Documenting the Chilling Effects of NSA Surveillance

In Data and Goliath, I talk about the self-censorship that comes along with broad surveillance. This interesting research documents this phenomenon in Wikipedia: "Chilling Effects: Online Surveillance and Wikipedia Use," by Jon Penney, Berkeley Technology Law Journal, 2016.

Abstract: This article discusses the results of the first empirical study providing evidence of regulatory "chilling effects" of Wikipedia users associated with online government surveillance. The study explores how traffic to Wikipedia articles on topics that raise privacy concerns for Wikipedia users decreased after the widespread publicity about NSA/PRISM surveillance revelations in June 2013. Using an interdisciplinary research design, the study tests the hypothesis, based on chilling effects theory, that traffic to privacy-sensitive Wikipedia articles reduced after the mass surveillance revelations. The Article finds not only a statistically significant immediate decline in traffic for these Wikipedia articles after June 2013, but also a change in the overall secular trend in the view count traffic, suggesting not only immediate but also long-term chilling effects resulting from the NSA/PRISM online surveillance revelations. These, and other results from the case study, not only offer compelling evidence for chilling effects associated with online surveillance, but also offer important insights about how we should understand such chilling effects and their scope, including how they interact with other dramatic or significant events (like war and conflict) and their broader implications for privacy, U.S. constitutional litigation, and the health of democratic society. This study is among the first to demonstrate -- using either Wikipedia data or web traffic data more generally­ how government surveillance and similar actions impact online activities, including access to information and knowledge online.

Two news stories.

Posted on April 29, 2016 at 6:28 AM • 65 Comments

Comments

JcApril 29, 2016 6:59 AM

Isn't it a bit too late at that point? I mean if you find out you were being surveilled and you change your usage patterns (i.e. Reduce your visits to privacy related sites) what difference does it make?

keinerApril 29, 2016 8:18 AM

https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/privacy/PIAs/privacy_pia_ops_NOC%20MMC%20Update_April2013.pdf

...my favorite search term

powder (white)


...and apparently half of Mexico is on the list. "Southwest Border Violence" ahh yeah!

PLO is still on the list!

Last year I had a phone call with a sponsor (from non-USA to non-USA), mentioning one of the diseases on this funny list and -klick- there was this funny cold-war klicking in the phone line and a strange echo... I welcomed the NSA on our telco and after some 1-2 minutes they left us alone.

Snarki, child of LokiApril 29, 2016 8:30 AM

Spy novels tell us that a "known" enemy spy is quite valuable, because you can feed them false information.

Which makes one wonder: if you KNOW the NSA is listening, and have a pretty good idea what keywords will get their attention, isn't that a great opportunity to inject misinformation?

Elio TorrisiApril 29, 2016 9:30 AM

Can't even read further: please, fix the typo in the title of your own book on the first line.

Greetings from the Netherlands ;-)

blakeApril 29, 2016 9:32 AM

> traffic to ... articles on topics that raise privacy concerns ... decreased after the widespread publicity

Like this blog? With that in mind, I especially like how the two following posts are right next to each other:

> Spy novels tell us that a "known" enemy spy is quite valuable, because you can feed them false information.

And then:

> Rolf,snowden lied? I'm not a professional,so excuse my ignorance.

Elio T.April 29, 2016 9:32 AM

Can't even read further: please, fix the typo in the title of your own book (first line).

ZzzzzApril 29, 2016 9:32 AM

To be entirely open-minded about it, there is a confounding factor. Thanks to Snowden, many people caught on to the terror con: Find some mental defective, give him a rubber bomb to hold and lock him up. Protect foreign agents as CIA sources while they run around and blow shit up. Lock up random bullshitters bragging on Facebook. Blackmail some immigrant into being a provocateur, and if he can't provoke terror then frame him for some. In general just run around whacking every hornet's nest with sticks and yell, "Oh, no! Wasps!"

Why look up boring government bullshit when there are cat videos? Terror doesn't scare people with 3-digit IQs. Even back before the Enlightenment, witch hunts petered out when they failed the laugh test. The government terror witch hunt has hit that wall now.

Clever beggar WeberApril 29, 2016 9:45 AM

Is 'Rolf Weber' a retarded half-brother of Skeptical? Rolf - please let us know what is misleading about PRISM, Upstream collection and a thousand other interesting revelations.....

Anyway Rolf and other (paid) apologists aren't putting the pieces together:

a) We live in a surveillance Police state - 100% no doubt about it.

b) Certain topics, keywords and positions put you on the government hit list/black list - this is incompatible with the fantasy of a liberal democracy we are sold every day.

c) An authoritarian government is simply out of control and knows the terrorist crapola was simply an pitiful excuse to imprison the herd electronically - they knew in advance the effect of implementing the Panopticon and craved it.

d) Anyone trying to break out of the matrix will be subject to intense scrutiny e.g. witness the FBI being effectively authorized to hack anybody using Tor or other anonymity measures under the latest Supreme Court decision.

e) The thought police are real and curtailing liberties by changing individual and collective behavior with the threat of payback. They insist you self-censor, conform and just be a good little consumer that doesn't threaten power structures or the status quo. Failure to comply will be punished. Full stop.

f) Being meek, fearful and self-censoring reinforces the mass surveillance paradigm. Thus, it must be refuted at every possible opportunity, otherwise you might as well be living in North Korea and saluting some pissant dictator like Kim Jong-Un.

g) Nothing is permanent. It is better to battle the police state authoritarians for as long as it takes to destroy the infrastructure they implemented without the consent of the governed and in secret. That is, tell them to go f**k themselves rather than go out on your knees grovelling like Rolf.

Now at the risk of being hacked by the FBI, I'd like to point out an inconvenient historical quote:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.

keinerApril 29, 2016 10:02 AM

PLEAAAAZZZE, leave this Rolf Weber alone in his world or visit his google cloak to discuss any open issues there....

Josh RubinApril 29, 2016 10:51 AM

I am deterred from some online activities, and I consciously fight that reaction some of the time. I expect that I am unconsciously deterred some of the time.

I'm afraid to seek information about the synthesis of C4, even though I am curious about everything, went to an engineering school, and had friends who were good chemists and good chemical engineers. I want to understand the level of threat posed by home-brew C4.

On the other hand, as soon as I heard that NSA flags "interest in Tails", I downloaded Tails. I don't know what I need it for, I just *must* resist intimidation. It is a personality trait.

SoWhatDidYouExpectApril 29, 2016 11:15 AM

The "chilling effects" are present in this web log and on SlashDot for example (fewer posts).

CallMeLateForSupperApril 29, 2016 1:03 PM

We "cannot long endure" on a strict diet of angst, fear and suspicion. We've gotta lighten up some, step back from the surveillance cesspool and take some deep breaths.

We need diversion, an anthem. It should be big and fun and catchy and in-your-face, a la "We Didn't Start the Fire". There is a great, steaming dung heap of surveillance- and security-related terms to draw from, e.g. "collected", PRISM, "going dark", "upstream", "phone fetish" and "golden key". You listening, Billy?

albertApril 29, 2016 1:42 PM

@Josh Rubin,
I usually investigate anything I'm interested in. It happens that I wouldn't be interested in the synthesis of C4. When the time comes that I'll be persecuted for my -political- views, then I might be concerned. -Everything- about terrorism here in the US is theater, possibly including the acts themselves (don't bother, I won't be responding to any comments on that).
............

Snowden lied? I'm gobsmacked! All that data. All the billions of words spent on it. Calls by various assholes the he should be killed. All the vehement denials by the GOV/MIL/LE.....wait....I guess I missed that part.

............
Some folks don't realize, that in a Fascist State, -no one- is safe. Just ask anyone who lived in Nazi Germany, Stalins Russia, etc. So wrapping yourself in the flag isn't going to help; piss off the wrong person, and you're toast. As long as people keep sopping up the drivel vomited out by the MSM, the Elite are satisfied, but when folks finally admit that the Emperor has no clothes, the Elite will have to resort to stronger measures. The Trump/Sanders movement is a political bellweather*, and the Elite don't like it. It's only the tip of the iceberg. Folks with 3-digit IQs are beginning to see the light. If there were still smoke-filled rooms, they'd be meeting in them right now.

------------
* look it up, it's applicable, and ironic.

BearApril 29, 2016 1:49 PM

Here's a chilling effect for you:

I no longer speak while in public. At least, not unless it's absolutely necessary. I no longer say things in the presence of my own computer. At a gathering of friends who play games? I discuss *NOTHING* but the games. It pisses me off, because I miss real conversation.

Everybody and their dog is now carrying microphones and cameras that are connected to the Internet 24/7, and don't even have control of these devices that would allow them to turn them off (short of removing the battery, and nobody does that). Or, for that matter, even to know when they are and are not turned off. Whatever those devices capture goes onto cloud storage which they do not control, usually under keys (if encrypted at all) that are in the hands of unknown parties. And those clouds are crawled by programs that correlate all names, faces, voices, locations, and times. At ALL times. I feel like I'm living inside a goddamned fishbowl.

Maybe my reaction is excessive. But - for the last several years - I've been assuming that every word I speak, or type, in the presence of another person or electronic device, is identified, recorded, indexed, correlated, and kept in a searchable database. And every book I order, and every article I read online, and every search I make on any major search engine, and every last scrap of supposedly private email. Even the stuff that I send/receive encrypted gets stored in plaintext on the far end, and will eventually get stolen and then, eventually, sucked into databases.

This is not because I think any intel-gathering organization is specifically interested in me. This is because that is the level of scrutiny under which EVERY LAST HUMAN BEING now lives.

LOLApril 29, 2016 2:06 PM

lol... all lies... Da Guberment is a perfect angel and never EVER does anything wrong! Just ask Rolf Weber! Or Kim Jong Un!

