Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:What's worse? (Score 1) 201

That's probably the funniest noir moment about this. The Washington Post, a newspaper, is being trusted with data so sensitive they don't even want to reveal some of it publicly.

A newspaper! I think I'd rather give my credit card information to Target than trust a newspaper company with knowing anything about the internet.

I would count the days until lax security leads to the raw data leaking onto the general internet, but it's probably already been read by Unit 61337.

Comment: Re:hmm.... (Score 1) 201

It doesn't specify all of them, but it does specify some of them:

If a target entered an online chat room, the NSA collected the words and identities of every person who posted there, regardless of subject, as well as every person who simply “lurked,” reading passively what other people wrote.

There are others, too, but this would imply that if one of the legitimate targets had a slashdot account, or some other message board, anyone posting or reading the same site might be scooped up into the list of "incidental" targets.

Anyone showing signs of being a "likely" American, according to the article, were then "minimized". ie, their names were scrubbed. Of course their criteria for determining likely American status is not very rigorous.

Comment: Re:"Fireworks Show" still to come (Score 2) 201

Out of curiosity, where did you hear this?

I think it's really interesting that of the "minimized" identities listed in the article, one of them is

A “minimized U.S. president-elect” begins to appear in the files in early 2009, and references to the current “minimized U.S. president” appear 1,227 times in the following four years.

Does this mean they were reading Obama's communications after he was elected to become President, and then scrubbed his name from it?

Comment: Re:How big is the problem really? (Score 3, Interesting) 201

Here's the relevant paragraph from the article:

If Snowden’s sample is representative, the population under scrutiny in the PRISM and Upstream programs is far larger than the government has suggested. In a June 26 “transparency report,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence disclosed that 89,138 people were targets of last year’s collection under FISA Section 702. At the 9-to-1 ratio of incidental collection in Snowden’s sample, the office’s figure would correspond to nearly 900,000 accounts, targeted or not, under surveillance.

They use this information from Snowden, the 160,000 intercepted messages, showing that nearly 10 people were targetted "incidentally" for every 1 legitimate target. With that 10 to 1 ratio, and a transparency report released in june showing that there were almost 90,000 legitimate targets, the math comes out to approximately 1 million Americans "incidentally" targetted.

Of course it's a crock to say these people's communications were spied upon "incidentally". They were explicitly targetted for incidental reasons such as being in the same IRC channel, using a foreign IP address, etc.

What I don't get, though, is that the list of "minimized" targets whose identities were scrubbed as being likely Americans includes "a sitting President". Does this mean they spied on President Obama's communications, and then scrubbed his identity from it? Were these legitimate targets sending threatening emails to or what? Did they scrub any reference to his name, even when it didn't involve communications originating from him?

How did he wind up as any of these "incidental" targets?

Comment: Re:Actual Facts (Score 1) 389

No, it isn't. I said that I do not care how lightly they think of spying, not anything about their governments not existing or any other such nonsense.

You don't care what their government thinks. Their government represents them. You wish to impose your views on them -- or, more accurately, you wish to speak for them in place of themselves or their government.

The fact is, despite how many times you say otherwise, that being spied upon -- especially by foreign entities -- is almost universally considered a criminal offense at most. You really have to come up with some kind of definition for what human rights are that encompass whatever privacy rights you think you're advocating for in order to advocate them. I've asked you to do that, and you said you have, by reiterating what you've already said: that it just is. That's not going to cut it on any level.

It would be one thing to talk about a totalitarian government not just spying on its own people, but recording every action and social connection, like what the East German or previous Russian governments were known to do, since this kind of persecution is so easily coupled with the suppression of dissidents or any kind of opposition. But that's not what is occurring.

In an international world where foreign governments can go to war with each other, states (and their people) must naturally regard foreign interests with varying degrees of suspicion. But it's never zero suspicion. This means that states (and their people) are essentially compelled into conducting spy and espionage actions, if only to determine the nature of hostile spy and espionage actions conducted against them by foreign entities. Anything else would be neglectful and dangerous. Of course, it can be taken too far, but to say that any amount of foreign intelligence gathering is strictly immoral is pretty absurd.

They are to me. And it can be both at once.

Until you can provide some sort of definition of human rights which encompasses whatever privacy rights you're advocating, they really aren't.

How do you determine whether or not I think it's negative, or likely?

