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Eight top Internet companies have called on the NSA to curtail the bulk collection of data.

Dan Roberts and Jemima Kiss, The Guardian:

In their most concerted response yet to disclosures by the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter and AOL will publish an open letter to Barack Obama and Congress on Monday, throwing their weight behind radical reforms already proposed by Washington politicians [Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) ].

“The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favour of the state and away from the rights of the individual rights that are enshrined in our constitution,” urges the letter signed by the eight US-based internet giants. “This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for change.”

Several of the companies claim the revelations have shaken public faith in the internet and blamed spy agencies for the resulting threat to their business interests. “People won’t use technology they don’t trust,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel.

Some of the points made by the letter

* Eliminate bulk data collection. Use targeted collection.
* Intelligence agencies should operate under a genuine legal framework, not the current sham court.
* An international legal framework is necessary for cross-border operations.

Statements defending Internet privacy come from:

—Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO, AOL
—Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook
—Larry Page, CEO, Google
—Erika Rottenberg, General Counsel, LinkedIn
—Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft
—Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter
—Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo

Bulk collection would probably include the 5 billion cellphone location records the NSA collects daily. Even assuming a typical user transits 20 cell phone towers daily, that's several hundred million people it's tracking.  

Bonus features:
1. Dan Gillmor on Snowden
2. Tom Porter on NSA's latest PR gambit: going after pedophiles on the dark web (isn't this what the FBI is for?)

_____
UPDATE: As greenbird notes in comments, the Guardian has issued live reaction to the news here

UPDATE: As Bob Swern notes in comments, Edward Wyatt and Claire Cain Millerof the NYT have an article similar to The Guardian's. What's usually more interesting than the content of a NYT story is to see how it frames a story. In this case, the framing is the companies are "scrambling to repair the damage to their reputations," and that this letter "The political push by the technology companies opens a third front in their battle against government surveillance, "It characterizes the political ramifications as "billionaire founders and executives are highly sought as political donors"

Apparently posters are confused by the fact that the data that the techs collect is identical to what the government collects. Guys, of course it's the same. E-mail is e-mail, IPs are IPs, etc.

And of course collecting it is an invasion of privacy. Maybe I am just old, but I remember the great cookie wars, when we resisted the use of cookies, arguing they would allow corporations to track us. And we were right, of course.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  I would say to these corporate hucksters: (11+ / 0-)

    "Cry me a river." I don't believe they are sincere. They have been complicit in crimes against the people of this country, and the world all along. All top executives and anybody who knew about these crimes should be charge with criminal offenses. Top NSA officials should also face criminal charges.

    Instead of letters,I want to see indictments...

    •  Of course they're not sincere (11+ / 0-)

      But the fact they have signed on to this letter is a major boost for genuine NSA reform. Dianne Feinstein has to listen to her corporate constituents.

      •  I don't think there is such a thing as (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mint julep, Einsteinia, humphrey, corvo

        "corporate constituents," unless we were to argue that corporations are people. I have no respect whatsoever for these corporations. They have been complicit in very serious crimes against "the people."

      •  This has little to do with "genuine NSA reform"... (11+ / 0-)

        ...and everything to do with the public relations efforts of these firms. If one bothers to even do a cursory review of the political and business positions of many of these tech execs, they'll understand this reality, first and foremost.

        These firms are at the front of the line when it comes to exploiting their respective users' data. (Do not overlook this greater truth.)

        From the NY Times' coverage of the same story...

        READ THIS, PLEASE...

        ...The new principles outlined by the companies contain little information and few promises about their own practices, which privacy advocates say contribute to the government’s desire to tap into the companies’ data systems.

        “The companies are placing their users at risk by collecting and retaining so much information,” said Marc Rotenberg, president and executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization. “As long as this much personal data is collected and kept by these companies, they are always going to be the target of government collection efforts.”

        For instance, Internet companies store email messages, search queries, payment details and other personal information to provide online services and show personalized ads.

        They are trying to blunt the spying revelations’ effects on their businesses...

        "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

        by bobswern on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 10:11:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Their own practices are another thing (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Just Bob, Yasuragi

          I'm willing to accept the help that comes from Google et al putting their political and financial clout into pressuring for reform even as I warn other about the "terms of service" and business models they employ themselves.

          Do you honestly think the NSA can be reformed just because some citizens are unhappy?

          •  re to your statement below (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            corvo
            Do you honestly think the NSA can be reformed just because some citizens are unhappy?
            I don't believe that the NSA can be reformed through any sort of legal or legislative manner.  Any changes enacted to prevent their behavior are going to have to be physical (e.g. better encryption and security practices, reduction in employee ranks, elimination of physical facilities, budget defunding, direct oversight, etc) and even that runs the risk that they will just burrow deeper as a poster above put it.

            My problem with this letter is that these very same companies have historically been complicit with the NSA activity.  Now they are reacting because they got caught with their willy wet and it is hurting them in terms of sales prospects.  

            •  Not quite the same as telecos (0+ / 0-)

              These companies were/are legally obligated to cooperate, a point I elaborate elsewhere, and Apple, Google and particularly Yahoo have tended to do the minimum, in the case of Yahoo, challenging some requests in court (unsuccessfully).

              Telecos, particularly Verizon , are another case entirely. They pull their pants down every change they get.

              I have to say (or keep saying) people should be aware the these companies, particularly Google, as as bad in their own way in terms of grabbing and appropriating data, the difference being people choose to hand over to them verses the government just pirating it, and to my knowledge, Google does not target people they don't like with drones yet.

              If you want a comprehensive history of this mess, see my diaries in form this summer.

          •  It can't be reformed because the "government," (0+ / 0-)

            i.e., the functionaries in charge of regulation, law enforcement, enactment of laws, are deep in the pockets of corporate interests.  They are owned, bought off, paid for, treasonous, money-grabbing opportunists.

            Therefore, there will be no reform.  They (top on-the-take government functionaries and their coporatist paymaster) make up the American Kleptocracy.

            So no, the "system" will not be reformed from within.

        •  Bob, I am well aware of what the co's do (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          koNko, paradox, Yasuragi, petral

          Really, do you think I am unaware of the massive collection of data not just by Internet companies but by all corporations?  

          Look: Dianne Feinstein has proposed legislation that makes the situation worse. Do you think she is going to push that legislation now that Silicon Valley has come out against it?

          Udall, Wyden, and Heinrich have proposed legislation that will result in genuine reform, including bulk data collection.   Leahy-Sensenbrenner addresses some of the issues, but not bulk data collection. That means that there's a good chance that the letter by these Internet companies could push the Overton Window to the left.  

          This is good news.

          •  In many ways, Google's an NSA think tank... (6+ / 0-)

            ...and data repository, as is much of the rest of the Silicon Valley. Just read Eric Schmidt's and Jared Cohen's new book for more on this. The Military-Industrial-Surveillance State is joined at the hip with much of the high-tech industry, just like Capitol Hill, where "the banks run the place."

            Facebook's facial recognition efforts are at the forefront of government technology regarding same, and so on.

