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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"I do not know what alternative would be appropriate that would not violate the 4th amendment in some way without jeopardizing the secrecy that is needed to not "blow" the operation of finding the criminals. The ones that want to kill us that is."

What secrecy? as i have said any terrorist or criminal with half a brain already knows about this , and has done for years. There are also easy  free ways to defeat large dragnet surveillance programs. The only people they seem to  have been worried about keeping this secret from is the general law abiding public who considered all the evidence showing they have been doing this to be just another conspiracy theory. And also being able to mantain deniability towards friendly governments.

Knowing that it's being done is one thing. I had a pretty good idea something like this was going on ever since I heard about Echelon. However, info about how it was being done wasn't out there and could hint at ways to get around it. Just sayin'...

What about tor? It is the most popular privacy application in the world and is only somewhat  vulnurable to very specific methods of attack  that are not really feasable in the real world . Even china's only way of combating tor is by making it virtually impossible to connect to , and they have internet laws and policing that would make the NSA cream their pants in desire.

Unseen- and exactly what information has been released that offers hints to get around it. No technical information has been released such as their search algorithms , or keywords they look for. About the most sensitive information that has been released is that google and facebook etc are not safe. And any terrorist who updates hes facebook page with " i hate my life, just got an F in my IED class"  is likely more of a danger to himself and fellow terrorists than anyone else.

...and exactly what information has been released that offers hints to get around it.

I don't know and I doubt if the government is highly motivated to tell us, for obvious reasons. 

Apparently, The Guardian will publish more of what Snowdens says is classified material, so we may know more soon.

I agree with you to a degree here. But this is not the secrecy under discussion. There is a difference between not telling us every detail and not even letting us know what the government is doing at all. 

And virtually no terrorist nor criminal with half a brain was surprised by this leak. The only people generally surprised about this leak are the general public.

Who do you trust more, the guys behind the desk or the guy willing to strap on a grenade and detonate it near your family?

Seriously? The chances of dying from accidental food poisoning are larger.

That level of irrational fear is exactly what terrorists hope to accomplish, and depend on to keep going.

Government is looking to fight the next boogeyman ideology war. The War on Poverty didn't work out, the War on Crime didn't work out, the War on Terror didn't work, so now they need to find the next war to justify their infringement of our rights. So they will tell you its all in the safety of "national security".

I think that as a society we are becoming more and more public.  We give our data and information out everywhere for all kinds of reasons, most of them being for convenience of one sort or another.

There's an old Chinese proverb that says.. 'if you don't want someone to know something about you...don't do it'.

I think we are well on our way towards having very few secrets from each other.  This is already changing the world.  The internet may be the precursor to some form of future human gestalt where we ALL are literally connected.  We may end up sharing a hive-type collective consciousness.  Privacy may become rare.

That said...

I certainly don't want people listening in on my phone conversations or reading my email without my permission.  I don't want anyone digging around in my personal business... not because I have much of anything to hide but just because its without my consent.    We may be moving towards an information sharing collective, but we aren't there yet.   I still desire the security that people aren't digging into every aspect of my life.

According to a Washington Post/Pew Research poll, almost 2/3 of Americans are comfortable with the NSA's activities revealed so far.

Q: What do you think is more important right now - (for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy); or (for the federal government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats)?

INVESTIGATE THREATS EVEN IF IT INTRUDES ON PRIVACY — 62%
NOT INTRUDE EVEN IF IT LIMITS ABILITY TO INVESTIGATE THREATS — 34%

Clearly, as long as congress and the President react primarily to majority opinion, these activities will continue. To stop them, may take a Supreme Court decision.

I guess the words of Benjamin Franklin doesn't mean much to the American public

 Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

How is liberty the issue? Isn't it privacy?

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