Join 3,368 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


You had to live -- did live, from the habit that became instinct and the assumption that every sound you made was overheard.
February 21, 2007 12:33 AM   Subscribe

For Your Eyes Only? Allegations that the government is reading your e-mails, with the help of AT&T. The latest episode of NOW did a good piece on the NSA's domestic surveillance program (previously discussed here.) It can be viewed on their website. Meanwhile, Canadian human rights attorney Maureen Webb has written a new book on the scope of government surveillance, and found that the use of sophisticated methods to search for terrorists is not identifying the right suspects.
posted by homunculus (72 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
In other NSA news, a federal judge ruled Tuesday that whistleblower documents in the case against AT&T should remain sealed, at least for now. The journalist who has been covering this story for Wired, Ryan Singel, was interviewed for the NOW episode.
posted by homunculus at 12:35 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I love how there's an AT&T ad right next to this post. That is all.
posted by MrMustard at 1:10 AM on February 21, 2007


Not to make light of it, but if the government is going to the trouble of reading my emails there's going to be way too much noise in the system to find anything useful. All of the spam that the typical user receives should provide plenty of cover for coded messages if that's what they think they are going to find.
posted by 2sheets at 1:12 AM on February 21, 2007


Yeah, without reading the links (gotta run soon, so reading is for later), I'd imagine the only way to run a email scanner operation would be to have a giant filter that kicks out emails that contain X number of words on a established list, or from a targeted audience. In which case some pretty simple cyphers are going to make the email analysis a few orders of magnitude more difficult, therefore nearly impossible on a bulk scale. Add that to a group sophisticated enough to use intentionally misdirecting messages and the whole thing turns into one large clusterfuck.
posted by edgeways at 5:50 AM on February 21, 2007


in re: sophisticated methods not working

Well DOY. There are millions of brainiacs working on blocking *spam* and that junk is easy to spot and has an enormous training set and the results have been pretty poor (except gmail--maybe NSA should hire Google). How much harder is it going to be spot coded talk about terror plots when you have maybe a few hundred examples?
posted by DU at 5:56 AM on February 21, 2007


In other NSA news, a federal judge ruled Tuesday that whistleblower documents in the case against AT&T should remain sealed, at least for now. The journalist who has been covering this story for Wired, Ryan Singel, was interviewed for the NOW episode.

Regarding the intimidation by and encroachment of the government on the freedom of the press, if anyone didn't see last night's episode of Frontline, it's definitely worth seeing. Offers fascinating insight into how corporate media can clash with the US government and win, but independent media are imprisoned.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:01 AM on February 21, 2007


This week, NOW reports on new evidence suggesting the existence of a secret government program that intercepts millions of private e-mails each day in the name of terrorist surveillance.

No news here. The argument "If Osama bin Laden is writing e-mails to a sleeper cell in New Jersey, the government should be able to monitor this" is compelling enough rhetoric that the average American doesn't care about the constitutional infraction.

So if this is true and the gubment is really only interested in preventing terrorism, why not pass a law that says any information collected in this manner which is NOT directly connected to the aforementioned act of terrorism is inadmissable in ANY criminal prosecution. Full stop.

In fact, why not pass a law that says any information collected in this manner is inadmissable in ANY and ALL criminal prosecutions... since suspected terrorists are not treated as criminals.
posted by three blind mice at 6:07 AM on February 21, 2007


C'mon, people. Who cares if it works or not? That's like sweeping the porch while the house burns down. Throwing a broad net and then looking for fish is clearly unconstitutional. Especially when it's surreptitious. We opposed King George's police doing this to us and we should oppose our government doing it. Love your country, fear your government.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:10 AM on February 21, 2007


DEAR SON,
YOU'RE DAD AND I ARE FINE. I FOUND SOME OLD PIX OF YOU WHEN YOU WERE LITTLE. DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU WET YOUR PANTS AT DISNEYLAND WHEN YOU SAW GOOFY? ALSO THAT GIRLFRIEND YOU HAD BERTHA, REMEMBER WHEN YOU PLAYED DOCTOR AND DAD HAD TO SPANK YOU BECAUSE YOU HAD A FINGER IN HER BOTTOM? AND THE PICTURE OF YOU IN YOUR PROM TUX WITH THE TURQUISE CUMBERBUND, YOU LOOK SO HANDSOME IT WAS TOO BAD YOUR DATE GOT MIXED UP AND HAD TO GO TO THE PROM WITH THAT OTHER BOY. OK LOVE,
MOM
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:11 AM on February 21, 2007


If you send email unecrypted, you should assume it can be read by anyone.

