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Keeping an Eye on Government Snooping 232

Posted by Zonk
from the who-watches-the-watchers dept.
abb_road writes "BusinessWeek looks at the need for better electronic privacy safeguards in light of NSA call monitoring, and more recent administration pushes for ISP data-retention. As the article discusses, though safeguards are already in place, they're easily bypassed, based on older communication norms and don't take into account any 'war-time necessity' arguments." From the article: "There's a crying need for better privacy safeguards that reflect today's world -- and mirror a consensus among America's gadget-happy, cell-phone addicts whose daily chats and text messages are grist for Echelon's computers."
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Keeping an Eye on Government Snooping

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  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:37AM (#15479288)

    It should be clear to everyone by now that the government cannot be trusted to respect the privacy of its citizens. Pushing for stricter controls at the governmental level is futile, since the Powers That Be have absolutely no qualms about sidestepping any troublesome rules and regulations that stand between them and their agenda.

    The only way for citizens to reclaim their privacy is at the citizen level. The only solution is to start encrypting all data and communications as a matter of course. If every communication is encrypted, the government will not be able to make the argument that 'if you're encrypting, you obviously have something to hide'.

    If we want privacy, crypto is the only way to have it in this day and age. If we want crypto to remain legal for citizens, we have to start excercising our right to encryption now, before it is stolen from us. If crypto is outlawed, only outlaws will use crypto.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:51AM (#15479412)
      If you want to encrypt everything, you should try AnoNet [brinkster.net] - a fully encrypted darknet using OpenVPN and Quagga. Run anything, talk about anything, hide, chat, do whatever you please.

    • by bhima (46039) <Bhima...Pandava@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:54AM (#15479426) Journal
      easier said than done:

      I use encryption with my circle of friends... but what about the rest of the people I need to communicate with?

      I have two siblings who still *insist* on using malware laden Wintel boxes; I despair of installing anything on their computers.
      I'd have to setup & manage everything for my Mum's iMac (from a different contentment)
      And what about what my Investment Brokers send me... sometimes it seems they're barely capable of using e-mail (and still want to use fax)

      So how in the hell do I get all these people to use encryption when not only are they unaware of the risks they don't understand how to configure & use encryption?

      • I recommend Hamachi [hamachi.cc] as a good, EASY to configure way to secure p2p over the internet. It's free as in beer and works on Windows and Linux. If your lawyers know how to install a program and copy a file to a shared folder, they can securely send you data over Hamachi.
        • Shitty Mac OS support keeps me away from Hamachi. I have enough of shitty Mac OS support with Skype.
          I am considering using it to share my iTunes collection with my brothers though.

          And there is no way in Hell my accountants are going to install a program just to deal with me.
          They're already mad at me for my "no faxes *ever*, so don't even ask" and "No excel sheets that won't open OpenOffice" policies.
      • But an encrypting email proxy, transparent to the user, does make the transition easier. PGP Universal is an example of the breed.

        Yes, there's a big sacrifice of security if you have dumb robots designed for convenience doing the key management. You'd need to do regular checking and maintenance. But it should be effective if your threat model is indiscriminate untargeted eavesdropping.

        Also doesn't help with voice, also doesn't protect against traffic analysis which is the subject of the current scandal.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      exactly the need to join such a peer network like anonet http://anonet.org/, this little but fast growing network seems to have more and more use, even if you have nothing to hide even i can help others from this represive country. <sarcasm>sounds like amerika is going into a totaltolitarian state, time to imprison some rednecks for speaking out about the current state of government!</sarcasm>

      take the action and protest by encryption, doesn't matter if you live in france, china, sweden or tommor
    • I'm Spying on Me!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Draracle (977916) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:13AM (#15479570)
      It should be clear to everyone by now that the government cannot be trusted to respect the privacy of its citizens. Pushing for stricter controls at the governmental level is futile, since the Powers That Be have absolutely no qualms about sidestepping any troublesome rules and regulations that stand between them and their agenda.
      We are the creators of the democratic totalitarian state.
      The true "Powers That Be" are the people. As people we have the power to govern our own state and restrict the government's snooping. The NSA can be disbanded, those that broke the rules jailed, and the path of the government reoriented. Unfortunately, a far greater level of education and political will would be required to restore the decision making process to the people. For as long as the people are afraid of terrorists, crime, and the "axis of evil", the people will willingly give up personal freedoms in vain hope of personal security.

