The Need for Transparency in Surveillance

In Data and Goliath, I talk about the need for transparency, oversight, and accountability as the mechanism to allow surveillance when it is necessary, while preserving our security against excessive surveillance and surveillance abuse.

James Losey has a new paper that discusses the need for transparency in surveillance. His conclusion:

Available transparency reports from ICT companies demonstrate the rise in government requests to obtain user communications data. However, revelations on the surveillance capabilities of the United States, Sweden, the UK, and other countries demonstrate that the available data is insufficient and falls short of supporting rational debate. Companies can contribute by increasing granularity, particularly on the legal processes through which they are required to reveal user data. However, the greatest gaps remain in the information provided directly from governments. Current understanding of the scope of surveillance can be credited to whistleblowers risking prosecution in order to publicize illegitimate government activity. The lack of transparency on government access to communications data and the legal processes used undermines the legitimacy of the practices.

Transparency alone will not eliminate barriers to freedom of expression or harm to privacy resulting from overly broad surveillance. Transparency provides a window into the scope of current practices and additional measures are needed such as oversight and mechanisms for redress in cases of unlawful surveillance. Furthermore, international data collection results in the surveillance of individuals and communities beyond the scope of a national debate. Transparency offers a necessary first step, a foundation on which to examine current practices and contribute to a debate on human security and freedom. Transparency is not the sole responsibility of any one country, and governments, in addition to companies, are well positioned to provide accurate and timely data to support critical debate on policies and laws that result in censorship and surveillance. Supporting an informed debate should be the goal of all democratic nations.

Posted on October 27, 2015 at 9:52 AM • 37 Comments

Comments

albertOctober 27, 2015 10:44 AM

"...Supporting an informed debate should be the goal of all democratic nations..."

There are no 'democratic nations' on Earth at present. The real question has nothing to do with 'transparency'. It has to do with restoring democracy in the nations of the world. I don't see any suggestions for accomplishing that (not that I think it's accomplishable).

The IC has tasted the forbidden fruit, and now they are addicted to it. You don't take toys away from those boys.

Wish in one hand,...

. .. . .. _ _ _

AlanSOctober 27, 2015 10:50 AM

Losey:

Current understanding of the scope of surveillance can be credited to whistleblowers risking prosecution in order to publicize illegitimate government activity.

The powers that be have a solution for that: make their previously illegitimate activities legitimate. That's what's happening in the US, UK and elsewhere.

See Mainstreaming Watergate

What’s interesting about Watergate is how attitudes to it have changed. As recently as the early Seventies, the idea that the government would listen-in on the conversations of its political opponents was seen as fundamentally undermining democracy; to such an extent that the most powerful man in the world was forced out of office when it transpired he’d been involved in it. Polls show that most younger Americans today, who weren’t around at the time, can’t understand what all of the fuss was about. It’s worth remembering that when you read the ruling that came from the investigatory powers tribunal last week [in the UK] in response to a case lodged by my Green Party colleagues Caroline Lucas and Jenny Jones. It is now, apparently, legal for GCHQ to spy on MPs’ and MSPs’ emails.

Erdem MemisyaziciOctober 27, 2015 12:17 PM

Because apparently the new generation has no problem with living in a hive mind with minimal achievement while being in risk for total failure of the group, so long as the weakest unit takes the blame and the wealthiest gets to do it all over again, rest can be recycled. Yes, I'm talking about Unity, she's just a business lady today, http://rickandmorty.wikia.com/wiki/Unity She was the Borg Queen a generation ago http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Borg_Queen The difference? In one perspective money is in "quantum flux", in the other solid as diamonds.

WinterOctober 27, 2015 12:36 PM

I posted a link in a Friday Squid Blogging a few weeks ago to a report on standards oversight of national intelligence agencies. It was quite late in the cycle so I do not think many have seen it. It is relevant as it quotes a lot of case law from the European Court of Human Rights who are not very pleased by current behavior of the IC.

Ten standards for oversight and transparency of national intelligence services: custodiet ipsos custodes
https://blog.cyberwar.nl/2015/07/report-ten-standards-for-oversight-and-transparency-of-national-intelligence-services-july-2015-eskens-van-daalen-van-eijk/


1: Intelligence services need to be subject to oversight that is complete.
2: Oversight should encompass all stages of the intelligence cycle.
3: Oversight of the intelligence services should be independent.
4: Oversight should take place prior to the imposition of a measure.
5: Oversight bodies should be able to declare a measure unlawful and provide for redress.
6: Oversight should incorporate the adversary principle.
7: Oversight bodies should have sufficient resources to perform effective oversight.
8: Intelligence services and their oversight bodies should provide layered transparency.
9: Oversight bodies, civil society and individuals should be able to receive and access information about surveillance.
10: Companies and other private legal entities should be able to publish aggregate information on surveillance orders they receive.

Jack SparrowOctober 27, 2015 12:53 PM

Key problem right in that blurb:

The lack of transparency on government access to communications data and the legal processes used undermines the legitimacy of the practices.


...

This goes against the very nature of secret surveillance. Of spying.

So this is not a problem that will go away.

Edward Snowden did not tell us this. We all know this. We all knew that the US Government was hacking foreign systems. We all knew the chance was very high the US Government has been surveilling domestic traffic. We all know all governments will tend to do this. And when I say "we all know", I literally mean from the homeless guy on the street to the Wall Street executive to those "in the know" to those that closely follow these issues over the years.

Not everyone is as conscious as this as those following the issues, those 'in the know', surely. And those who have never worked in intelligence or related law enforcement do not have it nearly as drilled into them that surveillance and spying in general must be secret to succeed. But, there it is.

This means:
- there is certainly spying going on which is entirely unreported and not even guessed at, probably even at dragnet levels... no secret courts involved
- as another article pointed out, data is not anymore stored on paper... it can be copied... so likely databases, regardless of size are copied, despite legal rulings
- there is ample precedent for even US law enforcement going around every manner of court and politician, the FBI did this for decades under Hoover... only exposed because of a fluke breakin by some hippies in the 70s and resulting investigations afterwards... was documented and now public knowledge, albeit obscure enough not even to have made it in last Hoover movie by Eastwood
- Hoover wiretapped the Senate, House, President; blackmailed them regularly; he went so far as to personally ask Martin Luther King Jr to kill himself; the full extent of his surveillance and attacks remains unknown; the main FBI building in Washington is named after the man; hardly a sentiment which has been thoroughly repented in US intel & law enforcement
- every nation is susceptible to this, secret surveillance is core to law enforcement and intelligence alike the very horn of their power; for good and bad
- no nation can watch every organization, much less every division, every team, ever. Especially not nations which have extremely large secret cultures where stovepiping compartmentalization is norm. It is impossible even from a sheer paper angle. Never mind the extensive problem of management often being political appointees, short termers with no experience in even related fields
- illegal secret surveillance is extremely difficult to catch; this is especially true with open, unencrypted traffic; much of the telecom and internet global infrastructure is designed not to be encrypted and the wires are easy access [see recent report on Russian subs by undersea cabling], nevermind the intention of the open ness of the internet; hacking is hard to attribute and can be hardware implanted; hard wire taps from video to audio are easily disclaimable and there are countless legit reasons for high secure facilities to be wired
- there is little to no internal legal enforcement over law enforcement or intel agencies; intel oriented organizations are, at best, focused on foreign intel spying, they really do not police themselves in the least nor could they be expected to


Which pretty much just leaves, what? Exceptional "whistleblowers". Foreign intelligence exposing operations either directly or indirectly. Accidents with "likely suspects" which are not easily covered up. Effective mainstream and alternative media -- whereby "alternative" I mean open servers like Wikileaks and in more rare instances services like Youtube. Distributed file sharing systems.

