TED Conversations

Kareem Fahim


This conversation is closed.

Are you comfortable with NSA collecting your personal data?

'Top secret PRISM program claims direct access to servers of firms including Google, Facebook and Apple'

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.


Well, all of us already knew so I don't think it has surprised anyone... but I'd like to know opinions of TED community, are you comfortable with fact that USA Gov. is continuously collecting your personal data?

@People who say 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oAKtBpdZSw


Closing Statement from Kareem Fahim

Majority of people are annoyed by this 'data collection'. Western Govs., defenders of 'freedom' 'democracy' and 'input_word' are mere bunch of hypocrites. Although it is shocking how some people are defending NSA and these faceless entities... (maybe they are 'trolls' or NSA paid users...).

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      Jun 13 2013: GREAT stuff!
      • Jun 14 2013: Actually it's not so great, sorry to disillusion you.

        When using ANY service, even one that says it uses - "End to End Encryption" - First verify when the servers are located, click on the "About Us" and find out where the principle members are located too. These factors will effect the possibility of you being intercepted.

        Also if your so inclined learn a foreign language, or speak with different accents when you make a call, have fun with it - but know it's harder to voice match against that.

        Lastly and most importantly, USE THE SYSTEM, know there are still lots of pay phones around.

        Shit, I really should not have advertised that - now there'll be a queue:)
  • Jun 10 2013: Three cheers for Edward Snowden.
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      Jun 10 2013: That guy has put everything on stake. I hope they let him live a normal life...
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      Jun 11 2013: Edward Snowden for President!
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    Jul 6 2013: Our government is collecting and permanently (as in forever) storing every digital signal they can about all of us. Every email, phone call, text message, everything I type into Google and Facebook - all my locations as recorded by my mobile device - every photo from every camera, every drone, every satellite, every reading from every smart electricity reader - heck every library book you borrow. All permanently stored, "just in case" they need it. Permanent, as in that data will still be here 1, 5, 10, 30 years from now. Because you never know, one of us could turn out to be The Bad Guy.

    With our government's proven track record of lying to us to make excuses to go to war, and their history of locking up hundreds of thousands of innocent American citizens just because they looked like our enemy, our government can not be trusted with this awesome power. Add to that the fact that most politicians are controlled by the money of an amoral corporate elite and wealthy, and it gets even worse. [We need an amendment over turning citizens united so very badly!]

    Then add the possibility that corrupt local law enforcement will get access to this, and you get the possibility that your angry ex spouse, who knows the chief of police in Small Town, USA, and that chief of police uses some ruse to get access to every digital bit ever recorded about you, now in the hands of your ex spouse who is devoted to destroying you.

    I see only one way around this: We as citizens must deploy 100% legal electronic counter measures to prevent the collection of such data about us. At present, this is neither easy nor practical, but with enough money and effort, it can be done.

    One of the main challenges is that most people really don't seem to care. Most people don't agree with me that the potential for the worst police state this world has ever seen, is right around the corner.
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    Jun 15 2013: How much information the Gov-nt really NEED to really stop a terrorist, or at least to Predict some sudden crazy action? Did not the government already have all the info available on those sickly guys who have been shooting and bombing in public, even Before these things have happened ? Did this available info help the Gov-nt Stop these guys?


    The population is remaining victims of all manipulations coming from everywhere, but the terror will always find its ways, guns, knifes, or cooking pots for stuffing them with some explosive junk.

    Our society is very sick altogether, and that is the very root of the problem. Need to find the remedy to get rid of mass hysteria, emotional stress, and that spooky extreme "truth" one-for-all. Have any ideas, remedies?


    ONE HELPFUL THING: every living form on this planet is unique, but we, humans, are the only kind that put themselves in man-made categories, like good and bad units, black and witie units, Muslim and Christian units, uneducated and educated units, rich and poor units, famous and no-body units.

