Saturday, June 8, 2013

American Citizen? You Are Probably Not In Jail, But You Are Almost Certainly In PRISM

The Guardian has revealed that NSA surveillance of American citizens is even worse than we expected:
The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

(Bolds mine. - SB)

Fourth Amendment, revised version:
"The right of the peephole..."
So, Americans, your government has taken the greatest information sharing tool ever devised by humankind, and turned it into a secret peeping tool. Welcome to 1984. The TVs may not work in both directions in 2013 as they did in 1984, but that's only because there is less information to be gained on citizens by literally looking into their homes than by tracking their use of the Internet. Apparently this has been going on since the middle of the GeeDubya Bush administration, but the Obama administration has done... and as it has made publicly clear, will continue to do... nothing to stop it.

Civil liberties advocates... welcome to the world of your worst nightmares. Activists of all sorts... don't put anything on any Internet service (including, e.g., cloud backups of your hard drives) that you don't want to share with your government's spies. Apparently, since the demise of the old Soviet Union, they don't have enough to keep themselves busy, so they're going to watch us instead.

On the positive side, at least all this draconian spying on citizens has protected us from terrorism. Hasn't it? Oh, wait... [glances in the direction of Boston]

Afterthought: here's a bit more from the Guardian article:

The program facilitates extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information. The law allows for the targeting of any customers of participating firms who live outside the US, or those Americans whose communications include people outside the US.

It also opens the possibility of communications made entirely within the US being collected without warrants.

Apparently, no part of the Fourth Amendment is still viable.


  1. I've been reading all of this stuff and still don't know what to think. On the one hand I knew with 99% probability that this was going on. I know too many supposedly-ex-NSA people high up in the corporate security departments of places like Yahoo and Google to think that it's merely coincidence. But the nature and timing of these revelations has me wondering if there is a faction within the NSA that is upset about something Obama did and is trying to get at him with these selective leaks. I have the uneasy feeling we're being played somehow...

    1. 'Tux, if NSA is surveilling literally everyone, does their motive matter? Would this electronic surveillance be any better if we had known all about it from the beginning?

      I am plenty upset about a lot of things Obama and his administration have done and continue to do. But NSA is, if I'm not mistaken, under the executive branch, and should be overseen by Congress. Instead, the agency seems to have everyone in the executive branch intimidated into submission, and it has no interest in securing the people's safety, let alone their liberty. IIRC, Ron Wyden said a few years ago that when the American people learned what the NSA was doing, the shit would hit the fan. (Well, Wyden phrased it more politely than that, but that was certainly his meaning.) Now they have learned, and those fan blades are slinging the stuff.

      Are we being played? I assume that I'm always being played, and that sometimes I'll be taken in. But I've rarely been complacent about what I've learned NSA, DHS, CIA and FBI are doing, and this whole business just confirms my worst prior suspicions. The fact that what the agencies are doing is totally ineffective at interdicting terrorism is proved by the Boston Marathon attack, and who's standing up to take blame for that? Right... nobody.




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