American hedonism closes its eyes to death, and has been
incapable of exorcising the destructive power of the moment
with a wisdom like that of the Epicureans of antiquity.

- Octavio Paz
Death is un-American, and an affront to every citizen's inalienable
right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

- Arnold Toynbee
the_band_huge
the_band_huge
"As long as such self-serving hypocrisy
motivates America's response, Ukraine will
only sink further into needless bloodshed,
and that blood will be on America's head."
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
the_band_huge
In America everybody is of the opinion that he has no social superiors,
since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he has no social inferiors,
for, from the time of Jefferson onward, the doctrine that all men are equal
applies only upwards, not downwards.

― Bertrand Russell
Global Coke
Global Coke
"What those 'racists' are reflexively and rightly reacting
to is the soulless chill as the fire goes out beneath the
melting pot. Those who think America can thrive as a
'cultural mosaic' are worse than fools; they're Canadians."

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Global Coke
Kim Jong-un and Dennis Rodman
Kim Jong-un and Dennis Rodman
"[Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea] struck
me as uncannily symbolic of, if I may speak
broadly and loosely, the best and worst
of the 'American character abroad.'"

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Kim Jong-un and Dennis Rodman
the_band_huge
the_band_huge
"But where, I wonder, is Obama's hard choice, in this his
now sixth year of leadership? Where is his defining decision,
against the grain, made solely because it seemed right?
Drone strikes in Yemen?"

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
the_band_huge
Two centuries ago, a former European colony decided to catch up with Europe.
It succeeded so well that the United States of America became a monster,
in which the taints, the sickness and the inhumanity of Europe
have grown to appalling dimensions.

― Frantz Fanon
nsa-spy-cartoon-4
nsa-spy-cartoon-4
"We feel better living in a world with privacy, with intimate, unmonitored communication when desired. Those values mean something to us, and give our lives dignity and humanity."
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
nsa-spy-cartoon-4
What the United States does best is understand itself.
What it does worst is understand others.

- Carlos Fuentes
Poor Mexico, so far from God
and so close to the United States.

- Porfirio Diaz
the_band_huge
the_band_huge
"Indeed, everything about the American southland was magical
and exotic to the young Canadian musicians, from the sights
and smells to the drawling manner of speech to, especially, the
central role that music played in people’s everyday lives."

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
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America is a mistake, a giant mistake.
- Sigmund Freud
America is an adorable woman chewing tobacco.
- Auguste Bartholdi
chimerica
chimerica
"This is the tone of the China Century, a subtle
mix of Nazi/Soviet bravado and 'oriental'
cunning -- easily misunderstood, and
never
heard before, in a real enemy, by the West."

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
chimerica
Coke and 'America the Beautiful'
Coke and 'America the Beautiful'
"And for the others who argued for English-only
patriotism, I note that there are more than
57 million Americans (about 20% of the nation)
whose first-language is not English...."

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Coke and 'America the Beautiful'
predator-firing-missile4
predator-firing-missile4
"This is the behavior, and the fate, of paranoid
old-world tyrants like Hitler or Saddam, not liberal new-world democracies like America pretends to be."

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
predator-firing-missile4
America is the only nation in history which
miraculously has gone directly from barbarism to
degeneration without the usual interval of civilization.

- Georges Clemenceau
I found there a country with thirty-two religions and only one sauce.
- Charles–Maurice Talleyrand
A people who are still, as it were, but in the gristle,
and not yet hardened into the bone of manhood.

- Edmund Burke
America is the only country ever founded on the printed word.
- Marshall McLuhan
"The removal of racist sports nicknames (and mascots) seems outrageously belated
-- why, exactly, has this civil rights cause
taken so long to gain momentum?"

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
The atom bomb is a paper tiger which the
United States reactionaries use to scare people.
It looks terrible, but in fact it isn't.

- Mao Tse-tung
They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but
they kept only one; they promised to take our land, and they did.

- Red Cloud
In America sex is an obsession,
in other parts of the world it is a fact.

- Marlene Dietrich
I would rather have a nod from an American,
than a snuff-box from an emperor.

- Lord Byron
One day the United States discovered it was an empire.
But it didn’t know what an empire was.
It thought that an empire was merely the biggest of all corporations.

- Roberto Calasso
"For all the good things he did and tried to do, in a way, for me, Mandela's greatness lay more in what he did not do. And this, I think, is his greatest lesson for America."
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Americans are so enamored of equality, they would rather
be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.

- Alexis de Tocqueville
newtown
newtown
"No one, I thought, could watch those scenes, of young children slaughtered en masse, and so many parents grieving, without thinking that this, finally, would tip some kind of balance in the country."
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
newtown
If you are prepared to accept the consequences of your dreams
then you must still regard America today with the same naive
enthusiasm as the generations that discovered the New World.

- Jean Baudrillard
I am willing to love all mankind, except an American.
- Samuel Johnson
America, thou half brother of the world;
With something good and bad of every land.

- Philip Bailey
"What can be more powerful than disinformation in the Information Age?"
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
England and America are two countries separated by the same language.
- Sir Walter Besant
Christopher Columbus, as everyone knows, is honored by
posterity because he was the last to discover America.

- James Joyce
Now, from America, empty indifferent things
are pouring across, sham things, dummy life.

- Rainer Maria Rilke
If the United States is to recover fortitude and lucidity,
it must recover itself, and to recover itself it must
recover the "others"- the outcasts of the Western world.
- Octavio Paz
The youth of America is their oldest tradition.
It has been going on now for three hundred years.

- Oscar Wilde
"America really is, for most Americans, all things considered, a good place to be, and all they really want is for everyone to enjoy the same privilege and pleasure."
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
When good Americans die they go to Paris;
when bad Americans die they go to America.

- Oscar Wilde
jobs drug dealer
jobs drug dealer
They're nothing more than traffickers; and as the smart traffickers'll tell you, you don't use the merchandise. They are just inoculating their kids with a tech-drug serum, to immunize them against the very merchandise that put the **** bowling alley in their basement.
jobs drug dealer
America is therefore the land of the future, where, in the ages that
lie before us, the burden of the World's History shall reveal itself.

- Georg Friedrich Hegel
America is a large, friendly dog in a very small room.
Every time it wags its tail, it knocks over a chair.

- Arnold Toynbee
Americans always try to do the right thing after they've tried everything else.
- Winston Churchill
The thing that impresses me most about Americans
is the way parents obey their children.

- Edward, Duke of Windsor
Americans are apt to be unduly interested in discovering
what average opinion believes average opinion to be.

- John Maynard Keynes
Europe was created by history.
America was created by philosophy.

- Margaret Thatcher
America is God's crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of
Europe are melting and reforming!... The real American has not yet arrived.
He is only in the crucible, I tell you - he will be the fusion of all races.

- Israel Zangwill
American dreams are strongest in the hearts of those
who have seen America only in their dreams.

- Pico Iyer
America: It's like Britain, only with buttons.
- Ringo Starr
The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer.
It has never yet melted.

― D.H. Lawrence
I have two conflicting visions of America.
One is a kind of dream landscape and the other is a kind of black comedy.

― Bono
The American mirror, said the voice, the sad American mirror
of wealth and poverty and constant useless metamorphosis,
the mirror that sails and whose sails are pain.