Rolf WeberApril 29, 2016 3:44 PM

@"Clever beggar Weber"

Rolf - please let us know what is misleading about PRISM, Upstream collection and a thousand other interesting revelations.....

PRISM and Upstream, like all other "interesting revelations" too, are targeted surveillance. For more details see my link.

a) We live in a surveillance Police state - 100% no doubt about it.

I know that this is your religious belief. But no belief is 100%, not even religious.

QuaesiverisApril 29, 2016 4:06 PM

Dear Bruce and friends,

Speaking of "the consent of the governed" o'er here in the land of the free and the home of the brave where a man's home is his castle and we're all innocent until proven guilty...

Yeah... right:
The Supreme Court Just Expanded the FBI's Hacking Powers
http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2016/04/supreme-court-just-expanded-fbis-hacking-powers/127921/

Thus in these united States of America it has long rather been a case of "the consent of the governors" (See Forced Consent (1873) http://praxeology.net/LS-FC.htm ) where the overlords use mass-media control and "mob rule" to trump individual rights (See: An Important Distinction: Democracy versus Republic http://www.lexrex.com/enlightened/AmericanIdeal/aspects/demrep.html )


Mass surveillance, the TSA "security theater", local "law enforcement heroes" (self-named "sheepdogs" - unfortunately blindly loyal and obediently protecting and serving their powerful evil master instead of the weak and innocent flock) etc. is all about the State attempting to maintain power via the use of force. It's not about money, it's about control.

The State insist on treating its citizens (the "sheep") like the enemy but then act surprised and are outraged when those with a modicum of intelligence (critical thinking skills) respond accordingly by taking defensive measures to protect themselves (for instance by using encryption to protect their privacy).

It has been many years since a few good men such as William Binney, Mark Klein, Thomas Drake, Edward Snowden et al. revealed the flagrant state-sponsored abuses against our private property rights (such as privacy). Those with well developed situational awareness immediately realized the clear and present danger that mass surveillance presents against life, liberty and property and have since responded rationally to the perceived threat by becoming "grey men" / going "dark" in more ways that one (therefore the "chilling effect").

(On a side note: Privacy per se is not a right (See Walter Block's argument here: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2013/07/walter-e-block/there-is-no-right-to-privacy/ )

Sadly, this "chilling effect" also results in a very vocal governmental minority presenting a one-sided perspective to a now misinformed public.

We truly live in dangerous times. Things show every sign of not working out well for those like myself or the few unhappy others that also believe in seemingly "archaic" concepts such as natural born rights and individual liberty (to not even mention self-ownership, the non-aggression principle, private property rights etc.)

So keep in mind that good, kind, ordinary Joe Public merely wants to be left alone to enjoy the hard-earned fruits of his labor, to live life in peace while engaging in voluntary (non-violent) interaction with his fellow man, yet today, right here, right now the reality is that he is facing the ever-increasing tyranny of the Police State. Time is running out for Joe Public. His options are decreasing fast. If he wishes to remain free, sooner or later he has to choose between resistance or submission. (I.e. active non-violent resistance by publicly speaking truth to power instead of remaining silent which in my opinion is at worst apathy and at best remaining silent is non-resistance which ultimately is the same as tacit approval / submission. You can ignore reality and pretend that nothing is wrong with our world but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality. We are without any doubt in a nasty fight for our freedom.

I believe that the best way to win a fight is to avoid it. If I cannot avoid it then I prefer to choose the time and place of my battles. Thus, I may not condone remaining silent, but I do fully understand the self-preservation logic behind the "chilling effect". For the sake of survival, it is best to be the "gray man". To buy yourself time and therefore options by not attracting unwanted attention. However, critical mass is needed for things to change for the better. The rest of the sheep needs to wake the flock up and that can only be done by us speaking out, shouting from the rooftops, educating others.

Only after you've clearly warned others of the danger can you wash your hands, walk away and be absolved of responsibility for then those that choose to be willfully ignorant has made an informed choice must themselves bear the consequences of their ignorance. Sadly the words "I told you so" means very little once the damage has been done.


Keep up the good fight!

Kind regards,

Quaesiveris

I personally find this motto (of the Ludwig von Mises Institute) inspirational:
Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito.
(Latin: Do not give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it.)

Rolf WeberApril 29, 2016 5:04 PM

Dear Snowden fanboys, even if you believe in this "chilling effect", please don't blame the NSA. The NSA didn't want that:

1. Secret documents about the alleged "mass surveillance" were stolen and published in the first place.

2. A sysadmin and biased "journalists" misrepresent the documents.

QuaesiverisApril 29, 2016 6:29 PM

@Rolf Weber

You wrote:

"Dear Snowden fanboys, even if you believe in this "chilling effect", please don't blame the NSA. The NSA didn't want that:"

The "chilling effect" on free speech exists whether you or I or anyone else "believe" in it or not. Due to the results of this study the evidence is no longer anecdotal but cold, hard scientific fact. The chilling effect" is real and it should be clear to you even if you only read the abstract of the study ("Chilling Effects: Online Surveillance and Wikipedia Use," by Jon Penney, Berkeley Technology Law Journal, 2016) as shared by Bruce on this very page. With that established and out of the way...

You then wrote:

"please don't blame the NSA. The NSA didn't want that:

Of course "the NSA didn't want that". It goes without saying that the NSA would prefer their warrantless surveillance to remain secret so that their victims will be blissfully ignorant of the fact that they are being spied upon. It is so much easier for the State (the NSA, FBI etc.) to spy on the public without being held accountable or having to answer awkward questions and to be inconvenienced by encryption etc. The negative "chilling effect" of self-censorship on free speech can be explained by a relevant quote commonly attributed to Thomas Jefferson "When government fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny." So ask yourself, if people are unafraid of the government why are they suddenly, now that they are aware of what the NSA are up to, afraid to openly speak their mind?

You also wrote:

"1. Secret documents about the alleged "mass surveillance" were stolen and published in the first place."

Your point being? From the comments of other readers above I don't think that anyone here is unclear as to the origin of the documents or what Snowden did or how he did it since that it is simply not relevant and is a straw man argument. The legality of what Snowden did is not under debate here. What IS being discussed is the negative "chilling" EFFECT on free speech due to NSA mass surveillance.

Finally you wrote:

"2. A sysadmin and biased "journalists" misrepresent the documents."

Many of the stolen documents are now in the public domain / available for all to read. So whatever the public opinion of the "sysadmin" (Snowden) is or the public opinions of the allegedly "biased" journalists (Glenn Greenwald et al. who according to you "misrepresents the documents") is not relevant at all since the actual documents are now open source and the documents themselves directly prove the allegations i.e. the continued existence of NSA mass surveillance programs (thus this is yet another straw man argument by you.)

In other words, the existence of the mass surveillance programs by the NSA has already been factually established long ago, is not disputed by the NSA and again is not the topic under discussion. Whether you choose to believe in it or not, the mass surveillance and the consequences of its public disclosure namely the "chilling effect" on free speech is real, it is no longer someones subjective opinion, it is objective fact.

Your efforts to obfuscate the actual topic under discussion reminds me of two applicable quotes:
The first from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who wrote that "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."

The second is known as Robert A. Heinlein's Razor:
"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don't rule out malice."

Best wishes to all,


Quaesiveris

PS: So the age old question is:
How do you know if someone is merely uninformed or perhaps misinformed... or if they are malicious?
Answer: "Ye shall know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:16-20.)

CarmenApril 29, 2016 10:23 PM

The paper download link doesn't work for me, but the news stories only talk about viewing. It would be interesting to see a similar story on editing. Personally, I stopped editing Wikipedia when they started blocking all Tor exit nodes (5-10 years ago); but probably some people used to be willing to give up their anonymity and changed their mind when they learned about the surveillance.

Rolf WeberApril 30, 2016 3:27 AM

@Quaesiveris

Due to the results of this study the evidence is no longer anecdotal but cold, hard scientific fact.

Hardly:

That's one plausible conclusion we could draw from the data. There is, however, an alternative explanation for these results.

The Snowden revelations ignited a huge debate about the NSA. Stories about government surveillance dominated the news cycle for months. Perhaps people stopped looking at terrorism-related Wikipedia articles not because the Snowden leaks made them paranoid, but because the news distracted them from their previous curiosity about terrorism.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/04/27/new-study-snowdens-disclosures-about-nsa-spying-had-a-scary-effect-on-free-speech/

So ask yourself, if people are unafraid of the government why are they suddenly, now that they are aware of what the NSA are up to, afraid to openly speak their mind?

I don’t see anybody who is afraid to openly speak his mind. Quite the opposite, I see a lot of people blaming the government in even the dumbest ways.

Many of the stolen documents are now in the public domain / available for all to read.

Exactly. And the documents don’t provide a single evidence for mass surveillance, at least not in western countries.

Clive RobinsonApril 30, 2016 5:11 AM

@ Bear,

Maybe my reaction is excessive. But - for the last several years - I've been assuming that every word I speak, or type...

Pre Ed Snowden Revelations, such thinking and behaviour would have been considered paranoid, even here where others were saying that those things were happening (search this blog some time for goldfish bowl it's been used before also for BRUSA or UKUSA ;)

Now those involved with ICTsec have become circumspect almost taciturn, having previously been considered valuable, and others are following seemingly by osmosis.

I find my behaviour changed, I used to frequently post new "hinky thinking" ideas, but subsequently found that many who should have listened and acted did not, and those who we would rather have not listen did act (TAO amoungst others).

I'm begining to understand why Bruce has had a change in direction in his writings etc.

StephenApril 30, 2016 5:38 AM

Rolf, I figured I would give you the benefit of any possible doubt that may remain in a rational person's mind about Snowden, and trotted off to your 'amazing and incredible' work.

