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January 21, 2014

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But while the law stands they need to observe it.

The government takes the position that it is observing the law. Obviously, the government's interpretation of Section 215 is controversial, but the question isn't settled.

The "Look over here" argument is wearing thin.

I admire your faith in the Koch brothers.

"Really? I don't hear much of an outcry."

Perhaps because the post was about the government's data collection and not about corporate data collection?

I mean, I don't hear much outcry about our massive prison population on this thread but I don't take it to mean nobody cares.

"I'm glad that you "trust" their privacy policy, just because they're your "preferred" provider."

Huh? You quoted me as saying I can not work with a company if I don't want to. Nothing you said was in response to that.

And finally, the whole Target thing was just ridiculous. Target can refuse to accept my returns, that's pretty much it. I suppose they can break laws against blackmail and kidnapping, but at this juncture in time I'm not really worried about their ability to get away with it.

You are free, however, to avoid target if you are worried about ending up in a jungle prison somewhere.

Basically, complex societies have to function with the help of large organizations. I pick government as the organization over which, if we're vigilant, we can have more control.

I think, as a very general matter, the point here is that the overwrought security state isn't necessary for our complex society to function, so I wouldn't trust government or corporations to operate it. We don't need it. In fact, it's getting to the point were it may damage our complex society's ability to function. Preferring government over the private sector isn't compelling when you don't want whatever it is either one of them might be doing in the first place.

I'd rather have an elephant take a giant crap on my head than a whale. Does that convince you that you should want an elephant to take a giant crap on your head?

Target can refuse to accept my returns, that's pretty much it. I suppose they can break laws against blackmail and kidnapping, but at this juncture in time I'm not really worried about their ability to get away with it.

I guess you've never considered the political power of Rupert Murdoch or the Koch Brothers. But maybe that's because you're sympathetic to their agenda.

I guess you've never considered the political power of Rupert Murdoch or the Koch Brothers.

The political power of Murdoch or the Kochs is not based on their ability to accumulate information about phone calls I make.

This is called "misdirection", and it's used by magicians, attorneys, and people fielding weak arguments.

But maybe that's because you're sympathetic to their agenda.

Could it be.... Satan?

I think, as a very general matter, the point here is that the overwrought security state isn't necessary for our complex society to function, so I wouldn't trust government or corporations to operate it.

What does "overwrought security state" mean? The particular NSA program that we're talking about is one where the NSA accumulates information that exists (in large quantities) in the hands of a few communications companies. They already have the data which can be abused for nefarious purposes. Our communications technology system (which is more and more essential to our way of life) is dependent on these companies.

Whether or not there's a "overwrought security state" whatever that is, there's a ton of data out there that can be abused by people who want to abuse it. We can't just press delete. It's there. Do we want it just in the possession of corporations, or do we want the government to have as much power as they do?

I would rather my government have as much information as corporations than less information. It has nothing to do with "overwrought national security." It has to do with the fact that information is power, and the information is out there for various entities to use or misuse.

This may be the smartest idea Matthew Yglesias ever had:

... the reality is that as long as Obama thinks he's going to be wielding executive authority, he's going to be useless as a check on out-of-control executive authority

He said, in July of 2008.

russell:

"To be clear, the government's argument is that there isn't a 4A issue because the information they are collecting is information *about*"

Sorry I wasn't clear. You are right, that's mostly what we are discussing.

Other apologists of the program have brought up the "business records"/"library records" aspect of Section 215 to defend its legality.

E.g. Since I willing gave the information to Verizon, it's Verizon's now, and they are free to give it to the government for any reason they want.

The political power of Murdoch or the Kochs is not based on their ability to accumulate information about phone calls I make.

No, it's not based on that, but it most certainly will be enhanced by that when their companies make a hostile takeover of Verizon. Fine with me if you wilfully ignore the problem here.

But maybe that's because you're sympathetic to their agenda.

If your aim is to drown this conversation with irrelevancies: mission accomplished.

Fine with me if you wilfully ignore the problem here.

No, the REAL problem is the Rosicrucians and the Masons.

If your aim is to drown this conversation with irrelevancies: mission accomplished.

If you want to demonstrate that you see the world with blinders on: mission accomplished.

If you want to demonstrate that you see the world with blinders on: mission accomplished.

I can be aware of other problems in this world without dragging them into this conversation. Why can't you be?

"I guess you've never considered the political power of Rupert Murdoch or the Koch Brothers."

I don't think either of them own target. But in general, yes, their political influence concerns me. I still think an FBI agent with a grudge has far more capacity to see me imprisoned that Murdoch.

"But maybe that's because you're sympathetic to their agenda."

I'm not.

"I would rather my government have as much information as corporations than less information."

