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Crashing the Wiretapper's Ball 178

Posted by Zonk
from the hardly-shocking dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Wired is running an article with some great investigative journalism. Writer Thomas Green snuck into the ISS World Conference, a trade show featuring communications-tapping equipment and normally a press-free event. There, he got some very interesting quotes from the attendees." From the article: "You really need to educate yourself ... Do you think this stuff doesn't happen in the West? Let me tell you something. I sell this equipment all over the world, especially in the Middle East. I deal with buyers from Qatar, and I get more concern about proper legal procedure from them than I get in the USA."
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Crashing the Wiretapper's Ball

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  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @11:35AM (#15445409) Journal
    I deal with buyers from Qatar, and I get more concern about proper legal procedure from them...

    Because in places like that you can lose body parts for illegal stuff!

    • Re:Justice is Swift (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Amouth (879122) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @11:40AM (#15445478)
      personaly i feel that we need a new law here in the US .. if you pass a law that is found to violate the bill of rights and/or the constitution - you should be found guilty of treason (and that would go for anyone that put there name on the bill) - that would make them thing twice.. well atleast mabey thing once ?
      • ". if you pass a law that is found to violate the bill of rights and/or the constitution - you should be found guilty of treason "

        I think that would be found unconstitutional real fast.
        • Why?.. each law maker takes an oath to uphold the constitution - by creating a law that violates it they are breaking their oath to this nation and to uphold the constitution - that can easily be seen as treason

          at the least they should be immediately be removed from office
          • Sure, but it's the job of the Judicial branch to interpret laws as Constitutional or not, not the Legislature's. Something should be done to discourage Congress from even passing blatantly unconstitutional laws in the first place, but going as far as what has been suggested won't help anything.
            • by plague3106 (71849)
              Its true that its the SC's role to rule on the Constitutionality of laws, but why does that free Congress from having to think about the Constitutional ramifications of the laws they wish to pass? Shouldn't they consider people's rights and Constitutional restrictions on government when they are deciding to pass a law?

              As it is, it seems its too much trouble for Congressmen to even read laws before voting on them. I think that is a pretty large breakdown in the system.
            • by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @01:26PM (#15446587)
              Sure, but it's the job of the Judicial branch to interpret laws as Constitutional or not, not the Legislature's.

              The Constitution does not agree with that. Please point out where the power to determine constitutionality is reserved solely to the judicial branch. The whole point of the Constitution was balance in the protection of the people. That requires all three branches to evaluate the constitutionality of everything. Nothing unconstitutional should pass Congress. If it does, then the Executive should not enforce it. If the Executive does illegally enforce the unconstitutional law, then the Judicial should exonerate the charged party. Judicial review isn't a protection of people's rights, it is a limitation. It carried the implication that the other 2 branches aren't tasked with upholding the Constitution. The problem is that they are. I would have no problem for expulsion of all congressmen that voted for a law that was found unconstitutional. For them to pass it would be a violation of their oath of office (but in practicality, it would give too much power to the judicial - just declare something unconstitutional and half of Congress is expelled). Multiple presidents have signed things they knew to be unconstitutional because they wanted to make a political statement. That is Treason.
              • Treason Defined (Score:5, Informative)

                by Ironsides (739422) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @01:34PM (#15446682) Homepage Journal
                Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution of the United States of America:

                Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

                The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.

                Passing or voting for an unconstitutional law is not treason.
                • Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.

                  If they can have a War on Drugs, a War on Terrorism, and such as undeclared wars, I assert that they are actually enemies of the US in the War on Civil Rights. But I'm sure that their gross misuse of words is not a problem until someone used their own tactics against them.
                • Passing or voting for an unconstitutional law is not treason.

                  Quite right. It just violates 18 USC 241, which is a capital offense in itself in some cases, and the burden of proof is actually lower than a treason prosecution.

                  Owing to the difficulty of prosecution for treason, only around 10 people in the history of the US (and none since WW II IIRC) have been convicted of treason. Not even the Rosenbergs - they were tried under a WWI-era law making espionage a capital crime.

                  -b.