      Those who would give up a little freedom to gain a little security, deserve neither and lose both. -- Ben Franklin
      • For as long as the people are afraid of terrorists, crime, and the "axis of evil", the people will willingly give up personal freedoms in vain hope of personal security.

        Those who would give up a little freedom to gain a little security, deserve neither and lose both. -- Ben Franklin

        Yes, yes, Ben Franklin, very profound. Of course, that's not quite what he actually said (I seem to recall specifics about essential freedom and temporary security).

        The simple fact is that we don't have the information to deter

        • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @11:10AM (#15480035)

          do we have a God-given right to private conversations? And the answer is clearly no.

          How do I come to that conclusion? Simple: ask any representative sample of Americans who believe in God (a prerequisite for believing in God-given anything), and I bet you anything that nearly all of them will tell you that God listens in on all their private conversations, and indeed on all their most secret thoughts, and that this is right and proper. Ergo, God does not recognise any right to privacy, QED. :P


          Your argument allocates the power and privilege of God to the State. While I'm sure Dubya would accept and even applaud this argument, most actual believers would find this troubling.

          I trust God with my innermost secrets because, to date, He has not abused this trust. The same cannot be said of the State.
          • While I'm sure Dubya would accept and even applaud this argument, most actual believers would find this troubling.

            Most actual believers will believe and accept what they are told to believe and accept. And they will like it. And they will like making you accept it too.

            Never underestimate the power of faith.
            • or as in Conan:

              You know what it is, don't you boy? Shall I tell you? It's the least I can do. Steel isn't strong, boy, flesh is stronger! Look around you. There, on the rocks; that beautiful girl. Come to me, my child...

              [the girl jumps to her death]

              That is strength, boy! That is power! What is steel compared to the hand that wields it? Look at the strength in your body, the desire in your heart, I gave you this! Such a waste. Contemplate this on the tree of woe. Crucify him!
          • Your argument allocates the power and privilege of God to the State. While I'm sure Dubya would accept and even applaud this argument, most actual believers would find this troubling.

            Yeah. Dubya is only God's right-hand man, remember? God talks to him, and told him to invade Iraq.

            It's truly disturbing that around half the voting public in America seems to buy that.

        • >They might, after all, be providing essential intelligence that is leading to the constant thwarting of a significant number of terrorist operations; on the other hand, they might not. We simply don't know.

          We do know. When the FBI gets hold of this "intelligence" and investigates they invariably find it a waste of time [schneier.com]. We know that the false alarms hurt our safety if the FBI agents were called away from investigating real crimes. We would know if any terrorists were arrested and brought to trial becaus
    • by Anonymous Coward
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    • If every communication is encrypted, the government will not be able to make the argument that 'if you're encrypting, you obviously have something to hide'.

      No, it will simply become a case of selective enforcement. The government will only prosecute you for encrypting your communications if it doesn't like you in the first place. And since most people will not be prosecuted, they won't care. Isn't that nice?
    • . . . the Powers That Be have absolutely no qualms about sidestepping any troublesome rules and regulations that stand between them and their agenda.

      The govt claims they have been monitoring call data, but not call content. If true, there is exactly one reason why: it's not cheap enough to do. Yet.
    • To understand the dangers of granting the government "wartime powers" when the war in question is not a war against any one particular organization, nation, or government, but is in fact like the "War on Drugs," a vague and mutable set of policies dealing with a persistant problem, one need only read Orwell.

