Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

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Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Tabasco » Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:25 am UTC

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/all/1

Three interesting takeaways:
[list=]
[*] the amazing amount of unconstitutional activity they're doing -- and paid very little attention by the media (I remember a big fuss about FISA and wiretapping a few years ago, but not anymore)
[*] all of the detail of what's going on in Utah, Tennessee, and elsewhere
[*] how they're not interested in trying to be targeted (following the spirit of the law), but instead simply gather everything said by everyone to store it forever
[/list]

Just a few chilling excerpts from the article:

Sitting in a restaurant not far from NSA headquarters, the place where he spent nearly 40 years of his life, Binney held his thumb and forefinger close together. “We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state,” he says.


... couple this with the "never let an emergency go to waste" attitude, and think on that for a spell.

In secret listening rooms nationwide, NSA software examines every email, phone call, and tweet as they zip by.


... note that the listening rooms described here -- at key junction points throughout the country (large, windowless buildings known as switches) giving access to not just international communications but also to most of the domestic traffic flowing through the US -- are illegal.

Not sure how surprised I should be, of course ... and in some ways it's annoying that we get this much info publicized about the US, and little to nothing about China, Russia, etc.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby addams » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:32 am UTC

Honey;
I am one of us.
You can not overstate the case.

The internet is wonderful in many ways. But; Any illusion of privacy is, just, an illusion.

For most people it makes no difference who reads personal e-mails.
I have been watching my life being ground to powder by the gears of history.
It sucks.

From my position it looks like an Orwellian 1984 dystopian nightmare. The individual has no rights at this point in our history.

I have seen shit that was not ever supposed to happen in our fair nation. Before the 2000 election we had miscarriages of Justice. But; We also had the Poetry of our Ideals.

Our ideals as a nation have changed.

Human nature? I remember having faith that we were better than this. We, apparently, are not.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

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Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

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Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:47 am UTC

I intellectually recognize that all of this is horrible, but I always have trouble being scared by it because the government really wouldn't give a shit about anything I do, and that's because I don't do anything objectionable or even interesting. I kind of hope they're wasting their time spying on me, because that means they're spending that many fewer resources spying on somebody who gives a shit.

Anyways, I think the whole thing is an egregious violation of fourth amendment rights and should absolutely be challenged at the first opportunity.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Iulus Cofield » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:02 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Anyways, I think the whole thing is an egregious violation of fourth amendment rights and should absolutely be challenged at the first opportunity.


The agents monitoring your electronic activities have noted this statement. Enjoy your indefinite detainment!
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Bharrata » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:17 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:Enjoy your indefinite detainment!


Little boxes, on the hillside

Little boxes, made of ticky-tacky...

:shock:



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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Dark Avorian » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:41 am UTC

So, I dunno. While I'm utterly appalled at the blatant disregard for the right to privacy, I'm finding myself very annoyed at the prevailing internet attitude that its just a-skip-and-a-hop-bound-in-a-straight-jacket-surrounded-by-prison-guards away from a police state. I'm sorry, but the right to privacy is a strange one. It's one that only really emerges with the development of major monitoring technology (before that its more your right to your land). But technology is developing so fast that it is already a thing dead in the water. What happens when ever more complex satellites are put up in the sky, even for academic monitoring of...say...large wilderness areas...that can see everything. How long till every telecomm company can rig up their satellite secretly with fairly effective cameras. We consign all our thoughts to massive corporate infrastructures run and maintained by the private sector, we destroy our own privacy every day. And you know why? Because though most are outraged at the thought, most don't really care. They know that they're too boring for it to matter.

We ahve built a system for the rapid dissemination of information. And we have to realize that moving into a new era we can't just expect that all the same rules will apply. Rapid dissemination of information means the rapid movement of all information, even schematics for--if relatively crude compared to the NSA-- monitoring devices. Perhaps the Lulzsec scandals don't just show the carelessness of a few, but the fact that no matter what we do, hackers will probably always be able to, given enough time and pooled resources--rip through all our security.

I guess it all comes down to this: most people trust the government. And the government knows it. And the government knows that there is a line beyond which people wont. clearly it hasn't reached that line.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby addams » Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:16 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:I intellectually recognize that all of this is horrible, but I always have trouble being scared by it because the government really wouldn't give a shit about anything I do, and that's because I don't do anything objectionable or even interesting. I kind of hope they're wasting their time spying on me, because that means they're spending that many fewer resources spying on somebody who gives a shit.

