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"No mention of guns or gun laws will be tolerated on this thread or I'll get a mod with non-lethal powers to remove your post, or at least have you publically pilloried for not reading this notice"(thank you diafol)

In another life, another thread - I tried to bring up what is fast becoming a United States Panopticon:
just ran across this article about a judge's allowing a subpoena of over 100 accounts, for over 9 years - blanket from google, ms, and yahoo.

For those of you who do not like to clicky-click, The first case is Chevron subpoenaing all the internet traffic for all the people who testified against Chevron in which Ecuador won an $18.2 billion judgement from Chevron. The effing judge said that the fishing trip that Chevron was on is okay. They can track every single location that each of the 30 different 'anonymous' individual accounts ever logged in from for 9 years.

The Panopticon bit comes from the fact that since we don't ever know if or when what we say online ever is subjected to subpoena we will all monitor our own behavior.

Discuss

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Last Post by diafol
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  • I raised this issue of [privacy in the cyber-world](http://www.daniweb.com/community-center/geeks-lounge/threads/451854/expectation-of-privacy-in-the-turing-era) a few months ago. You might want to give it a read. Read More

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    diafol 3,720   4 Years Ago

    I just hate the fact that some governments / agencies think somehow they have **the right** to read my mail. Not that they would as my mails probably wouldn't trigger any terms in their 'hotlist'. But just because they can snoop, doesn't mean that they should, without justification or a … Read More

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    AD, there are differences between what private parties are allowed to do under the law and what government agencies are allowed to do under the law. Links between license plate numbers and personal data are NOT open knowledge AFAIK, you could place a camera in your front yard and film … Read More

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    diafol 3,720   4 Years Ago

    >only criminals have something to fear... I'm afraid that that argument is very myopic and dangerous to the rest of us who feel differently. It's a virulent statement that gets embedded in the psyche. It's a mantra almost. In a mature democracy, the people should decide what its governement can … Read More

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    With regard to allowing the government to read your email or track your whereabouts... While I have nothing to hide either, that doesn't mean I want to give the government the power to do so. The government is made up of people, and people with power is dangerous. At what … Read More

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And above all, don't mention the war!

In the same vein have a read here. All of your Skype communications and Outlook email is in the hands of the NSA.

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The Chevron ruling is troubling because with enough data you can cherry pick it to make any story you want.

I'm less certain about the NSA/spying stuff. On one hand there is potential for abuse, on the other there is the reality that with today's technology any one can kill or injure large numbers of people with materials costing only a few hundred dollars. I shudder to think what could happen as bio-technology becomes more widely available, already there are bio-tech hobby groups springing up.

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Here is where Edward Snowden did us all a favor: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had to apologize for lying (misstating) to congress whether or not NSA has dossiers on US citizens - he made a flat declaration "No, sir - not wittingly". If for no other reason, this makes Snowden a whistleblower.

on the other there is the reality that with today's technology any one can kill or injure large numbers of people with materials costing only a few hundred dollars.

I guess this is where the giving up freedom for security quote should fit. Now we have to monitor our own thoughts on the off-chance that some search parm or another might be misunderstood by the NSA so we don't look guilty of 'bad thoughts' - this is the panopticon at work. Now if you want to know how fertilizer is able to explode, you don't dare research it. What if you want to know about how rice in milk thickens for your recipe (ricin - typo) Just for laughs I just googled "ricin recipes for rice pudding" the top 4 results were 1) wiki - ricin 2) gun nut threatens president 3) recipe for chocolate rice pudding 4) Use rice in a sentence.

So let's hope I am still posting in a couple months (worse yet, I am going to go visit my cabin in Montana).

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I was listening to this issue with interest on BBC Radio 4 tonight. They had an MS big wig on there saying that MS never wittingly gives information to the government, suggesting that any information the NSA do gather (without a warrant) is done so surreptitiously. This was part of a bigger discussion about national security focusing on Huawei's "monopoly" in the world's telecommunications infrastructure. The USA have banned the use of Huanwei's hardware/software as they believe it may contain backdoors for snooping, the data from which, can then be passed back to the Chinese govt.

Huanwei, MS and others were making the point that the World trusts them - that's why they're so successful. If any dubious code was found in their software, then that trust would vanish overnight, effectively causing financial suicide.

So all this skullduggery aimed at exploiting HW/SW companies is in the national interest. Private companies, while being able to sue individuals for this, must tolerate it from governments. It's interesting that while MS and others are obviously aware of this, they don't say much about it in their privacy T&Cs.

"Outlook is secure and we never pass on the information to government authorities unless they issue a warrant for this data. However, we are aware that our security has been breached by the US government and they are at liberty to peruse any information they wish, at any time. In short, ahem, Outlook is not secure at all."

OK, Outlook is probably a bad example, but you get the point. Seems to me that this may send MS and others on the way to financial ruin, regardless of complicity.

Will we now be looking at crypto when sending the most innocent mail? How effective is email snooping at picking up terrorists (I mean the real bad ones) anyway? Have the US govt. missed something here, or is it a front to do some more general snooping, bringing about a greater degree of totalitarianism?

