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Should Microsoft and Google stand up and oppose the NSA publicly? Will doing nothing work?

The big Media Story today is about a Whistle-Blower who is hiding and
may soon to be captured and returned to the US for Arrest and Trial.

The exposure of NSA spying tactics of forcing Microsoft and Google,
as well as a number of other Internet Providers, both here and abroad, to provide User Records has put this nation's Internet Users on guard.

The NSA's current program PRISM has now been shown to have been
used to invade and capture information from friendly foreign nations.

We are Americans. We claim to be Free. However, in the
last 20 years things have been changing. Can we afford to stay
out of the mess?
What I wrote, although it sounds like an hyperbole, is anything but.

I refer to CNN's presentation on July 17th's video of the US Congress
having a hearing with the Deputy Director's of the Department's of Justice, DOJ, the DIA, the National Security Agency, NSA. and one other.

In the 3 .8 hour Congressional Committee's hearing, members asked pointed
questions and received evasive answers, with promises made that a secret
session would be more appropriate to answer their queries.

The queries by the Congressmen and Congresswomen were to the point
of why the NSA and other such agencies were conducting surveillances'
of US citizens, with partner corporations, collecting said US citizen's information from the telephone (cell phone) calls, email messages, and otherwise, that had been placed and received, and specifically without the knowledge and/or permission of said US citizens, in violation of two of the amendments to the US Constitution, plainly illegal acts.

Hyperbole, not hardly.

I found on my operating system, evidence of the NSA's Prism program.
Regardless of your opinion, please take a few minutes and
respond. ..Your input is necessary. ..Stand up, be fearless.

  • Jul 18 2013: To answer the question, it's not the job of private companies to object to government policy. They will only do so if they lose money because of it (which I don't think they will).

    In regards to the topic in general… Do I care if the NSA is reading my email? No, not really. But I do care about the government's use of secret courts and secret interpretations of the law. Those things should never exist in a free and civilized country. To paraphrase Oliver Stone, the question isn't whether you have something to hide, the question is whether you control the government or the government controls you. In a democratic society the people are supposed to control the government.

    I think it's sad that many Americans are in favor of the NSA spying because they think it will keep them safe. Not only has it already failed to do that, but it's also turning the government itself into an enemy of the people. Americans don't seem to realize that any government will become despotic if you let it, and they are already sliding down that slippery slope.
    • Jul 18 2013: Lee Miller 10+
      You've won the HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD award.

      "In regards to the topic in general… Do I care if the NSA is reading my email?
      No, not really."

      Lee, You understand the problem and if not the solution, at least you know the result.
      Please change your "No, not really". attitude, and lend Force to your opine.

      It may never come to the point of needing your help to change things.
      But I think that you know, that you would be there, willingly.
      • Jul 19 2013: Thanks Frank. I don't try to hide my online communications because I shouldn't have to – I'm not doing anything illegal. If we reach the point where they come after me just for my opinions, well then, it will be time for more direct action, won't it?
        • Jul 19 2013: Lee Miller 20+
          Gosh Lee, I suppose I could agree with you.
          But I don't.
          However, it is your call.
          As long as you don't mind being observed...
          Enjoy the conversation.
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    Jul 18 2013: What fun it is to whine! The expectation that government, or any group of human beings, should be perfectly honest, is charming in a child, but we hope to leave that illusion behind as we mature and understand more about human nature. Perfection is not attainable, even in a nominally democratic society. People with power become fond of having power, when offered perks they may respond like athletes offered an "undetectable" drug. Of course there's no perfectly honest government; this is not news. But the difference between a dictatorship and a flawed democracy (they're all flawed) is that in the latter the possibility exists to correct the flaws non-violently, perhaps one at a time. That's a vast difference, which the previous contributor claims to not have grasped.

    We don't have a perfect democracy in the U.S., and we never will have - nor will any other country. Many of us are working on correcting flaws in our system, and some here on TED are making positive suggestions. But a few here seem sunk in an abyssal cynicism that doesn't seem to allow for positive thought, much less for actual realistic proposals for improvements.

    We're discussing an important subject, and I hope that some of the critics will move beyond unnuanced cynicism to making recommendations for how to deal with the "terror" merchants that the NSA program was set up to combat. The alternative is to do nothing, to not interdict the planned airliner and cruise ship blasts. If not monitor communication, what then? Come with answers, not just whining.
    • Jul 18 2013: Here is your solution: Tell the authorities to get a search warrant.

      Your argument is a false dichotomy. The options are not 1) spy on everyone or 2) do nothing to prevent terrorism. The search warrant system worked before and it still works now. The only thing that's changed in recent years is that since the technology to spy on everyone exists, the government wants to use it.

      Furthermore, here is why mass spying doesn't work from a technological perspective. It goes without saying that smart terrorists use code words when they communicate. How does the NSA know what code words to look for? They cannot, unless they already have enough contact with the terrorist organization in question to know what code words it uses. And if they already have that contact, they don't need to spy on everyone, only the other people who are contacting that organization.

      But here's the kicker: the government doesn't even need a warrant to spy on a known terrorist organization. It never has. Eliminating mass spying wouldn't even slow the NSA down.

      A similar situation applies to telephone metadata. A pattern of phone calls can only be suspicious if one of the parties involved is already under suspicion for some reason. And if that's the case, the authorities would *already* have a warrant to monitor their communications. Again, no need to spy on everyone.

      Making educated statements about this subject requires understanding both the laws and the technology involved.
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        Jul 18 2013: Hi, Lee. Thanks for your response.
        One small correction: I did not offer "a false dichotomy." Rather, you misread my meaning, perhaps because I wasn't as clear as I could be. I posted that we either act "to deal with the terror merchants" or we don't, i.e., "to do nothing, to not interdict..." I didn't suggest that the choice was between spying on everyone and doing nothing. In fact, I urged contributors to suggest additional means that the President should have or still could implement to safeguard our assets. There may well be other methods - I hope so.

        You imply (I think) that NSA IT security specialists don't know that the bad guys might use codes, or that they're unable to break their codes. And that they're doing a lot of monitoring that they also don't understand they don't need to do. Since all that represents the core of their "work," that's a lot to not understand. I agree with you, though, that it takes considerable technical expertise to make an educated statement about their work. That's why I didn't try. Since you make the assessment that their effort, both in internet computer and telephone monitoring "doesn't work," we can take it that you possess a level of understanding that the NSA has not been able to hire. Very commendable.
        • Jul 18 2013: Oh, but the NSA understands perfectly well that they don't need to monitor everyone. They're doing it because they want to and they can. The alternative would be to turn down money and power, and who does that? Anyone would act the same in their situation. That's why organizations shouldn't be left to police themselves.
      • Jul 18 2013: I don't think I know enough to have an opinion on the whole NSA spying. But I thought I would just point something out: In your second to last paragraph, "... And if that's the case, the authorities would *already* have a warrant to monitor their communications. Again, no need to spy on everyone.", here's why the NSA Director says they collect the data beforehand: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/clip/4459431. Basically, if someone falls under suspicion, they can go "back in time" and find out whom that someone was in contact with.
        • Jul 19 2013: I used to work with a system that processed metadata. Telecommunications companies keep call records for several purposes. The NSA could request historical info from them. That's what they did before.
      • Jul 19 2013: So basically what you're saying is that the NSA doesn't need to record the metadata because they can request it from telecommunication companies, as far back as they need. But the bottom line seems to be, that some institution -- whether that be the government or a telecommunication company -- keeps a record of your metadata. Personally, I don't care if my metadata is used to help catch terrorists or to optimize telephone networks. Both seem to be perfectly valid uses of that data. Who owns that data -- at least from the average U.S. citizen's perspective -- seems somewhat trivial, to me.

        That said, there do appear to be some things that are concerning about this whole thing -- at least from a moral perspective, anyways. Like, for example, the fact the NSA is collecting more than just metadata from citizens of allied nations. The potential for arbitrary use and abuse of such a system. Or the fact that much of the legal decisions made under this program are by courts that are not directly accountable to the American public. Although, they are indirectly accountable. After all, we elect the officials whom make these decisions.

        Unfortunately, cyber security -- or whatever you want to call it -- is vitally important to any nation's overall security. The crux of the problem is that most of us will never know the full extent to which the U.S. cyber security program operates. And with good reason, I think. If every detail of the program was public knowledge, that would severely limit it's ability where it matters most.

        So if I were to have an opinion on this whole mess, I would say that the best thing we can do as U.S. citizens is make sure that the cyber security program is as accountable and transparent as practically possible -- which it may or may not already be. Probably not. And then at some point, we will have no choice but to trust our elected officials to make wise and sober decisions about our national defense, and trust they won't abuse such power.
    • Jul 19 2013: Paul Lillebo
      Go watch CNN July 17, 2013 as the Congress roasts the NSA.

      Paul we and a thousand more of us have made enough noise
      to get our Congress to uphold our 1st and 4th Amendment

      They are slow, they plod. But when both the Republicans and
      Democrats see their constituents' rights being stepped on by
      overzealous administrators, they do get started. Watch CNN.

      If they do nothing as a result. ..We will toast their feet in a fire.
      I don't think this is going to go away. The FISA court must be
      dissolved. Otherwise the Inquisition will have returned.

      Our 1st and 4th Amendment rights must be upheld.
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        Jul 19 2013: Wish I could watch it, but I'm in Europe for the summer. I appreciate the efforts of those who have brought this issue to the fore. It's worth investigating, and it's too bad that Congress seems to have taken a hands-off approach to the spy program, letting it grow without proper supervision. An underlying problem is that gathering world-wide intelligence about dangerous "terror" groups is necessary. A key part of this is access to their communications. Given that, how to proceed? Hopefully, Congress will put reasonable restrictions on intel programs.

        It's curious to me that not many have voiced outrage over the fact that Microsoft and Google (and other providers) have always had access to the same info that the gov't has gained access to under the NSA program. I guess the theory is that we can trust the private firms but not the gov't. Seems like a questionable conclusion. The telephone company, from the time the phone was invented, has known who I called and when, and who called me, and the police has not had much difficulty in getting hold of that info when they wanted it.

        BTW, I'm not sure I see a First Amendment violation here. You may be referring to the prohibition on "abridging the freedom of speech," but it seems iffy whether the NSA data collection has actually abridged any speech. The Fourth Amendment guarantee "against unreasonable searches and seizures" seems a better bet. It could be an interesting court case, since the Supreme Court has not finally settled issues of privacy rights on the internet.
        • Jul 19 2013: Paul Lillebo I would like to change your mind.

          There were 2 or 3 Judges on the Congressional committee.
          One had vast experience, and chided the DOJ deputy director.
          The others joined in too. The consensus was that both the 1st and 4th
          Amendments had been compromised by the FISA Court and the DOD's
          NSA Prism and other program's searches and surveillances.
          ..They spoke of an immediate stop to such programs being used
          against Americans.

          Whether today's Congressional make-up and Leadership
          has the guts to make it happen is unknown for now.
          ..But you can bet we will know soon.

          If Congress remains impotent, then the President and the Military
          will be in charge of this once great nation. Scary.

          Hopefully the Supreme Court's not a rubber stamp these days,
          like the FISA court.

          Free Americans need to speak freely now, and protect their Rights.
          It is time that all take the very few minutes that is needed to email, mail, and
          to telephone their Congressman and Congresswoman, their Senators, and
          the President himself, to express their opinions.

