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posted by n1 on Thursday June 12 2014, @01:12AM   Printer-friendly
from the obsolete-voluntary-guidelines-solution dept.

Steve Durbin of the ISF was interviewed regarding the fallout after Snowden and the push by governments and organizations to try and wrestle some control of their communications away from the US.

"From a European point of view it fuelled political hysteria." He adds that regardless of one's opinion on the value of this type of surveillance there are political gains to be made from stirring up a reaction to Snowden's disclosures.

The idea of having an EU internet, Russian internet, US internet, etc doesn't sit well with Durbin because he feels it will hurt the functionality and that governments by themselves cannot actually get the job done.

"Government can't do it all", he warns when reflecting on proposed regulatory responses to privacy and surveillance issues. "By the time they get their act together, the world and technology has moved on significantly."

As a reminder in February the German government started discussing an EU internet:

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel "is proposing building up a European communications network to help improve data protection" and prevent European emails and other data passing through the United States where it can be, and has been, harvested by the NSA.

 
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  • (Score: 1) by looorg on Thursday June 12 2014, @04:48PM

    by looorg (578) on Thursday June 12 2014, @04:48PM (#54652)

    I'm of the opinion that there actually is democratic, or well government anyway, oversight. They are just not seeing anything wrong, the spy agencies are doing what the government want them to do. After all it has been about a year now since Snowden did his leak and blasted into the public eye. Have their been any change in how these spy agencies work? Not really, at least no change that is due to government changes, pressure or new instructions. If there is change it is because the agencies are refining their methods, not due to government pressure. From that I can only conclude that they are doing what their respective government wants them to do. Sure, there have been some hearings and a lot of condemnation and outrage, security/surveillance theater, but no actual change.

    There is a framework, there are rules and laws but at the same time it's spying so you don't want to much of it and it usually also gets weird since most of it is targeted towards that you don't want other to spy on you but your own spying is not very limited in that regard. Our spies are fine, their spies are evil and should be dealt with.

    The uproar is on a public level and the whole spying thing doesn't seem to be a very big factor when it comes to elections etc either where it tends to be the usual work, tax, jobs, healthcare issues that take center stage. I don't think anyone wants to be spied upon but in the grand scheme of things doing something about it is just way down on the list. Example; people want to talk with the friends on facebook and share all their information, they don't care or know that facebook keeps it all forever and that it might be publicly available to anyone with anykinda of technical knowhow. Is secret communication a human right? I don't think so. If you want to keep secrets don't talk about them in a non secure way (if that is actual face to face conversations, or social media or cell phone calls doesn't much matter). The problem seems more to be that people assumed their conversations was secret and secure only to find out that they where not. People, in general, just don't know how modern communication technology or computers work. Hence the outrage.

  • (Score: 1) by pTamok on Thursday June 12 2014, @05:14PM

    by pTamok (3042) on Thursday June 12 2014, @05:14PM (#54659)

    I'm not sure there is effective government oversight when a US Congressional committee can be lied to, seemingly without comeback. Furthermore, because the intelligence services work is necessarily secret, the general public don't get to see what is being done in their name. If the elected representitives are lied to, and you are not allowed to know what is going on, then how is that effective oversight?

    In addition, it is not just a lack of understanding of the way technology works, although there is a significant element of that. As we have found out, the intelligence services have been actively working to compromise encryption: not necessarily by recommending mathematically flawed algorithms, but by ensuring that the implementations are flawed (or backdoored). This affects everyone who uses such flawed implementations, and not just the bad guys.

    Arguing that secrecy is not a right is fine, and a perfectly respectable position to take, although it may have some unwanted consequences. It's also worth considering if privacy is a right or not; and if there is a right to anonymity e.g if publishing anonymous pamphlets. They are all related issues.

