US Department of Defense Censors Snowden Story

The US Department of Defense is blocking sites that are reporting about the Snowden documents. I presume they're not censoring sites that are smearing him personally. Note that the DoD is only blocking those sites on its own network, not on the Internet at large. The blocking is being done by automatic filters, presumably the same ones used to block porn or other sites it deems inappropriate.

Anyone know if my blog is being censored? I'm kinda curious.

Posted on July 3, 2013 at 6:02 AM • 62 Comments

Comments

Anonymous CowardJuly 3, 2013 6:11 AM

Not censored here, but each installation probably has its own rules to some degree.

W. Craig TraderJuly 3, 2013 6:39 AM

I can't speak to DoD sites, but a number of large government contractors do this anytime that classified documents get released without proper declassification. I'm sure a lot of them are doing it to make nice with their government customers, but the ostensible reason is that any time unclassified computers end up with a copy of a classified document, they have to be cleansed, and generally that involves wiping the computer, and possibly destroying the hard drive. That will result in a loss of productivity for an individual, but multiply that by thousands of users/computers and it gets ugly. The problem gets worse if the company has any sort of web cache -- they'd have to scrub / replace the entire server and its storage.

If you think of classified documents as a combination of a pernicious virus and a root kit, the clean up would be equivalent.

TomJuly 3, 2013 6:53 AM

Can see your site from where I am...for now. I imagine if you started posting snippets from the actual documents that might change. Like W. Craig said - it's all about (ostensibly) the content of the documents being accessed by DOD systems not cleared for that level of classification.

John MooreJuly 3, 2013 7:12 AM

The Army's web filters are pretty simple and dumb. Anything with the word wikileaks will be blocked, so any online newspaper articles containing that word will not pass the filter. It is possible that any article with the word Snowden in it will be blocked. The DOD also has this weird classification that any secret documents that are leaked to the public are still classified and DOD personnel who are not cleared to read those now public documents are forbidden to read them. Unfortunately, I don't work for the Army any more, so I can't verify that the US Army is filtering your site or the Guardian.

MeJuly 3, 2013 7:24 AM

I have never noticed your site blocked, and I'm getting to it from DoD systems now.

I noticed the Guardian UK site blocked from day 1 of the Snowden affair. I've seen this in the past, from consistently blocking WikiLeaks or other "leak" websites to blocking any site that is hosting *copies* of leaked materials for at least a while, but they don't block the sites that are only discussing the matter (but not hosting copies).

The most insidious part is that when they do this, they don't put the warning message up that you typically get if you go to "banned" sites, indicating it's in violation of policy, but rather they just black-hole the DNS queries and messages to or responses from that IP so you get the same "internet connection could not be established" message that is normally reserved for real internet outages.

They also released a memo as a *reminder* that the information, while available publicly, is still considered classified because it has not been declassified (and did the same with other leaks, too), and that therefore we aren't actually allowed to read/download/etc. it even at home on our own time or it's a violation of the Non-Disclosure and Classified Handling Procedure agreements.

Anonymous, but trackableJuly 3, 2013 7:32 AM

I'm not on a DoD system, but the FBI is reading.

As an aside, when I was at Quantico for training, I noticed some gun manufacturer's websites were blocked - including Glock, the FBI's standard issue sidearm. I've wondered if that was an attempt to limit new agents from doing research on their sidearm outside of what's taught in class.

Sites not blocked included celebrity gossip sites that post uncensored pictures of "wardrobe malfunctions." Go figure.

JohnnyDimeJuly 3, 2013 7:49 AM

The previous comments are correct about why this is. The same thing happened with Wikileaks: we couldn't view any site for which there was a reasonable risk that classified information may be present. I'm not happy with the NSA either at the moment, but not everything is conspiracy. In this case, it's a reasonable policy. These folks can view whatever they want on non-Government owned equipment.

Anonymous2July 3, 2013 7:54 AM

Often the blocks on weapon websites, etc. are to prevent people wasting time on personal web browsing more than anything...for some reason, DOD, FBI, etc. personnel seems to enjoy guns.. :)

PaulJuly 3, 2013 8:01 AM

Great Firewall of China is letting you through. Not that that has anything to do with DoD of course. LinkedIn seems to be largely blocked as today's weird-site-to-block

DoD EmployeeJuly 3, 2013 8:16 AM

I don't think that DoD is blocking access to blogs or news sites that discuss Snowden's disclosures--just the actual underlying classified documents. Your site is certainly not blocked--and read by many of us here at the Pentagon!

It may seem silly, but the reason for the blackage of the actual classified documents is that we aren't allowed to have classified documents on our nonclassified computers. These documents are still classified, even if public.

SomeoneJuly 3, 2013 8:18 AM

Leaked classifies documents remain classified and cleared and security personnel are required to treat them as such, even when accessed from public sites, and also to refrain from comment lest they confirm or deny the material. There's a memo published after each leak incident to remind everyone of this; in the Snowden case, the memo is here:

http://www.washingtonguardian.com/sites/default/...

