July 5, 2013
Crisis: Fourth Amendment, NSA + Phone Surveillance, Stasi vs NSA
    "Those who sacrifice liberty for
      security deserve neither."
         -- Benjamin Franklin

Prev- crisis -Next

1.  Restore the Fourth!
NSA Surveillance Program Explained
Government Phone Surveillance for Dummies
4.  Stasi vs. The NSA Back to Back
About ME/CFS


It still is the case that sleeping remains quite difficult for me. This also makes my life rather difficult, at the moment.

Anyway. Yesterday there was an item about my site, that was caused by the discovery that the opening site was not everywhere properly downloaded.

Today I am back at the crisis, with an item on a grassroots movement that seeks to restore the fourth amendment to the constitution; an item that explains the NSA program point by point; another item that explains government phone surveillance point by point; and a final item that compares, on a rough basis, the amount of information the GDR Stasi collected, and the amount of information the NSA collects.

1. Restore the Fourth!

First, there is a grassroots movement in development, called

This I found on Common Dreams, and it is by Andrea Germanos and starts thus:

In over a hundred cities across the U.S. and on major websites this July 4th holiday, a grassroots movement is pushing back against newly revealed dragnet spying by the NSA in what may be a "turning point for opposing mass government surveillance."

The newly launched movement, Restore the Fourth, explains that it

aims to end all forms of unconstitutional surveillance of digital communications by the United States government. One specific program Restore the Fourth seeks to discontinue is known as PRISM, which is directed by the National Security Agency.

The spying programs are a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the group says.

For more, you have to follow the last dotted link, but I will give you the logo:

I do not know whether this will succeed; I do know this, or a similar kind of movement, is necessary to succeed.

2.  NSA Surveillance Program Explained

Next, here is a link to a point by point explanation of the NSA surveillance program, originally on the Daily Beast, by Caitlin Dickson:
Note this is four weeks old. I list it because it is basic, simple and easy to understand. Something similar holds for the next item.

3.  Government Phone Surveillance for Dummies

This also is a month old, and point by point, but it is quite good and by Megan Garber:

It also rightly notes that

Basically, the government is binge-watching Americans.

Here is part of the explanation how the U.S. government tries to elude the Fourth Amendment:

So the Fourth Amendment generally requires that the government obtain a warrant when it's seeking private information about individual citizens. And the warrant, in turn, should be granted based on probable cause. There's a slight exception to that broad approach, though. Many Supreme Court rulings have held that you don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes, specifically, to information you share with a third party. 

And the courts have now applied that standard to other areas. Which generally makes sense, except for one substantial tension. As David Cole, a Georgetown law professor who focuses on national security and constitutional law, told me: "Basically, everything you do now shares information with a third party." The numbers you dial on the phone, the amount of time you spend on the phone, the location from which you make a phone call -- all of that, because of how our technologies and businesses are structured, is de facto shared with the third party that is your phone company.

The points are, of course:

  • The proviso that "specifically, to information you share with a third party" is not part of the Fourth Amendment [1] - though it very well might have been, and then would have insisted that snail-mail is entrusted to a third party, and "therefore" may be opened, without any probable cause.
  • The proviso that "specifically, to information you share with a third party" is both completely arbitrary, and violates the Fourth Amendment, and makes all privacy in so far as this involves internet totally defunct.

4.   Stasi vs. The NSA Back to Back:

One of the things that is quite frightening is how few people find this frightening.

Here is an article by Rick Falkvinge, who tries to explain how enormously much the NSA and its corporations like Booze Allen know, compared to what the Stasi - the governments security agency in the now defunct "socialist" German Democrat Republic knew:

The means Falkvinge - or rather: his source - uses is the amount of the data gathered. The final outcome is (with pictures suppressed):

So where the hated Stasi archives were a full building in Berlin, in an apples-to-apples comparison, the NSA archives would cover the Eastern part of Europe, the entire Middle East, and a good chunk of northeastern Africa. That kind of establishes the orders of magnitude we’re dealing with.

I think most people had a hunch that the NSA could be just as bad as the old Stasi, or possibly even slightly worse. This kind of visual apples-to-apples comparison is necessary to establish just how much worse. Humans are terrible at grasping orders of magnitude at an intuitive level.

So where the hated Stasi surveillance was a building in area, the NSA surveillance today is an entire continent.

And the fact that human beings are not good at all at comparing non-linear dimensions is one of the points to include this article. 

Also note that the actual numbers do not matter much. What matters is, first and foremost, that the NSA is gathering far more than the Stasi, and secondly, that if this is not radically stopped, it will be radically abused, by the few who have access to the system.

Finally, some other important points are these:

  • Clearly, the great majority of the data gathered will not be used - but the point is:
  • What matters is that all your data are in the system, and may be used, for any purpose, at the behest of some future government.
  • Besides, it will hit many and indeed most people indirectly: Because they know somebody who knows somebody (etc.) who gets actively researched, they get actively researched themselves.
[1] Here is the text of the Fourth Amendment
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
-- Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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