Also, the "carnivore" program has been around for quite some time.
posted by delmoi at 6:28 AM on February 21, 2007


The fox is in the henhouse. Repeat: The fox is in the henhouse.

Sincerely,
Muhammad Jihad
posted by LordSludge at 6:36 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well DOY. There are millions of brainiacs working on blocking *spam* and that junk is easy to spot and has an enormous training set and the results have been pretty poor (except gmail--maybe NSA should hire Google).

It's pretty simple if you know the source of the email. Just look at email that, say, comes from gmail, and other email systems that don't spew spam. You could probably cover 99% of email by taping a few hundred known ISPs and email providers.

Another option available to the feds, which isn't available to the average email filter, would be to look at email sent from people who have recived email from the address they're sending it too. That way you can narrow down email to 'networks' of people. Which is what the feds really want (to build social networks of people who might be interested in terrorism). Obviously that wouldn't work as a spam prevention method, because you would never get that first email. (it is somewhat like whitelisting, though).

This system won't stop anyone serious, since they would probably use email accounts only once, and obviously wouldn't send their messages plaintext.
posted by delmoi at 6:36 AM on February 21, 2007


My team is working around the clock on SLoG's email as we speak, Mr. President!
posted by papakwanz at 6:37 AM on February 21, 2007


If you send email unencrypted, you should assume it can be read by anyone.
And if you send email encrypted, you should assume it will be unencrypted by someone. It's only paranoia if no-one's following you.
posted by No Mutant Enemy at 6:40 AM on February 21, 2007


Muhammad,

The jade monkey escapes the branch only to catch the velvet moon.

Regards,
Osama Bargain Bin
posted by owenkun at 6:41 AM on February 21, 2007


I think I understand how this works.

All your emails, text messages, phone calls, etc are electronicly archived. Since no "person" sees it, it's considered legal.

Then, later, after the FBI notices you at an anti-war rally, or some post of yours on Metafilter draws attention to yourself, they can go back through the archives to see who you are corresponding with, and about what.

Since all this information is there, they can easily check everyone within 3-4 degrees of seperation from you.

Say you have a wierd unkle Zeke that doesn't like Bush, or the war. They check all his emails, and all the emails of everyone who has corresponded with him since 1996. You are on that list.

Your bank transactions will be scrutinized, to make sure you aren't funneling money to AlQeda, and they'll notice that nice guy Hassan that you met at college in your anthropology class has sent you a few emails when you did that paper on basket weaving of the Serengeti. Hassan has his own wierd unkle Omar from Yemen that once sold some Khat in exchange for a rifle.

BAM! You are connected to terrorists. Will they tell you that they looked at your emails? no. but you were a vital link between Zeke and Omar, and their phact phishing has paid off once again.
posted by Balisong at 6:48 AM on February 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Throwing a broad net and then looking for fish is clearly unconstitutional.

No kidding. Don't you get it? The terrorists won. The game's over. 19 guys with boxcutters did what the Soviet Union with their tens of thousands of nuclear weapons never achieved. Those 19 dudes destroyed the U.S. constitution. They didn't just kill 3000 people - they ass-raped the founding fathers and spit on their bleeding assholes.

The American voting public DOES NOT CARE about the Constitution. They do not care about the rule of law. Torture, extraordinary rendition, secret prisons, military tribunals, SECRET surveillance... NO ONE CARES... the voting population are swayed by arguments that empower the government to protect them against terrorism.

For his crimes against the constitution Bush should have been fucking impeached. Instead, he was re-elected. The oath of office to defend and protect the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic is a joke; what the American public wants is a governemt that will protect THEM. Sure it's cowardly, there is no question that it is a betrayal of all that it means to be American, but the party that ignores this new reality resigns itself to permanent minority status.