                • While it may seem clear to you that such actions are not grounds for charges of treason at first blush, in my book anyone trampling, countermanding or subverting the Constitution of the U.S. qualifies as an enemy of the U.S., and therefore is a legitimate target for such charges in accordance with the "adhering to their enemies" portion. I can't think of anything more destructive, anathema, traitorous or treasonous to the principles on which the U.S. was founded, and thereby to the country itself and most
                  • Then answere me this. What happens when interpretations of the Constitution change? What is constitutional one century may not be constitutional 100 years later and vice versa. This is even without amendments to the constitution being enacted. Laws that stood on the books for 200 years are overturned as unconstitutional and the judges admit they are interpreting the constitution in ways the original framers did not intend.
              • I would have no problem for expulsion of all congressmen that voted for a law that was found unconstitutional... but ... half of Congress [would be] expelled....

                No, not half of Congress. ALL of them, except for one person: Ron Paul [house.gov]. He's the only congresscritter up there that gives a damn about the Constitution.

          • Why?

            Why would a law that expanded the definition of "treason" to include voting for an unconstitutional statute be, itself, unconstitutional?

            I think you need to read Art. III, Sec. 3 of the Constitution. Particularly the part that reads:

            Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort

            Treason is the one crime whose definition is given (and made exclusive) in the Constitution.

            • I answered this (based on the word treason on a diffrent branch of this thread - so please pardon as i quote myself

              "you are correct in defining treason.. the reason i use the word (i know it isn't the right one to use) is that the image it holds in peoples mind of someone betraying you and everyone you know... while i know that you could never be considered for treason for passing a law as it isn't what constitutes treason.. if you read through the replys i have gotten all feel that treason is not right B

      • if you pass a law that is found to violate the bill of rights and/or the constitution - you should be found guilty of treason

        Except that, as a caveot, the current administration would be free from having to comply with that law.

      • What a good idea. If I had mod points I'd mod you up.

        Your suggestion is so simple, yet has the perfect result. Its the silver bullet!

        Getting the Law passed would have oposition from the government agenceies and companies who profit (financially / or through ease of gathering intellegence) from this.

        On 'This Week in Tech' someone mentioned that warrantless wire-taps provide a huge amount of information, and also went onto argue that this information could still be gathered using traditional 'old-fashio
      • The Constitution defines treason specifically as making open war against the United States, or else giving aid and comfort to its enemies. This was done specifically so that you couldn't charge any random dissenter with treason. However, I think we should pass a few laws to a) disbar all lawyers complicit in the filing of frivolous claims in court, b) eject automatically the sponsors of bills passed and found constitutional, and c) make taking campaign contributions equivalent to bribery. We have very st
        • you are correct in defining treason.. the reason i use the word (i know it isn't the right one to use) is that the image it holds in peoples mind of someone betraying you and everyone you know... while i know that you could never be considered for treason for passing a law as it isn't what constitutes treason.. if you read through the replys i have gotten all feel that treason is not right BUT that they feel the person should be removed from office and held accountable for their actions, this i belive is
          • Re:Justice is Swift (Score:4, Interesting)

            by BrynM (217883) * on Thursday June 01, 2006 @07:00PM (#15449475) Homepage Journal
            While i know i am using the word treason wrongly - i am ineffect trying to spark the thought in peoples mind. which is what needs to happen if we are ever going to fix this nation.
            Please stop doing this. This type of manipulation and similar justifications are the basis for terms such as the "Patriot Act". Regardless of your intentions, it is a mis-representation. By using it, you are further de-sensitizing poeple to this type of manipulation by makiing it more common and acceptable. Tricking someone into the truth is not telling them the truth.

            I don't disagree with your point, just your presentation of it and the dangers that presentation poses.

        • We have very stiff laws that punish people who threaten the health of our young people by selling them alcohol, tobacco, or pornography...

          One of these things is not like the others.

          Go to any hospital and you will find plenty of people who have been put there by alcohol and tobacco. But I challenge you to find a single hospital where more than 1% of the beds are occupied by people who were put there by pornography.