Anyways, I think the whole thing is an egregious violation of fourth amendment rights and should absolutely be challenged at the first opportunity.


Yes. Sourmilk; That was my plan. It worked for a while, too. It worked very well for a long time. I hope it works for you, always.

Boring personal story.

Spoiler:
My plan was to bore them. The day I read the Patriot Act, I was sitting in the sun in a lawn chair that I had gotten out of my car. I took a break from reading and looked up.
There were two black and whites watching me. One half a block one way on the street, one half a block the other way down the street.
I laughed to myself. I looked at them and thought, "Hey. They have a good job. They are getting paid to watch me read. Funny that."
That was a long time ago. Some of the shit that has happened sense has not been funny.

Sure; I was trained to be watched. To be as dull as dust was always my first plan. It works fairly well.
Shit! I have had the Police in my house at all hours of the day and night; Both when I was home and when I was gone.
They finely 'got' something on me.
They took my friend's computer. Fuck. It was NOT mine. But, the way I understand it, the computer was in my house, so, I am responsible for the information on it. Fuck.
I am not fluent in Chinese! My friend is.
I am not fluent in French! My friend is.
I can not do Nuclear Chemistry! My friend can.
I don't want to know what kind of porn he had on that computer.
That is not the kind of friendship we had. He is a very bright and adventurous person. Who know?
Homeland Security knows.

It seems that once on a list, a person is always on the list.
I have no idea what will happen next. Money is power. Money is digital. Yuck.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Zamfir » Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:29 pm UTC

@Dark Avorian, at the same those governments aren't exactly open about their activities. It's mostly guesswork what they are actually doing. If the people really didn't care, they could be a lot more open about what they read, when things are saved, when they get flagged, etc.

That's the trouble with cloak-and-dagger stufff. It allows you to say "we won't tell you, our enemies might find that information useful". But that same secrecy also removes most normal oversight. And it's exactly that oversight that enables you to trust governments.

Police states are hardly rare quirks of history. They appear to be one of the typical forms of a modern state. And once you find yourself in one, it's mighty difficult to get rid of it. In that light, it makes perfect sense to keep watching for early signs of it, and protest those before they become too strong.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:43 pm UTC

Frankly, I don't like this article. Its written in a style that is clearly meant to incite us.

That said, I don't think it is completely warrentless to worry about this. There are other articles that do have some chilling notes about the NSA: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/2 ... 12799.html

However, based on my understanding of the various agencies... its the FBI thats really allowed to spy on Americans. I thought the NSA was mainly about targeting foreign stuff. IE: They're the military grade spying people. Of course they'll get bigger tools. So what scares me is not articles like what you have... but articles like this:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120511973377523845.html

Which demonstrate that the NSA starts getting authority in the US. Basically, its not that big of a deal when our Military gets a bigger gun (or in this case: a bigger spying facility). And as long as the NSA is strictly military... I could care less (they're under the Department of Defense: not Justice or Homeland security. They aren't supposed to have much powers domestically). But when military-grade spying starts moving in on the US, that is when we have problems.

After all: the US Military already has whatever many Nimitz class Carriers. The Military can crush us whenever the hell they want. But because their powers are limited to outside of the US, its not that big of a deal when the US builds another big weapon.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Shadowfish » Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:16 pm UTC

I am grateful that the government is taking decisive action to protect America from the terrorists that hate our freedoms. We are at war with Terror. The enemy is all around us. Terrorists, drug lords, music pirates, and hackers are working night and day to eradicate our way of life, and it is imperative that we do everything in our power to stop them. Yes, America is the greatest country on Earth because it is the only country where the people are free. But the freedoms granted by our constitution are privileges, not rights, and it is a dangerous treason to say that terrorists deserve these privileges. They don't deserve the right to privacy or the right to a fair trial. Real, patriotic Americans welcome surveillance because only the enemies of America have anything to hide.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Zamfir » Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:26 pm UTC

And gays, don't forget gays.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby ShortChelsea » Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:42 pm UTC

Shadowfish wrote: They don't deserve the right to privacy or the right to a fair trial. Real, patriotic Americans welcome surveillance because only the enemies of America have anything to hide.


I'm not a real, patriotic American, then.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Enokh » Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:09 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:And gays, don't forget gays.


