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?
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 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".