Get over it.
posted by three blind mice at 6:48 AM on February 21, 2007 [20 favorites]


Those 19 dudes destroyed the U.S. constitution. They didn't just kill 3000 people - they ass-raped the founding fathers and spit on their bleeding assholes.

Actually, that would be Bush with the bloody poo on his pecker.
posted by trondant at 6:56 AM on February 21, 2007


When are people going to figure out that the surveillance programs are not about terrorism?

They are about suppressing domestic dissent. The peaceful, political kind.
posted by Malor at 7:04 AM on February 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


This is why I communicate only in code, through a series of noises created by escaping gas. It's inadvertent and I haven't quite figured the code out yet, but it happens often enough that I figure it must mean something.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:33 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


We've got a word we use for that frothy mix of blood, cum, lube and fecal matter:

trondant: "Actually, that would be Bush with the Santorum on his pecker."
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:35 AM on February 21, 2007


As Bruce Schneier has said, "You don't improve signal to noise ratio by adding more noise. You don't improve the odds of finding a needle in a haystack by adding more hay."
posted by bshock at 7:39 AM on February 21, 2007


I don't expect that the point of surveillance, in the case, is to find information. The point of surveillance is to let people know that their are being watched. It is the panopticon principle writ large, in an America where everybody is being watched, all the time. I don't think terrorism has anything to do with this at all. I think our executive branch gave themselves permission to be our wardens.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:51 AM on February 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


They are about suppressing domestic dissent. The peaceful, political kind.
posted by Malor at 10:04 AM EST on February 21 [+ 2 favorites]
[!]


I understand the sentiment, but I don't think this is right either. There has been no chilling effect on dissent (look around). I think the purpose is to get something on everybody - to cast everyone in the grey, and then use what they have on "undesirables". How many people haven't committed a crime online? Every download a song? Watch a copyrighted clip on youtube? Every do anything online you wouldn't want your boss or significant other to find out about? That's what they want to collect, because that gives them some power.

The whole notion of datamining this for antiterrorism is ridiculous. I can still put a sealed envelope in the mail and they'll never be able to track it or know who sent it (think of those anthrax attacks).

This is about collecting info on every one of us.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:59 AM on February 21, 2007


they ass-raped the founding fathers and spit on their bleeding assholes.

Those Extremists are totally backwards!
posted by srboisvert at 8:02 AM on February 21, 2007


this is all being done for your own good so relax and leave it to people who will protect you against your silly notions of privacy.
posted by Postroad at 8:03 AM on February 21, 2007


There has been no chilling effect on dissent (look around).

Pastabagel, I recommend that you watch the Frontline episode I referred to here.

The Bush administration has indeed made attempts to quieten dissent through intimidation, interrogation and incarceration — of its own employees, of the public, and of members of the press.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:09 AM on February 21, 2007


56158689K58986589Y59565368J684842256E6596985289L53655596855L69526985395Y856842513696866I555625558997S8586256433588856T6552999755116E6985555888512355H598555331411596B5123358866445688E545899552314648T558641255655314555W56563321898555842A855855436223658895Y886523433599695T6554123588886665896O5586987411255E466895886555658A866553251555566S55542215598E56655556548T86542238999E55642123596866625P65988555541221A966325525889852I65689988522411458N855245455284 |||| - *. ,+( * (233+3-4(N ;_4( * 5-9' 1-(: * !"*9'!233)M. 6_9' (:2 ,4*N )+_ _425 (+ !2 .) :+.2)4B. ,+1 :+_ *-,K( 4:-(B
posted by breezeway at 8:12 AM on February 21, 2007


Regarding the intimidation by and encroachment of the government on the freedom of the press, if anyone didn't see last night's episode of Frontline, it's definitely worth seeing.

We put part two up this morning for streaming. Direct link to the view page is here.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:17 AM on February 21, 2007


Soviet Union with their tens of thousands of nuclear weapons never achieved. Those 19 dudes destroyed the U.S. constitution.