    For the sake of nature - our ultimate school in this world - we shall learn that everyone of us is born unique, having different abilities and disabilities, and that everyone has given his or her individual mind and body. We are Not one or two collective minds and we are not one collective body. We have to learn how to be responsible for our own actions towards others, and never act for a group of brainwashed maniacs, whether they are religious, industrial maniacs, or political maniacs. Blessings!
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      Jun 16 2013: Re: "Our society is very sick altogether, and that is the very root of the problem. Need to find the remedy to get rid of mass hysteria, emotional stress, and that spooky extreme "truth" one-for-all. Have any ideas, remedies?"

      I generally agree with your statement, except for the last part. Why think of ourselves as "victims" and the society as "sick"? The remedy to get rid of mass hysteria is simple - stop spreading it. Turn off the media.

      Quite honestly, I have never personally witnessed a single shooting. The people I personally know are, generally, nice and help each other. If I never knew about this PRISM thing, I doubt I would ever see a government agent at my doorstep. Only once in my life somebody tried to use my credit card, but it was caught and resolved within days - no big deal. But the media dwells on these sensations. If we turn on the TV, life suddenly appears full of maniacs, terrorists, snooping government agents, and criminals, and the country on the verge of financial collapse and dictatorship, etc. As if there is not enough concern over who's the next Kardashian's boyfriend.
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    Epi Jay

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    Jun 8 2013: I'm afraid to answer this question because the NSA will be accessing this post and don't know which political action will be taken against me :)
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      Jun 8 2013: You are expressing a profile that indicates a high degree of fear and uncertainty. I think you bear checking into Epl Jay. Quickly now, have you ever or are you currently involved in any unsightly and EViiiAL, imperious activities we should be investigating?
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        Jun 8 2013: I used to be afraid of criticizing the US officially on the web. because I thought that I'd be put on the T.S.A watch list. Therefore I have since long decided that I will only travel to the US if invited by TED or a major organization. Something that would create news if I were to disappear. I really don't trust any part of the US government to be either wise or emphatic, and I don't want to end up tortured for years without any hope for a trial...

        I've read multiple stories on the TSA watch list and people being on it without any reason at all.

        Take a look at this article for example (first one on Google with "TSA watch list child")...
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          Jun 8 2013: That's why I never fly Jimmy. :)

          Take a boat then a train then a bus or taxi.

          or, call me and I'll come pick you up and you can stay at my home for free. We have two spare bedrooms for guests. :)
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          Jun 8 2013: On second thought Jimmy, you might better hold up where you are for safeties sake:

          It appears our president has declared cyber-war against some nations we consider to be a threat to our national security:

          " The directive states that cyber attacks can be launched as part of "anticipatory action taken against imminent threats," but should comply with U.S. and international law and receive approval from the president if they are "reasonably likely to result in significant consequences," according to the Guardian, quoting President Obama.

          :..reasonably likely to result in significant consequences...." ?

          I wonder if he said that when he gave the go ahead to kill Obama Bin laden?

          This is going to be interesting.
        • Jun 12 2013: Being a U.S. citizen [born here] I can tell you my country has changed. I remember a time when I could go to the airport and fly anywhere without ID. I remember a time when carrying your ID was optional. Now you hear the cry PAPERS PLEASE and I think of Nazi Germany.It seems we Americans have given up sacred rights for the sense of being protected, which we are not. I do not blame you at all for feeling anxious of the US, it has become scary. It has become a police state.
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        Jun 8 2013: Yeah, I'll just stay here and keep doing my cyber attacks on you country then ;-P

        What's funny is that they can never tell where a cyber attack is coming from since most hactivists (and terrorists) use TOR or something like that to hide themselves... A program funded by the Swedish state nonetheless (I'm so proud!).
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          Jun 8 2013: They use mobile proxy servers. They drive up to your house at night, get on our wireless router and upload the information to their servers and drive away. Before the authorities get the information, the servers are dismantled and taken to another location where they sit, awaiting for the awake code PING! then the process is reenacted all over again. You won't find that information in a cell phone call.
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        Jun 8 2013: Are you sure? Do you have any sources for this?

        I know quite a bit of both how computers and governments work and this seems very unlikely so I'd really like some sources on this if you don't mind.
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          Jun 8 2013: It's pretty standard operations actually. I've been writing code since 1978.

