You say Police State, I say potato. Either way let's discuss surveillance and government overreach.

I think the big breakdown in this discussion is this.

- People who think the US is a police state are concerned by what the government *CAN* do more than what the government is actually doing.

- People who think the US isn't a police state are concerned with what the governing *IS ACTUALLY* doing more than what it can do.

So, yeah, there's very little anecdotal evidence that Americans not associated with Al Qaida are frequently rounded up and tortured. On the other hand, the examples of things like this actually happening prove that it can happen to anyone. That a line has been crossed. Our emails are read. Our phones are tapped. And some Americans have been assassinated or taken into custody without a trial. This is enough for many of us to be concerned. We aren't waiting for the gulags to be setup (not counting Gitmo or the airforce bases overseas) before becoming concerned.

DSGamer wrote:

I think the big breakdown in this discussion is this.

- People who think the US is a police state are concerned by what the government *CAN* do more than what the government is actually doing.

- People who think the US isn't a police state are concerned with what the governing *IS ACTUALLY* doing more than what it can do.

So, yeah, there's very little anecdotal evidence that Americans not associated with Al Qaida are frequently rounded up and tortured. On the other hand, the examples of things like this actually happening prove that it can happen to anyone. That a line has been crossed. Our emails are read. Our phones are tapped. And some Americans have been assassinated or taken into custody without a trial. This is enough for many of us to be concerned. We aren't waiting for the gulags to be setup (not counting Gitmo or the airforce bases overseas) before becoming concerned.

Can you be concerned and not think America is a police state? I think that's the problem with that big breakdown--it's too simplistic.

CheezePavilion wrote:
DSGamer wrote:

I think the big breakdown in this discussion is this.

- People who think the US is a police state are concerned by what the government *CAN* do more than what the government is actually doing.

- People who think the US isn't a police state are concerned with what the governing *IS ACTUALLY* doing more than what it can do.

So, yeah, there's very little anecdotal evidence that Americans not associated with Al Qaida are frequently rounded up and tortured. On the other hand, the examples of things like this actually happening prove that it can happen to anyone. That a line has been crossed. Our emails are read. Our phones are tapped. And some Americans have been assassinated or taken into custody without a trial. This is enough for many of us to be concerned. We aren't waiting for the gulags to be setup (not counting Gitmo or the airforce bases overseas) before becoming concerned.

Can you be concerned and not think America is a police state? I think that's the problem with that big breakdown--it's too simplistic.

If you call people crazy and fight them tooth and nail over this issue then it's possible you aren't terribly concerned about it, no?

CheezePavilion wrote:
DSGamer wrote:

I think the big breakdown in this discussion is this.

- People who think the US is a police state are concerned by what the government *CAN* do more than what the government is actually doing.

- People who think the US isn't a police state are concerned with what the governing *IS ACTUALLY* doing more than what it can do.

So, yeah, there's very little anecdotal evidence that Americans not associated with Al Qaida are frequently rounded up and tortured. On the other hand, the examples of things like this actually happening prove that it can happen to anyone. That a line has been crossed. Our emails are read. Our phones are tapped. And some Americans have been assassinated or taken into custody without a trial. This is enough for many of us to be concerned. We aren't waiting for the gulags to be setup (not counting Gitmo or the airforce bases overseas) before becoming concerned.

Can you be concerned and not think America is a police state? I think that's the problem with that big breakdown--it's too simplistic.

Let's try a different phrasing:

Group A defines police state by what the government CAN do, legally.
Group B defines police state by what the government is doing.

SixteenBlue wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
DSGamer wrote:

I think the big breakdown in this discussion is this.

- People who think the US is a police state are concerned by what the government *CAN* do more than what the government is actually doing.

- People who think the US isn't a police state are concerned with what the governing *IS ACTUALLY* doing more than what it can do.

So, yeah, there's very little anecdotal evidence that Americans not associated with Al Qaida are frequently rounded up and tortured. On the other hand, the examples of things like this actually happening prove that it can happen to anyone. That a line has been crossed. Our emails are read. Our phones are tapped. And some Americans have been assassinated or taken into custody without a trial. This is enough for many of us to be concerned. We aren't waiting for the gulags to be setup (not counting Gitmo or the airforce bases overseas) before becoming concerned.