Nevermind Iran Contra, or the Japanese internment camps, or Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus. Violating the Constitution is a time-honored tradition among American politicians.
posted by chlorus at 8:20 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


no chilling effect on dissent, lol

Have you been watching politics for the last, say, 5 years? The entirely public forms of dissent suppression (casting any negative statement as being "against the troops' [as though the troops were holy objects, but that's irrelevant here], for instance) are bad enough. Who the hell knows how they've been using this domestic spying program to do the same behind the scenes.

There's also the issue of who is supposed to be suppressed. If you can get Mideast and Islamic scholars to watch what they say because they hear about this spying thing and they make phone calls overseas all the time, that's got to be worth more than shutting up a few doofii on the internets.
posted by DU at 8:24 AM on February 21, 2007


This is about collecting info on every one of us.

Of course it is Pastabagel. But it is being done under the guise of anti-terrorism. You know and I know that the Department of Fatherland Security is just another Stasi. The problem is that the majority of American voters are too afraid of the terror boogeyman to look under their beds.

Like I said, call the Republican bluff and propose a law that says anything collected in this manner cannot be used in criminal prosecutions not connected to terrorism. (A right all Americans should already have, but obviously do not.)

You can't stop this American Stasi any more than you can stop terrorism, but you can try to limit its impact on civil liberties.
posted by three blind mice at 8:27 AM on February 21, 2007


56158689K58986589Y59565368J684842256E6596985289L53655596855L69526985395Y856842513696866I555625558997S8586256433588856T6552999755116E6985555888512355H598555331411596B5123358866445688E545899552314648T558641255655314555W56563321898555842A855855436223658895Y886523433599695T6554123588886665896O5586987411255E466895886555658A866553251555566S55542215598E56655556548T86542238999E55642123596866625P65988555541221A966325525889852I65689988522411458N855245455284 |||| - *. ,+( * (233+3-4(N ;_4( * 5-9' 1-(: * !"*9'!233)M. 6_9' (:2 ,4*N )+_ _425 (+ !2 .) :+.2)4B. ,+1 :+_ *-,K( 4:-(B


987:66*985++7+646533_65789:098765(704(4943)73 !
posted by wfc123 at 8:32 AM on February 21, 2007


I amnot sure why AT&T get mocked when in fact Google, for example, keeps copies of every thing you get or send...and other do too...Ask then is Google doing it for the govt or for some other purpose?
Ask not what you can do for your country but what they are doing to you.You could--oh, the pains--go back to snail mail and hope your letters are not steamed open.
posted by Postroad at 8:33 AM on February 21, 2007


Nevermind Iran Contra, or the Japanese internment camps, or Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus. Violating the Constitution is a time-honored tradition among American politicians.

Nevermind that WW2 and the Civil War (and the Reagan Administration) were all limited in time and exceptional. The first two were under actual conditions of a declared war.

Temporary violations of the Constitution during a national emergency and permanent violations as a part of everyday life are different animals. This anti-terror stuff is permanent. That's the difference.
posted by three blind mice at 8:36 AM on February 21, 2007


OMG I'm sorry for the mass email but I saw this cuuuuuute picture of a little panda cuddling with a baby platypus and I just had to send it along!!!1!! Make sure to read the inspirational poem at the end!!!

...

OK, now that the NSA has stopped reading, here's the plan for the attack on democracy...
posted by I Am Not a Lobster at 8:36 AM on February 21, 2007


Nevermind Iran Contra, or the Japanese internment camps, or Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus. Violating the Constitution is a time-honored tradition among American politicians.

Oh shit, I never thought of that. Never mind then, I feel much better.

Iran Contra was in direct violation of Congress, Lincoln's suspension of habeas was principled and temporary. The internment camps were a horrible mistake. Doesn't knowing all this make what's going on now worse, not better?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:38 AM on February 21, 2007


"what the feds really want (to build social networks of people who might be interested in terrorism)"

terrOrkut
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:45 AM on February 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Not learning from the past is also a time-honored American tradition as well.
posted by yeloson at 8:49 AM on February 21, 2007


hey b! hope youre not getting into any trouble }:>. You know how al's cadence changes when he finds out his "kids" are getting too indulgent out in "the playground." its enough to make me want to hide under a rock.

anyhoo, i was shopping the local farmers market yesterday and i found everything i need to make that special burrito you were telling me about. the shredded pork idea of yours sounds so good! i found that adding some italian peppers really makes the flavor explode. im gonna try it out soon at this party we got planned for early next month. wish me luck!



