I, for one …

by John Q on June 21, 2013

… welcome the knowledge that, as a US non-person, the NSA is charged with monitoring all my emails, phone calls and other activities, without all those pesky 4th Amendment limitations applicable to people who are (on the balance of probabilities) located in the US.

I don’t have the time and energy to monitor all my emails for potential security threats. Just the other day, for example, I received an email from an Abdul Hameed, offering “Deep Cycle Maintenance Free Batteries Directly for Importer”. Abdul sounds genuine enough, but he seems to be located in Pakistan, which is a bit dubious. And who knows what can be done with batteries? Then there are the regular emails I get from genuine ladies seeking relationships. Perhaps these are the kind of “honey traps” I read about in spy novels.

The debate about PRISM has confused me as to whether these emails are being properly monitored. So, instead of waiting for NSA to go through cumbersome FISA court procedures, I’m going to set my email preferences to forward all such emails (and, when I get around to it, all my emails) automatically to the NSA “Acquisition Resource Center” at nsaarc@nsaarc.net. Hopefully, they will sort through them to determine which are genuine, and which need further investigation by professionals. If we all do likewise, the world will be a much safer place. Perhaps readers could suggest other addresses that should be copied in.



Matias Brum 06.21.13 at 9:47 am

This is indeed an excellent idea! I tried to do so with my gmail account but I am stuck with the fact that I need some sort of confirmation from the other party (that would be the nsaarc@nsaarc.net) in order to set the filter properly. There should be an alternative around; if anybody else reading this has a suggestion or idea…?


dax 06.21.13 at 11:32 am

In all likelihood the Prism safeguards (whatever they are) are filtered by physical location, and one receives them if and only if one is resident somewhere in the United States. There is, after all, no way of distinguishing an American living abroad using the internet from JQ using it. But since Americans living abroad are not considered American by American homelanders for many things, this shouldn’t be surprising.


nnyhav 06.21.13 at 1:45 pm


christian_h 06.21.13 at 2:19 pm

I hate to even say this b/c I do find this an excellent idea but given the utterly absurd laws on hacking in the US and how they are applied this might be a bit of a dangerous act of civil disobedience. Really not meant as concern trolling, and possibly paranoid, but a potential warning nonetheless.


Glen Tomkins 06.21.13 at 2:24 pm

Before doing any of this, one might consider that nobody likes a wise guy, and that the sort of people who can’t take a joke are just the sort to go into counter-intelligence.

One would like to be able to bring up counter-clichés on the other side, such as, “they can’t taser us all”. But I’m not sure that principle still works in an era where these people might well have thousands of taser drones sitting in a warehouse just waiting for an opportunity to be field-tested on the first wise guys or gals to pull the sort of stunt proposed.


Marc 06.21.13 at 2:45 pm

Its broader than the NSA. My work emails, for example, fall under the public records law. This means that anyone who wanted to could publish them in the newspaper and the state has to provide them if a freedom of information request is made. I’m also prohibited from using private emails to conduct work business. It’s routine for companies now to demand the right to look at social media pages, and to refuse to hire people who won’t. And, yes, I’m an American citizen.

The point here is that corporations can, and do, infringe on personal liberties too. The internet is not anonymous. If we get it made so, great. But I’ve never treated anything I write in email as confidential and do wish that I could, sometimes, do so.


Andrew F. 06.21.13 at 4:23 pm

Heh, nice illustration of why untargeted intelligence collection isn’t very useful. But you should really forward all your email to Wikileaks too if you’re going to send it to the government. Information transparency and all that.

Anyway, I admit that I laughed when I read this, but if one were to misread it (not that anyone ever misreads anything here) and take it seriously (to be clear, I do not), you’d be encouraging others to almost certainly break the terms of service they have with their ISPs and any institutional or company email providers in order to impede the military operations of an ally of Australia. Don’t get me wrong, it would have less impact than trying to slow traffic on the off-ramp to Fort Meade and is even less likely to be noticed.

Also, let’s remember the Australian government’s exceptionally broad powers under Part 2-2 of the TIA, under which afaik the government may intercept the communications of anyone who is reasonably suspected of committing acts prejudicial to the security of Australia or Australian allies. No warrant from the court necessary.