          Perhaps, in your travels abroad, you might find a computer, a mailbox, or a
          telephone and join in. Your 'one more voice' could be the deciding one.

          To do nothing today is like giving a rich life of plenty to the dogs.
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    Jul 18 2013: There is no such thing as honest government. Hate to break it to Americans but there is NO difference between a dictator regime and so called American 'democratic' government. The whole system is corrupt [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pc3esnkqM7E ].

    Google/MS SHOULD oppose NSA publicly but let's be honest here: NSA and similar entities don't follow any constitution or rules. I think Google, Microsoft and other companies' perception of NSA is of a bully who comes to 'collect' your pocket money, you give him what he wants and hope to live rest of day in 'peace'.

    These people (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_intelligence_community#Organization) can create wars out of nowhere, fabricate false flag operations, heck they can knock down my door and put me in gitmo without any kind of justification or trial (for posting this comment*). I don't think any company would dare opposing their 'requests'.
    • Jul 18 2013: Excellent sites for learning the real truth/facts of how the 1%ers control us!
    • Jul 18 2013: Kareem Fahim 10+ You are right of course.

      Our government is referred to often, as "the best we can get".
      Love it or Leave it is the catchy phrase that media tells us all,
      that we all say to one another when expressing replies to
      critics. Media telling us what we think. Interesting is it not.

      Dang it I've got company.
  • Jul 16 2013: We are Americans. We claim to be Free. -Correction, We are humanity, and we are free.

    Microsoft and Google should simply say NO. We should encourage them to say NO.
    And good for the French president, he is making a stand effectively saying NO.

    Look back to the R.A.F (red arm faction), Basque separatists, Black September, IRA, and if you want to see more current, look here and it' a just sample http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_designated_terrorist_organizations

    As long as we marginalize, ignore or oppress people, it wont matter what technology is in place, as then, like now, people will and do fight for their freedom.

    Drone attacks only create yet another generation of peoples, who see first hand the loss of innocent lives, and such measures to drive them into the arms of people who'll use and convert them to attack. Is that what we really want?

    Ironically, with all this spying on people, from passports, full body scanners, to microsoft, google et al, all that's happened is that we've in our fear, have allowed those that want to manipulate that fear - to oppress us.

    All of those companies are like the French collaborators with the Nazi's in world war two, it would not surprise me if that's why the French President acted accordingly.

    The UK has erased laws dating back from the Magna Carta, so not only is it the Americans who have lost with the Patriot act. All democracies have lost.

    But I don't think terrorists have won - they are still in the same position as before, in fact probably worse, due to the fact that wars being waged that are now over a "decade" long, and still have no end in sight.

    It seems to me that fear and the fear mongers have won this battle, but they have not, and will not win the war...

    GANDHI "When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.
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      Jul 18 2013: "It seems to me that fear and the fear mongers have won this battle, but they have not, and will not win the war..."

      Insha'Allah, truth shall prevail :)
      • Jul 18 2013: God willing, Jesus Willing, Allah willing, 'what ever you believe in' willing.....

        Honestly, I dont mind whom, just as long as... someone ...is willing.

        This is not where we should end up, as a society or as humanity, I know you Kareem and Snowdon agree....

        So that makes 3 ... and if there are 3 now, soon they'll be 1,000,003, and so on...

        Strange thing is as a look at my book called "Ancient civilizations" all of them get more draconian as their time comes to an end.... Something to think about.
  • Jul 16 2013: You're right. We are drifting along as the Germans did in the early thirties. We have already had our "Reichstag Fire" moment, the Twin Towers affair, unclear as to details, but probably the same kind of phoney false flag operation as too many of our "wars" ,that were "caused by".concocted "attacks".
    As Goering famously said at his trial at Nuremberg. for "National Security" the public will go along with practically anything
    It is a dismal realization that we can no longer count on the Congress to do anything much at all.
    • Jul 16 2013: shawn disney 10+ You are so very right.
      History is repeating in front of our eyes.
      It is ludicrous to be able to watch it occur and do nothing to stop it.

      Jul 14, 2013 · Jamie Foxx weighs in on yesterday's verdict:
      ‘We will make sure that he did not die in vain’
      Hooplaw about the death of a young man.
      But nothing is said about the death of a nation.

      shawn, please keep viewing and contributing.
      We need to act in concert and get the public's attention.
      Once alerted, they can stop the NSA in their tracks.

      I added one thing to this conversation and I have another
      piece to add. But first I need the names of the other nations
      working in partnership and snooping their citizen's computers.
      I forgot where I found that information.
      Getting old in my dotter-age.
  • Jul 15 2013: Frank, I agree the last twnety years is where change was happening, but it started when Reagan was president. The time was the beginning of the Christian right wing takeover of washigton. I can just imagine the hate I will be feeling for making this observation, but I truly believe it to be true. The religious right started to band togather and take a political stance that abrogated the hard fought for freedoms that we all used to take for granted. You can see the change in small ways such as if you have nothing to hide the police should be allowed to search your car or home. The giving away of such freedoms as not being pulled over in mass to see if any of you is hiding something or drinking and driveing. The attempt at overturning RoeV Wade, The so-called war on women that in reality is a much worse attempt to put them back in their place as chattel. All of this comes from religious right wingnut leaders, hell bent on resuming head of the household standards for men.Because most people are sheep when it comes to fighting back, these religious zealots have not only done tremendous damage to the "freedoms" of this country, they have the sheeple asking them to take them away. I remember a time in Indiana when the arts were starting to flourish, when we were taught the pledge without the under god insertion, when you didn't see the ten commandments on public land or in the public eye unless it was on church property. Now, it seems that you are at war if you in any way say something derogatory to any that claim Christian status. They act like it is they who are under attack, all the while they, are attacking others of no faith, or the wrong faith. I personnally see no difference between the zealots of Christianity, or Islam. I just wish they would keep their relgion out of the politics of my country.
    • Jul 16 2013: timothy schlotter --
      You have strong view about when it comes to fighting back.

      Would you share "your views" about Mr. Snowden's exposure of
      how the NSA's current program PRISM has been used to invade
      and capture information from Microsoft's and Google's customers
      here in the US and world-wide?
      I hope you will.

      I don't have issues with religious beliefs.
      Our nation's people are proud of being able to practice their faiths
      unhindered. You can too, or not, without restriction.
      ..timothy, I understand your feelings. I really do.
      • Jul 16 2013: I applaud Mr. Snowden's courage for speaking out against a government that has obviously stepped over the line, and is now doing damage control to continue the lies. having been in the military, I know my government is very capable of telling the public what they want to hear, and covering up what they don't want to hear. The fact that there are certain things snowden will not tell makes me believ him more than generals, politicians, [chicken hawks in particular], and the media. It takes courage to take on a country as strong as the U.S. and whether he is in a just cause, or just stoking his own ego, is probably somthing us pee-ons will never find out.

        As to religious beliefs, I too believe everyone should be able to pratice whatever they have beliefs in unhindered, but that is not what is happening. All you have to do is look at the laws, and codes being passed to see which religion is being favoured and to see what is happening
        • Jul 16 2013: timothy schlotter
          I applaud your grasp of the situation.

          The congress and full administration are ignoring the matter.
          Just like they did with the US & EU tech companies dumping
          their boatloads & mountains of obsolete Hardware trash on the
          beaches of Ghana and elsewhere.

          The same companies and many others that specialize in
          Computer Software have partnered with US government
          agencies to install their spy programs on our Computers.

          Where were Bill Gates and Steve Jobs on the day they
          made their decisions to sell their customer base to the
          US government? Did the US Department of Defense
          pay for their Research and Development? What part of
          their profits is attributed to Military's NSA and other like

          Does the constitution allow the nation's military to go to
          war with US citizens?

          Mr. Snowden's exposure may have been illegal from the
          Justice Department's viewpoint, or the viewpoint of the
          US Department of Defense, as the NSA is run by an
          American General who takes his orders from the US
          Secretary of Defense, and he, from the President.

          Mr. Snowden did risk his life to WARN us all.

          The DOD's Military led NSA and other agencies who spy on
          US citizens, and have been allowed to do so by Current and
          Past Administration's have committed Foul Acts.
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    Jul 15 2013: The problem here is also one regarding profit. Tech giants stand to make enormous profits from these intrusions--whether they admit it or not. AT&T has revealed this month that they have been charging the NSA $375 to establish access to a user's data with an additional monthly fee of $10 to continue the tap.

    Also, our complaints on PRISM are very biased. I do not support the actions of the NSA, but I must admit that for certain outlets this was only expected. Take Facebook for example: It is a company solely based on stock and advertisement servicing over 800,000,000 users worldwide in the business of sharing personal information. From the moment a user signs-up, they are agreeing to a contract with the company that allows the company to collect their user's data. It's not too far-fetched to have assumed that this data collected was either being handled or handed to a government institution. PRISM was expected. our "freedom" has and always will be a facade.

    That said, In my opinion, the above mentioned companies SHOULD protest. However, they stand to gain and benefit more by aligning themselves to the government--after all is said and done, they are but corporations seeking for higher revenue.
    • Jul 15 2013: Kareem Garriga Thanks a bunch.
      On February 23, 2012, (last year) Obama announced a new initiative
      The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights

      Nothing was said about the US Government’s secret surveillance role.
      Only "Companies" were referred to.

      A Bill of Rights that consumers should expect, and the obligations
      to which companies handling personal data should commit.

      1. Individual Control: Consumers should be able to control what
      personal data companies*** collect from them and how they use it.

      Companies should provide tools for consumers to control their data
      that are usable and accessible, giving consumers simple choices.

      2. Transparency: Companies should present privacy-related
      information in an easily understandable and accessible manner, at times
      and in places that are most useful for consumers. The disclosures should
      include what personal data the company collects, why it needs it, how it
      will use it, when it will delete it, and whether it will share the information
      with third parties.

      3. Respect for Context: Data should be used in ways that are consistent
      with the context in which consumers provided it. If the data is to be used
      for other purposes, consumers should have more robust control.

      4. Security: Companies should maintain reasonable safeguards to
      protect personal data.

      5. Access and Accuracy: Consumers should have the right to access
      and correct personal data.

      6. Focused Collection: Companies should collect and retain only as
      much personal data as they need, and securely dispose of it when it is
      no longer needed.

      7. Accountability: Companies should be “accountable” to law
      enforcement authorities and consumers and should take steps to ensure
      that employees and third parties with whom they share personal data
      adhere to the principles. These steps should include audits, training,
      and control over vendors and other third parties recipients of the data.

      I haven't a clue what happened to it.
      • Comment deleted

        • Jul 15 2013: Kate. A history lesson, hard to believe.
          This has occurred in real life over the last 20+ years.
          I didn't bother the flesh out the ones who started it.