Basically, the way the rules work today, viewing stories about these leaks can create a "spill" when those stories embed the marked classified material. Since spills are expensive to clean up--systems with copies of the data need to be isolated and sanitized, which takes time and personnel--network defenders are tasked to block this material, which based on current technology often devolves into site-wide blocking, if only during the relevant news cycles.

Yes, it seems a bit silly once marked materials are public, but those are the rules and until they're changed they have to be worked within. It's not retaliatory, but I can understand how it would be taken as such.

RobertJuly 3, 2013 8:24 AM

So this can be used as a weak confirmation that a leak is genuine? (I wonder if there are similar procedures for fabricated leaks and how do they decide whether to implement them for a given false leak.)

BobJuly 3, 2013 8:36 AM

@Robert--being that the administration has charged him with espionage, I don't think there is any real doubt that the leaked documents are genuine.

NickJuly 3, 2013 8:38 AM

You know, this is one of the few things that gives me hope in these dark times.

If the massive apparatus of snooping and repression created by the US government were efficiently run by smart, competent people, I think there'd be no hope for any individual freedom.

But then it does something outstandingly, laughably stupid, like keeping information classified after it's been published in a newspaper that's read worldwide, with no other effect than keeping it from some members of itself; and that reminds us that a good proportion of the people running this apparatus are mindless, timeserving bureaucrats. Like mice hiding from an elephant that runs amok in the dark, maybe some of us will work out a way to keep some privacy, some freedom.

JackJuly 3, 2013 8:42 AM


Basically, the gestapo. This kind of muddled, ham fisted, knuckle dragging mindset is typical of totalitarian organizations be they cults or nations. It is all over the news. They can read it when they get home. If you work at McDonald's, you can probably browse to the site. It is information which, I suppose, is "super secret classified", though the whole world knows it. Yet, the Army should not allow their own people to read it. Because it is classified.

You see this swamp of lies out there? That makes for this kind of muddled thinking. Lying requires twisting basic thinking processes upside down and inside out. Basic honesty is what people use in reasoning matters out. When you are dealing with lies - lies to others, lies to your own self - you enter into a truly muddled state where you are practicing perverting that natural sense of reasoning.

One trillion emails processed (in just half of last year alone). That is legal. That is constitutional. That is "against terrorism". Because you have to surveil all emails to catch terrorists.

"It is just phone metadata, nobody has a right to privacy on that". Does anyone listening have a bullshit detector at all? If this is such public data, can we have your phone metadata records and see who all you have been calling and for how long you have been talking?

If lying and believing lies is your virtue, even your patriotism... maybe you need to ask yourself who your boss really is, and what "country" you are really patriotic to? I think he's probably a red guy with a pitch fork and tail. And I think that country would be hell.

zoliJuly 3, 2013 8:53 AM

blocking Your blog would cause a much higher promotion and more people would hear about Snowden and would try to find sg.

blocking may be just for sites that are not so widely read by mass people, so blocking costs less and causes smaller storm.

IanJuly 3, 2013 9:05 AM

@Robert -- Info isn't automagically declassified because it's been released -- classification authorities (usually senior leaders) need to assess if it does MORE damage to declassify and acknowledge a leak, and there's often related info that hasn't been leaked that still needs to be protected. No one in DoD is allowed to confirm or deny potentially leaked info; the general plan is to ignore it until the news cycle dies down. That's pretty much all they can do; the Government does not have the right to confiscate private citizen's systems (yeah, DoD actually takes the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment *very* seriously), so all you can do is figure out damage control.

That said, if you only release *part* of the facts, it makes it easy to spin the story the way you want it to look.

The main reason no one has heard anything about NSA activities before is because even though it's classified and secret, all three branches of government have oversight, and it's been strictly controlled, and protection of citizens' rights is a foremost concern. Like any system, it's subject to abuse, but there is an effective audit trail, and those who misuse the system are caught and pretty severely punished (anywhere from formal reprimand, to loss of security clearance, up to and including jail time -- depending on how intentional and egregious the offense is).

I wouldn't worry about the tinfoil hats today, although I will never criticize anyone for being skeptical (or even suspicious) of the government, and encryption is never a bad thing. After all, the main check on classified government power is trusted people within the system. If those trustworthy people are replaced -- if that internal check and balance becomes eroded -- then there is always potential for systematic and/or widespread abuse (IRS, anyone?).

Mitch ThompsonJuly 3, 2013 9:15 AM

Not censored here...in the home of the AFCERT, the 33rd NWS, Lackland AFB, TX.

StuartJuly 3, 2013 9:26 AM

"Anyone know if my blog is being censored?"

Ummm... by definition surely people in locations where your blog IS being blocked won't be able to tell you because they won't be able to see that you've asked the question?