          A dutch national was arrested in Barcelona recently google that and understand.

          My main point is that many of these communications are not carried out by cell phones. It is only when they are actually carrying out a mission like the Benghazi attack in Libya, that the get down to the cell phone use. By then it's over and done with. they toss the phones away. Setting up this stuff is done with couriers and computer accounts. The safest way to send information is with someone Else's account. If I use your wireless router to send my message, it doesn't read my ip address, it reads yours. If I can gain access to your router, I can erase the fact i was ever there. All wireless routers can be broken into unless you use some kind of unorthodox method to secure it. Every last one in the general public or business world.

          WEP is extremely vulnerable to 'sniffing'. A standard WEP key could be hacked in a matter of minutes (depending on the traffic) WPA2 has finally reached the same level of vulnerability.
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        Jun 8 2013: Yeah, WPA2 is very vulnerable, I've hacked into some routers using a simple brute-forcer. I only do it for internet access (and at first to see if I could). But I'm aware of the procedures for sniffing information once you're in. Once you have access to the router you can see all the traffic going on there very easily and play with Facebook accounts or anything that's logged in for example.

        However, when hiding your identity on the web TOR, like I said in my previous post, is the ultimate way to go. It doesn't matter if the information is stored locally if they have no idea where in the world to look for you.

        I checked the case with Sven Olaf Kamphuis... Wasn't really nice of him to DDoS the biggest anti.spam site. and on top of that slow the whole web down...

        But do they really "drive up to your house at night, get on our wireless router and upload the information to their servers and drive away."?. And who are "they" in this case I'm not sure I'm following. But I would very much like some more information and sources on this if you have any...
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          Jun 8 2013: It's in regards to a hypothetical situation Jimmy. While some have tried with me personally, I think their sole intention was to check their email. But, it is so easy to do I'm sure any self-serving terrorist will try or is using this procedure to transfer information all the way across the world.

          Now, identity thieves are a different sort.

          Are you aware of Titan?

          In my short life time I have discovered if it's possible in any regard on the internet, someone will use it, especially if it's simple and easy to implement.

          Of course with your and mine abilities it is an easy task to ascertain if someone is trying to hack our routers. Mine is supervised with software I wrote that sounds an audible alarm, when I'm active with the computer. My real protection lies in the fact I turn my computer off if I'm not using it so it can't be hacked and used in any DOS attacks. That is the simplest solution to a whole worlds problems. Don't leave your computer on when your not using it.
          All we have spoken of is on the internet for anyone to read and understand.
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        Epi Jay

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        Jun 8 2013: My only issue with this is that the Obama regime has shown scant respect for politically opposing views; if PRIZM was set up to detect terrorists, what happened in Boston? No, I think this is in the same league as the IRS targeting. It's not trivial to say that this is beginning to remind me of the Nazi regime and other socialist regimes in the world
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      Jun 8 2013: I created this post... + I'm Muslim...

      I'm doomed... oh wait someone knocking on door.....
  • Jul 4 2013: Just like to make a few points about the situation:
    First, I don't think anyone can listen to everyone's conversations, the NSA may be good, but not that good. I don't think the NSA is interested in endless conversations with high points such as "what are we having for dinner, boy what a hard day at work, do you want to go to the movies tonight, etc, etc. I think the program scans/screens millions of calls and flags calls with "hot button" words or probably patterns of words that indicate some type of encryption or code. Since I'm not, nor is the majority of the U.S. population, involved in the sale of weapons of mass destruction or espionage, I'm not really concerned about phone calls being being benignly screened. If screening calls is going to prevent 911-like situations then I think its ok.
    Second, intelligence gathering goes on all day every day by all countries (and FYI by businesses), NO country can truly sit on their high horse and say they don't; spying in many senses helps keep the global peace, its just an unspoken global "accord"- this is just the world we live in.
    Third, (most importantly) don't blame the NSA, in many senses they're just doing their job. When we live in a time of unconventional warfare (i.e. 911) unconventional defenses must be put in place. Some say the CIA/NSA dropped the ball with 911 but for that one "failure" I'm sure there have been many more "unreported" victories.
    Fourth, Mr Snowden may have used "free speech" to express what he wanted but in the end I think his efforts have caused damage. Behind each covert operation there are usually agents (PEOPLE) who are being protected by the secrecy of the operation, who in this case may have been exposed. Mr Snowden has cast judgment on NSA for spying on "us" without our consent but I think he was also out of place for taking it upon himself for disclosing a covert operation and making a decision for "us" and the safety of our nation without our consent.
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      Jul 5 2013: Curious he V WILLIAMS on this point of yours......" Mr Snowden has cast judgment on NSA for spying on "us" without our consent but I think he was also out of place for taking it upon himself for disclosing a covert operation and making a decision for "us" and the safety of our nation without our consent."

