Skip to main content

View Diary: The Dangers of Surveillance: Harvard Law point counterpoint (38 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Your key point is scale, speed and intensity. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CharlesII, Dumbo, PeterHug, CroneWit

    And comparing it to anything in the past is like comparing a super-computer to an abacus.

    I don't think there is recovery once it's fully in place given the disparity of power between those running the big computers and having the big guns and those who do not hold such power.

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:36:53 PM PDT

    •  It's never unrecoverable (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo, k9disc, CroneWit, Phoenix Woman

      East Germany was under absolute control, and it is now part of a democratic nation. Why? Because East Germany, like the rest of the Soviet bloc, collapsed.

      Why did it collapse? Because surveillance is incompatible with a productive, harmonious society.

      But I certainly hope that the US does not have to pay the price that East German did to regain its freedoms. That price was very, very, very high.

      •  West Germany also paid (0+ / 0-)

        Absorbing East Germany almost overwhelmed a thriving economy as I recall. South Korea took note as it has been written . South Korea sees unification as  noble goal, they just can't seem to figure out how to get there without enormous violence and millions of economically ravaged people having to come into S Korean's economy without collapsing it.

        Could the USA split in two over something like this? It seems radical but then again, we haven't begun to see what "this baby can really do" once the Utah Facility has opened and the power of the computers evolve.

        Note: People have mistakenly written  that the Utah facility, opening in two months, is a huge storage station . What has been glossed over is the size computers they are using to take encrypted messages and break them by brute force. Seems impossible now they could do it with millions a day, but lets look at it again in five years.

        “ Success has a great tendency to conceal and throw a veil over the evil of men. ” — Demosthenes

        by Dburn on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 11:56:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Adding... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      k9disc, CroneWit

      Yes, scale, speed, intensity are the key points. Citron and Gray point out that if people think there's only a small chance that their actions will be recorded, they will act normally. But once they believe that it's likely they will be recorded, they change their behavior.

      One can add that if they think they can escape surveillance by doing what they want to do somewhere else, they will do so. Soviet citizens used to go to parks and other public places to escape the concentrated surveillance their homes and offices received.

      So scale (the total geographic and temporal extent of surveillance), speed (the rapidity with which records can be searched), and intensity (the range of activities which are regarded as suspect) definitely amplify the damage surveillance inflicts on an open society.

      •  This is different. Our entire society is becoming (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        a surveillance society, never mind the NSA. The internet itself has destroyed privacy. NSA is merely taking advantage of circumstances. In fact, the internet is so efficient at gathering "private" information, the NSA is almost superfluous.

        •  Very expensive to be sure, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          but superfluous just the same.

        •  Hasn't the internet been designed to make it so? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dumbo, CroneWit

          There are ways to anonymize communications.

          Why aren't they built into the Internet?  

          My answer is that it's convenient and profitable to allow companies to track you and learn your preferences. Just by-the-by, it makes it easy for the NSA.

          The Internet is broken by design, though not necessarily conscious design.  

        •  Do you know the story about how (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CharlesII, CroneWit

          the department of justice harrassed and pursued the author of the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption program?  They didn't want him to distribute it because they thought bad guys (people like you and me) might be able to communicate things secretly that way.  Made his life hell.

          Given that, it's hard to say that that's just the way the Internet is.  When the Internet started, people compared it to "The Wild Wild West" (that was the phrase that was often used) because people could get away with just about anything.  It's not surprising that they scrambled so hard and fast to catch up with the technology and what it allows.  Now they've surpassed us, the people who pay their bills.  

          I don't accept it.  You say what the NSA does is superfluous?  Fine.  Let's shave it down to just the essential nub then, if that's true.  No more of these fucking huge gigantic database centers that they're building, no more splitters at all the main backbone portals, no more FISA court, and no more secrecy.  Do it all out in the open.  

          •  The private data collection, too, Dumbo (0+ / 0-)

            A lot of why the Internet is broken is to accommodate private interests.

            Buy a wrench and the next thing you know you're served with ads on tools. Ads for tools show up in your mailbox. Restoring privacy would be awfully easy. Browsers could have ad preferences by keyword. Then no identifiers are required.

            All that spam? That's by design. The people who do that usually have to forge IPs and otherwise commit fraud. But there's no money to prosecute them. Interestingly, Big Pharma uses spam to push consumption of their products.

            Viruses. Is there any reason at this point that there are so many zero day exploits? You'd think that software could be tested before release... and maybe re-written to be simpler and more secure. But that would cost money. And, by the by, really secure software would make it harder for law enforcement to use Trojans, for adware and spyware to be served, and so on.

            Are cookies really necessary? Fifteen years ago, we didn't think so. They were regarded as a form of illegal spying. It's possible to customize the look and feel of a website using cookies that customers consciously put on their computer.

            Encryption should be standard, especially for wireless networks. But, gee, then law enforcement might have to focus on a limited number of suspects to decrypt. Can't have that.