Can you be concerned and not think America is a police state? I think that's the problem with that big breakdown--it's too simplistic.

Let's try a different phrasing:

Group A defines police state by what the government CAN do, legally.
Group B defines police state by what the government is doing.

Not quite. I think much of what the government started doing the last 10 years is patently illegal and unconstitutional, regardless of what this terrible Supreme Court says.

DSGamer wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
DSGamer wrote:

I think the big breakdown in this discussion is this.

- People who think the US is a police state are concerned by what the government *CAN* do more than what the government is actually doing.

- People who think the US isn't a police state are concerned with what the governing *IS ACTUALLY* doing more than what it can do.

So, yeah, there's very little anecdotal evidence that Americans not associated with Al Qaida are frequently rounded up and tortured. On the other hand, the examples of things like this actually happening prove that it can happen to anyone. That a line has been crossed. Our emails are read. Our phones are tapped. And some Americans have been assassinated or taken into custody without a trial. This is enough for many of us to be concerned. We aren't waiting for the gulags to be setup (not counting Gitmo or the airforce bases overseas) before becoming concerned.

Can you be concerned and not think America is a police state? I think that's the problem with that big breakdown--it's too simplistic.

Let's try a different phrasing:

Group A defines police state by what the government CAN do, legally.
Group B defines police state by what the government is doing.

Not quite. I think much of what the government started doing the last 10 years is patently illegal and unconstitutional, regardless of what this terrible Supreme Court says.

Well...yeah. I think you need that clarification though because any government can do terrible things. Maybe change legally to without punishment.

SixteenBlue wrote:

Let's try a different phrasing:

Group A defines police state by what the government CAN do, legally.
Group B defines police state by what the government is doing.

Sure, but what does that really accomplish? I'm not even sure it fits these discussions: there's been disagreement over what the government CAN legally do, as well as 'CAN vs. IS'.

DSGamer wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

Can you be concerned and not think America is a police state? I think that's the problem with that big breakdown--it's too simplistic.

If you call people crazy and fight them tooth and nail over this issue then it's possible you aren't terribly concerned about it, no?

Everyone who disagrees with you is calling you crazy and fighting you tooth and nail over this issue?

CheezePavilion wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:

Let's try a different phrasing:

Group A defines police state by what the government CAN do, legally.
Group B defines police state by what the government is doing.

Sure, but what does that really accomplish? I'm not even sure it fits these discussions: there's been disagreement over what the government CAN legally do, as well as 'CAN vs. IS'.

DSGamer wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

Can you be concerned and not think America is a police state? I think that's the problem with that big breakdown--it's too simplistic.

If you call people crazy and fight them tooth and nail over this issue then it's possible you aren't terribly concerned about it, no?

Everyone who disagrees with you is calling you crazy and fighting you tooth and nail over this issue?

Not everyone. But there has been a large amount of dismissal and tin foil hate comments over the course of the discussion.

Robear wrote:

Would you settle for "surveillance state"? That's a pretty interesting discussion in itself, as to where that is going...

Yeah, y'know what? For the time being, I think I would. But I'll still be monitoring police abuses pretty closely, particularly action on any central aggregation of collected data.

IMAGE(http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_M2mDr7nL2Yw/THVNENhmpDI/AAAAAAAABxQ/nFRK8cVR7BA/s400/handshake.jpg)

Minarchist wrote:
Robear wrote:

Would you settle for "surveillance state"? That's a pretty interesting discussion in itself, as to where that is going...

Yeah, y'know what? For the time being, I think I would. But I'll still be monitoring police abuses pretty closely, particularly action on any central aggregation of collected data.

IMAGE(http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_M2mDr7nL2Yw/THVNENhmpDI/AAAAAAAABxQ/nFRK8cVR7BA/s400/handshake.jpg)

I would completely agree that we are in a "surveillance state". Unfortunately I don't see any way that changes going forward. The evolution of technology makes me think that very soon virtually everything that happens will be captured by a camera somewhere. It's literally impossible to walk down a city block and not be covered by dozens of cameras.