          Which leads to the question: what definition of "health" are you using such that something th
      • As others have noted, probably not treason, but you should be able to nail them with violating their oath of office. You know, the one they took where they swore to uphold the Constitution.

        Upon determination of a violation, they should be thrown out of office.

        That means if 90% of Congress passed something that turns out to be unconstitutional, they get thrown out, and a replace election held for those seats. Oh, and they should be ineligible to hold any public office for the next decade or so.
      • by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @05:24PM (#15448848)
        personaly i feel that we need a new law here in the US .. if you pass a law that is found to violate the bill of rights and/or the constitution - you should be found guilty of treason (and that would go for anyone that put there name on the bill) - that would make them thing twice.. well atleast mabey thing once ?

        Actually, "Conspiracy Against Rights" (18 USC 241/242) already covers this. The penalty for conspiring to deprive people of their constitutional rights (passed during the civil rights era) is up to 10 years in prison. If kidnapping (would unlawful imprisonment qualify?) is involved, or someone dies as a result, the maximum penalty is death.

        See for yourself:
        http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/crim/241fin.htm [usdoj.gov]

        -b.

        • holy crap.. you just made me smile at this nation for the first time in years... Qustion is how to get a judge to read this and act on it..

          that has to be the most clean cut law i have ever seen... it makes sence and well damnit.. it needs to be used.

          thank you
    • It's funny how much better the law works when the punishment is more tangible.
  • by Sonic McTails (700139) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @11:39AM (#15445460)
    When was the last time a major newspaper did real investingation? I mean, I always read about the world they want us to hear about and they never go into details on how our civil liberaties and the constution are essentially being used a toliet house by the people in Washington. It's shocking and disturbing to see how far our nation has fallen in the last couple of years.
    • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday June 01, 2006 @11:58AM (#15445677) Homepage Journal
      When was the last time a major newspaper did real investingation?
      1973. If you bring down a President, you get the next 35 years off to go fishing.
    • What people seem to forget is that this is not just in the past few years. Over 50 years of positioning and power-brokering have made the situation we see in American politics today. A steady growing of the power of the intelligence branches, even if during most of that time it was pretty quiet. Someone made a post yesterday in the Supreme Court Limits Whistleblowing newsitem detailing out the top 13 or so signs of a facist regime ( http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=187044&th reshold=1&comment [slashdot.org]
    • I mean, I always read about the world they want us to hear about and they never go into details on how our civil liberaties and the constution are essentially being used a toliet house by the people in Washington.
      With media conglomerates in collusion with the ruling political body, is it any wonder?
    • You mean US based paper? English language, or other? That amazing invention "Teh Intrerweb" means you can access a lot of journalism from across the planet if your own country's papers aren't doing a good job. The Guardian [guardian.co.uk] did an online "World News Guide" [guardian.co.uk]. Always fun comparing how your country's papers see the world compared to somebody else.
    • by i am kman (972584) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @12:20PM (#15445956)
      What?? Cutting edge investigative journalism is all around us.

      How else would we have learned about that Angelina Jolie caused the breakup of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston??? Or that Oprah just lost another 40 pounds (or it gained 60 back)??? What about those photos of Brittney Spears not buckling her baby???

      Problem is most folks actually care more about these topics than WMD, intelligence manipulations, torture, political corruption/bribery, or sole source contracts. Seems like most folks pick one side of the fence and then anyone who questions ANY decision becomes an evil liberal or neo-con with some secret, political agenda.

      I think the larger problem is that the public has stopped caring about trivial things like laws or ethics because truth bas become relative and the other party always lies. Dare to question Halliburton and it's because you're a liberal zealot who hates big business. Dare to question affirmative action's effectiveness and it's because you're an evil racist. It's hard to have a normal discussion anymore without huge political overtones.
      • You gotta remember, "It's the economy, stupid.". If people feel comfortable, they simply don't want to rock the boat. It's happening in China(and of course the States, UK, Austrailia, etc.) right now. A comfortable public is a placid(flaccid?) public. The rise of a middle class will bring greater security to its government that any military force. When WMDs or torture or corruption cause high gas prices, or jeapordize the American Idol vote, then the politicians will feel the public's wrath. Otherwise very
      • I think the larger problem is that the public has stopped caring about trivial things like laws or ethics because truth bas become relative and the other party always lies.