I.G.I. 06.21.13 at 5:21 pm

I had a good chuckle while reading the post (thank you for the humorous tone), but at the same time I must admit it felt scary, and extremely sad, especially when read the sober reminders in posts 4, 5 and 7; totalitarism with altered modus operandi.


Paul D 06.21.13 at 6:50 pm

Back in Thatcher’s England at the time of the miners’ strike, word spread that GCHQ (evidently unchanging in its unprincipled actions) was monitoring calls and recording those it deemed of interest. As both storage and search capacity were infinitely more limited then, the plan developed to open any telephone call with likely keywords–“strike” “riot”, “bomb”, “gun”, etc.– before getting down to the serious business of discussing the kids’ teeth, possible films to see, or doctor’s appointments. Overload remains a useful tactic.


hix 06.21.13 at 7:05 pm

Still wunderwing whats the news now. Alleged direct access to google, facebook and the like with counter claims that only limited access on demand to a couple of thousand data sets has been given. The phone records who calls whom for US citicen?

The rest is old news isnt it? Just the natural progression from echolon, grabing as much data as one can get from fixed line internet now that sattelite has been replaced by fiber cables. I mean our local MEP even listed some non US access points (Egybt, UK). This part seems public knowledge since a long time.


John Quiggin 06.21.13 at 7:57 pm

You have to laugh, or else cry


William Timberman 06.21.13 at 8:41 pm

Our guardians suck up every scrap of information, juicy or otherwise and store it quasi-forever, our clever generals and admirals who now run almost everything tell us, but they build profiles from it only after….

After what, one wonders. Maybe Snowden wasn’t supposed to profile anyone without first following some arcane and tedious procedure or other, but once through the door and vetted by yet another arcane and tedious procedure, he apparently could if he wanted to. And, we’re told, some 1.4 million people have the same security clearance, if not exactly the same duties, as he did.

Given the capabilities — half-revealed, and half suggested — that are at issue here, not to mention the confused nastinesses that will almost surely flow from them, I’d say that what’s been unwittingly inflicted on us isn’t at all a simple case of quis custodiet ipsos custodes. It’s a madhouse.


Bruce Wilder 06.21.13 at 9:04 pm

Of course, viewed from a security perspective, it’s madness.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t method revealed in the madness, in other contexts.

From an Huffingpost report, June 18, on the developing Trans-Pacific Partnership “trade” deal:

The Obama administration has barred any Congressional staffers from reviewing the full negotiation text and prohibited members of Congress from discussing the specific terms of the text with trade experts and reporters. Staffers on some committees are granted access to portions of the text under their committee’s jurisdiction.

“This, more than anything, shows the abuse of the classified information system,” Grayson told HuffPost. “They maintain that the text is classified information. And I get clearance because I’m a member of Congress, but now they tell me that they don’t want me to talk to anybody about it because if I did, I’d be releasing classified information.”

Secrets and lies, secrets and lies.


yabonn 06.21.13 at 9:37 pm

the sort of people who can’t take a joke are just the sort to go into counter-intelligence

Oh how well is intelligence countered by this dull lot.


Sus. 06.21.13 at 10:22 pm

“You have to laugh, or else cry” — Unfortunately, here in the US I see a lot more laughter than outrage, but I suppose both will dissipate fairly quickly before any real change is accomplished or even attempted. And that’s an outrage in and of itself.


Watson Ladd 06.22.13 at 3:15 am

Because Congress doesn’t actually ratify treaties, and there aren’t reasons to keep negotiating positions secret. Of course the NSA spies on other countries, and of course we try to spy on the embassies in the US: they do the same thing!

The 4th amendment is not about privacy, Katz notwithstanding. It’s about the investigatory powers of the state, and foreign citizens aren’t subject to US jurisdiction in the same way US citizens are, and so don’t deserve the protections because they aren’t subject to the penalties of US law. The only scandal is that we have moved to a minimization framework with no public debate.


nnyhav 06.22.13 at 3:37 am


Zamfir 06.22.13 at 5:08 am

because they aren’t subject to the penalties of US law.
I am sure these extraordinarily rendited people are comforted by the thought that they aren’t subject to the penalties of US law.


