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  1. #1
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Default The harm done by revelations about surveillance?

    What do you consider the harm done by revelations about the reach and techniques of surveillance to be? I'll be honest that I've been following the revelations pretty closely and I havent found anything myself which would, I believe, prove useful to terrorists, what has been revealed I think is how extensive the surveillance of people who its not proven are anything to do with terrorism or that there's extensive general surveillance of everyone.

    That seems like a waste of resources or a pretty broad strokes approach to the threat of terrorism to be honest and perhaps likely to foment the threat were it doesnt exist. I do think there's been a media strategy in the coverage of this, ie that its not really been covered and you have to pretty much take the word of the authorities that harm has taken place and what that harm is besides the possibility that it will result in average citizens or civil liberties groups challenging their practices or having even less trust in the authorities.

  2. #2
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Far more harm has been done by the surveillance itself than by its revelation.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  3. #3
    Theta Male Julius_Van_Der_Beak's Avatar
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    I think if the government doesn't have anything to be ashamed of, they have no reason to worry.
    [Trump's] rhetoric is not an abuse of power. In the same way that it's also not against the law to do a backflip off of the roof of your house onto your concrete driveway. It's just mind-numbingly stupid and, to say the least, counterproductive. - Bush did 9-11


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  4. #4
    Freaking Ratchet Rail Tracer's Avatar
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    More harm has been done by the surveillance than by the "leaks" itself.

    There was no "concrete" proof that "they" were heavily looking at Americans. Since the revelations, we now have proof. The "T" is just an excuse for the "D" use.

    Long story short. Trust is earned, not demanded. And as such, all that was lost was trust.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    Government must invest in new surveillance technology. The cost!

  6. #6
    redundant descriptor netzealot's Avatar
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    Of course my opinion is extremely unpopular, but I think the government admissions about its surveillance activity are pretty honest, albeit a little late. Frankly, I think it's a little ignorant to be suddenly afraid of government surveillance and invasion of privacy on a personal level when the kind of information they (or anyone, really) can get from conventional methods is far, far more dangerous. To the typical American, cyber surveillance is the very crux of the government's "invasion of privacy", when in fact it is merely a tool of existing surveillance efforts which owes its propagation to the prevalence of the internet, not to the government's inexplicable desire to watch you walk around your house naked by hacking your webcam.

    The reason I believe the government is because I actually understand database queries. You know that scene in lawyer shows where they get all excited because one lawyer somehow found something important in a stack of papers? Well, lawyers don't do that, complex database queries do. In fact, there are entire private sector businesses already devoted to crunching hundreds of pages of documents and finding something useful for litigators. This includes cross-references with known real-life friends/associates, past addresses, the whole bit. See, it doesn't make sense to see PRISM as an invasion of privacy because it wouldn't work for widespread surveillance. You and I are buried under exabytes of data, and the only way to be noticed is for someone to be looking for you and run a query with your name on it, giving some actual credence to the phrase "if you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to hide"... and no, this doesn't also apply to the government because their reasons for hiding their activity is to enable more effective enforcement of justice. Imagine if they called people up before SWAT hits their house, since "they've got nothing to hide"... it doesn't go both ways in a total sense.

    Now, what such a database is useful for is, exactly what the government says its for, namely scanning for illegal international or terrorist activity. So unless you're doing something retarded like googling instructions for pressure cooker bombs (because that is something that such a database can search for) you're more likely to get hit by a bus in your own home than you are to come up on the screen of somebody at the NSA. Even then, I imagine you'd have to actually start ordering 1,000 bottlerockets or something before anyone paid any attention to you (and frankly I am glad that such methods exist to potentially prevent someone from doing this). Don't flatter yourself, nobody wants to see your spongebob underwear.

    The amount of data that PRISM stores is 1000x what is shown here (on the scale of Exabytes)
    "My sister puts up a front so people won't know how vulnerable she really is. Me? I put up a front so people won't know how vulnerable I'm not." - Dexter

  7. #7
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LevelZeroHero View Post
    Of course my opinion is extremely unpopular, but I think the government admissions about its surveillance activity are pretty honest, albeit a little late. Frankly, I think it's a little ignorant to be suddenly afraid of government surveillance and invasion of privacy on a personal level when the kind of information they (or anyone, really) can get from conventional methods is far, far more dangerous. To the typical American, cyber surveillance is the very crux of the government's "invasion of privacy", when in fact it is merely a tool of existing surveillance efforts which owes its propagation to the prevalence of the internet, not to the government's inexplicable desire to watch you walk around your house naked by hacking your webcam.
    The government would have earned more trust at least had they made these admissions before being forced into it by the leaks. You are correct about the danger of cyber-based surveillance through other sources, such as ISPs, online vendors, and other industries . In one sense, this is the greater day-to-day danger, since the average person interacts with them much more frequently as a customer, client, or patient. Still, these tend to have a bit more transparency and are potentially subject to more regulation, since they do not have the "national security" card to play, at least until they do get a subpoena from some government entity. Yes, these regulations are inadequate and not always followed, but the fact that there is a debate about privacy policy shows an awareness of the issue.