You've already told me. If you think your human rights are being violated by your communications being read by anyone except the intended recipient, then you're negatively impacted by Snowden's revelations about American foreign intelligence actions because these actions will now be studied, broken down, and copied. Perhaps against you, perhaps against other targets, perhaps against a more authoritarian government's own people. According to you, those are negative. According to reality, they are somewhere between likely and inevitable.

As for "crimes," I don't think law equates to morality, so whether he's technically a 'criminal' is uninteresting to me. But to me, they shouldn't be.
I never said that all of the NSA's activities are unconstitutional; that's not all that interests me. The domestic spying is definitely unconstitutional. I believe much of their other spying is immoral.

You have a pretty shaky foundation for your belief in it being immoral. If Snowden revealed that other governments were conducting espionage through his own immoral behavior, how would you feel about it? What about if Snowden were a European and revealed domestic spying programs by the NSA which he only learned about through conducting espionage against the USA?

If your answers to those resemble anything like "the ends justify the means" then I'm not sure how strongly you believe foreign intelligence efforts are immoral in the first place.

Comment: Re:Actual Facts (Score 1) 389

You have quite the imagination, to argue with someone who doesn't exist. But may I please ask you to keep it to yourself, rather than responding to me as if I'm the one you're arguing with?

It's something you said! Here it is again, for your benefit:

You should probably just let other peoples' governments speak for themselves. I'll spoil their answer for you: they think spying is impolite at worst, not some tragic human rights violation.

I don't care what they think, drone.

Your long-winded drivel was unnecessary.

I'll let James Madison know you think that about him.


I have. Here is a long series of steps that lays out how what I want could be accomplished:
1) Don't spy on innocent people unless you have a damn good reason to think they're not innocent, and in the case of citizens, have a warrant.

Right. Except these are a matter of policy, not some fundamental human right. If you disagree with the policy, but cannot disagree with its constitutionality or the moral basis for it, then you're wrong and Snowden committed crimes which are likely to negatively affect you in the future in addition to whatever whistleblowing he has done.

If you base your arguments on the constitutionality of the actions, and then later find out that it was, in fact, constitutional, your argument is worthless. Thanks for playing, though.

Comment: Re:Actual Facts (Score 1) 389

Then you're wrong. Having your constitutional and fundamental rights violated by government thugs is a human rights violation, and you show exactly how much you care about freedom by attempting to downplay the issue of hundreds of millions of people having that happen to them.

You seem to be deliberately trying to confuse two separate issues due to a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of constitutional and human rights.

Many of them were also being used to spy on perfectly innocent people.

It's irrelevant. What crime did a Soviet general commit to deserve being spied upon at the height of the Cold War? I mean, besides threatening to kill 90% of the people in the United States.

The rest of the world is not 'obligated' to the US constitution or part of America just because we decide to recognize that they have certain inalienable rights even though they're foreigners, you fool.

Their "rights" are obviously fucking alienable if we can declare war on them. You have serious fundamental misunderstandings about what constitutional rights are and how they apply. They are not "human rights", and if you think they are, then you need to provide some kind of definition for human rights which includes US constitutional rights. Nowhere in the universal declaration of human rights, the most widely-known and agreed upon definitions of human rights, is privacy mentioned. If you compare that document to the US Constitution and Bill of Rights then you'll see some fairly large discrepancies so your attempts to conflate the two terms are not only misleading but deliberately deceitful. Repeating it over and over and over again doesn't make it any more true, especially if, when pressed for some kind of clarification, you start calling people names and trying to discredit them or whatever the fuck you're trying to do by calling me authoritarian. You're wrong, and at this point, you need to back up your opinions with some kind of rational behavior in order to show it, or else the invective you spew out will only contribute to you and whatever cause you are trying to support being more and more discredited and worthless.

Including actual problems, such as domestic spying like the metadata records of the NSA. So kindly shut the fuck up about it until you can communicate a reasonable point.

Just because the US Constitution and Bill of Rights are derived from natural law theories and that we believe that they are not given, but that people are born with them, does not mean that everyone has them. This can clearly be seen by the treatment of any person -- citizen or not -- entering or re-entering the territory of the United States, where they must produce valid identification in the form of a passport and where their personal belongings can be searched or seized without a warrant. In fact, so many examples exist that it's almost preposterous that you think non-citizens in foreign territory are protected by the US Constitution at all. How is it possible that Congress can declare war on them, if they are afforded constitutional rights? How is it that the government negotiates treaties with other sovereign states? How can the government restrict my travel, or bar me from doing business with certain foreign entities?