      The only end condition for the "War on Terror" is the day that "terrorism" no longer turns the heads of voters. Call me a pessimist, but there will never be point when some small non-governmental group
  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:41AM (#15479318)
    Only terraists (terrans?) would be afraid of the government snooping on them.
    • terraists
      It's spelled "terrorists." You're welcome.
      • I think he was using Terra, as in Earth. It wouldn't have been as punny if he said only Earthers had to be afraid of their government snooping on them.
    • Unless you're Dennis Hastert specifically (or congressional Republicans in general), then it's okay to insist that congressional offices never be searched, even for the purposes of a completely legitimate ongoing investigation into bribery charges.

      The double-standards are mind-boggling.
  • Wont Matter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by coop247 (974899) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:41AM (#15479319)
    Put all the safeguards in place you want, we already have many. Unfortunately all the gov has to do is "claim" a national security matter and any safeguards are null and void anyway. Thats the real issue that needs fixed.
    • Re:Wont Matter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:06AM (#15479531)

      I'm reinstituting my previous sig, because I think it says all that needs to be said about this point.

    • Unfortunately all the gov has to do is "claim" a national security matter and any safeguards are null and void anyway. Thats the real issue that needs fixed.

      Agreed. If a government's alleged crisis is important enough to walk all over civil liberties then they shouldn't mind submitting to a court to confirm the validity of their decisions. If they have nothing to hide they have nothing to fear, right?

    • You are encouraging citizens to question the wisdom of the state in matters of national security.

      Such an act is considered a terrorist attack by the Bush Administration.

      The SWAT team will be by to collect you shortly.

      Please resist arrest. It won't change your ultimate fate as an eternal detainee being tortured for information, but it will give the SWAT team some target practice and the chance to play with their TASERs, which is always fun for the SWAT.
  • by TheConfusedOne (442158) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (eno.desufnoc.eht)> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:41AM (#15479324) Journal
    Before one of those nosy governments goes and stops the next batch of lunatics who buy 3 tons of ammonium nitrate.

    If you really want to get a picture of the average American's concern about privacy during a phone conversation just stop and listen for a few minutes at the supermarket or mall to all of the cell phone conversations that are going on so loud that it is hard to ignore them.
    • We'd best stop them now! Before one of those nosy governments goes and stops the next batch of lunatics who buy 3 tons of ammonium nitrate.

            I really doubt you can order THAT over the phone... "Yes I'd like to place a take-out order..."
    • It's not like the Candian agency who made these arrests up here used any kind of high tech snooping. When someone in Missauga (an urban center) buys fertizer in large quantities it gets flagged and an investigation starts. It didn't take a billion dollar data mining program.

      Thanks for your cynicism but you're wrong.
      • While the AN purchase could have raised flags this was part of an ongoing investigation (years long in fact) or do you think they just happened to suddenly coordinate international arrests because someone bought too many bags at the local Agway?
    • The US is blowing this whole thing way out of proportion. They even want to build a fence on the Canadian border, forgetting that the following statements are true:

      1. All of these alleged terrorists were grown and many were born in Canada.
      2. The alleged act was directed against Canada, not the US.
      3. Successful police work prevented the alleged acts from happening.
      4. Canadians did not bother with fence building after 9/11, but instead worked with the US on the terrorist problem.
      5. US has 10 times the popula
  • The US government gets such a bad rap nowadays. Spying on it's own citizens, the non-existent WMDs in Iraq, the turtle-like response to Katrina, giving huge tax breaks to the richest. They're in desparate need for a ministry responsible for PR, perhaps a Ministry of Propaganda? I wouldn't be surprised.
    • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:45AM (#15479366)

      They're in desparate need for a ministry responsible for PR, perhaps a Ministry of Propaganda?

      They already have that. [foxnews.com]
    • We're in need of a new government, not a new PR arm. Besides, the current administration has a pretty srong (and newly revitalized!) PR arm -- it's just not big/pervasive enough to deal with all the shenanigans. Passing off propaganda overseas as 'news reports'? Check. Passing off propaganda domestically as 'news reports'? Check. New press secretary? Check.