        There's another reason...it's simply more convenient to ignore all these things. American is a society driven by convenience.
      • Problem is most folks actually care more about these topics than WMD, intelligence manipulations, torture, political corruption/bribery, or sole source contracts. Seems like most folks pick one side of the fence and then anyone who questions ANY decision becomes an evil liberal or neo-con with some secret, political agenda.

        Bread and Circuses my friend... keep em happy and entertained and you can do whatever you want. Just think how good it worked for Rome.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_and_circuse [wikipedia.org]

    • Seymour Hersh is an honorable example, though he doesn't work for a major newspaper and usually publishes in The New Yorker.

      Outside that, pretty hard to find.
    • When was the last time a major newspaper did real investingation?

      Most local (and more than a few regional) newspapers' content is straight off the Associates Press or Reuters, with a few niche stories taken from the PR Newswires. The editors rewrite sections of it and tailor it to their customers. This dirty secret was hidden from most of the populace during the 80's and 90's and has only come to light more recently since Yahoo, Google, and every other portal has copied the business model to great ef

  • Of Course (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The_Isle_of_Mark (713212) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @11:41AM (#15445487)
    In a lot of states, only one side of a phone conversation needs to agree to a recording for it to be legal. If you call me and I agree that I can record our conversation, it is legal.

    Before anyone jumps in and stirs the political pot, remember it is not only governmental use of "wiretapping" that you are subject to. Companies do too, and some of them are nice enough to tell you "This call may be recorded for training and quality assurance purposes"

    Big bad big brother is watching, but not always from D.C.
  • hmmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by MrSquirrel (976630) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @11:41AM (#15445489)
    I wonder if he got those quotes from bugs he planted on people.
  • If they're asking questions about legal procedure at all, it's probably a sign that this is a civilian buyer; most government officials already know! (Whether they care...well, that's a different matter.) I don't think that this is about the government, really. Of course, knowing that private citizens and corporations are overseeing you without regard for legal procedure isn't much more comforting, especially since the government is probably looking anyway...
  • by Miraba (846588) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @11:43AM (#15445523) Journal
    Actual link to first page here [wired.com].
  • from the article "in the end, all this surveillance gear and attendant hype becomes meaningless with simple precautions like encrypted VOIP, a good implementation of virtual private networks, and proxies and SSH for web surfing, IM, internet relay chat, webmail and the like" don't you ever watch Mr. Bauer ?
  • The restrictions on civilians attending the law enforcement agency sessions were, I gather, a cheap marketing gesture to justify their $6,500-per-head entrance fee with suggestions of secret information that the average network-savvy geek wouldn't have known.

    Money is usually the simplest explanation.
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @11:50AM (#15445589) Journal
    Yep, that guy [theregister.co.uk]. I'd be more inclined to thank El Reg than Wired, though I'm not sure who ponied up the cash for his ticket to get in...

    /P

  • It might not be (just) about the government. If the government uses it and somebody finds out big deal - a couple talk show hosts, news for about 3 days and its forgoten. Totalitarian regimes are _far_ better in hiding that stuff from the people anyways. So they might not worry that much. Or if they worry is more likely because of international laws, so they dont get kicked in the butt for another reason. Individual companies, people - fuggedabouthit. If its illegal they'll kill you or lock you up with a d

  • by Black-Man (198831) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @11:54AM (#15445638)
    "Do you think for a minute that Bush would let legal issues stop him from doing surveillance? He's got to prevent a terrorist attack that everyone knows is coming. He'll do absolutely anything he thinks is going to work. And so would you."

    And don't think for even one minute that whoever succeeds Bush will change anything about this.

    • by Crazy Man on Fire (153457) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @12:04PM (#15445758) Homepage
      "Do you think for a minute that Bush would let legal issues stop him from doing surveillance? He's got to prevent a terrorist attack that everyone knows is coming. He'll do absolutely anything he thinks is going to work. And so would you."