            Most of these "guys" (and they are mostly guys) are hypocritical Libertarians and, essentially (philosophically), right-wingers, despite much press to the contrary.

            "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

            by bobswern on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 10:42:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  These folks are billionaires with their... (4+ / 0-)

              ...own agendas. To posit otherwise is just wishful thinking.

              Read this and get back to me: "Techies’ Efforts to Own #Snowden/NSA Surveillance Narrative = #Fail"

              "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

              by bobswern on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 11:07:29 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You have failed to understand the basic idea of (0+ / 0-)

                You have failed to understand the basic idea of the Founders, namely that there are competing factions with different objectives. These tend to cancel out. The owners of the companies may, as you suggest, belong to one seamless, monolithic faction of "the wealthy."  Their employees don't.

                And in fact "the wealthy" are not monolithic. Many of the radical movements of this country would not have been possible without the tacit or active support of quite wealthy people.  

                There are two reactions to the news of this letter.

                1) Great! Let's use their words to gain traction with the public and with legislators!

                or

                2) So what? The big companies and the government have absolute control, so nothing we do through the political system will have any effect.

                The latter is what the people who would like to install an authoritarian form of government want people to say. Passive, disengaged people who do not take advantage of opportunities that are offered to them are easy to rule.  

                •  Those are two SHALLOW reactions, IMHO... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Ray Pensador

                  ...there's much more to this story than the superficial media pronouncements. And, there are a hell of a lot more "reactions" than that to what's going on, as well. These companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars per year on (very sophisticated) lobbying and public/press relations.

                  "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

                  by bobswern on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:13:00 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  These shallow reactions (0+ / 0-)

                    ...are not media pronouncements. They are paraphrases of what I read in this thread. Perhaps the reason you don't like them is because one shoe is pinching.

                    As the Wyatt and Miller NYT article you linked says,

                    The political push by the technology companies opens a third front in their battle against government surveillance, which has escalated with recent revelations about government spying without the companies’ knowledge.
                    Call it thieves falling out. Call it companies "scrambling to repair the damage to their reputations" (another line from Wyatt and Miller). Call it whatever else you want to, this is an opportunity to generate political pressure to change things.

                    No one should waste time on conversations like the one you and I have just had. They should be contacting their Senators and Congressman and saying, "Did you see that the tech companies think the NSA ought to be reined in? Support Senate Bill 1551"

                     

                    •  Read this (see link within comment) and... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Ray Pensador

                      ....get back to me: "Don’t Be Evil? Google Funding a Slew of Right-Wing Groups," PR Watch via BillMoyers.com

                      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

                      by bobswern on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 01:24:56 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  This is not a response. It's a deflection (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        serendipityisabitch

                        Your response to my statement that we can use the tech companies' letter is to say, in effect, Google is giving money to bad people so whatever they do is bad.

                        It's a non-sequitur. If it were directed against a person, it would be arguing by ad hominem.

                        Not only that, it's a poorly argued ad ... corporatem? I looked up the individual donations of Google employees for the 2010 and 2012 cycles. They overwhelmingly go to Democrats.    

                        And what about the donations to non-conservative or even liberal groups outside of partisan politics? They give to the Federalist Society and to its mirror image, the American Constitution Society. They give to ALEC and to the Congressional Black Caucus.

                        Moyers' point, I think, is really that they should screen who they give to and exclude the grifters and the fixers.

                        Now, look, I have been more than polite. I've read the links you provided, probably more carefully than you read them. I've addressed your points directly. And I am telling you, you have not produced a response to my point that the tech companies' letter can serve the purposes of those of us who want to see the Fourth Amendment respected.

                    •  The elites like us to be cynical and fatalistic (0+ / 0-)

                      We're easier to control that way.

                      Visit http://theuptake.org/ for Minnesota news as it happens.

                      by Phoenix Woman on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 07:29:42 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly. n/t (0+ / 0-)

            Visit http://theuptake.org/ for Minnesota news as it happens.

            by Phoenix Woman on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 07:28:19 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  You are asking them to refuse to comply with law (7+ / 0-)

      When they are issued warrants and national security letters, which is the case, the choice is to comply or face prosecution.

      In fact, of the group, Yahoo already previously challenged the basis of some requests in court and lost.

      This is why they are taking the route to seek reform of the law and taking measures to improve their security such as encryption to make it difficult for the NSA to hack their data streams, which is another part of the problem.

      And they have the business motive to do so.

      If you are really expecting these large public companies to go the way of Lavabit and dissolve their business, I want some of what you are smoking.

      •  Well said, koNko (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Just Bob

        Thank you.

      •  Those laws are unconstitutional. I would almost (4+ / 0-)

        pay anybody to ask me to obey an unconstitutional law. I'd rather close down the company or face prosecution.

        The FACT that the politicians and much of the judicial system has been captured by corporations turning them into puppets doesn't make these laws any less unconstitutional.

        •  Constitutionality is decided by SCOTUS (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Just Bob, Yasuragi, CharlesII

          And so far, they are not hearing these cases or rendering not terribly favorable judgements when they do. Mostly they are letting the Circuit Courts handle these cases.

          In any case, what Ray Pensador or koNko might do as a private citizens is likely to be much different than what the officer of a public company chooses or even the officer of a private company such as Lavabit.

          If you will acquaint yourself with the Lavabit case, the decision to close the company and destroy the data was a choice made after the proprietor received a National Security Letter that forbid him from discussing the case until it got to a preliminary hearing so he  took the extreme action. No doubt this made some of his users unhappy when they learned he destroyed their data to protect their privacy, but perhaps other were glad; so far none have commented.

          I'm not sure it is sane to expect the same from the likes of Google et al, who are probably less concerned with passing ideological purity tests than running a big, profitable business.

          So yeah, their hands are not exactly clean, but then, that's politics, sometimes you lie down with flea-infested dogs to scare away the postman, or in this case, the NSA.

          Let them have at it! They have more lawyers then I.

          •  So that's what it comes down to: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            corvo

            The slur "purity test" vs. calling the situation for what it is.

            •  Your take there, not mine. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CharlesII

              If you are honestly expecting a company like Google to be a shinning exemplar of civil rights, I wonder if you have been drinking their "do no evil" kool-aid. I happen not to be a user of Google service for several reasons, not the least of which is I have to deal with Chinese filtering SW you probably don't, and Google bailed on Chinese users long ago.

              We probably agree a lot more than you might suppose at this point, and you can refer back to my several diaries and hundreds of comments on the subject if you are really interested, but I think the difference is I am willing to let Google's lawyers file briefs and needle the NSA as long as Larry, Sergei & Eric pay them with their deep pockets, and that can be useful.

              I'm really not expecting much in the way of meaningful reforms, actually, so the more pressure applied from the more directions, the better, and if the Administration is going to listed to anyone, with will be complaining businessmen, not you or I.

              So let Google have at it. Enjoy the show.