NickJuly 3, 2013 9:32 AM

@Stuart - but by now, somebody has probably sent an email to a friend in the DoD asking "Hey, can you still see Bruce's security blog?" and received a reply.

TomJuly 3, 2013 9:33 AM

Given the cost of cleanup for a contractor, this is an interesting case for a DOS attack. Take a random document, mark it up as classified (make it look real enough) and email it. The receiver at the least has downtime while the potential spill is vetted. If it's wrongly determined to be a real spill, it leads to wiping a desktop and potentially an email server.

NobodySpecialJuly 3, 2013 9:33 AM

Compared to the UK government searching arriving travels for copies of Spycatcher (for reasons of national security) - while it was being openly sold on the street in Moscow - blocking the guardian is amateur hour.

DeeterOderDasJuly 3, 2013 9:42 AM

In the late 1980s, when I was still in the (U.S.) Air Force and waiting for my TS clearance, I was reading "The Puzzle Palace." A Navy guy, also waiting, told me they were forbidden to read that book.

Same thing happened a few years later when I was reading "Deep Black."

NobodySpecialJuly 3, 2013 9:54 AM

@DeeterOderDas - in the British army we are forbidden to read David McCullough's 1776 - it contains a treasonous story that we were defeated in the colonies.
Long live King George!

J.D. BertronJuly 3, 2013 9:54 AM

And now we know the empire is 19 countries larger than we thought.

BenJuly 3, 2013 10:21 AM

This appears to be pure security theatre. The information is in the wild, there is fear as a result, something should be done, this is something, therefore it is done.

arfnarfJuly 3, 2013 11:00 AM

All my emails are now protected from NSA eavesdropping. How? Simple. I just attach a copy of one of those leaked powerpoints.

Nobody can read them without creating a spill of classified information. How's that for vaccination.

David ScottJuly 3, 2013 11:07 AM

I remember this same sequence of events with regards to WikiLeaks.

Working in the DoD community at the time, access was blocked and we were also sent a memo reminding us that even though the documents were in the public domain, they were still considered classified and downloading them on our laptops was considered "spilage" and unauthorized possession of classified material.

Since we valued our clearances, we heeded the warnings.

Clive RobinsonJuly 3, 2013 11:39 AM

For those of you who can access the UK Guardian site you might find this a worthwhile if not thought provoking read (and no it has no restricted or classified doccuments in it)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/...

As some of you know Bruce used to write the occasional piece for the Guardian IT Supplement (befor they stopped printing it). I wonder if they should aproach Bruce for an editorial piece on the state of affairs that Mr Snowden has dragged into the sunlight.

Inquiring mindJuly 3, 2013 12:13 PM

Maybe the FISA courts need an ad litem to represent the American public in their proceedings, much like minor children have one appointed in divorce proceedings.

Jon DJuly 3, 2013 1:00 PM

First, your site doesn't seem to be blocked (from work). The blocking is directed at sites where documents leaked by Snowden may be found. There was a pop up (your were told?) warning not to visit sites where such info might be viewed. The "rationale" is to avoid classified info getting onto DOD uncles networks. The fact that the info is already in the hands of the rest of the world reinforces the idea once told to me that "security rules are to keep info out of friendly hands more than the enemy."

Regarding so-called "censorship" or site blocking in general, different DOD networks block different sites. In my experience at the Pentagon, the AF, Army, and OSD all have different rules. At AF HQ, fewer restrictions are in place than at AF Bases, where they are subject to subordinate commands policies.

@arfnarf +1 !!

RSaundersJuly 3, 2013 1:48 PM

@Bruce: Clever way to figure out which of your readers are DoD types, or perhaps guestimate what fraction of readers are cleared.

Not that the US Government would distrust you, you've hardly ever said bad things about their "security theatre". Your readers, well we're just naturally suspicious types. It's the ant farm test. (readers who don't get it are referred to here )

Nick PJuly 3, 2013 1:57 PM

@ Clive Robinson

That's actually a really good article. I have less faith than the writer in their conclusion, though. Supported by a decade of the public, media and lawmakers' precedents. Honestly, I'm not sure what can stop the sheer momentum of the status quo.

It's a freight train. A few people on the tracks holding up their hands and shouting at it will barely slow it down. That's what current efforts amount to. Such a freight train can only be forced to stop with incredible effort, although the driver can hit the brakes easily. However, this freight is like other large military-industrial complex projects and might not even the brake option.

Without the public doing a 180 in both their demands and approach to political participation... somehow... I'm at a loss for ideas on what could be done in reality to stop the Giant Surveillance, Intelligence and "Direct Action" Machine.

Shachar ShemeshJuly 3, 2013 1:57 PM

They also released a memo as a *reminder* that the information, while available publicly, is still considered classified because it has not been declassified (and did the same with other leaks, too), and that therefore we aren't actually allowed to read/download/etc. it even at home on our own time or it's a violation of the Non-Disclosure and Classified Handling Procedure agreements.

