Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Good Luck With That

There's a vast array of people coming out against the recently-rediscovered NSA spying stuff, and I am happy to see that. I commend all of these folks that are working against it, but I have to say that things like this:

"Now is the time for Congress to act," EFF attorney Mark Rumold said in a statement. "We don't need a narrow fix to one part of the PATRIOT Act; we need a full public accounting of how the United States is turning sophisticated spying technology on its own citizens, we need accountability from public officials, and we need an overhaul of the laws to ensure these abuses can never happen again."

Is just fucking laughable. Yes, we need that. Unfortunately, the American people don't care or are actively enthused that they're spied upon, because hey "I ain't got nuthin' to hide. If that there NSA thingy catches sum terrists, then it's fine by me!"

The chances of congress doing anything useful in regard to this is exactly zero. Oh, I imagine they'll do something, it just won't actually stop any of this. Remember, the last time folks noticed this was happening, the administration doing it was doing it in secret (like now), and also illegally without congressional or court oversight. What was congress' reaction then?

They made it legal. Retroactively.

Now, since a Dem is in power, it's going to be milked as a scandal by the usual suspects for a while, but the reality is that both sides want to continue to do this, and will. And again, the quaint idea that:

"we need accountability from public officials, and we need an overhaul of the laws to ensure these abuses can never happen again."

is even conceivable in today's America is just a sad, sad joke.

We live in a world where people will happily give over private details of their lives to mega-corporations like Facebook and Google (look where you're reading this!) for free. If offered a chocolate bar, people will give up even more private information, including passwords. No, really. People just don't care that they don't have any privacy anymore, and in the cases where they do care, it's mostly about things they would rather their parents/spouses/friends/social circles/etc didn't know about.

Civil libertarians and folks like the EFF quoted above are rightly worried about our continued slide into a constant surveillance state and I wish them the best. Unfortunately it will be a huge uphill battle to get anything done in the face of a completely apathetic public and a solidly entrenched culture of surveillance and secrecy in all parts of our government.


  1. go ahead and walk out your door, and tell me how far you get before you see a VISIBLE video camera watching you.

    then cut that number in half, and that's probably closer to where the actual video surveillance is occurring.

    And it's probably not the gubmint, or even one of the big old bad old supercorps; just your local traffic cops or a property management company or even just a neighbor setting up his own video feed.

    1. Too true. File under "solidly entrenched culture of surveillance and secrecy."

      Also, the camera closest to me is on top of a campus building and the feed can be viewed here.

  2. Neat stuff from a Crooked Timber thread. Hooray for the cloud!

    1. That's really interesting. I always figured they'd be using their own custom super-special code to do analysis -- but that shows using a combination of open source tools gives impressive performance. It also shows the absolutely massive scale of the data problems they're dealing with. The data will continue to increase along with their power to process it.

      And I can't help but be amused to think of this comment floating around in those datasets wasting a few nanoseconds of their very expensive computing power.

  3. Hell, I'm more concerned about private corporations invading my privacy than I am worried about the government. Hell, the government is outsourcing their surveillance to private corporations.

    That's not to say I'm not worried about government surveillance.

    1. Bruce Schneier wrote a good article on corporate/government partnerships being used to gather information that would otherwise be unavailable.


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