      And don't think for even one minute that whoever succeeds Bush will change anything about this.
      I sure hope this changes. The problem isn't our lack of security. We've got too damn much of it already. The problem is our foreign policy. If we keep running around the world trying to tell everybody else how to live their lives while systematically destroying economies of the various contries that we don't get along with, people will continue to hate us. The more they hate us and the poorer they are, the more likely they are to use terrorism as a weapon against us. No matter how much security we have, a determined enemy will find a way to attack.
    • And don't think for even one minute that whoever succeeds Bush will change anything about this.

      After the excesses of the CIA were revealed in the Church Report [state.gov], the Agency's oversight was increased radically, and its human intelligence operations were pared down to the bone. The history of U.S. government spying on citizens is filled with ups and downs like this. The fact that we're at a new low doesn't mean it will continue to get works. The polls seem to indicate that Americans are finally waking up.

    • Remember our rights are being violated by BOTH republicans and democrats.

      Libertarians wouldn't do such a thing.
  • by t_allardyce (48447) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @11:57AM (#15445658) Journal
    Damn leftists always trying to do their best to destroy our soldiers and law enforcement officers abilities to do any useful job so that the left can live in their little hippy-vile if-it-feels-good-do-it state. If I had my way - and luckily for me I do since the GOP is in power, I would have cut through all this red tape decades ago. If the spy services cant spy then what exactly can they do? The same goes for the commercial sector - what are companies supposed to do if they cant sell your personal information? I've heard that in the EU they have it even worse with this 'Data Protection' rubbish where organisations have to actually publically admit what information they are capturing and have to keep it secure, not give it out without permission and even allow the individual to see any and all information they have on them! Of course I would expect that from a socialist/communist state like the EU but it seems like the US is heading the same way. Spying on people does no harm - especially if you put it next to some of the other things our boys can do with regards to extracting information, spying is just harmless and very useful. The Lord will punish the leftists who perverted the course of justice.

    Wow being Republican is easy, i think the general rule is that anything like privacy, free speech and peace you just have to pretend its not important while anything to do with sex, sexual equality, sex on tv, sex in peoples private lives etc is a matter of life or death.
    • Wow being Republican is easy, i think the general rule is that anything like privacy, free speech and peace you just have to pretend its not important while anything to do with sex, sexual equality, sex on tv, sex in peoples private lives etc is a matter of life or death.

      It is pretty funny that most of the holier-than-thou conservatives seem to be completely obsessed with sex. You could be a bi-sexual S&M leather/furry enthusiast and not think about sex nearly half as much as most of these U.S. cons
    • by twd (167101)
      AS a registered Democrat, I'll just point out that the Republicans don't have a lock on this sort of nonsense. The Democrats fell all over themselves helping to pass the so-called Patriot Act.
    • by thatguywhoiam (524290) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @12:40PM (#15446163)
      Wow being Republican is easy, i think the general rule is that anything like privacy, free speech and peace you just have to pretend its not important while anything to do with sex, sexual equality, sex on tv, sex in peoples private lives etc is a matter of life or death.

      In 1996, I would have laughed at this post, and gone on my merry way.

      In 2006, this is fucking scary, because I can't tell if its a joke or not.

    • Sir,

      You misrepresent the views of Republicans terribly. I must set the record straight.

      I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your government's right to listen in, copy it down, hide it away and then kidnap you in a black van and take you to a holiday camp in Cuba.

      Especially if you wear robes and have a beard.

      These are the basic freedoms that we seek to protect - the basic freedom to do whatever we want to whoever we want as long as they aren't American (unless they have long bea
  • Telling Quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Crazy Man on Fire (153457) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @11:57AM (#15445669) Homepage
    It's ironic that spooks so often remind us that we've got nothing to fear from their activities if we've got nothing nasty to hide, while they themselves are rarely comfortable without multiple layers of secrecy, anonymity and plausible deniability. While there was little or nothing at the conference worth keeping secret, the sense of paranoia was constant. The uniformed guard posted to the entrance was there to intimidate, not to protect.
    This really sums it all up for me. The government should live in constant fear of the populace, not the other way around. The reaction of the government to this fear should not to hide its activities, but to increase transparency so that the populace will feel comfortable with what it is doing.
    • Re:Telling Quote (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lawpoop (604919)
      "The government should live in constant fear of the populace, not the other way around."