That is a contender for the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Essentially, this means that people with classification are mandated to be less informed than people without.

I can sort of understand the spillage argument (well, it is horribly stupid too, as the specific word sequences cannot be considered spillage, even if they are still classified, but I can see where this is coming from). But telling people not to be informed?

It's as if people with clearance cease to be citizens.

Shachar

FigureitoutJuly 3, 2013 3:32 PM

But telling people not to be informed?
Shachar Shemesh
--Just control of information, Orwell wrote about controlling through language, eliminating certain words. Gotta keep the underlings in line and only have access to certain parts, otherwise...they may start reasoning some things.

A few people on the tracks holding up their hands and shouting at it
--I'm actually calling on them to come murder me, so people can finally see what state they are actually living in. It would do me two favors, prove my point and put me out of my misery.

SimonJuly 3, 2013 3:56 PM

Not blocked in New Zealand! However, as we have an Echelon listening station in this country, I'm sure the NSA is listening in for words such as dirty bomb, ricin, Allah, Jihad, etc, etc. Hi, Mr Secret Agent man *flips the bird*

stoneloupJuly 3, 2013 4:20 PM

This policy almost seems like the necessary encouragement to make naturally curious people go seek out the links to these articles. It's like the "don't read this ->" sign ;) It's hard to believe that the NSA is run and operated by anyone who could come up with inane policies like this one. This is further cause for concern, since it's impossible to trust anyone who actually believes such policies should be upheld, to the task of snooping and collecting that much info about the citizenry.

FigureitoutJuly 3, 2013 4:51 PM

It's also why I'm playing this little game, accessing a security website w/ quite possibly one of the least secure connections/systems. Another one of my jokes to make the right people angry when they find out how much time they've wasted pursuing a kid living in his parent's basement.

MikeJuly 3, 2013 5:16 PM

It's unlikely your blog itself is being blocked, but links to sites where classified documents are accessible are almost certainly being filtered by DoD and other U.S. agencies. This is just a good business practice for DoD on it's own networks. If someone were to access those documents on a government system, the owner entity has to treat that system as if it were now classified and engage in clean-up activities even if the classified information is now, for all intents and purposes, in the public domain. That clean-up can rapidly become expensive: much more cost effective to prevent systems from becoming contaminated in the first place. In addition, there's no guarantee that all users on DoD Internet-connected networks have an appropriate clearance to view the documents Snowden leaked, so from the protection of classified info perspective, it also makes sense to block problematic sites that are displaying that material.

NSAJuly 3, 2013 7:17 PM

Not yet, but you're on the list of 'Persons of Interest'.

Hopefully this will provide some temporary level of recognition requirement until we can get to you.
Love,

Agent Smith

Anonymous CowardJuly 3, 2013 7:19 PM

So could you launch a denial of service attack on the DoD by emailing the Snowden documents to as many public DoD e-mail addresses as possible, forcing them to wipe the recipients' computers and mail servers?

Dirk PraetJuly 3, 2013 8:19 PM

@ Clive, Nick P

Honestly, I'm not sure what can stop the sheer momentum of the status quo.

The simple truth is that most people simply do not understand the implications of Snowden's revelations on the country and the world they're living in. They have bought and are still buying the lie that all of this is being done to protect them from terrorists, and genuinely have no clue whatsoever how mass surveillance and gradual erosion of the rule of law can be used against them.

Only when a majority of people rise against a system will there be any change. I personally don't see this happening until a massive economic recession or some other tipping point forces the general public to start thinking for themselves instead of blindly accepting the lies they're being told by their ruling classes and state sponsored mainstream media.

History has learned us that eventually any authoritarian system is doomed. In the meanwhile, the best thing we can do is try and educate our friends and family, teach them some basic digital hygiene and exercise our democratic right of free speech for as long and as much as we can.

Teydam KhuntJuly 3, 2013 9:02 PM

@Dirk

Enjoyed your comment, much truth to it. May I ask, what 'basic digital hygiene' should I be teaching my friends and family? Do you have any handy writeups/books on the topic?

LewisJuly 3, 2013 9:48 PM

Your site was timing out for a large portion of yesterday for me here in Australia, I just put it down to coincidence?

Shachar ShemeshJuly 3, 2013 10:13 PM

@Ian

I'm sorry, I'm not buying the "unsupervised but within bounds" arguments. As soon as you listen in on people's phone call without a court order, you are already violating the fourth amendment. Saying "yeah, but I do so responsibly" is just saying "I could have done much worse had I wanted to". Replying with "why should it be up to you?" is the only sane thing to do.

And, no, FISA does not count as a court order. The reason is simple. The secret court never denies an order. Now, you might claim that's the case also with standard orders, but you'd be wrong.

Even if actual tapping requests and search warrants are rarely actually denied (I don't know the statistics in the US, but that is the case where I live), defense later gets to see and challenge these. This causes guidelines to evolve, which limit their use. Police will not ask for a search warrant they know will cause any gathered evidence to be thrown away when they try to press charges.