            There are a lot of reasons that the Internet is broken. I don't know that it's part of some conscious plan. But certain players benefit from a broken Internet. And so we never fix it.

            •  I'm not nearly as surprised by the (0+ / 0-)

              corporate internet tracking, businesses like adserver.  Why?  Because they are out in the open.  If they are doing shit that's not out in the open, THAT should be illegal, and the government, too, should have a vital interest in preventing that because it compromises the government as well.  

              But let me make a comparison for a moment.  In London, they have a new thing where they have put spy cameras all around the city focused on the street traffic.  It's monitored day and night.  If somebody mugs you, they have it on tape and often they can catch it in real time and send out a cop.

              That's very, very intrusive.  But it's still not really like domestic spying because EVERYBODY KNOWS.  They can see the fucking cameras.  I would oppose what they do fiercely, but there's a huge qualitative difference between that (and, by analogy, adserve) and what our own government is doing, collaborating with big vendors like Microsoft to put actual secret backdoors into our computers to spy on us.  And you know that if we find out about it and if we start looking for a way to remove those backdoors, they'll first deny doing it, and then they'll change the next backdoor so it's more insidious, less detectable, less removable.  

              There's a difference between that and what they do in London.  It's broken trust with the public that pays their bills.  And it's paranoia inducing, although paranoia might not be the right word because it suggests that there's something factually incorrect about the suspicions that they give birth to.  If the government can spy on all your activity through a computer backdoor, is there ANYTHING that you can feel secure about in your personal life that they can't intrude upon?  Because you honestly don't know.  You can be sure, if there's some way to effect such an incursion into that last bastion of privacy, they have brilliant guys thinking about how to do it.

              •  I think Richards laid out the issue pretty well (0+ / 0-)

                First, do people know where and when they are being surveilled? If they do, then they can plan to do stuff they prefer not being in the public domain somewhere/somewhen else?

                Second, even if they do know when/where surveillance is done, is it so pervasive that there's no real escape?  If so, then knowing is not enough.

                Third, even if they know when/where surveillance is done and even if it's not pervasive, is the benefit from surveillance sufficient to outweigh the well-known costs? Namely the mere existence of any surveillance inhibits spontaneity. This was Brandeis' point: that even photographing your kids playing makes them self-conscious about how they look.

                The London cameras thing is actually a pretty good test case. A privacy group has argued that all the cameras simply do not reduce crime. The Met admits that it takes 1000 cameras to solve one crime. They're effective in monitoring parking lots, but otherwise, not so much.

                I would say that the NSA is the same thing. Hundreds of billions of dollars spent on intercepts and they stopped at most a few dozen terror plots (most of which were not likely to succeed anyway). That would pay for a lot of on-the-ground agents.  

          •  The diarist you are responding to (0+ / 0-)

            has a diary up now in which he (imo) counsels complete passivity in regard to NSA's Full specturm Dominance surveillance, going so far as to posit that this surveillance is a part of the natural order of reality.  He is just trying to peddle that position in this diary.

      •  Going places wouldn't work out to well (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Soviet citizens used to go to parks and other public places to escape the concentrated surveillance their homes and offices received.
        They didn't have small drones yet which will soon be microdrones. They didn't have powerful tiny cameras and microphones along with huge distance mics, with facial ID software that could be static or movable with the use of drones.

        We still haven't got to the point where people are squealing on their neighbors but give it it time. It's not like the Govt hasn't called for it.  There is no difference between this society and others that have suffered through this. Just go back to the McCarthy era here.

        “ Success has a great tendency to conceal and throw a veil over the evil of men. ” — Demosthenes

        by Dburn on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 12:00:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Computing power tends to disperse, (0+ / 0-)

      at ever-increasing speed. There is a natural progression toward democratization of it. Like a volatile gas, there is strong pressure outward.

      •  That's similar to Assange's theory (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PeterHug, CroneWit

        Assange apparently believes that information equals power, and that dispersing information necessarily disperses power. In effect, if everyone knows what's going on, then they will behave appropriately to solve problems. If they do not have the basic data to understand problems and possible solutions, they will behave inappropriately.  

        I think that's simplistic, but it does provide important insight into what he's doing. And there's no question that information is an important kind of power.

        I don't see how raw dispersal of computing power will really democratize. For example, it has been hypothesized that the NSA has compromised the encryption keys in Windows systems. If so, it won't help to have longer/better keys if the NSA already holds them.

        •  Link missing from above (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          "it has been hypothesized" should link here. it has been hypothesized

        •  You can always make bigger keys. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PeterHug, CroneWit

          As key size increases, the amount of work it takes to break the encryption increases exponentially.

          However, there are laws (and we can be sure the NSA had a hand in designing them) that restrict the size of the key that encryption algorithms available to the public can use.