    Government, on the other hand, can get away with far less transparency, with not even the pretense of "opting out", and cannot be trusted to regulate itself. Its law enforcement role and ability to invoke national security allow it to do far greater damage when it does cross the line. Think of the Navy Seals vs. the security guards at your local mall: who would you prefer be out to get you?

    Quote Originally Posted by LevelZeroHero View Post
    See, it doesn't make sense to see PRISM as an invasion of privacy because it wouldn't work for widespread surveillance. You and I are buried under exabytes of data, and the only way to be noticed is for someone to be looking for you and run a query with your name on it, giving some actual credence to the phrase "if you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to hide"... and no, this doesn't also apply to the government because their reasons for hiding their activity is to enable more effective enforcement of justice. Imagine if they called people up before SWAT hits their house, since "they've got nothing to hide"... it doesn't go both ways in a total sense.
    Widespread surveillance is not the danger, it is rather the targeting of individuals for reasons outside real national security or crime fighting concerns. The McCarthy era has already shown us the damage that can be done when individuals are targeted for investigation by entities like the FBI, just because they hold unpopular views or criticize the government. Actually, they didn't even need to do that. It was enough to be denounced by someone who didn't like you, perhaps was jealous or resentful or held a grudge for some reason. Most of these people probably had nothing to hide and did nothing wrong, but lost jobs and families and otherwise had their lives turned upside down. Now imagine how much worse the damage would be in the internet age.

    To use your analogy: the government doesn't need to announce each SWAT raid in advance. . They do need to let the public (for whom, after all, they work) know that there is a SWAT team, and what their overall purpose, scope and methods are. And, when it appears a mistake was made, it needs to be admitted, understood, and an adequate explanation given to the public. The government's number one asset in maintaining national security is an alert and cooperative public. They lose this to the extent that they cannot maintain the public trust.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  8. #8
    morose bourgeoisie
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    the harm done was temporary. The gov't will simply return to the same or similar tactics as before, no matter what laws or other limitations are put in place.

  9. #9
    redundant descriptor netzealot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    ...

    To use your analogy: the government doesn't need to announce each SWAT raid in advance. . They do need to let the public (for whom, after all, they work) know that there is a SWAT team, and what their overall purpose, scope and methods are. And, when it appears a mistake was made, it needs to be admitted, understood, and an adequate explanation given to the public. The government's number one asset in maintaining national security is an alert and cooperative public. They lose this to the extent that they cannot maintain the public trust.
    I totally agree. The lack of oversight is a very real problem with any government agency for that matter. The paranoia about PRISM, it seems, is compounded by the fact that people don't understand what it is and isn't effective at doing. I guess, on one hand, proper oversight would probably assuage the public's fear about it, on the other hand, if the public knew a little bit more about the limitations of such a collection method they probably wouldn't be as frightened in the first place.

    The real issue is, as you've pointed out, the eventual decay of accountability in a self-governing entity. Even in that sense, I'm not too concerned for the immediate future apart from the valid examples you brought up. Some have said that such an information database may eventually be utilized on a civil level (which would be scary... I imagine things like divorce proceedings would go very differently) but there is already a lot more information available to litigators and legal analysts than people know... all of it collected by private organizations. I admit, though, perhaps it's simply because I've been exposed to this longer than most people. The first time I saw a file on myself I was pretty shocked about how much had been gathered without any personal contact.

    In terms of civil uses, I wonder if the NSA's secrecy about all this would be a deterrent for the misuse of their data for illegitimate means... to prosecute someone they would have to expose the fact that they collected evidence, and it's unlikely that conflicts of interest would go unquestioned. Then again, government agencies can classify it as an international or "terrorist" matter and none of that really matters anyways and we're back at the need for better oversight. Anyways, I can't agree with you more about that... it's not total transparency that we need, but oversight and transparency into the oversight measures being taken.
    "My sister puts up a front so people won't know how vulnerable she really is. Me? I put up a front so people won't know how vulnerable I'm not." - Dexter

  10. #10
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    The revelations should be helping normal people make a clearer difference between terrorism and terrorist. Wide-ranging surveillance programs using tools like PRISM, Xkeyscore, and a pliable FISA court are looking for terrorism. They might also scoop up a few terrorists along the way too. The revelations to terrorists and the world that the US government has been looking for signs of terrorism and did have some electronic capability in that regard probably blah blah blah when did terrorism become an institution anyway?
    Bellison uncorked a flood of horrible profanity, which, translated, meant, "This is extremely unusual."

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