          Bush 1 was a catalyst of sorts, selling us to the Saudi's
          as their mercenaries, used to whip Saddam into line.
          Clinton punished Bagdad, and Saddam once again,
          then completed the Bank's deregulation, and expanded
          government insured loans with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae,
          adding Ginnie Mae, and allowing AIG and Wall Street to have
          a field day with their small print investment vehicles. Bush Jr.
          an alcoholic schemer, and his minder Cheney, took War and
          carpet-bagging to a new level not seen since the Civil War.
          After Bush failed to move the social security fund to Wall Street,
          (telling us all on national TV, the safety of such a move) he
          emptied the Treasury by having the banks audited nationwide
          as a prelude to Henry Paulsen's act that convinced Congress
          to Bailout the "To big to Fail" Banks and friendly corporations.
          The really smart Wall Street Brokers like JPMorgan, moved their
          money across the pond. Goldman Sachs caused havoc worldwide
          and their CEO got 2 years in the slammer. Bush then handed the
          Treasury's $Trillion dollars of Bailout to Obama, and retired to his
          Central America plantation. Obama? That's a whole different deal.
          He is into total control. His impact thus far is continuation of Bush
          war policies, and throwing bailout money at businesses, while he
          punishes them with fines for doing nothing, and a healthcare plan
          that only benefit's the health insurance corporations with 30 million
          new policy holders and no acquisition costs. Follow the money.
          Janet Napolitano just resigned from Home Land Security and will
          most likely be the Democrat's front runner for our next President.
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      Jul 16 2013: My understanding is that the companies are obliged to relinquish the data, but that, similar to eminent domain, the government must compensate them at fair commercial rates. So AT&T is receiving fair value for what might in real estate be called "takings." What I heard from former NSA is this is passed through shell companies (can't have a large payment from NSA on the books ;).
      • Jul 18 2013: Shava Nerad 10+
        I am remiss in not responding to your earlier efforts. I apologize.
        You wrote 3 items and this one caught my interest completely.
        "1 day ago: My understanding is that the companies are obliged to relinquish the data, but that, similar to eminent domain, the government must compensate them at fair commercial rates. So AT&T is receiving fair value for what might in real estate be called "takings." What I heard from former NSA is this is passed through shell companies (can't have a large payment from NSA on the books ;). "

        I will research to find if the other involved NSA co-conspirators were paid as well as AT&T.
        There are several more US government snoop programs involved here also.
        And, I have read of some other nations in the EU, and maybe elsewhere, running
        companion programs as well.

        Shava, thank you for your intelligence.

        If I am overwhelmed by wading through too much Military Spy information to find the
        truth, the NSA must be staggering under their illegal loads. Now I know how the FBI
        must feel investigating the Mafia.

        Wait 'til I bust the damned Appliance that Microsoft left on my computer.
        Bill Gates better have some answers.
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    Jul 13 2013: Microsoft's willingness to conduct surveillence for governments was no secret to anyone following the issue years ago. A Wikileaks cable revealed a deal struck between Microsoft and Ben Ali in Tunisia, where Microsoft provided technical training for law enforcement. The Tunisian regime was known for imprisoning journalists, bloggers and political opponents. http://www.zdnet.com/wikileaks-microsoft-aided-former-tunisian-regime-3040093837/

    Also, when Microsoft purchased Skype they re-engineered the network's p2p supernodes, and at the time it was criticized as being merely for interception purposes - http://www.extremetech.com/computing/132935-microsoft-tweaking-skype-to-facilitate-wiretapping. Microsoft assured that it wasn't for interception, but to improve the user's experience. Then they filed a patent for Skype interception technology - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/06/29/microsoft_skype/. Skype's cooperation with the PRISM program roughly coincides with Microsoft's purchase of Skype.

    In addition to the facts you've presented below, Microsoft also purposely leaves security holes open for the NSA for some time period before patching them - http://techrights.org/2013/06/15/nsa-and-microsoft/. This shows Microsoft's commitment to working with intelligence agencies, and their true lack of care for our security.

    I certainly have more respect for Google as a company, but Larry Page's commitment to privacy is obscure, and their business model is dependent on tracking our activities and interests.

    While Google seems to genuinely desire the freedom to reveal more information to the public about their cooperation with the NSA, it seems to me that Microsoft only seconded that request as a desperate attempt to redeem some of their reputation.
    • Jul 13 2013: Thank you Fred.
      I'm looking forward to chasing the links you've provided.
      I will get back with a further opine or two.
    • Jul 13 2013: Fred, thank you.
      I read the first link ZD Net. I think we all don't know what is happening.
      1. US Government has taken too many steps beyond what is right.
      2. US Congress has been lax in it's oversight responsibilities of the
      various agencies dedicated to security, intelligence, and law enforcement.
      3. These Agencies are running their separate Internet(s).
      4. Leadership may not be what we think of when we think of President.
      5. Two down, and the Supreme Court is also out of the picture.
      6. The question arises then; Who is in Charge?
      7. I pose that the builders and maintainers of SIPROS and those other
      separate Internets (Internal Nets) used by these various agencies have
      a hand in the lives of all of us.

      Gets a bit scary when it comes out in the open. WikiLeaks was right.
      The problem is that these agencies can change their Internets faster
      than the pokey slow Congress can learn about them.

      Fred, your first link was amazing. Please review where it takes you.
      I am off to watch the other linkis. And I will be coming back to the first one.
      Thank you thank you
      • thumb
        Jul 14 2013: Mass data collection and storage is an unpleasant fact of the present. I certainly believe domestic surveillance by intelligence agencies in the US is unconstitutional and should by no means be legally legitimized. But we'd be hard pressed to make a legal case for not surveilling foreigners, and even if we reign in our country, that leaves every other government and company to do as they please. The spy industry has been born and it will never go away.

        Thus we may be able to solve the legal issue, but the technical issue remains a threat that only a technical solution can resolve. The truth is, the surveillance of communications content could be ended today, if only everyone started encrypting their content. PGP and similar two-key algorithms are the solution to this. With PGP, you get two keys, one for encrypting and one for decrypting. Messages and files could be made into complete gibberish using either key. If you encrypt a message with one, it can only be decrypted with the other. So you label one your public key, and the other your private key. You give your public key to the world, and if they wish to send you an encrypted message they would encrypt it with this key. Once it's encrypted, it can only be decrypted by your private key, which you don't share with a single soul.

        There's a couple problems with this. One, you'll be lucky to find one or two people willing to have an encrypted conversation with you. Two, this won't hide who you are, where you are, who you're talking to or where they are. There are other tools for this (Tor), but in the end, the tough truth is that if you wish to secure your communications, you have to do it yourself, and it's going to be technical.

        What the world needs is an internet that's naturally encrypted, by design absolutely secure, and a tech industry that wishes to keep it that way. Luckily there's a few parties working to do this (the Guardian Project, Open Whisper Systems). But ultimately security rests on the populace.
        • Jul 14 2013: Fred, it's after midnight here, so I must be off to bed.
          But you sound like you've a handle on things.

          I noted when reading the WikiLeaks Tunisian messages
          that there was mention of multiple Intelligence Internets.
          Our government seems not to want to let us know about
          these things. Excuses can be made for them to exist,
          but, I think there really isn't any valid excuse.

          Hidden government leads to foul government. Perhaps
          we need to try transparent government. The best thing
          would be that it would work. The worst, we have.

          Through your tears, count the bodies of those killed and
          maimed, innocent men, women, and wee children. Those
          our government is responsible for when it makes pre-emptive
          wars upon other nation's shores.

          Foreign revengers, labeled Terrorists. attacked by Drones.
          Today's Collateral Damages, tomorrows lies.
  • Jul 21 2013: Of course they should.
    Just as all religious leaders, spokespeople, and followers and believers should be daily, loudly, consistently and certainly courageously, condemning all the evil that has been done
    through or behind the shield of religion, and demanding not only that it all stop
    but to do so until those who continue the perpetuation of these evils stop.

    So too should all scientists do exactly the same to those scientists who have supported, used
    and been employed by those who have used discoveries and inventions from the
    world of science for murder, torture, brainwashing, programming,
    experiments against the will of others or without their knowledge, infecting humans with disease,
    genocide, war and all other atrocities that science has helped and enabled, until they stop, cease,
    and refuse to be a part of such evil corporations, institutions and agencies.

    Until then, neither science nor religion can provide a moral context for people to live by and
    though science per se isn't in the morality business, they are people and are thus bound
    by dignity for life to be an example, or else it is true. Science leads to evil
    • Jul 21 2013: Random Chance 30+ Of course you're right.
      This below is the same as you so aptly describe.
      I took the liberty of identifying them as today's conditions require.

      Just as all REPUBLICAN and DEMOCRAT POLITICIANS leaders, spokespeople,
      and followers and believers should be daily, loudly, consistently and certainly
      courageously, condemning all the evil that has been done through or behind
      the shield of REPUBLICAN and DEMOCRAT POLITICIANS, and demanding
      not only that it all stop but to do so until those who continue the perpetuation
      of these evils stop.

      So too should all TOP SECRET INQUISITOR'S FISA courts do exactly the same
      to those TOP SECRET INQUISITORS who have supported, used and been
      employed by those who have used discoveries and inventions from the world
      of science for murder, torture, brainwashing, programming, experiments against
      the will of others or without their knowledge, infecting humans with disease, genocide,
      war and all other atrocities that science has helped and enabled, until they stop,
      cease, and refuse to be a part of such evil corporations, institutions and agencies.

      POLITICIANS can provide a moral context for people to live by and though neither
      per se aren't in the morality business, they are people and are thus bound by dignity
      for life to be an example, or else it is true. TOP SECRET INQUISITORS leads to evil.
      History shows that the INQUISITOR'S of olden times who tortured non-believers have
      been waiting in the wings of POLITICS to strike again. Evil men. Blood on their hands.

      They stifled human creativity for several thousand years. Now, today, they appear
      amongst us as the vassals of REPUBLICAN and DEMOCRAT POLITICIANS.
      What evil lurks in the hearts of man? ... Lamont Cranston, the Shadow knows.
      • Jul 23 2013: Frank.
        Thanks very much for that.
        Well done, well put and thanks for letting a little bit of me
        be a part of it.
        I remember when I was much younger, books that were published
        trying to tackle some of the repercussions of WWII.
        WWII directly affected at least 3/4's of the world's population on up to
        the seventies. One book in particular was about how can we humans
        spot and stop allowing or putting into power those kinds of monsters
        that the Nazi leaders turned out to be?
        Well, surprise, surprise. American's have done exactly that in my opinion.
        Their leaders are sociopaths and psychopaths of the same variety who have
        studied what Hitler and et all did and are now doing today.

        The same is true in other countries but the U.S. is the main demon.
        • Jul 23 2013: Random Chance 30+ You are right.

          The peoples of our world just don't understand how WAR actually works.

          They think that the State Department's Diplomats have reached a point
          that negotiations break-down and there is not other course of action left
          but to stomp the heck out of the other nation. ..By prior agreement the
          other nation's leaders are given safe passage if they capitulate before
          the slaughter begins.. Internal coups usually result in the nation's
          leaders being slaughtered first, or later after a court rules.

          In any case that is what people believe. WRONG.

          WAR actually works as a tool to produce SPOILS..
          Spoils of WAR are what pays the Banker's Golden Parachutes'
          of riches beyond belief. -- The same Banker will support both
          sides of any conflict at the same time, if the price is right.

          War's provide Spoils taken during and afterwards..
          ..Increased production of Weapons and their sales.
          ..Taxes from increases of Gross National Products.
          ..Confiscated Lands that can be traded for riches.
          ..Lost populations of men, women, and wee children.
          ..Conqueror's Armies, and Private Mercenaries left to rule.