      Are you perchance telling us that a democratically elected Govt (in your case America) has accordingly been given 'open slaver' and full consent be YOU the voter, to carry out whatever actions they like with out your consent or knowledge or accountability??

      Curious.............who's job and right is it to hold govts accountable??
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      Jul 7 2013: They can listen to all our conversations and they do! Although by monitoring this is real time our government may thwart a terrorist threat, the even larger value is that this data is always around. So five years from now when they are trying to track down the terrorist next store who happened to have dinner with you years ago, they may well pull up that phone call you had with your neighbor where he talked about his dislike for apple pie, and now, yes, that could help track down the apple-pie-hating terrorist.
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    Jun 29 2013: It’s not the collection that worries me as much as is its incorrect interpretation and inappropriate use by imperfect humans.
  • Jun 27 2013: No.

    What I do is my business. What about my intellectual property? What about the world citizenry's intellectual property? Who's protecting people's ideas? What about my rights to speak openly? I know I do nothing wrong but is it even up to me to decide that what I am doing is right or wrong in the government's eyes? Maybe the government doesn't like my non-violent politics so much, seeing it as a threat, that they decide to do something to shut me up.
  • Jun 27 2013: ...a resounding NO! It only goes to prove that we are living in a powerful, well-organized plutocracy.
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    Jun 24 2013: Our Personal data and Information should not be taken by anyone else its should be hidden from from unknowns and its our right and what NSA is doing is absolutely wrong
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    Jun 23 2013: No matter what we do, we're now under surveillance.
    In order to have a private conversation we'll have to meet "analog style" in a back alley and exchange hand-written notes. Big Brother is now everywhere.
    So maybe we need to stop using Google, Facebook and Apple to store private information ? But who's to say that they won't start putting pressure on private hosting companies to access private domains ... we have let the NSA run amok and I think that the only way to remedy this is to pass laws that forbid this kind of systematic data collection and enforce it ... however, if they really wanted to get the information they could probably hire hackers to get it for them so either way ... it's a done deal :(
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      Jun 24 2013: I totally agree you Miss Caroline
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      Jun 25 2013: Agreed.

      I would also like to add the following - with the nanotechnology available today back alleys and docks may not allow a private conversation either. Please see the link below. However, I'll allow myself to see the possibilities and focus on the positive outcome. If problems, algorithms etc. are solved, risks properly discussed and assessed, voices heard, dialogue used, information not misinterpreted, manipulated with or misused, humanism applied, the future may still be bright :)


      Best wishes.

      Quote (again, sorry, I've posted this in a different but related conversation as well) "We learn of the case of a French man whose home was raided and who still remains on a terrorist watch list eight years later because algorithms in software analysing his movements determined he spent too much time looking at his surroundings..."
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      Jul 4 2013: I can only imagine what kind of information the NSA is collecting on my sorry carcass. Here's a conversation with the big boss I can imagine in one of those monitoring centers in Hawaii, or Langley, or down the street. It's kind of a "B" movie version, but it goes like this.