      There is a pervasive PR/propaganda effort at the highest levels of the US government, it's just not a formalized entity. Which works better, an
    • Yes, that's we need. Even more spin coming from the government!
    • We don't call them Ministries over here. In America it would be the Department of Propoganda and Reassurance, or PR Department.
  • With the recent ruling against whistleblowers, the SCOTUS made sure that the government had the right to keep those who discover illegal acts intimidated into silence.

    The message: Don't watch the watchers!

    We are peasants who need to be ruled, not citizens who govern.
    • We are peasants who need to be ruled, not citizens who govern.

      What really bothers me is that, despite what we might like to be the case, history has borne out this fact. Most human beings who have lived, have lived under the boot of some warlord/king/dictator of some kind. What's more, many of them lived happily under that boot.

      Sometimes I wonder if the human race is predisposed to living under tyrannies, and if decomcracy is just a blip, a temporary anomaly in the long story of human servitude.
      • "Happily" might be a relitive term here, but I would agree that many lived contently enough not to upset the balance, or were too afraid to do anything about it. But I also would say that most had a measure of autonomy to their lives, due to either the generosity of the rulers or distance between them and the ruled. The ruled living hundreds of miles from the seat of rule could live their daily lives without much inerferance. Maybe instant communication will make it easier to rule as a tyrant.

        Either way,
  • by Quirk (36086) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:58AM (#15479460) Homepage Journal
    Are we witnessing in America a seige mentality run amok?

    We've let the Brits marry into our family on two occassions. One line were Normans, invade with William in 1066, yadda, yadda. From this marriage we've gotten a live conduit into the military history of Britain as the family has served since 1066 in one military capacity or another. After dinner and the fall of the Iron Curtain there was much talk about how America would now have to act as policeman to the world as Britain had for many generations prior. The left wing of the family suggested the U.N. was mature enough to oversee international relations and see to the development and enforcement of international law. Although usually left leaning, I went against my better nature and thought the U.S. would have to assume a role similar to the Gunboat Diplomacy practised by the Brits.

    With the erroding of individuals' rights across the economic and political specturms in America, has the War on Drugs been conflated with the War on Terror and these further conflated with the War on Pornography to spawn the now ludicrous war on terror for the children in a move on the part of the American administration to wield a big stick without any thought of walking softly.

    Has America as the sole world power failed to lead by example by way of multilateral agreement and sunk into a seige mentality that permits China and Russia to forgo democratic change.

    Is the American administration so intent of vanquishing its enemies and making history that it's blind to what history will make of it?

  • by ScentCone (795499) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:59AM (#15479470)
    mirror a consensus among America's gadget-happy, cell-phone addicts whose daily chats and text messages are grist for Echelon's computers

    Of course this audience will blame it all on other people not being as smart, etc., but by a 2-to-1 ratio [go.com], people just aren't worried about it. That would usually qualify as a workable consensus... and makes it hard to gin up that sense of urgency needed to move things, politically.

    And, of course, when Canadian intel people used online chat monitoring as part of their bust on those clowns that were busy procuring weapons and explosives to attack the parliment building (and that makes the news for the average viewer), that tends to further lessen the general public's interest in reducing the ability to repeat that success. Let's face it - most people aren't really all that worried if it's clear that they dial everyone they know and send a flurry of text messages at the end of every American Idol episode. Articles and comments by and for the technorati aren't going to ever feel meaningful to most folks (you know, the ones that form the consensus). Just sayin'.
    • Your anecdote represents one side of the public perception, and you're right that there's a disturbing apathy about these things among the population at large.

      But there's another side that also makes the news. In the UK, the police now shoot people for getting on tube trains, and veteran members of the Labour Party are manhandled out of party conferences for having the audacity to... <shock> utter a single word of criticism (it was "nonsense") about the government justification for invading Iraq

  • by hsmith (818216) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:01AM (#15479489)
    the Constitution. It wasn't written to protect us when time are good, it was written to protect us when times are bad. Sadly, most fail to grasp this simple concept. Instead they buy into the fear mongering.
    • Without the 2nd amendment, the rest of the document is only wishful thinking. As soon as the 2nd amendment is repealed (as it already has been in states like NY, MA, and CA), we can kiss the rest of our freedoms goodbye, too.
      • Right. And when tanks roll down my neighborhood, I'll be firing back with my awesome firepower befitting my suburbanite existence.

