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Comment NSL = for things that DO NOT require a warrant (Score 1, Troll) 71

Note what this (or any) NSL does not request, for good or ill given the explosion in digital communications since Smith v Maryland in 1979 and subsequent case law (which effectively says that metadata, as "business records" provided to a third party, do not have an expectation of privacy and are not covered by the Fourth Amendment): CONTENT of communications.

Note what is also missing here: the target. People assume it's an innocent US Person. The fact is, if a NSL is used, the person is almost certainly a foreign intelligence target under active investigation, and the reason why requests are "dropped" is because IF a NSL was used in the first place, we don't want to reveal any further sources, methods, or what we know.

Unless and until the Supreme Court of the United States speaks on this matter again -- and it very well may, and it very well may rule differently given how the communications landscape has changed in 35+ years -- that is the law of the land. Not peoples' opinions, not tech commentator know-it-alls, not self-proclaimed security experts.

If something doesn't legally require a warrant, it amounts to a formal request. I'm not saying it's always perfect execution, but the whole purpose of a NSL is so that it runs through its own legal process -- which, again, is for information that does NOT require a warrant. I know people think it has no oversight, but either something requires judicial oversight, or it doesn't. And NSLs DO have massive amounts of LEGAL oversight, just not a warrant signed by a judge -- repeating myself here -- because one isn't required for information sought by a NSL.

And like information that we seek under Intelligence Community authorities, we don't want the target of the collection or surveillance knowing we are targeting them, or where, or how. Yeah, it sucks, and it's imperfect, and all that, but even in a democratic society, you can't just say every single national security or intelligence issue has to be in the open. That's not how even democratic societies work, or can work, or should work, when it comes to national security matters. Some things tilt too far in one direction based on national events, or politics, etc. Then they tilt back. It's never fast enough for proponents or critics.

The main issue is that people say that something like a NSL is "bad" because it doesn't have judicial oversight in the form of a warrant. If the information sought doesn't legally require a warrant, I don't know what to tell them. Then when we do actual court orders and warrants when required for foreign intelligence collection, issued by the very court whose sole purpose is to protect the rights of Americans under the law and Constitution in the context of foreign intelligence collection, they complain because the evidence is heard and rulings are issued in secret.

A NSL at its core is nothing more than a formal process and notification, with a lot of other legal considerations surrounding it, that is the equivalent of someone saying, "Hey, can you help us out...and oh, by the way, here's a bunch of other legal crap which justifies this. And don't tell anyone, because this is a national security issue." I understand why people make an issue of it, because they'll say, ok, even if it's used for all "bad guys" it still "could be abused". Uh, and? Any government power at all "can be abused". Secret ones "can be abused" in secret.

And yet, the government still has to have powers, and some of them on the national security and intelligence side are necessarily cloaked in secrecy. And in the conduct of war, diplomacy, law enforcement, and counterterrorism as the United States, with our myriad interests at home and abroad, we do all of these things for a reason. No, it's never perfect, and it never will be. People act surprised when the use of something like NSLs skyrockets since the late 90s...well, guess what else skyrocketed since the late 90s? The goddamned internet, which we invented, and our enemies are literally using it against us. No, not bullshit like tweets and Facebook pages; adversaries using the internet for no-shit coordination, collaboration, and C2. AND intentionally using US systems and services because they know that it's a legal rat's nest for us to get to them there, even if they're non-US Persons outside the US.

So anyway, yeah, it sucks, but the general attitude most people in the national security and intelligence communities are operating under is we had better be using the full extent of the capabilities afforded to us under the law, and we don't make the law.

The other issue, speaking broadly, is that sometimes the target itself is not subject to Constitutional protections at all, because the target is a non-US Person outside the US, and it is absurd to argue that if said target's communications touches the US in any way, suddenly it should be subject to Constitutional and warrant protections, because warrantless efforts to obtain it otherwise "could be abused".

SCOTUS can either speak to it, or Congress can pass a law. My own PERSONAL opinion, in a vacuum, and absent everything else I know, is that metadata should be protected -- because of 1.) the explosion in digital communication and the internet in the ensuing decades, combined with 2.) government's ability to exploit large amounts of collected data because of advancements in technology.

I would point out that even though portions of the statute with regard to NSLs have been found unconstitutional, it has only been about the gag order and length of time, not the use of a NSL, which is essentially a formal letter.

The issue of who the Constitution protects and where has many different arguments, but in a traditional law enforcement/intelligence/national security context, generally we see it as protecting either 1.) US Persons (be they citizens, permanent residents, lawful visitors, groups of the above, etc.) or 2.) people IN the US, no matter who they are.

The FISA Amendments Act shifted this a bit due to the reality that over 70% of international internet traffic touches the US somehow, by design or incidentally, and we had an absurd situation where both ends of a conversation would be AQAP members outside the US, who are not US citizens, and have never been in the US, who we suddenly can't collect on, even with capabilities outside the US, because one of them is using Hotmail.

If Constitutional protections applied to everyone, everywhere, my view is that the concept of borders and nation-states is meaningless, and it also destroys foreign intelligence collection -- and I mean Destroys. That said, we can certainly argue that we want to follow Constitutional *principles*, and aside from things people want to cherry pick that they don't like, I would say that, generally speaking, we do that.

Comment Re:Politics at work (Score 1) 55

but apparently, we non-stupid ones have to suffer with the rest.

Also, 90% of the population think that the other 90% of the population are the stupid ones.

It's stupid to explain the corruption and incompetence of our governments with stupidity and desinterest of the population. I'm beginning to believe that is a meme intentionally spread to prevent that anything is done to fix the real problem.