These aren't even difficult questions to come up with, nor are they difficult to answer, nor are they some kind of rare circumstances that exist only as outliers. You can't just pretend that other governments do not exist, or that they are somehow illegitimate, let alone that you can speak for the people they represent better than the governments they have created and live under. It's ridiculous that you would even think to do that.

If you don't want to take my word for it, take the court's word for it, from ZADVYDAS v. DAVIS et al. from 2001 in which the court ruled that immigrants (even illegal immigrants) must be afforded due process as long as they were within United States territory:

It is well established that certain constitutional protections available to persons inside the United States are unavailable to aliens outside of our geographic borders. See United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U. S. 259, 269 (1990) (Fifth Amendment’s protections do not extend to aliens outside the territorial boundaries); Johnson v. Eisentrager, 339 U. S. 763, 784 (1950) (same). But once an alien enters the country, the legal circumstance changes, for the Due Process Clause applies to all “persons” within the United States, including aliens, whether their presence here is lawful, unlawful, temporary, or permanent. See Plyler v. Doe, 457 U. S. 202, 210 (1982); Mathews v. Diaz, 426 U. S. 67, 77 (1976); Kwong Hai Chew v. Colding, 344 U. S. 590, 596–598, and n. 5 (1953); Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U. S. 356, 369 (1886); cf. Mezei, supra, at 212 (“[A]liens who have once passed through our gates, even illegally, may be expelled only after proceedings conforming to traditional standards of fairness encompassed in due process of law”)

Here is part of John Madison's argument for constitutional protections applying to all persons, rather than all citizens:

[I]t does not follow, because aliens are not parties to the Constitution, as citizens are parties to it, that whilst they actually conform to it, they have no right to its protection. Aliens are not more parties to the laws, than they are parties to the Constitution; yet it will not be disputed, that as they owe, on one hand, a temporary obedience, they are entitled, in return, to their protection and advantage.

Madison was instrumental in shaping constitutional thought and, without his input, they might not even extend to non-citizens in US territory. I'd like you to especially note his reasoning that they were entitled to the constitutional rights' protection and advantage because they owe obedience to the laws of the land in which they are living.

Foreign citizens, in foreign territories, owe the United States no obedience. Even a cursory reading of the Federalist papers will show that a huge amount of the behind-the-scenes decisionmaking on constitutional issues and the structure of the United States had to do with international relations and the safety of a united country.

Calling me authoritarian just makes you look like a 12 year old. You're dead fucking wrong on this.

Comment: Re:Wrong (Score 1) 389

Replying to this and an AC reply together, since they deal with the same issues. Also fixed a bad but obvious typo.

Also, your view of the Bill of Rights, while common, is wildly inaccurate. The Bill of Rights isn't a list of rights that are "given" to Americans; it's a list of restrictions on what the government can do. One of those restrictions is on conducting unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant, and that restriction does not include an exception for people outside the US.

the bill of rights does NOT give you rights. You have inalienable rights as a human being... does that remind you of something??

They also state clearly that you have rights NOT listed in the document; their omission in no way concluding you do not have those rights. Nearly every amendment is phrased clearly as a limitation upon government infringing upon your rights; which you always have, and by imposing those enumerated government limits shall not be infringed upon. The courts and the people guide the direction and if the reps function, they eventually make the more permanent limitations; such as the civil rights movement's amendment.

I don't disagree with any of this, and didn't mean to make it sound like I do. The bill of rights isn't where our rights come from, but it is where the government's rights come from in the sense that it helps define what the government can and cannot do. Our rights, such as that as being protected from unwarranted searches and seizures, are inalienable and cannot be removed. This illustrates what the government can do, however: it can search and seize when warranted. This has been further enumerated by legislation and case law which we're all mostly familiar with, like needing a warrant issued by the court system in order for private property to be searched or seized.

The argument works like this, then: if the government can issue warrants to show that they can search and seize property, as described in the bill of rights, why can they not issue warrants to search or seize German property? Obviously the bill of rights doesn't describe American land and other things under American jurisdiction quite the same as land and things which are not American or under American jurisdiction.

The document does not define that government's limitations ONLY exist within it's borders.