      "This lunatic eats vegetarian food? That's a red flag right there! We'll have to keep an eye on that commie bastard! He visits national parks, obviously casing the joint for an assault on the nations wild edible plant collection. Maybe he's planning to occupy the forest? This guy is obviously, dangerous a real sick bastard. I think it's time to terminate this puke. Do we have any of Sheriff Joe's police drones in the area? Let's hit him with a mini missile! He'll never know what hit him. Have the street sweeper get rid of the body, and any collateral damage in the area a few squirrels, maybe some trout. Let's see if we can get this cleared up before lunch OK boys.I have a fundraiser at 10:00, then the speaker and I have 12:00 o'clock tee time at the Arlington country club. "Now Chop Chop"
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    Jun 19 2013: It's not like I have anything to hide, but I'm enraged with this. It is a violation of the freedom of expression -well, not that it properly existed until now, but this was the final blow. I'm not even American! Yet, most social media are based in the USA. EVERY CITIZEN OF THE WORLD (american, european, I don't really care) has the right to express themselves freely in any kinds of media. Let's not make fun of ourselves, we have ALWAYS been supervised in a way or another -but now, with the NSA, which is known to exist by many people, most of us have realised it. We have to react. If we don't, we're all going to go crazy.
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      Jun 24 2013: i totally agree with your point of view that we should have our Freedom or right of expression
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    Jun 18 2013: Most of the people don't really care for it unless NSA sells their privacy to third party, In fact I am also not too much worried about these issues because I just know that I don't have any personal data of mine on the Internet and I see this as the right approach, So it doesn't bothers me.
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    Jun 17 2013: Arkady, your entire argument is based on a false premise, and is resulting in all of your argument being incorrect.

    Your accepting the lie that NSA is collecting data to stop terrorist and that it is not everyone’s personal data.
    Let’s review the facts:
    *Democrats (who are known compulsive liars) clam it has foiled attacks, but will not give examples.
    * The program did not foil, ID, or help captor the Boston marathon bomber.
    * They are collecting personal data from China, Hong Kong, Europe and many others who countries that have no connection to terrorist.

    You should agree information is power, and if you look past the lies you will see that this is just a massive power grab. And unless you belief the government should have all controlling power, you should also be against this.
  • Jun 15 2013: Judging from the vicious attacks by msn, yahoo, and the other usual suspects, all owned by the same masters, it seems obvious that Snowden really made them angry. This alone would point out that Snowden did in fact release the genie from the bottle and left all the filthy cockroaches scrambling to do damage control. In one slam piece, the usual suspects say that all Americans knew about this spy program back in 1999. How ludicrous is that. Most Americans today still don't even know about the Prism scandal, that is a tragic fact. And most never knew about Prism in any year, let alone the last 14 years. I see what they are doing. Tell the undereducated they are soooo smart and already knew about the spy program and sneak in the conclusion they should arrive at, that Snowden is oh so bad. Snowden is a hero no matter how many slanderous attack pieces they write on him to try and convince everyone to turn a blind eye while they kill him for spilling the truth. Not going to happen. We will remember this along with all the other low down manoeuvres this shady spying government has pulled in the past.
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    Jun 14 2013: No. There is always some purported benefit to get the public to accept overreaching. And then it is eventually abused, because humans are less than perfect and justify/rationalize their own corruption. And then the corruption becomes common.
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    Jun 14 2013: Transparency: Full and Absolute. Any and all communications should be open and available for scrutiny. This would and does create such deluge as to be incomprehensible to anything but super-computers, ones like the NSA and their co-conspirators like Google, Yahoo! and Facebook can deploy. The problem is not in these companies allowing the NSA access but rather in their lack of sharing these data sets with the public including any corporate competition. If the intelligentsia are the only ones with access to the combined data sets then there exists a serious threat to democracy.