          WARs do not change.
          ..Conqueror's Secret Politics.
          ..Conqueror's Corruption, or Graft, nor Greed.
          ..Conqueror's Rebuilding Contracts paid as crony prizes.
          ..Conqueror's Spy agencies, who hunt down the revengeful.
          ..Conqueror's History books, to be read by wee children.
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    Jul 20 2013: I do not think it possible for Google and Microsoft to stand up to the NSA essentially because the executive branch of the federal government has become too powerful, and I also think the NSA is so out of control that it can not be reigned back in. I think the responsibility is on us as citizens, individually, to use legal electronic counter measures that make such spying by the NSA impossible. Just to be explicit, the technical means do exist today to secure your communications against spying by the NSA, even with their massive computing resources.

    The biggest problem in achieving this is that the majority of Americans do not seem to care about this issue sufficiently, as they would prefer to give up their private information in exchange for the "free" services they get in return. Many other Americans feel they have nothing to hide and so don't see a problem. I find that rather sobering.

    Quick Poll: How many of you would give up using Facebook and Google/Bing if that was part of regaining our privacy? Looking for viable secure replacements? We have a few examples struggling for acceptance (for example, see startpage.com) but they are not well known and are nowhere near as full featured as their better known counterparts. Full solutions would take some time to emerge, and in the mean time, how would we stay in touch with people or find stuff on the web? That is the biggest problem.

    The next biggest problem is that securing our transmissions against the NSA is not practical today for the majority of people. Although the technical means to secure our communications exists, this is way beyond the reach of most people to do themselves. Part of the problem is that the other end of your communications (the person on the other side of the phone or email) also needs to practice secure transmission techniques.
    • Comment deleted

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        Jul 20 2013: Thanks for the reply John.

        The countermeasures I am proposing would make it impossible for organizations to collection private information, such as you stated. While this would make it impossible for private organizations to target these countermeasures, the NSA would certainly take notice. Without the technical means to spy, they would likely try to outlaw such measures, making it a crime to use them. We saw our federal government launch a criminal investigation in 1993 against Phil Zimmermann for deploying similar measures.

        I think the reason for the Microsoft stock dropping was not related to this NSA privacy issue, but rather their inability to sell what has traditionally been their cash cow: The Windows operating system. They are trying to diversify into other form factors and the cloud, and Windows Mobile has been a huge mess for quite a few years now.
      • Jul 20 2013: John S. 10+ I think you are right.

        John you've won the HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD award.
        Thank you.
        We all need to get busy today, tomorrow, and all next week.

        Everyone Please.
        Sit down and write out the most Dangerous Acts the NSA and DHS
        and other Domestic Spy Agencies are capable of doing to us all.

        It won't hurt any of us to take that First Step.
        Remember the KISS principal. ..Keep It Simple Stupid.

        Let's together with TED conversations provide a roadmap to safety.
        And Please - Please - Post it on this TED conversation.
    • Jul 20 2013: Danger Lampost 10+
      I rise in support of your statement

      "I do not think it possible for Google and Microsoft to stand up to the NSA
      essentially because the executive branch of the federal government
      has become too powerful, and I also think the NSA is so out of control
      that it can not be reigned back in."

      Individual State Governors are starting to hear from their voters on this very thing.
      My State of California has a Governor who may be in the running for President
      next election. Like Janet Napolitano, he has been mum on the topic.

      Janet Napolitano took flight from the Department of Homeland Security, the other day.
      Some one might say the first rat to leave the sinking ship. But I think maybe she
      just wants to crank up her campaign for the Presidency. She has a problem that has
      not gotten much press. A Big Problem, Napolitano's DHS has created it's own Domestic
      NSA of sorts, with a nationwide scope. The Atlanta GA based DHS Fusion Centers are
      in Partnership with the Major Military War Materials suppliers like Boeing, etc. Boeing
      and others provide their Employees to work and learn at the DHS Fusion Centers.
      So, when the NSA has been squelched, and we all breathe a sigh of relief, we will
      have to do it all over again. Plus if she runs for President, and wins, use your

      I don't mind being whelmed, but Over-whelmed, Arrrrrugh !!!
    • Comment deleted

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        Jul 25 2013: That is such a scary reply you have that I really am stunned. If you're saying that by protecting our own privacy, we are helping terrorists, we are truly lost.
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    Jul 20 2013: Good News for the privacy inclined . . . The Supreme Court of New Jersey has ruled that the police in that state now need a warrant to get at your cell phone data! Here is a link:

    http://mashable.com/2013/07/19/new-jersey-court-warrant-cellphone-data/ To quote from the decision: "This opinion announces a new rule of law by imposing a warrant requirement." State v. Thomas W. Earls (A-53-11) (068765) there is a .pdf link on the page given here.

    They dropped this late Friday w/absolutely no deference for the critical import of this decision to the world at large or to this TEDthread in particular! How rude of the NJ Supreme Court (I say w/great sarcasm & w/apology to the judiciary for my feeble attempt at humor!)

    The nose of the camel is now inside the tent flap! How long will it be before the entire camel comes in from the desert rain! ('er wind - it is raining noisily outside here. I gotta keep my metaphors straight!)

    This is good news for the people who demand privacy. Enough people now have cell phones such that the law has no choice but to respect the common expectation of privacy of all Americans, not just those in New Jersey!
    • Jul 20 2013: Juan Valdez 10+ thank you...

      Citizens of New Jersey should be one their knees giving thanks for some brief respite.
      The last time the NJ Attorney General did this type of thing, It took only a day or so to reverse.
      That's why they dropped it on Friday. It might get more press for a longer period of time.
      Picture this scenario, in your mind, if you will.

      Two Droner's with the GPS Target locator button, ready to push.
      One says to the other, "Wait, not yet. That's the coffee shop our target is in.
      My wife is there also. See, her GPS says she's right there.
      Wait 'til she leaves, then splash him all over the place."

      Now doesn't that sound like a waste of good coffee?
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    Jul 18 2013: Generally if you check on your Congressional delegation's web sites, they have times that they spend in their home districts that you can sign up for "office hours" just rather like professors have. Also there are town meetings. If you don't like to use their web site (in which case, why are you here?) try calling their offices and ask for the "Constituent Services" staff, and they will fix you up. You might have to wait a while.

    You might not get very much time, so I would recommend preparing for the meeting. If you have interest in a specific issue, you might find it better to meet with a staffer who advises the senator or representative on that area -- for example, if you are concerned with the NSA, find out if they have a legal, military, or national security staff advisor, and set up a meeting to talk to that person. You'll likely get a longer slot sooner.

    These meetings usually are educational both ways. The rep/senator or staffer will listen to your concerns and any new information you bring to the table, and may have information from "inside the beltway" that may make you feel better, worse, or both about the entire thing.

    Also, you get to have a real say in how your people in DC are treating the situation, as a person who takes the time to schedule a meeting is weighted far more heaviliy than a letter, fax, email, or (God knows) an internet petition. It's considered that you are not only someone who cares, but cares enough that you probably influence others (including other likely voters! :). So yes, it means your opinion counts for more. You are a citizen lobbyist, even without a checkbook in hand.

    This is, in fact, what the term lobbyist originally comes from -- from people who just buttonholed their delegation in the *lobby* of Congress to ask them to represent their opinions on the floor. This is your constitutional right to petition Congress for redress of grievances in the Bill of Rights. Use it!

    Is that propaganda? ;)
    • Jul 19 2013: Shava Nerad 10+
      I see what you are trying to explain.
      But I am an old man with 3/4 of a century under my belt.
      Been there, Done that.

      Your education is not in question. We all know you are smart.

      So pick your side and fight.
      You can take the government's position and make their excuses.
      Or, take the people's position and do all those things you tell me about.
      Lastly, you can do nothing.

      Your choice. We will still defend your right to your choice.
      And argue our positions with great vigor.
      There is a problem.
      We are trying to discover a quick solution by having this conversation.
      Maybe we will be successful, maybe not.
      But we can all have fun trying.
      By the way. Your next conversation just shows --
      "View the full conversation"
      If you thought you had written anything else, it was lost.

  • Jul 18 2013: Ok there is a way to stop it, that is if AT&T, Google, Microsoft et al

    It's where they DONT get paid for the data or for the time it takes them to collate it.

    Then and only then will they really stop, and use the guise they they want citizen freedom and no more nsa spying.

    So mail your senator, say you dont care about spying, you just dont want these corps paid for it. See the sparks fly.
    • Jul 19 2013: Tify Ndanoboi 30+
      Watch the July 17th, 2013, 3.8 hours of CNN's coverage of the
      House committee's roasting of the Spy Masters.

      Congressmen and Congresswomen did a bang up job.
      Check out more about it in my earlier responses to others below,
      or above this. Watch it if you can.

      Our 1st and 4th Amendments have been trod upon.
      FISA courts are loose cannons putting holes in our constitution.
      They have to go. They must go. They are wrong.
      Judges are only human and can sell their integrity like anyone...

      The NSA and the rest of the Spy agencies need be re-Mastered.
      The Military portion needs to be replaced, and quickly.
      We all remain at risk until those are civilian agencies and know
      right from wrong.

      We Americans have been asleep while Washington DC has been
      busy little bees, making their own brands of honey. Wake up folks.
      The next time you vote. ..Think first...
      • Jul 19 2013: Frank I would love to watch it, unfortunately I'm not in the USA.

        I think though CNN have a responsibility to put this on YouTube, after all it's a Global issue.

        I'll be mailing them today. I hope everyone else does too, if we all act together, we can win...
        • Jul 19 2013: Tify Ndanoboi 30+ thumbs up.

          I am going to go off topic about something that is far removed from
          the subject, but shows that our Congress may be impotent at best.

          The city of Detroit declared Bankruptcy.
          The Mayor has had a Government Minder in his place for a while now.

          During the Bail-out of those too big to fail Corporations, the Congress
          and President gave great billions to the Auto Industry, as they begged
          for help. A smallest accountant sat at the other end of the table and
          with a chart showed plainly why the Auto industry should be refused
          and allowed to go bankrupt. The Congress listened and sided with
          those who begged. They soon spent the monies, repaid the loans,
          and then of course went, as predicted, bankrupt. Their grand city is
          today following their lead. Auto Industry Janitors still make $125 an
          hour. But where has the money gone? Autos cost $60 thousand
          dollars and still break down just as often.
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    Jul 18 2013: For the woman who wondered if her computer was easy to crack into? Easy as pie. The only way to keep your computer from being cracked into is to never hook it to the internet at all, or install any particular software on it that you aren't 1000% sure is free of malware.

    Most computers are mildly infected. Many computers are seriously infected and part of criminal botnets, or rootkitted for other mechanisms, and the owners never know that their computers are being used -- rented out! -- for criminal activities.


    anti-virus/anti-malware software really is a good idea. ;) I just shake my head when I run into people who tell me that they don't run the stuff because it slows down their system and they never see anything unusual running on their machine (of course, they wouldn't since the processes hide themselves...). Backup is a good "security" software measure too. You never know when some malware is going to trash your disk. It's rare but you might be sad.

    These things don't have to be the NSA to be a tragedy. It's wild out there.

    But if you want to engage the issue of the NSA? Become politically active, more than on some Tuesday in November. Get to actually KNOW your congresscritters and your local politicians. Turn out the vote. Revive the democratic system in this republic. Congress is sitting in DC at something between 11-17% approval ratings and they give not a SINGLE DAMN.

