The U.S. government has been looking and often gathering and collecting data on almost every phone call, website visited, and credit card transaction we make. In case you want to get caught up one this issue which hit the news world hard yesterday, this article on the National Security Agency (NSA) program called Prism is a good quick start. Here's a juicy quote of a quote from the article:

The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.

The highly classified program, code-named PRISM, has not been disclosed publicly before. Its establishment in 2007 and six years of exponential growth took place beneath the surface of a roiling debate over the boundaries of surveillance and privacy. Even late last year, when critics of the foreign intelligence statute argued for changes, the only members of Congress who know about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.

While it's hard to feel happy about this, could it be necessary to prevent another 9/11? If it did prevent something like a nuclear device being detonated in Chicago killing a million people, would it be worth it? Does this revelation give the bad guys notice that they need a new way to stay in touch?

Obviously, a government needs some secrecy, but how much is too much?

Tags: Agency, FBI, NSA, National, Security, data, mining, privacy, secrecy

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What i am trying so hard to understand is just how this leak  is so damaging to national security . Any terrorist or criminal with half a brain already knew about this.This has been a topic of great interest in the hacking scene for years already and there have been published books, programs and a ton of articles which  have claimed this for ages. Even senators have come out saying that if we knew how the government was interpreting the patriot act to monitor us we would be greatly shocked. The only people who are surprised about this are the general public, who considered all the previous info to be a conspiracy theory.

Anything that is embarassing to the government is "damaging to national security".  Anyone that leaks anything that is indicitive of illegal acts by the government, is "aiding the enemy".  It's all in the branding.

All I can tell you is what I've heard which is the WHAT the government was doing was well known in the relevant circles BUT the HOW it was being done was not, and that that is the sensitive part because it puts the bad guys halfway to getting around it. 

Halfway? have you ever heard of tor? It is simple to use and as long as you follow some simple precautions  it is  safe and  will protect your privacy online. Which probably goes to explain why jacob appelbaum has been harrased by the US government every time he has used an airport.

Prism is just an expansion.  Echelon scooped and stored communications for decades, and Carnivore has been collecting financial data for over a decade.  Each new incarnation just broadens how much data is collected, and makes filtering and storage more sophisticated.

Any 'bad guy' with any degree of competence knows that the government has everything wired, so the best way to communicate is face to face, or by courier.  Any group with the sophistication to pull of the tired rogue-nuke scenario would be advanced enough to be communicating at a minimum through encrypted flash drives between stripped, stand alone laptops.

One significant problem with collecting the vast volumes that are now getting sucked into the intelligence vacuum, is that there is too much data to analyze within an actionable time frame.  Unless a person is already flagged as a potential threat, and their communications are a priority, chances are very high that their data will just get stored until after the act, and then will be used for the ever present Monday morning quarterback session.

I don't see it going away.  If Prism gets too much press, they'll cop to a shadow of what it does, and make a public show of shutting it down while they simply rename it and shift a few department heads.

This is an interesting video from a year  ago with a NSA head directly lying to congress .

Congressman Peter King calls for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to be extradited from Hong Kong. I just sent him a twitter begging a difference of opinion on the matter.

I am starting to change my opinion on this. Maybe it is good that this guy blew his whistle. We just learned that The IRS targets groups based upon political affiliation, the military targets US citizens with armed drones, and the justice dept. targets journalists for leaks.

It's amazing how many congressman and ordinary people have no idea of what freedom is, as long as their world is uncompromised they don't mind infringing on other people's rights. To take away someone's freedom, diminishes us all. I realize that everyone is an asshole one time or another (including me on occasion), but some seem to do a better job of it than others. 

You seem to confuse freedom and rights. Rights for one party are created by limiting the freedom of another party. In a state of absolute freedom, there are no rights.

Anyone determined and smart enough to conduct a terrorist attack will find a way. If we honestly believe (which I think most of us here don't) that the government's sole motive is crime/terrorist prevention/detection, we are sorely mistaken. It is also nothing that was born yesterday. We've just become more efficient to the point where it's "easy." Less paperwork, all digital, and accessible within seconds. 

They only need to succeed once; we need to succeed in preventing them every time. They will not "always" find a way.

I think we have to worry more about the criminals who will - WILL - learn to beat the system than the people behind a desk trying to prevent them from doing so.

Here is how the system works, Belle.

The NSA must get a warrant before searching and seizing the personal effects of an American citizen. To get a warrant they must (1) specify who they are going to search (2) demonstrate probable cause to believe that person has committed or is about to commit a crime (3) specify where they are going to look, and (4) specify what they are looking for.

It is a crime under "color of law" doctrine for a person to use the power of a governmental agency to willfully deprive or conspire to deprive another person of any right protected by the Constitution. Not getting a warrant to search and seize electronic personal effects violates the Fourth Amendment: a criminal act.

The NSA-- or at least those in charge who ordered them to do it-- are criminals who beat the system. And they are the ones sitting behind the desks. Who stops them?

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