    That's why I signed this petition: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/pardon-edward-snowden/Dp03vGYD
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      Jun 14 2013: Thank you, will do, will forward.
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    Jun 13 2013: I am more concerned with the secrecy of it. Any intrusion into our freedom should not be secret and just because the president and congress knows about does not make it right.
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        Jun 14 2013: He's not a loser, he's a patriot, who did this for the public good. And if you think they're going to release any information on the system being abused, well you're just nuts. Military and federal career success 101, NEVER admit to any wrongdoing, NEVER admit to any flaw. Massage what Colbert refers to a "truthiness".
        • Jun 14 2013: AA your right, but the phrase, just for your edification is "Deny, Deny, Deny"
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    Jun 13 2013: In practical terms _ I dont mind. But if I start up a terrorist group I'd probably have to be extra careful and consider using some some sort of code and possibly more non virtual social interaction.
    In theory - We could go anywhere, but so far what are the actual consequences - basically it means more tools for 'the police' (or big brother, the cia, the men in black etc) - basically I think we're debating whether we want the police to have more or less power/technology. Sorry I Just cant get riled up about the purely philosophical problem of free speech ( I know! WTF) We're all in this society together; the us vs them attitude is simply the continuation of conflict, which just leads to more conflict.
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    Jun 13 2013: No. And neither should anyone else be. Not in the name of anything. Or anyone. And certainly not in the name of the latest boogie monster called "terrorism". But go ahead. Keep listening to the scare tactics. When you realize you lost your freedom, let me know. Oops, gone!
  • Jun 12 2013: What they are doing is criminal, unconstitutional, and worse. I watched as Mr Boehner called the [snitch] a traitor. What a load of horse manure. If anything Mr. Snowden is a patriot and a hero for telling on the NSA. I am ashamed of my country for this intelligence gathering from it's citizens. The really bad part is that they expect us to believe they are not actually listening. What a crock! Whats worse, most of the sheeple will believe them.
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    Jun 11 2013: Sure, I have nothing to hide, the problems is what are they going to do with the information they collect, can we truct the government to keep it private? or will they try and sell that information to others? will employers have access to the information collected?, so as you can see is not what information they can collect from me as I said I have nothing to hide but if someone can find out that I have a disease that could be debilitating will I be able to still apply for a job? or life insurance?or I am gay or belong to a religious group or I might be an aceist...will that allow others to discriminate against me?
  • Jun 10 2013: I wonder how they would react to people haking into their information. A democratic leadership is supposed to work for the people, not spy on them.
    The government can spy on its citizens, but when the citizens spy on the government, it is considered a crime. Wikileaks levels the playing field.
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    Jun 8 2013: i imagine it's like looking for a needle in a haystack except now there are robots that dedicate their existence to looking for needles.

    the worst thing about this is talking to all the people in grey - you know the good consumers that can't think until an advert has told them what to think - that respond with "well, I've got nothing to hide".

    This argument is arse-backwards.

    you have a right to privacy and because you have nothing to hide is the reason that this should not be happening. but we gotta get them terrorists, right?
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      Jun 8 2013: No, we don't have to get them we can let them get us.

      I don't necessarily associate people living an honest open life as being a subspecies of some mentally elite social structure. There are many forms of Privacy. We give up our privacy when it presents opportunities to us. Like mutual protection. We give up our privacy to our doctors, employers, etc. It's not some innate liberty that is fixed in stone all the time. It is mutually associative and based on a sense of mutual trust.

      The President has, almost, every conversation they speak recorded. The president gives up a large portion of the civil privacy in order to properly perform their job. You don't have the right to anything unless it is mutually agreed. Your very life is in the hands of others, more so, than it is in your own hands.
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        Jun 12 2013: we give doctors and the like our confidence, not our privacy, and it's usually for a good reason (eg. medical history).

        when people who don't know me (or associate with anyone I know) monitor me in the name of one thing which may or may not be just some spin doctoring, then I get a bit wary.

        the only people we should be monitoring are the people spending our tax dollars - in other words, the bureaucrats and officials elected and working for the tax payers. the president should have to do everything relating to the public on camera at all times. it might even separate the wheat from the chaff.

        i'm sure the camera will eventually reveal that nobody is perfect. this is the reason why we should never trust in systems
  • Jun 8 2013: No, I am not comfortable.

    I am even less comfortable with all the data that private corporations collect about me. Since that data is their property, they would probably give a copy of it to the government just for the asking, without even notifying the consumers.