The mainstream media is very poor at reporting serious issues. With Snowden they have gotten better, but I see many severe technical issues have been very poorly reported. For instance, recall how the initial whistleblowers were so deeply ignored? Or some of their stories, like that Obama was wiretapped extensively before becoming President? And so on. A lot of little stories like that rarely get repeated.

"Alternative" media so often tends to get into outrageous conspiracy theories and so deeply destroy their own integrity. They are typically heavily biased: far left, far right, extreme fringe, some even run by national propaganda systems where national may be "Iran" or "Russia", and so on.

Their true believers don't see they are a big part of the problem -- and even victims of counterintelligence departments. But, they are. No fix there.

Whistleblowers... anything really dark won't have whistleblowers because they are engaging in illegal work, work which they themselves get involved in. They have families, sometimes, and will have little confidence in getting anything out because they will see how judges and media can be subverted by extortion and secret surveillance.

So, chances are slim. People should be aware of what the real factors they are working against.

Maybe some accounting can be forced upon agencies. Law enforcement used to not have internal policing divisions until recently. No internal affairs until the seventies. The General Accounting Office is weak, toothless, and doesn't have keys to anything even to begin to look.

Corporate executives and employees might become whistleblowers as domestic integration with corporate ramps up. But, they will tend to be dealt with indirectly, if at all; and those dealt with would only be so if an assessment is made they can be controlled.

The Department of Justice, which is a primary involved agency is historically very involved, and its' jurisdiction is limited. Its' vested interests are the real problem, however, and it has been structured to serve executive administrations.

That is the fox guarding the hen house.


JacobOctober 27, 2015 1:54 PM

CNN just quoted an anonymous senior intel official who said that "NSA already grabs stolen data in its mission to protect the United States from hackers. And it has rules in place to minimize the effect on peoples’ privacy". But, the offical added, that "CIPA would give our spy agencies greater visibility".
Then Ms. Wheeler elaborated that NSA, FBI, Treasury, ODNI, and others will get databases full of content from DHS, but given that NSA’s rules will not be applied here (FBI will get the data at the same time as NSA) the rules to protect people’s privacy that are currently in place won’t be in effect.

(By Marcy Wheeler , https://www.emptywheel.net/)

tyrOctober 27, 2015 4:03 PM


@Jack Sparrow

Nice catch on the quote.
Legitimacy of the practices has such a nice ring to it.
That's called framing, the shoring material that is used
to obfuscate the real problem. No one wants to discuss
the illegitimacy of the practices or the implications
of discarding rule of law or selective application of
the law. Those would call into question the legitimacy
of the practitioners who insist a government of the
people has to obey the law but the bureaucracies don't
have to obey because 'sekrit nashnul sekurty'. Once
you accept that undermining the foundations and opening
all the doors and windows is the way to save the house
of cards from falling down, you are ready to become a
hero of the National Security State.

The latest epic of bureaucratic double-think is Library
of Congress rulings on DRM circumvention. Well worth
looking into. It is also worth writing to them for a
chance to get them to be serious about the IoT mess
which is looming on the horizon.

Your take on illegal activities is correct. They are not
going away but should be minimal practices of the marginal.
Once they become the mainstream the only way to clear up
the mess that creates is to burn down the entire judicial
system books and all and start over from scratch with a
re-write that brings the entire enterprise back under the
umbrella of justice and law again.

Has anyone else noticed that every evil practice that was
condemned is now part of the system under a neatly re-
packaging. Slavery is now privatized prisons, CMUs are
where you lock up political prisoners, renditions are how
you have re-introduced the Inquisition, and we have what
are apparently wars between religion disguised with a few
snappy phrases about democracy, freedom, and terror?

I can even remember when genocide was considered an evil.
Now it is just business of legitimate governments.

Bob S.October 27, 2015 5:30 PM

Historical footnote: The internet died today.

CISA passed the Senate today and will become final when reconciled with the House version and signed by the President. It's a done deal.

CISA allows internet companies to voluntarily and secretly divert business and user data to the federal government so it can be reviewed and analyzed for CRIMINAL activity or hacking.

Participating companies are exempt from FOIA and immune from lawsuits regarding the data they provide.

It is the law that makes domestic mass surveillance all legal. In my view Windows 10 is the flagship mass surveillance data source for government, but FB, Google et al with feed the government beast too. I would imagine the government in turn will pay millions if not billions of dollars in fees for easy access to data.

In short, anything you do on the internet may be used against you as evidence in a trial for a wide variety of crimes. There is no warrant, there is no notice, there is no due process. You agreed to give the government all your data by NOT opting out of the thousands of user internet company agreements.

I would expect new businesses will be created to take advantage of the expanded government powers that will scour the internet for evidence of crimes in return for a finders fee.

I am done posting here and everywhere. I will be working on locking down my systems. I must admit some people I know who should know better about this, absolutely don't care. I suspect many of them will regret their faulty decision making, one way or another.

The internet is dead.

Long live the internet.

(so much for transparency.)

Jack SparrowOctober 27, 2015 7:03 PM

@tyr

I do think there is hope. And there are big problems everywhere.

A lot of what concerns me is "where does this stop", and considering history on these matters. We are lacking evidence of a lot of forms of corruption that are likely to arise. I think a large reason that evidence is lacking is because it is either not there, or is not there in sufficient quantity. Yet, anyway.

Accidents are meaningful. Having means for publication of evidence is meaningful. Adversarial, international news media is meaningful. And so on.

A lot of the infrastructure required for a truly bad domestic intelligence agency, just is not there. No small part of that is moral. I don't think your average person with top secret clearance would be willing to drastically break laws. And your clearance process has checks for law breaking behavior.

Partly that is because those regimes where that really blooms have a strong "bad person" justification angle. Hoover had his commies. Stasis, Lenin, Hoover, and so on environments -- anybody could be the witch for the inquisition. Anyone.

And that kind of speech was mainstream, in the open, and all over the place.