      They do. That's exactly why the government pulls crap like this. They are motivated out of fear, and nothing else.

      Our society is based on co-operation, and nothing else. This is a tenuous relationship. If the masses decide to support some other system en massse, then these people are out of jobs, power, and influence.

      There are not enough soldiers, guns, or bombs to kill people into submission. If you do decide to
      • They do. That's exactly why the government pulls crap like this. They are motivated out of fear, and nothing else.

        Our society is based on co-operation, and nothing else. This is a tenuous relationship. If the masses decide to support some other system en massse, then these people are out of jobs, power, and influence.

        There are not enough soldiers, guns, or bombs to kill people into submission. If you do decide to utilize violence to maintain power, you have to utilize a lot of finesse to make your

  • Where's the beef? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by i am kman (972584) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @11:59AM (#15445683)
    Interesting and insightful article as much for it's lack of relevations as for it's anecdotes. No insight into new spy capability or new, deceptive uses outside of casual observations of the skin color and accents of the attendees.

    Of course, that's what one expects from semi-public conferences - lots of voyeurs, vague references, and (mostly) marketing crap. Real spook conferences will be classified and there's no way in hell reporters can get in there.

    They probably keep out the press more to preserve their image of secrecy and semi-legitimacy than because they're actually concerned about privacy. After all, who wouldn't want to attend a 'secret' conference where the press if forbidden to attend. Wow! That's sounds cool and I don't even care what they're selling.
  • by Stavr0 (35032) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @11:59AM (#15445692) Homepage Journal
    This sounds more like the Secret Squirrel's convention. "Hush talk, looking over their shoulder". Geez why don't they wear trenchcoat and sunglasses indoors, walk tippy toed while going "dunt-dunt-dunt-dunt" .

    That's the decoy conference.

    Bilderberg think-tank conference in Ottawa this June [indymedia.org] is where the real stuff happens.

    I have no idea who is attending and what goes on in there... which is precisely why it worries me.

    • More on Bilderberg (Score:3, Informative)

      by nido (102070)
      The American Free Press' [americanfreepress.net] Jim Tucker has been chasing the bilderburgers for years. In his Bilderberg Diary (can't find a direct link, but put 'bilderberg' in the search box on this page [americanfreepress.net]) he says attendees are a virtual who's who of the (self-selected) "international elite". U.S. attendees affiliated with the government are also breaking the law, by discussing policy in secret.

      American Criminals: Public Policy in Private

      In the United States, the Logan Act states explicitly that it is against the law for f

      • The Logan Act prohibits PRIVATE CITIZENS from attempting to influence policies of FOREIGN powers in ways contrary to the efforts of the US government. In other words, you can't run your own personal foreign policy. It has absolutely nothing to do with the ability of US public officials to meet with private citizens to discuss policy in secret.

        TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 45 > 953

        953. Private correspondence with foreign governments

        Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who,
    • Lists from previous years [bilderberg.org] (Okay, not recent years). A strange mix of people.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @12:03PM (#15445732)
    It's no news that the most repressive regimes usually also has the citizens that are most interested in their freedom. Old news.

    It's also sad (and true) that people who fear their government (read: KNOW their government works AGAINST their interests) are more aware that tapping happens, and that it does have quite BAD consequences.

    Here, in the "free" world (I know, I use quotation marks very liberally, but these fit like none I've ever used before), people are still on the "you don't do anything bad, you don't have to fear" attitude. This is very different in countries that either have or used to have very tough restrictions on their freedoms. When you talk to someone from the former East Block, you'll probably get very different responses when it comes to issues like this.

    They're also smart enough to question pretty much everything they read. They're used to lying newspapers and TV stations. That's something we should pick up soon, I'd say.

    So of course the awareness about wiretapping and snooping is by a magnitude higher in countries where people expect their government to pursue interests that are diametrally different from their own.