In this case, however, defense never gets to see the origin court order. Ever. Not even if it results in criminal charges. Not even when the defense attorney has clearance. The state never even admits that the original information came from this program.

That is the true constitutional violation, and it has nothing to do with discretion of use.

Shachar

FigureitoutJuly 3, 2013 10:22 PM

Teydam Khunt
--No, there is no practical advice besides going old school b/c script kiddie fanboi bitches get bored w/ the exquisite basics. I'm getting into PIC programming where I have at least a more realistic feeling of control and functions will be separated; check it out. Radio is cool too; there's a lot to learn, so many books, check it out too.

FigureitoutJuly 3, 2013 10:41 PM

Teydam Khunt
--I mean, I'm reviewing the entirety of schneier.com's archives and will make a post of some supposed "lost knowledge" that someone claims to have posted. Assuming I don't get murdered. What people really need is a baseline for a pattern they can see/feel; hopefully it's deep enough, and then they build on it.

One of my crazy ideas for a new internet is everyone digging up their yards and laying new cables; w/ the critical nodes in very visible public areas. Would be quite the project, especially across the ocean; so radio low power obscure digital modes of radio just seems easier. But then you get to where you only speaking to "the freaks that get it".

Dirk PraetJuly 4, 2013 7:06 AM

@ Teydam Khunt

Do you have any handy writeups/books on the topic?

https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/whitepapers/encryption-works-how-protect-your-privacy-age-nsa-surveillance is a good start and you can take it from there. Other simple things that come to mind:

- Get off Facebook and Google+ . For professional purposes only, you can keep a LinkedIn profile.
- Dump your malware-prone Android-based tablets/smartphones unless you really know what you're doing or until such a time that Android becomes more mature and allows for more granular access permissions.
- Disable location services on your Mac and iDevices
- Avoid using M/S Azure, Office 365, Google Apps, AWS and the like. Under the Patriot Act, all your data belong to the USG.
- Use a browser that offers security and privacy add-ons such as NoScript, Ghostery, HTTPS Everywhere, Adblock Plus and the like.
- Replace Google search engine by DuckDuckGo
- Encrypt you cloud storage (Dropbox, Skydrive et al) with Boxcryptor or similar tools
- Connect through a VPN, like the free ones found at http://www.vpngate.net/en/about_overview.aspx
- Configure your MUA for SSL/TLS if your provider supports it.
- Learn how to use remailers
- Explore the possibilities of darknets such as Freenet and I2P
- Use dnscrypt
- Patch your OS and applications on a regular basis, especially if you're on Windows.
- ...

But most of all, remember one thing: you don't stand a chance against a determined and resourceful opponent, so don't do/say anything on the internet you wouldn't wanna be caught doing/saying in public. None of the above will stop anyone dead in his tracks, but at least you minimise your online trail, it will slow them down and give them a decent run for their money.

WilliamJuly 4, 2013 7:49 AM

"They also released a memo as a *reminder* that the information, while available publicly, is still considered classified because it has not been declassified (and did the same with other leaks, too), and that therefore we aren't actually allowed to read/download/etc. it even at home on our own time or it's a violation of the Non-Disclosure and Classified Handling Procedure agreements."

This isn't quite true. You can't read the classified documents from a computer, if you use that computer to access your work-related goverment websites. IOW, if you work for the FBI, and you use your personal laptop to access your email remotely, then you can't use *that* laptop to also access Snowden's documents. OTOH if you don't use that laptop to access your email remotely, then you can use that laptop to access Snowden's docs.

Clive RobinsonJuly 4, 2013 9:17 AM

@ Dirk, Nick,

    Honestly, I'm not sure what can stop the sheer momentum of the status quo.

There is no "status quo" in the long term all Empires fall (or so history has taught us so far). What happens is that the Empire becomes "set in it's ways" and society grows out from underneath it, like weeds from under poorly put down tarmac.

But there is an exception where the Empire changes ahead of society (Pagen Rome to Holy Roman Empire to Vatican/Pope). Provided it keeps ahead and keeps it's ambitions slow/low it will survive for millenia.

Yesterday we saw the result of not following slow/low in Egypt. Whilst the president was democraticaly elected he charged ahead with a radical policy to turn Egypt into a non secular state which did not sit at all well with the populous in general. The result is the Army moved in and currently have him and one or two of his more senior "advisors" currently in communicardo / arrest and they have put one of the most senior members of the judiciary in charge to organise a new election etc.

And in essence the trick to gaining/maintaining control of society has nothing to do with legality or illegality but everything to do with how society sees those in charge and what they are in charge of.

This gives rise to two possibilities,

1, Predict how society is changing and stay ahead of the trend.

2, Change society in the direction desired.