               

              •  That's precisely the point. I don't expect them (0+ / 0-)

                to do the right thing.  These companies, when they get this big and powerful (enough to buy off the government) are a danger to the country, to democracy, to freedom, to the rule of law.

                They should be fully exposed, discredited, to the point that they  fail or have to be broken down.  Google, Yahoo, Facebook, AT&T, Verizon, all these companies should be stopped.  They are not good for democracy.  They have been caught committing massive crimes.  I hope that they lose market share and go bankrupt, one by one, as the consequences for the law-breaking, their lies, their hard-ball oppressive tactics.

                The system is broken.  All institutions should be reworked so they serve the interests of the people, respect all our rights to the fullest.

                I do not accept the supremacy of the corporate state.

      •  There's a lot more to it than that (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        petral, blackhand, CharlesII, corvo

        When the PRISM story first broke and the companies had no idea what was yet to be revealed, they all issued blanket denials, including the claim from Google's Larry Page (still up on his blog) that he had never heard of the PRISM program.

        The companies also did something else: They tried to make the whole thing seem like some routine legal process involving national-security letters and primitive data transfers (never mind that it doesn't take half a decade to implement a routine, already-existing legal process and primitive data transfers). Their hollow calls for "transparency" were based on this gross act of deception.

        But then the hits kept coming:

        The Guardian, etc., reported that the companies got paid millions of dollars to cover PRISM compliance costs. Some of the companies ended up admitting this when that particular article was published. Never heard of it... just law-enforcement requests and primitive data transfers... but, oh, what's this, millions of dollars in compliance costs.

        WaPo, etc., reported that there's FBI interception equipment on company premises that feeds into the NSA cloud. Never heard of it... just law-enforcement requests and primitive data transfers... but, oh, what's this, FBI interception equipment on company premises.

        WaPo, etc., reported that PRISM offers sophisticated, real-time multimedia capabilities with a fully developed surveillance/interchange protocol. Never heard of it... just law-enforcement requests and primitive data transfers... but, oh, what's this, sophisticated, real-time multimedia capabilities with a fully developed surveillance/interchange protocol.

        The companies are clearly hiding something and have lied to the public. They can be gagged, but the lying is squarely on their shoulders.

        Here's what I believe has happened:

        The companies have provided unfettered, direct access to their servers, just as the PRISM slides maintain (after the level of impressive technical sophistication that's been revealed since the initial PRISM slides, across many different non-PRISM programs, does anyone seriously still believe that the PRISM slides are in error on such a basic technical point?). They've allowed equipment on their premises as part of a multi-million-dollar government surveillance program that took half a decade to implement.

        The tech-company PR/business strategy was to keep that program under the wraps and continue to offer vague waffling about legalistic transparency. And this strategy would've worked were it not for a blockbuster story that was yet to come.

        You see, such a company-approved program is ultimately in the hands of the tech companies. The tech companies get to control the available data, and the tech companies get to see exactly what the government is requesting. No intelligence agency is going to regard those parameters as ideal. Plus, there's always the wisdom of redundancy. So what did the NSA do? With its MUSCULAR program, it went behind the companies' backs and compromised their data centers in a gobsmacking act of technical brilliance (I'm actually starting to develop a nerd-crush on these guys and gals). I believe that the companies were innocent in this regard and that the revelations chilled them to the core.

        Now there's a serious PR/business problem that's threatening to wipe out billions in company profits (Cisco, a non-PRISM player, is already in the shit). The problem is the tech companies can no longer depend on whatever trustworthiness they're able to generate. Their assurances about being noble, user-focused companies mean diddly-squat, for now we have a shadow agency that's going behind their backs and raping all their data. Before it was their ethics; now it's their technical competence against an agency of elite super-nerds. It's very hard to spin that.

        What the companies now seem to be saying is "Hey, look, yes, we got screwed, but now we're encrypting shit," as if encryption is a panacea against an agency that (i) hires the finest mathematicians and technologists in the world and has unknown but suspected-to-be-decades-ahead-of-the-public capabilities in crypto (these crypto capabilities are no doubt jealously guarded secrets, known only to a tightly controlled team -- I doubt Snowden was privy to these capabilities); (ii) could just as easily "compel" CAs to give them private keys (the legal, national-security route that seems to work so well); (ii) could just as easily steal private keys from CAs.

        Make no mistake: The Internet is now royally fucked, and there's no certain technological solution for fixing it.

        •  I would hazard a guess that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          corvo

          These companies also enjoyed a free subsidy on performance enhancing hardware in exchange for doing their part for God and Country.

        •  There are solutions (0+ / 0-)

          First, thanks for a good comment. We tend to lose track of the fact that companies' commercial interests can conflict with their ideology. That is the case here. As I have been pointing out all along, the commercial implications of this story are more likely to result in legislative change than the civil liberties issues.

          But there are solutions. One is, contrary to your argument, to encrypt everything. Then the NSA's ability to intercept is limited to its ability to decrypt.  It will have to focus its resources onto targets that matter.

          Another thing that would help greatly, I think, is if we had a serious effort to crack down on criminal uses of the Internet and expand knowledge of how computers operate. So much attention gets diverted into dealing with viruses, spam, and hackers. If the same energy were put into training people about computer processes and into making transparent computer operations, activity like NSA hacking would be a lot more conspicuous.

          And, of course, legislative oversight. We should all be supporting Mark Udall, Ron Wyden, and Martin Heinrich in their effort to stop bulk collection of data.

    •  They ARE sincere, but only because they (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      humphrey, petral, Ray Pensador, corvo

      are now sincerely suffering trillions of dollars in profits.  

      For example Cisco Sytems says no one wants to buy their fake "encryption" now that the NSA seems to have a back-door to everything.  

      These companies were getting kick-backs for their compliance, but now the jig is up and they need to jump the fence to "our" side of the argument if they want to maintain profits.

      Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

      by Einsteinia on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 11:47:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Crime involves the intent to harm and to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blackhand

      deprive of a measurable, material matter. What we are dealing with here are figments of the imagination which cannot even be quantified in dollars. It's all too ephemeral.

      It is possible to demand respect and privacy, but it is not possible to coerce it. Punishing people for not doing something is possible, but it doesn't get it done. Respect for privacy is a positive, like the water we can't force a horse to drink.

      Our agents of government are paid to do certain things. Congress has paid the NSA to collect data. If we want to stop the NSA from collecting data, we have to remove their funding and fire the collectors. Which means the paymasters, Congress, have to be held to account. We can't let them get away with, "I'm sorry the guard dogs bit you." Contractors have to be terminated.

      Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

      by hannah on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 02:39:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's the other way around; corporatist cartels are (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blackhand, corvo

        paying Congress to do their bidden. Congress is corrupt to its very core. The NSA and the entire national security apparatus is a debased for-profit, corporate-controlled racketeering cartel.

        •  Yes, but Congress is the paymaster, despite (0+ / 0-)

          their persistent denial.  Running dollars through the Federal Reserve is a kind of money laundering. It gives the banksters first dibs and the unearned income crowd a triple treat.
          They get free money, collect dividends on bonds and don't pay any tax.
          The transfer of public assets into private wealth is not a happenstance.
          What do the Congress critters expect their henchmen to do for them? Make sure the little people are kept in check.

          Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

          by hannah on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:09:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's a bribery scheme. Congress allocates (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            hannah

            the public's money to pay for profit corporations for "protection," purportedly against "terrorism."

            The corporatist paymasters then use part of the money as kick-backs for the politicians in the form of campaign contributions, lucrative jobs for them and their families, and a host of other enticements... It is corrupt to the very core; it is a Kleptocracy in the truest sense of the word.

    •  Criminal charges under what statute? (0+ / 0-)
      All top executives and anybody who knew about these crimes should be charge with criminal offenses.
      Which existing law prescribing criminal penalties would you use to charge them?

      (The law must currently exist, as the Constitution explicitly bans ex post facto laws.)

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 07:28:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are scores of laws on the books, and there (0+ / 0-)

        is also the pesky Constitution.  These companies have violated all kinds of real laws in the books, in statues, regarding illicit collection of information, spying, hacking, lying to regulatory agencies, etc.

        Many in government could also be considered to have violated a plethora of laws, including taking bribes, failing to perform their regulatory duties due to conflicts of interests, etc.

        What we are talking about is a corporate state, a government completely captured by corporate paymasters, doing their bidding in a pay-for-play, outright bribery scheme.

        Hopefully that will your answer your question.

        •  Nope, not enough. (3+ / 0-)
          There are scores of laws on the books, and there is also the pesky Constitution.
          The Constitution prescribes criminal charges and penalties for only one crime: Treason. (And if you're thinking of using that, don't even bother, as the definition of the crime is rather specific and doesn't apply in this case.)

          If you're referring to the Fourth Amendment, that amendment concerns only the actions of government, and prescribes no criminal charges and penalties for either government actors or private-sector companies that cooperate with government actions.

          These companies have violated all kinds of real laws in the books, in statues, regarding illicit collection of information, spying, hacking, lying to regulatory agencies, etc.
          Simply saying "there are a lot of laws and surely they're guilty of something" isn't enough here. You're calling for criminal charges for all top executives and for anyone at those companies who knew about NSA datamining; therefore, the onus is on you to indicate which criminal laws they have broken.

          If there are so many laws out there that they've broken, you should have no trouble at all citing at least one of those laws, detailing how the people in question have violated those laws, and indicating what criminal penalty those laws lay out for officials at companies found guilty of violating them.

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

          by JamesGG on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 09:17:12 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well said, James (3+ / 0-)

            What is a crime is what is legal.  

            •  I agree with that... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              serendipityisabitch

              ...but I still don't think the onus should be on private companies to determine what information requests from the government are constitutional, with the penalty of criminal prosecution if they're wrong in either direction.

              The law should intervene before the three-letter agencies make that request, not against companies for complying with requests that they have every reason to believe are legal.

              "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

              by JamesGG on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 01:29:27 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The issuance of a warrant (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JamesGG

                The issuance of a warrant is where the law intervenes. In the case of continuing searches and seizures, there should be a process of appeal. The real problems are two-fold: first, the FISA court has operated in secret, with no real oversight or process of appeal. The second is that the agencies have issued orders, like the fanous National Security Letters, without court sanction. The value of requiring specific warrants is that it forces the agency to narrow its searches, rather than casting a net over the whole sea.  

                I think that what Ray and others are saying, inexpertly as they are, is that Google (and other corporations) are amassing gigantic data stores of our actions for commercial reasons and that that is morally and perhaps legally equivalent to what the NSA is doing. They're certainly wrong on the legal equivalence, but I think also on the moral equivalence. Google & cohort are using their oligopolies and the complexity of take-it-or-leave-it contracts to coerce their users into agreeing to data policies that they don't really want. It's sort of legal assuming one ignores the Sherman Act and accepts that one company can dominate search. Users could refuse to accept the terms, if only we could afford lawyers to figure out what they were and had the time to figure out how to use non-oligopoly products.

                Bottom line: I think Ray and others are wrong, but their broader instincts are right. These massive databases are a danger to our society, not only in their potential for misuse but in the chilling effect they have on commerce and discourse. They should not be legal.

                One thing that ought to be pointed out is that while the tech companies see their clients' searches and e-mail, the NSA sees everything: phone calls, cell phone records, etc. The databases the companies have are frightening. What the NSA has is terrifying.

                •  Absolutely. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  serendipityisabitch
                  The issuance of a warrant is where the law intervenes.
                  In other words, the law should intervene before the request is made to the company to hand over records or access. I absolutely agree with that. We need stricter oversight, an adversarial process, and a process that is on some level open (there are good reasons for not making those proceedings completely open to public access).

                  But once a warrant is issued, a technology company should be able to assume that the warrant is legal. What we shouldn't have is a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation for technology firms, which is what I think Mr. Pensador is calling for—where complying with a request that is later deemed unconstitutional is a criminal offense, and not complying with a request that turns out to be completely constitutional is also a criminal offense.

                  Technology firms shouldn't be expected to correctly guess what requests are and aren't going to be found constitutional, with the punishment of prison time if they guess wrong. That's a really problematic legal situation.

                  "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                  by JamesGG on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 07:05:51 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Here are just a couple of patently illegal (0+ / 0-)

            activities: Facilitating the hacking of private networks an databases with malicious intent. That has to do with the tech companies' cooperation with not only clandestine government spy agencies, but with private corporate cartels. There are laws on the books about hacking, stealing private information, etc.

            Other illegal acts include the building of very detailed dossiers on innocent citizens engaged in constitutionally-protected activities. These dossiers are then illegally shared among clandestine government spy organizations and private corporate networks. The info is then used not for any national security purposes, but as a tool to suppress constitutionally-protected activities, with the purpose of protecting ill-gotten corporate profits.

            Also, a lot of the information stolen is used by corporate goons, i.e., CIA, FBI, or former national security personnel, to illegally break into offices of targeted groups to steal information, documents, and sometimes to plant evidence.

            People engage in these activities should be charged and prosecuted, but they are not because the government has been captured by corporatist interests.

            •  Nope. Try again. (3+ / 0-)
              Facilitating the hacking of private networks an databases with malicious intent. That has to do with the tech companies' cooperation with not only clandestine government spy agencies, but with private corporate cartels. There are laws on the books about hacking, stealing private information, etc.
              If the databases in question belong to the company itself, the company isn't facilitating "hacking" by giving government agencies access to that data. Hacking is defined as accessing databases that don't belong to the defendant and that the defendant doesn't have permission to access. The companies own their own databases, and are free to give that database or access to that database to anyone, as long as such access does not violate whatever terms of service they have with their users.

              Do you have evidence that they are in violation of said terms of service? If so, can you please indicate which statute in US Code provides for criminal penalties against "all top executives and for anyone at those companies who knew about" violations of the terms of service?