Right. This is easily shown by the example that an American citizen traveling abroad doesn't suddenly lose his, say, First Amendment rights. They are inalienable. They are not, however, the same. For one thing, foreign jurisdiction must be recognized in some way, often through the use of government-to-government treaties -- foreign laws in foreign lands must be respected, even by American citizens, even when they might contradict the US Constitution. To do otherwise immediately negates any recognition of sovereignty of foreign governments or people, removing them of their self-determination. This also happens in particularly extreme cases, of course, but it's not the norm.

What I think is that the USG should (and according to the highest law of the land, does) have to get a warrant in an American court if they want to search someone's phone. Anyone's, anywhere. Unless we're at war with the person in question, failure to do so is illegal.

Another example which shows the weakness in your reasoning is the use of customs controls to limit entry into United States' territory. If it's almost universally unconstitutional to be forced to provide identification to the US Government simply for traveling, why, then, do passports exist? How can the US government require identification for American citizens to re-enter their own territory, to regain access to their own property?

The following two quotes (one from each reply) should really hammer home the point:

We are not at war with the planet so that excuse can't be used (but they are.)

Anyone's, anywhere. Unless we're at war with the person in question

You both believe that the US government can declare war. There are no real restrictions on the circumstances which the government can declare war -- only that Congress must declare it, and the Executive branch must execute it (and can execute certain actions prior to any declaration, such as defending against attacks, etc). The restrictions largely come at the mood of the nation, ie, who has been elected to Congress as representatives of the people.

How can both of you believe that the power to launch violent military attacks upon other states is within the limits of the Constitution, but authorizing the listening to of foreign communications is not?

Your issues with foreign spying and intelligence operations have nothing to do with your constitutional beliefs or human rights or whatever the fuck. They're disagreements with policy. Domestic spying, and Snowden's actions in regards to that, are another matter.

Comment: Re:Actual Facts (Score 1) 389

He's not possibly innocent. He did some stuff that was blatantly criminal; he did some other stuff that was criminal but did so under the guise of whistleblowing. You can't ignore the first just because he might have done some good in his life.

He gave a huge amount of leverage to foreign governments who conduct the same types of espionage and spying against his own country by revealing the extend and mechanisms which his own country conducts its spying operations. Both political leverage, to be used diplomatically, and operational leverage, which can be used to counter legitimate American spy programs or to copy them and use them against America or other targets, like their own people.

You are screaming to eliminate due process when you want to,

Talk about lazy thinking! Where did I ever do anything like this? Get the fuck over yourself.

Comment: Re:Actual Facts (Score 1) 389

I'm not sure the point you're trying to make. But, much like other authoritarian nonsense, I'm sure it's nothing I will ever agree with.

The point is that having your mail read isn't a human rights violation, and it never will be. Especially when it's read by foreign instutitions in foreign territory.

Nope. All we have to do is take care not to spy on innocent people to the best of our ability. Actual enemies are fair game, in my opinion.

Many of the programs that Snowden outed to foreign governments intend only to spy on actual enemies who are actually foreign.

What a straw man.

I don't care what they think, drone.

You call it a straw man, and then declare it again yourself immediately after? If you think foreign governments should be obligated to the US Constitution, and don't care if they and their people don't want that, then you basically think the rest of the world should be America, junior. Ignoring representative governments and thinking that you have the authority to speak for what their people want is the most authoritarian shit posted anywhere in these comments.

Comment: Re:Actual Facts (Score 1) 389

Legitimacy matters. If the state does not follow the law and is not held accountable it is foolish to expect the governed to show respect for law. I personally don't even care that what Snowden did is illegal... Wish I did but I don't.

I think it's perfectly reasonable not to care if everything you said above it is true. The major thing punishing him does is serve as a deterrent for people doing stupid things in the future, like how he gave foreign governments a huge amount of leverage to use against the USA and its people. But that's also served by the threat of his punishment since his predicament is so well known.

It would be different to argue for clemency for everything he did, and wishing for some people to be punished while he got off scot-free. As long as you don't believe that, you have a pretty sturdy moral ground to stand on.

Comment: Re:Actual Facts (Score 1) 389

I'll help you out. It's the same part that says no Warrants shall issue for Angela Merkel or her cellphone to be seized by the US Government. Or any other German who's not on American soil, for that matter.

They're not protected by the Bill of Rights because they are not under American jurisdiction. Do you really think the USG should be able to get a warrant in an American court, granted by American judges, for American law enforcement to search Angela Merkel's cell phone?

Money will say more in one moment than the most eloquent lover can in years.