    And you know why?

    Because you guys are sitting in your ergonomic chairs on ted.com talking to each other instead of talking to your lawmakers. As a nation we have forgotten how to engage the system, and no one is happier about that than the folks in DC, because it makes their jobs so much easier, they are foxes in charge of the hen house.

    Most of them aren't even bad folks. But they are lazy. You are their bosses, and you aren't doing your job.
    • Jul 18 2013: Shava Nerad 10+

      Until you've tried to talk to your congressman or
      administrative regulator, you have no idea of the
      difficulty involved. As for the President, forget it.

      You're bleeding more Propaganda.
      • Comment deleted

        • Jul 18 2013: Kate:
          Maybe the topic is to volatile for TED audiences. Or not! lol
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          Jul 18 2013: I still have the almighty green thumb and possess the power to bestow thumbs-up at my leisure. Until TED reads this.
      • Comment deleted

        • Jul 19 2013: Kate, I just spent 3.8 hours
          watching July 17th, CNN's coverage of the NSA hearings,
          by the House of Representatives. Some pretty pissed-off
          Congressmen and Congresswomen there, and not a dummy
          among them. They had two or three ex-judges who knew the
          constitution, and they lit a fire under the spy witnesses.

          They must have been monitoring our conversations. lol

          They brought up most of the issues.

          I didn't take notes and so the titles of those they roasted are not correct.
          They stuck it to the Dept of Justice deputy, the Natlional Security Director,
          the NSA deputy, and a gal from one of the agencies who got blown away
          in the first 10 minutes of questioning. She actually left the room for a bit.

          The results are that the FISA court is a Rubber Stamp.
          There's only one Judge who they change every week,
          and only the NSA Lawyers. There's no one to represent the people.
          So our 1st and 4th Amendments to the Constitution are crapped on.
          Vulgar but true.

          I couldn't believe my ears. James Cole the DOJ deputy provided
          in one answer the old ODDI defense. The "Other Dude Did It".
          I will bet you the Media misses his answer. ..But it was hilarious..

          Hey, I just remembered the 'birth control' conversation. We were
          mean to you. I apologize. You have my permission to beat me up
          on this one. Nothing below the belt like the last one.

          I've had a ton of coffee and it's 8pm. Wow, I am gonna hate tonight.

          CNN stopped short and I didn't get to see it all.

          Then Microsoft had to start messing with me.
          I don't bother looking at my Event Log anymore.
          It probably has 10 pings a minute from Windows.
          Like a bad toilet stopper, -- they never stop...

          As soon as the NSA gets taken care of, I'm going back to XP.
          I was warned about Windows 7. ..But I just couldn't say no to my
          daughter's gift. Now I find out that Win 7 is dumping Windows Live.
          It wasn't any good anyhow.

          Too much coffee... bye for now.
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      Jul 18 2013: Thank you for the evocative image of infected computers. I already know mine's infected because suddenly a skull and crossbones covers the screen and tells me to get away from the computer for awhile. What I'd like to know is how you knew I was sitting in an ergonomic chair. You're not using some virus to stare at me through my own webcam are you? That would be impressive, because I don't even own a webcam. In fact, I didn't even know this was an ergonomic chair.
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        Jul 18 2013: The NSA would be very surprised if I were spying for them Daniel...:) *giggle*
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          Jul 18 2013: That is precisely what a deeply embedded and very convincing spy would say, only the know others know they would say it, so they really wouldn't say it and yet you did, which is why you, who I'm now convinced are a deeply embedded and very convincing spy, DID say it.
      • thumb
        Jul 18 2013: Yup I am a double triple quadruple agent with night baseball a window and a swoop. Too bad it doesn't come with a government pension. I obviously need to write better propaganda for these guys...;)
      • Comment deleted

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          Jul 18 2013: It's not bingo if you don't win a prize. An example of a real bingo would be the thumbs-up I just gave you.
      • Comment deleted

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          Jul 18 2013: I was making a joke.

          I read your earlier posts, which is why earlier wrote: 3 hours ago: I still have the almighty green thumb and possess the power to bestow thumbs-up at my leisure. Until TED reads this.

          I got the earlier ones, too, and noticed them and let me say, thank you.
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    Jul 17 2013: "The NSA's spying activities in concert with suspected other co-conspirator EU nations, has upset France's President."

    Oh? On July 4 this year, "Le Monde" - France's most respected newspaper - carried the news that the French DGSE security agency has been routinely monitoring computer and telephone communications in France, both of French and foreign nationals. Perhaps M. Hollande didn't know. But as we do know, all the nations that have the ability to monitor communications do so. Like France, China, and Germany, it has suited their political purposes to play innocent and let the U.S. take the hit.

    Has it occurred to you that before the NSA got your phone and computer records, Microsoft and Google had them? NSA actually doesn't care about your personal records, they're machine checking millions of records for certain number combinations that indicate communication among suspected terrorist groups. There's about a chance in a trillion that any of your info will be used by the government. Microsoft and Google, on the other hand, care very much about your records. They use them to try to sell you stuff and they (may) sell information about you to whomever. Commercial spying on the net is what we really should worry about, it's many times more damaging than the government security net. Info on what you buy on the net (and in stores with credit cards) is sold to data management companies from whom it can be bought cheaply. A health insurance company can know how many packs of cigarettes or quarts of liquor you bought last year. There's no end to the mischief that can and probably will be done through the commercial recording of all our internet actions. That's where we ought to spend most of our righteous outrage.

    That said, it's obviously also important that our government be restricted in what it can obtain from citizens without our knowledge. We need to know more about the judicial process they have to comply with before obtaining communications records.
    • Jul 18 2013: Paul Lillebo thank you.
      All you write is correct. All of it.

      The problem is that "our government has decided" what it can obtain from citizens
      "without our knowledge". A weak argument can be made about TOS, EULA's and
      Privacy Statements being agreed to, etc., blah, blah.

      Further, "our government has decided to use the Military's NSA without our knowledge"
      to accomplish their tasks.

      The citizen's of this once great nation are not at war with their government, but
      it seems our government is at war with us, it's citizens.

      Obviously the Corporations are at great risk in not complying with
      our government's demands.

      .....Or perhaps I have it all backwards.

      If the Corporations are running the nation, then they have
      the Military's NSA doing their bidding.

      We may well be enslaved and not even yet be aware.
      Wake me when the nightmare is over.
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        Jul 18 2013: The thing I'm particularly interested in hearing from those who are most vigorously opposing the government's electronic monitoring program is what they would recommend as an alternative means of intercepting the communications of "terrorist" evildoers. Plans to blow up airliners, public buildings, etc are serious stuff, and the current program that Mr.Snowden has revealed has apparently prevented several such, as other governments have confirmed. Snowden's revelation has also certainly caused these groups to change their means of communication, thus making interdiction more difficult. That's obviously why details of the surveillance were secret.

        So, let's say we close down this surveillance program and take us back to square one. The bad guys are now free to communicate with no fear. What do you suggest as an effective interdiction program, if we rule out blanket surveillance? I have no problem with people pointing out the dangers and drawbacks of government programs; I think that's a good thing and I've done a lot of it myself. But when I do I try to couple my critique with recommendations for how to proceed. And that's what's been lacking in all the critique of the government on this issue. I've not seen a single serious proposal for an alternative plan. A good way to put the question is, "What would I (anyone) have done as President to interdict the terror threat?"
        • Jul 18 2013: Paul Lillebo thank you

          Square one.
          I believe we have overreached. Too many Wars.
          Too many innocents killed and maimed from collateral damages.
          Too many created "Revenger's" for those killed and maimed.
          On both sides.

          I believe we rely on labels. Terror Threat and Terrorists.
          I believe we kill and maim because it is easier than to seek
          understanding and peaceful means.

          I believe our Military is a never ending killer, feeding itself
          with Taxed-Payer Dollars. A spigot of money that we cannot
          turn off and survive.

          I believe 100,000 enforcement agents and employees of the
          Intelligence agencies can be wrong, wrong, wrong.

          Mother said, "If you look for trouble; Trouble is what you find."
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    Jul 17 2013: Frank, That big brother is watching is nothing new. When you get a "store card", lets say grocery card, it matches what you buy to your name, how often you buy, etc.... almost every company "sells" you name, age, address, etc ... mailing lists are big business.

    NSA could not, without great expense, collect all of the information you put on the web daily. Had a fight with your other ... post it ... had a finder bender ... post it ... got drunk .. post it ... hate your job / boss / whatever ... post it.

    We are willing victims. Why does the State Department have over 500 "media" departments. They spent 600K just to update their image. They want to tell you what to think ... and it works ... because you let them.

    Some say this is intrusion ... how .... no one told you to put your life and everything that happens out there. Talk loud in a small area and then accuse people of eaves dropping .. silly.

    Of course you are being monitored and used ... but you allowed it and made it all possible.

    It doesn't make it all okay on the part of government or corporations ... but you need to take charge of your own life also. You don't want junk mail ... don't provide the info that makes it possible. Ask the right questions.

    Be pro active ... don't blame google, Microsoft, etc ... you put it out there. Stop.

    I wish you well. Bob.
    • Jul 17 2013: Robert, thank you.

      You've got the wrong guy.
      I don't have store-purchase memberships. I use Mickey Mouse.
      He is never challenged. No one reads those application forms.

      I love my Privacy. TED conversations might be a threat, but if I can
      find the code when I take apart the Appliance's and code that NSA uses,
      I will sue them 'til hell freezes over. Those bastards will have it coming.
      And Obama better stop this nonsense right now.

      There's been a law suit filed yesterday against these nuts.
      The filers are not your regular types, but they have taken the first step.
      Kudos for them.

      No one should blame the people for the foul deeds inflicted upon them by
      their government and by those same politicians they themselves elected.

      We should blame our President (in hiding) and his Administration, along with
      a Congress (in hiding) for creating a such a mess, and for a total lack of over-
      sight, and finally for embarrassing we Americans throughout the world.

      In years gone by:
      South Americans spit on Nixon and yelled "Yankee go home !!"
      They won the HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD award,
      Today, they get my vote.
      John Kerry has a real job to do.
      He may thank Hillary, but I doubt it.

      I have been advocating cleaning up Washington DC for years.
      Time to clean house. Does the word RECALL mean anything to you?

      We should and can blame those Computer and Phone manufacturers for
      misleading us all, in an atmosphere dedicated to security updates and soft
      sales pitches, soothingly saying we can protect you and your data from
      outside attack, when knowingly telling us, their customers, "Complete Lies".
  • thumb
    Jul 16 2013: The link here is from Stratfor - a U.S. private intelligence firm with links to CIA-type resources worldwide (allegedly). I'm on their free mailing list because I like how they do the news. No fluff. No crap. Just the facts w/enough background and depth to make sense of just what the heck is going on in the world. This is a very good article on the Prism/NSA situation; and by extension, the Edward Snowden scandal. You should read it. If you like what you read, sign up for the free newsletter. THAT newsletter is definitely welcome in my email inbox.

    • Jul 16 2013: Juan Valdez 10+ Hi.
      I hope you will do the "View the full conversation".
      Your responses are always a welcomed sight.