Bear wrote:
Minarchist wrote:
Robear wrote:

Would you settle for "surveillance state"? That's a pretty interesting discussion in itself, as to where that is going...

Yeah, y'know what? For the time being, I think I would. But I'll still be monitoring police abuses pretty closely, particularly action on any central aggregation of collected data.

IMAGE(http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_M2mDr7nL2Yw/THVNENhmpDI/AAAAAAAABxQ/nFRK8cVR7BA/s400/handshake.jpg)

I would completely agree that we are in a "surveillance state". Unfortunately I don't see any way that changes going forward. The evolution of technology makes me think that very soon virtually everything that happens will be captured by a camera somewhere. It's literally impossible to walk down a city block and not be covered by dozens of cameras.

There was an Ars Technica article a little bit ago (that I don't have time to look up before I head home) that had Al Franken questioning someone from Facebook about their facial recognition software. I think instituting a way to keep facial recognition databases from compiling any data about you would be a good step to take.

Probably unnecessary.

Edit - Minarchist, I think that's a very healthy stance - watch like a hawk, but don't let fear exaggerate what's going on.

I'll gladly reciprocate the rhetorical handshake.

We should start a thread on the surveillance tech and it's future. I think it's a social game-changer, for various reasons, and I also think it's inevitable. What will be very interesting will be the interaction between the corporate desire for information on consumers and their surroundings; government's desire to better target services and create efficiency in spending; government's desire to track populations so as to more easily spot criminal behavior; and citizen's desire to maintain a shield against all of that - privacy. Unfortunately, it seems that the corporations have this locked down in government, and so we see top secret trade negotiations and the like, which may not always go down in flames when they don't represent citizen rights. Privacy tends to win at the last minute; we can't always count on that.

It may be that an old-style police state could be more efficiently done *without* typical police powers, except in times of actual crisis. That's more than kind of scary, because it's likely something that we would not recognize if we saw it. At the same time, it would most likely occur without intention, coming instead as a side effect of some good purpose, like our dependence on the Internet and computers could become a really bad thing in an instant if someone builds an EMP device near Battery Park...

Is violation of individual rights really still the best measure of oppression? What if you can be monitored and tracked while maintaining all your day to day rights and freedoms? That's certainly a new thing, and it could move the debate completely off it's axis.

There was an Ars Technica article a little bit ago (that I don't have time to look up before I head home) that had Al Franken questioning someone from Facebook about their facial recognition software. I think instituting a way to keep facial recognition databases from compiling any data about you would be a good step to take.

The Europeans are ahead of us in the area of surveillance, and already you can buy anti-camera clothes. Hoodies with IR LEDs around the opening come to mind. That will anonymize you right enough...

Robear wrote:

Probably unnecessary.

For what it's worth, I thought it was valuable and could lead to somewhere good and was going to bring up this...but I could also see Cleveland out the window. : D

Robear wrote:
There was an Ars Technica article a little bit ago (that I don't have time to look up before I head home) that had Al Franken questioning someone from Facebook about their facial recognition software. I think instituting a way to keep facial recognition databases from compiling any data about you would be a good step to take.

The Europeans are ahead of us in the area of surveillance, and already you can buy anti-camera clothes. Hoodies with IR LEDs around the opening come to mind. That will anonymize you right enough...

Cyber-burquas?

Stengah wrote:

There was an Ars Technica article a little bit ago (that I don't have time to look up before I head home) that had Al Franken questioning someone from Facebook about their facial recognition software. I think instituting a way to keep facial recognition databases from compiling any data about you would be a good step to take.

My company hosts an annual member conference in Las Vegas, I think it's too late!

Details of a nationwide secret surveillance network named Trapwire were made public by Wikileaks.

Government lawyers stonewall the judge in NDAA lawsuit.

