Poch Peralta

Freelance Writer / Blogger,


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Should We Care Now that NSA Surveillance is Ruled Unconstitutional?

Do you think NSA private intrusions will stop now?

'It’s no surprise that NSA’s flagrant data collection of encrypted cellular data is unconstitutional, but for the first time since the Snowden leaks, a Federal Judge has ruled the practice unconstitutional and demanded that the metadata be permanently erased. For now, the judicial order will be suspended until the Federal Government appeals to higher courts.

'The troubling part about the NSA is the way the agency has completely disregarded the constitutional rights of citizens, but for most Americans, that is OK. When asked whether the agency should intrude on privacy rights for the sake of national security, 62% of Americans think the NSA should investigate, even if it intrudes on privacy. About 45% of respondents said the government should monitor email and online activities in order to prevent future attacks – only 52% thought it was not necessary...'

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    Dec 18 2013: They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
    - Benjamin Franklin
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      Dec 18 2013: I wonder Lawren if Franklin can say that if he's living in our century.
      • Dec 18 2013: Probably something like this: They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
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          Dec 18 2013: That was exactly what Lawren quoted before.
      • Dec 18 2013: That was my point Poch... I think he would say the same thing, it is a valid now as it was hundreds of years ago. That's the beauty of Truth... it's timeless.
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          Dec 18 2013: Sorry for being slow sir.

          'That's the beauty of Truth... it's timeless...'

          If this is an original statement, it should be eternal. It's beautiful philosophy!
          So my being slow produced it and was not a waste lol
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    Dec 29 2013: no for two reasons.

    1. the US law drew a fuzzy and ambiguous line what the NSA can and can not do. the debate is whether NSA crossed that line or not. it matters very little. the line itself is drawn way too far. it is not about the NSA, it is about the law.

    2. laws and the constitution are created by man. it is clearly the intent of the US government, and the US population to have these extremely powerful organizations to "protect" citizens. even if the NSA did not comply with the code, it is not a problem with NSA, as seen by the masses, but a problem with the code. the code must be fixed, so the NSA can continue "protecting" the people.

    the NSA is not the culprit here. it is the mentality of the people. people that accept an invasion in their private lives in exchange for more security. this mindset needs to change. and with it, everything else changes automatically.
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      Dec 29 2013: The laws, the code, and the people's mindset.
      Thanks for those excellent points Krisztian.
  • Dec 24 2013: To put it bluntly, all the governmental "surveillance for the sake of the public safety" are more or less used by most authoritarian regimes to discover the individual private life/communication of the citizens; i.e. violation of their constitutional rights. Therefore, there should be at least a absolute MINIMUM or BASELINE for personal liberty or rights that would reasonably protect the private citizens from being persecuted. For example, when a charity or church asks for a nontaxable status, they are not required to report the names of their contributors in order to be granted as a nonprofit entity. But the IRS asked certain political committees to report such list of contributors, otherwise they will delay the nonprofit status permission. In other words, there are only narrow differences between a delay of permission of nonprofit status and a trumped up persecution, or so-called "liquidation", by an authoritarian government, if there are no baseline protection of individual rights or privacy under the Constitution.
    Furthermore, the real communications among the terrorists, are probably by personal contact, or by brief and coded (often the codes are used, temporarily, only once) short phone calls or emails.The chance of the detection by reading, say, billions of such "conversations" is so "unlikely" that it is not really practical at all.
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      Dec 24 2013: 'Furthermore, the real communications among the terrorists, are probably by personal contact, or by brief and coded (often the codes are used, temporarily, only once) short phone calls or emails.The chance of the detection by reading, say, billions of such "conversations" is so "unlikely" that it is not really practical at all

      Now that's an excellent, maybe the best reason, why NSA should stop privacy intrusion.
      Just like the TSA which is not netting any terrorist but is being shamed by being proven
      ineffective again and again.
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    Dec 24 2013: Some of us have cared for decades, and this doesn't change anything. Others will never care.
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      Dec 24 2013: Right Fred. We have cared for decades and others will never care.
      But as Keith said, we can instigate change by being responsible first.
      Without accepting individual responsibility, suicidal apathy would result.
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        Dec 24 2013: Absolutely, and we should. But we face an uphill battle.

        Suicidal apathy and responsibility coexist today, I think. Perhaps they always have, and always will. Had the clipper chip been instated, I imagine there would've been just as much widespread apathy as there is with the NSA leaks. But we owe a lot to the handful of people who rightfully panicked and took initiative. I can only imagine what digital commerce would be like today had Whit Diffie not foreseen a digital dystopia. Perhaps the people who care are just those burdened with the understanding of the threats at hand. I would hope everyone would care if they understood them. It seems that with much of the apathy around us today, there's a degree of helplessness. They've just given up caring, because they don't feel they stand a chance.

