Friday, July 26, 2013

You Better Watch Out, He's Making a List, He Knows When You've Been Bad or Good, and It Ain't Just Santa

UPDATE X:  How did your Congressman vote on an amendment to "end authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act . . . [and barring] the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records, including telephone call records"?

See GovTrack, H.Amdt. 413 (Amash) to H.R. 2397.

UPDATE IX:  On this 4th of July, 2013, we find out that it isn't just Santa making a list.

From The New York Times, U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement: we know know that the "Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images."

Happy day of liberty, whatever that might mean now in the the so-called land of the free.

UPDATE VIII:  Hey, didn't I warn you (in December 2008) it wasn't just Santa:

From the Washington Post, The NSA is doing what Google does:  the "government was doing at least what Google was doing — and Google, I’m convinced, is the new Santa Claus: It sees you when you’re sleeping, it knows when you’re awake. It knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness' sake."

UPDATE VII:  "The problem [in balancing security and liberty] is that we have only one major point of reference when we debate what these trends might mean: the 20th-century totalitarian police state, whose every intrusion on privacy was in the service of tyrannical one-party rule. That model is useful for teasing out how authoritarian regimes will try to harness the Internet’s surveillance capabilities, but America isn’t about to turn into East Germany with Facebook pages.

For us, the age of surveillance is more likely to drift toward what Alexis de Tocqueville described as 'soft despotism' or what the Forbes columnist James Poulos has dubbed 'the pink police state.' Our government will enjoy extraordinary, potentially tyrannical powers, but most citizens will be monitored without feeling persecuted or coerced.

So instead of a climate of pervasive fear, there will be a chilling effect at the margins of political discourse, mostly affecting groups and opinions considered disreputable already. Instead of a top-down program of political repression, there will be a more haphazard pattern of politically motivated, Big Data-enabled abuses. (Think of the recent I.R.S. scandals, but with damaging personal information being leaked instead of donor lists.)

In this atmosphere, radicalism and protest will seem riskier, paranoia will be more reasonable, and conspiracy theories will proliferate. But because genuinely dangerous people will often be pre-empted or more swiftly caught, the privacy-for-security swap will seem like a reasonable trade-off to many Americans — especially when there is no obvious alternative short of disconnecting from the Internet entirely.

Welcome to the future. Just make sure you don’t have anything to hide."

Read the New York Times, Your Smartphone Is Watching You

UPDATE VI:  We live in a National Surveillance State, "one that uses bulk information and data techniques to monitor its citizens and draw inferences about their potential behavior in the service of carrying out the responsibilities that it sets out for itself. Like other parts of the state (welfare, national security), the surveillance state provides a type of security for its citizens through the manipulation of knowledge and resources. And like other parts of the state, the surveillance state fights against democratic efforts to provide accountability and transparency.

This name comes from a 2008 paper, 'The Constitution in the National Surveillance State,' by Yale law professor Jack Balkin. He provocatively argues that '[t]he question is not whether we will have a surveillance state in the years to come, but what sort of state we will have.'"

Read the Washington Post, Is a democratic surveillance state possible?

UPDATE V:  The NSA's data collection and analysis program built on similar programs first used by the military in Iraq, then "Afghanistan in 2010, where it assembled and analyzed all the data over a 30-day period on transactions that intelligence officials could get their hands on: phone conversations, military events, road-traffic patterns, public opinion—even the price of potatoes, former officials said. Changes in prices of commodities at markets proved to be an indicator of potential for conflict, they said. . .

Analysts discovered that the system's analysis improved when more information was added, so they moved to merge 90-day batches of data. The result, said a former U.S. official, was an ability to predict attacks 60% to 70% of the time."

Read the Wall Street Journal, Technology Emboldened the NSA.

Then watch/re-watch the movies Enemy of the State and Minority Report.  

UPDATE IV:  Told ya so: 

A "National Security Agency program that apparently has collected the telephone records of tens of millions of American . . . has been underway for the past seven years."

Read the Washington Post, Administration, lawmakers defend NSA program to collect phone records.

The only thing that surprises me is that it started only seven years ago.  I bet there were other 'data mining' (AKA spying) programs that involved the analysis of other types of information, including purchases and web browsing, and more. 

Read The Data Doghouse, Data Mining – From Diapers to Phone Records. (Note the date of the post: May 2005.)

UPDATE III:  "The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April."

Read The Guardian, NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily.

This should come as no surprise, it been going on since 2001.  And I first mentioned it several months after starting this blog in 2008.

UPDATE II: Intercepts of Americans’ phone calls and e-mail messages are broader than previously acknowledged. Read The New York Times, E-Mail Surveillance Renews Concerns in Congress.

Another I told ya so from NoBullU.

UPDATE: To a post from December to say I told ya so, they listen to everybody, including a mad Congresswoman.

Read the Washington Post, Harman to Holder: Release the Tapes, and CQ Politics, Wiretap Recorded Rep. Harman Promising to Intervene for AIPAC.

I may be paranoid but . . .

Ever wonder how the NSA electronic surveillance program, nicknamed the Terrorist Surveillance Program by Bush, spies just on terrorist. It doesn't, unless of course terrorist is a euphemism/doublespeak for citizen. Read:

Welcome to Nineteen Eighty-Four.