He JUST SAID enemies of America. Duh.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Angua » Mon Mar 19, 2012 6:25 pm UTC

ShortChelsea wrote:
Shadowfish wrote: They don't deserve the right to privacy or the right to a fair trial. Real, patriotic Americans welcome surveillance because only the enemies of America have anything to hide.


I'm not a real, patriotic American, then.

Shadowfish may have been missing the sarcasm tags on that post.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Iulus Cofield » Mon Mar 19, 2012 6:52 pm UTC

No, no, he was being serious. He's the NSA/FBI plant here to get us to agree, possibly under duress, to conspire to commit a crime. Just a heads up to everyone here, if you want a dummy bomb and a lifetime in jail, I highly recommend you have some correspondence with Shadowfish, if that is, in fact, his real name.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby ShortChelsea » Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:11 pm UTC

:oops:
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Belial » Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:39 pm UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:dummy bomb


I always wonder what happens when someone calls their handler back and says "the bomb you gave me was crap, but I fixed it. Call you when I'm done"
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:55 pm UTC

I love this place because Poe's law doesn't apply. The people here are rational enough that I can, almost without exception, tell whether they're being satirical or not. Anyways, I think it's a good point that was made, that a state with no right to privacy isn't necessarily a police state. Just because you know everything doesn't mean you're punishing everything. Now, it's still horrible that there's essentially no right to privacy, but there is a legitimate distinction between that and fascism.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Panonadin » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:03 pm UTC

Meh.

I don't care what they watch/intercept/monitor.

As most have said that share a version of this opinion, it's not welcomed, but I frankly do not care one little bit.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:05 pm UTC

Do you mean you don't care what activity of yours they monitor or you don't care what activity in general they monitor?
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Yakk » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:09 pm UTC

Suppose we live in a situation where something is relatively safe. Say, being homosexual, doing mild drugs, not belonging to a certain religion, protesting against the government going to war, agreeing with a foreign organization that your government is making a mistake, etc.

Now suppose that no longer becomes acceptable.

The existence of a large surveillance apparatus that saves everything means that you don't have a chance to realize that what you said is now a bad idea. They know what you said in the past. And they can narrowly target people for their past actions, that where once "safe" and "innocuous".

It isn't as if there aren't strong authoritarian urges in the USA and elsewhere. There is a sizeable chunk of the population that wants much of the above to be a crime worthy of punishment. In the past, when folks like McCarthy got control of the apparatus of government, it took them time and effort to start tracking down the "evildoers" -- records, if they existed, where relatively spartan.

Saying that an ubiquitous surveillance state is "safe" is betting that the government never swings towards authoritarianism. Because if it does, it has the apparatus to be really good at it next time.

And what would it take? Suppose a single major US city was destroyed by a foreign or domestic agent. The lock-step marching that happened post 9/11 would be nothing compared to the authoritarian pulse that would rocket through the US government. By supporting the unlimited collection of data now, we are in effect supporting the uses to which it will or can be used.

The closest the US has gotten to an authoritarian state in the last 100 years was probably WW2 and then the Red Scare afterwards. During that time, the intelligence and security apparatus was aimed at US citizens who had done nothing wrong but state political beliefs back when it was tolerated, or had the wrong parents. I don't see a strong argument saying why you wouldn't expect something like this to happen again.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Iulus Cofield » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:12 pm UTC

Panonadin wrote:Meh.

I don't care what they watch/intercept/monitor.

As most have said that share a version of this opinion, it's not welcomed, but I frankly do not care one little bit.


Ah, so you never intend to be in politics then, or have any other career where the airing of dirty laundry could be disastrous? Or perhaps you are just confident that you have and never will, and no one else accessing a computer that belongs to you has ever or ever will look at anything that could be potentially embarrassing.

Of course, we are a good hundred step staircase away from such a thing, but it would not be difficult for those in power to entrench themselves using blackmail acquired from a pervasive surveillance system.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Yakk » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:19 pm UTC

That is a good one -- the politician bit.

Suppose you are a politician in 2040. In 2010 you graduated from university. In 2020 you got into politics seriously, and you started to get more careful about what you did online.

The NSA now can blackmail you with every action you ever did online. Every website you visited. Every thing you typed in a drunken stupor. Every moral failing. Every act which, while today is unacceptable, was acceptable back then.