        It's really a battle of policy and technology. Fighting just one isn't going to work. For example, Bitcoin is a remarkable innovation that circumvents the technical issue of a controlling authority. But if Bitcoin exchanges aren't allowed within a country, then for those citizens its essentially worthless. We won the legal battle against the clipper chip, but the NSA went ahead and subverted crypto implementations anyway. But had we lost, the situation would be much worse.

        So on one hand, we want a free society, and we have expectations as to what rights should be respected, and where our tax dollars go. On the other hand, we can never expect them to just "not look". From a security perspective, private companies and nation-states should monitor their networks, and people using those networks should have the technical tools to protect the information they wish to protect. Things should be built with security and privacy in mind. They've done a great job with the credit card industry. Imagine if the establishment put just as effort into securing our communications. Emails and phone calls are easy to intercept because the security of the technologies is horrendous.
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          Dec 24 2013: Yes sir. It's an uphill battle we're fighting. And that's
          the reason why we can't blame those who surrender to apathy. Concerning
          Bitcoin, I think it's one of those suppressed tech that's being slowly killed.
          I'm amazed how much black propaganda is being thrown at it.

          I advise you not to use the credit card as an example of secure tech.
          Here's why:

          'There's a reason millions of credit cards can be stolen from Target at once -- and will continue happening in the future: Our payment system of plastic cards with magnetic stripes is outdated and fundamentally flawed...'
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        Dec 24 2013: Compared to Bitcoin, the current credit card system is analogous to businesses keeping databases of their customers' private keys. Surely the way we do business with credit cards today is not a good example of a secure system. But the issue here is that businesses feel it's more convenient to hold onto their customers' credit card information. I was more referring to the procedures that have been put in place to prevent fraud, such as ccv's, etc. The credit card industry's response to fraud is an example of the establishment perceiving a threat and taking initiative to mitigate it, to the best of their ability.

        Credit cards really seem to be the only example of this. I doubt SSL would've seen widespread adoption had it not been for the threat of credit card fraud. Meanwhile for email, I believe Gmail and Yahoo are the only two major providers that offer server-to-server TLS. The mainstream establishment hasn't woken up to email interception in the same way it has credit card fraud. Sim cards use DES encryption and phones sit on the air as open terminals accessible with a 6 digit password. When money talks, these companies take initiative, but they hardly ever implement security on principle.
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          Dec 24 2013: I'm sorry Fred I missed your point about Bitcoin
          but I get it now, thanks.

          By experience, eMail safety is easier for me. I don't even use the many
          self-destructing ones most of the time. Most Gmail users like me use it
          for business and that may be the reason why Gmail becomes vulnarable.
          The most reliable one in my opinion is the little-known Fastmail.fm.

          'When money talks, these companies take initiative, but they hardly
          ever implement security on principle.'

          You would be surprised at the increasing numbers of firms that act that way.
          It's in tech news every month.
  • Dec 19 2013: Pandora's box does not close for a constitution
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      Dec 19 2013: You're a philosopher aren't you sir?
      I guess what Keith said about your first reply applies here too:
      'That's the beauty of Truth... it's timeless...'
  • Dec 18 2013: Hi Poch, I see a fine line that at times may need to be stepped over for the better good. No man or government is innocent from breaking laws of our or their nation for the betterment of security. We have been tapping phone conversations since the great wars and all that the government or governments have done is to to keep up with the communication aspects of civilians. No one seems to like a cop until one is needed and then all but the criminal are thankful. The world has changed and I believe we need to keep up with the present technology to help preserve our ways of life. Growing up we never locked our car doors or homes, today we have car alarms and home security systems, it's a sad state of affairs but it is reality non-the-less.
    I thank you for the opportunity of this dialog. Russell
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      Dec 18 2013: 'No one seems to like a cop until one is needed
      and then all but the criminal are thankful.'

      I'm well aware of that situation Russell. I'm an activist but I don't condemn
      all law enforcers just because of the rotten few. It seems to me you are
      pro-NSA and I don't mind if that's the case. Don't be shy about your opinion.
      I'm just here to listen to both sides :-) and I'm very grateful you joined in.
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      Dec 18 2013: From the start I have been saying that all NSA activities have not been about stopping terrorist, pointing to the fact that the Boston Bomber was not predicted, IDed or located for captured by the NSA.
      And feel vindicated by Snowden recent open letter to Brazil.

      He states “These programs were never about terrorism: they're about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They're about power.”

      FYI: If you have not figured it out yet, NSA is also gathering all photo IDs to track those without cell phones. AI: you attend a government protest Sunday, drones takes photos of the crowd, face recognition software all that attended via ID photos, and every protester is sent to re-education camp Monday.
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        Dec 24 2013: Sorry Don I missed your reply. Yes, I follow anything
        significant about NSA and Snowden but your last paragraph which made
        me laugh a bit (thanks!) is news to me.
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    Dec 18 2013: Poch, I do not know how far any of this will go or will it be swept under the rug ... Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Presiding Judge John Bates told the government that granting its request was outside his power -- because it was illegal. Bates wrote this opinion after June 2010 and was declassified on Monday. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/20/nsa-fisa-court-opinion_n_4311787.html

    The article infers that the administration knew of all the issues and that intelligence agencies made statements to both Congress and the Court that significantly exaggerated this program's effectiveness.