One can compare it to the "terrorist" speech today, but it is also very different. So far. On the surface, it can seem not so, but it really is. Not everyone can be a terrorist. Not even every Muslim. To suggest every Muslim or any Muslim is likely a terrorist in mainstream is highly condemned. It isn't even as mainstream as racism was in the South in the 50s. It is backrooms. It is the kind of speech that can get you quickly fired in government.

All that can change, of course. Economic downturn, war, terrorist attack, disease... you start to get violent radicals. You get strong sympathies. You get a minority scape goated. Then, they start to use all those systems put in place to break all the laws. Then it is okay to extort and even kill VIPs, politicians, domestically. To torture civilians domestically. To take over businesses -- as is routine for FSB in Russia. To get that funding. To take over illegal businesses and get that funding and resources.

So, not there yet.

I think that the very vast majority of people who work for the US Government domestically would not even dare break a minor law. They are lie detector tested for such things. And I don't even think they could pass that. Or would even dream of trying to.

So, I think there is hope. But, not if people put their hand in the sand on these issues and pretend it can't happen here.


tyrOctober 27, 2015 9:46 PM


"I think that the very vast majority of people who work for the US Government domestically would not even dare break a minor law. They are lie detector tested for such things. And I don't even think they could pass that. Or would even dream of trying to."

Since I have worked for the government a lot over the years.
I'm afraid that idea is quite naive, like you I wish it was
true but ugly reality says it isn't. Few spend their day in
extended criminal plottings but most engage in unsavory and
sometimes ridiculous behaviors most of which are against the
law.

Here's a quote from one of our dedicated civil servants, "We
can do anything we want to, we're the government." The best
politician on earth cannot fix anything with bureaucrats
like that implementing policy. The last bunch I worked for
were described thusly, the way to tell if they were lying
was to see if their lips were moving. A lie detector can
only detect lies you don't believe yourself. What we need
is a truth detector that catches non factual material.

blakeOctober 28, 2015 5:55 AM

@Bob S

Yes, America is now completely messed up, but I don't know how this affects the Safe Harbor ruling. Usually international treaties trump any specific domestic law, and I don't think "oh but it's legal here now?" is going to placate the investigations of either Germany or Ireland.

But yes, if you an American, your private data is now all public.


Ars on CISA:

http://arstechnica.co.uk/tech-policy/2015/10/senate-passes-controversial-cybersecurity-cyberspying-bill-74-21/

My name is AlexOctober 28, 2015 9:10 AM

@ Jack Sparrow
"This goes against the very nature of secret surveillance. Of spying."

We can all agree Knowledge is power, but very little is said about Knowledge of what?

Knowledge can be powerful when kept hush, and it can be powerful when brought into light. It's all about maintaining the right balance of such, that make or break the ruling class.

To those who held Knowledge, are we not subjects, of consent?

Jack SparrowOctober 28, 2015 11:06 AM

@tyr

I have worked for government, as well... and as has my family.

Otherwise, in my own case, because of the work I have found myself in, have studied memoirs and articles and such very extensively. (Besides that these subjects from true crime to intel just naturally interest me.)

So, your statement interests me, maybe sort of surprises me... but this may be a matter of definition or *where* you have worked. And *who* you have worked with. But, not probing, anymore then I feel comfortable mentioning specifics from my own self except in the most vague or 3rd party terms. Obviously, "government" is a very big place, and there are some quarters I have had zero experience with -- plenty of pools and areas never even remotely touched and probably haven't even come across much in reading except perhaps in legal cases that make it to the news.

I think you are *not* talking about "lying" with quotes, as what is required for cover. But, it sounds like you are talking about scenarios where people are going too far and lying to themselves -- crossing the line and telling themselves it is "okay to do" for this or that bullshit justification. Or trapped in the social bullshit speak some of these cultures get into, such as where cops come up with moral truisms like "cops don't rat on cops". (?)

This is the same sort of scenario where you saw, then, for instance, targeting of entire Muslim communities... or indiscriminate targeting of Muslim leaders... and so on?

Snowden pointed out some cases where contractors would share "loveint", and I find that appalling. It is not that you won't come across such things, but it is a matter of subjectivity and weakness to exchange and make judgments about such behaviors.

I will state that I do believe there is a difference between sticking to the letter and the spirit of the law. And despite that, never actually worked with people who are intrinsically "unethical", nor *with* people who can not pretty instantly tell when someone is being shady, dishonest.

If you wish to elaborate, that may be educational.

Or ring a bell, and I could better understand what you are saying.

Where I see in media most of the really bad stuff is in such groups as very ... backwards and insular policing agencies. Usually smaller then federal, but plenty of federal groups. Policing groups. FBI, ATF, that sort of thing.

And other groups where they just generally don't have enough to do.

They see stuff on tv, I guess, and way over estimate their own roles and jobs. And they do bad stuff without even really thinking about it. That sort doesn't even think much at all.

Is that what you are talking about - or kind of talking about?

Otherwise, yeah, I do think that the vast majority of people do try their best and very much take pride in being servants. Problem can be where they just really aren't very smart or what many might say is intrinsically "moral". Sociopath sorts, especially, and sometimes smaller cultures they can influence where they don't give a damned about anything but exerting power.

General contractors in intel... IDK much about. I run across them a lot in some areas, but from the outside. I hear some stories. But they seem like that are mostly the sort that doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, and it scared to death as much of their own government invalidating their clearance as they are of criminals or foreign spies. :/

Lol.

But, could be wrong, as only see that sort from the outside.


Jack SparrowOctober 28, 2015 12:18 PM

@My name is Alex

"This goes against the very nature of secret surveillance. Of spying."
We can all agree Knowledge is power, but very little is said about Knowledge of what?
Knowledge can be powerful when kept hush, and it can be powerful when brought into light. It's all about maintaining the right balance of such, that make or break the ruling class.
To those who held Knowledge, are we not subjects, of consent?

Alex, I have very complex, alien viewpoints on these matters in some scopes. In other scopes, not so much. So, difficult subject for me to discuss.

You certainly do speak of having well thought on the subject, your own self, however, not only for mentioning this... but also revealed in this statement of yours: "Knowledge can be powerful when kept hush, and it can be powerful when brought into light."

I do believe there is a balance there, of course. This is very much true even in a democracy, and I believe it is true going into the future. Not all details need to be available to everyone. That might be controversial to say, on the surface, but I can also state I am a very strong believer that... as we move into the future... we will continue to see a strong expansion of 'what was secret' get exposed widely.

And this will be, as we see it forming strongly, a very powerful evolution of the justice and political system. It is related to the evolution of other knowledge based systems, including in the arts and sciences.

I do not view the "ruling class" in normal terms, not by any means. I do view there being "those who mainstream believe rule things", and then those strata whom the mainstream have some understanding - albeit not so consciously - as ruling things.

Good examples include scenarios where politicians make decisions for one reason, and one set of motives, which may even be vile. And where the real decision makers have entirely different reasons they are not privy to.

They may believe themselves even more then the public as being "in power".