Analysis: FLAGGED as potential terrorist plot
posted by effwerd at 8:50 AM on February 21, 2007


Hooray for TLS, self-signed certificates, and PGP / GnuPG.
posted by mrbill at 9:17 AM on February 21, 2007


987:66*985++7+646533_65789:098765(704(4943)73 !

I'm in ur 987:66*985++7+, 646533_65789'n yer :098765(704(4943)73
posted by davejay at 9:17 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


If Osama bin Laden is writing e-mails to a sleeper cell in New Jersey

Who'd want to attack New Jersey? Other than aliens.

You know and I know that the Department of Fatherland Security is just another Stasi.

Not even close. Not that they're responsible for increasing the number of cute puppies in the world, either, but they're not the Stasi.
posted by oaf at 9:20 AM on February 21, 2007


BP - I saw Frontline last night. We need to understand what a chilling effect is. It is not being forced to defend your rights, nor is it outrageous, ignorant, vocal criticism.

Chilling effect is self-censorship out of fear of expensive lawsuits etc.

Have you been watching politics for the last, say, 5 years? The entirely public forms of dissent suppression (casting any negative statement as being "against the troops' [as though the troops were holy objects, but that's irrelevant here], for instance) are bad enough. Who the hell knows how they've been using this domestic spying program to do the same behind the scenes.

That's not a chilling effect. Just because people aren't listening or are stupid doesn't mean there's a chilling effect.

The Frontline episode's example is a bit different, and I do see your case, BP, but I can't help but feel that any media organization needs to be prepared to fight ferociously in court if you plan to take on the government. It's true that these lawsuits are expensive, but all lawsuits are expensive.

The bigger question is why there is a distinction between corporate journalism and independent journalism? What are the indie journalists doing that's getting them in trouble that the corporate media isn't? If the answer is that they are doing better reporting - more investigation, tougher questions, etc - then that needs to be the focus. The government will be the government - it is by definition in an adversarial role to the people. But the media is supposed to be on our side, not the governments.

The question needs to be put to media - would you run a story even if it meant you'd be thrown off and banned from the white house press pool? If the reporter takes more than 3 seconds to answer "Yes", they should never be trusted.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:21 AM on February 21, 2007


Yep, the party of small government.
posted by interrobang at 9:25 AM on February 21, 2007



I am not sure why AT&T get mocked when in fact Google, for example, keeps copies of every thing you get or send...and other do too...Ask then is Google doing it for the govt or for some other purpose?
posted by Postroad at 11:33 AM EST on February 21


I've never understood this easier, but I think the reason is that a lot of bloggers in the top of the blog food chain have a vested interest in google - they own stock in it.

In my opinion it's much worse for me personally that google keeps everything. Google not only knows which of their pages you hit, but they also store which pages to view that have adsense on them (i.e. just about every site out there). At some point in the future, maybe years from now, Google will have a bad financial quarter, and to raise revenue they'll start selling access to this click-habits database to raise money.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:27 AM on February 21, 2007


wtf wfc
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 9:29 AM on February 21, 2007


So what? Anyone with half a brain knows that you never write anything in an email that you wouldn't want written on the front page of the newspaper.
posted by tadellin at 9:35 AM on February 21, 2007


MetaFilter: 987:66*985++7+, 646533_65789'n yer :098765(704(4943)73

Had to be done.
posted by papercake at 9:37 AM on February 21, 2007


I don't expect that the point of surveillance, in the case, is to find information. The point of surveillance is to let people know that their are being watched. It is the panopticon principle writ large, in an America where everybody is being watched, all the time. I don't think terrorism has anything to do with this at all. I think our executive branch gave themselves permission to be our wardens.
posted by Astro Zombie


Damn straight.
posted by COBRA! at 9:50 AM on February 21, 2007


“They are about suppressing domestic dissent. The peaceful, political kind.” - posted by Malor

Indeed. Tho’ I’d modify pastabagel’s response and say it’s about suppressing useful domestic dissent. Power couldn’t care less about how irritated you are at “the man” if you’re not in a position to do dick (the proles are free).
I’d add also that it forces greater parity with the core political philosophy. Consider how hard it was to do business/get ahead - socially, economically, etc.etc. if one wasn’t in the communist party in the Sov. Union or if one wasn’t in the Nazi party in Germany - etc. Same schtick - but perhaps more powerful because it’s invisible and unspoken. Yet still felt.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:54 AM on February 21, 2007


The game's over. 19 guys with boxcutters did what the Soviet Union with their tens of thousands of nuclear weapons never achieved.