Your document goes first to PRISM, and states:

"The Facts

The story was first debunked on June 07, 2013 on CNET by Declan McCullagh..."

(You included the link; CNET fans can do a search for the story if they really need to.)

As most of the world remembers, though you presumably were too young at the time, the NSA initially ran a reasonably successful disinformation campaign, after Snowden reportage commenced on June 05 (two days before the article to which you refer). Reporter McCullagh took hook, line and sinker - to be followed the next day by Joe Svetlik.

If you search CNET for PRISM, and sort by date, there were a few other CNET articles that initially cast doubt on the program - but these were quickly replaced by reality. In fact, by June 10 2013 Mr Svetlik is writing "UK citizens' data pilfered under US-run Prism program"! Declan takes a small step towards reality on June 26, writing that "Secret court lifts veil, slightly, on Google, Microsoft lawsuits", and by July 12 2013 is writing about "How the U.S. forces Net firms to cooperate on surveillance". It appears that he failed to completely swallow the Kool-Aid.

So we have your manifesto published on Google+, claiming that PRISM was actually totally legal and only related to the tens of thousands of 'legitimate' requests made for access to online surveillance. Then we have pretty much the rest of the world pointing out that while James Clapper said that, he also admitted to lying under oath, before Congress - and pointing to the actual evidence, which is for a pervasive illegal data scoop by the NSA and its international partners.

I have difficulty believing that anyone could be so stupid, and am led to believe that you are a stooge. Your document is propagandist garbage, not worth the electricity my computer used to download it or the wires along which it passed.

Please, shoo before you embarrass yourself further.

Rolf Weber April 30, 2016 5:40 AM

@Quaesiveris

Your point being?

My point is simple: I don't buy this "chilling effects" bullshit. But even if there are "chilling effects", they are caused because Snowden and his Snowdenistas told fairy tales, and some silly people believed in these fairy tales. This is nothing western governments could fix anyhow.

relegated to obscurityApril 30, 2016 12:28 PM

There is evidence that Google and other search providers have been ordered by some unknown third parties to either block certain specific search terms from a targeted site or deliberately and arbitrarily relegate the site's content search ranking in terms of relevance to brought down to a level only the tiresome and thorough researcher will have the means to discover relevant content on the targeted site. In the end the targeted site will be as good as if it did not allow its content to be indexed by search engines. This is dangerous and troubling situation we find ourselves to Obama's Machiavellianism.

I think the drop visits to Wikipedia' articles on surveillance might be partly due to deliberate and malicious orders from the NSA to manipulate the search ranking of Wikipedia articles and thereby instead of being in the top ten results it would be relegated to maybe bottom of top 100 or even 1000 search results.

GweihirApril 30, 2016 12:32 PM

@"Rolf Weber":

First, if you do not "buy" chilling effects, then you do not live in the real world, or are one of these "special" individuals that discount things even if there is strong scientific evidence demonstrating their reality. This means you are on the far left side of the Dunning-Kruger graph where you find the people that have absolutely no clue how clueless they are.

And second, blaming Snowden is the classical strategy of evil: When caught, blame it on others, no matter what.

It seems to me you are part of the problem here. Whether due to limited mental capabilities, or because you are a paid propaganda troll, I cannot say. And you may well be one of the "useful idiots" that totalitarians of all colors like so much because they do their work for them.

Bumble BeeApril 30, 2016 1:19 PM

@ relegated to obscurity

Err, umm, (as a "producer" of "content,") when you put the SEO on too thick, teh GOOG becomes wise to it and penalizes your rank...

And, (as a "consumer" of "content,") when you rely too much on a single closely held and controlled company for all your research, your knowledge becomes painfully inskränkt (as the Swedes would say,) and subject to the influence of Russian-born Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin and Lawrence "Larry" Page and there's a Chinese lady somewhere around here, but I can't find her right now.

Google's a good start, but look around, follow links among other sites, and check several pages of results for anything that isn't total trash, but definitely be very skeptical and use your critical thinking skills.

Rolf WeberApril 30, 2016 5:01 PM

@Stephen

Not CNET had to correct their stories, but the Washington Post. Here is a good write-up on how the Post silently corrected their bombshell story:

http://www.zdnet.com/article/how-did-mainstream-media-get-the-nsa-prism-story-so-hopelessly-wrong/

And if you look today on the Washington Post story, it looks totally different.

The initial PRISM reporting made 3 major mistakes:
1. That the NSA had a "direct access" to the companies' servers.
2. That the companies were voluntary "partners".
3. That PRISM was mass surveillance.

These 3 claims are simply nonsense. Period. And now they should be responsible for "chilly effects". How ridiculous.

And BTW, you do not need CNET or ZDNET to debunk the Snowden PRISM fairy tales. In the meantime we have reports like the PCLOB 702 report, which explain how PRISM really works.


@Gweihir

Even if I would be a "paid propaganda troll", this wouldn't change anything about my arguments. I am factually correct, that's all what counts.

Reg WalshApril 30, 2016 6:21 PM

As a lowly troglodyte and uninformed computer geek I was surprised by an incident which occurred while I was researching an article - the entire screen before me clicked like the shutter of a camera, making me wonder if in fact surveillance could have mastered some new gizmo or other to photograph a user? Next, I'll be worrying about being irradiated!

ianfApril 30, 2016 6:38 PM


You mean the screen blinked, rather than "clicked" as were it a camera, or did it also emit a shutter sound? Sounds[sic] like a momentary voltage spike to me, but you go right ahead, nourish your NSA-paranoia ;-))

QuaesiverisMay 1, 2016 4:17 AM

In my experience interesting online discussions unfortunately all too often become mere consensus-building exercises that quickly digress from civil discussions into ad hominem polemical attacks. Since this particular post is about the “chilling effect” that mass surveillance is having on one of our most important "rights", namely freedom of speech, it would perhaps be wise of us to apply the law of natural justice (”audi alteram partem” which means “hear the other side”) and to reflect on the impact our words may have on an actual human being before responding to other commenters that hold contrary opinions.

I would like to think that other readers of this fine web log are also intellectually curious types (that would like to increase knowledge and that seek the truth). Therefore if we truly believe in freedom of speech and consider ourselves to be open minded and willing to learn then we should respect the right of others to have and to express opinions that differ from our own. In other words, I think it is worthwhile to constantly challenge our own assumptions and to avoid confirmation bias by actively seeking out and to closely examine opposing views.

According to Aristotle “it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." Frank A. Clark made a similar statement when he said “I would like to be able to admire a man’s opinions as I would his dog – without being expected to take it home with me.” The late, great Terry Pratchett however offered a funny caveatThe trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” :) In the end it us up to each of us to accept responsibility for our own unexamined lives and opinions and also, when reading the comments of others, to develop and to use our critical thinking skills to discern truth from falsehood. As Steven “Tiberius” ;) Gibson wisely recommends “Trust No One”.

@Rolf Weber
You may continue to shoot, blame or try to divert attention to the messengers (Snowden and journalists) as much as you like however, it seems to me that for well-informed readers of this blog the message has already been delivered, signed for, opened, examined and accepted:

From the comments that’ve been posted so far it is the opinion and position of many here (myself included) that:
a. Governments have long been and still are engaged in warrantless mass surveillance and that the evidence produced from
b. subsequent public disclosures (leaks by various whistle-blowers) have resulted in a more informed public that
c. has without doubt caused (and at least for the foreseeable future is likely going to continue to cause) a “chilling effect” on the freedom of speech.

Yet, for some unknown reason, despite all the evidence to the contrary you’ve taken an intransigent contrary position (as is your right) and you adamantly insist that the mass surveillance programs are purely targeted surveillance and apparently thus not cause for concern to the public. To me your words suspiciously sounds like “nothing to see here folks, move along, move along!”.

Confucius once said “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name”. In my opinion, slowly but surely the Web is going dark (mainly because of Snowden but also thanks to others before and since) and the Government Intel agencies appear to be in damage control mode and are deliberately trying to influence public discourse on the matter by controlling language (the words used) especially in the mass media regarding their surveillance programs, with the intent to indirectly control thoughts, public opinion and ultimately policy. For example, by euphemistically calling suspicionless / warrantless mass-surveillance the “bulk collection” of meta-data. (Markus Wolf would be so proud https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stasi ) Similarly, you my dear Mr. Weber appear here to imply in your comments that this “bulk collection” (of supposedly only meta-data) is merely for the benign purposes of “targeted surveillance”. (I.e. If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to worry about… right? The presumption of innocence, probable cause and the Fourth Amendment be damned, right?) :(

I find it peculiar that you’ve referenced the Washington Post article that mentions the “20 percent decline in page views on Wikipedia articles related to terrorism” and that “about 40 percent of Americans were “very” or “somewhat” concerned that the government was spying on their online activities” yet contrary to the results of this recently published empirical study (“Chilling Effects” http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2769645) and the results of a 2015 Pew survey you still:

don't buy this "chilling effects" bullshit.

Interestingly, it appears like you’re having some doubts though since you then added:

But even if there are "chilling effects", they are caused because Snowden and his Snowdenistas told fairy tales, and some silly people believed in these fairy tales. This is nothing western governments could fix anyhow.

So you’re back to shooting the (irrelevant) messenger(s) instead of addressing the real issues namely that illegal government mass surveillance exists (according to numerous sources and a mountain of documented evidence besides Snowden, some of which I’ll mention shortly) and most importanly, that it is a clear and present danger to liberty.

Here in these united States of America the Fourth Amendment to the supreme law of the land enumerates and clearly limits the power of Government: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Therefore the Government of the united States of America (which has no rights of its own, only privileges) is forbidden to engage in warrantless mass surveillance. Period. No if’s, but’s or maybe’s.