What is worse is that they don't have to. So while nearly everyone will have skeletons in their closet, the NSA will have the ability to selectively pull skeletons out of the closet of whomever doesn't "play ball". They wouldn't even have to threaten -- they would just find the people who won't play ball, and tank their political careers in favor of whomever "plays ball".
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:23 pm UTC

Yakk, I recognize the dangers of a state that monitors everything. But I really don't think we're that close to becoming a totalitarian state. McCarthyism was absolutely horrible, but even that was pretty limited and several steps away from a totalitarian state. The NSA's activities are worrisome, but I don't think cause for panic.

Also, I think the problem you just described there exists without the NSA. You can google a person's username and find out what kind of porn they're into without trying, and yes that actually happened to me (that is, I did the googling). Of the millions of reasons I couldn't ever be a politicians is that I'm constantly saying crazy (or at best, unpolitical and undiplomatic) things on the internet that anybody could pul up, not just the NSA.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Bharrata » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:29 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:I love this place because Poe's law doesn't apply. The people here are rational enough that I can, almost without exception, tell whether they're being satirical or not. Anyways, I think it's a good point that was made, that a state with no right to privacy isn't necessarily a police state. Just because you know everything doesn't mean you're punishing everything. Now, it's still horrible that there's essentially no right to privacy, but there is a legitimate distinction between that and fascism.


While I don't think it's explicitly fascist the trend is still chilling. If I was still young I'd probably be up in arms about this but as it is I just take it as a sign to be very careful about what I say and who I say it to...I don't think that's significantly different than most times and most governments in human history when you get down to it, but it is certainly sad to see it in a country based on the human right of free speech. Maybe one day we'll wake up 50 years down the line and the NSA will be closing down this program but until that time I'll be a little quieter based on the situation and try to raise my kids (when/if I have them) and kids in the community well, because that's the only way I really see for the country to stop being completely paranoid and undemocratic.

Yes I am probably the silent majority that is part of the problem.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Panonadin » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:31 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Do you mean you don't care what activity of yours they monitor or you don't care what activity in general they monitor?


I don't care what they monitor of mine, of yours, of my grandmothers, of anyone, about anything.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Zamfir » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:32 pm UTC

You sure about that hundred step stairway? J Edgar Hoover lived not that long ago, and he was a pretty clear example. If you keep that in mind as example, I'd say that there are non-negligible odds that the NSA is right now blackmailing (or at least intensely following) politicians who are too critical towards them or who they consider as dangerously unpatriotic.

Not a sure thing, but not nutter-level of paranoia either. If anything, intelligence services that refrain from such actions are the exception.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Panonadin » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:36 pm UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:
Panonadin wrote:Meh.

I don't care what they watch/intercept/monitor.

As most have said that share a version of this opinion, it's not welcomed, but I frankly do not care one little bit.


Ah, so you never intend to be in politics then, or have any other career where the airing of dirty laundry could be disastrous? Or perhaps you are just confident that you have and never will, and no one else accessing a computer that belongs to you has ever or ever will look at anything that could be potentially embarrassing.

Of course, we are a good hundred step staircase away from such a thing, but it would not be difficult for those in power to entrench themselves using blackmail acquired from a pervasive surveillance system.


Thats the mole hill?

I should care more if I don't have an interest in being embarrased or want to be in politics? If I wanted to be in politics I would watch what I do online, if something I did online prevented me from being a politician I guess I would have to do something else. And man, I sure would hate to be embarrased.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:37 pm UTC

Panonadin wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:Do you mean you don't care what activity of yours they monitor or you don't care what activity in general they monitor?


I don't care what they monitor of mine, of yours, of my grandmothers, of anyone, about anything.


Well I don't think that's appropriate. What gives the government the right to know about, for example, somebody's porn browsing habits without any evidence that those habits could be dangerous or illegal? People desire privacy, and I think it's the government's responsibility to respect that to the degree that it still allows them to catch illegal activity. Do you disagree that the right to privacy is a right?
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Iulus Cofield » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:39 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:You sure about that hundred step stairway? J Edgar Hoover lived not that long ago, and he was a pretty clear example. If you keep that in mind as example, I'd say that there are non-negligible odds that the NSA is right now blackmailing (or at least intensely following) politicians who are too critical towards them or who they consider as dangerously unpatriotic.

Not a sure thing, but not nutter-level of paranoia either. If anything, intelligence services that refrain from such actions are the exception.