              Other illegal acts include the building of very detailed dossiers on innocent citizens engaged in constitutionally-protected activities.
              To the extent that the companies named in this letter have such "dossiers," it is because the users themselves have explicitly granted those companies access to that information according to the terms of service that the users agreed to, by uploading that information to the company's website.

              Please do cite the part of the US Code that makes the above not only illegal, but actionable by criminal charges for "all top executives and for anyone at those companies who knew about" it occurring.

              If you are referring to NSA, CIA, or FBI dossiers, those are not the responsibility of the companies in question. Where in US Code do you find any liability whatsoever—to say nothing of criminal liability—on the part of a private company for what the government does with information provided to them by that company, in compliance with an order that they have reason to believe is lawful?

              People engage in these activities should be charged and prosecuted, but they are not because the government has been captured by corporatist interests.
              You have yet to show me even one law the private companies have broken in their cooperation with the three-letter agencies, such that "all top executives and for anyone at those companies who knew about" it are subject to criminal prosecution.

              If you're going to continue to claim that they should be charged and prosecuted, you're going to need to indicate exactly what they should be charged and prosecuted for, and according to which law.

              "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

              by JamesGG on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 01:27:38 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I've already made my point and backed it up, but (0+ / 0-)

                here's even more... BTW, all I'm doing at this point is showing others how wrong you are and also demonstrating your obstinate defense of these activities and the status quo.  I have to admit it is a worthy exercise.

                Here's more from a diary I wrote:

                Report: U.S. Gov. And Corporate Security Companies Collude to Bring Down Social Justice Groups

                Corporations are increasingly spying on nonprofit groups they view as potential threats with little fear of retribution, according to a new report by a corporate watchdog group.
                The large companies employ former Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, FBI, military and police officers to monitor and in some cases infiltrate groups that have been critical of them, according to the report by Essential Information, which was founded by Ralph Nader in the 1980s.

                "Many different types of nonprofits have been targeted with espionage, including environmental, anti-war, public interest, consumer, food safety, pesticide reform, nursing-home reform, gun control, social justice, animal rights and arms control groups," the report said.

                Regarding this particular report, I actually read all 54 pages.

                And here are the troubling aspects of what they are doing:

                One of the troubling aspects of recent corporate espionage against nonprofits is the use of current and former police, current government contractors, and former CIA, NSA, FBI, Secret Service and other law enforcement officers.
                Even active-duty CIA operatives are allowed to sell their expertise to the highest bidder, "a policy that gives financial firms and hedge funds access to the nation's top-level intelligence talent," writes Eamon Javers.  Little is known about the CIA's moonlighting policy, or which corporations have hired current CIA operatives..
                And here's the corruption in the system:
                Hiring former intelligence, military and law enforcement officials has its advantages.  First, these officials may be able to use their status as a shield.  For example, current law enforcement officials may be disinclined to investigate or prosecute former intelligence or law enforcement agents.  They may be more likely to get a "pass" because of their government services.  In effect, corporations are hiring "pass" and sometimes using it to conduct unethical or even illegal intelligence gathering against nonprofits.
                Bottom line: Top officials of some of the biggest tech companies in the U.S. along with top officials of the for profit, corporate-controlled national security apparatus are members of a STASI-like surveillance police state which regularly engage in massive illegal activities (hacking, planting evidence, breaking-and-entering, breaking into private computer networks to steal data, illegally spying on law-abiding citizens.

                Here's a STASI reference in a recent Al-Jazeera article: Government whistle-blowers to Edward Snowden: Don't come home

                He said he knew when reporters started publishing stories about surveillance programs that he would get caught up in the dragnet. Having spent years working in government intelligence, including time on communist East Germany, he said he recognized that “the Stasi way of keeping track of its own people would be the primary template of the (U.S.) government” and believed the Justice Department wanted to make an example of him by charging him under the Espionage Act.
                Again: The government has been captured by corporatist cartels through a system of legalized bribery; it has turned predatory and oppressive.  They are committing grave crimes (on the books, statues, etc.) against the American people.

                So basically what we are talking about is this:

                "When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty."
                •  Nope. Try again. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  serendipityisabitch, terrypinder
                  BTW, all I'm doing at this point is showing others how wrong you are and also demonstrating your obstinate defense of these activities and the status quo.
                  Of course. Because I'm asking you to substantiate your call for "all top executives and for anyone at those companies who knew about" NSA activities to be rounded up en masse and charged with criminal violations by indicating exactly what criminal laws you believe them to have broken, I'm "obstinate" in defense of the "status quo."

                  This, from the person who endlessly complains about "personal attacks" and "ad hominems." Physician, heal thyself.

                  Bottom line: Top officials of some of the biggest tech companies in the U.S. along with top officials of the for profit, corporate-controlled national security apparatus are members of a STASI-like surveillance police state which regularly engage in massive illegal activities (hacking, planting evidence, breaking-and-entering, breaking into private computer networks to steal data, illegally spying on law-abiding citizens.
                  I'm not seeing the first part of your "bottom line" in there anywhere. You've made the case that there are large private-industry defense firms that are involved in "massive illegal activities"—something I'll note that I never disputed—but the material you quote there says absolutely nothing about major tech-industry firms engaging in "hacking, planting evidence, breaking-and-entering, breaking into private computer networks to steal data, illegally spying on law-abiding citizens."

                  You're going to need to spell out that part a bit more, and since you're suggesting that all of the firms who signed this letter are involved in such activities—and called for all of their top executives to be criminally charged—the burden of proof is justifiably high. You're going to need to present evidence implicating each of those firms in activities that have been determined to be illegal, or which plainly violate the law in a manner for which the law prescribes criminal penalties.

                  Simply posting more stuff about defense and intel industry firms isn't going to cut it, since we're not talking about defense and intel industry firms. We're talking about tech industry firms. Please address that aspect specifically.

                  "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                  by JamesGG on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 03:08:53 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The evidence has already been presented through (0+ / 0-)

                    a massive expose facilitated by the great patriotic work of Edward Snowden and real journalists like Glenn Greenwald.

                    And the revelations continue, drip-drip..

                    Let me ask you something?  Obviously we are not going to agree, so this will be my last post, but let's say that I believe that crimes have been committed and you don't.  And let's say that one of us is correct.  My motivation for my point of view is for the rule of law to be equally applied to all.  I'm also motivated by what I see as unfairness in the system caused by corruption.  And all these causes extreme levels of income inequality and helps bring about increased levels of oppression against a larger and larger segment of the population.

                    That's my angle.  Now, my perception is that you seem to be going out of your way to make excuses for these high tech companies, and for the status quo.

                    What's your motivation?  Or am I getting it wrong?

                    Regarding our main argument: I'm arguing that crimes have been committed and have presented reference material to back up my claim.  I understand that you don't accept those sources of information, and are asking for more proof.

                    Although I could research law reference and come back with a list, I don't think it is necessary to do that for my purposes.

                    •  No, that evidence hasn't been presented. (3+ / 0-)
                      The evidence has already been presented through a massive expose facilitated by the great patriotic work of Edward Snowden and real journalists like Glenn Greenwald.
                      They presented evidence that the top executives at technology firms engaged in conduct that US law defines as criminal? I have yet to see that come out of any of the Snowden/Greenwald materials. Can you provide a citation to that effect?