The threat to liberty (especially our right to private property) is real (not just perceived because of “fairy tales”). The existence of these surveillance programs have been established beyond a shadow of doubt. The evidence of it being operational for far more than a decade is in the public domain, it can no longer be covered up or denied. The Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has even admitted to lying about not collecting the data of American citizens to Congress. The NSA no longer even tries to deny the "inadvertent" collection of data on American citizens since it would be utterly absurd and pointless. The documents prove that the technical infrastructure / capabilities for mass surveillance clearly exist. Effective oversight and transparency does not.

Yet, here you are and what you are apparently claiming is that this monstrous, privacy invading tool that has been hidden even from Congress is in “good hands” and will be used only against “bad guys” (I.e. “targeted surveillance”.) Thus, even though the government Intel agencies have been snooping on and scooping up (and retaining) our private data, you’re expecting us to believe them when they say “Trust us, we’re from the Government and we’re here to help” and you think that it’s “ridiculous” that we run as hard and fast as possible in the opposite direction (i.e. that innocent people try to limit the risk of inadvertently attracting unwanted government attention through self-censorship in their communications and actions I.e. thereby causing “the chilling effect”).

How fortunate for us that all governments, especially our own, are run only by friendly, benign, wise old men that only have our best interests at heart. Surely there’s never been a totalitarian… oh… wait, er… uhm… nevermind.

So you really don’t want to get me started on what Governments can or can’t fix (or rather are the actual cause of) so for brevity's sake I’ll simply move along, right after this appropriate quote commonly attributed to George Washington “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.

Your most recent comment states:

The initial PRISM reporting made 3 major mistakes:
1. That the NSA had a "direct access" to the companies' servers.
2. That the companies were voluntary "partners".
3. That PRISM was mass surveillance.
These 3 claims are simply nonsense. Period. And now they should be responsible for "chilly effects". How ridiculous.

So your latest straw man is to yet again an attempt to divert attention to reporting that supposedly wasn’t accurate.

You claim that the NSA didn’t have “direct access”, yet here you are reading Bruce’s blog and commenting... so surely you are aware that kleptographic backdoors in cryptography algorithms have been discovered that are “advantageous to the algorithm's designers—the United States government's National Security Agency (NSA)—and no-one else.” And that the “NSA paid RSA Security $10 million in a secret deal to use Dual_EC_DRBG as the default in the RSA BSAFE cryptography library, which resulted in RSA Security becoming the most important distributor of the insecure algorithm.” (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_EC_DRBG and https://cs.stanford.edu/people/eroberts/cs181/projects/ethics-of-surveillance/tech_encryptionbackdoors.html)

Besides, “direct access to the companies’ servers” is less relevant if you are honest enough to mention and take into account “Upstream collection” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upstream_collection )

That companies weren’t voluntary partners by no means makes your case any better, quite the opposite. (Once again it’s the government imposing it will via the threat of force. It’s "Obey & comply or else!") Fortunately, there are still principled men with integrity in this world such as Ladar Levison of Lavabit. (See: https://www.wired.com/2016/03/lavabit-apple-fbi/ ) Who knows how many others have been forced into silent compliance with Government issued “National Security Letters” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_security_letter and then served gag orders. Unfortunately there is know way for us the public to know, even with warrant canaries.

Again, the mass-surveillance issue is most certainly not just about the NSA and PRISM (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/prism-collection-documents/ ) but also about programs such as Echelon, XKeyscore, Tempora etc. And other mass-surveillance by government agencies such as the FBI to not even mention other governments such as:

Britain’s GCHQ http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-security-britain-idUKBRE95K10620130621

Germany’s BND http://www.zeit.de/digital/datenschutz/2015-02/bnd-nsa-mass-surveillance/komplettansicht
“BND stores 220 million telephone data – every day”

Israel’s Unit 8200 https://next.ft.com/content/69f150da-25b8-11e5-bd83-71cb60e8f08c
“Unit 8200 is probably the foremost technical intelligence agency in the world and stands on a par with the NSA in everything except scale,”

etc. Etc.

Examine for example the FBI’s use of Harris Corp’s Stingray devices (that collect more than only the target's data) as well as their use of gag orders (I recommend reading up on the interesting story of Sibel Edmunds https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sibel_Edmonds & http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/about-us/about-sibel-edmonds/ )

To date your arguments have focused almost exclusively on Snowden, alleged misrepresentations by reporters and now PRISM and you apparently want to convince others that mass surveillance and the chilling effect thereof doesn’t exist.
Yet, in no way shape or form is mass-surveillance merely a domestic (USA) issue, or shall we perhaps proffer “American exceptionalism” and claim that foreigners are "unter menchen" that do not have equal natural born, inalienable rights (rights that stem from self-ownership, therefore logically also private property rights that include the “right” to privacy)?

You also wrote:

the documents don’t provide a single evidence for mass surveillance, at least not in western countries.

*sigh* My apologies (but why re-invent the wheel so) I guess it’s time for yet another apropos quote… hmmm, I’ll go with one from Mark Twain: “What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so.”

My dear Rolf, in terms of electronic mass surveillance, let see if I can predict other things that you probably also believe did not or do not exist (or as you so eloquently stated, things that according to you is “bullsh*t”):

a. Project SHAMROCK (started in 1945) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_SHAMROCK
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Sen. Frank Church concluded that it was
probably the largest government interception program affecting Americans ever undertaken.” [at the time]

A subsequent investigation into SHAMROCK lead to the 1978 creation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which was supposed to limit the powers of the NSA. Yet, fast forward to June 2013 and lo and behold, a leaked FISA court order publicly revealed that the government was using? Was using? Bueller? Bueller? ;) You’ve got it…

b. “Secret interpretations” of Section 215 of the Patriot Act “to collect the phone records of virtually every person in the United States.” (See: https://www.eff.org/foia/section-215-usa-patriot-act)

Shocked! I'm shocked I tell you. ;) Actually, it came as no surprise since Mark Klein (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Klein ) already tried to warn everyone of government mass-surveillance 10 years ago (in May 2006) after he discovered? Yup…

c. Room 641A https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A
(Note: “Former director of the NSA's World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group, William Binney, (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Binney_%28U.S._intelligence_official%29 ) has estimated that 10 to 20 such facilities have been installed throughout the United States.”)

(Also watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qB3KR8fWNh0 )

Then don’t forget about:

d. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)
“Section 702 has been used by the NSA to justify mass collection of phone calls and emails by collecting huge quantities of data directly from the physical infrastructure of communications providers.”
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/05/way-nsa-uses-section-702-deeply-troubling-heres-why

So Rolf, we’re told by the likes of you not to believe our own "lying eyes" but to believe the lying Government spooks (Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbZt1zLQ11E ) and that because of the USA Freedom Act the NSA has ended its reliance on the Patriot Act’s Section 215 to collect all phone records (on 11:59pm EST on November 28, 2015) yet… I recall that Reagan had signed the following little gem on December 04, 1981 that is still being used as justification:

e. Executive Order 12333 (See: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/06/primer-executive-order-12333-mass-surveillance-starlet )
As explained by Wikipedia: “Executive Order 12333 has been regarded by the American intelligence community as a fundamental document authorizing the expansion of data collection activities. The document has been employed by the National Security Agency as legal authorization for its collection of unencrypted information flowing through the data centers of internet communications giants Google and Yahoo!”

Alas, no worries my dear chap, if all else fails there are always friends that offer plausible deniability / ways around the Fourth Amendment and accountability:

f. The UKUSA Agreement (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UKUSA_Agreement#Controversy )
”the surveillance agencies of the "Five Eyes" have been accused of intentionally spying on one another's citizens and willingly sharing the collected information with each other, allegedly circumventing laws preventing each agency from spying on its own citizens.” (Follow the footnotes for sources, I’ve done enough spoon-feeding for today).

So my dear Rolf, I can go on and on… but time is our most precious, finite, non-renewable resource and I’m beginning to feel that I’m spending it unwisely on porcine singing lessons. A sufficient amount of time has passed since Bruce published this particular post for those sincerely interested in the topic of the “chilling effect” to become better informed on the reality of mass surveillance thus, sadly, in my opinion the virtual scales weighing my perception of your possible intentions have tipped from "merely uninformed or misinformed" to "most likely malicious".

Whenever I’m debating Statists I must admit that I’m terribly tempted to quote Samuel Adams’ “Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.
But instead of cursing the darkness I’ll try to light a candle by offering this final quote from one of my favorite writers, Murray Rothbard, who wrote “The greatest danger to the State [and may I add, its surveillance shills] is independent intellectual criticism.

And with that , I bid thee all Adieu (and a pleasant, peaceful and prosperous day.) :)

Best Wishes,


Q.


PS: Rolf Weber, since I do not know you personally, I speculate that our different opinions could likely be explained by very different world views. I thus sincerely highly recommend that you please read Murray Rothbard’s “Anatomy of the State” (Freely available here: https://mises.org/library/anatomy-state )

You many not believe in the reality of mass-surveillance or the “chilling effect” thereof but unless you believe that slavery is morally just you may find the following short videos of value to understand:

The Philosophy of Liberty https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9srplWe_QQ
and
Statism: The Most Dangerous Religion https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6uVV2Dcqt0

and many more. Those who seek will find. :)

Dirk PraetMay 1, 2016 8:28 PM

@ Rolf Weber

I am factually correct, that's all what counts.

No, you're not. You have been rebutted time and time and again, but you're just not listening.

JoehnMay 2, 2016 2:04 AM

Rolf's writing are worth reading to just to understand his manipulation. He does not dispute the known facts, he only deliberately misinterprets the language and definitions. For example, in order to dispute the "direct access" claim he uses an extremely limited definition of that phrase. As if I'll claim that I don't have "direct access" to Bruce's blog because as we all know the internet traffic is routed through dozens of servers so my access to Bruce's blog could be considered "indirect" in that manner. That's the kind of language tricks Rolf uses in order to "refute" Snowden's leaks, taking advantage of the inherent ambiguity of some terms, as we're not after all discussing natural sciences with strict common definitions.

