Who watches the Watchmen?

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Mongrel
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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby Mongrel » Sat Oct 04, 2014 12:48 pm

"The Internet with a Human Face"

The title is misleading. It's a talk from a conference that makes a good show of looking at the underlying privacy issues with the internet, how the internet's current commercial model essentially rests on massive invasions of privacy, and how the potential long-term issues arising from this are more damaging than typically acknowledged.

It's from a pretty leftist conference, but the article itself is fine, unless you consider concern for privacy and data security to be a predominantly left- or right-wing issue.

It falls pretty close to some of my own lines of thought, but I think it's a reasonable commentary even trying to forget my own viewpoint.

At the same time, I really wonder if anything will be done in even small ways to hinder this. As the author suggests, this pressure may come from non-US actors who understand that right now the Internet is functionally under US control. But ending this can only come if the US finally relinquishes real and substantial aspects of that control, and to be fair to the US, I do understand the arguments against that, but I do think we could at least tilt the balance further, which has been done in very very small amounts in recent years.
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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby Thad » Sat Oct 11, 2014 12:49 pm

Laura Poitrass's Citizen Four has premiered at the New York Film Festival. It's a documentary about the Snowden leaks. And the biggest new piece of information -- suspected before but now confirmed by Greenwald -- is that there's another leak, "significantly senior" to Snowden, who's still in the Agency.

(Also, if the human interest element of the Snowden story is humanly interesting to you, you may be humanly interested to know that Snowden's girlfriend made it to Russia and they're living together again. As I've said many a time by now, I think that focusing on Snowden as an individual is a distraction, but I appreciate the risks he's taken and it's nice to know his personal life hasn't completely fallen apart as a result.)

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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby Thad » Mon Oct 13, 2014 2:28 pm

Latest Snowden leak:

The National Security Agency has had agents in China, Germany, and South Korea working on programs that use “physical subversion” to infiltrate and compromise networks and devices, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.

The documents, leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, also indicate that the agency has used “under cover” operatives to gain access to sensitive data and systems in the global communications industry, and that these secret agents may have even dealt with American firms. The documents describe a range of clandestine field activities that are among the agency’s “core secrets” when it comes to computer network attacks, details of which are apparently shared with only a small number of officials outside the NSA.


As usual, I'm not surprised but I'm glad to see corroboration.

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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby Thad » Sat Dec 27, 2014 12:37 pm

NSA complies with ACLU FOIA request, the afternoon of Christmas Eve.

Bloomberg wrote:The heavily-redacted reports include examples of data on Americans being e-mailed to unauthorized recipients, stored in unsecured computers and retained after it was supposed to be destroyed, according to the documents. They were posted on the NSA’s website at around 1:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

In a 2012 case, for example, an NSA analyst “searched her spouse’s personal telephone directory without his knowledge to obtain names and telephone numbers for targeting,” according to one report. The analyst “has been advised to cease her activities,” it said.

Other unauthorized cases were a matter of human error, not intentional misconduct.

Last year, an analyst “mistakenly requested” surveillance “of his own personal identifier instead of the selector associated with a foreign intelligence target,” according to another report.

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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby François » Sat Dec 27, 2014 4:10 pm

man i wish black kids carrying skittles were merely "advised to cease their activities"

i mean it'd still be a racist police state but that's a couple notches above "shot"

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Re: Little Pig, Little Pig! Let Me Admin! (Security Thread)

Postby Mongrel » Mon Feb 23, 2015 4:57 pm

AMA with Edward Snowden

Not sure if this is the best thread for this?
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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby Thad » Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:26 pm

Ars has a biggie called How “omnipotent” hackers tied to NSA hid for 14 years—and were found at last.

It details Kaspersky's discovery of an NSA group it's calling the Equation Group, and here's how it starts out:

CANCUN, Mexico — In 2009, one or more prestigious researchers received a CD by mail that contained pictures and other materials from a recent scientific conference they attended in Houston. The scientists didn't know it then, but the disc also delivered a malicious payload developed by a highly advanced hacking operation that had been active since at least 2001. The CD, it seems, was tampered with on its way through the mail.

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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby Mongrel » Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:28 pm

I think I posted that In the Security thread? I was kind of sad no one had anything to say since, uh, it might be the biggest news story of the year so far.

Might be better here anyway.

In any case, here's something neat: Citizen Four is available for free, legal download, because it is public evidence in a lawsuit
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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby Thad » Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:32 pm

Whoops, so you did. Didn't realize it was the same article.

Related: SIM card makers hacked by NSA and GCHQ leaving cell networks wide open

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Re: Little Pig, Little Pig! Let Me Admin! (Security Thread)

Postby Mothra » Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:45 pm

Mongrel wrote:AMA with Edward Snowden

Not sure if this is the best thread for this?

Alrighty, just moved this post over from Little Pig, Little Pig.

This AMA is really worth a read.

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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby Thad » Sun Mar 08, 2015 2:57 pm

Petraeus is getting a slap on the wrist, to the surprise of absolutely no one. Specifically, he's copped a plea to one misdemeanor count of retaining classified information, and prosecutors are recommending two years' probation and a $40,000 fine, with no jail time.

In the Guardian, Trevor Timm interviews Daniel Ellsberg, who lays out the reasons that Petraeus's leaks were more serious than either Manning's or Snowden's.

This could just as easily go in the police thread, really; it fits right into the conversation about how law enforcement treats different classes of people. Decorated generals are protected; privates and independent contractors are not.