But, the reality is they do not know real power at all, but as an illusion. And are really just mice on the wheel.

Sancho_POctober 28, 2015 3:31 PM

@albert (1st comment here )

Democracy, esp. the real and honest (theoretical) one, is a disaster per se.
It means to be lead by the laymen and idiots (unfortunately we have plenty of them).

Don’t know about your profession but I’ve never encountered a successful team without a strong (close to autocratic) leader.
Decisions may be right or wrong, but not democratic.
It doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be heard.
It means the leader must be of the fines human quality.
Problem only starts when the leader is a crook.

The only place where I’ve seen some form of functional, real political democracy was in a small community in Switzerland. They’ve voted in the open, in public, face to face, regarding several local topics by raising their hands. Strange moment.
Not sure if everybody would agree with that form of democracy.
Would you vote in public against your boss’ pet project, hoping to bring it down?

ianfOctober 28, 2015 3:37 PM


ADMINISTRIVIA @ Winter: you wrote

I posted a link in a Friday Squid Blogging a few weeks ago to a report on standards oversight of national intelligence agencies. It was quite late in the cycle so I do not think many have seen it.

As you're the only person who knows which of your past posts you mean, and this is a hypertextual medium, the logical thing for you to do would be to find that link, and repost it… as a pointer back, or anew with a comment. Rather than this song and dance, which did not bring any of us nearer to what you wanted to raise. HYPERTEXT (look it up).


@ Jack Sparrow

Also administrivia, but of a semantic kind.

“[…] Edward Snowden did not tell us this. We all know this. We all knew that the US Government was hacking foreign systems. We all knew the chance was very high the US Government has been surveilling domestic traffic. We all know all governments will tend to do this. And when I say "we all know", I literally mean from the homeless guy on the street to the Wall Street executive to those "in the know" to those that closely follow these issues over the years.

We all didn't. Hardly anyone did for sure, that's why Ed Snowden was such a breath of fresh air. And your basis (let alone a corroborating source) for those multiple representative "we" being…?

Any argument that is presented as were it consensual opinion of some generalized people is automagically weak and probably untrue. We (that is you and I) both know that you do not have any mandate to speak for anyone but yourself. So learn to frame your opinions in the "I" voice, rather than hide behind some unspecified "us." And above all remember, that the Silent Majority is called so, because it doesn't have a friggin' voice.

[The rest of your opinion was so TL;DR that I couldn't be bothered to R. Brevity is sanity.]

ianfOctober 28, 2015 5:47 PM


@ Bob S. (cc: rgaff)

Re: Historical footnote: The internet died today.

On the odd chance that you continue to read this forum (if no longer respond), let me argue against—no, not the severity of the situation that that CISA represents for your fellow Americans—but against your decision to surrender by getting off the Internet.

There are other ways to deny its legitimacy. If you look around, our modern lives are filled to the brim with danger vectors… beginning with driving automobiles on roads where any other driver can be drunk, to choking on too hastily swallowed piece of food… many with deadly, or worse, being maimed/ crippled, outcomes. In the USA add also a not so little risk of being shot at, at random, or by some bigger-dick police. Yet we continue to live on, because what other choices do we have?

I know a guy, whose name appeared on a shady foreign Stasi agent list. I say shady, because, while he is present in their official "foreigners" register, no German journalist, or prosecutor etc., ever bothered to call him. He says he spoke to a few East German officials at a Healthcare trade fair in 1983, and that was it. Then some enterprizing young muckraker compiled a dossier on potential suspects of a given ethnic/ professional profile (several thousand records), and with that made a name for himself. Some people on that list broke down, moved away, a court case, divorces, etc (all in their 50s-60s). I asked my colleague what's his strategy, and he told me: was irritated for a week, then decided to negate the list's existence… not deny, wholly #fuggedaboutit. Should any heavier actor come around, want to make hay out of it, he'll cross that bridge when he'll come to it. Until then he has snotty students' papers to grade, and car trouble to deal with.

That was 8-9 years ago, when there was a lot of buzz about it in the air. I haven't asked recently, but it doesn't appear to have affected him any. And for all I know, I'm in Stasi files, too—because once, at a time when line printers were priced out of my range, I wrote to some East German manufacturer that advertised in an electronic components catalog asking for a quote (and received a reply). Knowing now how KGB/Stasi operated, I must've been added to its "prospective contacts" roll. Fortunately for me, soon thereafter I was able to buy a Korean printer at the conclusion of a London trade fair, and smuggle it home in order to avoid VAT & import duty.

Digression over, consider this. CISA is about the rights—but also responsibilities—of federal authorities to analyze everyone's, that means also yours, CRIMINAL & HACKING activities.

Well then. Read through the bill carefully, consider the angles, then decide which of your everyday chores etc. might fit the bill. Be liberal: coveting thy neighbour's wife might be criminal. You'll never know until you get that vetted, for each instance of said planned activity between hours so-and-so on so-and-so date. Or else you'll get a carte blanche, in which case it's a win-win (and the neighbor will be pleased you went to all those lengths…)

That's right, instead of waiting for the Man to knock on your door, you go and knock on theirs. Denounce yourself to the Fed with a daily list of planned, potentially illegal, transgressions of the CISA bill (provide section and paragraph references). Insist on being investigated. If they ask why you do it, tell them you need to have a record that the Govt was aware of your, e.g. compiling FOSS blobs on a given day, so you won't later be held accountable for it.

Keep a copy of all that you submit day after day, then periodically call up some news medium, web site, TV program, and tell them what you're up to. Be courteous and full of respect towards a bill that passed both houses of Congress.

Say that you want to ease the Feds' burden by having them scrutinize your planned activities, so that no illegalities can ever happen, and they won't have to chase ghosts. Write a booklet for the benefit of like-minded others how they, too, can help the Feds. Talk to fellow hackers how to proceed. Periodically write your Congresswoman praising the Feds for their hard work, and insist on it being read into the Congressional Record. Write the Feds that you praised them to Congress. Write the New York Times that the Feds appear non too plussed with your praise. Be creative, but ABOVE ALL, give fuck all about the CISA (remember, if they want to get you, they don't need it anyway).

USA!USA!USA!October 28, 2015 10:15 PM

Obozo timeline:

1. Surveilled for years by deep state.

2. Huge dirt file ensures he is a suitable Prez.

3. Stasi get busted doing what they have been doing for two decades or more (at least).

4. Obozo's balls in a vice - can't end up like JFK or have trannie boyfriend exposed

5. Obozo promises the world a review of practice (hand on heart, eyes skyward).

6. Zero amendments of significance.

7. Criminal activities of MIC papered over & set the 'new norm' for rogue behaviour

8. CISA et al. bills pass to retrospectively cover 2 decades of rogue breaches of millions of laws

The end (of your republic).

America, celebrate this day annually - eat a hotdog, drink a (shitty) Coors and wave a big red, white and blue flag while the military jets fly over-head your next Star-Spangled Awesome Parade.