    • (Score: 1) by looorg on Thursday June 12 2014, @06:06PM

      by looorg (578) on Thursday June 12 2014, @06:06PM (#54673)

      I guess it all depends on what you count as effective government oversight then. I can't even mention or think of all the different parts of the government with all the departments and agencies and god knows what else there is. I know even less what they all do. So I assume in the end it boils down to trust, I trust that they all know what they are doing and that things are done in a proper manner. But for all I know they could also all be lying their tits of at every turn and chance they get and we'll never, or rarely, find out about that either. The general public has next to no insight in what they all do either and in which manner they do it, some have to do with rules and laws and secrecy and some of that has to do with a lack of knowledge. I don't see why the intelligence agencies should be singled out as being somehow extra nefarious and/or devious. I believe that many private corporations knows more about you, or most people, then the the various spy agencies do. Why is it wrong when the NSA know stuff about you but it is somehow fine with VISA, Google, Facebook, your isp, your phone company, your bank, your insurance company or the store where you bought your food and just swiped your membership card know about you? Are private corporations better then the government in that regard? I'm more afraid of them and their massive datacollections then I am of the NSA (or any other such agency) spying on me.

      It then all boils down to trust, I guess you have it or you don't. Do I trust the NSA? Sure. Do I belive that they also lie, cheat and backstab at every corner they can? You bet, it's the nature of the beast of spying. I assume they do what they do for the greater good and benefit of us all (compared to say private companies that do it all for themselves) and if that means that they know or have petabytes of, largely worthless, info on everyone and everything they can get their grubby little hands on I'm cool with that to. What would the alternative be? No spy agencies? Spy agencies that have to reveal everything they do or know to everyone that asks? The first would be living in total darkness and ignorance, the second would be impossible. I don't blame them if they don't want to, or can, tell all to congress. After all the people in political office can be gone next election and take all their secrets with them out the door.

      You can't really blame them for doing their job tho can you? If mine, or yours, job was to spy of cause I would want them, the manufacturers, to implement weak algorithms and backdoors into their products so that I can could do my job. Not to easy tho cause I don't want others, such as competing or foreign spy agencies, to use the same methods as I do. It's horrible for sure but it's the way things work and I don't really see an alternative to it since technology or the use and abuse of it just can't be put back in the bag. Since our spy agencies work from a different set of rules and laws doing what they do is apparently not illegal, more to the point there probably isn't a law for what they are doing at all which in terms of the law makes what they do legal. Sure you could find laws for breaking an entrance or wiretapping and apply it but those laws are not written for or with them in mind so they might not apply.

      Yes there are related issues such as the right to privacy. You have that. But how far does it extend? If you don't take precautions to protect your privacy then whatever you let out there is really up for grabs as far as I am concerned.

      • (Score: 1) by pTamok on Thursday June 12 2014, @08:08PM

        by pTamok (3042) on Thursday June 12 2014, @08:08PM (#54697)

        Well, to quote President Reagan, "Trust, but verify". Other state organisations have public budgets, and information can be obtained from them (if necessary) by Freedom of Information requests if it is not already available in some form. You may operate by trust, but you don't have to: there are mechanisms for the public to find out what is going on. This is not the case with the intelligence agencies. And we know that lying is part of their modus operandi.

        As for commercial organisations, in theory, you are making a free choice to share information with them, and they operate under data protection laws, which, in the case of the medical industry, are quite draconian.

        Blaming intelligence organisations for doing their job is not what is happening: the information released by Snowden shows they are going significantly beyond what people regard as reasonable. Subverting encryption makes everybody less secure and imposes serious economic cost. Cisco have testified to a drop in their sales as a result of recent history, and it is hard to see how anyone can trust an American company in future, when their business can be subverted, in enforced secrecy, by the NSA. One of the points of living in a free country is that you really should be free from malign government influence. Apparently in the USA (and at least the other Five Eyes countries) you are not. Saying that China, or Russia, or Israel, or Sweden are doing it, so we should is not a valid argument.

        On taking precautions to protect your privacy there are a couple of issues. Not everybody is sufficiently technically aware, or capable, of assuring privacy of their own data. One of the benefits of living in a well governed society is that the government takes on the burdens that private individuals are unable to take on alone: such as defence of the state, construction of infrastructure, policing the administration of the law etc. One such burden is privacy of your personal information, which is why there are laws against disclosure, and it is reasonable to expect a government to aid individuals to maintain private those things that should be private. Compromised encryption defeats that.

        (Thanks for the extended postings - I have to break off here, as, unfortunately, I have work to do.)