Another thing he does is to take advantage of some media's factual errors and misunderstandings, it's natural that these kind of things happen and there were after all thousands if not more of articles on that subject, so it would be really easy to find some errors in some of them and celebrate them as if they somehow prove that the entire story is false.

It is, of course, important to find errors in reporting and to discuss terminology differences, and sis criticism could have been legitimate if he were to frame it honestly as criticism on language and terminology and of course be upfront with his ideological support of the Big Brother's mass surveillance, but he deliberately chooses no to do so. He could, of course, argue on his behalf that on our side there are also some liars and propaganda specialists so it is justified to "counter" them in the same way, but when you say that you admit that you aren't a legitimate and serious debater.

Rolf WeberMay 2, 2016 3:12 AM

@Quaesiveris

Therefore if we truly believe in freedom of speech and consider ourselves to be open minded and willing to learn then we should respect the right of others to have and to express opinions that differ from our own.

At least here we absolutely agree.

You may continue to shoot, blame or try to divert attention to the messengers (Snowden and journalists) as much as you like however, it seems to me that for well-informed readers of this blog the message has already been delivered, signed for, opened, examined and accepted:

You miss my main point. I do not "shot the messengers". If Snowden, Greenwald & Co. were just messengers, I'd of course just discuss the message. But they tell us lies, not messages. That's the main problem.

Similarly, you my dear Mr. Weber appear here to imply in your comments that this “bulk collection” (of supposedly only meta-data) is merely for the benign purposes of “targeted surveillance”. (I.e. If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to worry about… right?

I think you refer here to the 215 metadata program. The first point is, that so far we did only discuss the 702 programs (PRISM, Upstram), because they are mainly identified as the cause for the alleged "chilly affect". And the 702 programs are *clearly* *only* *targeted*.

Regarding the 215 program, I largely agree with the PCLOB in its 215 report. It is surely a mass collection of data, and it is/was most likely unconstitutional. However, it was no mass surveillance, because it was under strict oversight and every single query had to be authorized.

I find it peculiar that you’ve referenced the Washington Post article that mentions the “20 percent decline in page views on Wikipedia articles related to terrorism” and that “about 40 percent of Americans were “very” or “somewhat” concerned that the government was spying on their online activities” yet contrary to the results of this recently published empirical study [...] you still 'don't buy this "chilling effects" bullshit.'

As I already said, it may be that some Americans show these "chilly effects", and maybe this are the same who say they are "very concerned" about government spying on them, but there is simply no factual reason for them to believe so. Snowden and Greenwald told fairy tales, and some silly people believed it. So what? I feel little sympathy for adults who still believe in fairy tales.

Therefore the Government of the united States of America (which has no rights of its own, only privileges) is forbidden to engage in warrantless mass surveillance. Period. No if’s, but’s or maybe’s.

I absolutely agree. But Snowden simply could not disclose that the USG engaged in mass surveillance of Americans. Again, we may discuss whether the 215 program qualifies as "mass surveillance", but beside this Snowden didn't reveal anything being even remotely something like "mass surveillance". (And BTW, strictly spoken it was not Snowden who revealed the 215 program, the USA Today had a very similar story already back in 2006 -- but nobody cared about back then)

So your latest straw man is to yet again an attempt to divert attention to reporting that supposedly wasn’t accurate.

Since you seem to like the word honest: If you don't at least agree with me that the initial PRISM stories were completely broken, then you are -- sorry -- either incompetent or dishonest.

And that the “NSA paid RSA Security $10 million in a secret deal to use Dual_EC_DRBG as the default in the RSA BSAFE cryptography library, which resulted in RSA Security becoming the most important distributor of the insecure algorithm.”

Even if this RSA story was true, it has nothing to do with "mass surveillance".

Besides, “direct access to the companies’ servers” is less relevant if you are honest enough to mention and take into account “Upstream collection”

Wrong for several reasons:

1. Under "Upstream", the NSA has no "direct access" to the cables either. The NSA much more has to send selectors to the companies, and the companies send back the matching data.
2. Because the NSA only receives data matching to specific sselectors, Upstream is clearly targeted.
3. Big parts of what is transmitted is encrypted, so the NSA could only see fractions of the data that is stored on servers.

Again, the mass-surveillance issue is most certainly not just about the NSA and PRISM but also about programs such as Echelon, XKeyscore, Tempora etc.

Echelon and Tempora are comparable to Upstraem, and thus, because only specific data based on selectors is collected, it is clearly targeted surveillance, not indiscriminate "mass surveillance".

Yet, in no way shape or form is mass-surveillance merely a domestic (USA) issue, or shall we perhaps proffer “American exceptionalism” and claim that foreigners are "unter menchen" that do not have equal natural born, inalienable rights (rights that stem from self-ownership, therefore logically also private property rights that include the “right” to privacy)?

It is a widely accepted practice that western democracies grant own citizens much more privacy than foreigners abroad. So while I cannot expect much privacy if I ever happen to become an NSA target, you cannot reversely expect it from BND. And this makes absolutely sense. I as a German care much more about BND or Verfassungsschutz than I do about the NSA. And you should care much more about FBI and NSA than about BND.

Rolf WeberMay 2, 2016 3:46 AM

@Joehn

Rolf's writing are worth reading to just to understand his manipulation. He does not dispute the known facts, he only deliberately misinterprets the language and definitions. For example, in order to dispute the "direct access" claim he uses an extremely limited definition of that phrase.

You simply ignore that the initial PRISM "direct access" were not only wrong in technical details, they were wrong on almost all key points. There is no "direct access", there is no "partnership" with the companies, and PRISM is no "mass surveillance". And you ignore that it was *the* bombshell story with which Snowden made his big breaktrough, at least here in Germany. And this story turned out to be largely wrong.
(And BTW, another of the big, important bombshell stories, the BOUNDLESSINFORMANT-based "NSA monitors millions of Germans" was also completely wrong)

and of course be upfront with his ideological support of the Big Brother's mass surveillance

Believe it or not, but I don't support "mass surveillance", I deny it, or better said I point out that Snowden and Greenwald could so far not provide a single evidence. If Snowden's and Greenwald's claims would be true, I would be on your side.

Rolf WeberMay 2, 2016 4:37 AM

@Quaesiveris

Again, the mass-surveillance issue is most certainly not just about the NSA and PRISM but also about programs such as Echelon, XKeyscore, Tempora etc.

What I forgot to mention: XKeyScore is a software tool, not a program or a database.

Dirk PraetMay 2, 2016 8:04 AM

@ Rolf Weber

And the 702 programs are *clearly* *only* *targeted*.

In which case DNI Clapper should have exactly no reason to not publicly disclose an estimate of the number of US persons caught "incidentally" in internet surveillance intended for foreign targets. That's what 14 bipartisan House members asked him two weeks ago in order to gauge possible reforms to 702. If the surveillance in question is so narrow, controlled and targeted as you claim, that answer is just a simple query away. Instead, the man's pretending that they have no simple way of doing so and that it would be a "breach of privacy" of those folks involved. Completely laughable.

It is surely a mass collection of data, and it is/was most likely unconstitutional. However, it was no mass surveillance, because it was under strict oversight and every single query had to be authorized.

After which you move on to say that you feel little sympathy for adults who still believe in fairy tales. Considering the PCLOB an even remotely independent or impartial body is the very definition of a fairy tale.

Under "Upstream", the NSA has no "direct access" to the cables either. The NSA much more has to send selectors to the companies, and the companies send back the matching data.

Under UPSTREAM, the NSA is also collecting data from internet cables and switches outside the US under secret agreements with foreign internet providers, especially in Europe and the Middle East. The costs for this cooperation are paid by the NSA under its Corporate Partner Access program. This has nothing to do with legal compulsion, as you keep claiming.

The same goes for AT&T in the US, and it's hardly a leap of faith to assume that many others, including PRISM partners frantically denying any voluntary cooperation, quietly went along in similar schemes as to proactively avoid lengthy legal battles under gag order (cfr. Yahoo, Qwest). It was not until after Snowden that Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and the like started to push back.

According to a FISC order from October 3, 2011, the NSA acquired some 13.25 million internet communications through Upstream collection alone, and during the first half of 2011. Add to that everything else under other programs, and I don't see how anyone in his right mind can call this anything else but "mass surveillance".

And can we finally stop talking semantics about "direct access"? If the NSA, either through legal force or voluntary cooperation by said companies, can impose any selector whatsoever, than that's as "direct" and as "mass surveilance" as it can get, irrespective of whether it's the affected company or the NSA itself that is doing the actual collection.

What matters here is that there is a solid infrastructure for mass surveillance in place, and which the USG can apparently use in whatever way it seems fit, especially when considering that the FISC kangaroo court in 2015 didn't bother to refuse even one single government request and that that same FISC recently also decided that it is now OK for other TLA's to use the collected data for more mundane purposes than terrorism too.

Rolf WeberMay 2, 2016 9:55 AM

@Dirk Praet

Instead, the man's pretending that they have no simple way of doing so and that it would be a "breach of privacy" of those folks involved. Completely laughable.

If I understood the news correctly, the bipartisan groupe gave Clapper time until May 6. How can you know what he will answer?

Considering the PCLOB an even remotely independent or impartial body is the very definition of a fairy tale.

We had this discussion before. Not even EFF or ACLU express doubts on the PCLOB's integrity. And again, the PCLOB publicly critisized the 215 program as unconstitutional.

And in any case, the PCLOB 215 report is the best we have so far about how the program realy works. You are the one who claims that 215 was "mass surveillance" -- so the burden of proof is up to you.