        The 2nd Amendment has become nothing but a feel-good amendment - something that makes you safe and secured in case ADT doesn't call the coppers on time. But it is in no shape or form anything that would protect yourself against a tyrannical government. The only usefulness remains protection of private property from other private citizens.

        I do recall a good discussion in another s
    • The only safeguard is an alert and ornery citizenry. If the people don't even vote, if the people don't make demands, if the people deliberately wreck their minds with propaganda ("The only network I trust is Fox News"), then the Constitution doesn't protect anyone or anything. It becomes, whether the President actually said so or not, "just a Goddamned piece of paper".
      • The only safeguard is an alert and ornery citizenry. If the people don't even vote, if the people don't make demands, if the people deliberately wreck their minds with propaganda ("The only network I trust is Fox News"), then the Constitution doesn't protect anyone or anything.

        I fear that it would take another well-placed terror attack to completely bring down any facade of civil liberties. Doubly so if the government came out and said "well, we had John Q. Terrorist in custody, but we had to let him go be
  • by Detritus (11846) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:11AM (#15479562) Homepage
    Recent events, such as the debate on net neutrality, NSA data collection, and efforts to get ISPs to spy on their own customers, have led me to think about the design of IP, TCP and UDP. What does the network really "need to know"? If its job is to just route packets, not much beyond source, destination, and data length. It doesn't need access to the information in the UDP and TCP headers. If the network is no longer considered friendly, why are we exposing this information to people who may not have our best interests in mind?
    • Lets look at TCP then . . . What does it need to know? It needs to know the checksum for data verification. It needs to know the sequence number and acknowledgement number for packet integrity. It needs to know the data offset to see where the data is in the packet. It needs to know the Window for flow control. It needs the control bits for simple checking as to what type of packet it is.

      Yep, that seems to be everything. Which one of these are you planning on removing from TCP? Without any of thos
  • by cybrthng (22291) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:22AM (#15479625) Journal
    From skype to skype is it still encrypted or did "govunment" get access as requested? I know skypeout eventually hits the public network but i'd have skype to skype with those calls that matter if its fully encrypted.
  • It's a timeless question really. I hate losing my privacy as much as the next guy, but the recent bust of Canadian extremists does remind you of the alternatives. Security vs Privacy.

    Personally, I'd compromise a lot on Privacy if the government would back off their conservative "we know what's best for you" bullshit. Legalize the sex, drugs, gambling, file sharing, contraversial media (*), and what does the plebian have left to hide? I have no problem with someone picking through cell phone records with
    • How will you know? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285)

      Personally, I'd compromise a lot on Privacy if the government would back off their conservative...

      ...and...

      It's when they use the information to put average Joe in jail who isn't hurting anyone, while a terrorist blows up 3000 people, that I'd rather see my tax dollars spent on something else.

      And how will you know the difference?

      Ask a parent who's been searching for their kid for ten years how they would feel if the investigator could use cell phone records to help find their child.

      Your example is abo

    • by db32 (862117) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @11:00AM (#15479950) Journal
      Here is a rathe timeless quote for you.
      "Those who would trade essential liberty for a little bit of temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety" -Benjamin Franklin
      There are also countless quotes about the price of freedom and liberty being risk and eternal vigilence. All of these wouldn't be problems if your neighbors would stand up for themselves and watch eachother. It doesn't take massive spying programs by people with agendas. It takes knowing who lives on your block, who has kids, where people work, and actually KNOWING the people who live around you. So when the situation changes you know something is wrong. I remember growing up if one of us kids weren't at home when we should be every parent in a 2 block radius knew to be on the lookout for us. I also remember 4th of July when everyone on the block got together and had a BBQ. (Oh, and god forbid one of those other adults in the area caught you doing something wrong...you were gunna get nailed by them...and then again when you got home and they told your parents what you were doing). Too many people take the lazy stance of "not my problem". They won't report crimes, they won't watch out for eachother, and they most certainly will not risk anything themselves to help someone out. Society has allowed the government to do this stuff, the majority want this stuff because they want someone to hand them everything and a place to put blame. We, as a society, refuse to police ourselves, so the government is stepping in to do it for us, and most of the populace seems to welcome the change.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:27AM (#15479656) Homepage
    I am grateful that the government doesn't act as my ISP. If they did, the Bush Administration could easily find some excuse to argue that they should be given carte blanch authority to spy on us.
  • ...rather than focus on the government.