Which is: The people governing us are corrupt, self-absorbed arseholes with the mental capacity of 5 year olds but the trickery and manipulative abilities of experienced psychopaths.

Comment Re:James Hansen is a becoming shameful (Score 1) 395

The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death.
This isn't precisely a statement backed by peer reviewed evidence either...

It's a pretty precise statement, though not in scientific language. Coal is absolutely horribly in every way, and "death" is the absolutely correct association people should have.

When people are angry about the science being politicized, it does NOT help for the scientists to go over board politicizing things themselves in the hope of being a counter-balance.

Climate scientists have been speaking about climate change for literally three decades in neutral, factual, scientific language and were utterly ignored. If what you are doing doesn't work, you need to try something else.

The problem is not that we need to educate people about science. Those who are interested have plenty of options to educate themselves. The problem is that we need to hammer the point "your children will die from this shit" into the heads of people who don't care about the science. The kind of people who don't understand and don't want to understand the language of "the mean CO2 concentration shows a strong correlation to..." - they want to know what the point is.

And the point is that coal is death and climate change will kill us all. Yeah, maybe that's not the 120% scientifically accurate way of saying it, but what really matters is that all the desinterested people get it, and get it strongly enough that politicians start to give a fuck because it will influence election results.

Comment Politics at work (Score 4, Insightful) 55

That's how modern politics works, unfortunately.

Ignore the facts. Pick the first easy thing that shows we are doing something.

Ignore the real problem. Pick a random thing from the headlines and act on that.

Ignore the known solutions. Make sure you are never seen continuously working on the same thing until it's done, our attention span is too short for that.

Comment Re:problems (Score 1) 89

Ironic that the very thing you disparage Bill Gates for you are doing yourself.

I'm running a multi-million dollar monopolistic company that harms technological progress and corners markets?

so who are you to say what is right or wrong?

I know little about education and almost nothing about malaria. So I'm not running around telling people how to run schools or cure people. But I know enough about philosophy and psychology to see your (and not just your) problem in thinking:

he has proven himself clever and successful, and I'll take that over some unknown internet forum poster any day of the week.

Bills success in exploiting the tech industry does not necessarily translate into any other knowledge. A lot of people who were genius scientists had brutally stupid ideas about politics. Many brilliant generals were utter failures at leading a country (they could win the war, but not rule what they won). We see successful people in arts or entertainment say things so stupid that listening to them is physically painful all the time on television.

He may be tricky in business, but that doesn't mean he knows one thing more about education than any random Internet forum poster. Nor does it mean he knows less. Just because I say "don't listen to him" doesn't mean "listen to me". I'm saying "think for yourself and listen to experts, not to random people with no credentials in the topic."

Comment Re:problems (Score 1) 89

You know that Bill Gates isn't one guy doing all the work all by himself right?

Really? No, that's a total surprise to me.

The point is not who does the work. The point is who decides which path to take. And from what I've seen so far, Bill is anything but a hands-off manager. His education project is the way he thinks it should be done, and his malaria foundation does business with pharmacy companies that he holds stock in.

It might just be that he listens to his experts and then goes on stage selling their proposals as his ideas, but given his history with Microsoft and Windows and DOS, I doubt it.

Comment problems (Score 1) 89

Let's hope it goes better than BillG school reform!

It won't. Bill suffers from the same ego problem that many successful people suffer from - thinking that because you were good at one thing means you are qualified to solving every other problem. But very few people are great in vastly different domains. Even most geniuses stick to at least one area.

Giving money to people who are real experts in a domain and giving them room to find solutions is a hundred times better than coming in as a celebrity and taking over with your own random idea. This can, in fact, have a negative effect on the actual progress in the field.

Comment Re:required reading (Score 1) 222

So what do the higher classes read if not BLD?

There are plenty of other newspapers in Germany, Die Zeit, Die Welt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung being some that come to mind immediately, than plenty of other regional and topical newspapers like Hamburger Abendblatt, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Handelsblatt, die tageszeitung and many, many more.

Comment this or that (Score 1) 508

If I could make any change I wanted, I would make it illegal and/or impossible to display advertisement to someone without prior consent. No spam, no pop-ups, pop-unders, malware, clickbaiting, punched gorillas, max-volume ads, interstitinal ads, all that bullshit gone. The world would be a better place.

If it has to be a technological change, I would wish for a universal connector. Everything going in and out of my computers, screens, drives, etc. is zeroes and ones anyways, why do I need twenty different form factors for those bits? I want one cable instead of power, audio, HDMI, DVI, VGA, USB, mini-USB, micro-USB, lightning, thunderbolt, ethernet, and all its relatives.
Also, it should be a bus. One cable into computer, into a hub, and from there into screen, external drive, lan and whatever else. Power across all those cables to all the devices.

A man can dream, yes?

Comment required reading (Score 4, Informative) 222

What you need to know about BILD:

It's the most popular (by far) newspaper "for the lower classes" in Germany. It is massively influential on public opinion, and thus required reading for politicians and such. Several german chancellors are known to have checked the BILD headlines first thing in the morning to know what the people will wake up to.

It is also rumours to be funded by the CIA, at least during its early, post-war years, and to this day is fanatically pro-american, conservative and anti-communist.

With that in mind, you understand who the readership is and why they are more likely than, say, the /. crowd, to turn off their adblockers.

Comment Re:How? (Score 2) 486

And why would Putin relay anything to ISIS ? Whatever you think of Putin, he is certainly not a friend of islamic terrorism and seems in fact much more serious about fighting them than the US.
(I mean seriously, the by far largest war machine of the planet vs. a few ten thousand barely organized desert nomads and after two years they are still expanding? It's gone beyond the point that can be explained by stupidity and incompetence.)

Bell Labs Unix -- Reach out and grep someone.