Jun 11 2013
While it was good to maintain a list of the stories coming out about the NSA spying scandal, today I realized we’re starting on the second phase of this event. Most of what we heard late last week and over the weekend was the initial reaction and often contain speculation and hyperbole. But now that a few days have passed, we’re starting to see more details emerge and the battle lines being drawn. Luckily those lines aren’t along familiar party lines, but instead they’re being drawn along the division of people who think the government is worthy of our trust and is protecting us versus those who don’t trust it. And the discussion is spreading out from just this leak to a greater discussion of what privacy means. I am obviously in the camp that believes any tool of this magnitude is going to be misused massively, if not right now, then some time within our generation. And given some of what we’ve seen recently, I can’t really see how the people who say “Trust the government” can support that position.
For the first in this series (I hope), read Rage Against the Machine. I’ll admit it starts off a bit hyperbolic, but I was, and am, pissed at our government. And I’m reading every one of these stories before posting, so you hopefully don’t have to.
- U.S. Surveillance Leak in Criminal, Congressional Probes – (Added 20:45, 11 June 13) This is less an actual story and more a collection of the facts, such as who’s calling for probes and special committees. There’s very little analysis, which is actually a bit refreshing, given how rabid some people on both sides of the argument have been.
- Defeatism is Premature: You Better Fight for Your Right to Privacy – (Added 20:55, 11 June 13) I like this article because it has an odd sort of optimism in the midst of all the doom and gloom on both sides. We can decide what privacy looks like in the future, we don’t have to let the current situation persist. But We the People have to stand up and start making a difference in how our government treats us and our information. We can change reality if our will is strong enough!
- StopWatching.Us: Mozilla launches massive campaign on digital surveillance – (Added 21:00, 11 June 13) Leave it to Mozilla to charge in where angels (and most other businesses) fear to tread. Get involved with activists, though I’m not sure how much effect online campaigns have on the members of Congress. Too easy to delete those emails, unless they’re using Gmail (stupid Android update!)
- FISA Court Has Rejected .03 Percent of all Government Surveillance Requests – (Added 21:10 11 June 13) Sigh. I don’t care what those in government call the FISA Court, the rest of us call it a rubber stamp. 11 rejected requests out of 33,900. I’m surprised we were even allowed to know how many requests there really were. If we were given the truth at all.
- First Lawsuit Over NSA Phone Scandal Targets Obama, Verizon – (Added 21:15, 11 June 13) It’ll be interesting to see if this lawsuit goes anywhere, since some of the previous lawsuits have been shot down because the plaintiffs couldn’t prove they were affected by the spying. But since EVERYONE who’s a Verizon customer was being spied on, that’ll be a weak defense.
- NSA Leakes Present a Business and Ethics Crisis for Silicon Valley – (Added 05:40, 12 June 13) I don’t think it’s to much of an exaggeration to say this may be one of the events that shapes Silicon Valley for years to come. All of the CEO’s of the major companies have denied any involvement (using a lot of weasel words, of course) with PRISM, and they need to decide where the line stands in being complicit with this program. So far, they’re on the side of the government, but that could change. Who will be the first to cross over?
- You’re Being Monitored all the Time – Deal With It – (Added 05:50, 12 June 13) I hate the attitude that it’s too late to do anything about it, so get over being monitored. It’s not too late, we just have to stand up for our rights and decide what’s right and wrong in the new digital age.
- It’s Not About Your Cat Photos – (Added 06:00, 12 June 13) You need to read this article for a historical perspective on spying powers in the United States. It’s not a matter of if the government will abuse their power, it’s a matter of when and how often. The NSA is filled with bright people willing to do anything to protect the American people. All it takes is a few who are too zealous to step over that line to make us into a full blown police state. Hopefully we’re not there quite yet.
- Lawmakers question legal basis for NSA surveillance – (Added 17:30, 12 June 13) In theory, we still live in a democracy and vigorous discussion of ideas should be a good and proper way to govern. In reality, we live in a republic that’s mangled the concept of free speech and privacy beyond anything that would be recognizable from 20 years ago. Whether you believe the NSA is good or evil, we need to have a national debate on what is appropriate. I’d love to see not only the NSA, but all businesses have their access to our personal data heavily curtailed.
- Asking the U.S. government to allow Google to publish more national security request data – (Added 17:35, 12 June 13) I still don’t quite understand how allowing any sort of reporting on the statistics around the National Security Letters would curtail the NSA’s ability to do their job. If the bad guys aren’t utter morons, they already know that their movements are being monitored. So telling the world how many NSL’s have been sent out wouldn’t do more than …, nothing. From what I can tell, it would have no effect, unless someone can explain to me otherwise.
- Former NSA Whistleblower Sheds Light on the Science of Surveillance – (Added 17:45, 12 June 13) Here’s someone who’s already suffered to bring to light the abuses our government has committed, talking to a magazine that understands the scientific issues with monitoring, not just the moral and constitutional angles. If you’re curious why ‘metadata’ is so important, here’s a good resource for you.
- WH defends DNI director Clapper after congressional testimony draws fire – (Added 17:55, 12 June 13) “the most truthful, or least untruthful” response he could? Even in Washington, DC, that’s called ‘lying’. It’s one thing when the head of the NSA lies to the public, that’s almost expected. But when he lies under oath to the very people he’s supposedly responsible to, he’s gone too far.
- CloudFlare, PRISM and Securing SSL Ciphers – (Added 18:05, 12 June 2013) I find Matthew’s logic on this pretty spot on for how attacks against encryption ciphers could happen. But I find that the simplest solution that answers all of the questions we have indicate that someone handed over cipher keys from each of the companies listed in the PRISM program instead. Senior management wouldn’t be told if the NSL’s involved were worded in such a way that restricted who could be told. Best of both worlds for the NSA and the companies involved, thanks to plausible deniability.
- Why NSA spying scares the world – (Added 18:15, 12 June 2013) I just noticed as I tried the link for this story that it’s title changed since I first opened it. Makes me wonder what else gets changed in articles when we’re not paying attention. In either case, we’re scaring the hell out of the rest of the world right now. We claimed to be this bastion of civil liberties and a functioning democracy, yet now we’re in the process of proving we’re neither.
- Upcoming revelations speculations – (Added 18:20, 12 June 13) Once again, Robert Graham predictions. I’m especially taken with his ideas around TOR and how the NSA could be snooping there. And I’m totally in agreement with his points about the NSA being the biggest ‘fusion center’ for all of the different law enforcement branches. Rob, they haven’t come for me either. Yet.
- Convenient Surveillance is at the Expense of the Constitution and Taxpayers and Americans Must Call for Independent Counsel and Ouster of Clapper – (Added 18:30, 12 June 13) Both of these stories by Jody Westby are worthy of reading slowly and rereading the important parts. The idea of Obama as a Constitutional Scholar is laughable, unless you realize he was simply studying how to dismantle it. Asking for Clapper to step down is a must, since it’s the only way we’re going to get a full investigation into what’s happening. I mean, we had people step down because they were having an affair! Why should the idea of stepping down because you lied to Congress be so far fetched?
- We Should All Have Something to Hide – (Added 18:40, 12 June 13) This is a good story to end tonight’s writing on. Moxy does an excellent job of explaining why the ability to live unmonitored lives is so vitally important to human beings in general and a democratic society in particular. Without the ability to have thoughts and ideas that are ‘dissident’ in nature, we stagnate and lose the ability to adapt to new situations. This is especially important in Silicon Valley, where “disruption” is a way of life and what makes us great.
More in the morning.