You finally made it! (to a full police state).

AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM is a theological, rhetorical trope.

Today, the US is only truly exceptional with regards to: hubris, aggression, narcissism, hypocrisy, paranoia, obesity, drug use, intolerance, and foreign meddling (100 overt/covert wars in 100 years).

The state is simply bankrupt after decades of military adventurism and bankster-elite crony capitalism.

Once the reserve status of the US dollar goes and the almighty rotten edifice of the financial sector collapses, many Americans may look back with sentimentality upon their time as the world's only "super-power".

The US establishment is a shit sandwich in the eyes of most intelligent global observers. The fact that a clown like Donald Trump would even get a look in for the Prez job simply blows the mind of foreigners.

The lunatics really are running the asylum and "Keeping up with the Kardashians" is more intelligible than the shite dribbling out of the mouths of most US politicans on this issue.

As the other commentator noted, this requires a political solution (complete reform of your system), as the muppets in the House are incapable or unwilling to place reasonable oversight and control over spooks.

Full stop.

ianfOctober 28, 2015 11:10 PM

@ianf

[The rest of your opinion was so TL;DR that I couldn't be bothered to R. Brevity is sanity.]

Because you are not my intended audience.

This is a technical site, not USA Today.

There are numerous arcane niches represented here.

We all didn't. Hardly anyone did for sure, that's why Ed Snowden was such a breath of fresh air. And your basis (let alone a corroborating source) for those multiple representative "we" being…?Any argument that is presented as were it consensual opinion of some generalized people is automagically weak and probably untrue.

I actually got specific on what I meant by "we", and separated it into groups.

I am not saying Edward Snowden's contributions were not important. They did provide critical evidence for what everyone suspected.

If you were unaware that the US Government was hacking and spying extensively, even domestically, I think then you are either lying - my own belief - or you were really incredibly naive. Sounds like just you and Skeptical thought such things.

This is why, for instance, such scenarios have been represented in popular cinema for years. It was incredibly plausible even to the very general, non-technical audience.

And I specifically stated I meant everyone, from executives to homeless folk to high school students to dentists to housewives.

I hardly think anyone back then watched any of the countless movies or tv shows with such activity in it and went "no way, that would never happen".

One could even do a retrospective study on it, online. I know, because it is not far from my area of work, that seeing everyday people comment on such matters in everyday conversation was normal.

Like now, but much less now, perhaps... then, they didn't think about it a lot. But, it certainly occurred to them.

This is useful for people to note. Especially when you see US intelligence saying preposterous things like "terrorists changed their tactics because of Snowden". As if they were unaware that they should be encryping everything end to end, or be wary of using US company systems as if they were not (PRISM) handing over everything to the USG.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsOctober 28, 2015 11:50 PM

@ USA!USA!USA


The US establishment is a shit sandwich in the eyes of most intelligent global observers.

My, I would not think it required any intelligence to observe the fact the United States acts as a drunken 9000 meter tall drunken sailor. When outside this country, you don't hear the clown "America[1] is always right!" college cheer.

[1] AUTHOR'S NOTE: America is the name of a continental constellation of land masses wherein only one land mass believes it is relevant.

It is only inside the United States where the myopia and hubris makes us immune to self criticism. Hard to be tough on yourself if you BELIEVE you are FLAWLESS. I have to say I don't hold out much hope, that is why I have asked the rest of the world to give up on us some time ago.

I have heard from our own citizens and they are incapable of taking off the blinders, the ignorance, or the arrogance. The self-righteous will remain so--self important, self involved and un-selfless. Like I said, our addiction to what I call "Personal Self Interest" (narcissism) and "Enlightened Self Interest" (egalitarianism) cannot be overcome. I believe 9/11 made the frighten, not only more timid, but mortal. In this affected environment, the psychology changed and a nation state became a nation of states (individuals with a F' the rest attitude).

In essence the change in the public psyche is feed or feeds those with narcissistic behaviors. To be a success, is to be a narcissistic savant--and visa versa.

tyrOctober 29, 2015 12:57 AM


That Yes Men fix the World video is available at
thoughtmaybe (dot) com. You'll never look at the
world the same way again after seeing the management
leisure suit.

@ Jack S.
I know peoples version of things vary, reality tunnels
are a tested fact. The real trick is to pay attention
to actions, thatis where the paydirt will be found.
Take CISA as an example by passing it into law it
exposes the deep corruption in the politicos and no
amount of pious mealy mouthing can spin it into an
act of virtue.

WTC 3 should tell you a lot about local government
corruption, the frantic rush to clean up the site of
a crime tells you a lot about CYA that goes on in
civil engineering inspection. I know there has been
a lot of loose theory flying around but covering up
a bad concrete mixture became a priority once they
all fell into dust on TV.
I recommend all 4 volumes of Vilfredo Pareto to get a
feel for how human society works. Pay particular
attention to the footnotes he uses to illustrate his
points. His attempt to put sociology on a scientific
basis failed because humans do not want to know how
their minds really work.
You can get a good education by being a friend of
fire, police, and emergency workers and listening to
the horror stories of what takes place in the world
out of sight. This does not negate the good people
do it just places it in a reasonable perspective.

ianfOctober 29, 2015 1:48 AM


OT In today's Guardian news: [more OT at end]

UK police use Terrorism Act powers to seize Newsnight journalist’s laptop

BBC says police accessed communications between Secunder Kermani and Isis member in Syria, in move criticised by press freedom campaigners

    Comment: Unencrypted contents I dare say, just who did that journo think he was, Stephen Sackur/ David Dimbleby? BTW. if the ISIS guy now gets to see his promised 72 virgins, Kermani had better change his name & visage [on the NHS]. It also starts a new chapter in the British incestuous hacks-love-bobbies saga.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/oct/28/uk-police-terrorism-act-newsnight-journalist-secunder-kermani-laptop

VW chief promises 'ruthless' crackdown on culprits of emissions scandal

Matthias Müller vows to win back public trust as scandal-hit carmaker plunges €3.5bn into the red – its first quarterly loss in 15 years

    Comment: Look in the mirror, you git, then call multiple Predator strikes on your own VPs of finance and bankers. There, I saved you the thinking

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/oct/28/volkswagen-posts-first-quarterly-loss-in-15-years

    [Finally, a bit of good news from my Paris home-away-from-home, alas, no programming books that I could see]

Paris bookshop Shakespeare and Company opens cafe

Fancy a ‘flapjack kerouac’? Visitors who have gorged on books at this literary institution can now head next door for healthy dishes and snacks in its new cafe

The humble stationery shop adjacent to George Whitman’s, Shakespeare and Company – the successor to the legendary interwar bookstore of the same name where Hemingway et al used to congregate – was some of the hottest real estate in Paris. According to David Delannet, co-manager of the store, Whitman had been knocking on the owners’ door once a month since the 60s, asking if he could use the space to open a literary café. Although Whitman died in 2011, his daughter, Sylvia, continued the monthly tradition of wooing the neighbours. After two generations of negotiation, the café finally opened in October 2015.