Many historical commentators of the past have likened society to what is in effect a wilfull child that is in need of (political) parental guidence. That is you "teach" society and they will become as desired by the teacher.

But as we know teaching is far from being an agnostic activity, the choice of information and the way it is presented is usually key for the majority of people. That is they will belive in most cases what they are told, unless there is significant disonance with their actual perception.

In Rome the powers that be used and abused the "power of the Gods" to in effect absolve their behaviour to being that of "following the direction of a higher power". The belief in deities was enshrind in their legal code. It only started to go wrong for them when they started legal proclaiming people as deities, and this failing lead to Christianity taking hold of a three hundred year period by contrasting the obviously mortal self proclaimed deities with the message of "life ever after" under Christian God.

Arguably the "life ever after" only for the faithfull is a con trick based on an inherant desire in humans not to die. That is it is offered as a "belief without proof" only available to the unquestioning faithfull, and is a form of mysticism used to gain political control by offering a choice of immortality or purgatory. It only works because very young children are taught by those they trust to believe unquestioningly in "life ever after" which is why the Roman Catholic Church puts so much emphasis on mothers teaching the ways of the church to their children from before they can do anything more than suckle. They then use the education system to further re-enforce unquestioning devotion to the church and this can be seen from the fact that less than two hundred years ago various collegaes within universities required faculty members to be ordained priests. From a distance the message was clear do as we say when we say or suffer the consiquences not just now but in the forever we have taught you to belive in...

It was the rationality of science that started to call this into question and this in turn gave rise to some of the ideas behind Karl Marx and others that society could dispose of the formalised mysticism of religion. Good and rational as it sounded it's various "spin offs" such as communism failed.

Arguably because the systems all lacked the "beliefe in a higher power", that is in humans there is a strong desire to be led, presumably because it makes life in general easier to live on a day to day basis.

This "human failing" just like most other human failings can be used like the abusive relationship between a drug addict and the drugs pusher. The question though is the "being led" failing one that you can do without?

That is, is it a relationship such as that between a smoker and their "weed", which will not kill them if they cease to smoke it, or is the relationship more that between an overweight person and food, where ceasing to eat will kill them by the process of starvation. In otherwords it is the difference between "just a desire" and a "real need", which is one aspect of the "nurture -v- nature" argument.

I have reason to think the desire to be led is not "nature" but "nurture" that is we can live as hermits but we are taught to be social. And this is re-enforced by the advantages of living in social grouping which actually discorages "jacks of all trades but masters of none" and encorages people to develop specialist skills where they can because this "elevates them above the common clay".

But as Marx and later George Orwell realised the "common clay" of society should not be "dirt poor" such that those who had specialist skills should lord it above them at their expense.

And this is a problem, because one specialist skill is that of "gulling people" at the low end you have "charmers" working your way through various "cons" up to full blown sociopaths [1]. These people have no desire to be led, but see great advantage in being leaders or advisors/controlers of leaders as it has strong rewards in "status".

And whilst this can be seen as Hawks-v-Doves it has further consiquences, what becomes important to these individuals is not what the increased status brings in terms of wealth health independance but the visable status over others in terms of the "status gap". Thus they start to use their wealth not to create more wealth but to activly impoverish others. Thus further increasing the "status gap" without increasing the overall wealth of society. That is they want 95% of a small pie over 90% of a much bigger pie where their slice of the big pie might be many times bigger than the 95% slice of the small pie.

The result is such people actually look forward to significant and serious recescions as others become impoverished much more quickly than themselves and thus the desired increase in "status gap" even though they are also suffering a significant decrease in fortune.

In previous times there has always been a lower limit in that the priviledged few needed the common clay to carry out many of the tasks required for their own survival, commfort and status. However over the past century and a half technology has replaced tasks that provided work for the common clay, and at the current rate of progress the common clay will find that there is no work for them that is within their capabilities, not because there is not the work to be done but because technology has enabled the work to be done more cheaply. One such modern asspect is the "out sourcing" of jobs to other economies another as first seen in the weaving industry is the work being carried out by machines.

And as with the weavers of past times this change is not expected to happen quietly, which means the priviledged need some method to control the common clay and force them willingly or otherwise in to a further subordinated position in life. In times past this ment an increase in the likes of petty enforcment officers such as land agents, bailifs, special police and militia selected by the priviliged from the common clay to go and put preasure on the unselected and unwanted remaining common clay. Thus in effect giving a re-balance to the common clay by giving them cause to set up lawful ways to defend themselves via unions and political action against those in priviladged states. Thus the priviledged started in on "union busting" activities usually in at best questionable but more often illegal ways.

Untill the 1990's technology was such that there was an "equity in arms" achivable for both sides. Unfortunatly it has since rapidly progressed and the time when equity was possible is now past. The new land agents, bailifs, special police and militia working for the priviledged against the common clay are now the likes of Google, Microsoft and other companies shown to be involved with the "for gain" wholesale gathering, colating, filtering and presenting of details about individuals formaly considered private in an industrialised fashion. But further the details are now being used to harm those not who would wish to harm us (terrorists) but against those seaking to protect themselves and others of the common clay from being harmed by the privilaged.