― Roberto Bolaño

October 17, 2017

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Author Topic: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!


Sylvia-
Carleton
New Member
Posts: 1
Sylvia Carleton
NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: October 25, 2013, 19:28

America... stop listening to my conversations (including this one)!!
If you're to have any integrity as a world leader and 'defender of liberty,' you must cease spying on the world like some kind of fascist policeman. Here's to Snowden, Assange, and the others who are making these violations known!



Michael-
Howard
New Member
Posts: 1
Michael Howard
Re: NSA Spying - STOP WATCHING AND LISTENING TO US!
on: October 27, 2013, 00:44

Us, too!!

[url]Report: US may have bugged Merkel's phone since 2002
October 26, 2013 2:27PM ET
Magazine also says Obama told the German chancellor he would have stopped spying on her if he had known about it
Topics: NSA Angela Merkel Barack Obama
Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone may have been tapped by the NSA for more than ten years, Der Spiegel reported.Yves Herman/AFP/Getty Images
The United States may have bugged Angela Merkel's phone for more than 10 years, according to a news report Saturday that also said President Barack Obama told the German leader he would have stopped it from happening if he had known about it.

Germany's outrage over reports about Merkel’s phone being tapped by the National Security Agency prompted German officials to summon the U.S. ambassador this week in an unprecedented postwar diplomatic rift.

German magazine Der Spiegel said Merkel's mobile telephone had been listed by the NSA's Special Collection Service (SCS) since 2002 – marked as "GE Chancellor Merkel" – and was still on the list weeks before Obama visited Berlin in June.

In an SCS document cited by the magazine, the agency said it had a "not legally registered spying branch" in the U.S. embassy in Berlin, the exposure of which would lead to "grave damage for the relations of the United States to another government."

From there, NSA and CIA staff were tapping communications in Berlin's government district with high-tech surveillance.

Quoting a secret document from 2010, Der Spiegel said such branches existed in about 80 locations around the world, including Paris, Madrid, Rome, Prague, Geneva and Frankfurt.

The magazine said it was not clear whether the SCS had recorded conversations or just connection data.

Obama apologizes

Obama apologized to Merkel when she called him Wednesday to seek clarification on the issue, Der Spiegel wrote, citing a source in Merkel's office.

Obama told Merkel he had not known of the bugging, the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung said.

Merkel's spokesman and the White House declined comment.

"We're not going to comment on the details of our diplomatic discussions," said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council at the White House.

Reuters[/url]



AnyaH-vdL
Novice Their American
Posts: 8
AnyaH-vdL
Re: NSA Spying - STOP WATCHING AND LISTENING TO US!
on: October 28, 2013, 04:00

My impression is, that there are two views about this among the German public. There's slight worry about the fact that our phone conversations and Facebook messages might not be private any more (though not the political outrage that one would expect, as everyone seems to take the stance that they have nothing to hide, so why should we worry?). Given our history of two totalitarian regimes in the 20th century that kept taps on their citizens and acted on them, this seems like an odd reaction, but I think it stems from a certain political lethargy and fatalism. At the same time, the political left is mostly smug about the fact that Merkel's phone was also tapped. When the Snowdon files first revealed that German phones had been tapped sometime this summer, Merkel and her party still tried to play this down so as not to antagonize the US. Her outrage at being a target herself seems like quite the double standard now.



Brendan-
Clements
New Member
Posts: 2
Brendan Clements
Re: NSA Spying - STOP WATCHING AND LISTENING TO US!
on: October 29, 2013, 11:06

What I find interesting is the White House response and that of the National Security State's greatest defender, Diane Fienstein. It was only after international outrage that the Obama administration has done anything to address concerns. When the original NSA revelations came out, with angered Americans, it was certainly not the same response. If I was American, I would be livid that my politicians are only taking spying concerns seriously when the Germans are angry, not the American people.



Brian-
Jones
Veteran Their American
Posts: 25
Brian Jones
Re: NSA Spying - STOP WATCHING AND LISTENING TO US!
on: October 29, 2013, 12:27

Brendan, I would think that one, simple reason why Americans--and not Germans--were 'conflicted' here, not sure exactly what to be livid about, is the deep, and seemingly justified, post-9/11 fear of compromising their Security, or the safety of American lives at home and abroad.
If the NSA was protecting these (and Snowden endangering them), in the latest iteration of the Great Game; and America is (to you) the #1 Target for every fanatic with aspirations; you're conflicted here, in a way that Germans could never be.

And I say again what I have said elsewhere, and forms a bedrock assumption of all my takes on the people of America: they are, as a people, basically as decent as, and seemingly more generous than, most peoples on earth, and just don't get it--the #1 Target thing.



Brian-
Jones
Veteran Their American
Posts: 25
Brian Jones
Re: NSA Spying - STOP WATCHING AND LISTENING TO US!
on: October 29, 2013, 16:32

Put Garton Ash and the NSA together, and you get a country (or rather a country's government machinery) actually doing a whole lot of listening, but in all the wrong ways.
Their America as new-age police state.
Moore's rolling out the cameras as I write.



Wyatt Dick
Veteran Their American
Posts: 41
Wyatt Dick
Re: NSA Spying - STOP WATCHING AND LISTENING TO US!
on: October 30, 2013, 11:30

Putting aside the additional complications that arise when one country is spying on an ally and its citizens, I'm curious why people are so opposed to the principle of governments spying on us. I'm not a big fan of all this 'rights' talk in general, or the kind of litigiousness it tends to inspire. That being said, if I have to live and work within a 'rights' framework, I definitely don't see all rights as being equally important.
Having the government listen to my phone calls or read my e-mails is far less objectionable to me than having them tell me what I can or cannot write or say. Or whom I can associate with. (Though in the right context, I'm not sure that having some limits on these things is necessarily always a bad thing.) There are tradeoffs to be made between freedom and security. And as 'terrorists' (I don't really like that word, but you know what I mean) come to have greater and greater access to increasingly deadly weapons, the importance of government agencies having access to our private information would only seem to increase.
Personally, I see government snooping as a fact of life--perhaps a necessary evil. What I think we should focus on is making sure that governments have good systems for keeping that information out of the public sphere. I can live with some government department having transcripts of my phone calls; but I don't want them on youtube.



Danielle-
Sinclair
Novice Their American
Posts: 5
Danielle Sinclair
Re: NSA Spying - STOP WATCHING AND LISTENING TO US!
on: October 31, 2013, 15:29

I feel an instant and extreme horror at realizing the extent of the NSA's spying, which exceeds Orwell's 1984. What is worse, in 2013, is the de facto merging of governments and corporations. If the American government can know everything you do, so can a powerful corporation (and we've already seen appalling partnerships between Google, Facebook, etc. and the gov't). This argument may sound alarmist, but we must ask ourselves where these encroachments on our privacy are leading... nowhere good, I must say!



sdiliberto
Experienced Their American
Posts: 15
Stacey DiLiberto
Re: NSA Spying - STOP WATCHING AND LISTENING TO US!
on: November 6, 2013, 09:28

Danielle,

I understand your concerns and I often wonder what Orwell would think had he been around today. How different would 1984 and Big Brother be? Here's what I find to be especially perplexing:

While we are deeply concerned about the extent of NSA spying, at the same time, many of us have no qualms about what we voluntarily reveal about our lives online. I'm thinking in particular about the daily posts I see on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. As someone who is supposedly a part of Generation Y (at least on the very early borders of this generational group), I am often bewildered by what people share online. For me, it's just too much information and perhaps it's the Big Brother paranoia I have that stops me from sharing too much!