Despite its small size, the café has a lighter and more modern atmosphere than the cramped bookshop next door, a famous hub for influential writers. Yet it shares the bookstore’s signature eccentric charm. Dishes have names like “the Flapjack Kerouac” or “The Bun Also Rises”, and a version of the Proust Questionnaire lines the trays. A mix of second-hand novels, cookbooks and bookshop classics take up two walls and are available to be purchased. Leftover food from the café is given to the “Tumbleweeds”, the bookshop’s resident writers. From spring 2016, the café will sell “A Moveable Feast” picnic baskets (€20-30) for Seine-side eating, which will include wine, cheese and a short story. […]

http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/oct/28/paris-bookshop-shakespeare-and-company-opens-cafe

[ @ Clive: response to yesterday's comment a-coming ]

ADMINISTRIVIA: ianf on The Need for Transparency in Surveillance [October 28, 2015 11:10 PM] was not posted by me, but by Jack Sparrow, who, rather than listen to mild criticism and learn from it, prefers to declare this commenter "not part of his intended audience." From now on I'd welcome you prepending your posts with a declaration of who they are for. You can do this using C or similar terse syntax, I'll cope (only stay away from brainfuck).

Gerard van VoorenOctober 29, 2015 3:06 AM

@ USA!USA!USA,

> Today, the US is only truly exceptional with regards to: hubris, aggression, narcissism,
> hypocrisy, paranoia, obesity, drug use, intolerance, and foreign meddling (100 overt/covert
> wars in 100 years).

> The state is simply bankrupt after decades of military adventurism and bankster-elite crony
> capitalism.

When the cigar smoking president left office in 2001 the dept of the USA was roughly 3000 USD per resident. With the low tax the people in the US pay that dept was overseeable. Today however that dept is roughly two saloon cars per resident (after Bush left it was one saloon car, Obama doubled it). Unless there is gonna be hyper inflation this dept is not redeemable. Thank Bush for it. Btw, in Europe we all love G.W. Bush and his legacy.

My name is AlexOctober 29, 2015 4:38 AM

@ Jack Sparrow,

"But, could be wrong, as only see that sort from the outside."

The outside may see things more clearly, depending on which is your stand point, if you're involved with web or internet work. We've seen how much a fake Verizon employee can accomplish, let alone real ones, say the likes of Yahoo for example. I know people who work for the government of all sorts, ordinary people shall I say, but the sorts you need to watch out for, not to say that there's no need to watch out for corporate types. There are some very smart people out there.

ianfOctober 29, 2015 5:40 AM


@ tyrThat Yes Men fix the World video is available at thoughtmaybe (dot) com".

You meant the absence of it, only miss-wrote? Fortunately, the DVD is out there in the big wide world of affordable e-commerce.


CISA exposes the deep corruption in the politicos and no amount of pious mealy mouthing can spin it into an act of virtue.

Alas, that's not how electoral rank-and-file sees it, 'cause surely they're not up to anything hacky and criminal that this CISA BILL WILL protect them against!


WTC 3 should tell you a lot about local government corruption […] covering up a bad concrete mixture became a priority once they all fell into dust on TV.

You meant WTC 7, not "3," which apparently was of a shoddy construction, not designed to withstand the not inconsiderable shockwaves from WTC 1&2 falls. I know of the various engineering conspiracy theories surrounding it, and there's no doubt somebody in the real-estate trades pocketed the difference between specified and the actual building materials used, but then again: it wasn't designed for that kind of (ground- and airborne) shocks. Do remember that the WTC 1&2, resting on a skeleton of hefty yet bendy steel pipes that made up all 4 of each façades, designed to withstand hurricane winds and meter-wide sideways torque displacements, couldn't take an airliner full of Avgas hit either… that's where the destructive engineering genius of OBL, a faraway “dago” dressed in sheep shepherd's clothes, manifested itself.

So, sure, WTC 7 might have been—in NYC real-estate not unheard—of lower than usual quality… but to ascribe its fall and subsequent speedy disposal of to some governmental conspiracy may be a rubble mound too far.

    CASE STUDY: the 1978 CitiCorp Building's AVERTED COLLAPSE (make sure to scroll down to "In June of 1978 LeMessurier received a call from an architectural student," and read the in-depth explanation. The stiffening of the frame was undertaken at nights under guise of upgrading the ventilation; the skyscraper was lit up by welders' torches like a Christmas tree, but the repairs stayed secret because, concurrently, all the NYC papers went on strike! And it first became known 17 years after the fact, in 1995.)

I recommend all 4 volumes of Vilfredo Pareto to get a feel for how human society works.

That's basically like saying “read the bible, the truth is in there!” If you want to make a point, make the point with a reference to the source, not recommend the source to find your point.

ianfOctober 29, 2015 7:08 AM


@ Jack Sparrow

[…] “If [pre-Snowden revelations] you were unaware that the US Government was hacking and spying extensively, even domestically, I think then you are either lying - my own belief - or you were really incredibly naive. Sounds like just you and Skeptical thought such things.

That last ad-hominem "argument" of yours, likening this critic to @Skeptical because you cannot come up with anything logically relevant, speaks volumes about you, not about me. Obviously, your "thought organ" is so far up your "excrete organ," that you fail to see beyond the narrow confines of your bowels.

Listen carefully, I shall only repeat it once: I an NOT in the USA—why the heck would I concern myself with USG's domestic spying? Wikileaks, Manning, earlier US malfeasance exposés primarily via the BBC, were all about faraway lands. Why should I care whether your govt, correctly reading the sentiments of the electorate, decided to erect what to me looks like yet another stepping stone to a fascist state?

I read a lot of US mags, use American-designed hardware, but have not visited it for 20 years, and won't go there anymore: I'll gladly concede that one-less-free-thinker-tourist-equals-one-less-potential-terrorist VICTORY! to the Comeys & the Haydens that your compatriots—warts 'n all—are so enamored of. But that's apparently not enough because, in your USACENTRIC ways, my duty, as well as anyone else's, is to be as informed of—everything!—as you, the Knew-It-All Jack "keep your eyes on the sparrow" Sparrow!

Jack Sparrow: “This is why, for instance, such scenarios have been represented in popular cinema for years. It was incredibly plausible even to the very general, non-technical audience.

It's C.I.N.E.M.A, get it. They make mens' briefs models fly through the air, remember? But I thank you for that sample of your Powers of Argumentation, perhaps you ARE the famed Flying Brainfartman when you're not sharing your (very rich, indeed!) thoughts with us.

Jack SparrowOctober 29, 2015 10:00 AM

@tyr

Thanks for the reference, will check that out, probably. He has been very influential however, it can be noted, so he is not entirely obscure nor ignored even by mainstream.

