The Dim-Post

June 12, 2013

General observation

Filed under: intelligence — danylmc @ 8:30 am

Government surveillance scandals are when people who spend their lives in a constant state of hysteria about the all-powerful PC nanny state shrug their shoulders and ask what the big deal is.

30 Comments »

  1. The column Farrar quotes is useful, though. It was nice to see someone actually point out that Prism isn’t a global surveillance scheme, its a piece of software — a web-based data GUI that isn’t actually secret. Recruitment ads sometimes explicitly require Prism skills. Ditto the subject of another of the Guardian’s stories, Boundless Informant, which is a data-viz tool (mostly open-source) that illustrates foreign surveillance activity. Neither of these things are the problem in themselves (and I do think there’s a problem). There’s been a hell of a lot of people reporting what other people are reporting, and some of what they’re reporting is actually pretty wrong.

    Comment by Russell Brown — June 12, 2013 @ 8:46 am

  2. Note to NSA’s internal security team. Any employee or contractor with a personal laptop showing stickers promoting the Electronic Frontier Foundation and especially the Tor Project is unlikely to be your friend.

    Unfortunately, interested observers should order plenty of popcorn, because this story will continue to run on assertions – even if some evidence appears. Reality is very unlikely to appear.

    Comment by Bruce Hamilton — June 12, 2013 @ 9:29 am

  3. There may be multiple pieces of software/projects called PRISM in use in the US govt. and it is not clear that they are all the same thing. For example, this PRISM http://www.compusearch.com/products/prism7 (seemingly a tool for managing and auditing contracts) is probably the one that recruitment ads might be mandating skills for. It doesn’t seem to be above the likes of the NSA to exploit the confusion created (accidentally or deliberately) by having a “secret” program with a duplicate name to a legitimate one.

    But, sure, PRISM is just a bit of software used to analyse / present data. The critical bit is what data is being analysed and how that data was accessed. It is also worth bearing in mind that NSA (and others) have a specific legal definition of “collecting data”. So, when, they deny “collecting data” they don’t necessarily mean what we might think they do. Also, any denials of NSA activity, even if true, apply only to US citizens. Such denials are of no comfort to us in NZ.

    Comment by RJL — June 12, 2013 @ 9:46 am

  4. What I can never quite get to grips with is what happens if so called ‘bad people’ use US Postal Service to pass their secrets/ It seems to me that electronic snooping is far more prevalent than opening actual letters. There are quite fierce controls on who can access US mail that seem to be lacking in electronic communication. Is this just because it is easier to intercept electronic communications.

    Comment by Ron — June 12, 2013 @ 10:05 am

  5. Actual terrerists and spies aren’t dumb enough to use anything easily monitored.

    The former communicate by face-to-face meetings, while the latter have fairly effective encryption.

    One reason why various acts of state crime and terrorism in NZ (Rainbow Warrior, Israeli passports) totally failed to be detected by our expensive and intrusive security services.

    Comment by rich — June 12, 2013 @ 10:23 am

  6. All nicely summed by this comment:

    “Here’s a question I asked myself yesterday: Would I rather have my phone records collected and readied for possible inspection by the National Security Agency, or have my genitalia scrutinized by the Transportation Security Administration? One answer, of course, is, why choose? In today’s America you can have both.”

    Comment by JC — June 12, 2013 @ 11:32 am

  7. Note to NSA’s internal security team. Any employee or contractor with a personal laptop showing stickers promoting the Electronic Frontier Foundation and especially the Tor Project is unlikely to be your friend.

    Snowden has made some remarkable claims including about what he personally could do – access Obama’s phone calls – which may turn out to be fantasy.

    He also made campaign donations to Ron Paul.

    And The Guardian’s trust in Greenwald may turn out to be misplaced. They’re certainly not spending that much time clearing up the confusion his “reporting” has caused.

    Comment by NeilM — June 12, 2013 @ 11:32 am

  8. Snowden has made some remarkable claims including about what he personally could do – access Obama’s phone calls – which may turn out to be fantasy.

    Right NeilM. Because a highly paid 29 year old consultant with Booz-Allen with a sweet technocratic career in front of him has a lot to gain by ruining his fucking life.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 12, 2013 @ 11:47 am

  9. He also made campaign donations to Ron Paul.

    OH! MY! GOD!