When considering Foucault and Panopticism, how much of 21st century communication is letting the Panopticon in? The Google smart ads that you mention are a great example.

Is it a matter of voluntarily sharing personal information (personal choice) versus having personal information involuntarily shared (no choice) that has us so upset? I'm still mulling it over and I welcome your ideas!

Best,

Stacey



Wyatt Dick
Veteran Their American
Posts: 41
Wyatt Dick
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 12, 2013, 09:04

I'm willing to discuss the Big Brother angle more seriously if other posters sincerely believe it is the real issue here. However, I'm slowly coming around to the belief that the fear that government surveillance leads to tyranny is really just a kind of cover for a more deep-seated discomfort with the idea that some of our more private moments are, in fact, not quite so private. It is difficult to articulate why avoiding this discomfort should trump the government's security needs, so many people turn instead to the George Orwell argument, which is easier to articulate, but also much easier (in my opinion) to dismiss.

With this in mind, I agree with Stacey that it is interesting that so many of the people most upset at having their privacy 'invaded' by the government seem to value this privacy much less than any generation before them. Or, at the very least, they have a radically different conception of privacy, and of what is appropriate to share widely. Perhaps the idea of control or choice really is central to understanding what does seem to be, on the face of it, a somewhat paradoxical position.

All of this has me thinking more about what should be private, and about what has been considered so in the past. I wonder if it would be so bad if one of the (unintended) effects of government surveillance was that all electronic communication became considered less private, and more a part of the public domain. In such a world, the internet would be less anonymous, and even phone calls and e-mails to friends and family would be more formal. There would be no pretending that Skyping distant friends was a substitute for visiting them, or that e-mails and Facebook were a substitute for face-to-face conversation.

Of course the pessimist in me feels that if forced to choose between privacy and using our electronic toys as freely, we'd eventually return to our Twittering habits and just stop caring about who is listening in.



Danielle-
Sinclair
Novice Their American
Posts: 5
Danielle Sinclair
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 12, 2013, 14:51

All of this has me thinking more about what should be private, and about what has been considered so in the past. I wonder if it would be so bad if one of the (unintended) effects of government surveillance was that all electronic communication became considered less private, and more a part of the public domain. In such a world, the internet would be less anonymous, and even phone calls and e-mails to friends and family would be more formal. There would be no pretending that Skyping distant friends was a substitute for visiting them, or that e-mails and Facebook were a substitute for face-to-face conversation.

It seems a nice thought -- the increasing and healthy formality of e-communications under surveillance -- but I don't see that happening (people already know that others are watching them, and often 'act out' in very informal ways; the awareness of surveillance and an attentive 'public' just seems to turn everyone into self-conscious performers), and am reminded of the experiences of those in the former East Germany who suffered constant surveillance (their 'communications' with each other were not improved by 'formality', though they did find new ways of cryptically sharing their genuine thoughts with each other).
My worry is that the whole world is heading there now.



Wyatt Dick
Veteran Their American
Posts: 41
Wyatt Dick
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 13, 2013, 08:32

There are degrees of public awareness, and also degrees of surveillance. Right now, most people don't believe that the vast majority of their communications are being watched. And that is probably true. Furthermore, the small portion that is being listened to is simply being fed through computer algarhithms looking for key words and the like. Of that, only a very small percentage gets to human ears. So I think that we are far from a state where my hypothesis is being tested--granted, it was just a whimsical one at any rate.
As for the East German example, I think a distinction must be made between being watched by a government that is actively trying to control its populace and suppress any dissent, and one that is basically trying to hunt for terrorists and the like. The slippery slope argument that underlies the assertion that government surveillance inevitably leads to some kind of tyrannical police state suffers from the same fundamental flaw as most slippery slope arguments: pretty much everything in life is a slippery slope if looked at from a certain perspective. Sliding is not always inevitable, and many of life's essential challenges are all about finding and keeping one's footing on the inevitable 'slipper slopes' we find ourselves on.
I'd be interested if you could unpack your 'worry' a little more Danielle. What precisely are you concerned about or uncomfortable with? and why?
For my part, my concern is in some ways the opposite of most people's. I worry that if our legal framework puts too many limits--or at least the wrong kinds of limits (e.g., the excessively cumbersome FISA warrant process)--on government surveillance, we force the national security apparatus to break or bend the law. When forced to choose between bombs going off and following regulations, most will choose to prevent the former at the expense of the latter. And once the surveillance system is essentially forced off-the-books and underground, it becomes a lot harder to implement the right kinds of restrictions and procedures.



Todd H.
Experienced Their American
Posts: 13
Todd H.
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 15, 2013, 12:56

I find it really hard to take any of the "spying on us" stuff seriously. There's something almost narcissistic about all the commotion, all the "Stop looking at me!" preening, as if anyone cares one iota about what anyone says or writes in our digital domain! As many have noted, the same people complaining about Orwell's 1984 are also walking around with cameras on their phones and cameras aimed right at their faces in the frame of their laptop computers etc. etc. without any complaint other than how much it will cost to buy more of the same or better equipment. Orwell would never have imagined that we'd be lusting after our own surveillance equipment and bringing it voluntarily into our own homes and private (ha!) lives. In fact, I'd almost be willing to bet that the over-adoption of phones/cameras and 'communication technology' has proved to be the biggest problem for the NSA -- how to deal with everything they can easily capture -- how to you monitor 2 billion cellphones? 4 billion two-way communicative transactions every 10 seconds (if they can even be counted) and growing etc..... Someone says "Well, there's an algorithm," or "it's all key-word search" !!! That's after you've got it decrypted of course, and then it might only take six months (six years?) to locate something readable or hearable, but then how many Chinese speakers are working for the US government? How many Arabic speakers? From what I understand, often the NSA has to come to Canada for help translating--and we have about 60 people working as linguist analysts--and how many are Arabic or Chinese speaking? It's pretty obvious that the spies must work with extreme contextual selectivity, even more (much more) than in the past. We're protected by the fact that we no longer really exist other than statistically (unless we're terrorists or other celebrities). For a fleeting moment, thanks to Snowden, we all can imagine that somebody's actually watching and caring about what we've done, that someone's out there, even a "Big Brother", to help make sense of our insignificance. This is the weird part, the NSA makes the internet more intimate, it makes me feel less alone. Thanks America, for picking up the existential tab out here.



Yuuichi-
Takada
Experienced Their American
Posts: 17
Yuuichi Takada
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 15, 2013, 15:48

An interesting post, Todd H., thank you!
But if you will forgive me, I would like to return for a moment to something Wyatt Dick said:

"All of this has me thinking more about what should be private, and about what has been considered so in the past. I wonder if it would be so bad if one of the (unintended) effects of government surveillance was that all electronic communication became considered less private, and more a part of the public domain. In such a world, the internet would be less anonymous, and even phone calls and e-mails to friends and family would be more formal. There would be no pretending that Skyping distant friends was a substitute for visiting them, or that e-mails and Facebook were a substitute for face-to-face conversation."