I would not assume I am entirely ignorant of the evils of human kind. :-) I am actually quite aware of it. :-) I was probably just wondering what, specifically, gave you such a bad idea. Or where.

Humans are intrinsically selfish. However, they are capable of higher nobility. I approach evils in a different way then many do. As do people I work with. This is not natural, and it is different from the liberal way, per se, but related. That is seeing the evils as a defeciency, and approaching it objectively.

I like to put it like gross wounds, and diseases. Mainstream people who are not doctors view it with horror and revulsion. Doctors view it objectively.

Doctors have to get dirty to fix it. Using knives and getting bloody.

@ianf

I see why Alan S stated that you have a propensity for "vacuous verbosity". Your raging is indicative of a psychological problem. You have some issues there, you know.

I am just a stranger on the internet, who blows you off. I think with that sort of approach you have... you surely have some serious problems with people in real life. Such behavior is transparent from even this brief exchange with you. Which means you probably have difficulty with family, friends, relationships, jobs.

Likely you have difficulty with authority, and staying out of trouble with the law.

The US certainly has a number of problems, but it sounds like you are poisoning your mind with a lot of extremely biased propaganda. There are issues, but they are also talked about, worked on, and addressed. So it is loud and very visible. Regardless, apart from some of the problems large and small, it remains a nation where many flock to. And where they prosper very well.

My own neighborhood here is very international. Many first generation immigrants from all over the world. And the US has a very high rate of first generation and second generation immigrants from all over the world, being the most diverse nation on the planet.

Frankly, I post plenty of criticism, because I am interesting in seeing the problems solved. We have seen enormous progress. But, I might as well point out some of those positives.

Besides the diversity, there is substantial excellent art and technology which goes on here, which certainly makes the country very worthwhile.

The prison system needs overhauling is the major problem today here. And the legal system with it. The "war on drugs" was a catastrophe and entirely wrong headed. Marijuana is getting legalized, and this problem is at the least being addressed by the executive branch - though so far just with band aids - but is a cause being taken up by powerful forces in the population.

The intelligence services get much press, but this is also because of their failures. If you think the US is the only country with extensive intelligence investment, you are incorrect. Though the US budget for intelligence and military will need, in the future, to be drastically curtailed.

Though, approaching you with reason seems only to make you froth at the mouth. Will you respond more nicely, or shall you be ignored?

Jack SparrowOctober 29, 2015 10:34 AM

@tyr

Afterthought...

Partly realizing my response may have not been persuasive, but also wanting to share my own sources for studying and learning of the evils of humankind... my focus there, I would suppose, the worst of it comes from deep studies in crime, intelligence, totalitarian nations, historical horrors with an emphasis on totalitarian like systems and large scale or significant aberrance.

My primary concern in those regards is authority and power which has gone... astray.

So, in crime, that would include a heavy emphasis on cults, for instance, or related organizations. However, deeply studied there over decades from serial killers (a necessity in forensic psychology) to jewel thiefs.

I can not really put "totalitarian" systems in the crime category, but that is a major emphasis and highly related.

Where groups go bad.

So, when someone says "I saw a lot of corruption in government where I worked"... that perks my interest.

Obviously, I work in security, and my vagueness there is for security.

I was raised in it, and worked in it for decades.


Want to hear, for example, probably the worst evil I heard this week? A guy who raped his own daughter he had put into an orphanage, and then killed her for her ten thousand dollar life insurance.

But, then again, evil is everyday. Look at the prison system and the "war on drugs". Look at how even the ticket system, such as for speeding, is static priced so it hits the poor very bad, and the rich, not at all. It should be priced according to people's salary. One country has started to do this with excellent results.

Much evil in bureaucracy and dragnet regulations, at times.

Not the serial killer or rapist type of evil, per se, but plenty of power mad bureaucrats and officers out there who should not be in their jobs -- and there not because they wish to help and be public servants with the prestige that entails... but because they live for selfish power.

Sadists.

Criminality, of course, in society is not reflected by those in jail, but by those in leading positions.

This, I am optimistic, will change. And requires very unique skill sets and attitudes to bring about.

Jack SparrowOctober 29, 2015 2:33 PM

@ianf, anyone

On the topic of transparency and surveillance, as opposed to rhetorics, my overall statement is simply: to spy it must be done without the person(s) you are spying on knowing about it.

Because this is the core of the problem, transparency is going to be forever at odds with spying.

That is what I was stating, in a nut shell.

The article did well in highlighting transparency as a primary issue in these controversies. In fact, all criticism, just about, can be summed up as a transparency issue.

Domestic dragnet spying I highlighted, because it is illegal in the US on many levels. This pertains to international readers because it tells you about the US' attitude and it can tell you, potentially, about your own governments attitude.

Whatever country you are at, your country engages in spying, as well.

My Name is AlexOctober 29, 2015 6:43 PM

@ Jack Sparrow

"My primary concern in those regards is authority and power which has gone... astray."

Different sorts of authority with different sorts of impunity are going astray at the moment of this time. First the governments have been doing this for a long time, as have corporations and private interest parties. The people are reigning in on what the governments can do because the people feel they are in charge. Unfortunately, it is the corporations who's going to the extremes in losening standards of restraint when it comes to spying by classical definition.

Whatever corporation you work for, be it Yahoo Google or Facebook, etc. they all are part of this trend. Firstly for survivorship, because like it or not they are the advertiser economy. The governments have to work hard to maintain their exclusiveness but they can't because these companies have professionals to fight them in courts of laws. Thus they've been taken on a symbiotic relationship of sorts.

If the web is an entanglement of knowledges, we all visit this blog for various reasons. For most it's a curiosity or thirst for knowing. For some it's a mystery, if the internet is a billion mysteries, there is a mystery on the schneier's blog. I feel you're much closer to the truth than you are, or perhaps you are sitting right on top of it without knowing it.


Clive RobinsonOctober 30, 2015 4:28 AM

@ Jack Sparrow,

my overall statement is simply: to spy it must be done without the person(s) you are spying on knowing about it.

Not true at all.

The purpose behind spying covertly --as opposed to overtly-- is to reduce the likely hood that you will divert resources to increase defences, necessitating an increased expenditure to overcome the defenses.

In the past the "spying resources" were nearly all human based thus there was an immense asymmetric advantage to the person being spyed upon.

The rapid decline in the cost of technology has altered the balance rather dramatically, few if any human resources are needed to spy, they are nearly all technological. The cost per target has dropped to the point it is nolonger a consideration let alone a limitation hence the "collect it all" issue. The immense asymmetric advantage now is with the person spying not defending.

It's why the likes of the FBI's Comey fear mongering about "going dark" is such nonsense. To use the old line "They've never had it so good" and it's an "embarrassment of riches". Which is now actually the problem, they have so much data that analysing it meaningfully is currently beyond their resources. Hence the "sipping from a fire hose" and "looking for a needle in a haystack" comments you here about "Big Data" issues. However technology will in time alleviate that problem and it will become effective for their mission goals.