Zamfir 06.22.13 at 5:09 am

Italics closed?


Salient 06.22.13 at 5:26 am

foreign citizens aren’t subject to US jurisdiction in the same way US citizens are, and so don’t deserve the protections because they aren’t subject to the penalties of US law.

It’s one thing to acknowledge they are not formally afforded those protections, or to observe that they have no judicial recourse, but to say those individuals don’t deserve the protections is fairly vile of you, Watson, and unfairly presumptuous, too.


Mao Cheng Ji 06.22.13 at 8:03 am

They don’t deserve it, because they’re spiteful and they’re hateful.


Fu Ko 06.22.13 at 8:53 am

That’s right. They hate our freedom.


Mao Cheng Ji 06.22.13 at 9:03 am

…I was thinking of sparing Australia, but now it’s totally out of question.


Consumatopia 06.22.13 at 11:43 am

This sucks for Americans too, because NSA policy, even assuming it’s never directed at Americans, represents an invitation to other countries to spy on us. If the response to getting caught spying on people is to ask “where’s the story?”, then others should spy on us. (This may even be what intelligence agencies what–Americans spy on Russians, Russians spy on Americans, the two governments compare notes.)

While it’s true that there are some countries that will spy on others no matter what, it would be possible to make policy in the other direction–to agree to reciprocated anti-spying agreements with other countries, and all of those countries working together to harden their defenses against those countries that continue to spy. This, indeed, is exactly what other countries who resent the NSA should do.

It’s a bit worse when the story is the American government hacking other countries’ computers. Because while American policy does seem to assume that every country is going to spy on every other country, we don’t seem to have that understanding on hacking. We condemn the Chinese for hacking, not for spying–we seem to expect the latter, not the former. If the response to that revelation is not to insist that such hacking isn’t illegal, that’s an invitation for foreign governments and even foreign private enterprises to hack our computers.

This is why I’m a bit skeptical of Constitution/patriotism based defenses of civil liberties (e.g. those that are typical from Rand Paul). Given that our communication systems are international, any effort to restore our privacy and security will also have to be international. Nationalistic appeals may be useful in the short run, but they might make the necessary and neglected work of cross-national coalition building harder.


Consumatopia 06.22.13 at 11:46 am

If the response to that revelation is not to insist that such hacking isn’t illegal

Sign error, the “not” should not be there.


Consumatopia 06.22.13 at 11:54 am

This may even be what intelligence agencies what

Should be what they “want”. Sorry, I’m typo prone, and these two typos are really terrible.


Barry 06.22.13 at 1:19 pm

Watson: “Because Congress doesn’t actually ratify treaties, and there aren’t reasons to keep negotiating positions secret.”

Watson, please have a friend who watched ‘Sesame Street’ explain the Constitution to you.


Watson Ladd 06.22.13 at 1:59 pm

Consumatopia, espionage is essential to assuring countries about each others capabilities and intentions. Why shouldn’t Russia secretly sneak a peak at the NATO orders to reassure themselves they won’t get invaded? If it was too easy, everyone would be suspicious!

Barry, the Senate confirms treaties. The final text is subject to an up or down vote, and this is definitely not a rubber stamp process.

Salient, the 4th amendment is inevitably litigated at conviction. The complainant faces the deprivation of his liberty. What exactly are foreigners subject to that is comparable.


Salient 06.22.13 at 3:47 pm

Salient, the 4th amendment is inevitably litigated at conviction.

Oh, here we go again with the “Salient, comma, let me tell you something painfully obvious and banal. Because instead of listening to what you said I’mma gonna assume you know so little about the topic at hand that the elementary content of these statements are appropriate for you. Here’s another statement which does nothing to further or justify or even acknowledge the awful statement I made that you’re responding to. Here’s another.”


christian_h 06.22.13 at 3:58 pm

We are NOT talking about espionage in the traditional sense here. That is just a (Watson-typical) total red herring. This is not one government spying on another; it is an international secret police spying on private individuals and their non-state associations. This is something only made possible by new technologies, and something vastly larger and more intrusive than the most comparable traditional form of intelligence work – secret police spying on dissident exiles (something Western nations have always pretended to be outraged by). It is US imperialism and its henchmen spying on those dissenting from their policies, world wide.


christian_h 06.22.13 at 4:00 pm

Watson is right of course: since foreigners can be detained indefinitely or murdered without any court involvement the 4th amendment does not apply since there is no court to adjudicate it. As his next trick, he will invent a perpetuum mobile.