    Actually, that's the case with every person, as far as I can judge. Over here, in the "free" world, too many still believe the government works in their favor.
  • by Zephyros (966835) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @12:03PM (#15445734)
    "The NSA is using this stuff. The DEA, the Secret Service, the CIA. Are you kidding me? They don't answer to you. They do whatever the hell they want with it. Are you really that naïve? Now leave these guys alone; they make a product, that's all. It's nothing to them what happens afterward. You really need to educate yourself."

    Attitudes like this guy's are dangerous. It's the "if you don't have anything to hide why are you objecting?" and the "these guys just make the product" sentiments that just bury us deeper and deeper.

    Ultimately, the government derives its mandate from the people, so they do answer to us. He's forgotten it, and so has every single politician and bureaucrat out there. Is there any way short of a violent assertion of our second-amendment rights that will remind them? Sometimes I fear there is not...

  • "Great"? Good. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by acvh (120205) <geek@mscigar[ ]om ['s.c' in gap]> on Thursday June 01, 2006 @12:11PM (#15445843) Homepage
    I think that to achieve greatness the article would have needed more specifics about products and purchasers, rather than a drunk in a bar telling us to let the NSA do its job.

    One good item was the Dutch cop's remark that "we're 3 or 4 years ahead of this stuff", which would imply that by the time products hit the trade show circuit all the real players already have them.
  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @12:21PM (#15445971)
    If the government is permitted to know our every thought, word, phone call, and whereabouts then we should be able to do the same to them. After all, we are the employers and they are the employees. In fact, it's more critical for us to know their every action and movement because they are such lazy, rotten, unscrupulous, and sometimes just plain evil buggers. If we can't and don't keep an exact eye on them, they'll certainly get up to no good.

    How refreshing it would be to clean house and build a political culture like that expressed by the Dutch policeman in the article: transparency makes governance easier.
    • If the government is permitted to know our every thought, word, phone call, and whereabouts then we should be able to do the same to them. After all, we are the employers and they are the employees. In fact, it's more critical for us to know their every action and movement because they are such lazy, rotten, unscrupulous, and sometimes just plain evil buggers. If we can't and don't keep an exact eye on them, they'll certainly get up to no good.

      That's why, when someone asks why I encrypt things, I say its

  • So... (Score:2, Funny)

    by mythandros (973986)
    ...when do we start saving up for this guy's defense fund?
  • stopping crime? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DM9290 (797337) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @12:40PM (#15446165) Journal
    From the article:

    "in the end, all this surveillance gear and attendant hype becomes meaningless with simple precautions like encrypted VOIP, a good implementation of virtual private networks, and proxies and SSH for web surfing, IM, internet relay chat, webmail and the like"


    Which all goes to show that none of this is actually about stopping crime. It is about consolidating power.
  • "You're not listening," he said. "The NSA is using this stuff. The DEA, the Secret Service, the CIA. Are you kidding me? They don't answer to you. They do whatever the hell they want with it.
  • Reading a statement like this from a guy who sells equipment for the purpose is like reading about a neo-Nazi holocaust-denier.

    I mean, "duh!"

  • The question is in subject, and I mean USA and other free countries, where laws are (mostly) sensible. Follow-up with your answers...

    Is 100% effective law-enforcement a desirable ideal, or do we want to leave a little wriggle room to the criminals of today, to ensure a possibility of anti-tyranny opposition, that may be required some time in the future?

    Personaly, I think, any future tyranny will quickly move towards plugging any holes we may wish to preserve today, so we may as well aim to plug them now

  • Did anyone else... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WATYF (945455) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @01:45PM (#15446799) Homepage

    ...find this article to be incredibly unimpressive and vacuous?

