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Comment: Re:I'm shocked ... (Score 1) 227

And the police wonder why they're no longer treated with respect, while being people who regularly abuse their power and ignore the law.

No longer? Police have never been the embodiment of the Officer Friendly persona, on the whole. There are bright spots here and there to be sure, particularly in laid back suburban communities with high pay and low crime, but police have a history of abuse and extortion. See *any* third world country for an example of what our own police used to be. Police behavior has actually improved quite a lot since, say, the early 1900s, but, sadly, it was never better than it is now. The golden age of Leave it to Beaver and Andy Griffith is nothing but a fantasy.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 152

by StikyPad (#49624369) Attached to: How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text

You sort of glossed over the thrust of my argument in one sentence. We don't just throw people in jail (mostly). They have to be charged, and go to court, and be convicted by a jury, etc. Due process. It's not like we systematically disappear people because they were overheard saying something about the President. Stating that they do not enjoy such protections does not make it so.

They *do* have to get a warrant for targeted surveillance. They get it from FISA.

What I'm not okay with is then monitoring the other individuals that use these devices or connections when those individuals use other devices or connections, without first obtaining warrants against those individuals as well.

That's never going to happen. Even if the scope of the warrant was limited to, say, the owner of the line, courts have repeatedly and consistently permitted information acquired incidental to the execution of the warrant. That is to say, if there's a warrant to search your house for documents, and they find your husband's drug stash while executing the warrant, they can still bring charges against your husband. So the scope of the warrant might be limited to the owner of the phone line, but in reality, they would have to listen to the conversation to know who is speaking, and in so doing they may make additional, admissible, discoveries.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 152

by StikyPad (#49623795) Attached to: How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text

The intelligence community has a fairly well-defined enemy. It might not be as binary as Axis/Allies, but the enemies still want to self-identify under some collective banner, be it ISIS or Al Queda or Boko Haram. If they didn't, they wouldn't really be able to accomplish anything. Anonymous acts of violence are just anarchy, and none of those groups are anarchists. Far from it.

The difference is that we all use the same encryption these days. The is no "Al Queda Enigma Machine," or "ISIS Fialka." It's pretty much all RSA or AES. So finding and exploiting a weakness in one of those necessarily means finding and exploiting a weakness in everyone's communications, not just the targets. And, from an intelligence perspective, the only reason to limit your focus is to avoid being overwhelmed with too much information. If a similar level of scrutiny can be applied to a broader range of communications, then there's no compelling reason not to.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 152

by StikyPad (#49623695) Attached to: How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text

But, to play devil's advocate, how are people directly harmed by surveillance when they are protected from punishment by due process? People might not like being watched, but that doesn't mean it's not worthwhile to society. We do a lot of things that we don't like as individuals because they help to sustain the lifestyles we enjoy. Paying taxes springs immediately to mind. I mean, it would be great if everyone just behaved nicely, and there were no threats to our security, but that's not the world we live in. So if surveillance can help to thwart attacks with no actual harm to innocent bystanders, then what's the problem? And if information wants to be free, then what's the point in even trying to shield it from the government's eyes?

(Also, you have your branches mixed up. The judicial branch issues warrants, not the legislature.)

Comment: Re:false positives aren't what you think (Score 1) 152

by StikyPad (#49623525) Attached to: How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text

Your argument would be compelling if not for the fact that one doesn't need this technology to build historical cases or networks. Investigators are perfectly capable of using forensics to find such connections after the fact. Of course such databases will be used retroactively, to the extent possible, but the stated goal of the intelligence community is to prevent attacks before they happen, not to pick up the pieces afterwards. See, for example,

Comment: Re:I call BS. (Score 1) 152

by StikyPad (#49623435) Attached to: How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text

See, you're thinking they need to perfect the technology for it to be useful, because imperfect technology is a pain in the ass for users of voice commands. But they don't. It's a different use case. Any amount of successful Speech-to-Text processing for archiving and searching is more effective than zero. They obviously would want to raise this as high as possible to avoid missing information, but they don't need perfection either. Even a 50% rate of transcription would yield a staggering amount of data, and if any specific triggers are hit, then a communication could be flagged for follow up by a human.

Comment: Re:Usefull... (Score 1) 274

by StikyPad (#49623379) Attached to: USBKill Transforms a Thumb Drive Into an "Anti-Forensic" Device

A better idea is an RFID reader and an implanted RFID chip. Separate user from computer and shutdown, or better yet, lock and start shutdown timer unless unlocked. A pain in the ass when you want a sammich, or you want to keep downloading files when you're AFK, but security has always required a sacrifice of convenience. Use a separate computer for "everyday" tasks, and one for sensitive tasks.

While this article is targeted at legal seizures, there are everyday uses as well, like preventing theft of your device on the subway from translating into theft of your data, or preventing corporate espionage. Of course it's an arms race, so if deadman's switches ever became common, then thieves will be sure to remove your implant (ouch) or just bring you along. The next step would be implanted computers, and removing or retrieving information from those will raise all sorts of constitutional issues.

Comment: Re:Very unlikely to be triggered in the field (Score 1) 250

by StikyPad (#49615353) Attached to: Long Uptime Makes Boeing 787 Lose Electrical Power

My locality posts speed limit signs in residential areas despite the fact that there are statewide speed limits of 25MPH in residential areas, and despite the fact that drivers are required to know this to pass the driving test.

Redundant != pointless or worthless. In both cases, it reduces the operator's ability to say "I had no idea!"

Comment: Re:Looks like the prophet's gunmen (Score 1) 1059

by StikyPad (#49614823) Attached to: Two Gunman Killed Outside "Draw the Prophet" Event In Texas

Exactly. From our perspective, they're idiots joining a fruitless cause that's destined to fail. From their perspective, their lives already suck, they can't feed their families, and this is the only way they can see to bring about change, or to at least attention -- to not go quietly into the night. To be clear, their frustration is usurped by those who are willing to use it to their own ends, but the frustration and hopelessness are the prerequisites. The tendency toward violence is inversely proportional to quality of life and the economy. People who have their basic needs met are much less likely to be violent, especially en masse.

Comment: Re:A story for those who (Score 1) 128

by StikyPad (#49614645) Attached to: 4.0 Earthquake Near Concord, California


4.0 to 4.9 -- Noticeable shaking of indoor objects and rattling noises. Felt by most people in the affected area. Slightly felt outside. Generally causes none to minimal damage.

And a 4.0 is on the lowest end of that scale, almost 10x less powerful than a 4.9. There are over 13,000 4.0-4.9 magnitude earthquakes around the world each year. It's a non-story, except to ask your friend if he felt that. The commuter train passing by my office building causes that much shaking several times a day.

Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it. -- Donald Knuth