      Regardless of the Prism/NSA/Snowden scandal, my opinion is
      that we all need to determine the value of allowing non-government
      corporation's to sell us infected software with "appliances inside" and
      then install automatic updates that are hard-wired so that we cannot
      delete them. This "appliances inside" is not widely recognized except
      for the catchy ads of "Intel Inside". These are a couple of thoughts
      you may want to chew on.

      Ok, Thanks Juan, for the links, here I go.
      • thumb
        Jul 17 2013: We ALL really need an education as to exactly WHAT constitutes computer security. Public Key Encryption (check it on Wikipedia) is very secure from point to point, but once things get onto your computer - your computer can be hacked. And almost anyone with an ounce of ambition, a computer science degree (or the self taught equivialent), and the patient determination to do it - can hack your computer. And they can do it anywhere you are at any time.

        Also, ANYTHING put on the internet can be obtained & evaluated. And by 'evaluated' I mean sifted for information. Now days, many people do NOT get security clearances; and that because of what they posted on facebook or similar social media. How many? How many don't get security clearances because of facebook? I don' know. But nothing is secure just because you think it should be private.

        And nobody respects your privacy except YOU! So think about that. I am so paranoid that I don't keep any personal information on my computer at all! I just keep computer programs & what I need to surf the net. The rest I keep on external storage and I access that only when I am off line and my connection to the internet is unplugged (both at my computer AND at the wall electrical outlet).

        I still assume that the NSA can and will get everything they want. I also assume that the NSA has its own 'hacker' techniques that are undetectable. But the NSA has zero motivation to hack my bank account or anything similar.

        Not so much for the "Microsoft Computer Maintenance Department" that just called me (from the call center in India) and wanted to assist me w/my software issues. They knew my name & the last several digits of my U.S. Government Social Security Card number. I thanked them, told them that the problem was solved & that I sent them an email yesterday w/a settlement. Then I quickly hung up.
        • Jul 17 2013: Juan Valdez 10+ Thank you,
          I will read and digest this later tonight.
          Please Click on "View the full conversation." I just posted another point or two above.

          The issue is not Security. The issue is Intrusion. The issue is that a Partnership was
          entered into between the Computer Industry and the Federal Government without
          telling the Governed People of America that they were being monitored.

          And being monitored by a US Military Intelligence Agency. That is just a bit Tacky !!!

          Our President claims to be a constitutional lawyer. He of all persons should know that
          using the US Military against peaceful American Citizens is a constitutional No No.
    • Jul 16 2013: Juan Valdez 10+ Well that was quick.
      Sorry Juan, George Friedman's story is a good sounding one,
      but his "mild" conclusions on the points he made are wrong.

      The history Mr. Friedman based his story on, was a bit
      different. If I had the time to wriggle through it all, I could
      tell you rights and wrongs. But the only thing I would be
      doing, would be giving you the option of believing one over
      the other. No sense to that. You might side with him. My
      credentials are not on display, as his are.

      Juan, thanks, but no thanks.
      But keep 'em coming.
      • thumb
        Jul 17 2013: If you find any other good 'alternative' sources for solid analysis of the news, please share the links w/me. I'd appreciate that. I really would. I appreciate your 'certainty' on this issue. I've found (occasionally) that this kind of certain-knowledge comes from someone who really KNOWS what they are talking about. The opportunity to speak with someone upon a subject which they have MASTERED is always a privilege. THAT is what I LIKE about TED. There are smart people here.

        No, just thanks! & Thanks especially to you. I've met George Friedman & his partner, but I don't have any special relationship with either man. All that was little more than a passing nod. I am sure they did NOT find me either notable or interesting. And yes, they do understate things; but that's just my personal preference. I do like having access to their take on the news.

        It beats the heck out of what I get from the public news media for mass consumption. To be honest about it, I am amazed that a company like Stratfor can exist at all. Clearly major corporations don't get all they need from the major news outlets. Stratfor has a very solid corporate reputation. I guess that means something, from a business perspective; money & all. Could you or I do better?

        No, I am willing to listen to almost anyone. But I draw the line at rude. But that's just me. Also, I HAVE learned something on TED. Never underestimate the credentials of ANYONE you meet on TED. My credentials are are like 'weak tea' (or worse) when compared even to the most humble TEDspeaker. And your credentials, Professor Frank Barry? Well, why not give one the benefit of the doubt? Might I ALREADY have heard you speak on TED under your true identity? Have I? Maybe so or maybe not. Only TED may know for sure!

        All that I can affirm here is that ME - I am NOT a TEDspeaker. And as things can go in this world, I count my blessings just to be able to post a few careful thoughts, just as I have here.
        • Jul 17 2013: Juan Valdez 10+ Your doing a bang up job.
          Keep it up.

          I am burning a torch on this subject because it has scared me
          that Americans can be manipulated within the borders of their
          own nation.

          The Rich and Wealthy seem to have gained control and want
          more control for some strange reason.

          If they once thought about how many years they have left to
          actually remain on the top of society, eating and drinking the best
          of foods and liquors, traveling and living the high life, before they
          fall victim to normal ailments of old age, they might stop this kind
          of tom-foolery.

          They all want to be Kings of some sort. Instead they become clowns.
  • Jul 16 2013: I don't believe boycotting works anymore, i.e. the bank bail-outs. If businesses are deemed "too big to fail", our society and democracy fails.
    • Jul 16 2013: M-L Reifschneider

      Another winner of the HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD award.

      The Treasury paid businesses deemed "too big to fail",
      our society and democracy fails. It has.
  • thumb
    Jul 16 2013: Let me preface this with saying this is my professional field. I am a privacy rights advocate, and was the founding executive director of the Tor Project, which is a nonprofit involved in online privacy rights. I am not a lawyer, but I know enough to sound like one, which makes me dangerous. ;)

    The large companies operate under US law as communications carriers. The internet isn't that much different, ultimately, from the phone system -- telecommunications systems are all regulated and licensed by the government. By itself, that would make it very hard for any large internet company to stand up to the government. There are thousands of ways, directly in terms of violating a request, and indirectly, that the federal government could make operations very difficult for these companies.

    Polls show that US citizens generally will support the government whenever the term "terrorism" is fielded. These companies have no reason to assume that they will have popular support in the case where the government declares them uncooperative and one morning, say, you can't get your Gmail because Google wouldn't help the feds fight terrorism.

    Imagine the stock price impact on GOOG. It would be evil.

    So, in the interest of being law abiding, Google cooperates.

    Might I suggest instead, that *we* stand up to the NSA? Have you contacted your congressional delegation? Considered supporting EFF, the ACLU, and other groups that fight for your online privacy rights? Have you thought about becoming personally politically active? The only way to stop this abuse ultimately is to abolish or reform the USA PATRIOT Act. That will take -- not Google and not nonprofits -- but an engaged and educated electorate.

    I suggest we get busy. (Check out my Google Plus for more suggestions, tag #bluerosemovement)
    • Jul 19 2013: Shava Nerad 10+ Ok, I will back down.
      You sound sincere. I apologize.

      I spent 3.8 hours today watching the CNN July 17, 2013
      House committee hearing on the NSA.

      This is something you might want to watch...

      In a week of emailing and telephoning politicians, writing
      TED conversations and the NY Times, the Guardian, BBC,
      Al Jazeera, and a few I'd rather not name, I have found
      the word is out.

      Congress has awakened to the fact that the FISA court is
      a rubber stamp for the NSA's activities with Prism and several
      other little sneaky spy programs on their separate internets.

      I will move on now to your next conversation.
  • thumb
    Jul 15 2013: Why on earth would Microsoft and Google chastise the government for participating in behavior they created and have no intention of stopping?
  • thumb
    Jul 15 2013: so we have a bully in the classroom, the US government, and the solution would be to demand the bullied, corporations, to stand up against it?

    what about the voter? the average US citizen? they are the bully we are talking about. they have elected politicians that regularly enact such abominations of laws. they are the ones watching oprah or football on TV, and just not giving a damn about their liberties taken away. why would microsoft protect something that people don't want and don't value? it is up to you, the american people, to put an end to the bullying your own elected government commits in your name.

    and you know what? you americans can stop lamenting, because being spied upon is a piece of cake compared to the treatment people of pakistan and other countries get.
    • Jul 15 2013: Krisztián Pintér 200+
      I know you are intelligent. It sparks when you write.
      So I will pose this. Please respond with your opine.

      Republican and Democrat leaders solicit and collect money
      from their faithful with professional money raisers 24/7/365.

      The monies are spent with the media.

      The media designs and produces entertainment and news
      that benefits those pay them.

      The media is therefore controlled as to content by the
      Republican and Democrat Leaders.

      The voters use the media to stay informed and make their
      decisions about voting based upon media input.

      Republican and Democrat Leaders select and groom their

      Republican and Democrat Leaders do not care which
      politician is elected.

      Republican and Democrat Leaders split the US government.

      Can you name them?
      After you do, are you sure?
      • thumb
        Jul 15 2013: i assume you don't think that the media controls your vote. it also does not control my vote (not in the US, so that won't help you out). so either you are that much smarter than the average, to the level that the average should not be allowed to vote, or what?

        i mean, bear with me for a second. if a person is so ignorant and dumb that his vote depends on what a pundit says on cable, what would this person's vote be without the tv? would it be a wise choice? can you imagine such a person suddenly becoming a responsible voter, just because the tv stopped talking? i can't possibly imagine that. if people are that dumb, democracy is a failure beyond repair.

        (btw it is exactly what i'm suggesting. democracy must go, because it is not a workable social model.)
        • Jul 15 2013: Krisztián Pintér 200+

          WoW !!!
          You are so right.
          Is there a phrase to describe "more than right"?

          This Federation was not started by poor people.
          The Wealthy ones did the deed.

          I've heard that a Confederation would be better, but I haven't
          bothered to read the differences.

          Geographical Government(s) are all about control.
          They control the land apportionment , they define commerce,
          they create the rules of business structures, they create the
          worth of the monies, and they control the military.

          They do these things with a carrot and a stick.
          Limited Liability Laws for the players.
          Law Enforcement for everyone else.

          Internet has discovered a One Language.
          that is being used to present alternatives to their
          Geographical Government(s).

          In it's infancy now, One Language will need to grow
          up fast. The NSA and a hundred more programs will
          be used to stifle such an unanticipated threat to their
          Geographical Government(s).
        • Jul 15 2013: I disagree that democracy doesn't work. The problem we are facing is we no longer have a secular state. Where the real pressure is coming from is the pulpit. People here tend to vote in religious blocks, with religious morals and religious contempt. This country didn't start out that way, and influenced many countries away from religion as a power base. Unfortunately, Europe is now more secular than we are, they are progessing away from religious fervour, and heading towards humanism. If you look at the countries with the most problems, religion is right there up to it's armpits in zealots.
        • Jul 16 2013: Krisztián Pintér, I agree with your comment,

          but is a vote worth anything anymore, with so man financial corps in positions of power?
    • thumb
      Jul 16 2013: You think corporations are bullied in the United States of Corporations? That's cute but clearly you have no idea how the system works in the U.S.
      • thumb
        Jul 16 2013: i have. you can ask yourself: could microsoft or google one day decide: okay, we don't want to cooperate with the government anymore. we're done. sorry NSA, we changed our minds. could they do that?
  • thumb
    Jul 13 2013: If anything... Google and Microsoft should let their data out to the scientific communities, colleges and any registered researcher for free. The amount of information that is known by large internet companies, is phenomenal to explain...