    First off, there's nothing "dangerous" or "secretive" about this conference. If there was, this guy wouldn't have even known about it, let alone gotten into it. It's a marketing conference where manufacturers of this stuff try to pimp it off on anyone (from anywhere) who has an interest in surveillance. Even average cops can attend. Like someone else said, the most likely reason that they make it "closed" to the press is to give it a pompous air of secrecy that doesn't really exist. The reporter, once he gets his hands on one of the "secret" CDs, finds that there's nothing of any interest on it, and hastily concludes that it must be because of a "small-minded attitude of hostility toward the press"... but anyone with the slightest bit of business sense would also include that it may very well be because they're trying to hype up their conference and make it more attractive to wanna-be spooks so that they can sell more stuff, which is what all businesses are in business to do. (of course, that line of reasoning doesn't support his "they're all out to rob us of our civil liberties" bias, so I'm sure it never crossed his mind. :op)

    Second... the quotes in this thing mean nothing. So he got a drunk, loudmouthed salesman to make (completely unsubstantiated) claims about what the US gov't does with this equipment, and how little concerned they are with the legalities of surveillance. Anyone here who's been to a tech conference knows that there are people who claim to know what's "really" going on, and everyone who's met those people knows that they're usually full of sh*t. Reporting a drunken rant as some kind of interesting "insight" is irresponsible at the least.

    Then he talks to a Dutch cop, who (of course) says exactly what he wants to hear... "Secrecy is eeeevil... we're much better because we're open about how we catch criminals." (which, of course, allows them the information they need to avoid getting caught :op) Of course the guy's going to say that... everyone thinks that their way of doing things is better. But the most telling quote is, "Basically, we're three or four years ahead of all this", which just goes to show how irrelevant this show is. If the Dutch are four years ahead of it, it's a pretty safe bet that the Americans are five+ years ahead of it.

    Throughout it all, he acts as if surveillance equipment (in and of itself) is some new threat, that's inherently evil, and which "poses a tremendous threat to human rights and dignity". Seriously... it's a product. There's a marker for it, so people make it and try to sell it. The one reasonable thing that the drunk guy did say was that he should stop harassing the people that make it. I don't think anyone would argue that surveillance equipment of all kinds should be banned, so basically, it's going to get made. Posing the "but it could get used for evil" argument is a waste of time, just like it is with every other man-made object that could get used improperly, but has a primary use that is beneficial.

    Basically, this was a hyped-up opinion piece written by a journalist who's "trying to make a difference" by "informing" all the people who are already worked up about privacy issues about just how bad it "really" is. If there was some kind of substance to it, it might be remotely interesting, but at face value, it falls completely flat.


    And before anyone goes on some presumptive tirade about how I'm a right-wing blah blah blah who's more concerned about your sex-life than I am about civil rights, save your breath. I'm not saying that unabashed gov't monitoring is good, or necessary or that I support it or any other nonsense like that... I'm only saying that this article is an insubstantial pile of dung written by someone with an obvious bias of the topic looking to paint himself as a champion of "truth".

    WATYF
    • The point is not whether surveillance equipment should be made, but whether we know enough about how it's made and used.

      Do you know enough? If not, just shut up and stop whining about how little you've known from what others find. I truly don't know what you are trying to say here.
  • by jonathan_95060 (69789) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @01:45PM (#15446801)

    He said that in the Netherlands, communications intercept capabilities are advanced and well established, and yet, in practice, less problematic than in many other countries. "Our legal system is more transparent," he said, "so we can do what we need to do without controversy. Transparency makes law enforcement easier, not more difficult."


    Perhaps they still have the rule of law there...

        --jfc

    terrorism is the root password for the constitution
  • From the article: "The chief impulse behind this law enforcement gizmo fetish is laziness, and it's a bad trend: The more policemen we have fiddling with computer equipment, the fewer we have doing proper legwork."

    This really is the crux of the matter. Good police work is difficult. In a democracy with human rights protections, it's supposed to be difficult, dammit!

  • I must be new here, because I read the article. What a disappointment.

    Gonzo journalism isn't what it used to be anymore, now that HST [wikipedia.org] has left.
  • The "closed to the press" thing just meant you had to actually buy a registration to attend. No freebies for journalists. The $1,395 registration fee was apparently too much for Wired. (Only $395 if you register in advance and are in "telecommunications", and a Wired Ventures LLC business card probably would have been good enough to qualify for that.)

    There were important talks he should have attended and covered. Here's the agenda. [telestrategies.com]. But no, all we get is comments from people in the lobby.

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