Saturday, June 8, 2013

It Always Feels Like the NSA is Watching Me! (Update)

And I have No Privacy...
Except of course, Glenn Greenwald is lying again. Glenn is a lying Libertarian who gave George W. Bush a pass on the Patriot Act, Warrantless Wiretaps, the Iraq War and leaving Americans to die in New Orleans because George W. Bush lowered Glenn's taxes. Anything else Bush did is inconsequential in comparison.

And it seems Greenwald is lying about the NSA snooping campaign. From the New York Times,
The companies that negotiated with the government include Google, which owns YouTube; Microsoft, which owns Hotmail and Skype; Yahoo; Facebook; AOL; Apple; and Paltalk, according to one of the people briefed on the discussions. The companies were legally required to share the data under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. 
They opened discussions with national security officials about developing technical methods to more efficiently and securely share the personal data of foreign users in response to lawful government requests.  
While handing over data in response to a legitimate FISA request is a legal requirement, making it easier for the government to get the information is not, which is why Twitter could decline to do so. 
Details on the discussions help explain the disparity between initial descriptions of the government program and the companies’ responses. 
Each of the nine companies said it had no knowledge of a government program providing officials with access to its servers, and drew a bright line between giving the government wholesale access to its servers to collect user data and giving them specific data in response to individual court orders. Each said it did not provide the government with full, indiscriminate access to its servers
The companies said they do, however, comply with individual court orders, including under FISA. The negotiations, and the technical systems for sharing data with the government, fit in that category because they involve access to data under individual FISA requests. And in some cases, the data is transmitted to the government electronically, using a company’s servers.
In my capacity as a Police Officer I do know that Apple has declined to provide me information about stolen Apple products I have recovered from thieves. Youtube, Snapchat and Facebook have rules detailing how I can get information about users. I can't just call up and ask for the identity of a user of those sites, nor can I simply fax over a request with the Department letterhead though I have successfully requested they digitally secure and cache as evidence certain pages without a court order. But, obtaining that information has always been done pursuant to a Warrant.

Of course, Glenn Greenwald and others are already convinced that President Obama is guilty and Glenn has repeatedly asserted that Barack is worse than Dick Cheney so why not *break* a giant snooping news story which happens to be falsified if it serves the greater good of smearing Barack and advancing Greenwalds' bona fides.

A former CIA employee (not an agent) who handed over NSA documents to Glenn Greenwald has revealed himself and fled to the Peoples' Republic of China
On May 20, he boarded a flight to Hong Kong, where he has remained ever since. He chose the city because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”, and because he believed that it was one of the few places in the world that both could and would resist the dictates of the US government. 
In the three weeks since he arrived, he has been ensconced in a hotel room. “I’ve left the room maybe a total of three times during my entire stay,” he said. It is a plush hotel and, what with eating meals in his room too, he has run up big bills. 
He is deeply worried about being spied on. He lines the door of his hotel room with pillows to prevent eavesdropping. He puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords to prevent any hidden cameras from detecting them. 
Though that may sound like paranoia to some, Snowden has good reason for such fears. He worked in the US intelligence world for almost a decade. He knows that the biggest and most secretive surveillance organization in America, the NSA, along with the most powerful government on the planet, is looking for him.


Constitutional Insurgent said...

I don't have a wild hair up my arse about Greenwald, but I am concerned about the NSA issue.

The problem for me is, we continue to see ever more invasive technological intrusion into our lives...and we keep getting told by successive Administrations, that this is benign.

We keep getting ridiculed for employing a "slippery slope" argument.....while the intrusions get more invasive at each juncture.

Most people sufficiently fear a terrorist threat, that they are willing to further enable the State to engage in this sort of activity, fully knowing or willfully ignorant however, that once never scaled back.

If citizens truly knew what intrusive apparatus was able to be used.....many would have a far more pessimistic assessment. I see it used only against foreign threats, due to the nature of my job and the agency that employs me....but it's no stretch to envision the full weight of our capabilities to be brought to bear against our own.

It's arguable to question whether or not the terrorist threat is oversold/overblown...but the ability to play that card is dangerously easy, and politically any/either party.

I'm at a loss as to where the State derives some enumerated right to arbitrarily seize a medium, that is the property of a consumer and a company. If this sort of activity is indeed benign and utterly relevant to our safety, why then don't we merely abrogate any facade of privacy?

Instead of incrementalizing the security-state...we might as well cut to the chase.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Like many issues, there is a CYA factor involved, an It's Okay When Our Do It factor, a lag between technological development and legal implementation factor, political opportunism and actual moral/ethical/philosophical discussion involved.

However, Cases in point Benghazi and the Occupy.

A Tip of the Spear CIA mission in a hostile territory was used as a political club the day of the attack.

As to Occupy, How much covert surveillance, hostile agitprop and infiltration was done to undermine and set the stage for the multiple police actions was used? We'll never know.

I do know *things* about the planned reaction to G8 protests in Chicago last year but, I'm not going to reveal anything.

But, additionally think about the Fort Hood Massacre, the BP Deepwater Horizon, and the West, Texas Fertilizer Plant Disaster. How much should the Government have known about them?

I'm not going to laud Governor Perry for not knowing what's going on inside his own state nor do I think his stance about the EPA can be considered patriotic under the guise that he's respecting the privacy rights of a Business in his State.

Jerry Critter said...

The key to all this data collection is analysis. People can't do it adequately, just like people could not collect all,of this data adequately. Now it is collected and stored electronically. The government is very actively involved in developing computer programs to analyze the collected data. It is not a simple task, but more akin to searching for,a needle in a haystack.

The next step, and it is already happening, is private companies developing the technology to analyze this data. One initial application is already happening with our grocery shopping habits. Stores have collected vast amounts of information with their "club cards".

Once the robust data analysis algorithms move from the government to private companies the real invasion of our privacy will occur.

Then we have more to fear, much much more, from multinational corporations than our own government.

Patricia said...

No one is worse than Dick Cheney.

Grung_e_Gene said...

David Simon of The Wire injects some needed sanity in the NSA Snooping, We are Shocked, Shocked...

Is it just me or does the entire news media — as well as all the agitators and self-righteous bloviators on both sides of the aisle — not understand even the rudiments of electronic intercepts and the manner in which law enforcement actually uses such intercepts? It would seem so.

Because the national eruption over the rather inevitable and understandable collection of all raw data involving telephonic and internet traffic by Americans would suggest that much of our political commentariat, many of our news gatherers and a lot of average folk are entirely without a clue.

Constitutional Insurgent said...

I would proffer that the manner and capacities that law enforcement can and does use electronic intercepts is not the same as the manner and capacities that the intelligence community can use them.

It should be troubling to all when DNI Clapper states unequivocally that the NSA is not collecting data on USPERS, then most recently reverses that statement.

Grung_e_Gene said...


I am hesitant to label Eric Snowden some kind of Freedom Hero.

And I highly doubt this will turn into a discussion about the Expanding Surveillance State and will only be used as a cudgel against that Most Hitlerian of Presidents Barack Hussein Osama.

And make no mistake, once a Republican is back into office, conservatives will be back to signing the tune of if you have nothing to hide then you shouldn't be worried,