Which is the next major issue what are their mission goals. It's becoming clear that "a jury of peers" is now nolonger capable of understanding complex evidence in a reasonable period of time. Worse most judges though more capable by training are now becoming incapable of assessing the evidence. Which means court cases are becoming exceadingly expensive and employers and employees are getting harmed by "jury duty" costs. Further the more able criminals are getting smarter and thus harder to convict. Which begs the question can the prosecution actually understand if a person actually has committed what they are being accused of... Do the prosecution actually care? Do those carrying out the investigation actually care? Or are we back to the bad old days of "He looks dirty, lets find something to hang it on him" or "It's his turn to go down", just so investigators can appear to be keeping up with crime, and thus getting their promotions etc etc.

But what of the unlucky innocent? The investigators and prosecution has as much time and resources as they wish to produce a deluge of information. That they then pile on the defendent who has only a short period of time and insufficient resources to deal with what they have been deluged with. So much so the prosecution can prevent all but the wealthiest individuals putting up an adequate defence.

We already know that the likes of the FBI use ensnarement and parallel construction techniques, though they should not. We also know they are past masters of preventing false evidence to juries and dressing it up in faux science and making it imposible to understand with incorrect use of statistics.

How long before complex computer algorithms say an innocent individual is dirty?...

Thus technology is causing the judicial system to change from the position of "innocent untill the prosecution prove your guilt" to "guilty unless your defence can prove you are innocent"... And with politicians being the paymasters, and thus calling the tune by which the process evolves, and knowing their tune is "Be tough on crime as it makes me look good to the voters" you are left with two questions,

What will the Mission Goals be?

And,

What could possibly go wrong?...

F is for FallacyOctober 30, 2015 5:43 AM

@ Jack Sparrow

Hose, needle, and haystack are vague acquaintances, as there are many permutations. The preferred hose is obviously thru big data backbones, which we all are hard on encrypting, now thanks to cisa the hose is turned back. Unfortunately, everybody and their stepped sisters know that. The witting will take more cautions but they left comparable snaps to be cross referenced for the very least. This will keep the guys happy and hiring.

@ Alex
"Whatever corporation you work for, be it Yahoo Google or Facebook, etc. they all are part of this trend. Firstly for survivorship, because like it or not they are the advertiser economy."

Not entirely tho. These corporations are supported by advertisers which may have agenda of their own beyond that of marketing products. Corporations rarely take sides to influence politics overtly, but as a matter of strategies they may support favorable candidates to prolong their agenda. The way of the future, as we are now so accustomed to mega advertising corporations like Google, I believe is shared revenue models of uber, airbnb whose survivalship rest sorely upon legislation thru politics. That is as close to big union and local mob territory as it gets from big box electronics shops. As Clive Robinson had pointed out in the past, most of this legislation are being pushed beyond borders via progressive trade treaties to empower corporate reach. Whether you come from the private or public sector, as long as you are involved in the security field as you claim, your cause and vision may not be all that far apart, after all.

Jack SparrowOctober 30, 2015 10:41 AM

@Clive Robinson

Very good points. Through the whole post.

The purpose behind spying covertly --as opposed to overtly-- is to reduce the likely hood that you will divert resources to increase defences, necessitating an increased expenditure to overcome the defenses.

This is also a good point, because this attacks what I am saying from the angle that most are approaching this from, and for very good reason. And, it is true, I have not seen any American intelligence pundit speak up on the dangers of their surveillance being used against them. I have only seen them speak up about the danger of "going dark".

On the defensive side, besides your arguments some of which are unfortunately rarely made and should be made more loudly, I normally just see statements regarding hiding from the surveillance systems or how they have a chilling effect on speech and behavior. Something else we hear, but which you well mentioned, is the danger of false positives -- of over hearing something and misunderstanding.

For that? I think Brazil is a must see movie for everyone.

The chilling effect and going dark are about the same to these authorities.

The third danger is the danger that their surveillance will be used against them, such as what we saw with the British double cross system.

A related danger is people attempting to do something like that and getting in trouble because they did not plan it out well. For instance, I recall one story where some Brits in Brazil in the early parts of the last century became aware of the Brazilian authorities reading their mail. They thought they would both prove this and have some fun by lying about having bombs in their mail. Unfortunately, the Brazilian authorities did not care about evidence besides their mail and locked them up for life.

There have been a number of successful programs which have used surveillance against their adversaries. There is a very distinct advantage in that scenario for the target being surveilled. If the listener is convinced that the target is unaware of being surveiled, then the target has the listener at a distinct disadvantage because they will believe what they say. They will take the information given to them as inviolable truth.

I suppose this is obscure. There are many caveats and ins and outs of it. While there are cases here and cases there, normally what I hear of such projects online is simply in terms of "disinformation". Time wasting tactics. Diversionary tactics and strategies utilized to hide secrets, and so on.

There are certainly books about some cases, but I do not recall a book combing all the cases we are aware of through history.

On books, the double cross system has quite a few, and related cases like "the man who was not there" or project mincemeat.

One of the more famous recent cases was with leaked nuclear plans that contained a devastating but subtle flaw in them.

One problem with discussing this issue is if plans are presented and known to the listeners, then they will become suspicious. And their information taken will be considered potentially invalid. The target will have lost plausibility.

In everyday communication, plausibility is everything. There are confidence artists who attempt to make their victims view them and everything they say as deeply plausible. They manipulate their victims confidence in them and in their words. Belief is powerful.

Secret surveillance can operate like a megaphone for plausibility if used correctly. However, it is subtle, and useful, truly devastating usage is difficult to work out. It requires extensive planning and experience with not only creating realistic plans, but realistic contingency plans. (Mentioning the later only because so many plan nothing to very little.)

While openly contemplating or sharing methodologies can reduce their potential power, it is true that as with any manner of communication there are a wide variety of methods to regain plausibility or confidence. So, your spy screws up, your undercover agent makes a mistake -- they have an arsenal of tactics they can use to regain their cover. The intended victim of the confidence artist starts to doubt them and suspect they are tricking them -- they are well armed with a wide range of tricks to get that confidence back and keep it.


BobNovember 1, 2015 8:33 PM

Sorry to tell you all the rich are pulling out all the stops, the rule of law simply can't survive corporate capitalism, the rich fear the masses so there won't be any accountability or transparency.

Basically the worlds rich fears the masses so the are trying to lock everything down. The free flow of information is a threat to all institutions of power.

The (mass surveillance) by the NSA and abuse by law enforcement is just more part and parcel of state suppression of dissent against corporate interests. They're worried that the more people are going to wake up and corporate centers like the US and canada may be among those who also awaken. See this vid with Zbigniew Brzezinski, former United States National Security Advisor.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7ZyJw_cHJY

Brezinski at a press conference

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWTIZBCQ79g

Major powers, and imposing control over the awakened masses.

https://youtu.be/4usbR_kKCDs?t=397

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