    That’s enough for me. Nothing he ever says about anything can ever be trusted. Because … well, Ron Paul!

    Comment by Flashing Light — June 12, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

  10. And The Guardian’s trust in Greenwald may turn out to be misplaced. They’re certainly not spending that much time clearing up the confusion his “reporting” has caused.

    I do think Greenwald’s reporting has been inadequate. In what we’ve seen, he’s spent a lot of time establishing Snowden’s moral virtue (and Snowden does give an impressive moral and intellectual account of his motivations) and not enough asking him questions that might clarify the issues for everyone. I do think the general issue of state over-reach, relations with the big private data harvesters and the robustness of laws in the US and here is very important. It’s a vital discussion.

    Comment by Russell Brown — June 12, 2013 @ 12:57 pm

  11. Very Deep Thinker Josie Pagani weighs in:

    http://pundit.co.nz/content/ed-snowden-could-come-to-nz

    Ed Snowden is no hero. Unless you believe that there is never a case for governments to intercept communications when you suspect a crime is being planned. In which case life becomes very easy for the bad guys.

    God I hate these people.

    Comment by danylmc — June 12, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

  12. Josie and the Existential Threats.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 12, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

  13. Josie Pagani is one of these people you’d cross a busy road in Vietnam with a full bladder to avoid if you saw them on fire.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 12, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

  14. Is there a right-wing equivalent? Someone who insists they’re a passionate believer in the free market and traditional family values while insisting it would be sensible national party policy to nationalise Fonterra and reintroduce compulsory unionism?

    Comment by danylmc — June 12, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

  15. I have just realised I have never seen Josie Pagani and Shelley Bridgeman in the same room at the same time.

    Comment by AnotherStatistic — June 12, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

  16. Well, there used to be a guy called Rob Muldoon.

    I think there are various people around who have/had a family/peer group who are tribally Labour, but for intellectual or selfish reasons have adopted a right wing worldview. These people seem to stay in Labour, presumably through the tribal loyalty angle.

    Those of us who come from a toryscum background but hold a progressive worldview don’t seem to care about this, even if it involves moving to the other side of the world to get away from tory relatives.

    (The other explanation is that people like Pagani and (Shane) Jones are all CIA plants)

    Comment by rich — June 12, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

  17. This Ars Technica analysis of Prism and the data-mining behind it is the best thing I’ve read on the topic: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/06/what-the-nsa-can-do-with-big-data/

    Comment by Russell Brown — June 12, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

  18. This Ars Technica analysis of Prism and the data-mining behind it is the best thing I’ve read on the topic:

    Yes. My first complaint about the equivalency between Facebook/Google and the NSA is that my relationship with Google is (supposedly) consensual and transparent.

    Comment by danylmc — June 12, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

  19. I agree.
    From a technical position, the comparison is fine. From the intent position, it’s stupid.

    Whatever Google does with your info for their own purposes, you are unlikely to be renditioned to a secret torture prison because of it.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 12, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

  20. We’ve known these guys have had big computers, shiny buildings, and super smart MIT grads. What did we expect they were doing? Sudoku?

    Comment by insider — June 12, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

  21. @ inside3r – we kinda hoped they would do what they always said they were doing. Namely, following up on complaints/information/leads given to them about possible activity that harms NZers, with court warrants to intercept communications & data, leading to arrest, prosecution and conviction in open courts. Oh, and using their expertise to secure govt & public data and ICT systems to protect us from such attacks.

    Not trawling all communications of citizens so they can be ‘ready’ for when we come down from the hills of Montana to overthrow big nanny govt…

    Josie Pagani should be NZ’s entry in the Olympics long jump. Her ability to leap in a single stride from ‘don’t listen to a whistleblower who reveals govt is spying on us all’ to ‘or you can’t really want any crime investigated’ should ensure the gold, silver and bronze medals.

    Comment by bob — June 12, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

  22. Anyone need another day job what with most of you obviously underemployed fucking around on the interwebs

    Comment by Darren — June 13, 2013 @ 7:34 am

  23. Darren should know about fucking around on the interwebs, after his 30 second masty he has got nothing to do online except fine more porn.

    I see today David Farrar is advertising his credentials for entry into the inner party with a flawless display of Ingsoc doublethink, viz:

    “Helmets for children on scooters??? I will hysterically oppose these monstrous intrusions of the nanny state! Big Brother wants to take away my privacy and spy on everything I do all the time without a warrant, check or democratic restraint? Fine go ahead!”