Under UPSTREAM, the NSA is also collecting data from internet cables and switches outside the US under secret agreements with foreign internet providers, especially in Europe and the Middle East. The costs for this cooperation are paid by the NSA under its Corporate Partner Access program. This has nothing to do with legal compulsion, as you keep claiming.

My remarks about the alleged "partnership" was regarding the PRISM companies, like Google or Facebook. Here the initial reporting was plain wrong, there is no single evidence that these companies voluntarily helped the NSA spying.

According to a FISC order from October 3, 2011, the NSA acquired some 13.25 million internet communications through Upstream collection alone, and during the first half of 2011.

Compared to the billions of internet communications routed through the U.S. each day, 13.25 million per half year is a laughable small number. Of course this is not even remotely "mass surveillance".

And can we finally stop talking semantics about "direct access"? If the NSA, either through legal force or voluntary cooperation by said companies, can impose any selector whatsoever, than that's as "direct" and as "mass surveilance" as it can get, irrespective of whether it's the affected company or the NSA itself that is doing the actual collection.

Of course it is a big difference, whether the NSA had a "direct access" to servers, cables and switches and can help themselve collecting whatever they want, or whether they have to present the companies legal orders with specific selectors, orders that companies can check (eg if the requests are about citizens or too broad) or challenge.

And last but not least, the reporting was simply wrong. But neither Snowden nor Greenwald nor anyone else publicly corrected it. This clearly shows how deeply dishonest Snowden and his Snowdenistas are.

especially when considering that the FISC kangaroo court in 2015 didn't bother to refuse even one single government request

And how many requests did the FISC approve? Millions?

and that that same FISC recently also decided that it is now OK for other TLA's to use the collected data for more mundane purposes than terrorism too.

Oh, you begin to realize that intelligence is about more than just terrorism?

Rick TaggardMay 2, 2016 4:27 PM

@Rolf Weber

Taking this public released statement from the NSA as authoritative, I believe is naive. They are an intelligence agency. They have obligation to not relieve their sources.

There are leaked documents which say they do have sources they did not explicitly list there. And which are highly likely to be tied to PRISM.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentry_Eagle

Sentry Owl (collaborations with private companies)


Reading further down further qualifies the reality of the PRISM program...

Sentry Hawk [...] The Sentry Hawk program is a computer network exploitation program involving the CIA and FBI. [...] Targets include specific firewalls, operating systems, and software applications. The program operates with the benefit of partnerships with US commercial sector companies.
The Sentry Raven program involves secret efforts to weaken commercial encryption systems and software in order to make them exploitable for SIGINT. The cryptosystems targeted include systems used by the US private sector and developed by US companies.
Sentry Raven involves the use of super computers and special purpose cryptanalytic hardware and software to break foreign ciphers. It also involves the spending of hundreds of millions of dollars on special purpose computer systems to attack US commercial encryption systems, including the exploitation of weaknesses places in them by cooperating companies or undercover agents within US companies.
The Sentry Owl program involves the use of US industry personnel, or undercover NSA personnel at US and foreign employers, to enable SIGINT operations on US and foreign commercial communications products. The program includes contracts with US and foreign commercial entities to subvert the privacy features of their products for both foreign and domestic consumers (for both content and metadata).


I am not sure who you are, though. Some are saying you are working for them, I find that outlandish.

There is no angle to your stance.


Maybe you have stock in Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, or other companies likely penetrated?

Maybe you have a friend there, or do now or have in the past, worked there?


The truth is far more grim then what merely the PRISM records Snowden was able to pilfer access to contained. That was a high level document designed for large-ish internal communications. It never would have detailed anything truly sensitive.

The Sentry Eagle leak, however, did. But, there is no supporting evidence anywhere else - ever - and what it is suggesting is extremely, painfully implausible without that evidence.

Combining two less secret papers together, you come out with the far more closely held secret: the US intelligence is penetrating companies left and right, domestically, and globally.

Either by full blown undercovers, or by secret agreements with corporate chairs.


Personally, I believe all these denials by these corporations are cover up lies. The USG is also giving them many contexts to make a stand against them, which, incidentally, also happens to further enhance their cover as "not being involved at all, nope, no sir or maam".

Proof of that would be if these whole stances about backdooring systems and weakening encryption desires die down at some point and "the corporations win".

False fight. And that harder proof is not entirely needed. One may guess, if one keeps knowledge of the "possibly wrong" possibility being there. Albeit, low possibility.


I believe the sentry eagle program was started in the 70s. So, penetration globally and domestically is probably Very Big by now.

Not that anyone would believe it.

Because the US is not known for having or relying on undercover. They do in law enforcement, but not much in intel.

And in law enforcement or in intelligence, they rely on a small pool of people who only do temporary assignments and temporary contracts. They are usually shoved in there with no training at all. (From what I have read.)

This is why you do not see it in any hollywood production. Despite the fact they produce countless movies and shows revolving around spies and cops.


For instance, the only instances of this I can think of over the past year, in cinema and shows, is "the Americans", "Alliance", and "Legends".

The Americans -- Russian. Alliance -- Russians. Legends -- British. (And he worked on contract and assignment basis. Not trained from birth, but has a mental defect that makes him good at it. So SIS hired him.)


Same is true, historically. I can think of a number of Asian and Russian long term, deep cover spies busted, over the years. But ZERO American instances. Not of long term deep cover spies. At best, they caught a maybe case officer of the CIA with some disguise designed to elude tracking.

Dirk PraetMay 2, 2016 6:18 PM

@ Rolf Weber

If I understood the news correctly, the bipartisan groupe gave Clapper time until May 6. How can you know what he will answer?

Those are the answers he has given so far.

Not even EFF or ACLU express doubts on the PCLOB's integrity.

It would seem that your understanding of politics is as poor as that of security. EFF, ACLU, Amnesty and other organisations are trying to interact with the PCLOB in a graceful way as to further their concerns and keep the public debate alive. However much they understand that calling them a government shill in public is not going to further their cause, none of them actually consider them more than a figleaf. Neither is anyone else but you.

Let me put it this way: when my bike gets stolen, I'm going to report that to the local police station, although I know only too well that they're not going to do jack about it. Not doing so or calling them a bunch of incompetent and understaffed losers is not going to help me because I need them to at least fill out a formal theft report which I require for the insurance company. Get the idea?

And in any case, the PCLOB 215 report is the best we have so far about how the program realy works.

Well, the US Army report on the Kunduz hospital airstrike is also the best we have on that, because the US insisted on an internal investigation only. The report, in which the US is both accused, judge and jury cleared all involved from any wrongdoing, calling the event a "a tragic mistake".

You are the one who claims that 215 was "mass surveillance

Let me quote you from one of your previous comments: "It is surely a mass collection of data, and it is/was most likely unconstitutional. However, it was no mass surveillance ..."

You do realise that only you and the IC itself are making the Orwellian distinction between mass collection and mass surveillance? The rest of the world sees that differently.

there is no single evidence that these companies voluntarily helped the NSA spying.

Neither is there any evidence to the contrary, which I have been trying to explain to you for about two years now. The point I'm making is that given the known voluntary cooperation of AT&T and other companies, both inside and outside the US, makes it entirely reasonable to at least assume that some of the parties involved in PRISM and other programs did indeed do so voluntarily.

Compared to the billions of internet communications routed through the U.S. each day, 13.25 million per half year is a laughable small number.

Compared to the accumulated wealth on the planet, the fortune of the Sultan of Brunei is rather pitiful. That doesn't mean he's a poor man. And taking into consideration the vastness of the universe, anything that happens on Earth is actually completely insignificant. But that's just not how we look at things.

And how many requests did the FISC approve?

In 2015 the FISC received and approved 1,457 requests from the FBI and NSA. There were a bit fewer requests in 2014, but all of those were approved as well.
Prior to that, the FISC has declined just 11 of the more than 33,900 surveillance requests made by the government in 33 years. That's the very definition of a kangaroo court.

You do understand that even one of their orders may implicate tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people, especially the one about the domestic use of collected data?

Of course it is a big difference, whether the NSA had a "direct access" to servers, cables and switches and can help themselve collecting whatever they want, or whether they have to present the companies legal orders with specific selectors, orders that companies can check (eg if the requests are about citizens or too broad) or challenge.

There is exactly ZERO difference when every single one of these "legal orders" is either rubberstamped by a kangaroo court or delivered as a nearly impossible to fight NSL with accompanying gag order. Again an artificial distinction that only exists in your mind and that of other NSA afficionados.

Oh, you begin to realize that intelligence is about more than just terrorism?

Terrorism is the sole and unique reason the USG and the 5Eyes originally sold these programs to their parliaments and post-Snowden to the general public. The fact that the FISC has now approved the collected data for other purposes as well is exactly the slippery slope we have been warning about for years. It was never about catching terrorists. The only way these programs can possibly survive is by expanding the use of the collected data because a cost-benefit ratio applied to terrorists caught reveals a rather abysmal picture.

Rolf WeberMay 3, 2016 9:03 AM

@Dirk Praet

To call the PCLOB a government shill or figleaf is nothing more than childish. And yes, to call police officers incompetent losers fits too.

Let me quote you from one of your previous comments: "It is surely a mass collection of data, and it is/was most likely unconstitutional. However, it was no mass surveillance ..."

You do realise that only you and the IC itself are making the Orwellian distinction between mass collection and mass surveillance? The rest of the world sees that differently.

Simply not true. For example, the EU commission differentiates here in its PrivacyShield decision. As well as the European Court of Justice did in its data retention decision. Yes, it invalidated the EU commission's directive, but the ruling clearly said that data retention is basically possible, but it would need a strict access control regime and oversight (what the EU directive lacked).
No, it's quite the opposite: Only you and a few "net activists" make no distinction between mass collection and mass surveillance, the rest of the world sees that differently.

Neither is there any evidence to the contrary, which I have been trying to explain to you for about two years now.

You cannot (dis)prove something that does not exist, which I have been trying to explain to you for about two years now. You cannot prove that Santa Claus does not exist. So the burden of proof carry those who claim that something exist. If you claim a partnership between the "PRISM providers" and ths NSA, it's your job to prove it.

Compared to the accumulated wealth on the planet, the fortune of the Sultan of Brunei is rather pitiful. That doesn't mean he's a poor man. And taking into consideration the vastness of the universe, anything that happens on Earth is actually completely insignificant. But that's just not how we look at things.

When we look at things we almost always compare. When you claim a "mass" or even "total" surveillance, then this would require that at least significant parts of the total communications are collected. This is simply not the case from all we now about the NSA's collections. So again, 13.25 million per half year is a laughable small number.

In 2015 the FISC received and approved 1,457 requests from the FBI and NSA.

Here again, this is a laughable small number compared to the 330 million Americans (even when you assume some of the requests cover multiple people).
Do you really not even consider the possibility that all 1,457 requests are well documented and justified, and this was the reason that the FISC had no other option than to approve it?

There is exactly ZERO difference when every single one [...]

No, I will not esplain you again.

But again the other point: Even if it would be "ZERO difference", the initial PRISM reporting was factually incorrect, and neither Snowden nor the "journalists" apologized for the wrong reporting. They are dishonest "activists".

Terrorism is the sole and unique reason the USG and the 5Eyes originally sold these programs to their parliaments and post-Snowden to the general public.

Simply not true. In the U.S., most of the public discussion was about the the 215 program, and this single program is really only about terrorism. Data collected under 215 must only be used for counter terrorism. But nobody ever claimed that all the other programs would be only about terrorism, too. You seem to confuse here a lot, like so often.

Dirk PraetMay 3, 2016 8:13 PM

@ Rolf Weber

To call the PCLOB a government shill or figleaf is nothing more than childish.

Only in your mind, Rolf.

For example, the EU commission differentiates here in its PrivacyShield decision. As well as the European Court of Justice did in its data retention decision.

Privacy Shield at present is nothing more than a political agreement between the US and the EU Commission (EC) to allow EU->US data transfers to continue after the invalidation of Safe Harbour. In its current form, it does not pass muster as EU Data Protection Authorities are simply not able to okay the draft adequacy decision by the EC. If the EC goes ahead anyway, the Article 29 Working Party will take it to the ECJ, where it will undoubtedly be thrown out. The recent change to Rule 41 by SCOTUS may well be the proverbial final nail in its coffin.

You also seem to conflate mandatory data retention by companies with the indiscriminate slurping up of said data by the IC, either with or without their cooperation.

You cannot (dis)prove something that does not exist

Absence of proof does not mean proof of absence, especially when there are sound reasons to at least assume voluntary cooperation of some companies. You just lack the imagination to see that.

So again, 13.25 million per half year is a laughable small number.

Did I mention that's only under UPSTREAM? I guess you have also heard about how the NSA intercepted ALL communications in several countries, or about the MAINWAY database estimated to contain about 1.3 trillion call detail records. I could go on.

Do you really not even consider the possibility that all 1,457 requests are well documented and justified

Please find me one (1) other equally secretive, non-adversarial court in a democratic country that has an even remotely similar conviction to acquittal ratio.

But nobody ever claimed that all the other programs would be only about terrorism, too.

Both the Patriot Act and the 3 FISA amendment acts were passed through Congress under the anti-terrorism flag. The 2006 amendment was even called the "Terrorist Surveillance Act".

You seem to confuse here a lot, like so often.

The only confused person in this entire discussion is you, Rolf. Please move on. Everybody on this forum is sick and tired of your obsessive regurgitating of positions nobody is buying.

Rolf WeberMay 4, 2016 3:55 AM

@Dirk Praet

Privacy Shield at present is nothing more than [...]

I don't want to discuss the Privacy Shield here with you. I just gave some examples that responsible politicians and courts actually distinguish between "mass collection" and "mass surveillance". Your claim that I would be the only one who does this is simply not true.

You just lack the imagination to see that.

This is surely true. I will never become a good conspiracy theorist.

Did I mention that's only under UPSTREAM?

You realize that the topic here is the alleged "chilly effects" caused by the 702 programs?

I guess you have also heard about how the NSA intercepted ALL communications in several countries,

All with the help and consent of local authorities, and all (with the exception of the "playground" Bahamas) are/were in crisis areas.

or about the MAINWAY database estimated to contain about 1.3 trillion call detail records.

MAINWAY is essentially equivalent with the 215 program, queries are only allowed for counter terrorism purposes.

Please find me one (1) other equally secretive, non-adversarial court in a democratic country that has an even remotely similar conviction to acquittal ratio.

Let's take Germany. Germany's G10-Kommission is comparable to FISC. But the G10-Kommission is not even a court, it belongs to the parliament, the legislative arm of the government. So, contrary to the U.S., Germany does not even has a judiciary oversight.
Second point: The G10-Kommission is indeed "equally secretive, non-adversarial". And last but not least I am not aware that the G10-Kommission does even publish the numbers of rejected requests, so it is save to assume they have a similar acquittal ratio than FISC.

So, at least compared to Germany, the FISC-based supervision seems pretty superior.

Both the Patriot Act and the 3 FISA amendment acts were passed through Congress under the anti-terrorism flag. The 2006 amendment was even called the "Terrorist Surveillance Act".

Again you argue contradictory. First you said that the USG argued *post-Snowden* solely with terrorism, and now you come with *pre-Snowden* law amendments. What's your point?

So again, the public discussion post-Snowden in the U.S. was mainly about the 215 program, and this is really only about terrorism. And of course the amendments pre-Snowden were mainly in the wake of 9/11 and the terrorism threat, nobody doubts this. But nobody ever said that intelligence is only about terrorism. And the "Terrorist Surveillance Act" was a FISA amendment, everybody was aware of this. And the latest amendment, the "FISA Amendment Act of 2008", was a FISA amendment as it couldn't be clearer -- and this is the legal base for the 702 programs.

(I'm largely offline the next couple of days, so don't expect any timely responses)

Clive RobinsonMay 4, 2016 7:46 AM

@ Dirk Praet,

As we can see from the above,

    I don't want to discuss the Privacy Shield here with you.

You have the --fantasist?-- Rolf on the run against his own --conspirital?-- world view...

Even though he denies it,

    This is surely true I will never become a good conspiracy theorist.

He is still more than happy to say of others,

    I know that this is your religious belief. But no belief is 100%, not even religious.

But fails to see the irony of such a comment...

Interestingly though, not only does he appear to be on the run, he also appears to be hoping that you will not continue to press him in his retreat,

    I'm largely offline the next couple of days, so don't expect any timely responses.

Thus the question arises about what he is hoping the time will get him...

Ho hum, I guess it gives us the time to get in more popcorn for the next round whenever he pops up again (which might be ill advised for him to do).

But as I know from previous encounters, he --like many a fanatic,-- ignores sensible advice and plows on with almost religious zeal denying then ignoring anything contra to his world view. Ever digging an ever deeper hole for himself, despite the very real future dangers such behaviour puts him in... I guess it's his (LSD) schilling, let him expend it foolishly, and count the loss in the future.

WaelMay 5, 2016 12:39 AM

@Rolf Weber,

I'm largely offline the next couple of days, so don't expect any timely responses

Ten-four, coded message understood! I hear they® conduct meetings in an air-gapped environment. So how's the BND bootcamp going? Tell me, tell me!

Rolf Weber May 5, 2016 2:06 AM

Clive, instead of performing the hobby psychologist, I would much more like to hear from you (or Dirk) some factual stuff, eg a response to my FISC G10-Kommission comparison.

Dirk PraetMay 5, 2016 6:58 AM

@ Rolf Weber

I just gave some examples that responsible politicians and courts actually distinguish between "mass collection" and "mass surveillance".

Err, no. Privacy Shield is probably the best example of desperate politicians and lobbyists trying to introduce artificial distinctions to strike a political agreement on the core of an issue that most probably will not even pass the smelling test in court. It's on par with banning reincarnation and outlawing global warning.

You realize that the topic here is the alleged "chilly effects" caused by the 702 programs?

Unlike you, most other people here are actually looking at the bigger picture.

All with the help and consent of local authorities, and all (with the exception of the "playground" Bahamas) are/were in crisis areas.

Ah! Consent of local authorities does not make mass surveillance mass surveillance. Interesting point.

Germany's G10-Kommission is comparable to FISC. But the G10-Kommission is not even a court

Exactly my point. I was asking for something that actually pretends to be a court. Like the FISC does. Not an entity that inception-wise looks more like a parliamentary equivalent of Obama's executive Disposition Matrix Committee. As to their decision ratio, it's kinda hard to assume anything since - contrary to the FISC -there are no data available whatsoever.

First you said that the USG argued *post-Snowden* solely with terrorism, and now you come with *pre-Snowden* law amendments.

Please try to read my comments correctly. I said that much, if not most, of the legislation the NSA programs are based on was sold to parliament(s) as counter-terrorism. Post-Snowden, when media and general public started to ask questions about these programs they were blissfully unaware of, they were told the same.

What you claim is that said laws and programs were never just about terrorism. Which is actually what we've been saying all along, despite all the "terrorism" spin and lies by government and IC officials. So who is actually waking up to the smell of napalm here?

I'm largely offline the next couple of days, so don't expect any timely responses

Feel free to take a couple of years to think things through.

Rolf WeberMay 10, 2016 9:41 AM

@Dirk Praet

Err, no. Privacy Shield is probably the best example of desperate politicians and lobbyists trying to [...]