We recovered from the Red Scares. This current idiocy doesn't have to be permanent, either. I think we've been seeing the beginning of the swing back for a year or so now, but maybe I'm optimistic there.
posted by dilettante at 10:03 AM on February 21, 2007


Osama Bargain Bin,

Die Sauerkraut ist in mein Lederhosen. Repeat: Die Sauerkraut ist in mein Lederhosen.

Sadamm "Insane in da Membrane" Hussein
posted by kirkaracha at 10:03 AM on February 21, 2007


We're not trying to suppress anything - we want to know how you feel! So speak up America - we're listening. The new at&t - Your world. Delivered to the NSA for safe keeping.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:13 AM on February 21, 2007


I highly recommend viewing this. The only thing I didn't like was that the NOW reporter didn't question John Yoo more critically. He espouses his constitutional views as fact, when they are extreme fringe views. Just because Bush is the "commander in chief of the Army and Navy" does not make him my commander. He is our president, elected by citizens of the United States. Let's not let them forget that.

The fact that they installed these Narus Intercept Filters on major hubs is astonishing (it's also a felony under FISA). Considering that martial law can now be declared easier and the right-wing's insistence that all who question them are treasonous should make the alarm bells deafening. We are at one of the few times in history where becoming an authoritarian state is a possibility (the other being during the Great Depression).

The American voting public DOES NOT CARE about the Constitution.

I don't think so. I think the American public would care if these issues received even half of the publicity garnered on the stories of Anna Nicole Smith or Britney Spears. The Bush administration is marching towards monarchy and the media is paving the road for them.

It's time to get our encryption on and figure out a modern way to organize effective political change in the current climate.
posted by karson at 10:14 AM on February 21, 2007


How much you wanna bet that Osama is a lame Michael Scott-esque boss that annoys everyone in the cell by CCing them on jokes well past their expiration date?

"CC'd again? Lazy Sunday? How many times is that prick going to send me this? Welcome to last January ASSHOLE!"
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:14 AM on February 21, 2007


-----BEGIN PGP MESSAGE-----
jA0EAwMCI/OT8MmlHrlgyTThL2umUlGJzI0ZORCmufwSbA3RIvzi9BCS6lvUraot
3Sok7+diH2McVXwfHnbhxX7tW6KH
=pz8C
-----END PGP MESSAGE-----

posted by majick at 10:23 AM on February 21, 2007


Chilling effect is self-censorship out of fear of expensive lawsuits etc.

Pastabagel, I'd say that censorship filters down from the editorial board to the journalists — write up a story that the editors don't like and end up looking for another job — and from there to the general population.

Don't take my word for it, read James Fallows' excellent book Breaking the News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy for an account of how this process works "on the floor".

From there, you have an uninformed populace that cannot make rational decisions through the democratic process about whether civil rights violations (for example) are a good idea, since they don't know they are happening, or assume that the information coming from the government (hey, trust us, things are going well) is correct.

Then you have an false delineation between corporate and non-corporate journalists, where corporate journalists are not challenged by the federal government, but bloggers are intimidated and then incarcerated if they do not comply with requests to turn over information.

Peaceful dissent is treason, unless you can afford good lawyers. Sounds like that will have a chilling effect on free speech (to my ears, anyway).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:29 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


-----BEGIN PGP MESSAGE-----
jA0EAwMCI/OT8MmlHrlgyTThL2umUlGJzI0ZORCmufwSbA3RIvzi9BCS6lvUraot
3Sok7+diH2McVXwfHnbhxX7tW6KH
=pz8C
-----END PGP MESSAGE-----
posted by majick at 1:23 PM EST on February 21


I decoded this. It reads, "As I write this I'm not wearing pants."
posted by Pastabagel at 10:33 AM on February 21, 2007


There's an interesting bit from Ellen Ullman's Close to the Machine, which has always stuck with me.