I was surprised to read "formal". I was expecting more like "self-conscious" or "self-aware". And this, I thought to myself, could be a good thing! As you say, Todd H., in this world of the internet we seem to increasingly exist statistically, safe as anonymous digits in a huge algorithm no one will ever understand. And human weaknesses can breed and grow strong in this anonymity like a womb. There is a strange paradox here maybe. When our life is turned "inside out" (through all the social media, etc., like you say), everything outside starts to feel inside somehow. We are everywhere, yet nowhere. Everyone, yet no one. Everything, yet nothing. Visible to all, yet invisible. And shame, for instance, which can "open" the womb to the world, and give it air, and clean it from putridity, is lost.
But why would there be "no pretending (etc.)", Wyatt Dick? This I don't understand.



Wyatt Dick
Veteran Their American
Posts: 41
Wyatt Dick
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 15, 2013, 17:30

Mostly wishful thinking on my part, Yuuichi. I chose 'formal' because I imagined that if everyone thought our 'private' correspondence was monitored, we might react much the way we have with our business correspondence (which has, in many cases, long been capable of being monitored by our employers). Of course, our approach to even business e-mails has probably become more casual than ever. As for 'no pretending', that was just another exploration of the same theme: if we couldn't share truly 'private' matters over Skype, e-mail, the phone, etc. then there would be an obvious advantage to seeing people in person. But as was pointed it out, it was all really just dreamy speculation. In the real world, people are too accustomed to their electronic communication patterns, and I doubt any amount of 'benign' surveillance would change them.



Yuuichi-
Takada
Experienced Their American
Posts: 17
Yuuichi Takada
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 15, 2013, 18:09

Ah yes, Wyatt, now I see: "As for 'no pretending', that was just another exploration of the same theme: if we couldn't share truly 'private' matters over Skype, e-mail, the phone, etc. then there would be an obvious advantage to seeing people in person. But as was pointed it out, it was all really just dreamy speculation. In the real world, people are too accustomed to their electronic communication patterns, and I doubt any amount of 'benign' surveillance would change them."
But not so dreamy maybe. If the inner is outer, and the outer knows the referent (that is, the you who is outered), then we have rediscovered shame again, and the village where shame (and other witness) hold things together. We are aware again, like a weir (I see these are like the same thing). We are closed and shut in, somewhere again.
The key then, is the referent. Does the "outerance" reference?



Todd H.
Experienced Their American
Posts: 13
Todd H.
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 16, 2013, 11:16

Yuuichi, I think this notion of 'the loss of a cleansing shame' that you bring up is very interesting. I think you have put your finger on a concept that may be far more useful than what I vaguely referred to as a 'narcissism' in my last post (Why to we seem to enjoy being outraged about being observed etc.) Your notion of shame (or more properly the loss of shame) may account more usefully for the seemingly paradoxical aspects of the average digital communicator's behavior when it comes to privacy.

Wyatt, don't you think that there's almost a desire to be monitored expressed in the complaints? and that the hardest thing for us last standing humans to imagine is that nobody is watching at all, or (like Yuuichi implied) that, at best, the only watching being done anymore is by each of us, passively watching how our devices (computer equipment) use us (up).



Yuuichi-
Takada
Experienced Their American
Posts: 17
Yuuichi Takada
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 16, 2013, 15:00

Thank you, Todd H. One of the strangest things of Japan's post-war history (I think) is the way that Ms. Benedict's The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture, which first distinguished between Japanese (shame) and American (guilt) culture, written (during the war, by contract of the United States Office of War Information) with no knowledge of Japanese or first-hand knowledge of Japanese society, attacked from all sides since then, and implying Western "guilt" culture as superior or more advanced, is still adopted, almost as "gospel", not only by the West but by the Japanese themselves. (Some claim, partly to ignore or excuse themselves for the wartime behavior, since shame is (supposedly) not felt before those outside one's culture.)
(This article seems to me a fine brief summary of the view and its strange self-fulfilling history: http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/31/ivy.php)
But let us imagine there is some truth to the distinction, and let us accept the following summary (from that article) for the sake of argument.
First Ms. Benedict:
"A society that inculcates absolute standards of morality and relies on men’s developing a conscience is a guilt culture by definition. … True shame cultures rely on external sanctions for good behavior, not, as true guilt cultures do, on an internalized conviction of sin. … [Shame] requires an audience or at least a man’s fantasy of an audience. Guilt does not."
And now the article author:
"shame appears as less developed, less autonomous, less evolved than guilt. Shame is felt always in relation to the Other, unlike guilt with its sturdy, consistent standards of morality (guilt is confessable). Shame is more primitive. Shame allows the most heinous deeds, and all is well, as long as these crimes are not exposed to the gaze of the world. Guilt does not depend on crime’s revelation. Guilt is internalized, autonomous; shame is externalized, heteronomous. Guilt is fixed; shame is mutable. Guilt is American; shame is Japanese.
"
Perhaps what is happening is something like this. The West, equipped with the tremendous Christian machinery, long after the animating spirit was lost, took its confidence in guilt, in guilt's intrinsic and intransitive capacity to hold things together, hold men to the straight line, into the anonymous flood world of the internet, trusting that somehow it would be protected from vice and triviality, selfishness and sin, even there, where the internal is external, because its superior moral machinery was so powerful.
But this confidence, which allowed that world to be born, was actually just hubris, and the nemesis is narcissism, moral weakness and disorientation, a vast fog of guilty guiltlessness. Like a big proud strong house drifting like a match box in a tsunami.
Without that confidence would this world have ever happened?
Without the clean "conscience" of Truman and Oppenheimer, would the bomb have ever been dropped?



Anna-
Blazhko
Experienced Their American
Posts: 16
Anna Blazhko
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 17, 2013, 11:34

Wow, this discussion seems very complex. But when I used to make a phone call, after the KGB was gone, I was happy and proud to know that I was now free to do so, and free to say whatever I wanted, however horrible or dangerous it might sound to someone else, who didn't know me, for example. And when I sent a letter, I was happy and proud to know that, unless I was doing something criminal and drawing suspicion, it would almost certainly not be opened or read. (Maybe I was wrong, here in Ukraine, but you were not wrong, Todd and Wyatt, I'm sure.)
Todd said:
"As many have noted, the same people complaining about Orwell's 1984 are also walking around with cameras on their phones and cameras aimed right at their faces in the frame of their laptop computers etc. etc. without any complaint other than how much it will cost to buy more of the same or better equipment."
But I'm not one of those people, and neither are most of my friends and family.
Todd said: "Orwell would never have imagined that we'd be lusting after our own surveillance equipment and bringing it voluntarily into our own homes and private (ha!) lives."
But I'm not lusting after surveillance equipment, and would hate it in my home and my private life.
I can only speak for myself, Todd and Wyatt, and for my family and friends, and we don't matter at all, I know, in our little town in Ukraine, but we feel better living in a world with privacy, with intimate, unmonitored communication when desired. Those values mean something to us, and give our lives dignity and humanity (or something like that, I'm not a philosopher). But you seem willing to dispense with them very easily, even find them amusing, as ignorant or unsophisticated.
Maybe they are. But may I ask you?
What are your values? What are the new values, to replace those old human ones I know and feel sure of. What are the sophisticated ones, which make life on the internet also worth living?



Geoff-
Hamilton
Administrator
Posts: 170
Geoff Hamilton
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 17, 2013, 16:16

Just thought I'd paste in this thread from our Americas Theater... I've been enjoying the global colloquy, and would love to hear more!

-----------------------------------------
Geoff-
Hamilton
Administrator
Posts: 75
Geoff Hamilton
"Mexican presidents fall victim of NSA spying"
on: November 2, 2013, 00:16 QUOTE REMOVE EDIT
from The Mazatlán Messenger

Mexican Presidents Fall Victim of U.S. Spying

"The latest leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden detail how the National Security Agency spied on Mexican politicians. The NSA accessed text messages sent by current Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, as well as hacked former President Felipe Calderón’s e-mail.[...]"
http://mazmessenger.com/2013/10/27/mexican-presidents-fall-victim-of-nsa-spying/

Will this matter to Mexicans? What, if anything, might be the political fallout here?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jorge-
Sousa
New Member
Posts: 2
Jorge Sousa
Re: "Mexican presidents fall victim of NSA spying"
on: November 2, 2013, 00:29 QUOTE REMOVE EDIT
I don't know -- I expect that the Mexican political elite will complain, like other nations, and then... nothing. The Mexican people suspected as much and will not be outraged. More of the same, more of the same.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
sdiliberto
New Member
Posts: 12
sdiliberto
Re: "Mexican presidents fall victim of NSA spying"
on: November 6, 2013, 09:05 QUOTE REMOVE EDIT
I agree that there seems to be a lot of complaining and not much action, and it's not just Mexico, or the U.S., or any other country in particular. Apathy often seems to be a common and global epidemic. I often wonder if there will be some sort of tipping point where we'll think enough is enough. If so, what do you think that tipping point will be? If not, will we just keep going as if nothing matters?

--Stacey



Claire-
Bennett
New Member
Posts: 1
Claire Bennett
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 17, 2013, 16:41

Anna -- I have enjoyed your excellent poste! And I think it is right to remember the experiences (as Danielle said) about the totalitarian states. There is always the danger of governments increasing their powers and invading the private spaces of citizens. I am not making a dubious "slippery slope" claim; the natural logic of governments is to increase powers, and they must be monitored to place limits. We must, I would say, be very vigilant about the rise of totalitarianism, especially from (as has also been said) the fusion of corporations and governments. Fear and loathing of spying is a healthy thing!



Todd H.
Experienced Their American
Posts: 13
Todd H.
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 17, 2013, 22:35

Anna, (and Claire)
I'll bet you're making your post on a laptop, and I'll bet it has a camera built into it. If it doesn't, the next one will.
I'll bet that for every supposed 'secret' a relatively low level NSA contractor can download and sensationalize, there are ten more that are really secret, and I bet that one of them (still-secret #1) is that the NSA can watch you through your camera if they want to (certainly the garden variety hacker can do it, without the red light coming on). I'll bet that more people have cellphones in your town or neighbourhood than don't, and if they don't yet they will as soon as is humanly possible, and every one of those cellphones has cameras and geotracking built in (and, of course, two way microphones) and everyone of these features of them can be accessed surrpetitiously too (still-secret #2). Further, I bet a Google camera truck/bus/plane/bicycle has already taken a picture of your house/apartment (kids maybe following the little truck and laughing, it probably made the newspapers "we're on the map!") and that if you have a car everyone reading this forum can see it parked near where you live, and that the NSA has also paid/contracted/colluded with Google (still-secret #3) to take really really good pictures of a lot more than any public person will ever be able to see on Google maps. So far, all the government has had to do is figure a way to handle all the data we're providing while our attention is managed (by the same system) into coughing up even more, whatever else is left (outside the scope of these passive devices), onto social media sites to be data-mined for deeper 'texture'.

So, although I sincerely believe that you're not "one of those people", I'm curious to know if anything I've said in the previous 100 words or so is even the slightest bit accurate? I'm afraid that the only sign of not being part 'it' at all, this surveillance panorama, is by not being here (typing) at all, yet here we are.

Anna, you said: "I can only speak for myself, Todd and Wyatt, and for my family and friends, and we don't matter at all, I know, in our little town in Ukraine, but we feel better living in a world with privacy, with intimate, unmonitored communication when desired. Those values mean something to us, and give our lives dignity and humanity (or something like that, I'm not a philosopher). But you seem willing to dispense with them very easily, even find them amusing, as ignorant or unsophisticated."

I'm pretty sure that almost everyone shares precisely the same values, but I'm not sure how those values match up with the what seems like pretty simple acts: we've all, every single one of us reading this right now, brought into our homes, at our own expense, the very tools (including the 'soft' tools of education and habit) to ensure we are easily and soon irrevocably overseen--and understanding this, more or less, almost all of us will get on with smoothing out any wrinkles in the system (ease of use, cost, access). Here we are. Now, I don't think anybody's listening in at all or ever -- but we've nevertheless, made a consensual commitment to the logic that will, eventually, make it possible and even likely that we will be spied upon, and it's this commitment that's strange to me. I find it even stranger in the case of people who have lived with and suffered under governments who actively engaged in aggressive surveillance programs of their own populations in the past.

I leave a piece of cardboard covering the camera in the frame of my screen.
Having just written this last sentence, I realize how truly weird this world of ours has become.

T.



Anna-
Blazhko
Experienced Their American
Posts: 16
Anna Blazhko
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 18, 2013, 15:20

Yes Todd, but all those things in your first paragraph are what they can do.
The question is are we happy to let them, no?
So I guess I don't really understand your point; it seems to be supporting mine, and that can't be.
When you say:
"although I sincerely believe that you're not "one of those people", I'm curious to know if anything I've said in the previous 100 words or so is even the slightest bit accurate?"
I'd say, I guess so, what do I know? It certainly seems like just what's the problem here.
And so when you say:
I'm afraid that the only sign of not being part 'it' at all, this surveillance panorama, is by not being here (typing) at all, yet here we are.
I have to answer, 'Yes but you seem to be accepting it, and I'm not. And that's what I was trying to ask you. Not whether they can, but whether they should. Why is that all okay, or good, for you or anybody else?'
Or do you just think, like so many Ukrainians did under the Soviets, 'Well, nothing to be done, that's just the way it is..." (etc.).
That seems to be what you think (but I'm trying to understand why). Thus you say:
I'm pretty sure that almost everyone shares precisely the same values, but I'm not sure how those values match up with the what seems like pretty simple acts: we've all, every single one of us reading this right now, brought into our homes, at our own expense, the very tools (including the 'soft' tools of education and habit) to ensure we are easily and soon irrevocably overseen
But you see, I don't think we have "ensured" this, unless we just sit back and say it's okay. Do you?
Then you say:
Now, I don't think anybody's listening in at all or ever -- but we've nevertheless, made a consensual commitment to the logic that will, eventually, make it possible and even likely that we will be spied upon
But I haven't made this consensual commitment at all. If I bought a telephone in 1980, and the KGB had put a hidden microphone inside, and I found out, I would be outraged and hurt, and my life would have been cheapened. This doesn't seem to trouble you, and I don't understand why.
But what am beginning to understand though, is that there are values in your new world, because they seem to be at work in these things you're saying. So, if you'll forgive me, I'll ask explicitly once again, and ask you to perhaps be slightly more explicit in answering:
What are your values? What are the new values, to replace those old human ones I know and feel sure of. What are the sophisticated ones, which make life on the internet also worth living?



Todd H.
Experienced Their American
Posts: 13
Todd H.
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 18, 2013, 17:00

I think I probably have, more or less, at least on these issues, the same values as you do ("the old human ones I know and feel sure of"). I guess I'm saying is that I don't understand how this 'new' world is mine and not also yours? What I'm not so sure about is how you are displaying your resistance to the values 'in here'. You say that I seem to be accepting these new values and that you're not, but I'm telling you that I think your 2013 'telephone' is full of 'hidden' (perhaps in a fundamentally different way) microphones and cameras -- can we agree on that? If we can, then the best thing to do is to stop using the system all together--anything else is a kind of complicity that I would call consensual. If we can't agree that your computer is equipped to spy on you, or this comes as a surprise to you, then I guess I would ask you if it were true, what would you do then?

I don't think there is much (of what I would call) human life on the internet and what life there might be isn't sustained by anything like what you somewhat abstractly refer to as "sophisticated" values, but rather collection of common strings pulled out of the of old complex interweave of human behaviours and values, some as rudimentary as our infantile desire to push round buttons and be fascinated by shiny surfaces, some as simple as our desire for association, and now, of course, the basic need to earn a living.



Anna-
Blazhko
Experienced Their American
Posts: 16
Anna Blazhko
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 18, 2013, 18:24

I think I probably have, more or less, at least on these issues, the same values as you do ("the old human ones I know and feel sure of").
Great. Let me see...
I guess I'm saying is that I don't understand how this 'new' world is mine and not also yours?
If you're right (and I trust you are), then yes, it is both of ours. But our attitude toward it seems to be opposite. And our attitude reflects our values, I think.
What I'm not so sure about is how you are displaying your resistance to the values 'in here'.
What values? You haven't told me what they are yet! I'm only guessing, in my dim way, based on the attitude you seem to be showing.
You say that I seem to be accepting these new values and that you're not, but I'm telling you that I think your 2013 'telephone' is full of 'hidden' (perhaps in a fundamentally different way) microphones and cameras -- can we agree on that?
I don't think I can, but maybe I don't understand your sophisticated English usage.
For me, they are only 'hidden' if someone else is using them secretly, and this is what I am against.
I would say that these would be potential hidden microphones and cameras (is that right?). Not real unless we let governments, corporations and such make them into that.
If we can, then the best thing to do is to stop using the system all together--anything else is a kind of complicity that I would call consensual.
But this just assumes that we will be continually monitored/spied on, no matter what, doesn't it? And I don't accept that. That is what this whole Snowden thing is about, isn't it?
If my cellphone were emitting a high-pitched tone that hurt my dog, and I found out, I don't have just two choices, like you keep saying, I have three: accept my dog being hurt, throw out my phone, or stop it from making the hurtful tone. No?
Perhaps we do have something like the same values, but you just feel there is no third choice?
Well, if so, we are still at a time in history when few will agree with you, yet, I think.
I don't think there is much (of what I would call) human life on the internet
Maybe. But do you think that lesser life will be enhanced or diminished by accepting this new order?
what life there might be isn't sustained by anything like what you somewhat abstractly refer to as "sophisticated" values
Agreed!
but rather collection of common strings pulled out of the of old complex interweave of human behaviours and values, some as rudimentary as our infantile desire to push round buttons and be fascinated by shiny surfaces, some as simple as our desire for association, and now, of course, the basic need to earn a living.
But why leave out the very one at issue here: the freedom to speak, to write, to live without being monitored?
Finally, it really just seems you don't care about this for some reason.



Wyatt Dick
Veteran Their American
Posts: 41
Wyatt Dick
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 19, 2013, 06:36

I care. I think this is an important issue; but it is also a fiendishly complex and technical one. The devil really is in the details. This is all about trade offs, and any serious treatment of the issue is going to break down into an almost interminable series of judgment calls that will need to be informed by our values, a real appreciation of the threats we face, and a detailed understanding of the relevant technical issues. I'm personally humbled in the face of just how complex it all is. As an average citizen, I think the best we can do is try to figure out just what our priorities are and impart them in a coherent way to the decision makers.
This is why I think it is so important for us to figure out just what it is about surveillance that troubles us most. If you watch the video in the OP, you will hear a real smorgasbord of reasons to oppose NSA surveillance: It violates the Constitution! It infringes on the RIGHT to privacy! The government shouldn't have that much power! I believe it will be very difficult to decide which surveillance activities are acceptable, and which are not; which procedures and protections are adequate, and which are insufficient, if we can't sort through this cacophony of competing rationales for limiting government surveillance.
Personally, many of these objections to NSA surveillance ring a bit hollow to me. The idea that we are just a step away from Orwellian tyranny is not something I see much evidence for. Defending the Right to Privacy as some kind of abstract absolute is not something I'm interested in either. Even the comparisons to life in the Soviet Union, while useful in some respects, seem a bit off. There is a difference between being listened to by a government that is actively trying to repress your basic freedoms, and being listened to by a government that is on the whole trying to stop you from being blown up.
What rings truest to me are three words from Anna: intimacy, humanity, and dignity. She's right to say that at the heart of things, this is about what feels better. It is an aesthetic judgment, as most great moral judgments are. Imagine the important, life-defining phone calls of your life--a last call to a loved one on their deathbed when you just couldn't get back in time, or Skype sessions with a wife or husband who is working overseas to support the family, but whose absence is straining the marriage. Now imagine those calls being listened to, dissected, and transcribed by faceless, uninvolved 'analysts' thousands of miles away. It cheapens and dehumanizes it somehow; it feels horribly wrong. Even if this intrusion into our intimacy never impacts our lives directly, in a decent world, our most intimate moments shouldn't be someone else's morning memo.
That is how I feel anyways. And it really does make a difference why you are uncomfortable with government surveillance and data collection. A person who is principally concerned with limiting government power, for example, might be most upset by the 1.5 Billion dollar server farm that keeps track of everyone's phone bills, address, employment records, etc. But that doesn't really bother me so much. I'm most concerned about my private phone calls, and after that, my personal e-mails. If I have to prioritize, I'll prioritize them. 'Cause the thing is, it isn't a decent world. And we are going to have to make sacrifices. Franklin's line about not trading liberty for security was silly on the face of it 200 years ago, and it is even sillier now.
After considering our values comes considering the threat. And the threat is serious. It comes down to weighing the lives of potential victims of violence against the quality of life of everyone else. And while right now, the number of potential victims might not be so large, the future looks bleaker. It is very difficult to predict future technological trends, but most serious observers feel that it will continue to be increasingly difficult to control weapons that can unleash devastation on a large scale. If the day when we cannot effectively control access to nuclear weapons, for example, comes at a time when violent organizations have been left to flower relatively unchecked, we may all look back at past decisions with regret.



Kevin-
Orant
Novice Their American
Posts: 6
Kevin Orant
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 19, 2013, 13:35

Very eloquently put observations by Wyatt (and Todd and Anna -- and others!). It is clear to me that we, average people, must sacrifice SOME of our privacy, but the question is where exactly we draw the line and how much invasion we are willing to accept. There is one assumption made by Wyatt however that I would like to caution us about...

There is a difference between being listened to by a government that is actively trying to repress your basic freedoms, and being listened to by a government that is on the whole trying to stop you from being blown up.

I think this is a dubious distinction. Many of us would not accept that the American government, and of course all the other governments who have powers which are similar to America's, are "on the whole" necessarily doing something helpful in making us safe, or will always be trying to do that. As has been mentioned, governments and corporations (including America's) are already largely merged, and both are very interested in manipulating us, even if it's just to sell us things.



Nassy
New Member
Posts: 1
Nassy
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 20, 2013, 14:24

Frankly speaking I do not know if I can ever trust anything that carries the US name, nationality or origin (Even if against USA) That is true even about what is possibly related to USA. NSA has created enough mistrust and insecurity in all of us to feel being hunted as if by ghost in Halloween. I, therefore, prefer to read instead of writing. Let them do what they do and add to mistrust and increase their enemies.



Geoff-
Hamilton
Administrator
Posts: 170
Geoff Hamilton
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 22, 2013, 00:36

From a recent Democracy Now! article...

NSA Accessed Private Info of U.K. Citizens
"New disclosures from whistleblower Edward Snowden show the National Security Agency has stored and analyzed the private data of British citizens, despite no suspicion of wrongdoing. An NSA memo from 2007 says the United States and Britain reached an agreement that would grant the NSA access to phone, Internet and email records that had previously been off-limits. The information is stored in databases available to other U.S. intelligence and military agencies. A separate memo from 2005 outlines NSA proposals for spying on citizens in other so-called "Five Eyes" nations — Australia, New Zealand and Canada — even when the surveillance request has been denied.

http://www.democracynow.org/2013/11/21/headlines#11214

I imagine that I fall (uneasily) between where (I think) Wyatt and Nassy are in regard to trusting the range and intentions of the American government's spying program. I'm grateful for the efforts being made to protect the innocent from terrorist attacks, and feel comfortable enough endorsing such efforts to some extent, but am wary of the strong tendency of surveillance programs to 'creep' (then leap) beyond their stated aims (as Kevin and others have already described). Some rationale can always be generated by those within such programs for the need to expand monitoring of anyone, doing anything, anywhere, and I reckon the NSA and similar gov’t entities will always, by their nature, be pushing hard at (and through) whatever official limits they’re given.
What I don't feel at all ambivalent about, however, is the adoption of advanced spying techniques by the commercial sector (which has no compelling ‘if we don’t do it, you and yours could get blown up’ justification for its surveillance, and which is far more obviously and insistently invasive than the NSA is, at least right now). What startles me about most of my undergraduate students is that they typically don’t seem much alarmed by the way corporations collect information about them and ‘mine’ their (virtual) lives for profit: it’s just how the world works (and so they live with it). I mentioned to a student last year that I was disturbed when I started using Gmail and, after writing someone a message saying I was going fishing, soon found a series of ads for fishing equipment and resort packages arranged around my Inbox. The student looked sympathetic but asked, sincerely: weren’t you grateful, though, that they helped you find stuff you might need?
A version of Orwell's Big Brother is here for good (and ill), I suppose, but Huxley, with his emphasis on a comprehensively stimulated and sensually-addicted populace, seems to have best described our own brave new world.



Wyatt Dick
Veteran Their American
Posts: 41
Wyatt Dick
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: November 22, 2013, 04:14

How to deal with the meta-national issues is another of the complicating details. It is one thing to have procedures for how a government can conduct surveillance on its own people, but creating enforceable limits on how surveillance is conducted by one country on the citizens of another seems very tricky.



Greg-
Redding
Administrator
Posts: 1
Greg Redding
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: January 5, 2014, 00:32

And if you thought things were going to get any better (rather than a whole lot worse) in the (sort of) near future, think again...
I live in Waterloo (where there is also an advanced quantum program well underway, though the article doesn't mention it), and the potential here is mind-blowing. When these computers are deployed, encryption (which we all depend on for privacy and security) will be extinct.

http://www.salon.com/2014/01/03/nsa_building_quantum_computer_to_break_every_code/

According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency is working to build a “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” — a machine that could essentially break every type of encryption with hitherto unforeseen speed and ease.
Reporting on the latest NSA revelation in the Washington Post, Steven Rich and Bart Gellman noted, “With such technology, all current forms of public key encryption would be broken, including those used on many secure Web sites as well as the type used to protect state secrets.”
The quantum computer — types of which are also being developed in E.U. and Swiss labs — works on the assumption principle to quantum physics that a given object exists in all possible states at once, as opposed to the binary computing assumption that sees objects in either zeros or ones (but never both simultaneously).
The Post explained why quantum computing efforts are of use to the NSA’s encryption breaking efforts: A working quantum computer would open the door to easily breaking the strongest encryption tools in use today, including a standard known as RSA, named for the initials of its creators. RSA scrambles communications, making them unreadable to anyone but the intended recipient, without requiring the use of a shared password. It is commonly used in Web browsers to secure financial transactions and in encrypted ­e-mails. RSA is used because of the difficulty of factoring the product of two large prime numbers. Breaking the encryption involves finding those two numbers. This cannot be done in a reasonable amount of time on a classical computer.



kotnikk
New Member
Posts: 1
kotnikk
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: March 7, 2014, 08:42

Hi. I've done some research on this topic and let me say, I was shocked.
But one thing I am able to comprehend and understand about the whole scheme are the foundations and false human beliefs. Not only America's history tends to show how people use every source possible to achieve their goal. This can be traced as far back as when former president T. Jefferson bought Louisiana from the French people in 1803, without considering the law. While having done so, it was merely stated that no matter how this happened, the main thing is that it worked.

Achieving goals without considering civil rights or the legislation, like in NSA’s case, already brought huge stains on humanity. This is an ethic question which goes far beyond the lies of the American government as in NSA’s case. What the world has come to is based on many strong and self-motivated decisions made by influential dictators supporting Machiavelli’s doctrine saying that ‘the end justifies the means’.
However, I do feel that we as a race are not ready for democracy; we most likely never will be ready for it. It seems to be in our genes to make bad and selfish decisions when we are given the opportunity, democracy in this case merely makes it easier for people to mess something up. Should this be a justifiable reason for illegal, or more accurately, if not bound by the law, immoral steps of any government? But let's face it, this is bound to happen, since human race will never be capable of selfless altruism overall, those few will always remain a minority.



jasa
New Member
Posts: 1
jasa
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: March 19, 2014, 11:37

I would not agree with what you have written above. I believe that we are more than ready for democracy. The problem is that we do not know which model suits us best. Because in the case of the USA, we can barely call it democracy, despite all the elevated words in the American constitution and the idea that the States are the land of the free. These are all empty words. I believe it is in the hands of the people to decide whether their country is or is not a democratic one. Snowden gave a chance to the people, but apparently they are all OK with what is going on.