This past week's hearing was even more terrifying. Government attorneys again, in this hearing, presented no evidence to support their position and brought forth no witnesses. Most incredibly, Obama's attorneys refused to assure the court, when questioned, that the NDAA's section 1021 – the provision that permits reporters and others who have not committed crimes to be detained without trial – has not been applied by the US government anywhere in the world after Judge Forrest's injunction. In other words, they were telling a US federal judge that they could not, or would not, state whether Obama's government had complied with the legal injunction that she had laid down before them.
Aetius wrote:

Details of a nationwide secret surveillance network named Trapwire were made public by Wikileaks.

Anyway, here's what Trapwire is, according to Russian-state owned media network RT (apologies for citing "foreign media"... if we had a free press, I'd be citing something published here by an American media conglomerate): "Former senior intelligence officials have created a detailed surveillance system more accurate than modern facial recognition technology—and have installed it across the U.S. under the radar of most Americans, according to emails hacked by Anonymous.

I don't know why rational people read stuff like this and take it serious.

Jayhawker, Trapwire is a commercial product from Stratfor; it's even discussed in an article from 2009 on their website. It's designed to take input from cameras to allow "preoperational surveillance". There are other companies that do the same thing.

It probably *is* more accurate than facial recognition, which still kind of sucks today, in that catch actual preparations for action when analyzed by properly trained users. But it's not just scanning people and spitting out accusations. It's got a specific use in protecting facilities and locations, I believe, and is probably limited that way.

Robear wrote:

It's got a specific use in protecting facilities and locations, I believe, and is probablyhopefully limited that way. But it wouldn't surprise me if it wasn't (or if some groups desperately want to use it in other ways).

Fixed for me.

Nor would it surprise me. What does surprise me is someone saying that this stuff doesn't exist...

Revealed: how the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy

One paragraph resonated especially strongly with me, because it's so eerily similar to what I've been saying since 9/11:

Why the huge push for counterterrorism "fusion centers", the DHS militarizing of police departments, and so on? It was never really about "the terrorists". It was not even about civil unrest. It was always about this moment, when vast crimes might be uncovered by citizens – it was always, that is to say, meant to be about you.

And yet one of the biggest problems in intelligence is the sharing of intelligence between different organizations (as well as the associated Big Data problems that arise). So from that perspective - the perspective of the people actually doing the work - aggregation of different sources from different organizations was inevitable.

Don't discount the simplest explanation for one that you'd *like* to be true (although we all do that at times, not just you). The US has dozens of organizations dedicated to intelligence gathering, and until the mid-90's there was very little capability for data sharing between them, and it was tightly controlled in order to maintain the unique utility (as they saw it) of each one. The fact that sharing became a priority in the early 2000's was because we realized we were incapable of *using* all that intel in a timely fashion; there was no "Oh, we're worried about the population uncovering crimes, so we'll *pretend* it's for this purpose". It was instead put in place for solid reasons, and *then* used against the population, following a pattern of sub rosa monitoring and data collection on citizens with a looong history in the FBI.

Put another way, the FBI was not able to take advantage of other agencies sources and methods and product until it was tied in to these new networks of information. (It's notorious for it's primitive IT and case management abilities over the last few decades.) If monitoring citizens had been an intelligence community priority, that data sharing would have been put in place much earlier, even without the technology of the web. The fact that it was not prevalent - that we had to wait until DHS was put together to see these organizations come into play - tells us right there that there was a different reason for setting them up in the first place, even if they ended being used in a way that is typical of FBI abuses.

Yet another thought - if we can't fix or roll back the privacy abuses in place now, then it doesn't *matter* what else comes into play, since we're already surveilled in our most common communications every day. Adding another type is like being stabbed five times instead of four - the real problem is that you got stabbed in the first place. That's why I'm most interested in policy on these matters, because that's how these things will be rolled back. And understanding how they came into play is important, because modifying a useful tool is very different from rooting out a cabal of corrupt leaders. Misunderstand the problem and the solution will fail. (And that could be true of me, too, in spite of my analysis above.)

If you saw the renewal vote on the Patriot Act, however, and looked at some of the debate, this is not a good time to look for privacy reform. Not a good time at all.