    Companies!

    The government where elected by you and me to protect (duh) You and me. Of course, that's the textbook answer. But of course we should have our own politicians checked out now and then - you can't trust anyone really, but you have to (otherwise you'll go insane).

    I'm no longer naive, there was a time when I believed that everyone was inherently good at heart - even with a tough background and much hardship trough life. "Good" is a definition - and person
    • When things go bad - is when someone has something to gain on being a criminal. In my eyes we should watch over where private individuals have too much access over our information, not the government. The government can change because of us - we can elect and vote anytime. It's harder to do that with a company - especially if we don't know what's going on behind the curtains (metaphorically speaking...this could be the net..etc). In government we have a certain control - we can always get in on what it is a
      • companies are who writes our paychecks...

        So therefor everything they do is okay, right? Wrong! If you've learned anything from history you will know basic greed, if you can do it - you do it, if you can get away with it - you do it, and if it earns you and your kids millions, you really don't care about the others - because they think you're good...they buy your stuff...and die early, who cares as long as you earn millions. Stupid cows will grass even if it's made out of plastic. Just look at the burger
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:40AM (#15479756)
    No matter what the government does, it will have good and bad sides. If they snoop on the population, it can/will have beneficial effects as well as undesired, just like not doing it.

    Why is there no statistic whatsoever? Not even a forged one? Why can't be said "Look, there was this or that attack, and because we did efficient wiretapping it was avoided"? Maybe because there was NOT A SINGLE incident like this?

    Instead we have innocents arrested and even shot because they "acted suspiciously" or because "someone thought they were doing something". Who does the bigger damage? The terrorists, or those that claim they're fighting the terror?
  • First things first (Score:5, Insightful)

    by misleb (129952) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:43AM (#15479786)
    based on older communication norms and don't take into account any 'war-time necessity' arguments.

    First thing we need to do is dispell this lie that there is some kind of "war on terror" going on because you just can't argue agains "war-time necessity." The government is going to get whatever they want as long as they are permitted to invoke "war" as the justifications. There is no "war on terrorism." Terrorism is a tactic. Having a war on terrorism makes about as much sense as having a war on amphibious assaults. If anything, we're at war in Iraq with insurgents in Iraq. But even that scarcely qualifies as war.

    While we are at it, there is no war on drugs either. Let's get that out of the way right now. War is between two states or groups of people... not between a state and a noun.

    -matthew
  • by jaimz22 (932159) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:47AM (#15479822)
    "There's a crying need for better privacy safeguards that reflect today's world"

    Wrap tin foil around everything!
  • I think a lot of people don't realize that America has many freedoms (habeas corpus, throwing out criminal evidence on technical violations of search procedures, etc.) that even people in many other Western countries lack. Even in places like France and Canada, you can be held without being charged with a crime.

    After two centuries of liberal democratic evolution, we have developed many checks on state power. Since we haven't faced terrorist foe on this scale in a long time (perhaps since the Barbary Pirat
    • Correction: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheNoxx (412624) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @11:36AM (#15480231) Homepage Journal
      We used to have the right of habeas corpus and guarantees of our privacy against every possible intrusion made without proper cause by the government, the Patriot Act kinda changed all that; nevertheless, any police officer could hold someone for 32 hours without charges before 9/11, and sometimes much longer... remember Mitnick? Now, I'm somewhat lacking in sleep, but I'm fairly certain that the French and Canadians have laws equivalent to habeas corpus (I believe most every civilized western democracy does as it's a fairly basic human right), probably which surpass our own right now.

