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Comment: Re:Nonsense (Score 1) 389 389

is reformed in the House bill, which does away with it over six months and instead gives phone companies the responsibility of maintaining phone records that the government can search." Obama criticized the Senate for not acting on that legislation, saying they have necessitated a renewal of the Patriot Act provisions.

You are right, as it ended up being the House Patriot Act extension in the name of the USA Freedom Act was not a real reform. Requiring a warrant to gain access to the information was the real issue.

Although if they simply required the companies to retain the data for a period of time AND required the government to get a constitutionally valid search warrant to access particular records directly related to a terrorism case then that would be the reform we need. The companies have these records anyway, it is the search warrant part that is what we need.

Comment: Re:Those who would give up.. (Score 1) 389 389

In secret... and illegally! There is a big difference between walking up to the front door and demanding cooperation from a business and covertly gaining access to those records. It is a several order of magnitude difference in effective ability to collect information about people

Having fourth amendment protections honored and respected means that the police can't just knock down the door of your business to search your records because of the remote possibility that someone that you do business with could be a terrorist.

Having a Patriot Act provision that says the the government doesn't need a constitutionally valid warrant to get business records is far far different than covertly collecting information via hacking or by purchasing the information. To have the freedom to choose companies that will honor their privacy agreements is itself an important step. To have the recourse to sue those companies when they voluntarily sell the government your private information in violation of your privacy agreement is important.

What is at stake is the government being able to walk into a company with a secret order demanding they hand over all the records the government wants without a constitutionally valid warrant. Having a law to point to that says companies can be forced to cooperate makes a big difference to the ease at which the government can collect mega data and conduct unconstitutional drag net surveillance.

Billions and billions of records about everyone's communications with which you can monitor their movements, their political affiliations and activism, monitor all their recorded financial transactions and purchases, determine their race, infer their sexual activity, and otherwise find exploitable personal weaknesses, affinities and affiliations en masse.

Oh and then put that in a giant database which is exploitable by America's adversaries.

Yes, this matters. Let the Patriot Act expire!

Comment: Re:You cannot know *WHO* is voting (Score 1) 258 258

Small town corruption has always been a significant and insidious problem, and you can do a case study with pretty much any town under 20k people with a few families holding the power and retribution being common enough to simply assume.

Yes, but in a small town you can do something about it. Big City, state-wide, or national corruption can become systemic and entrenched. Seems like pretty much every Big City and state in the country is beholden to one party machine or the other. Where local elections and issues are more grassroots, personal and non-partisan.

Comment: Re:You cannot know *WHO* is voting (Score 1) 258 258

Based on my own experiences living in small towns, I can only conclude that either you never have, or you're smoking some mighty fine dope. There's no place where anonymous voting is more necessary. Boss Hogg knows where you live, and where your kids play. And will make certainly know he knows.

I don't partake. And I am not taking about voting for representatives or to elect individual people.

Have you lived in a small town with an open town meeting form of government? Roberts Rules. You sit in a big hall, sometimes there is a voice vote when you either say yay or nay and if the moderator cannot determine the yays or nays then you stand and are counted as either yay or nay. Only for votes on salaries for particular town officials do they pass around the paper for an anonymous vote. You could do something similar online for voting on spending issues or bylaws without worrying about anonymity.

If you don't want to stand up and be counted then don't vote, just like there are many people that don't come to Town Meeting.

Comment: Re:You cannot know *WHO* is voting (Score 2) 258 258

Online voting is a solution looking for a problem.

I mostly agree with this. But I do see an opportunity for more participatory government if there is a way to vote online on local issues.

I live in a Town with an open meeting form of local government. That means anyone can show up and vote on items that are on the agenda. Our votes are not anonymous because anyone can look around the room and see who is voting which way on what.

Specific votes by individuals are not officially recorded, but they could be recorded by anyone. If you give up on the idea of online elections, and focus instead on online town meeting voting on particular bylaws or local spending, which doesn't need to be anonymous, then I think you could really increase participation in local issues.... which are the kinds of issues that count in people's day to day lives and where a few votes really do matter.

Even if you show up, you don't find much democracy in national or even state elections... your vote is just too watered down to really matter in most elections and even if it did matter, the people elected are beholden to the organizations and parties that got them elected. So, I'd rather see more participation in local issues, than worry about the mostly symbolic voting people do in state and national elections.

Comment: Re:They've invested billions (Score 1) 142 142

There is no requirement to mothball it. They can still use it but only in accordance with the US Constitution. They have to get a warrant. Novel idea that, probably never catch on.

Somehow the United States survived for over two hundred years requiring the government to get a warrant to search the records of individuals and businesses and without the kind of dragnet surveillance being perpetrated against the American people. The threat that the USA Freedom Act poses to the American People is far far greater than what any terrorist could do.

Comment: Kill the USA Freedom Act (Score 1) 142 142

The USA Freedom Act is an Orwellian attempt to extend unlimited surveillance of all Americans. In spirit, in word and in action the USA Freedom Act is a complete and total violation of the US Constitution. The so called limitations on phone record searches are merely symbolic limitations and don't address the unlimited number of non-phone call records that are being collected and doesn't even adequately address limitation on the collection of phone records. The USA Freedom Act will be used to destroy freedom in the US.

Comment: Re:Whatever... (Score 2) 142 142

Section 215 could very easily be implemented in a way that is constitutionally sound, and thus the provision itself is not unconstitutional.

All evidence to the contrary... limitless authority is unconstitutional whether it is acted upon or not. And in this case we know the government is using that blank check authority to carry out dragnet searches of all Americans communications and business records. Phone records are a drop in the bucket.

Comment: Victim of success (Score 3, Insightful) 37 37

Wikipedia has gone through similar growing pains in the past which they dealt with successfully. Slashdot... Seems you just need to balance out the contributions with a couple levels of crowd sourced reviewers. Make people that are contributing to Google Maps review 5 map edits in the area for instance. It shouldn't be a big deal. I recall trying to get a local park listed on some maps in the days before Google Maps and Open Street Maps... it used to take years to get sorted out and relying on "official" maps just made the issues worse because nobody in city or state government gave a damn.

There is very little future in being right when your boss is wrong.