Rolf Weber has a valid if unpopular point. At least from Snowden's document cache, we have no evidence of the government interfering with the political actions of citizens ala Hoover.
This could mean that they don't do those things. This could mean Snowden didn't have visibility into those kinds of operations or this could mean "the system" was still evolving those capabilities at the time of Snowden's snapshot. No one knows.
This is certain. If Snowden had waited until he had had evidence of such programs, we all would have coalesced on a shared evaluation of "the programs" and there would have been substantial changes to them instead of the superfical and cosmetic ones we have now (ATT will now hold all the metadata instead of the NSA).
Here's another unpopular point to ponder. In the non-science-fictiony meaning of the future, that is, the real and plausible near future, it will be possible for just anyone to do things like create viruses that exist in the real world and not just computers, and create autonomous microscopic do-dads that go here and there and do this and that.
One argument that I used to hear, call it the hacker's argument, was that very many smart people will engage in the defense against DIY bio terriorists and the numbers somehow will favor us. Now that it's been indisputably and forever proven false - in the petri dish of computers - and it's been shown that we can muster to our collective defense only weak means with limited effectiveness, what are we to do?
We humans are aggressive, powerseeking, selfish animals possessed of an extraordinary degree of cleverness coupled with an equally extraordinary ability to put what empathy we may have on ice. We don't see each other and think - "oh glad, another human !" , instead we, like all territorial animals think "she wants to take my stuff .... and me hers". It's equally true of men and women and of smart people and stupid people and it's 1000% true of people who end up at the top of any competitive heap and have real power in this world. Thus the tale of the historical tape. Barring some genetic breakthrough, none of that is going to change.
So it's not clear to me that countinously scanning the population for the worst of the worst is actually a bad idea. OTOH I hardly trust any of those people I just described or any system they make to do it accurately, dispassionately or honestly.
So bad news abounds.
It's interesting to think how one might accumulate enough internet-activity points to get one's name thrown onto a watchlist or even an active target list by some autonmous "rater agent" which, we can imagine, continuously scans the government's vast warehouses of digital debris for evidence of dangerousness. I'm sure any such system would be appalling in its algorithmic details with respect to due process, actual, relevant evidence not to mention totally bereft good old fashioned scientific skepticism, starting at the very base with things like: "correlation does equal causation..."
With respect to talking about all this, all I see online is bombs being thrown by entrenched camps. Rolf Weber makes a perfectly accurate and valid observation and Dirk Praet tars and feathers him with an accusation of trolling then tells him: "don't come around here no more". Grunt grunt.
And this blog is one of the higher-IQ places for discussion. Is this all we are? Is this the best we can muster? Stone throwing encampments?
Does anyone know where the smart people are hanging out onine talking about what direction society should take in light of, you know, the present and the future facts?