January 24, 2014

Crisis: Snowden * 3, US gov. privacy board, international plan

   "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone.
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

Prev- crisis -Next  

#AskSnowden: Q&A Chat with Edward Snowden
'Not all spying is bad': Snowden calls for whistleblower
     protection in Q&A

3. US government privacy board says NSA bulk collection of
     phone data is illegal

4. US hints at Edward Snowden plea bargain to allow return
     from Russia
One Planet, One Internet: A Call To the International
     Community to Fight Against Mass Surveillance

About ME/CFS


This is yet another
crisis issue, with items about Edward Snowden, who did a Q&A yesterday, plus two items about the US government's Privacy Board and an international action plan against spying on any and all civilians. Also, this is loaded up some four hours earlier than is usual.

1. #AskSnowden: Q&A Chat with Edward Snowden

To start with, an article by the Common Dreams Staff on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows (and the links are in the original):
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden participated in a live online chat Thursday starting at 3 PM EST.

The forum was hosted on the Free Snowden website here, which is run by The Courage Foundation and is the only officially endorsed Snowden Defense Fund.

This comes exactly one week after U.S. President Barack Obama gave an address in response to the public concerns raised by Snowden’s revelations about US surveillance practices. In the live chat, Edward Snowden gave his first reaction to the President’s speech.

First, since this may be important to some, here is one of the above links:
In fact, you'll find there the same as you'll find on Common Dreams. I will not quote most of that, since you have two links, but I will quote two bits.

First quote:

@ferenstein what’s the worst and most realistic harm from bulk collection of data? Why do you think it outweighs national security? #AskSnowden

The worst and happening-right-now harm of bulk collection — which again, is a euphemism for mass surveillance — is two-fold.

The first is the chilling effect, which is well-understood. Study after study has show that human behavior changes when we know we’re being watched. Under observation, we act less free, which means we effectively *are* less free.

The second, less understood but far more sinister effect of these classified programs, is that they effectively create “permanent records” of our daily activities, even in the absence of any wrongdoing on our part. This enables a capability called “retroactive investigation,” where once you come to the government’s attention, they’ve got a very complete record of your daily activity going back, under current law, often as far as five years. You might not remember where you went to dinner on June 12th 2009, but the government does.

The power these records represent can’t be overstated. In fact, researchers have referred to this sort of data gathering as resulting in “databases of ruin,” where harmful and embarrassing details exist about even the most innocent individuals. The fact that these records are gathered without the government having any reasonable suspicion or probable cause justifying the seizure of data is so divorced from the domain of reason as to be incapable of ever being made lawful at all, and this view was endorsed as recently as today by the federal government’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight board.

Fundamentally, a society in which the pervasive monitoring of the sum of civil activity becomes routine is turning from the traditions of liberty toward what is an inherently illiberal infrastructure of preemptive investigation, a sort of quantified state where the least of actions are measured for propriety. I don’t seek to pass judgment in favor or against such a state in the short time I have here, only to declare that it is not the one we inherited, and should we as a society embrace it, it should be the result of public decision rather than closed conference.

Quite so. Second quote:

@Valio_ch #asksnowden Do you think that the Watchdog Report by Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board will have any impact at all?

I don’t see how Congress could ignore it, as it makes it clear there is no reason at all to maintain the 215 program. Let me quote from the official report:

“Cessation of the program would eliminate the privacy and civil liberties concerns associated with bulk collection without unduly hampering the government’s efforts, while ensuring that any governmental requests for telephone calling records are tailored to the needs of specific investigations.”

That was a brief one, and there is a lot more under the links.

2.  'Not all spying is bad': Snowden calls for whistleblower protection in Q&A

Next, an article by Adam Gabbatt in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:

The former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden on Thursday called for comprehensive whistleblower protection. He also insisted that not all spying is bad and said the US could take the lead in setting acceptable standards for targeted surveillance.

Taking part, from Russia, in an online Q&A, Snowden did not rule out a return to the US but criticised the Whistleblower Protection Act, the latest version of which was signed into law by President Obama in 2012, for making his return “not possible”. 

He also denied tricking colleagues at the contractor Booze Allen Hamilton into giving him their passwords and other login credentials to help him gather up secret NSA documents, an allegation made in a  Reuters report in November.  “With all due respect to [Reuters reporter] Mark Hosenball, the Reuters report that put this out there was simply wrong,” Snowden said.

Had stronger whistleblower protections been in place when, last year, he leaked thousands of documents to media outlets including the Guardian, Snowden said that he “might not have had to sacrifice so much”.

There is considerably more, but most of that is quoting from the links in section 1.

3.  US government privacy board says NSA bulk collection of phone data is illegal

Next, an article by Spencer Ackerman and Dan Roberts in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The US government’s privacy board has sharply rebuked President Barack Obama over the National Security Agency’s mass collection of American phone data, saying the program defended by Obama last week was illegal and ought to be shut down.

A divided Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent and long-troubled liberties advocate in the executive branch, issued a report on Thursday that concludes the NSA’s collection of every US phone record on a daily basis violates the legal restrictions of the statute cited to authorize it, section 215 of the Patriot Act.

“This program should be ended, allowing for a transition period,” board member James Dempsey said Thursday.

The recommendations of the five-member board, which featured two dissenters, amount to the strongest criticism within the US government yet of the highly controversial surveillance program, first disclosed by the Guardian thanks to whistleblower Edward Snowden. They give fresh support to congressional efforts at ending the practice on Capitol Hill – the main political battleground where the scope of surveillance will be readjusted this year. 

There is a lot more under the last dotted link.

4.  US hints at Edward Snowden plea bargain to allow return from Russia

Next, an article by Paul Lewis, Spence Ackerman and Dan Roberts in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The attorney general, Eric Holder, has indicated that the US could allow the national security whistleblower Edward Snowden to return from Russia under negotiated terms, saying he was prepared to “engage in conversation” with him.

Holder said in an MSNBC interview that full clemency would be “going too far”, but his comments suggest that US authorities are prepared to discuss a possible plea bargain with Snowden, who is living in exile in Russia.

Snowden, who took part in a live webchat at about the same time Holder’s remarks were made public, defended his leaks, saying weak whistleblower protection laws prevented him from raising his concerns through formal channels.

“If we had ... a real process in place, and reports of wrongdoing could be taken to real, independent arbiters rather than captured officials, I might not have had to sacrifice so much to do what at this point even the president seems to agree needed to be done,” Snowden said.

Again there is a lot more under the last dotted link.

5. One Planet, One Internet: A Call To the International Community to Fight Against Mass Surveillance

Finally, an article by Katitza Rodriguez, who is the Electronic Frontiers Foundation's International Rights Director, on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

The Snowden revelations have confirmed our worst fears about online spying. They show that the NSA and its allies have been building a global surveillance infrastructure to “master the internet” and spy on the world’s communications. These shady groups have undermined basic encryption standards, and riddled the Internet’s backbone with surveillance equipment. They have collected the phone records of hundreds of millions of people none of whom are suspected of any crime. They have swept up the electronic communications of millions of people at home and overseas indiscriminately, exploiting the digital technologies we use to connect and inform. They spy on the population of allies, and share that data with other organizations, all outside the rule of law.

We aren’t going to let the NSA and its allies ruin the Internet. Inspired by the memory of Aaron Swartz, fueled by our victory against SOPA and ACTA, the global digital rights community are uniting to fight back.

There is considerably more under the last link, that includes a list of the organizations that support this, that in turn includes Amnesty International.



[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, thay the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servant of laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

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 Komarof

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)[2]

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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