                      What I'm seeing is that those companies cooperated with government requests for access and information; while some of those requests may not have been constitutional (no court has yet decided that they were not), I am not aware of any statute that presents criminal liability for technology companies that comply with an order that is legal at the time, but later declared unconstitutional.

                      That's my angle.  Now, my perception is that you seem to be going out of your way to make excuses for these high tech companies, and for the status quo.

                      What's your motivation?  Or am I getting it wrong?

                      No, my motivation is also for the rule of law—to wit, that nobody be criminally charged for conduct that was not at the time criminal.

                      The prohibition against ex post facto laws is a basic component of the rule of law, as it ensures that someone can be confident in taking actions that he or she knows to be lawful at the time, knowing that they will not be declared unlawful and retroactively punished on some future date. This is one of the basic tenets that removes arbitrariness from government.

                      In the absence of your being able to provide a specific criminal statute that these technology companies violated, such that their top executives and everyone who knew about the programs can under existing law be held criminally liable for having complied with government requests, you're essentially asking for a breakdown of the rule of law.

                      Unless you can name which specific criminal law they all broke, you're suggesting that the anger of the people should justify the making of an ex post facto law retroactively declaring their actions not only illegal, but criminal, and punishing them thus.

                      I understand that you don't accept those sources of information, and are asking for more proof.
                      No. You misunderstand me. I'm asking for any proof at all that the major technology companies listed in this letter engaged in activity that, under current US law, should lead to criminal prosecutions against them. You have not presented that. What you have presented does not even approach that, in that it doesn't implicate those technology companies at all in any kind of criminal wrongdoing.

                      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                      by JamesGG on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 07:00:23 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Wow! That's a full-throttle defense of these (0+ / 0-)

                        corrupt companies, most of which have been caught lying multiple times. James, why do you defend these corrupt companies so vehemently?

                        •  The preceding comments were written on... (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          serendipityisabitch, terrypinder

                          ... Ray Pensador's new Chromebook - powered by Google Chrome, applications and data stored on Google's servers.  

                          If James is defending the companies by asking for proof of your specious claims, what do you call actually using the products and services of the disingenuous technology companies you claim are the plutocratic embodiment of fascist evil?  I'd call that hilarious.

                          Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

                          by Hey338Too on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 10:17:33 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  No, it's a full-throttle defense... (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          serendipityisabitch, terrypinder

                          ...of the rule of law.

                          Those committed to the rule of law know that in order to bring criminal charges against someone for their actions or for the actions of their company, not only must the law label those actions illegal, but the law must also prescribe criminal penalties for overseeing or knowing about those actions.

                          You specifically made the claim that "All top executives and anybody who knew about these crimes should be charge [sic] with criminal offenses." In writing that, you laid out the criteria by which your support of your claim could be evaluated.

                          Can you demonstrate that that simply by complying with requests from the three-letter agencies, they were in violation of an existing US law that prescribes criminal charges for company executives and any within the company who knew about it?

                          Moving the goalposts by talking about blanket "corruption" or "being caught lying" isn't enough. You have to show that these companies broke the law in this specific case, and that the law they broke in this specific case prescribes criminal penalties for executives and non-whistleblowers.

                          If you cannot do that, then your claim that they should be "charged with criminal offenses" simply because you don't like their actions—despite the lack of any law criminalizing their behavior—reeks of ex post facto, which is not in any way compatible with any notion of the rule of law.

                          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                          by JamesGG on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 06:59:30 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I have to do no such thing. This is not a court (0+ / 0-)

                            of law.  I'm expressing my opinion and I've provided reference information to back up my opinion.  At this point, I stand by that opinion: that top executives of tech and telecom companies who have collaborated with the government in providing unfettered access to information for the purpose of building dossiers on innocent people, and accumulating ALL information being generated by users is illegal, and therefore they should be fully investigated, charged (if probable evidence is found), prosecuted, and imprisoned.

                            Government functionaries involved in these crimes should also be fully investigated; their relationships with these tech companies when it comes to campaigns' fundraising, cushy jobs (in lobbying firms, etc.), should be fully investigated.

                            That's it; that's my opinion, and I stand by it 100 percent.  

                            Here's why I find your insistence so absurd:

                            Demand complete, fool-proof and guaranteed solutions to the problems being discussed.   For example, if a reporter breaks the story that the big banks conspired to rig a market, ask “given that people are selfish and that no regulation can close all possible loopholes”, pretend that it’s not worth talking about the details of the manipulation.  This discourages people from reporting on and publicizing the corruption, fraud and other real problems.  And it ensures that not enough people will spread the facts so that the majority know what’s really going on.
                            So let's say that the problem being discussed has to do with tech and telecom companies collaborating not only with government agencies engaged in illegal mass surveillance, but with shadowy corporate spy networks engaged in building very specific dossiers on activists they find represent a threat to their bottom line because of their activities in exposing wrongdoing, corruption, damage to the environment.

                            It is a good thing for as many people as possible to be aware about these activities, to raise concern in the community in order to generate pressure on (on-the-take, corrupt) public officials to rein in these illegal activities.  And BTW, that is exactly what's happening right now...

                            Now, if those who defend the status quo come back with an absurd counter-argument demanding the exact legal code(s) about the laws that may have been broken, that can be seen as an amateur attempt at redirecting attention away from the actual issue, back to the proverbial messenger.

                            It ain't going to fly...

                            Either way, there is plenty of historical precedence of the government and corporations colluding to engage in illegal acts, including illegal surveillance, planting evidence, psychological operations, intimidation, assassinations, and many others.  There are plenty of (official) reports about it.

                            These tech companies are committing crimes, in my (and huge number of other people's) opinion.  They should be fully investigated, charged, prosecuted, and imprisoned if the crimes are proven.

                            Why do you stand up and defend these companies with such a vehemence?

                          •  You continue to dodge the point. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            serendipityisabitch, terrypinder
                            At this point, I stand by that opinion: that top executives of tech and telecom companies who have collaborated with the government in providing unfettered access to information for the purpose of building dossiers on innocent people, and accumulating ALL information being generated by users is illegal, and therefore they should be fully investigated, charged (if probable evidence is found), prosecuted, and imprisoned.
                            Whether or not the actions taken by the tech industry were illegal isn't simply a question of opinion. It's a question of fact. Does a law exist that prescribes criminal charges for tech companies that comply with requests for information from three-letter agencies that are later found unconstitutional, or does that law not exist?

                            This isn't something where you can have your view and I can have mine; whether or not such a law exists is a fact, irrespective of either of our opinions. We would not take it as a matter of opinion if we disagreed on whether or not there are laws against first-degree murder or laws banning the sale of Silly Putty on Thursdays. Questions of whether or not certain laws exist can be easily resolved by reference to the law itself.

