TED Conversations

Kareem Fahim


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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: Here is another view on the situation.

    Being open can, actually, serve as protection. E.g. when the government can verify my location minute-by-minute via a cell phone company, I can use this data as an alibi, if needed, and protect myself from false incrimination.
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        Jun 14 2013: I know all that. Of course, government hiring private contractors to pore over private correspondence of citizens is quite outrageous. The main damage of 9/11 was not the loss of life and property. The main damage was destruction of liberty. People allow themselves to be searched in airports and give away many other rights for the false sense of "security".

        The 4th Amendment is not the only one that went out of the window. The 6th as well. Under FISA, the government can arrest people as enemy combatants without due process and hold them indefinitely. The sad part of this is that, if you read comments to Yahoo News articles on Boston bombing, a lot of people approve of these measures. They believe that giving Tsarnaev the right to due process is waste of public money, "protecting a terrorist", etc. Americans not only give away their rights, they don't even know them.

        Anti-terrorism is no different from terrorism itself. Between 2004 and 2013, U.S. drones have killed between 2000 and 3000 civilians in Pakistan alone (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_attacks_in_Pakistan). How is that different from flying an airplane into a building in NY? This program, perhaps, created more jihad fighters than it destroyed. This has been going on for quite some time. U.S. support of international terrorism in 1970s is well documented. In the 1970s, South American dictatorships were running an "anti-terrorist" Operation Condor under full knowledge of the U.S. That "anti-terrorist" operation resulted in torture and killing of some 40,000 people all over the world. (http://www.amazon.com/The-Condor-Years-Terrorism-Continents/dp/1565849779)

        So, all of this is not new.
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        Jun 14 2013: Freedom and security are mutually exclusive. Maximum security can be found only in prison. And even prison "maximum security" is not secure enough (http://www.npr.org/2013/04/27/179415166/baltimore-detention-center-became-a-criminal-enterprise). When we give freedom to large number of people, we have to accept that some people will use this freedom to commit crimes and acts of terror. Some balance must exist between how much crime and terror we tolerate and how much freedom we give away.

        Government attacking innocent civilians is like an auto-immune disease. There is a long list of them (https://www.aarda.org/research_display.php?ID=47) and most of them are incurable. Immune deficiency (AIDS) is not better.

        We are trying to resolve the cognitive dissonance between the fear of crime, shootings, and terrorism on one side and fear of loss of freedom on the other side. Note the common denominator for this anxiety - FEAR. I think, that's the enemy that we need to overcome - both fear of terrorists and fear of the government.
        • Jun 14 2013: Freedom and security are mutually exclusive.

          I dont believe that, and the problem is it the same old line thats trotted out to defend what's not defendable.
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        Jun 14 2013: Tify,

        Sorry for using the word "freedom" without context. The word "freedom" without specifying freedom from what has no meaning (http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/cranston11.htm)

        Security is defined as "The state of being free from danger or threat." on Google.

        As we try to be free from one thing, we necessarily give up freedom from other things. That's the nature of freedom. The article I quoted explains this concept quite well.

        You are right, it's useless to defend the undefendable. Most of these arguments are circular in nature.
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        Jun 14 2013: One of my favorite sayings is "Having opened your mouth - think. And having thought - close your mouth." I'm not following that recommendation very often :-)
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      Jun 14 2013: The data collected is for their purpose, not yours. I find that rather funny that you believe there is any mechanism for you to retrieve that from them. Do you believe Google will give you your search history for the past 3 months? Similarly, the entire system was not designed to handle public requests.

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