    My attitude toward this is that fighting it is futile. A better response would be to insist that all of that government data should be made public. If not completely public, at least available through a Freedom of Information request. That way we would at least know what the government knows.
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      Jun 8 2013: We would also know what each other is up to if it were made public. :)

      I'm sure google and facebook along with the other data mining businesses would love for it to be public domain.

      And yes, I'm not real comfortable with the idea. We won't really know the real ramifications until some future date if we are effected by the government having our data or not. If they do get carried away, we can always vote them out of office and vote in some people who will get rid of or rewrite the law.

      At least they haven't taken that away from us..... yet.
  • Jul 7 2013: What amazes me about this, is how now it's become so pervasive, no-one seems to give it a second thought, or hardly care.

    Some justify it, as a way to stop terrorists, if this is the price, freedom, we'd better wake up and ask is it worth it, because when all the laws are changed and all the freedoms gone, you can bet that last dollar, they wont come back.

    As for they are not interested in you, your life is boring. It's true, I and you may well be a no-body, they does not mean we have no-rights.

    Yet we never seem to realize that just because a corp is a corp, or the NSA is the NSA, that because they do it, it somehow makes it all ok.

    It's clearly they (the NSA) have broken the constitution, yet no-one either wants to, or does take them to task over it. Which says very little for the morality and sense of justice (real and implied), or importance placed in the constitution by corp's, government or for that matter - the president.

    And so the intrusion carries on, to now retail stores war-driving your smartphone. Which if YOU were to do, it would be illegal and you'd end up in jail. No-one seemingly asks when they can a store do it, and not face the same punishment as you?

    Seems to me that the individual rights are being swept away, and corps and government are immune, or rather the law's that we have to abide by don't apply to them...

    If it carries on this way, and as no-one seems to be ending it nor opposing it with extreme prejudice, the yellow brick road we're blindly following means we'll all end up slaves of the state.
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  • Jun 28 2013: Paul Lillebo stated "Rather than starting from the view of outraged individuals (most of the writers here), what if we look at the problem from the other end? Obama is inaugurated, international terror is an actual, serious threat, and the new President is charged with protecting the people of the U.S. against terror groups, some of which have announced that the U.S. is one of their main targets. The people want to be able to fly safely, so how does he go about gaining information on these groups before they commit their acts of destruction? They obviously do their planning by communicating with each other, so how does he get information about their communication?"

    Everything we do in life has some risk. For those with high risk we usually through training, changing the way we do something, or some other means, reduce the risk to an acceptable level. Thinking in terms of risk and risk reduction, this is how a President and our leaders address the issue. The questions to them as with all of us are what is the actual risk and what are we willing to do/give up to reduce it?

    Do you believe that someone or group whether small or large can do something similar to 9/11 unnoticed using methods that do not include scooping up every bit of meta data for every signal sent in space or on line? Using greatly less intrusive collection methods, I believe no one or a group can create the same level of destruction as happened on 9/11. Would I as President take such a risk? The answer is yes. If our leaders were concerned about death, they would have figured out better ways to reduce highway deaths. Each month for decades more people day on the highway then on 9/11. So it isn't the deaths they are concerned about.

    Also, there are numerous means to store this data for their use without it being in the Government hands. So again, I suspect there are other reasons for the collection of this massive amount of data and it isn't just to protect us from the bad guys.
    • Jun 28 2013: Very interesting and thoughtful comment. One risk of the President and other powerfully placed individuals is the sustainability of power. Although the primary objective of the collection of personal information and intrusion of privacy are risks to the people of the United States, I think there is an issue of other, more personal, risks being addressed through these actions. Data and information is a tool of power.
  • Jun 27 2013: the people who would really have an issue about the whole NSA are the people who have something to hide or probably the one who thinks that the government of united states have a thing against them!
    spying on potential trouble makers can't be just overruled but spying each and every one over the internet in the name of the light of all this is totally a different thing
    Imagine a situation where an influential person who might have some big reforms for the world in the deck is getting compromised for personal interests since they have got some dirt over the internet.
    In short this time the American government has overdone their own track record!
    spying everyone can't be justified on any grounds