    This points out the value of a president appointing judges, however all sides are shoring up the defenses for a possible big ugly federal law suit ... against everyone .... it could get real ugly real soon. Since only government attorneys are permitted to appear before the court the attorney Generals office is again deeply involved in this issue.

    The question is are the officials from the President, AG, CIA, FBI, NSA, etc ... exempt from the law. Since everyone was aware since 2010 (the Bates Opinion) are they in contempt?

    The American people have lost faith and the administrations credibility is gone. Would bringing all to trial be a healing process or further destroy the nation? Would it restore faith in the system? Would it put our leaders on notice that they are not above the law?

    More questions than answers.

    This is now political .... not about security or justice. It should get real interesting.

    Yeah we should care and be informed ... and not by bias media from either side.

    Be well. Bob.
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      Dec 18 2013: Wow Bob. Just reading all your questions exhausted me!

      'The question is are the officials from the President, AG, CIA, FBI, NSA, etc
      ... exempt from the law. Since everyone was aware since 2010 (the Bates
      Opinion) are they in contempt?...'

      I think it's obvious that they should be held in contempt BUT will that ever happen?

      'Would bringing all to trial be a healing process or further destroy the nation?...'

      This has been the hottest, most viral argument on the issue. The rallying point of pro
      NSA. Let me repeat their argument: 'What good would it do if the guilty are punished
      when chaos would ensue?' I ask: Why do they cry for the blood of Snowden when
      they don't want the 'guilty' punished?
  • Jan 1 2014: Since another Federal Judge has ruled the collection constitutional, I would expect this to go to the Supreme Court. It is interesting that the Judge that ruled it unconstitutional was appointed by Bush and the one the ruled it constitutional was appointed by Clinton.

    So long as the data is collected by the Phone and other companies, it will be available to the Federal Government if they want it. Phone companies have been collecting this data since the beginning. European and Asian phone companies collect even more data.
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      Jan 1 2014: So it now really shows that phone providers are the
      more unethical. Verizon and AT&T are even selling their customer's personal data.
      And European and Asian phone companies even more unethical!?
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    Dec 29 2013: What would you do if you suddenly find your cloud files are shielded by U.S. laws?
    NSA Win Leaves Security of Cell, Cloud Data Uncertain
    'The decision of a New York judge that the wholesale collection of cell-phone metadata by the National Security Agency is constitutional ties the score between pro- and anti-NSA forces at one victory apiece.

    'The contradictory decisions use similar reasoning and criteria to come to opposite conclusions, leaving both individuals and corporations uncertain of whether their phone calls, online activity or even data stored in the cloud will ultimately be shielded by U.S. laws protecting property, privacy or search and seizure by law-enforcement agencies...'
  • Dec 18 2013: Either we have rights, (constitution, bill of rights etc.) or we do not. A lot of people died so we could have those rights! Now you want to just give them up? Good luck, that's what the Jewish people did with Hitler. They trusted the government. It is pretty damn obvious we cannot trust the government anymore then that we do today. We the people have no control over our government it is totally controlled by corporations and it is clear they do not have our best interest in mind.
    This is not about workers (cops, nsa. cia, fbi or even military) there are all just slaves like us working for a dollar. We are being used and abused by people like the Rothchilds, Rockefellers, Kennedys, Chase, Morgans, Waltons the list goes on! They are the ones changing our laws to suit their whims and fill their pockets.
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      Dec 18 2013: The New World Order of the One Per Cent and the Corporate Mafia.
      Sad to think it seems only the Apocalypse will stop those devils Keith.
      • Dec 18 2013: Well that is certainly a solution but I have another solution which can act like a good virus. The Bahai's call it "Wage Peace". I call it be responsible. Teach responsibility to the children, that is where it has to start. Non-violent responsibility. If we were responsible there would be no need to spy on us.

        That is the problem in a nut shell. Be responsible.

        Today no one wants to take responsibility for their actions from the individual all the way up to the Supreme court. Corporations want No liability. Religions want no liability. Governments want no liability. Everybody wants someone else to pay for their mistakes. It is not sustainable. It is unequivocally INSANE!
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          Dec 18 2013: I got a TED convo reply that said educating children
          about responsible politics is one solution against apathy.
          It's almost the same as your solution to being responsible.
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          Dec 25 2013: There is a learning process that child psychologists call
          'Positive Reinforcement' which is acquired by making incentives
          for doing what is one's duty then rewarding the doer. I guess we
          could add the incentive 'for being responsible'.