    They know what SELLS and this is a big part of our normal psychology.

    The problem is... We were given the freedom to be informed, and we gave it away, we surrendered it slowly over the years by wanting the quick, fast and easy solution... - If not that way, through a mutant American dream; Miami Beach house, sports car, lots of parties and fun - those who knew-better-enough to take away our information by means of generating an over abundance of irrelevant information; politicians of the tyrannical-kind. Today, know-better to give what the people want, and these companies/corporations you have noted are easily able to market us what they want us to buy, just as easily as politicians want us to think we are deciding...

    If the knowledge of how to sell a child a red truck on a Tuesday at 6 P.M for an inflated price - exist. Then with the same knowledge, in data, can allow us the understanding to teach a child physics at 6 years old.


    I'm ignoring your question entirely, because these injustices are long over due. We have been blind for so long now, when an exact target (NSA) comes under way for people to point fingers at... they have NO-TO-LITTLE idea of the entire system that is involved in such a degree of programing for these special agents to figure out whatever it is they are looking for.. The idea is literally crazy..

    With the knowledge of how people think collectively, as a culture or society... And the ability to supplement that with data about our behaviors online... A crazy amount of philosophy of the mind, resolved.

    We need total transparency for everyone period
    • Jul 14 2013: Nicholas Lukowiak 50+

      You like to entice with a tidbit.
      Edward Bernays, hmmm. Good start.

      Jagdish N Bhagwati
      Frank Lechner;
      John Boli;
      K B Ghimire
      Luis A Fernandez
      Gwyn Williams
      and another 1443 others authors.
      All trying to show how the NSA types can exist
      through manipulation.

      Maybe we can rise above democracy with the
      certain demise of Geographic Governments.
      Transparency is the way. I agree.
      • thumb
        Jul 14 2013: It's not just government bodies though, it is also big corporations that just have access to huge amounts of data about people, with paradigms that are designed for propaganda, marketing and profit.
        • thumb
          Jul 14 2013: It is worthy of note that these "big corporations" are held in check by the free market that has aided the consumer in greater and greater benefit to the consumer.
        • Jul 14 2013: Nicholas Lukowiak 50+ Thank you
          I must agree first with pat gilbert 100+ .

          The free market would help our US Geographical Government provided
          the current Commerce policies can be changed by an enlightened Congress, Administration, and then endorsed by the Supreme Court, as constitutional.

          Limited Liability Laws need restructured or eliminated altogether, and the
          present make-up of Corporate Structures needs be redesigned.
          Both to accommodate a more honest business model.

          But first the Security Issue has to be settled.
          The US and other Governments depend too much on False Diplomacy.
          Using Threats of Military might to add weight to any argument.
          This behavior must stop.
          ..The price paid in human lives is too high.
        • Jul 16 2013: Government has no power anymore. They have been bought, lock, stock and barrel by the handful of CEO's and Corporations who form our plutocracy. The Internet is simply one more corporation to have joined this greedy bandwagon of rulers! Want proof? Just look at how many citizens are disgusted with our government and have given up voting/petitioning knowing no one listens!
      • thumb
        Jul 14 2013: Big business makes the market... Wal-Mart and similar stores, have destroyed small-town America.. Nothing is checking them, that is the problem - 6 corporations handle the major food productions in America. 5 for entertainment (movies, television, magazines, newspapers, etc). Nothing is keeping any type of big corporation in check, that is a lie, false, not true - imaginary.

        The consumer is programed to consume certain products and goods there is only an illusion of choice. If you were to boycott these major corporations in America, in every way possible, it would be a full time job and effort to live a normal life.

        There is truth to those who just call Americans mindless sheep - the problem is, we know we are sheep as a nation, but see no other way of behaving.

        Global Economics is not nearly as simple as an university-level curriculum that says "if you have two cows, you sell one to buy three chickens to make eggs and milk" but in reality - "if you have two cows, we will tax you for having them, and the milk they produce, AND tax you in order to have their milk sold at market - while having to compete in the market with multibillion dollar companies that lobby within legal rights, to make small business owning impossible, by getting laws pass in their (the corporation's) favor which cheat the little guy out of a job."
        • Jul 14 2013: Nicholas Lukowiak 50+
          Please summarize at the end. It might help me make sense of
          what you wrote.

          You lost me at -- "Big business makes the market... "

    • Comment deleted

      • Jul 14 2013: TED FRIEND

        Yup, your right.

        But, it's kind of like when the Cop was breaking into a home. His partner Cop said,
        "We can't use anything we find inside, to arrest and convict, if we break in..."
        The first Cop replied, "We aren't going to court. We're just breaking and entering."

        Like the NSA putting bloodhound-dogs on the scent. Regardless of TOS or EULA.
        ...Your scent. snif snif snif
      • Jul 16 2013: Ted: I think you are missing the point that both large corporations ,, and the government can successfully get around the "Contractual Obligations" , whether you're talking about a commercial contract, or the Constitution itself. All it takes to hire the best of lawyers, judges, and Legislators is lots of money. And corporations, for some reason, never die.
  • Gar K

    • +1
    Jul 24 2013: At many other places in the world there are struggling innocents who are being abused by their families and communities, who have nobody to intervene on their behalf. Talk and negotiation are not likely to help in these situations, any more than having a conversation is likely to help someone trapped in a burning building.

    If these children were trapped in a mine shaft instead, few of us would have any qualms about undertaking a risky mission to rescue them, even if there was a risk of the shaft collapsing in the attempt--with potential loss of life of the rescuers or the children--or even if people were shooting at the rescuers.

    I realize it is potentially naive to frame many of today's military excursions as humanitarian rescue missions, given various other nefarious motives in the picture, but I do believe strong collective effort is needed to rescue innocent people from brutal treatment in their communities, or by their governments.

    p.s. I really respect the fact that you have given a thumbs up to these comments despite disagreeing! It is a very honourable discourse which I respect very much.
    • Jul 24 2013: Gar K - Thank you
      I believe in America. 3/4 of a century I have watched with dismay some of
      the decisions made by our government. But, I've always had hope that times
      would change for the better.

      Right now, we are mired in a time when the soft life of privilege has caused
      us to forget to tend the fires. ..As they wink out and grow cold, the wolves of
      greed rise and come closer. There are no guards to protect us. ...The military
      belongs to the wolves. ..A disheartening situation. ...Our peoples no longer
      can remember when we had to be watchful. ..Those who suffered most in the
      past century are today dead. I cry wolf. Not enough for the people to hear.
      They will dance around the maypole, for a while yet.
    • Jul 25 2013: Gar K - You've been an inspiration.
      Congress voted 217-214 to keep the NSA as it is.

      We cannot it seems change the world into a better thing.
      But we can sure as heck try.
      Thank you.
  • Comment deleted

    • Jul 24 2013: John Moonstroller 30+ Thank you for your opinion.
      I challenge your input.
      You, I disagree with completely.

      Our nation is having a problem with it's administration.
      To do nothing will more than likely cost us all dearly.

      That you do not believe me, is your right as an American.
      I respect your constitutional right to fight for your beliefs.
      If TED decides in your favor, you win.

      This is a debate. TED may well be the judge and jury.

      I can only hope they look at all of your conversations.
      Especially the ones I consider uncalled for discourses to a lady.
      I question only your manners, john.
  • Gar K

    • +1
    Jul 24 2013: Once again, I think there have been terrible injustices committed by most of the groups involved.

    I do encourage a thought experiment, though: suppose your own nation, or neighborhood, or state, etc. was being ruled by a fanatical tyrant: neighbours were being taken away, tortured, executed, etc.; the wealth of the region was being channeled into diamond-studded mansions by the dictator. No freedom of speech, for fear of death. Attempts to challenge the regime locally would be suicidal, due to the massive power imbalance.

    Would you, as a citizen in that neighborhood, be okay with the idea of a foreign power (let's say China) who might be seen to have economic interests in the region, intervening militarily to overthrow the dictator?
    I probably would welcome that myself. I could understand many would not. I would have my doubts and fears that the so-called "liberating" army would actually be trying to take advantage of the place in some way, or would disrespect the culture of the neighborhood, etc. I would also be afraid the "liberators" wouldn't actually leave. But still, I would rather something substantial be done, rather than the rest of the world just sitting sympathetically and talking about it and doing little else of help!

    For a discussion of military/violent death rates through history, I refer you to Steven Pinker's TED talk called "the surprising decline in violence." His thesis is that there has been a phenomenal reduction in death rates from violence and war of all sorts, through history, starting with a base rate of 15% (15 000 per 100 000) in early human history, down to 0.3 per 100 000 per year (on average) in the 20th century. This fact does not lessen the terrible horrors of war or violence that we have seen this century, but it does offer hope that we are actually moving forward over time, rather than regressing, in terms of peacefulness, and maybe actually doing some things right.
    • Jul 24 2013: Gar K The library is closed.

      Unfortunately at today's time and place. Innocents are being struck down
      by ill-advised Drones and Hell Fire Missiles.

      Shall I shut my mouth and be quiet when such is occurring?
      Do I read the percentage tables and feel assured that I can sleep well
      when I know the peoples who cry cannot be silent. Their maiming's are
      to horrible. They can only wait to die. 3,000 wee children. How much
      does that rattle the pages of statistics?

      A discussion of death rates, and Steven Pinker's TED talk, cannot mend
      wee children. Cannot bring back innocence - innocent Collateral Damaged
      Dead and Maimed destroyed bodies. Those peoples cannot agree that we
      are maybe actually doing some things right.

      Gar K -- This didn't happen last year. This happened today, last night, all
      the days of last week, and last month, all the days before..

      Throw down your statistics, pick up your compassion.
      Write, Email, Phone, and tell the US President to Stop the murders.
  • Comment deleted

    • Jul 25 2013: John Moonstroller 30+

      Well John, you are victorious in Congress today,
      as they defeated by 12 votes my wished for result.

      I would have liked to have had a conversation with you.
      Too bad you're such a malevolent sort.

      If you can bend, please apologize to Kate.
      That was uncalled for.

      Have a great life.
  • Gar K

    • +1
    Jul 23 2013: Deaths from war and violence have been declining steadily over time, on a global scale, particularly if you consider this on a per-capita basis. This fact does not improve the lot of those stuck in war-ravaged countries right now, but I think we must take a long view of the matter, and be careful not to be so reflexively vitriolic towards American policy and militarism that we lose sight of the fact that American influence in the 20th century has been a major stabilizing factor for the whole world.

    I might add that the U.S. is the only nation in history which at one point had the unequaled and unequivocal power to take over the whole earth with ease -- that is when the U.S. was briefly the sole possessor of nuclear warfare technology -- but instead of taking over the earth, it devoted its energy into helping rebuild Europe, etc. , and shared its military power with allies. No other nation which was the sole possessor of an ultimate weapon has actually restrained itself from using it.

    This does not excuse the many mistakes and abuses of U.S. policies over the decades (on the parts of government, military escapades, and big businesses), but the U.S. has been a great stabilizer overall, and not simply some kind of demonic force.

    Please refer to data such as from Hans Rosling's talks, to show that improvements in poverty have been a major driving force in improving many of the world's problems. Once again, U.S. influence has been a factor in this change as well, although I certainly agree that it could be, and could have been, much more favourable yet had the foreign policy been different.
    • Jul 24 2013: Gar K --
      I love Hans Rosling's talks as well. He is a unique individual.