    And O’Brien will smile.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 13, 2013 @ 8:24 am

  24. Darren’s comment reminded me of the term “fuck-knuckle”. Which made me smile.

    ****

    “And The Guardian’s trust in Greenwald may turn out to be misplaced. They’re certainly not spending that much time clearing up the confusion his “reporting” has caused.” (NeilM@7)
    Hi Neil, it’s good that some are conscious and detecting the aroma of Robusta.
    Contrast the G’s treatment of Snowden and Manning with (the comments are a blast):
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2011/nov/25/clues-climate-email-hackers-message

    (Danyl says “Government surveillance scandals are… when people who spend their lives in a constant state of hysteria about the all-powerful PC nanny state shrug their shoulders and ask what the big deal is.”
    Clunking Fist agrees with Danyl and notes: “Hacking is… when people who spend their lives lionising whistle-blowers, show their blinkered tribalism”.)

    Comment by Clunking Fist — June 13, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

  25. Hacking is… when people who spend their lives lionising whistle-blowers, show their blinkered tribalism”.

    That doesn’t even remotely make sense, CF.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 13, 2013 @ 2:26 pm

  26. Danyl said: “Government surveillance scandals are when people who spend their lives in a constant state of hysteria about the all-powerful PC nanny state shrug their shoulders and ask what the big deal is.”
    And how about:
    “Government surveillance scandals are when people who spend their lives in a constant state of adulation of Obama, are targeted by that administration and get hysterical about the all-powerful PC nanny state.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/15/obama-civil-liberties-sea-change
    Greenwald say “Leave to the side how morally grotesque it is to oppose rights assaults only when they affect you. The pragmatic point is that it is vital to oppose such assaults in the first instance no matter who is targeted because such assaults, when unopposed, become institutionalized.” The Greens have a good record on this… as long as you overlook the fact they have not yet lead an administration*. Kinda like Obama before he came to power. Power corrupts.

    *and many of their supporters will deny others the freedom of expression, by turning up to their meetings and disrupting them (Greenshirts?)

    PS, during the morning commute, has anyone else noticed the yawning university students at the side of the road, paid to dress up as a car in order to promote car pooling. Great to see my money being used in such a productive manner.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — June 13, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

  27. Cf and sancy are going to get a room and make nasty words about me.

    Comment by Darren — June 13, 2013 @ 7:30 pm

  28. So Greenwald turns out to be full of shit.

    why the Guardian promotes this Ron Paul version of the Left is a bit of a mystery but it looks like they think it gets them readership.

    They might want to just adjust to the fact that Obama is never going to turn to Chomsky for advice on on security and foreign affairs. All that shitting on Hillary Clinton shredded their credibility for nothing.

    Or was there something I missed about how Obama was supposed to be so much less of a hawk that it justified the misogyny.

    Comment by NeilM — June 13, 2013 @ 11:20 pm

  29. “…So Greenwald turns out to be full of shit…”

    Why yes he is, absolutely full of it, so full of it I am surprised he doesn’t have an enormous shit explosion and die. So there is no need for you to do anything so radical as have a disturbing thought or unsettling moment. Phew.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 14, 2013 @ 8:29 am

  30. Booz Allen don’t appear to be alone in this shift by consultancies into enforcement support activity, or was it ever thus. Here’s Thomson Reuter carving a niche:

    “A new generation of hidden marketplaces, anonymizing tools and encrypted currencies have revolutionized the online environment and severely blurred the distinction between legality and illegality,” said Steve Rubley, Managing Director, Government Segment, Thomson Reuters and President and CEO Thomson Reuters Special Services, LLC. “Indeed, seductive experiments in technology, anonymity, crime, law, personal freedom, and community are stymieing law enforcement the world over. The recent indictment of a Central American online payments company accused of laundering $6 billion from illicit enterprises through payments systems illustrates the potential size and scope of this problem.”

    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/a-new-virtual-economy-poses-new-challenges-in-fighting-child-pornography-and-child-exploitation-211404651.html

    Seems to have forgotten Wachovia laundered $US378.4 billion between 2003-2006, now that’s a problem.

    Comment by Hamish MacEwan — June 16, 2013 @ 7:40 pm


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