        •  Information gathering is predicated on the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          assumption that humans are creatures of habit. Some are and some aren't. In any event, one-off events can't be stopped.
          I don't think information is power. The sequestration of information is a power play, a kind of deprivation that's designed to inflict damage. Doing it in a virtual environment makes no difference because the effect always registers in the perpetrator's gut. The deprivator feels empowered by depriving someone else of something he doesn't even want for himself. Deprivation satisfies, much as does the lie. Whether or not the deception is believed doesn't much matter.
          In a sense, deprivation/deception are lesser evils. Destruction would be worse. But, destruction, being more obvious, is more likely to be intercepted and stopped. So, deprivation/deception (the destruction of the truth) are lesser endeavors, less risky and more likely to succeed. Oh, and they take less effort. Deprivators are lazy.

          We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

          by hannah on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 02:40:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  'Similar to Assange's theory' (1+ / 2-)
          Recommended by:
          Hidden by:
          CroneWit, 84thProblem

          We'll call it the "Rape-Fugitive Hypothesis".

          •  C'mon, Rei, go for another Godwin (0+ / 0-)

            Assange is a psychotic mass murderer!

            He has started a World War!

            He rapes children!

            These are things you have tried to claimabout Assange by comparing him to figures like Charles Manson, Roman Polanski, and Benito Mussolini.  

            If you could find any single on-topic, constructive thing to say about surveillance, this would be forgivable. It is indisputably a lame attempt at thread hijacking. But it is starting to look like thread stalking.

            If you try it in any future diaries on surveillance, I will post a note in the diary asking commenters that any personal attacks on Assange be Hide Rated.

            You don't want that. I don't want that. So say something useful about surveillance. You can throw in your ad hominem about Assange inter alia and I won't care, but I resent people who do not care about the topic of the thread and are just here to start a flame war.

            •  Your straw man could use a little more straw. (0+ / 0-)

              I'm sorry, but my browser doesn't understand your link.  I presume you were trying to link to a post where I rebutted precisely what you're repeating here?  

              You were saying that we should overlook the fact that Assange is running from a serious crime and just pay attention to what he is talking about, treating him as the spokesman of a movement as you're doing.  I ask if you do that with anyone else, or just people you like, and brought up three examples (none of which were Hitler) of people who committed crimes but also had other achievements and asked whether you would apply the same standard with them concerning their other achievements.  You start screaming Godwin and refusing to address it further.

              It's a serious issue.  Your treatment of Assange is like inviting Hans Reiser to speak about filesystems while he was on trial and saying, "Meh, whether he murdered his wife is off topic, the guy's a filesystem expert!"  It is wrong to turn a blind eye to a person's crimes and keep treating them as the spokesman of a movement.  And Assange is a rape fugitive running from what multiple courts have found is probable cause that he raped a girl and, towards another, unlawful sexual coersion and two counts of molestation.  But you're more than willing to just overlook that because you like the guy.

              I'm not.

              If you could find any single on-topic, constructive thing to say about surveillance, this would be forgivable.
              "You keep coming here and protesting that I'm acting like nothing ever happened with Reiser.  If you could find a single on-topic thing to say about filesystems, this would be foregiveable."
              If you try it in any future diaries on surveillance, I will post a note in the diary asking commenters that any personal attacks on Assange be Hide Rated.
              Oh, great.  Now anyone who's upset by the wilful ignoring of rape is to be hide rated!

              I'll repeat: if Assange was a football star and someone came here talking about how good of a player they are, someone on DK complained that they were ignoring the rape, and the fan responded like you do (including, I should add, your previous record of trying to make out the rape charges to be some laughable offense), you'd be run out of the site on a rail.  But because he's Julian Assange, we're supposed to shut up about that whole pesky rape-thing and hang on every word he says.

              Sorry, but that's not going to fly by me.  

          •  Bullshit HR's for mere disapproval. (0+ / 0-)

            It's a bit over the top IMO but I'm pretty sure that's not the litmus test.

            I was gonna listen to that, but then, um, I just carried on living my life. - Aldous Snow

            by GoGoGoEverton on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 02:14:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Trolling, Mr. Everton. (0+ / 0-)

              Threadstalking and thread hijacking are trolling.

              I honestly don't care what people think. I know and get along with people whose opinions appall me. But I expect substantive contributions in exchange for substantive posts.

              Trolls want none of it. For their own reasons, often purely malicious, they want to stop conversation.

              Hide recommendations are not the end of the world. They are a community's way of saying, "enough. You are not adding to the community. You are subtracting from the community, sowing ill-will."  

              Trolls then either start making substantive contributions or they end up getting voted off the island. It really should never get to that point, but some people feel compelled to behave like asses.

              •  The last two times.... (0+ / 0-)

                I've made long, detailed posts critical of your treatment of Assange as a spokeman, to which you've not responded.  So it's awfully rich of you to come here and then, when I don't write something long, say that that's worthy of a hide rate.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site