Consumatopia 06.22.13 at 4:39 pm

Consumatopia, espionage is essential to assuring countries about each others capabilities and intentions. Why shouldn’t Russia secretly sneak a peak at the NATO orders to reassure themselves they won’t get invaded? If it was too easy, everyone would be suspicious!

Memoirs Found in a Bathtub isn’t Stanislaw Lem’s greatest tale, but it does illustrate very well the kind of epistemic logic paradoxes one is quickly led to when you assume that information that someone is trying to hide is more reliable than the stuff they’ve left in plain sight.

And surely there are better ways to convey a lack of desire for invasion. (For example, if country A wants to convey to country B that it has no plans to invade B, it could pass a law automatically excusing anyone who publicly leaks information about plans to invade B. Of course, for two countries that probably do have emergency plans to invade the other one, a higher standard could be employed, e.g. leaking evidence of an imminent intention to invade.

That said, christian_h is right @30.


Watson Ladd 06.22.13 at 5:03 pm

christian_h, foreigners are subject to the jurisdiction of their host government, which typically has something to say when people cross a border intent on murder. States have very often had to surveil nonstate threats beyond their border: the destruction of Urartu by Assyria was due to them protecting persons who had attempted to overthrow the Assyrian government. I don’t see anything terribly wrong with Mossad infiltrating Hezbollah in Europe to prevent terrorism, even if the European governments turn a blind eye to Hezbollah. And if we grant that principal, unless we are willing to say some states deserve protection and some do not, then on a moral basis all states are entitled to do the same.

What exactly has the US done to Glenn Greenwald, who resides in Brazil, or Julian Assange? Exactly nothing it seems. By contrast, the Romanian government was behind the murder of a UChicago professor who wrote an article they didn’t like, the Bulgarians murdered an exile with a ricin umbrella, Trotsky got an ice pick to the head. That’s what political repression by the secret police looks like.


Donald Johnson 06.22.13 at 5:22 pm

The people targeted by the US generally aren’t of white European extraction, Watson.


As for Mossad infiltrating Hezbollah to prevent terrorism, fine, but I also wouldn’t have an objection to Hezbollah infiltrating Mossad to prevent Israeli war crimes.


hix 06.22.13 at 5:40 pm

Watson reminds me of my father. The same but look the others are more evil without any facts to back the assertion, so whatever the US or Israel does (and why bother if anyone even spoke about Israel) is ok assertion. This is makes no sense for two reasons. First, two wrongs dont make it right. Second, no the others are not in fact more evil.

If the only thing that matters is comparison to others, the standard for the US should be other rich liberal democracies. Countries like Japan or Norway. The normal thing however, would be to do the freaking right thing no matter what any other nation does.

The other rich liberal democracies absolutely should ally against US and her other anglo saxon vasals the way consumpatopia suggests would happen. In reality, this will never ever happen. Many reasons for that. The most primitive one that many in Europe quite like what the US does. For them, the data surveilance system for example is just perceived as muslim punching, which they like.


christian_h 06.22.13 at 5:46 pm

The US government has murdered, and continues to murder, large numbers of people all over the world for no reason than the victims’ alleged armed resistance against US occupation forces and their Quisling local allies, or US- supported dictatorships. They kill people for simply belonging to the nebulous category of “militant”, a.k.a., being Arab while male and between the ages of 16 and 45. Compared to that, murdering Trotsky with an ice pick was eminently justified. And I say this as a Trotskyist. You can waffle on in your defense of imperialist and colonialist mass slaughter all you want, but what you are defending is an internationalized Cheka, adapted for the 21st century.