Back in the 1980's and 90's "technologists" were asking themselves questions about the "end use" of the technologies they were creating. Not technical questions but moral questions about the ethics and morals of those using the technology they had designed and built. They found themselves in the same position as some of the nuclear scientists during the 1940's, 50's and 60's seeing their technology being used to cause harm to others. So quite a few technologists chose not to work in the so called "Defence" industries, which when faced with a shortage of workers tried using other non defence industry companies to do their work (quite a few bits of drone related software and hardware were designed and built by such means). As these defence weapons and surveilance technologies have advanced they have dragged in more technology that previously was not used for moraly questionable or illegal activities. This has caused some people to make the choice between being technologists or working in some entirely different field of endevor where the moral issues do not arise.

As I've pointed out in the past all technologies are tools and as such they are agnostic to their use, and it's the mind behind the hand that controls them that makes the choice of use good or bad. But we are past the time where any technology can be considered "moraly safe" to design and build, and fast approaching that time when the tools and technology are nologer controled by hand, but other technology to the point where a "controling mind" would be hard to find at best. Currently there are very few hands left, and they are often unknowing in what they do either through lack of knowledge or because those that employ them have lied/misled them, thus thes NSA, GCHQ, et al organisations have been able to build their "total surveilance" systems. But inturn even those that work for them are being misled and those with illegal or questionable motives are using them to discriminate against others (IRS for instance) such that they can maintain privilege and the status gap.

Stopping this "fright train" may not be possible, as the technology and legislation are in place and in effect we have built unknowingly our very own living hell, keystroke by keystroke, solder joint by solder joint and in the process sealed our own fate...

Any way for those of you who live in the (supposed) "land of the free" enjoy your 4th of July, it may be the last where independance from tyrany has any real meaning.

[1] There is an argument to be made that this is where nurture has an influance on nature. That is there are advantages in cheating, and those prone to it gain an advantage in wealth and a better standard of living which gives both longevity and "breeding privilage" so any small genetic component becomes amplified against those less fortunate [2]. However if "interbreeding" occurs amongst the privilaged then the "closed stud book" causes other genetic amplification which is why we have "Royal diseases" such as degenaterive blood conditions.

[2] We have seen genetic components becoming amplified by societal changes with amongst other things alcohol, in europe the intolerance to alcohol is very small because alcoholic drinks in general do not have water carried diseases in them thus for those tolerant to alcohol drinking beer/wine is safer than drinking water which usually becomes more (human waste) contaminated as a society grows. Those intolerant to alcohol were more likely to die before becoming parents or only having smaller families, thus a genetic re-balance in favour of the alcohol tolerant. As a confermation by counter example in societies where alcohol was not routienly drunk alcohol intolarance appears in around half the population.

Romer July 4, 2013 9:29 AM

@Nick P - July 3, 2013 1:57 PM: "It's a freight train. A few people on the tracks holding up their hands and shouting at it will barely slow it down. .... Without the public doing a 180 in both their demands and approach to political participation... I'm at a loss for ideas."

Completely agree, and the engine of that freight train is Big Data, specifically the "data" part of that buzzphrase.

The promiscuous and massive collection by companies of user-owned and user-generated data - and in many cases their claims to ownership of that data - is leading us down an extremely dangerous path.

The problem stems from:
(a) extremely weak privacy laws in the USA;
(b) companies are permitted by these weak laws to obscure and hide their privacy statements and Terms and Conditions from users;
(c) a tacit social and legal assumption that when your data leaves your premises and transits the Internet, that it's on "the commons" and fair game for collection and analysis;
(d) the heinous legal presumption that "metadata" (e.g., paper envelopes, email headers, telephone numbers) is somehow distinct from content and hence exempt from the 4th Amendment.

Slippery slope, freight train, road to ruin. Whatever it's called we're on it, full speed. And yes it is the responsibility and blame of the American public.

wait whatJuly 4, 2013 12:37 PM

On one side, it's been said that a classified document made public by non-government channels found in government employees must be treated as a security leak and the physical drive must be wiped or even destroyed. However, as seen here the remedy mandated by DoD is, on Windows systems, to simply SHIFT+DEL, delete the file bypassing the recycle bin. This does not wipe anything and could be potientally undeleted from these systems.

Steve KinneyJuly 5, 2013 12:54 AM

Since the day it was announced that you have joined the board of the EFF - and possibly before - the domain schneier.com has been un-routable from my location, on a Verizon subnet in Tampa, Florida. Traceroute shows normal traffic flow until packets enter blackfoot.net, where they vanish after three hops. If this is some kind of censorship it's something I have never heard of, and I have never seen this phenomenon anywhere else. Decidedly strange: I have to wonder if my Verizon IP address is in a block too close to MacDill AFB and CENTCOM?