Wasn't the government's defense against the NSA warrantless wiretapping lawsuit that the NSA's program was a state secret that had never been admitted to exist and therefore could not sue against because it would be admitting the program is real? Now that Congress has publicly had a debate and made a law about it, isn't that defense gone and now a lawsuit can be re-filed?

Not in Clapper v Amnesty International, which argues that plaintiffs could not show that the government would actually intercept their communications, and thus had no standing to ask for an injunction against the program. It was argued in October and I think a decision is still pending.

According to this article on the 14th, they are still trying to squash lawsuits under 'state secrets'.

Leaping, how are they not state secrets? Or, to turn it around, how would the government answer requests for information by the plaintiffs without revealing sources and methods? And would that not do actual damage?

What if they showed the technology, and we found out it had been abused? Or, alternatively, that somehow quite sufficient protections were in place? In either case, would citizen privacy be reinstated after that by exposing it? Or would it just result in hiding this stuff even deeper from oversight? Can this genie be put back into the bottle at all? How? (Hint- Congress is going to have to be involved.)

I'm totally with the EFF; there should be transparency and oversight and severe regulation, and real consequences for going outside the intended usage of the data. People should know what they face, and what they can do to protect their privacy. But to me, the problem is that the data collection ship has already sailed. We're already being surveilled. It's kind of a Catch-22; if they've got the stuff in place, then they can't reveal it without damaging it's effectiveness, but if it's not in place, they can't reveal that either, for the same reason. (I don't believe for a minute that we don't have these capabilities, but we have to consider the possibility that we're behind in this.)

Let's put you in charge of a multi-billion dollar per year system that can sweep up communications all over the world, an incredibly powerful Big Data tool that could give us tremendous advantages over not just nation states, but also distributed organizations that like to kill people and blow things up. It's covert, and almost certainly more widespread than publicly acknowledged. And it depends on it's secrecy and ubiquity for it's success, since people who know it's there won't use networks monitored by it. How would you protect it's details, if you were subject to this lawsuit? Or would you just give up the multi-decade, multi-billion dollar per year tools, expose it and in doing so render it useless for it's purpose?

Seriously, how would that work? I'm well aware of the eventual failure of security through obscurity, and there are indications that groups like Al Quaeda are limiting use of phone and internet comms for just this scenario. But not all groups do, and in fact, there are a lot more targets than terrorists. So while it's flawed, how do we fix it without breaking it? Or do we just forgo it all together and be victimized by other nations who have the capability?

I just don't see a Cold War MAD doctrine for comms monitoring yet, and the lack of such worries me, because clearly proliferation is world-wide. But I don't see a "stop it from working here" approach working either. Rather than drive it underground even further into the black world, I'd like to see it monitored by competent oversight. I don't see any sign that the tech will go away, and what is possible will eventually be done, so we're stuck with it. (Before anyone jumps on me, I just want to note that the EFF is interested in inserting privacy into the law, like I am. They understand this stuff is not going away. Here are their proposed principles for protecting citizen privacy.)

So how do we get to that oversight and protection? Through Congress, and through court cases. But somehow, we have to get past the problem that, yes, there are sensitive technologies involved that need to be protected. That's the immediate question facing the judges in these cases, and I don't see consensus on how they will deal with it, or whether the judges feel the potential damage done outweighs the damage of revealing the systems. That points us back to political action, in Congress and the Executive. In my opinion, that's the real value of the court cases, to keep this in the public eye until the dysfunction of Congress passes and we can get them to pay attention to this stuff.

It's a mess, and right now, there is zero political will to address it. Sad but true.

Robear wrote:

It's a mess, and right now, there is zero political will to address it. Sad but true.

I agree with this.

Robear, I know you are trying to take a realist view, and I appreciate that, but to me, I don't give a damn about most of the other stuff you said. I want my constitutionally protected freedoms and rights to be enforced, not subverted, by my government. If that means there is a little more risk in my life, I am willing to take that chance. You can't really say anything that will convince me that blanket secret monitoring of citizen communication is good for our country.

Playmobil on Airport Security.

Read the reviews.

Paleocon wrote:

Playmobil on Airport Security.

Read the reviews.

Awesome.