Watson Ladd 06.22.13 at 5:47 pm

Japan: spies on its own citizens, and Norway conducts intelligence missions in Pakistan source .
hix, the point is not that everything the US does is good, but that the things we are supposed to be outraged about are longstanding practices. Seriously, which embassy isn’t a target of bugging and theft?


christian_h 06.22.13 at 5:51 pm

To add, the people the US murders are NOT in general intent on overthrowing the US government or destroying the US. They may be intent on overthrowing their own governments, or they may just live in an area where some others are intent on overthrowing their governments. Also: hey we are no worse than the Securitate is not only sadly false, but would be a rather pathetic argument even if true.


christian_h 06.22.13 at 5:54 pm

We are not talking about embassies, Watson. At this point you have crossed into outright dishonesty.


Salient 06.22.13 at 6:05 pm

Oh no, Watson goes way past dishonesty with that.

Take a look at the Wikipedia page he links and follow the source [2]. (Actually, don’t literally do this unless you have good malware protection or have Javascript disabled.)

Honestly it was impossibly hard to DNFTT when the troll declared folks outside the United States “don’t deserve the protections” we could afford them from espionage and surveillance just because those people are not entitled to benefit from a technicality the U.S. wrote for itself hundreds of years ago, but at this point the troll is just blubbing in a cesspool. (DNFFTT? Do not further feed the troll?)


Watson Ladd 06.22.13 at 6:24 pm

Sure, we could agree that people outside the US can’t be spied on by SIGINT. But using informants in foreign countries is hard. So the US would effectively have to trust other countries to bring its enemies to justice, something that hasn’t worked. Who here thinks Pakistan wasn’t shielding bin Laden?

Christian_h, we are not talking about drone strikes, but intel. As for the argument that the US kills arabs between 16-45 who are men, the demographics would look a lot different then they do now. One can make an argument that the criteria for targeting and use of military force are poorly adopted because the Taliban do not wear uniforms, and that the US should be more restrained. I would agree with that argument, but such restraint requires better intelligence.


Mao Cheng Ji 06.22.13 at 6:29 pm

Except for “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind”, I too don’t understand why the US government shouldn’t read John Quiggin’s emails, if they feel like it, and the Australian government doesn’t mind. And if the Australian government does have a problem with it, it should do something about it.


Salient 06.22.13 at 6:51 pm

The troll offers to agree to something nobody else proposed. The troll says something banal and simple that implies a mischaracterization of someone else’s comments, knowing that there’s no better way to keep a conversation going forever than to endlessly misrepresent the other interlocutors, because nothing’s quite as frustrating as feeling like you have been misunderstood. The troll asserts the banal and simple thing has a consequence that does not logically follow from the banal and simple thing, executing the fallacy of only two choices. The troll then asks, who here wants to fight with me about something else?

The troll makes a banal statement to an interlocutor that ignores the context of that person’s remarks (surveillance empowers badly targeted killing) and chides the interlocutor for bringing it up. The troll exploits the interlocutor’s less-than-perfect expression of a category to imply the interlocutor has said something absurd, in such a way as to imply an equally absurd and patently false opposite (the U.S. does not kill any Arabs age 16-45), while maintaining enough ambiguity to dodge the obvious retort (should someone point out “It’s painfully absurd to imply that christian_h meant to say the U.S. kills all Arabs 16-45,” the troll will reply with a gotcha, as the troll did not say “all”) — and then, the troll goes on to propose there is something wrong with the category the troll intentionally expressed badly (this tactic of feigning a lack of elementary understanding encourages others to commit to the same conversational tactics the troll wishes to use, disagreement expressed through reminding one another of painfully elementary facts). The troll proposes a hypothetical argument to disagree with, in order to represent the troll’s self as aligned with and allied with the interlocutors (conjuring into being an absurd nonexistent common enemy, a kind of reverse strawmanism). The troll uses the imaginary alliance with the interlocutors against the imaginary enemy to imply the interlocutors ought to concede to the troll’s argument, both flawlessly implementing the fallacy of only two choices and implying the interlocutors’ comments were vastly more general than was clearly and explicitly intended by them.

Let the troll converse forever with a mirror.


