time, the US government's behavior over the last few decades and particularly over the last decade or so makes it at least somewhat plausible. Particularly in light of all the recent large-scale military/police drills & rehearsals that have alarmed people across the US that the authorities are very reluctant to be forthcoming about, apparently by the type and nature of the forces and their tactics, preparing for large-scale domestic urban combat actions against large numbers of unarmed/lightly-armed civilians such as protesters and rioters.

      Interesting times, indeed. Damn you unknown ancient Chinese writer of proverbs/curses!

      Strat

      • Hmm. So the US has a bunch of (read: social, not electronic) network people who are using their connections and relative powerlessness to forge a common base, then Katamari Damacy everyone nearby, adding them to the ball before anyone notices. That'll happen.

        Would actually fit the authoritarian personality type, though. Short on patience, respect 'mah authority,' very angry...the shoe does fit. And the more they are resisted, the angrier they get. You can't get more Beta in personality than this.

  • by stenvar (2789879) on Friday June 14, 2013 @04:02AM (#44004839)

    Do you seriously believe European or Asian governments aren't doing the same thing? They are actually closely collaborating with the US and exchanging spy data with each other on each others' population. The only differences are that (1) the NSA is technically better at it, and (2) in the US, people are actually making a fuss about it, and maybe it will change. The NSA spying is unconstitutional and we need to do something about it. Fortunately, we do have the legal means at our disposal in the US.

    • by Pikewake (217555)
      I agree that other countries are doing the same thing. I don't think the main differences are the ones you listed, though.(1)NSA certainly have more resources than their counterparts in other countries, but I wouldn't automatically equal that to being "better at it". (2) People outside the US are making a fuss. The main difference from my POV is that most other democracies don't tout their spying as being "caretekers of the Internet" or "a bulwark against international terrorism". The spy and cheat and ke
      • by stenvar (2789879)

        The main difference from my POV is that most other democracies don't tout their spying as being "caretekers of the Internet" or "a bulwark against international terrorism".

        The US tried not to "tout" this at all, actually.

        The spy and cheat and keep very quiet about it. When they get caught with their hands in someone else's cookie jar they do some low profile damage control and get back to business as usual.

        So, when this happens in the US, it's a high profile scandal that immediately leads to congressional i

  • Web and start educating yourself. Download Project Byzantium Linux hybrid iso's and create your own mesh networks. Learn new technologies and use encryption. It CAN be done if you want it bad enough. In fact join their group, help them test and harden the technologies. Assist in translation and help them create documentation and instruction material (videos). Don't just take it sitting down, fight back!
  • Simply Put (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Friday June 14, 2013 @05:37AM (#44005211)
    If you actually thought that no one was looking into what you did then you deserved it. I've said it a hundred times and I'll say it again, privacy is dead! If you want privacy then give up the internet, give you your cell phone, give up you credit cards and basically fall off the grid. The NSA didn't deal the blow, the blow was dealt long before the big whistle was blown, it was every person who thought they have privacy on the internet. So how about now people listen and believe me when I say, YOU DON'T HAVE PRIVACY ON THE INTERNET!!! SO deal with it.
  • by mark_reh (2015546) on Friday June 14, 2013 @07:41AM (#44005603) Journal

    our "free" markets are a shining example to the rest of the world- at least the part that the mortgage banks didn't steal from just prior to the housing collapse, our "free and democratic" elections are a shining example- offices are sold to the highest bidder and then election boundaries are jiggered by the party in power, our system of taxation is fair to all, but especially fair to people and corporations with the resources to hide money offshore, the same people who were claiming Saddam Hussein had WMDs are at it again, trying to get us into a war in Syria, our government sends people off to war to fight for the oil companies - oops, I mean freedom- and when they come back injured can't be bothered to take care of them, and like the idiots we are, we keep volunteering for military service, our healthcare "system" is a joke, and now our "free and open" internet turns out to be a means of massive government surveillance- but it's OK- it's for our own good.

    And dopes in the US wonder why the rest of the world doesn't just follow our examples...

  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Friday June 14, 2013 @10:30AM (#44006849)

    1). Any *blueprint* was never any further away than

    1) FOAF network analysis
    2) a signal splitter
    3) the power to force your nation's providers to cooperate
    4) a data warehouse
    5) analysts.
    6)??????
    7) profit !

    I *really* don't think many nations needed the U.S. to tell them that.

    So the *blueprint* point is totally false- the NSA did not provide a much needed but missing blueprint to anyone for any purpose

    2) What nefarious thing has the NSA or US government ever done with this knowledge? Name one thing. As I see it, the US with all this data collection and the apparent restraint *to do nothing* with it, makes the US a provably good steward of the internet, almost better than we could have hoped for, given men and their nature.

    I totally agree a despotic regime could emerge and would leverage this database in the process. I actually actively fear a Cheney or a Gonzales or a Rumsfeld or a Pipes or a Wolfowitz getting a hold of this kind of power.

    That's why it's very important - VERY IMPORTANT- for the presumed demographic of slashdot to vote. b We're what keep the REAL fascists at bay.

    I also think we need a provable, physical way (encryption / partial keys held by a number of judges? dunno..) to prevent the kind of leveraging of the chain of command that would permit neocons from gaining access to this database in the dark and use it against his political enemies

    (I'll link to the specific thing the neocons did that has me so concerned at the bottom of this post)

    Without the chain of command, we're fucked; it is a totally necessary part of any military.. But the chain of command + read/write access to this database means the power to potentially destroy who you want, in any way you want, for any reason you want and to distort reality itself to the intelligence community in any way you want. This represents a non-trivial, even existential and decidedly non-theoretical threat to our nation.

    \http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Team_B

    and for those familiar with it, go to Criticisms section .

    Cheney literally re-assembled Team-B in the run up to the Iraq war. scroll to: " team b sweeps the series "

    http://www.pitt.edu/~gordonm/JPubs/TeamBqjs.pdf [pitt.edu]

    That's why we also need to go easy on Snowden and Manning. Here's my reasoning, it's pretty simple - they're young and idealistic and didn't mean to harm America - and that matters.
    Not that many people can know or can get their minds around the full,ugly picture of all the trade-offs that reality forces on you. Those tradeoffs are analyzed, decided upon, get institutionalized, and finally become structural, procedural.

    Later, some regular guy working in the system looks at the fleshy details of what those trade-offs entail, and it appears callous and horrifying. They're just going to react out of a surfeit of humanity.

    Do we really want to punish those people to the hilt and over time , through word of mouth reputation, actually prevent people of good conscience from joining up ? Read Antigone- it's no way to run a nation.

    Obama's Executive Order is a good start.

    http://www.publicintegrity.org/2012/10/15/11473/obama-order-protects-intelligence-community-whistleblowers [publicintegrity.org]

    Republican hate it but there has has has to be some place they can go "out" of a system they think is breaking the law and into the light, because that's the psychology that's motivating them to do this in the first place. "They're doing this in the dark. " No one knows what's going on" Holy shit!".

    IMHO the military has to publicly differentiate between acts of espionage and acts like these and gauge its public and prosecutorial reaction accordingly. What is reality telling you? This is how people are now. This goes to the core of what this generation is. Even the military has to chan

All this wheeling and dealing around, why, it isn't for money, it's for fun. Money's just the way we keep score. -- Henry Tyroon

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