Hi so I was asked to write a diary about something specific and I am going to use that as an oppurtunity to not only do that but say my piece. After that I think I am done with current events here for now. I will respond in diary but that's it.
What follows is just me no one else and my own last attempt to try and bring some actual knowledge to the discussion and less hyperbole and fear.
I have never liked the PATRIOT act, it was something concieved right after the worst terrorist attack on US soil ever. And like just about anytime you threaten people we, the citizens and our legislators, were willing at the time to do just about anything to be safe. As such the PATRIOT act was passed. Since then it has probably been one of the most widely cited and widely controversial acts of Congress. It really needs to be repealed and not because I disagree with parts of how it has been used. It needs to be repealed because it is too wide ranging and just plain too ambigious.
That said there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about PRISM and how the internet works. I'd lay down good money that there is simply no technological way the government can even begin to monitor everything that goes on in the internet. This is the last estimate I could find of Internet traffic. The number I want to draw your attention to is the US backbone which basically is the traffic that passes though the US which includes local traffic. The lowest estimate for 2011 is 3,400,000 terabytes or about 113,333 terabytes a day. Simply storing 113,333 terabytes a day would be difficult enough but to process it in a timely manner? Good luck with that and remember that that is a 2 year old estimate and internet traffic has at the very least been expotential if not more explosive in growth.
And to those that want to contest this I want to ask a simple question, if it is possible to completely monitor the internet then why do nations like China censor the internet rather then monitoring it?
Further the internet as a network of networks works as a distrubited network, when you get on a browser and type in a request that information is reduced to packets which are then routed though the networks and reassembled on the other side. About the simplest analogy I can offer is that unlike traditional mail where I would send this as one letter imagine that said letter is cut up and mailed in seperate pieces. I don't really want to get into the why, somewhat because it's complicated and somewhat because there are people that are much better at explaining it.
Thus when you talk about sitting at a node what you are doing is simply watching packets and looking for the individual packets you want. And that in my understanding is what has been 'revealed' but that is not the same thing as actually looking at the payload (the actual information in the packet) and frankly without all the packets I am not even sure looking at the pay load would be useful. It would be like trying to read this by only looking at my second paragraph (or less).
And it also because of that difficultly that you have to sit at multiple nodes to read communications. This isn't like the traditional mail where you only need one point of interception you need dozens if not hundreds.
Which is what leads us to PRISM and the need to look at numerous streams just to find the packets you need.
I want to close with this, I am not saying this is perfect or that the goverment should get a blank check. We need a serious discussion on digital rights because there is a lot right now that is at best gray. Did you know that techinically most of the music and books you download electronically you don't actually own? Or that there are no rules for terms of service?
There is a lot we need to discuss but we also need to make sure we understand what is going on so that we can discuss it