Chaz 06.22.13 at 7:48 pm

@Matias Brum

I don’t know what you mean about the other party confirming. That’s not a requirement for sending emails, automated or otherwise. Maybe it’s a requirement for Gmail’s web interface. As a general rule, Gmail’s web interface is crappy and inferior to any random IMAP email client (like Thunderbird or Outlook) you might pick at random.

So my advice is to set up your Gmail account using Mozilla Thunderbird instead of using a web browser. Thunderbird will let you set up filters to send automatic emails to anyone you want. You will need to enable IMAP support in Gmail in your browser first. Unfortunately Gmail does not correctly implement the IMAP protocol–did I mention Gmail sucks?–but it still works well.


john c. halasz 06.22.13 at 8:01 pm

This one is the gem here:

“the destruction of Urartu by Assyria was due to them protecting persons who had attempted to overthrow the Assyrian government.”

Irrelevance aside, apparently Watson knows more about not just pre-historical events, but intentions, as well, than scholars actually do.


William Timberman 06.22.13 at 8:34 pm

As for the argument that the US kills arabs between 16-45 who are men, the demographics would look a lot different then they do now. One can make an argument that the criteria for targeting and use of military force are poorly adopted because the Taliban do not wear uniforms, and that the US should be more restrained. I would agree with that argument, but such restraint requires better intelligence.

What’s required is intelligence, alright — intelligence of a kind that’s unfortunately in woefully short supply among armed bureaucrats. That, and a modicum of sanity. I would add only that Hannah Arendt was right, more right than even she realized.


Watson Ladd 06.22.13 at 9:11 pm

Salient, what exactly is the argument being advanced? Is it that the US ought not to carry out surveillance of non-government affiliated civilians abroad via SIGINT? Or is it that this surveillance harms them in ineffable ways, ineffable because the information is very public, going between myriad companies?


Andrew F. 06.22.13 at 9:14 pm

Three quick points that may be relevant to this somewhat bewildering conversation:

1 – the US limits itself to collecting and analyzing intelligence related to national security; no one in government has the interest, or resources available, to collect, analyze, and understand every private communication; no doubt your private conversations about your real opinions concerning fiscal stimulus, Wallerstein, and neo-imperialism are fascinating, but seriously, how much time do you think the US government has? Ultimately intelligence to be useful has to be put in front of a consumer who will use it to make a decision – and that consumer is likely to be someone already inundated with information.

2 – seriously, we’re comparing the NSA to the Cheka?? You can find intelligence organizations that monitor the conversations of dissidents merely because those dissidents disagree with the government, and you can find intelligence organizations that disappear and arrest dissidents for the same reason. But you won’t find them in the US government, and the NSA doesn’t come close. The stories from The Guardian, with all of Snowden’s vaunted powers and access, don’t come anywhere close to showing that. Let’s get real.

3 – privacy, dignity, and freedom of expression are important everywhere, regardless of the reach of 4th Amendment, 1st Amendment, or any other amendment. We all agree on that, I hope. It’s impractical to put 4th Amendment warrant requirements on foreign signals intelligence collection; I think all of us agree on that too, actually. But I’d also point out that Western governments tend to be allies in the progress of those values, not opponents (despite the various handshakes with the devil, wise and unwise, they’ve made through history), and so it’s actually fairly important that they have better intelligence than governments with growing power that are clearly hostile to such values.

That would actually bring me to a 4th point – the NSA’s defensive role in helping to secure communications against intrusion (somewhat mixed record here, but overall not bad at all) – but don’t take my word for it. Go read up on things like secure distros of Linux yourself. Odd behavior for the Cheka.


Salient 06.22.13 at 9:37 pm

The troll asks a question in a monolithic passive voice. The troll proposes a line of argument crafted to look superficially reasonable but contain enough uncareful generalizations to afford a wealth of technical specious objections. The troll poses an alternative that’s entirely dismissive of the plainly concrete objections of interlocutors (though from another source and in another context it might be interesting to discuss the question of just how concrete violation of human rights to privacy are, here it’s just another insincere deflection posed to send conversation down another corridor of meaningless unroductive corrective detours). The troll both feigns incomprehension, and treats others as though they suffer from a more severe incomprehension.

Let the troll converse forever with a mirror.