Edited by diafol

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How effective is email snooping at picking up terrorists (I mean the real bad ones) anyway?

Probably somewhere between 0.01% and 0% effective. I think that any serious person or organization with serious things to hide wouldn't be found by these broad-brush methods that collect "private" but not "secured" data / communications.

Have the US govt. missed something here, or is it a front to do some more general snooping, bringing about a greater degree of totalitarianism?

Collecting a large amount of private data on a lot of individuals (if not everyone) can be very useful in many ways. The mildest thing is probably background checks, which I still have a problem with, but understandable in some contexts. Another purpose is smear campaigns, or worse. There is nothing easier to do if you want to eliminate a political opponent or an annoying whistleblower, or whoever else. Currently, if you have someone you want to check the background of or smear, you can just contact one of NSA's subcontractor or other "cyber-security" firms, give them a few thousand bucks and get back a full package will all info you can dream of, in perfect legality (whatever that means anymore). This is scary.

I don't think anyone has in mind the whole 1984-style totalitarian idea of monitoring everything and black-bagging anyone who diverts from accepted behavior. But it's certainly useful to be able to out anyone that is a more serious threat, e.g., people like Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, etc... I don't think we are quite there yet (the government using the collected info to attack and stifle dissent), but they clearly are close to reaching out for that tool if need be (so far, they've been able to attack the aforementioned three heroes without resorting to those means, as far as we know, but I don't think they would have qualms about do it in the future). It is pretty clear at this point that the US government will viciously stifle dissent; how vicious is still to be seen, but it has only been increasing.

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I can't see a 1984-type scenario either, but it does pave the way for some pretty uncomfortable realities.

I think it's pretty well understood that your email is being read by somebody somewhere, but having the knowledge that this is being officially sactioned by your own 'government' must still be an outrage of epic proportions, although I read in one article that only 41% of Americans were particularly bothered about it.

Edited by diafol

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Sometimes I worry that "1984" blinds people to other, more insidious outcomes. I just bought the complete "Max Headroom"; there are some interesting convergences happening. Killer drones with facial recognition; extreme rich/poor differences. I have to watch more episodes to see what else is beginning to align.

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I agree GrimJack, a 1984-style regime is completely unnecessary and wasteful. Opponents need not be silenced just distracted, demotivated, or discredited.

I disagree with diafol, nobody is reading all the stuff scooped up & shared by the spy agencies there is just too much of it. Its all being screened by computer. Everyone from private companies, to spy-agencies, to medical researchers are betting on 'big data' being capable of revealing all but I have yet to see convincing evidence that this is the case. Its a very interesting question how effective these techniques are for stopping terrorists - the stupid ones that is because its near impossible to catch a clever one.

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nobody is reading all the stuff scooped up & shared by the spy agencies there is just too much of it

I never said that. Or at least that's not what I meant. Screening for certain words may be a better description. You can see the scope for abuse though. Words like 'tax', 'ledger' may be next, or perhaps they're already in the hitlist. How many other 'agencies' will be effecting snooping practices over the next 10 years?

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The tax issue is a red-herring IMO, since lots of people (including gov't) know about 'tax-avoidance' already but due to loopholes in the tax-codes are helpless to do anything about it (because of lobbying by the tax-avoiders themselves). Also initiation tax-audits to chase up people to pay their taxes are expensive so unless the tax-evader owes a lot the audit is often a net loss for gov't. They are only carried out to maintain the threat/fear to ensure the vast majority of people do pay their taxes to prevent the country from financial ruin/economic collapse.

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The word Law modifies behaviour in the same way drivers suddenly become speed conscious when they see a police car. But, once that Law is out of sight, it's every person for her/himself. Then it's a case of, "I wish the police could see that guy driving and using his mobile phone","Look! Those small children in the back don't have their seatbelts on!" And the countless other injustices we decry or often say while out on the road.

If people want an absolutely free Internet, then you really don't understand what you are asking for. Be careful what you wish for. I yearn for the early days of CompuServe. All I want from the Internet is information. I know and appreciate that others will want much more than that, such as entertainment, etc. There are also too many people out there that believe the world owes them something just because they are here.

While some people point to '1984', others will point to 'Mad Max' and so on. There are always people who want their 'something' without thinking that this 'something' is still part of an 'everything' in which millions of others want their 'something' too. So, the blanket you refer to, is more like the blanket on a bed you would see in a comedy sketch where each person is trying to pull the covers over himself. That's how I perceive all of these Internet control disputes.

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Good points - I sometimes forget to see the whole picture when I focus on some of the details.
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If these are what you want to do, please enjoy yourself. It will give you a good cardiovascular workout, and will give you a boost of endorphins which will lift your mood, taking your mind off these Internet issues for a while at least.

Edited by BigPaw

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As there's a specific clause in the US constitution that provides protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and blanket subpoenas provide for ways to execute exactly those (search and seizure of property for no other reason than that someone wants to play peeping tom), yes, we should be worried.

And similar things play out in many other countries.

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A programmer named Drew Crawford gave details on his blog on how to NSA-proof your email. His entire blog gives an internal server error as of this morning. Looks like the NSA got to it already.