      Oh, and the NSA's actions are harmful not only for violating the founding principles of this country (go to China if you want to curtail the rights of the people rather than putting enough effort into creating a solution that protects everything about this country), but has limitless opportunities for abuse by those near the top of the program and those near them. It's also a program that gives very little benefit to fighting terrorism in an age of disposable cell phones and language that won't trigger any filtering programs, instant messaging, and so forth; there's actually much more potential for abuse than for any real good. Anyway, speaking of the way the world's progressing, nothing could be more important that protecting every legal right and liberty we have, because quite frankly, the people of the West no longer have the capability of popular revolution in the case that things got really bad; imagine if Washington had tried to stage the American Revolution while the British had the armaments of today's military.
      Oh, and that brings me to my last point. The worst parts about the NSA and Patriot Act and such is that Al-Qaeda is not that much of a threat to the US. In fact, it's not really a threat at all. We are not up against vast armies or comparable weaponry. With the amount of power that the United States has from its economic and politial clout to the sheer behemoth might of our military and vast superiority of technology, I'd count 9/11 as more of a lucky sucker-punch due to bureaucratic stupidity, and a suicidal one at that. Terrorism is not the Nazi Germany of today, nor the equivalent of the dangers of the Cold War. The only thing needed to stop terrorism is more hard work and careful planning, that's all. There was no need for a war against a country that had nothing to do with bin Laden that killed thousands of innocents, there was never any need for a Patriot Act, nor giving the NSA and CIA blanket authority to do whatever they want.
  • hmmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anon-Admin (443764)
    I read people posting about using encryption to stop the government creep into our private lives. Well boys and girls, where is it? We are the people who know the systems and programming. We are the leaders of the IT revolution and what do we do? We make great encryption systems that are so complicated that no one out side of the technically competent can use them! Hell I have problems using encryption and I used to run an anon site that dealt with protecting your privacy by the use of encryption! Have you
    • Stop talking Trash!

      If you mean that pgp/gpg is not well-integrated into COMMERICAL CLOSED SOURCE software, you MAY have a point.

      But, let's talk the DEFAULT - Redhat 9, Fedora Core &etc.

      The DEFAULT maile client is Evolution. It has pull-down menus for "sign" and "encrypt". And there you go. If you receive a signed message, it shows a little icon in the message to verify the message.

      How much easier could it be?

      Ok, now lets cover key generation (the hard part). Yes, it is likely that the user will need som
      • Re:hmmm (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anon-Admin (443764)
        And you make my point...

        #1) Is there a reason that it can not be integrated into closed source? Other than "We are smarter and you should be too." Open source is a great thing but, to get to the masses we need to accept that others may not be using our open source OS!

        Can people not write simple open source drivers to integrate real-time hard drive encryption into closed source OS's?
        Can people not develop easy to use plugging for the other closed sour
        • I don't know about the closed source difficulties. Not my call, and not my problem. It may be that there isn't a market for it -- which means those user don't want the feature.

          It isn't difficult to generate a key: obviously a commercial implementation would add a "pleasant" GUI. Publishing to key servers? Same deal. In my opinion (obviously wrong, because it isn't there), this should be a standard feature of Outlook Express (whatever the default Microsoft mail client is).

          Ask Microsoft why it isn't; my point
  • by efudddd (312615)

    There's a crying need for better privacy safeguards that reflect today's world.

    Hmm, when it was terrorists, unwashed radicals, or America-haters, we didn't hear much from the business community about privacy. But after the NSA's little scheme was exposed, the incidental question of who else could the government be listening to is suddenly interesting. Could it be some Enron-redux with a new scam? Halliburton? GE? Suddenly one of the leading American business publications finds privacy an interesting topic,

  • I'd rather not end up in Gitmo. if ya know what I mean.

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made. -- Jean Giraudoux

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