Salient 06.22.13 at 9:54 pm

For the rest of us, the latest installment of Snowden weekend batch dumps apparently indicate the NSA was accessing and collecting secure text messages communicated through Chinese telecoms, which if true I think would contradict the claim that the NSA was collecting metadata only. Or at least that’s my cursory understanding of what the South China Morning Post says. But I don’t understand whether or not the ‘proof’ of this is credible or substantive, and have no idea how credible / reasonable / reliable / responsible the SCMP is or is thought to be. So, uh, it would be really awesome if anyone better conversant with this kind of stuff could weigh in. (We might not have enough news yet? I guess today was the SCMP teaser and we don’t get the full article until tomorrow’s Sunday Morning Post. My name should link to the SCMP article hopefully avoiding auto-moderation…)


LFC 06.22.13 at 10:56 pm

privacy, dignity, and freedom of expression are important everywhere, regardless of the reach of 4th Amendment

W/r/t U.S. specifically, as Andrew F. no doubt knows (but Watson may not), the protection of privacy in U.S. law stems from various sources; the Sup Ct has of course found a rt of privacy in the Constitution, despite its not being explicitly mentioned.
Also Warren & Brandeis — see here.


hix 06.23.13 at 1:38 am

Now they managed to exceed even my cynic expectations. Im still cynical enough to take those new revelations at face value without any confirmation. Seems like concerns about Chinese mobile phone equipment were based on their own actions with US equipment in China. Wunder how many terrorist attacks have been averated by this heroic mass data grab on Chinese sms. Maybe the EU should only allow local non UK equipment.


Lee A. Arnold 06.23.13 at 3:00 am

I am a little surprised that no one has imagined that all other countries are probably trying to do what the U.S. is doing, i.e. read everybody’s stuff. If they weren’t, I’d say they were damned fools. I don’t like it any more than anyone else, but if the U.S. could be attacked on 9/11, why would another country, Australia say, feel secure that their national security people could head off an attack?


Lee A. Arnold 06.23.13 at 3:08 am

So the next thing I find is a Guardian report that Snowden says the British are doing it too (and he told the Guardian, “they are worse than the U.S.”):

“By 2010, two years after the project was first trialled, it was able to boast it had the “biggest internet access” of any member of the Five Eyes electronic eavesdropping alliance, comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.”

My guiding theory has always been: anything I can imagine today, the spooks already figured out ten years ago.


Doug K 06.24.13 at 5:40 pm

someone asked me in 2009 about the security of Gmail. My response:
The cloud doesn’t add much more in the way of risk to email. Remember any email goes through multiple servers on its journey, and any of those can be vulnerable. Also, it’s possible some of the servers are keeping audit logs which preserve the message. Also, the governments – yours, mine, China’s, and probably many others – are collecting all your email in yet other databases. There are so many points of failure that one more does not significantly change the risk. Email is fundamentally insecure. Assume that anything in plain text email is being read by someone..

I worked for Chief of Staff Intelligence in SA in the early 80s: the CIA and other countries’ spooks presumably had capabilities and intent at least equivalent to what we were doing then, and I’m sure the state of the art in citizen monitoring has advanced significantly. All your emails are already belong to the NSA.. and others..


jay 06.25.13 at 3:58 pm

Lee A. Arnold,

The Five Eyes is an actual conspiracy. For example CSCM/CSIS is barred by law from collecting or sharing Canadians communications with out a security warrant. So instead, CSCM/CSIS got all their “possible cause” info on Maher Arar from the NSA et. al., who because he was not a US Citizen, they could do with out even so much as a FISA warrant. In exchange CSCM/CSIS gives their US counterparts any information they want on US Citizens.It is a lovely little system.

Andrew F.

Back in the good old days, when the CIA and the FBI had the franchise on domestic spying on Americans, they were not above blackmailing politicians and businessmen, framing fellow Americans, and of course individuals in both organizations saw it as positively “American” to make a little money on the side.

If Snowdon is right, that with just an e-mail authorization, real or faked, he could get a tasking, whats to stop some hack at any one of the Private Contractors, or even Senior Management, from tracking the e-mail and phone calls of say, some CFO from some Hot Stock Company, or Brokerage?

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