Of course, it's still entirely consistent with the Obama Administration's war on whistleblowers -- because Petraeus was never a whistleblower.

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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby Thad » Fri May 08, 2015 11:24 am

Appeals court rules NSA phone spying illegal; establishment politicians trip all over themselves saying "Nuh-uh!"

I expect this will go to the Supreme Court.

I also expect authorization to be renewed in June with some complaining but no major changes.

A competing measure, known as the USA Freedom Act, would take the bulk data out of the NSA's hands and leave it with the telecoms. It would allow agents to query it, without a probable cause warrant, on an as-needed basis to combat terrorism.

[...]

Privacy groups are backing the USA Freedom Act because it's the lesser of two evils. There's no way Congress is going to let the program die. So any change to it, however small, is seen as a victory while underscoring how entrenched the surveillance state has become.

[...]

McConnell said the USA Freedom Act would leave the US exposed to terror while not protecting privacy.

"Despite the value of the Section 215 program and the rigorous safeguards that govern it, critics of the program either want to do away with it or make it much more difficult to use," he said. "Many of them are proposing a bill, the USA Freedom Act, they say will keep us safe while protecting our privacy. It will do neither. It will neither keep us safe, nor protect our privacy. It will make us more vulnerable and it risks compromising our privacy. The USA Freedom Act would replace Section 215 with an untested, untried and more cumbersome system."


Sometimes I think about my college roommate, who was head of the Campus Republicans and who repeatedly insisted to me that the PATRIOT Act wasn't being abused the way I said it was, and wonder where he stands on all this stuff today.

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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby Friday » Fri May 08, 2015 11:34 am

It's weird to me that Republicans are the ones who label themselves as anti-government overreach and big government is bad and etc etc and then routinely do this shit.
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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby Thad » Fri May 08, 2015 11:47 am

It's not weird, it's just hypocrisy.

They also only seem to care about deficits when a Democrat is in the White House. (Unless the Democrat reduces the deficit, in which case they don't care about deficits, only about who he's having sex with.) When a Republican's in the White House, you can lower taxes while fighting two wars and denounce anyone who doesn't like it as hating America and loving terrorists.

Which is not to say that Democrats don't have their own share of hypocrisy to bear; Obama specifically campaigned on stopping this shit and then he expanded it instead. And there are plenty of Democrats who opposed this when Bush was doing it and support it now that Obama's doing it. At least the Republicans who supported it then and support it now are consistent.

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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby Mothra » Fri May 08, 2015 3:44 pm

Dear all old congressmen: Please die immediately

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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby Thad » Fri May 08, 2015 4:27 pm

I don't think age is the problem any more than political party is; Sanders is in his seventies and Franken and Warren are both in their sixties (I gues sixties may be "young" by the Senate's standards) while Marco Rubio is in his forties and that idiot Tom Cotton is only five years older than I am.

Old and young, Democratic and Republican, this is one of those things that doesn't break down along the usual predictable lines. (Hell, not even regional -- look at California's senators.)

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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby Mongrel » Tue Jun 30, 2015 2:05 am

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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby Mongrel » Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:28 pm

Maciej Cegłowski: What Happens Next Will Amaze You.

Really nice overview of the current state of the Ad Wars and resulting privacy issues, wrapping up with a general swipe at Crazytown aka Silicon Valley.
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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby Thad » Thu Sep 24, 2015 11:51 am

Stross recently had a post titled A question about the future of the world wide web where he suggested the current state of online advertising is collapsing, people are getting sick of clickbait headlines, and Apple bundling an ad-blocker into its browser is one more nail in the coffin of a revenue system that's never really worked very well in the first place.

Apple's a big enough player to really shake shit up; let's not forget that Apple is directly responsible for Flash's declining use as a web technology.

And, as I've observed elsewhere, Google is dealing with a real conundrum here; it's the largest online advertiser but has also had to make concessions to protecting its users' privacy, because that is a feature that its customers want. (Microsoft has a similar problem, but it's not as severe because Microsoft's primary business is software sales, not advertising.)

Mozilla has seen an advertising opportunity here, and is pushing to regain relevance by touting Firefox as an alternative to Chrome that respects your privacy. I think that's smart, but I also think they're going to have to fix the fucking browser and release a product that competes with Chrome on performance, not just privacy. I don't think it's likely that Firefox will ever be the #2 browser again, but it could still stand to regain some of its lost market share, and a sustained campaign against Google over its privacy policy could do some damage, depending on how well the campaign is waged and what stories appear in the news in that time.

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Re: Who watches the Watchmen?

Postby Mongrel » Thu Sep 24, 2015 12:03 pm

I thought Cegłowski really hammered two points especially well.

The first was when he compared the Internet to other utilities, and pointed out that he is not afraid to fly, thanks to heavy airline regulation, even though the people doing the regulating were typically not airline industry experts (though I'm sure there was some learning to be done) and consumers usually know nothing at all. Of course the internet requires global legislation, which is of an order of magnitude more difficult than national legislation, but airlines are a great example because they too operate (and are regulated) internationally.

The second was when he pointed out that if the Great Internet Capitalists of The Twenty-First Century Silicon Valley Boom can't even help to make their own metro area, San Francisco, a great city, why should anyone feel confident that their promises of a magnificent (or disastrous) world future have any credence? Now that's maybe more a discussion for the "Soylent Guy Is Crazy People" thread, and I'm sure there's decent ways to be critical of it, but it's still a fantastic gut punch of a point.

The bit where he invoked central planners was also really great.
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