      You are wrong !!!
      The numbers of lives lost to Wars in the 20th century.
      Is an appalling figure. It leads such Historic accomplishments

      American militarism in the 20th century has been a major stabilizing
      factor for the whole world. ..56+ armed conflicts since WW2, using
      a policy of making pre-emptive wars upon other nation's shores.

      The killing's and maiming's of innocent men, women, and wee children.
      The most recent Collateral Damages has risen to 5,000 by Drones and
      Hell Fire Missiles. 60% or 3,000 killed and maimed are wee children.
      I ask you. When is enough revenge? Can you answer Gar K?
      You defend -- simply some kind of demonic force. How sad.
      Pre-emptive wars are paid with taxed-payer dollars to Bankers
      who have financed America's wars and armed conflicts
      lo these 237 years,
      Rebuilding Europe and Iraq utilizing American & foreign Contractors,
      (example Halliburton), and others. With Non-bid contracts far overpaid by
      willing Banker's loans, being rolled every 90 days in a never ending process,
      as the American peoples are taxed-to-pay. The reasons for said loans soon
      forgotten and become merely a tic upon the page.

      But, I write this not to chide you, just to bring it forth.
  • Jul 23 2013: I wrote this below in response to another conversationalist.
    I feel it is descriptive of the problem, and I want to share it with all.
    It is the Weapons manufacturers that are the problem.

    That the solution is not easy, is not the problem. The problem is War.
    The United States has a Department of State. But it's Embassies are
    home to Spies. How can Spies with evil intent make peace?
    You ask:
    "How do you feel about terrorists who maim and kill human beings?"
    ...Terrible of course. ..But I understand those "Revengeful People"...

    Our Department of State should negotiate a peaceful settlement.
    --The problem is we have a Geographical Government within borders, and
    they do not know how to negotiate peace with Ungoverned Nomadic Peoples
    who seek rightful revenge.
    --As a result, our inept President orders his Military toys to find and kill them
    from a list compiled by US Government Secret Surveillance Agencies, who
    collect data with electronic means, but, without asking our permission.
    A violation of both the 1st and 4th Amendments. Our Constitutional Protections.
    Presidential WAR is a never ending board game played in the White House.
    A game of War Excesses that costs Trillions of Dollars that the US Government
    must borrow from Foreign Nation's and Domestic FED Bankers.

    Bankers have been financing Monarch Wars for 2,000 years.
    The peoples must pay, and that is how enslavement is borne. (a pun)

    Mums the word about those loans being "rolled over, and over, and over, and over.
    The interest rates rising ever upwards. ..The Bankers rich beyond human belief.
    Making their monies from their eager facilitation of the Killing and Maiming since
    9/11/2001, of 5,000 innocent men women and wee children, as Collateral Damages
    done by Drones and Hell-Fire Missiles. 60% of the Collateral Damages are Children.

    60% equals 3,000 wee children.

    Peace is never achieved. ..Only Wars, one after another, never ending.
    • Comment deleted

  • thumb
    Jul 21 2013: 'Will doing nothing work?'

    Yes, but not for US!
    • Jul 21 2013: Lejan . 30+ thanks for these items.
      I am going to skip those last three you sent me
      until I can do the links. Then one at a time.

      We need to simplify all of this to concrete and provable discovery.

      We may have enough Proofs, to substantiate our fears, right now.
      But we have to alert people in a common-sense fashion.
      Otherwise they will dismiss to their eventual "enslavement", which
      by the way is too strong a word to use at this juncture. It just
      will not be believed. ..And, as those secret agencies become
      stronger, it will become too late to cause change.
      The folks who daily go about their business have little interest in
      snooping into their government's business. ..They have since being
      wee children heard that Democracy is the only way to fly. ..It is the
      only government that works for the benefit of us all. ..I was taught
      the same things. ..And on paper it works. ..But the evidence today
      is showing an evolving threat.

      Today's threat had it's start many years ago. Other nuts in our society
      were yelling and screaming and pulling their hair about a secret
      takeover of our nation's government by dastardly sorts.

      We all paid no attention. They were nuts. ..Right ??? ..Right !!!

      Maybe there might have been a tiny bit of truth in their warnings.
      Ya think?
      • thumb
        Jul 21 2013: 'The folks who daily go about their business have little interest in snooping into their government's business...'

        That's what I called 'games & bread' before and this is part of the problem.

        When talking to my friends I either find them to exhausted, to stressed out by their jobs for them to have any energy left to react, or they are just bored and disillusioned about the constant same 'bla, bla' on main stream media, and choose to ignore it. Or they simple don't care anymore by the feeling of powerlessness against all whats going on around them.

        As I see it, to many people in Germany are still not endangered enough in their 'comfort zone'. Well, it hurts here and there a little, but still not enough to be really painful.

        In Greece and Spain for instance, the situation looks different for many people, and the resulting rage is capable to put them on general strike, to force their governments to take notice of their right to disagree!

        You won't make people understand the situation they are in by appealing on their 'common sense'.

        Especially if you are trying to use the 'KISS' principle, as the subject is far more to complex to be squeezed into it. Sure you can simplify things, but then it is easy to wipe your arguments away by just naming you a 'conspiracy theorist'.

        Personally I find it very difficult to find good sources of information to gain a clear view on things, as all information is biased, and many times you can't isolate the true origins of it. And all those searches take time, in times, where the speed of chances has accelerated beyond our capacity.

        So if your neighbor Bob has not yet reacted vigorously on the facts, what alone the Patriot Act took away off his individual freedom, what more do you think he needs to finally get it?

        How do you explain hunger to a well-nourished, distracted being? How do you spark interest on 'difficult' topics, if 'Sex in the City' is so much more fun to watch?
        • Jul 21 2013: Lejan . 30+ thumbs up..
          You've won the HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD award.
          America's just a sleeping village, with no idea of ambush.
          You've got to be kidding !!!
          No one said it would be easy when 2 reporters went after Nixon.
          But, they persisted and Nixon went bye bye.
          Today, this is a different time. And the cast of characters are different.

          Cranking up the Congress to investigate Obama might be an impossible
          task, considering we have only a "secret" smoking gun as our evidence.

          And, .. "Follow the Money" may be impossible to do, unless the IRS
          has any teeth left to search the Corporation's returns.

          Remember, recently,
          the IRS got shaken up a bit. A scandal.
          At the time a plausible circumstance. ..Easily believable by most who
          do not love the IRS much.
          ..Would that have slowed them down in this arena?
          ..Could the scheduled congressional roasting of the NSA, yet to be
          held, have been a factor? ..Remember we are talking about some very
          smart people who think far in advance, and act accordingly.

          The FBI has a brand new Director.
          The DHS also has a brand new Director.
          the IRS would need some help with enforcement.
          And they have a brand new Director of sorts.
          Are you starting to get the idea?

          I wish it were Obama that is toast.
          ..But I think we are the toast, burnt toast.
          Something else a bit far-fetched perhaps...
          The IRS's big tax collection center is in the State of Utah.
          The NSA's big data collection center is under construction
          in the State of Utah. I love conspiracy theories.

          Go back to sleep America, you don't want to miss your nightmare.
      • thumb
        Jul 21 2013: I think we are in a state of a collective realization and courage paralysis, which root deep in our well established 'fun society'.

        How else is it explainable that there was no collective outcry when it came out, that the icon of our information society, the iPhone, was spying on its user? Nothing! We became that blind, that we even choose freely to bug our-selfs.

        In old days, they had at least to come into your home to tap you telephone lines. Today they only color them, put some apps on it, some MP3's, and people even buy them freely... What are we doing here? I have no clue about it...

        If the freedom of our privacy would have been of any value to us, one would assume, companies like Apple would have faced a major drop in sales and rise in legal proceedings ... but, it didn't happen, on the contrary ...

        Facing this depth and level of magnitude of our very ignorance, what else than high-velocity-impact of negative 'reality projectiles' into our personal experience was able to penetrate that?

        For now it seems to have to become that way for the majority of the people ...

        The loudest to my ears so far, was the Occupy Movement, but even they seem to have lost their momentum at the moment ...
        • Jul 21 2013: Lejan . 30+
          I heard from one source or another that Microsoft had it's stock price
          drop fourteen percent 14%. That may have been the catalyst for those
          recent changes at the topmost levels

          Our job, keep telling it like it is.

          A practice that will get old for us very quickly.
          I cannot imagine 3 more weeks of this conversation.
          I am becoming immune to the right things our government does.
          Being Stalwart sound great, but in practice it's hard.

          I can understand Ambition. I have experienced a life of such.
          I can understand Greed. I have been greedy to excess in my life.
          So, when I see before my eyes, both traits blatantly exposed.
          I want to show them to my countrymen and women for what they are.
  • Jul 20 2013: Daniel Early Before I look at the link. thank you

    Yes, I think we have lit the fire here on TED.
    TED is the most respected site by far, world wide.
    You are a part of it Daniel. Thank you.

    I believe that when Bill Gates gave his speech the other day
    to Microsoft's employees, he lit a fire himself. I hope that I am right.

    America's peoples want a peaceful existence. We do not need to be
    afraid of foreign nor domestic threats that are created by our Federal
    Governments' thoughtless Collateral Damages that kill and maim
    innocent men, women, and wee children, and create Revengeful
    peoples, with hatred and blood in their eyes.

    Today, the number of dead and maimed wee children total more than
    all the 9/11 WTC Twin Tower deaths.
    How much more blood must we spill? When is enough, enough?
    This "Overkill" has to stop.
    • Comment deleted

      • Jul 21 2013: John Moonstroller 30+

        Well John, your way hasn't worked has it?
        As far as history is concerned, you've not gone back far enough.

        If your idea of government should ever get to thinking like you do.
        Pretty soon they will give you a job. ..You can tattle on your neighbor
        and watch the results. Or have you forgotten 1934 forward.

        You wrote --
        There is only one way to defend ourselves against this type of logistical strategy
        ...... screen the communications of everyone to see who is the bad guys.

        Ok John, If I give you that point, answer me this.

        Why didn't and why doesn't the Paid Corporate Partners that provide this type
        of - "logistical strategy, - the screening of the communications of everyone
        to see who are the Bad Guys" - to the NSA, ask our permission to do so?

        Isn't Not doing that, a clear violation
        of both 1st and 4th Amendments to the United States Constitution?
        .. Amendments put there to prohibit the government from overstepping
        their mandate.
        John, the NSA and other US Spy agencies have been doing this since the
        1970's, or a bit before. ...They don't bother to tell us.
        The Congress gives them Taxed-dollars that we provide, A Black Budget with
        Zero Congressional over-sight on how they spend the money. That is Crazy.
        We don't have any say in the matter. If we get a judge involved, they oppose,
        all the way.

        John your wrong. Simply put, what you write is Propaganda.
      • Jul 21 2013: John Moonstroller 30+

        You forgot to copy the important part of what I wrote...
        I've done it here for you John.

        "Today, the number of dead and maimed wee children total more than
        all the 9/11 WTC Twin Tower deaths.
        How much more blood must we spill? When is enough, enough?
        This "Overkill" has to stop."

        The US is a killing machine. Sad but True.
      • Jul 21 2013: John Moonstroller 30+ You are a hawk.

        I cannot continue to read your conversation.
        Please find another eye. .