That's easy for you to say. In the Netherlands.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:40 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Yakk, I recognize the dangers of a state that monitors everything. But I really don't think we're that close to becoming a totalitarian state. McCarthyism was absolutely horrible, but even that was pretty limited and several steps away from a totalitarian state. The NSA's activities are worrisome, but I don't think cause for panic.

Also, I think the problem you just described there exists without the NSA. You can google a person's username and find out what kind of porn they're into without trying, and yes that actually happened to me (that is, I did the googling). Of the millions of reasons I couldn't ever be a politicians is that I'm constantly saying crazy (or at best, unpolitical and undiplomatic) things on the internet that anybody could pul up, not just the NSA.


I think the point is not about how close we are to a totalitarian state. The point is that it is not a good idea to have tools lying around for no purpose that could be exploited massively by a totalitarian state if one were ever to come about. The surveillance apparatus that is currently available far exceeds the dreams of the totalitarian regimes of Orwell.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Bharrata » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:43 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:Yakk, I recognize the dangers of a state that monitors everything. But I really don't think we're that close to becoming a totalitarian state. McCarthyism was absolutely horrible, but even that was pretty limited and several steps away from a totalitarian state. The NSA's activities are worrisome, but I don't think cause for panic.

Also, I think the problem you just described there exists without the NSA. You can google a person's username and find out what kind of porn they're into without trying, and yes that actually happened to me (that is, I did the googling). Of the millions of reasons I couldn't ever be a politicians is that I'm constantly saying crazy (or at best, unpolitical and undiplomatic) things on the internet that anybody could pul up, not just the NSA.


I think the point is not about how close we are to a totalitarian state. The point is that it is not a good idea to have tools lying around for no purpose that could be exploited massively by a totalitarian state if one were ever to come about. The surveillance apparatus that is currently available far exceeds the dreams of the totalitarian regimes of Orwell.


They still need TV's that work as cameras, though I am typing this with a laptop that has a webcam, so there is that. But they would also need to come up with some sort of algorithm for changing the data from millions of news articles in the past to make sure that the government has always been correct and then somehow deleting any evidence of the change.

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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:44 pm UTC

Well I don't think that anybody's going to disagree with the fact that these tools are dangerous in case of totalitarianism. I think there's a more immediate problem, which is that people are looking at information that they don't have a right to look at. Even if they don't do anything with it, the fact that the NSA is looking at people's web history and such is itself problematic as an invasion of privacy.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Zamfir » Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:04 pm UTC


That's easy for you to say. In the Netherlands.

From most reports, the US does a lot of spying here. There was the Echelon stuff in the 1990s, and thus internet has surely made that worse. And the history of dutch (and lots of european) security services suggests that they can not necessarily be trusted when it comes to Americans. They share a long 'us against the softies and pinkos' tradition.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Vaniver » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:46 pm UTC

So, I'll start off by saying that I'm opposed to spying on American citizens. (That shouldn't be a surprise.)

But I thought the historical record had swung the other way on McCarthy- that is, there was massive Soviet infiltration of the State Department, Hollywood, universities, and so on. I don't think a comparable danger exists today- most of the sympathy for Islamists in America is halfhearted and from the successors of Soviet plants, rather than a concerted Islamist attempt to convert Americans.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Joeldi » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:50 pm UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:Ah, so you never intend to be in politics then, or have any other career where the airing of dirty laundry could be disastrous? Or perhaps you are just confident that you have and never will, and no one else accessing a computer that belongs to you has ever or ever will look at anything that could be potentially embarrassing.

I often wonder what would happen if a politician instantly admitted to most of the stupid mistakes in their past. If it's the sort of thing that most of us would admit to online, like posting incest stories on 4chan, smoking pot in university, helping to DDos a website or writing Dobby/Snape slash, what do I care? Give me an honest politician and chances are they'll have my vote.

Course, it helps that I air my own dirty laundry often enough. Transparency was my shield against bullying in high-school.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:04 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:But I thought the historical record had swung the other way on McCarthy- that is, there was massive Soviet infiltration of the State Department, Hollywood, universities, and so on.
As I recall, no--the general 'verdict' is that while the Soviets did infiltrate many of these sectors, most of it had been sorted out by the time McCarthy entered the picture. While it's likely that not all of McCarthy's victims were innocent and there still was some degree of penetration by the Soviets, I don't think any reputable historians of the era have put forward the notion that McCarthy or the 'Red Scare' of the 40s and 50s was either a constructive or reasonable response.