In the book, she described a consulting job, where she installed a computer system with a database and what not for some small town business. As she was nearing the end of the contract, she was having dinner with the business owner, who asks her if it would be possible to monitor his secretary's workstation-- keystrokes, mouse clicks, all that. She asks him why and he responds "just to see how she spends her day." The woman had been his secretary from the beginning, had watched over all sorts of things, he had trusted her with all sorts of info, she had even picked up his kids after school at some points, etc, etc. And now he wanted to monitor her. He had no compliants about her, she did a great job, but NOW, with the newly installed computer system, he could find out exactly what she did all day.

When Ullman refused to do this, he just shrugged and said "I'll just get some local kid to it."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:38 AM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


BP:

For there to be a chilling effect on dissent, it would have to be a restriction on free speech, as ordinary citizens are dissenters. The press's job is to report, and while forcing them to divulge confidential sources may have a chilling effect on journalism, it's a different issue and a different legal theory (freedom of press vs. subpoena power).

I don't believe there is a chilling effect on citizens, as citizens haven't been forced to take down website or blogs.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:04 AM on February 21, 2007


The mainstream media has been attacking blogs for some time. It's sickening how some of these guys sound like proxies for the government : attacking blogs and alternative outlets for their methods instead of addressing the actual issues (you know, the news).

Just today, from CrooksandLiars.com, you watch Tony Snow, David Gregory, and Richard Wolffe in their finest apologist modes at the National Press Club. (Media Player, Quicktime, and/or transcript)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:52 AM on February 21, 2007


Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping. My local library had this as an audiobook. Worthwhile reading I think as it touches, in a fairly accessible manner, some of the more esoteric and technical concepts/rumours that typically don't make it into mainstream media pieces on surveillance.

Although I forget to whom it was attributed, there was a good quote in the book regarding why pervasive monitoring of "chatter" is rarely effective; something along the lines of, "Reading someone's mail is not the same thing as reading their mind."
posted by well_balanced at 12:05 PM on February 21, 2007


Brandon Blatcher, that Ullman books is one of my all-time faves. I'm glad you mentioned it.

It should be required reading for anyone working in, or exposed to, information technology.
posted by adamgreenfield at 12:12 PM on February 21, 2007


Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once...

"Al Kaider" and His Fabulous "Taliband" will be headlining the "Milwaukee" "Polka Fest" this weekend. Be sure to "bring" your "dancing shoes."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:34 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Judge Forces Feds to Intervene in Spy Suits
posted by homunculus at 2:23 PM on February 21, 2007


I'm wearing a spy suit right now. Look over your left shoulder. Can't see me, can you?
posted by breezeway at 2:43 PM on February 21, 2007


-----BEGIN PGP MESSAGE-----
jA0EBwMC9iFzUrMchvxg0pkBRT0MnWDl2QryjRMMPBE/K9Ib8QZVRD6zKYZ14dW2
CJrQ+3NjsyOCKlmxNjSl7bRCxi/f46RWABwHJyQQy80Sxu5Zrff8WN5rvNEc4RNK
X4SNGqEmlJwNYH//CaDTgdPZJGxwGEXaDMjd0t1MUG/JW35LYgmDtLac2OGy59O3
DAS0eIiCIlmoWKmAHlMrfdLi5XUu2ei1tno=
=BnTt
-----END PGP MESSAGE-----
posted by pandaharma at 5:14 PM on February 21, 2007


In the democracynow article, she refers to an article in the Harvard Business Review on the data mining business. Has anyone been able to find it? I could not...
posted by sponge at 7:44 PM on February 21, 2007


This message is encoded in ROT26.
Heh, can't read it, can you federales?
posted by nofundy at 7:39 AM on February 22, 2007


DHS Already Mining Private Data from Citizens?
posted by homunculus at 2:21 PM on February 28, 2007


Whistle-blower Had to Fight NSA, LA Times to Tell Story
posted by homunculus at 6:38 PM on March 6, 2007


« Older Today is the centenary of W.H. Auden, one of the g...  |  Clown death.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments