Archive for the ‘Edward Snowden’ Tag

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Fareed Zakaria “But, first, here’s my take. “One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly and with a willingness to accept the penalty.” That was Martin Luther King Jr.’s definition of civil disobedience. It does not appear to be Edward Snowden’s.

He has tried by every method possible to escape any judgment or punishment for his actions. Snowden’s been compared to Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times.

But Ellsberg did not hop on a plane to Hong Kong or Moscow once he had unloaded his cache of documents. He stood trial and faced the possibility of more than 100 years in prison before the court dismissed the case against him because of the prosecution’s mistakes and abuses of justice.

Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru spent years in prison in India for defying colonial British colonial rule in their native land. So, while Snowden is no hero, his revelations have focused attention on a brave new world of total information.

We are living with the consequences of two powerful, interrelated trends these days. The first is digital life. Your life today has a digital signature. Where you eat, shop and travel; whom you call, e- mail and text; every website, cafe and museum you have ever visited is all stored in the great digital cloud. And you can’t delete anything, ever.

The second is Big Data. Americans were probably most shocked by the revelation that the U.S. government is collecting massive quantities of their digital signatures, billions of phone calls and e- mails and Internet searches. The feds aren’t monitoring every last one, but they could easily and that is the essence of the age of Big Data.

In their excellent book, “Big Data”, Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger and Kenneth Cukier write about the police in Richmond, Virginia. They track criminal incidents against a variety of events: corporate paydays, sports events, concerts, gun shows and dozens of other possible triggers.

The computer, then, identifies patterns. For example, two weeks after a gun show there is always a jump in violent crime. Now, multiply this example by thousands and you understand what the NSA computers are doing.

They don’t use samples anymore, but rather the entire data set. And they don’t try to construct algorithms or logic trees to predict an event they just look through the data for correlations.

As Mayer-Schoenberger and Cukier point out, if the computers can make predictions based on data analysis, should we prevent bad actions by arresting people before they act? Remember the movie “Minority Report?”

But it’s not just fiction. The NSA program Prism aims to identify suspicious patterns to allow the government to prevent terrorism, that is to act before an attack takes place.

A research project at the Department of Homeland Security that tried to predict terrorist behavior based on people’s vital signs, physiological patterns, was 70 percent accurate, according to the authors.

As far as we know, the U.S. government has broken no laws with all of this surveillance. It has followed all established procedures. Congress approved this program, though it did so in secret, writing laws that aren’t public.

Shouldn’t we know more about the actual checks and balances for this kind of surveillance?

The larger question Big Data raises though is this, should any government be permitted to use computer analysis, even if highly accurate, to observe, inform, quarantine or even arrest people simply because they are likely to do something bad?

That seems like a scenario from a horrifying sci-fi thriller. Yet here we are, very close to a real-world version.”

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John Oliver “So,Snowden had disappeared. The media now has a clear choice.  Either you accept that, wait for developments, or…”

Thomas Roberts (MSNBC) “Where in the world is Edward Snowden?”

Fox reporter “We were told, or we thought anyway, it was reported anyway, that he would fly either to Havana, Cuba…”

Another Fox anchor “and then on to Venezuela.”

CNN anchor “Snowden did apply for asylum in Iceland.”

Fox Reporter “then on to Quito.”

Reporter “For all we know, he’s having lunch at the Ecuadorian embassy.”

Fox reporter “Whatever the truth, we believe he’s in Moscow right now.”

CNN anchor “No one knows anything for sure.”

Fox anchor “This is all speculation at this point.”

Oliver “Then stop guessing!  Just stop it, stop guessing.  News is not a game show.  You don’t win a car, if you happen to be right.  Although if it was like a game show, at least, when you got everything wrong, you would not be invited back the next day.”

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) drew boos and heckling from members of the crowd at a progressive conference on Saturday while defending President Barack Obama’s administration and the recently-discovered surveillance policies by the National Security Agency (NSA).

About 47 minutes into Pelosi’s speech at Netroots in San Jose, California, a growing commotion can be heard coming from the audience. While moderator and MSNBC contributor Zerlina Maxwell urged the audience to submit questions online instead of shouting, Pelosi continued, saying, “I think it’s really important to subject all of this to the transparent and harshest scrutiny, to say, ‘We want a balance between privacy and security.’”

At that point, a man identified by Politico as 57-year-old Marc Perkel can be heard shouting, “It’s not a balance. It’s not constitutional! No more secret laws!”

Perkel was ejected from the room by security, while other audience members shouted for him to be left alone. Shortly thereafter, loud boos can be heard coming from the audience after she said former NSA contractor Edward Snowden ” did violate the law” in releasing details about NSA programs like PRISM. The government charged Snowden with crimes related to the Espionage Act on Friday.

“I know that some of you attribute heroic status to that action,” she said of Snowden’s leaks to the Guardian and the Washington Post. “But, again, you don’t have the responsibility for the security of the United States. Those of us who do have to strike a different balance.”

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Peter Ludlow (New York Times):

To get some perspective on the manipulative role that private intelligence agencies play in our society, it is worth examining information that has been revealed by some significant hacks in the past few years of previously secret data.

Important insight into the world these companies came from a 2010 hack by a group best known as LulzSec  (at the time the group was called Internet Feds), which targeted the private intelligence firm HBGary Federal.  That hack yielded 75,000 e-mails.  It revealed, for example, that Bank of America approached the Department of Justice over concerns about information that WikiLeaks had about it.  The Department of Justice in turn referred Bank of America to the lobbying firm Hunton and Willliams, which in turn connected the bank with a group of information security firms collectively known as Team Themis.

Team Themis (a group that included HBGary and the private intelligence and security firms Palantir Technologies, Berico Technologies and Endgame Systems) was effectively brought in to find a way to undermine the credibility of WikiLeaks and the journalist Glenn Greenwald (who recently broke the story of Edward Snowden’s leak of the N.S.A.’s Prism program),  because of Greenwald’s support for WikiLeaks. Specifically, the plan called for actions to “sabotage or discredit the opposing organization” including a plan to submit fake documents and then call out the error. As for Greenwald, it was argued that he would cave “if pushed” because he would “choose professional preservation over cause.” That evidently wasn’t the case………

……Several months after the hack of HBGary, a Chicago area activist and hacker named Jeremy Hammond successfully hacked into another private intelligence firm — Strategic Forcasting Inc., or Stratfor), and released approximately five million e-mails. This hack provided a remarkable insight into how the private security and intelligence companies view themselves vis a vis government security agencies like the C.I.A. In a 2004 e-mail to Stratfor employees, the firm’s founder and chairman George Friedman was downright dismissive of the C.I.A.’s capabilities relative to their own:  “Everyone in Langley [the C.I.A.] knows that we do things they have never been able to do with a small fraction of their resources. They have always asked how we did it. We can now show them and maybe they can learn.”