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 20 2013: The U.S. surveillance program was instituted to detect and prevent planned terrorist violence, whether directed at the U.S. or at other countries. According to Obama, it has done that in a number of instances. The publication of the program allowed various politicians around the world (China, for example) to exercise a bit of self-righteousness, at the same time as China operates a similar program. So does Russia, and Britain, and France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, India, the EU, Interpol, and whoever else can afford it. I'm quite sure most of these actors share relevant information with each other. Electronic communications monitoring programs are as common as daisies in the spring. There should be very little surprise at this.

    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?

    And that's the question I'd like to ask the commenters here. In these sixty-odd comments so far, no one seems to have suggested what they would have done as president. It's so easy to say what he should not have done, but what should he have done instead? How would you have acted to effectively discover and prevent acts of terror?

    I'll start: "I don't know." That's why I'm slow to condemn the President (though I'm no fan - he hasn't delivered on his promises, as I see it). But I assume that those who are ready to condemn have better solutions ready. Please share them with us all.
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      Jun 21 2013: Man, everyone here knows that the 'official version' is a pile of stinkin' BS.


      Wake up!

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      Jun 22 2013: I agree that surveillance is a must to keep the people safe. I want to fly safely, be able to walk the streets, shop on and offline without the threat of being attacked, mugged, robbed. I believe everyone has a similar wish and the right to do the above.

      However, the prerequisite for such surveillance must be the following - competence and good will/faith. Here's some examples of lack of competence of the uniformed forces - I've recently heard that the Norwegian police uses google translate after interrogating foreigners who do not speak Norwegian and who the police "thinks" may have criminal intent (sic!) And they brag about it! You don't have to be an expert in sociolinguistics and/or culture to be able to know that the text produced (and sent to legal authorities of other countries - sic!) is completely nonsensical, inadequate, the meaning is distorted or simply not there! One more - I remember being given a full stripsearch at Oslo Gardermoen after returning from a weekend trip to Amsterdam (where marijuana is legal), Norwegians taking the same flight weren't asked for the same. The only thing I could do was to frown and raise my eyebrows at this (while stripping calmly) and hope for a "we're sorry" in the end. I got no apology but I felt like apologising myself just to prove a point (I'm sorry for being completely innocent and having no criminal record or intent and that you wasted your precious time on me instead on a coffee break and weather-talk, good luck with being prejudiced and limited in the future.)

      Those two examples are nothing compared to what else is happening around the world. The protests and uprisings in South-America and the Middle East to name a few were not inspired by the fact that oversight institutions were nice, transparent, competent, incorruptible and cared for their people.

      Back to the subject matter- I'm ok with agencies having access to my data, I'm not ok with it being subject to misinterpretation due to incompetence or misused.
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        Jun 22 2013: I don't know if we'll ever find a satisfactory way to control those who have power. When we try to build a control structure around those with power that just adds more power centers, more unmanageable bureaucracy, and more opportunities for bribery and corruption. I'm afraid that power will always be misused by someone. The best defense may be the free press and the occasional public uproar, such as we're experiencing in our current issue.

        But politicians know that as long as the people are economically well off, the public uproar usually abates quickly. The "middle class" is rarely motivated to rock the boat. Norway is a perfect example of that: the newspapers routinely report astounding official incompetence and misuse of public funds, the relevant minister quickly promises changes, and the matter disappears from the newspaper within two days and as quickly from public attention. In fact little or nothing is corrected, but the people are satisfied; there is a remarkable lack of public uproar over anything. (I'm writing from Oslo, where I live half the year.)

        I wish I could say I was surprised to read your tales of the Norw. police. Sadly I was not.
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          Jun 22 2013: Yes, a lot is worrying, I agree.

          Being economically well off but unaware may be a part of the problem. Having too much trust and not being able to identify trends and phenomena because of the illusion of everything being fine doesn't promote uproar which is often needed and wellfounded. However, it may also be part of the solution - the means are there, it's the awareness and knowledge of the so-called real issues that needs to be inserted (må på plass). And the real issues are not how you feel about the issue and what you're personally unsure of or what you think does not concern you locally, but the issue itself.

          When it comes to media and matters disappearing from newspapers - the role of the media cannot only be to inform of and highlight problems, some balance is needed not to stern the citizens off. I must say it was quite entertaining to see a story of a courageous sheep that chased a wolf away on first page of one of a major newspapers about two weeks ago, especially in contrast to the first page of a regional newspaper with a sad Trondelag farmer losing a calf to predators... But not everybody raises sheep and everybody lives, almost everybody works, has an internet connection and may be in need of help at some point in life. The balance here was broken, at least in my eyes. Free press is important but it should have competent free-thinkers involved, not just interest groups (sorry to TEDsters for the somewhat non-global perspective and using space here, hope it was interesting.)

          All in all - the sheep was nice, but come on. Wake up and get interested in more than just that, the weather doesn't have to be the only topic for discussion.

          A nice song in English with some social commentary (if you forget the Niger mistake that the protagonist was involved in)


          Best wishes.

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