Again that's not the topic here, Dirk.
The point is that politicians, lobbyists, judges and many more people *do* differentiate between "mass collection" and "mass surveillance". I'm by far not the only one who does, like you claimed.

Ah! Consent of local authorities does not make mass surveillance mass surveillance. Interesting point.

I didn't say this, and I don't disagree when someone calls this programs "mass surveillance". The key point is however that there is no single evidence for mass surveillance in western countries.

Seems these countries in crisis areas have other problems than us spoiled westerners.

Exactly my point. I was asking for something that actually pretends to be a court. Like the FISC does.

So you blame the U.S. for a "secret" court, while other countries do not even have a judiciary oversight? Strange.

Again, the G10-Kommission is comparable to the FISC, but it is not even a court, it consults and decides as secret as the FISC, and it is less transparent than FISC. And *only* because it is less transparent than FISC, there is no proof it has a similar acquittal ratio. But you comlain about FISC. Strange, again.

What you claim is that said laws and programs were never just about terrorism.

I said only the 215 program was only about terrorism, everything else isn't and never was. And no responsible person ever claimed otherwise.

Dirk PraetMay 10, 2016 6:51 PM

@ Rolf Weber

The point is that politicians, lobbyists, judges and many more people *do* differentiate between "mass collection" and "mass surveillance".

The point actually is - I repeat - that this Orwellian differentiation was only introduced post-Snowden by proponents of mass surveillance. Like certain politicians, IC spokespersons, lobbyists and their minions.

The key point is however that there is no single evidence for mass surveillance in western countries.

Surely a TLA owned database with 1.3 trillion of call records - 99.99999% of which have no link to terrorism whatsoever - is not mass surveillance. And a November 2013 report by the EU Parliament disagrees with you too, by the way.

So you blame the U.S. for a "secret" court, while other countries do not even have a judiciary oversight? Strange.

I asked for another example of a court with a similar approval/rejection ratio as the FISC. G10 isn't a court and there are no figures whatsoever about their decisions. So stop using straw men arguments.

I said only the 215 program was only about terrorism, everything else isn't and never was. And no responsible person ever claimed otherwise.

So the 2006 "Terrorist Surveillance Act" amendment to FISA (which contains Section 702) was just a very deceptive move by legislators? As to the "isn't" and "never was", then why did the FISC only recently (November 2015) rule that all previously collected data can be used for other purposes than terrorism, like in general criminal investigations, as well?

As usual, nothing you claim holds up. Please find yourself another hobby. This one is not working out for you and you're only irritating the living daylights out of this forum's audience.

Rolf WeberMay 11, 2016 9:24 AM

@Dirk Praet

The point actually is - I repeat - that this Orwellian differentiation was only introduced post-Snowden by proponents of mass surveillance. Like certain politicians, IC spokespersons, lobbyists and their minions.

Wrong -- I repeat -- for example the European Court of Justice differntiated too in its data retention ruling, and this was pre-Snowden.
And it's not me who has an odd view, but people like you (and maybe you are here on this site in the majority, but never ever in the adult, real life), who only see the tech, but not the law. Pure possession of data is not the only thing to consider, but also access control, use and oversight.

Surely a TLA owned database with 1.3 trillion of call records - 99.99999% of which have no link to terrorism whatsoever - is not mass surveillance.

But the queries to this database have 100% to do with terrorism, each single query must be autorized, and there is strict oversight -- so yes, this is surely no mass surveillance.

And a November 2013 report by the EU Parliament disagrees with you too, by the way.

The EU Parliament. LOL.

I asked for another example of a court with a similar approval/rejection ratio as the FISC. G10 isn't a court and there are no figures whatsoever about their decisions. So stop using straw men arguments.

Do your homework. The G10-Kommission is absolutely comparable to FISC, it has very similar functions and responsibilities, and last but not least its secretiveness. And that the G10-Kommission is not even a court, but an element of the parliament, is a shortcoming of the German oversight regime, compared to the U.S. It is simply childish to blame the U.S. for having a superior oversight regime.

So the 2006 "Terrorist Surveillance Act" amendment to FISA (which contains Section 702) was just a very deceptive move by legislators?

The most recent version of section 702 is from the "FISA Amendment Act of 2008".

As to the "isn't" and "never was", then why did the FISC only recently (November 2015) rule that all previously collected data can be used for other purposes than terrorism, like in general criminal investigations, as well?

I told you it's not only about terrorism. The FBI always had access to the PRISM data, they even collect it on behalf of the NSA. The court just decided that the FBI's use is lawful.

Dirk PraetMay 11, 2016 11:57 AM

@ Rolf Weber

for example the European Court of Justice differntiated too in its data retention ruling, and this was pre-Snowden.

EU data retention laws are about data collected and stored by companies, not by intelligence agencies.

and maybe you are here on this site in the majority, but never ever in the adult, real life

You conflate adult with subservient. How's your reading of "Der Untertan" coming up?

... each single query must be autorized, and there is strict oversight

That myth has been debunked time and time and again. The only body still claiming the opposite is your precious PCLOB.

The EU Parliament. LOL.

It has been clear for a while that authoritarians like yourself don't give a rat's *ss about the opinion of democratically elected representatives.

The G10-Kommission is absolutely comparable to FISC

The G10-Kommission is not a court. Full stop.

The most recent version of section 702 is from the "FISA Amendment Act of 2008".

So what? Your claim is that FISA and its amendments were not about terrorism.

I'm done here. Go find another forum to troll.

Rolf WeberMay 12, 2016 10:13 AM

@Dirk Praet

EU data retention laws are about data collected and stored by companies, not by intelligence agencies.

Makes no or little difference. Data retention is mandatory mass collection, to which agencies have access.

That myth has been debunked time and time and again. The only body still claiming the opposite is your precious PCLOB.

You really have a problem with your broad, absurd claims. The PCLOB is by far not the only one. What you say is simply wrong.
But the the PCLOB is of course one of the most reliable sources, first because it was briefed in detail in classified hearings, and second because the PCLOB is well respected even among civil liberties advocates.

It has been clear for a while that authoritarians like yourself don't give a rat's *ss about the opinion of democratically elected representatives.

Like it or not, but the European Parliament is not a regular democratic parliament, it rather has very limited democratic legitimation and power. And that's the reason why elections almost always show the lowest voter turnouts and are primarily used as protest elections. And that's how the parliament looks like.

And this is surely a reason why your linked study is bullshit with one factual mistake after the other. But I know, Snowden fanboys like it.

The G10-Kommission is not a court. Full stop.

The G10-Kommission is not a even a court. Full stop.

Frankly, I'm not sure whether you are deliberately dishonest here or just lack to understand some basics. So again, here are some free lessons:

The primary characteristic of the FISC is *not* that it is a court. This is however much more a negligibility. The primary characteristic of the FISC is that is the body that has to authorize U.S. intelligence activities with domestic cover, be it because a U.S. person is targeted or data acquisition is performed on U.S. soil.
And when we look at Germany, the exact counterpart of FISC is the G10-Kommission. It has exactly the same duty. And it works very similar, with the same secretiveness, and with the same non-adversarial hearings and decisions.

But there are some differences between FISC and G10-Kommission, however they are all in favor of FISC. One difference is that the FISC is a court, all members are judges, all appointed by the U.S. Chief Justice, with no influence from government or congress. This guarantees an independant judicial oversight, independant from legislative and executive.
The G10-Kommission however is appointed by politicians, the parliament, which is -- at least in Germany -- almost always in the same political hands as the executive. And only the chairman of the G10-Kommission needs to be a judge.

And a second difference is that the FISC publishes all relevant numbers, it publishes both the numbers of approved and rejected requests, while G10-Kommission only publishes the numbers of approved requests.

These are the facts. And this is why your question "Please find me one (1) other equally secretive, non-adversarial court in a democratic country that has an even remotely similar conviction to acquittal ratio" is either a completely dishonest red herring or you simply have no clue what you are talking about.

So what? Your claim is that FISA and its amendments were not about terrorism.

Wrong again. My conclusion is that FISA and its amendments are and never were *only* about terrorism.

Dirk PraetMay 12, 2016 7:36 PM

@ Rolf Weber

...Like it or not, but the European Parliament is not a regular democratic parliament ...the PCLOB is of course one of the most reliable sources ... the FISC is a court with no influence from government ...

Spoken like the truly delusional, batshit crazy fascist everyone on this forum had already figured you out for a long time ago.

Rolf WeberMay 13, 2016 12:51 AM

@Dirk Praet

One post ago, you claimed:

I'm done here.

Of course this turned out to be wrong, like so many other things you said. But the question remains: Is it because you are dishonest or just incompetent?

Dirk PraetMay 13, 2016 4:46 AM

@ Moderator

Is there any particular reason why the readers of this forum need to further put up with the abusive and disingenuous rants of a seriously deluded person who keeps seizing every opportunity to regurgitate opinions nobody agrees with and to derail every thread he participates in?

Clive RobinsonMay 13, 2016 7:09 AM

@ Moderator,

Rolf Weber, has become fairly unpopular on this blog because of his at best odd and often inacurate portrayal of information in extream view point.

He has been told repeatedly that his extream views are at best supposition and inaccurate as things are generaly understood currently in the industry. Further he has occasionaly been told that he is potentialy ruining his own future by posting them.

The only people that respond to his posts are those who are correcting his suppositions and extream views. They do this not to be argumentative but for the sake of others, who may be less aware and might read this blog now or in the future and get a false inpression from Rolf's writings.

However Rolf appears to find such action either a challenge or an opportunity to further air his suppositions and extream views.

Rolf has also used this blog to promote his own web site that has more examples of his suppositions and views but also provides information on his employer etc.

I have no idea why Rolf choses to do this, but he appears to be incapable of stopping himself over the past year or so, and in the process appears to be upsetting others on this blog.

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