Keep in mind, the Red Scare was largely a reaction to the spy networks we uncovered after 1945 when Elizabeth Bentley went turncoat (and for the most part, a lot of the people in these networks were already under suspicion). McCarthy seems to have merely been a paranoid, delusional ass.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:35 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:Yakk, I recognize the dangers of a state that monitors everything. But I really don't think we're that close to becoming a totalitarian state. McCarthyism was absolutely horrible, but even that was pretty limited and several steps away from a totalitarian state. The NSA's activities are worrisome, but I don't think cause for panic.

Also, I think the problem you just described there exists without the NSA. You can google a person's username and find out what kind of porn they're into without trying, and yes that actually happened to me (that is, I did the googling). Of the millions of reasons I couldn't ever be a politicians is that I'm constantly saying crazy (or at best, unpolitical and undiplomatic) things on the internet that anybody could pul up, not just the NSA.


I think the point is not about how close we are to a totalitarian state. The point is that it is not a good idea to have tools lying around for no purpose that could be exploited massively by a totalitarian state if one were ever to come about. The surveillance apparatus that is currently available far exceeds the dreams of the totalitarian regimes of Orwell.


In which case, just about everything we do for the Government can be exploited if/when it becomes a totalitarian state. Why, the Department of Education can be used to brainwash our kids into believing whatever is best for the state! We should move to get rid of any department and/or tool that can be abused by our evil overlords before they get here! Also, Gun Laws will be used to suppress our rebellions against such a totalitarian state. We ought to get rid of those too.

</sarcasm>

No, really though. When we're talking about governmental power... the Defense Department in general is so overbearingly powerful that there really is nothing we can do about that. The solution is to prevent totalitarian states, not sabotage our own programs just because we're worried about abuse.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby Iulus Cofield » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:49 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:Yakk, I recognize the dangers of a state that monitors everything. But I really don't think we're that close to becoming a totalitarian state. McCarthyism was absolutely horrible, but even that was pretty limited and several steps away from a totalitarian state. The NSA's activities are worrisome, but I don't think cause for panic.

Also, I think the problem you just described there exists without the NSA. You can google a person's username and find out what kind of porn they're into without trying, and yes that actually happened to me (that is, I did the googling). Of the millions of reasons I couldn't ever be a politicians is that I'm constantly saying crazy (or at best, unpolitical and undiplomatic) things on the internet that anybody could pul up, not just the NSA.


I think the point is not about how close we are to a totalitarian state. The point is that it is not a good idea to have tools lying around for no purpose that could be exploited massively by a totalitarian state if one were ever to come about. The surveillance apparatus that is currently available far exceeds the dreams of the totalitarian regimes of Orwell.


In which case, just about everything we do for the Government can be exploited if/when it becomes a totalitarian state. Why, the Department of Education can be used to brainwash our kids into believing whatever is best for the state! We should move to get rid of any department and/or tool that can be abused by our evil overlords before they get here! Also, Gun Laws will be used to suppress our rebellions against such a totalitarian state. We ought to get rid of those too.

</sarcasm>

No, really though. When we're talking about governmental power... the Defense Department in general is so overbearingly powerful that there really is nothing we can do about that. The solution is to prevent totalitarian states, not sabotage our own programs just because we're worried about abuse.


...what? There's a difference between cutting out someone's eyes because they might possibly someday use them to stare at you while you're in the shower and demanding they stop pointing their telescope directly at your bathroom window. This situation is closer to the latter.
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Re: Fascinating, if chilling, look at NSA activity

Postby KnightExemplar » Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:15 am UTC

The US military has well enough of a position to obliterate anyone and anything on this planet through multiple avenues of attack. Air, sea, ground, and now intelligence and cyberspace. We cannot simply be worried about the potential abuse of the US Military at this point. It is the strongest organization in the world and will remain the most powerful for the foreseeable future.

The key to preventing abuse is... preventing abuse. This NSA data center is just a drop in the bucket of what the overall military can do. If you're worried about a totalitarian state, there are weapons and powers that this hypothetical state can abuse that are far far more powerful than just another supercomputer center.

Really, if our worry is that the US "might possibly maybe" turn into a totalitarian state, where the military gets authority to police domestic activities... then we are simply royally fucked. Whether or not the data center is built. That's my point. To me, its not a big deal that the NSA has gotten a new tool on their hands. What is a big deal is way the NSA (an agency of the DoD, aka the military) has arguably gained domestic powers over the years.
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