                            Since you are the one making the claim that it is illegal and criminally punishable, the onus is on you to support that claim with sufficient evidence—to wit, pointing out which law provides for criminal punishment for tech industry executives and non-whistleblowers who cooperated with the three-letter agencies. Thus far, you have failed to provide such evidence.

                            You cannot paper that over by pretending that it's your opinion that such a law exists; either it exists, or it doesn't, and since you made the claim it's your job to present evidence that it does.

                            Now, if those who defend the status quo come back with an absurd counter-argument demanding the exact legal code(s) about the laws that may have been broken, that can be seen as an amateur attempt at redirecting attention away from the actual issue, back to the proverbial messenger.
                            Except that it's not about the "messenger" at all. It is you who have continually verbally assailed me as a "defender of the status quo"; I have yet to say anything at all about my opinion of you or about your motivations. If either of us is making this about "the messenger," it is you, who continually cast aspersions on my motivations and attempt to portray me personally as something I am not. It is you who are now accusing me of various diversion tactics. I have done none of that.

                            Each and every one of my comments has been entirely about whether or not you have presented sufficient evidence to support your claim that top tech industry executives and non-whistleblowers should be criminally prosecuted for cooperating with the three-letter agencies. Such comments are entirely about the issue at hand, which was your claim that they should face criminal prosecution.

                            If you're not capable of supporting that claim with evidence, then please just admit it, rather than continuing to dodge around the fact that you can't respond to even the most basic question about your initial claim: Which criminal law have the tech companies' executives and non-whistleblowers broken?

                            Answer that question, or admit that you can't. It's just that simple.

                            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                            by JamesGG on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 10:13:47 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Again, this is not a court of law where one has to (0+ / 0-)

                            present "sufficient evidence."  What you are asking is actually easy to do, but out of principle, I won't.

                            There are plenty of laws in the books about this stuff.

                            It comes down to this: my opinion is that they broke, and are still breaking the law.  You have a different opinion.  That's it; simple as that.

                            But the larger question, again James, why are you sticking up for these corrupt companies so vehemently?

                          •  No, this is a deliberative discussion. (3+ / 0-)

                            That this isn't a court of law doesn't mean that you are exempt from having to support your claims. Supporting claims with evidence is a requirement of basic argumentation, which includes "the arts and sciences of civil debate, dialogue, conversation, and persuasion." If we're not involved in one or more of those right now, then how exactly do you define this exchange?

                            There are plenty of laws in the books about this stuff.
                            Then cite one of those laws, that provides for criminal penalties for executives and non-whistleblowers at companies that comply with government requests that are later found unconstitutional.

                            If there are so many of those laws, then finding just one of them and citing it here should be pretty easy for you, no?

                            It comes down to this: my opinion is that they broke, and are still breaking the law.  You have a different opinion.  That's it; simple as that.
                            No, it's not as simple as that. Calling your assertion an "opinion" doesn't get you out of having to support it with evidence. Whether or not such a law exists isn't a matter of opinion, it's a matter of fact. Either it exists, or it doesn't.
                            But the larger question, again James, why are you sticking up for these corrupt companies so vehemently?
                            I'm sticking up for the rule of law, one of the basic tenets of which is the prohibition against ex post facto laws. Actions cannot be retroactively declared illegal. If someone takes an action that is completely legal when he or she takes it, he or she should never face prosecution for that action. That is one of the foundational principles of the rule of law.

                            Ironic, though, that shortly after accusing me of making this about "the messenger," you engage in yet another accusation about my character and motivations. (Your Cavuto mark doesn't change the nature of the statement.)

                            So do you want this to be about the issue, or do you want this to be about our respective characters? I've demonstrated my capability to stick to the issue; can you do the same, or are you going to decide to engage in yet another personal attack against me as a so-called "defender of the status quo"?

                            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                            by JamesGG on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 10:37:09 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I think this is a good point to end the discussion (0+ / 0-)

                            as I don't think there isn't anywhere else to go, especially since I'm arguing that I'm the one sticking for the rule of law, and you are defending lawbreaking.

                          •  Fair enough. (4+ / 0-)

                            Though I'd suggest that your argument that you're "the one sticking for the rule of law" is somewhat laughable when you can't actually name the laws that criminalize the action you think existing law defines as criminal.

                            Are you operating under a different definition of the "rule of law" which doesn't require any reference to the laws that actually exist in a given jurisdiction?

                            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                            by JamesGG on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 11:06:34 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

  •  Then, these companies need to stop collecting. (5+ / 0-)

    How hypocritical can this get? These are software companies who have no problem collecting user data in ways users are unaware of and using it for marketing, or selling to other companies.

    All the NSA is doing is using collectible data in more ways than those companies do. Perhaps not with their permission, but those companies get what they want however they can get it as well.

    Jealous, much?

    cheerleaders need not apply.

    by kravitz on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 09:40:02 PM PST

  •  Hey tech companies, while you're at it, (7+ / 0-)

    take your own damn advice. Google of course sorts and sifts through every email and search sent through its services. It was only a couple of years ago, after public outcry, that Apple started making apps ask permission before lifting iPhone address books and calendars, and now with their latest operating system they're forcing that data onto their cloud servers. Who knows what LinkedIn does with much of the world's business connections—it's truly disturbing what information it must take for some of the suggestions their service makes about who should connect with whom. And Facebook, ha! I bet they keep data on connections never made, just based upon somebody searching for somebody else and the like.

    Hey, we'll take your political support now. But we're coming for you, too.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 09:40:29 PM PST

  •  It's really interesting how NSA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify, YucatanMan

    Is suddenly going after porn and dope. I guess this is the new greatest security threat to the USA and we will soon see drones taking out botnets and suburban garages equipped with UV lamps, and I, for one, sleep better knowing that.

    But then, given the backward technology of the FBI, maybe they needed some help.

    Charles, when are you going to understand NSA Transparency Hurts American's Privacy? In the linked article a government attorney says that, that should convince anyone.

    •  Mr. Litt's argument is strikingly similar... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simplify, YucatanMan, koNko, Just Bob

      The argument made in the Wired article you linked by "Robert Litt, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and Bradford Wiegmann, deputy assistant attorney general" is that as long as intercepted data is unreviewed, privacy has not been compromised.

      This sounds a lot like the argument by Google & Co. that the data they collected is aggregated data not traceable to a specific individual or computer. Yet, oddly, the ads know exactly where to find you.  

  •  The NSA can get most of what they want... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CharlesII, YucatanMan, koNko, humphrey, kurt

    ...by sucking up data from fiber optic nodes.

    Fiber optic network photo 23479491-7c0a-44e9-b1ac-a7e31a7a0d49_zpsced7a926.jpg

    But I am happy that Google, MS et al won't make it as easy as it could be.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 09:54:54 PM PST

  •  It's great that they've made this public (6+ / 0-)

    statement, but don't forget that these very same companies may be making nice sums of money by complying with information / access to data requests.  Many charge the government and it becomes a revenue stream.

    I don't trust the lot of them. They can say this publicly, perhaps because there is honest concern about losing business, but behind the scenes, their lobbyists can tell Congressmembers to keep the dollars flowing.

    AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile make piles of cash every year from US governments.

    Here are a few of the highlights from the fee data.

    >    Wiretaps cost hundreds of dollars per target every month, generally paid at daily or monthly rates. To wiretap a customer’s phone, T-Mobile charges law enforcement a flat fee of $500 per target. Sprint’s wireless carrier Sprint Nextel requires police pay $400 per “market area” and per “technology” as well as a $10 per day fee, capped at $2,000. AT&T charges a $325 activation fee, plus $5 per day for data and $10 for audio. Verizon charges a $50 administrative fee plus $700 per month, per target.

    >    Data requests for voicemail or text messages cost extra. AT&T demands $150 for access to a target’s voicemail, while Verizon charges $50 for access to text messages. Sprint offers the most detailed breakdown of fees for various kinds of data on a phone, asking $120 for pictures or video, $60 for email, $60 for voice mail and $30 for text messages.

    >    All four telecom firms also offer so-called “tower dumps” that allow police to see the numbers of every user accessing a certain cell tower over a certain time at an hourly rate. AT&T charges $75 per tower per hour, with a minimum of two hours. Verizon charges between $30 and $60 per hour for each cell tower. T-Mobile demands $150 per cell tower per hour, and Sprint charges $50 per tower, seemingly without an hourly rate.

    >    For location data, the carrier firms offer automated tools that let police track suspects in real time. Sprint charges $30 per month per target to use its L-Site program for location tracking. AT&T’s E911 tool costs $100 to activate and then $25 a day. T-Mobile charges a much pricier $100 per day.

    And those are just the local, county, state and federal fees for specific targets. When it gets into bulk data collection and direct taps into the Internet backbone, the fees are a nice big sum.  

    The total from big corporations selling their customers' data to the government is a nice addition to the bottom line. That's why it is hard to believe that this current effort isn't disingenuous.

    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

    by YucatanMan on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 10:11:20 PM PST

    •  Certainly don't trust them, but... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Just Bob

      I notice that AT&T, VZ, and Sprint are not co-signers of the letter.  Maybe that's why.  

      But there are reasons to think that the big Internet companies are not going to tell Congress one thing publicly and another privately: their employees. These are big companies. Their employees can swing elections. If a company comes out officially in favor of a position, its employees tend to line up with the company, as long as it doesn't conflict with their personal interests. Dianne Feinstein could find herself on the wrong end of a lot of negative employee reaction if she continues to push fake reform.

      Will there be real reform? That's up to us. But the Internet companies handed us a gift-- even if they're completely insincere.

      •  Think that, say, Google gives access to their (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        truong son traveler, corvo

        back-end data links for free? None of these are non-mercenary companies. It's actually hard to decide which are the worst. Good arguments could be made for each one.

        There have been articles about government payments to Internet companies for data delivery. It's too late for me to search for them.

        It sounds good on the surface, but I don't trust any of them to tell the truth. Each and every one has been caught lying about customer privacy.

        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

        by YucatanMan on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 10:31:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  NSA probably has hacked Internet cos (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kurt

          Sure, the Internet companies, like any companies, don't give away anything free, but NSA seems to have used compromised SSL and other means that do not require assent by the companies to get their data. Also, some of the companies fought in court to stop or at least to expose NSA spying that they were aware of.

          One need not--indeed, should not--trust companies. But you haven't produced the kind of strong economic motive that the phone companies have, and I don't think it exists.

          •  You don't think it exists? Really? Seriously? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            corvo

            Have you not been following all the reporting on this?  Now that it is morning, here are your links:

            NSA Paid Millions ... including Yahoo and Google.

            The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program after a court ruled that some of the agency's activities were unconstitutional, according to top-secret material passed to the Guardian.

            The technology companies, which the NSA says includes Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook...
            ....

            The disclosure that taxpayers' money was used to cover the companies' compliance costs raises new questions over the relationship between Silicon Valley and the NSA. Since the existence of the program was first revealed by the Guardian and the Washington Post on June 6, the companies have repeatedly denied all knowledge of it and insisted they only hand over user data in response to specific legal requests from the authorities.

            ...

            The responses further expose the gap between how the NSA describes the operation of its Prism collection program and what the companies themselves say.

            Get that?  All those companies denied any knowledge of the PRISM program, all the while collecting MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in payments for complying with the program. They can't have it both ways. They accepted the money. They know what's going on. They're just liars.

            The National Security Agency is paying hundreds of millions of dollars a year to U.S. companies

            The NSA paid Silicon Valley millions to spy on taxpayers

            The revelation puts a financial spin on what until now has mostly been a question of civil liberties. Previous NSA documents have linked companies such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft to the PRISM program, though many of the companies have denied granting the NSA "direct access" to their servers.
            Confirmed: NSA Paid Google, Microsoft, Others Millions for PRISM Aid
            It looks like the NSA was a little cozier with Silicon Valley companies than we previously realized. Newly declassified documents show that the spy agency (read: taxpayers) paid Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and others millions of dollars to cover the costs associated with PRISM.

            "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

            by YucatanMan on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 07:24:23 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not a persuasive argument (0+ / 0-)

              The government was paying to separate domestic from foreign traffic, i.e., to comply with the law. The amount of money they paid was, according to your links, "millions" of dollars.

              For a company like Google, millions of dollars is pocket change.

              The phone company charges, if they involve millions of people, are in the billions range. That's a persuasive argument for a financial motive.

              Look: I am open to persuasion that money is at the heart of the Internet companies behavior with respect to eavesdropping. I just haven't yet seen evidence that persuades me.

  •  hey ! that guardian link is twinned with (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CharlesII, Simplify

    live

    reactions.

    wider readership ?
    dunno. but thanks, all of youse, for being wide awake and go on: multi-task. that's what all those flippin' tabs are for, right ?

    thanks, also, charles. you do good rasslin'.

    Addington's perpwalk? TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes. @Hugh: There is no Article II power which says the Executive can violate the Constitution.

    by greenbird on Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 10:35:06 PM PST

  •  that's rich (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo, koNko
  •  Oh, now they've really done it! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NeverThere, CharlesII, koNko

    NSA is messing with the gamers.

    http://www.propublica.org/...

    Not limiting their activities to the earthly realm, American and British spies have infiltrated the fantasy worlds of World of Warcraft and Second Life, conducting surveillance and scooping up data in the online games played by millions of people across the globe, according to newly disclosed classified documents.
    Criminy! They've even invaded our fantasies now to the degree they're spying on each other.
    But for all their enthusiasm — so many CIA, FBI and Pentagon spies were hunting around in Second Life, the document noted, that a “deconfliction” group was needed to avoid collisions — the intelligence agencies may have inflated the threat.

    The documents do not cite any counterterrorism successes from the effort, and former American intelligence officials, current and former gaming company employees and outside experts said in interviews that they knew of little evidence that terrorist groups viewed the games as havens to communicate and plot operations.


    I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

    by Just Bob on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 05:00:21 AM PST

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