Edward Snowden’s revelation is undoubtedly a great achievement for him, for the world and for the future of our information society. He is righteously happy with the outcome of events. “I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself,” he said for the Washington Post. Despite the severe critiques from the government and NSA officials, it now seems that the chance has been taken by Obama, who is apparently willing to bring at least some changes. Time will tell whether the promised reforms are only cosmetic modifications or whether a thorough restructuring in favour of the right to privacy awaits us. I believe that people should not allow the state to take away one of their basic rights, which is funnily enough even stated in the 4th amendment of the American constitution. When thinking about this issue, George Orwell’s words often come to mind, as if he were some kind of a prophet. He emphasized how important it is to live in a society where you are able to retreat into your shell and where you have “a chance to determine who you are and what you want to be”, as Snowden put it in his alternative Christmas message for Channel 4.

All we can do now is wait.



MarshaM
New Member
Posts: 1
MarshaM
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: March 20, 2014, 06:08

It is quite interesting how far America usually goes when trying to justify its questionable decisions regarding its security measures and counter-terrorism actions, especially if we take into account that in recent wars, including the two World Wars, no battle was fought on American soil. Now, it is understandable that after 9/11 it would heighten its security, but what NSA is doing, spying on civilians, is the wrong approach to ensure safety. So there has to be more to it than that. Why would you want to spy on civilians apart from being able to control them? But does this control them really? How does this control them? Is it just to check whether everything is in order and simultaneously trying to catch suspects among the throng? America also isn`t the only country that spies on its citizens as well as on other countries (who do them same in turn, so will be excluded from this post). In the back of their minds I am sure Americans have been aware that with digitalization, their multimedia operations and personal information have become more vulnerable and exposed to whomever is clever enough to gain it (this includes the NSA). There is a strange juxtaposition on the Internet, where people feel free and shameless on the Internet (especially if they are anonymous), but at the same time their movements are monitored. I think the issue of spying is unlikely to be resolved, even if President Obama wants to negotiate, him and his cabinet most likely think gathering information in this manner is still useful and would still want to maintain it somehow.



MajaB
New Member
Posts: 1
MajaB
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: March 20, 2014, 07:43

As far as I can tell, the main legal issue concerning the spying is that it breaks the rights granted to every citizen by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, as well as the Federal Law. According to the Fourth Amendment, there must be probable cause to search through people’s personal belongings and information. So if you claim that the spying done by the NSA breaks this right, you have to claim that we are fully aware of all the information we have stored on our phones, computers and other platforms. But because there is so much spam and other information collected on the devices that we use, there is reasonable ground to claim that each individual is not completely aware of the information they may have on all these various platforms. And also, when the information is sent to a third party, it may no longer be considered as that individual’s private property. This argument was also brought up in court, and as Doherty writes in his article “Five Alarming Things We Already Knew About the NSA, Surveillance, and Privacy Before Snowden.” (published in Reason): “in a series of decisions beginning in the early 1970s, the Supreme Court declared that people have no reasonable expectation of privacy in data they voluntarily disclose to third parties, meaning that such information is not covered by the Fourth Amendment.” So basically, the rights of the Fourth Amendment are not violated when the information being searched is not considered private any longer.
What do you all think about that? I do not necessarily agree with this argument, but I still though it was quite interesting.



JFG
New Member
Posts: 1
JFG
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: March 21, 2014, 15:08

I, for one, think the idea of a government agency monitoring communications is not all that bad, provided that the sole purpose of such activity is truly to detect and prevent criminal activity. Basically, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. We live in an age where data can easily be transmitted from one end of the planet to the other in a matter of seconds, which not only enables you and me to exchange lolcat pictures very easily but also allows criminals to engage in what they do best, which is sadly not quite as fun and harmless as lolcats.
On the other hand, if one wishes, for example, to send to someone else, purely for research purposes, of course, a file with delicate contents, such as, say, an erotic picture of themselves, quite possibly one does not very much wish for an NSA agent to view said delicate file. A silly example, perhaps, but a relevant one nonetheless.
I also find it rather amusing how people seem to be obsessed about their privacy and find the whole idea of communications monitoring outrageous, and yet the same people (not all, of course, but likely a considerable share) publicly share all manner of private information on social networks, even things that are normally extremely private, such as erotic pictures of themselves. And yet, when it comes to the government monitoring their online activity for reasons of security, they will not condone it.
In any case, if it were possible to ensure that the monitoring was only carried out to nip criminal activity in the bud, as it were, I would not have a problem with it at all. Certain sacrifices just have to be made for the common good. Especially if communications between members of the general public are only monitored in terms of certain keywords, which really is the only viable choice. If someone is flagged as suspicious based on these keywords (or other reasons, of course), it makes perfect sense for their communications to be monitored more closely. Sadly, there will likely always be someone who wants to spy on people for their own purposes and will misuse the technology, making this a rather problematic topic. Hopefully, in the future, we will be able to find a system that works for both those doing the monitoring and those being monitored.



Yuuichi-
Takada
Experienced Their American
Posts: 17
Yuuichi Takada
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: March 23, 2014, 20:26

Thank you all for your interesting and well-thought positions, and welcome (if I may) to Their America!
First I should say that you may find some more interesting thoughts on this question on the other thread on this topic.
Second, I think we must be careful to approach this complex topic in the broadest possible manner, aware of the unique moment at which we find ourselves in human history. This is not, I think, a simple matter of personal privacy, or a matter for the 'here and now', but rather a question of the control of information, for the future of the human race. Mr Snowden is not really trying to stop a wrong practice, but to stop a trend from emerging, in America and the world at large, where forces far beyond our control, or even understanding, have access to and control over our personal information, without our knowledge and without restraint.
Thus, even if (for some of us) there may be no present evil in this system, the potential for evil is great, indeed incalculable. This, I think, is Mr Snowden's point, and what he is willing to risk his life to fight.
We must always think of the potential here, and of our weakness in restraining it once realized; and above all, of our own blindness in understanding it.



Aminah-
Hayek
Experienced Their American
Posts: 15
Aminah Hayek
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: March 23, 2014, 22:07

I entirely agree with Yuuichi, and would add that the "broadest possible manner" must include revising our entire traditional understanding of concepts like privacy, freedom, rights, and information itself.
Think of the neural system in a human body, which the internet world is increasingly resembling, and ask yourselves, what rights do the neurons properly possess? what does privacy mean to them? how are they free, when so utterly and inextricably connected, one to the other and all to the cloud? and what does it mean to 'control information', when information itself becomes so fluid and cloudlike? (Consider the work--and the phenomenon--of Ai Weiwei, discussed in the Asia (Voices) forum.)
If we fail to rethink such notions, we will always be one step behind the technocrats who are defining them for us, imperceptibly (even to themselves).



Malcom-
White
Veteran Their American
Posts: 21
Malcom White
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: April 9, 2014, 21:36

Smooth take from Slick Willy: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/04/bill-clinton-calls-edward-snowden-an-imperfect-messenger/.
Thinks you can have it all with just a little more spending.
Got to love Americans.



Malcom-
White
Veteran Their American
Posts: 21
Malcom White
Re: NSA Spying -- stop listening to (and watching) us!
on: April 15, 2014, 05:32

Victory and vindication for all concerned in The Snowden Case: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/14/edward-snowden-pulitzer-statement-prize-guardian-washington-post.

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