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I just bought the complete "Max Headroom"; there are some interesting convergences happening.

I loved that in Max Headroom there was only one crime left on the books that carried the death penalty and that was credit fraud. Murder, kidnapping, all the other heinous crimes were downgraded. But ripping off corporations - that was serious stuff.

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But ripping off corporations - that was serious stuff.

The crime that would bring corporate armies down on you was being able to turn your t.v. off - but Big Time TV was allowed to broadcast with very little influence.

I was ready to buy someone's shitty tape to CD when suddenly, then an official version was out.

Edited by GrimJack

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I'd forgotten that. However, I do recall blip-verts. I also remember an interview with the guy who played the computer geek (Bryce?). He said that all the time he was on the keyboard he was just typing his name over and over.

Edited by Reverend Jim

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@diafol - thanks for the link. A few months ago I left the impression in another thread that I didn't mind big brother snooping in my email. All I said was that if they read it they would find it very boring. Having said that (again) I want to state that I do not approve of others (except for the intended recipient) reading my email. I just accept that

  1. nothing I do is going to change the status quo
  2. even though I am capable of hiding my email from prying eyes, it's not worth the effort to do so just to make a statement
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I just hate the fact that some governments / agencies think somehow they have the right to read my mail. Not that they would as my mails probably wouldn't trigger any terms in their 'hotlist'. But just because they can snoop, doesn't mean that they should, without justification or a warrant. Naïvety maybe, but governments that allow their agencies to do this, lose any moral high ground. I bet Drew woke up this morning thinking he lived in China! Wonder if he's getting water-boarded as I type.

That reminds me of a god-awful film I just watched - GI Joe 2. They replace the President with a double (bad guy). Has Obama been swapped with Stalin's great grandchild?

//EDIT

It's not worth the effort ... to make a statement.

I sort of agree - if it was just you. If thousands did so, then it would probably take the whole NSA a century to try and decrypt my ramblings about toluene and nitrating mixtures. Hah, they'd probably think I was passing on the method for creating TNT (which is freely available) rather than corresponding with my students for their 'basic organic' examinations.

Perhaps a change to my email sig:

"To all you NSA pencil dicks - ascj*^tPqcCC&8'#'wvLwPDV NA - THAT'S MY NEXT TARGET - you have 24 hours to decrypt and defuse."

Edited by diafol

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There was just a story about the local police (Seattle,WA,USA) using some automated license plate readers; they scan every plate that the reader can looking, comparing the plates to a list of stolen vehicles - the kicker is that there is no shelf life on the data. The system was put into place about 5 years ago so here in Seattle, if they know your plate # they can track your movements. Sigh, try as I might, I just can't stay under their radar (unles I choose not to drive, use a card and avoid all ccts).

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license plates are publically available -- anyone anywhere can track them. You have no right to privacy when in your car on public roads. If it's visible from outside the car then there is no privacy violation. Big Brother is not going to watch you unless you give him a reason to watch. It doesn't bother me in the least that the government tracks the movements of criminals/terrorists, in fact I would help the government do that if I could.

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AD, there are differences between what private parties are allowed to do under the law and what government agencies are allowed to do under the law.
Links between license plate numbers and personal data are NOT open knowledge AFAIK, you could place a camera in your front yard and film every car passing by and you'd be none the wiser about who's in them.
But the gov does have that data, and does link it, so they know who is driving where at what time, so they can track individual people with reasonable accuracy (of course there could be someone else in the car, but mostly at least the registered owner would be in it).

They're now starting to do the same with public transport tickets, at least in several European countries. Government run, public transport systems now work only with personalised smart cards (or if you can get anonymous and/or single tickets those cost more, sufficiently enough more to seriously discourage their use for the regular traveler...).
Combined with tracking cars, the government can now have a pretty accurate picture (within walking distance from the nearest bus stop) where most everyone in the country is, in near real time.
And that doesn't worry you?

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JW - I never thought that you and I would agree on anything but you said what I wanted to say better than I could have
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European countries. Government run, public transport systems now work only with personalised smart cards (or if you can get anonymous and/or single tickets those cost more, sufficiently enough more to seriously discourage their use for the regular traveler...)

Curious which ones those are? I've only come across pre-paid cards which are not attached to any personal information.

Combined with tracking cars, the government can now have a pretty accurate picture (within walking distance from the nearest bus stop) where most everyone in the country is, in near real time.

Tracking cars requires image processing which is still computationally expensive.

Why is them being able to track everyone more scary than them being able to track anyone? Spies & Police have already been tracking the movement of individuals using men on the ground for decades.

Besides they can get a much better location of people by using the GPS in their phones. Often people will even voluntarily give the gov't this information for various purposes. I saw a proposal somewhere for a smart phone app to let the gov't find pot holes using the accelerometer data from people's phones while they are driving. Also on that topic the private phone companies already have the GPS data, why aren't you worried about what they will do with it? Gov't at least is elected by the people so it somewhat accountable to all citizens, private companies and corporations are only accountable to their investors and stockholders.

Edited by Agilemind

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