Why, exactly? If you're concerned about Verizon having your phone records, don't use Verizon. I don't see that the power Verizon has over you based on those records is anyway blunted by the government having the same records.

Well, I'll say it one more time: I'd rather see government have access to vast amounts of information (with appropriate due process controls regarding its use) than corporations whose "privacy policies" I trust much less.

I'm out of this thread. Tired of the snark.

Tired of the snark.

Never change, sapient.

Fine with me if you wilfully ignore the problem here.

Not so fine with me if you obfuscate the actual discussion by dragging in things that have little or nothing to do with it.

Sadly, there doesn't seem to be anything anyone can do about that.

First Wyden, now the Kochs. Anything under the sun other than the NSA and its principals.

Some people like to be tied up and beaten with whips. Some will actually pay good money for the privilege.

If I engage in a discussion of torture by the government, I don't feel obliged to ask why folks aren't also worried about the S&M industry.

Likewise, when I'm discussing the possible illegal collection of information by the government, I don't feel like I need to address similar behavior on the part of private actors.

It's an interesting topic in its own right, and may in fact be prone to its own world of abuses and bad behavior.

But it has bugger-all to do with the NSA programs we're discussing.

I'll say it one more time: I'd rather have an elephant take a giant crap on my head than a whale.

sapient: Tired of the snark.

Also sapient:

"You and Scalia need to have a seance."
"And although we're really pretty smart, and can read wikipedia,"
"Your premise is dumb, thompson."
"Go ahead and applaud abuse if you want to."
"In the game of "PR gotcha", Weyden "got" Clapper, no question. That's all. Applause, applause."
"But, honestly, I think Wyden's motives were pretty sleazy. But, applause!"
"But, sure, let's go ahead and put his head on a pike to show our disapproval."
"By the way, did I mention that we should hang Clapper?"
"'lectric chair would be enough?"
"So torches, you freaking lazy people!"
"Make a citizen's arrest, friend."
"What would the founders say about holes in software? What would they have said about thin walls? Can you channel the founders regarding thin walls?"
"Talk to me thompson about what the Founders thought about cubicles."
"That you aren't marching on Washington speaks volumes."
"By the way, Ugh, did you pay your nanny tax? Did you obtain a federal job after smoking dope? Speaks volumes."
"Did you ever drive over 20 miles over the speed limit and you weren't charged with reckless driving? Speaks volumes!"
"Suppose I were a butterfly."
"Slart, never change!"
"That's cool, Brett! Democracy by TV! And we should definitely valorize Wyden for trying to discredit Clapper. What a hero! Next week: show trials!"
"I admire your faith in the Koch brothers."

Our communications technology system (which is more and more essential to our way of life) is dependent on these companies.

So they need the information you don't like them having, because the Koch brothers might buy them out, in order to function in a way that is essential to our way of life?

The government having that same information doesn't negate the fact that these comms companies have it, right? (And if it did, there goes our way of life.)

Therefore... she's a witch!

"Talk to me thompson about what the Founders thought about cubicles."

Forsooth! What heinous crimes have these poor souls committed? Verily, we must ratify the 8th amendment posthaste!

I am aware that the utterer of the following just bowed out of the thread, and I'm about to deliver a sermon to a rather bored-looking choir, but...

The government takes the position that it is observing the law. Obviously, the government's interpretation of Section 215 is controversial, but the question isn't settled.

...and the law the gov't claims to be observing was crafted in such a way as to make definitive settling difficult, and gov't agencies are taking further measures to move it towards impossible. If you don't know you've been subject to an abuse of power, and can't get standing without demonstrating you have been, that question-settling looks conveniently deferred in an indefinite manner.

The particular NSA program that we're talking about is one where the NSA accumulates information that exists (in large quantities) in the hands of a few communications companies. They already have the data which can be abused for nefarious purposes. Our communications technology system (which is more and more essential to our way of life) is dependent on these companies.

[...]

I would rather my government have as much information as corporations than less information. It has nothing to do with "overwrought national security." It has to do with the fact that information is power, and the information is out there for various entities to use or misuse.

This is misleading. The com corps don't have this information. They have data from which the information can be generated. Information is power, but data is only unrefined fuel, and that refinement is a decidedly non-trivial task. The telecoms don't have either the dedicated resources or expertise to generate the same volume and quality of information that the intelligence community does, and that's even before we consider that they have uncollated, incomplete corporate data and none of the additional gov't'l data.

So no, the telecoms having the data they collected from their own clients is not the same as the gov't having all of their assorted data collated and analyzed.

Not to mention that the idea that a telecom can do things, based on such information, remotely comparable to what the federal government can do is, um...interesting.

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