Posted via TOR, EFF FTW.

onearmedspartanJuly 5, 2013 6:10 AM

Schneier Blog not blocked on Do D site and I hope they never do. I learn a lot from this blog. You are right that they block porn, as well as any games, and other inappropriate sites most other businesses would block.

JimJuly 7, 2013 11:01 AM

@Clive Robinson

When people lose confidence in their governments, that destabilizes the government. When governments, who enforce the law become lawless, then the society underlying becomes lawless.

Ancient Rome had very little understanding of good and evil, so it was not so difficult for their empire's sense of "good" and "lawfulness" to be shown up.

"Holy" Rome had a better system. They were still men, however, but they understood good and evil better. They lasted until the printing press when their hypocrisy could be exposed.

The "free" world has been fighting against godless tyrants and terrorists. Nazis and Communists and the like. Problem is these are just words. If you do the same thing tyrants and terrorists do, you are a tyrant and a terrorist.

Good and evil are not products of the imagination. This is not a difficult calculation to make. It is true societies will try and redefine what is good and what is evil. Ignorance, in a sense, will be an aid there. But ignorance is always weaker then knowledge. And ignorantly doing wrong means you will be beat by someone who with knowledge knows how to do better.

Every person on the planet is condemned by the standard they use to condemn others by. If you are North Korean or if you are American. Even if you feed the homeless on your days off, or if you are a sociopathic serial killer.

The government is tasked in the business of condemnation. This runs to wars and this runs to prisons. If the government is hypocritical, the government is lawless. The people under them then become lawless.

Marx simply stole existing ideas at his time and twisted them into his own cocktail of delusion. Opiate can be condemned as deluding people while making them feel bad. Truth is no opiate. Truth gets people high, but it does not delude them.

The concept here is simply that thinking and feeling different then what everyone else thinks and feels can be dizzying. Empowering. But the feeling of empowerment by delusion is a false high.

There is such a thing as social justice. This falls under the concept of good and bad. There was a big movement at the time of Marx for understanding what social justice is. Marx made a big splash in perverting that movement.

He found a way using - at the time - cutting edge thinking to warp the move towards social justice into a dishonest thing. So that it could be used by people whose hearts were as hard as tyrants.

The message was able to remove all concept of good from the social justice movement. That was the fulcrum of the social justice movement. Largely, Marx and his ilk were beaten.

Women got rights, workers got rights, people of minority status got rights. They would have made far more progress, much faster had they stuck to the facts. And not gone out with Marxist ideologies.

Whatever the case, "the free world" has been ahead of that curve. But, now it is set to die. As the words stay the same, but the meanings change. To allow them to be hypocrites.

Problem is people know when they are being hypocritical on a very deep level, even if they do not consciously understand this. So, hypocrisy - lawlessness - flourishes. Condemnation is made by standards which those who condemn violate. They have no excuses. They have no... as they say, "moral authority".

When the only difference between terrorist and soldier, between criminal and law enforcement officer is that one gets away with it and locks up the other... then, there is no law.

And society does not stand.

Though to say, "I know everything" and argue, "there is no God, no angels, no demons" is very wrong and naive. People do this for many reasons. One is they can not imagine beings superior to their own selves. This very concept hits at their core weakness of pride and arrogance.

It is a terrible weakness to have. It is like going to every chess match assuming you are superior to the person you are playing against. They can play with you as a cat plays with a mouse. You have no defense when you are only capable of always underestimating your adversary.

But, I suppose, it is hard to make men into adversaries of God, and much harder to make them actually willing to go to war against God.

They have to be tricked somehow.

NathanaelJuly 9, 2013 8:13 AM

"They also released a memo as a *reminder* that the information, while available publicly, is still considered classified because it has not been declassified (and did the same with other leaks, too), and that therefore we aren't actually allowed to read/download/etc. it even at home on our own time or it's a violation of the Non-Disclosure and Classified Handling Procedure agreements."

For reference, what the Guardian has published was an extremely blatant case of illegal classification; it's also evidence of a crime committed by a judge and of multiple legal Constitutional violations (1st and 4th amendments).

Read it, regardless of what the DoD tells you to. You need to read it to understand exactly how offensively evil the government is being.

NathanaelJuly 9, 2013 8:18 AM

"The main reason no one has heard anything about NSA activities before is because even though it's classified and secret, all three branches of government have oversight,"

Bullshit. Read the "court order" from Roger Vinson -- yes, read it. It was illegally classfied, and it's the smoking gun evidence that the NSA activities are completely unconstitutional.

And please remember that James Clapper deliberately lied to Congress.

And again, read it, even if you're in the DoD. You need to be informed. Don't be a dupe. Remember this:
"The fact that the info is already in the hands of the rest of the world reinforces the idea once told to me that "security rules are to keep info out of friendly hands more than the enemy." "

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