Here are a few key paragraphs, but read the whole thing,
The government claims that under Section 215 it may seize all of our phone call information now because it might conceivably be relevant to an investigation at some later date, even if there is no particular reason to believe that any but a tiny fraction of the data collected might possibly be suspicious. That is a shockingly flimsy argument — any data might be “relevant” to an investigation eventually, if by “eventually” you mean “sometime before the end of time.” If all data is “relevant,” it makes a mockery of the already shaky concept of relevance.
Like the Patriot Act, the FISA Amendments Act gives the government very broad surveillance authority. And yet the Prism program appears to outstrip that authority. In particular, the government “may not intentionally acquire any communication as to which the sender and all intended recipients are known at the time of the acquisition to be located in the United States.”
The government knows that it regularly obtains Americans’ protected communications. The Washington Post reported that Prism is designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target’s “foreignness” — as John Oliver of “The Daily Show” put it, “a coin flip plus 1 percent.” By turning a blind eye to the fact that 49-plus percent of the communications might be purely among Americans, the N.S.A. has intentionally acquired information it is not allowed to have, even under the terrifyingly broad auspices of the FISA Amendments Act.
If the surveillance is not authorized by law, then the surveillance is criminal. Not that anyone will ever be charged, of course.
Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said.
Turns out what the firms are getting is not data on customers — nor in the main is that what they are giving. Rather the firms are giving advance info on vulnerabilities in their systems that could be used to by the TLA’s1 to get information from vulnerable systems. Plus some of the firms are allowing the feds to install monitoring equipment on their networks, ostensibly to protect against hacking, but in at least some cases with the ability to spy on message traffic.
In exchange, the firms are getting information about who, especially from abroad, is trying to hack them, and some help and advice on defending themselves.
I have no problem with the feds helping US corporations defend themselves against foreign (or domestic) hackers. I do have a problem if the price of that defense is allowing the feds access to customer data.
My first instinct is that I wouldn’t have a problem with firms like Microsoft giving advance warning about vulnerabilities to the feds — whether it is so they can harden their own systems or even if it is so they can take advantage offensively to hack into foreign targets. I would feel that way, however, only so long as I believed the program had adequate safeguards to prevent its misuse against US persons, whether at home or abroad. And, unfortunately, there is no particular reason to believe that to be the case. There is at present a lack of accountability.
One of the exceptionally odd things about about the revelations about the NSA metadata and phone records revelations is that I, not to mention various other Cypherpunk fellow travelers, predicted all this 15 years ago.
In fact, we predicted it so long ago, that almost no one seems to remember we did.
I have to say, though, that this is the first story I’ve seen on the subject that made me smile. So that’s something.
Prosecutor Michael Gilfarb told the judge that even if the information is available, it may be irrelevant depending on whether Brown carried a phone.
Brown’s wife, Vesta Murat Brown, who testified for the prosecution Wednesday morning, told jurors that her husband didn’t have a cellphone at the time but sometimes borrowed phones from her, other family members or friends.
But even if it isn’t, it won’t be long:
Local lawyers said they anticipate there will be many more requests for this kind of information now that defense attorneys know the information may have been preserved.
… essentially, it’s the world’s most sophisticated cluster of sensors you can wear on your person, and it’s going to know every single thing you do, whether it’s driving, sleeping or taking a walk around the block. Google is betting that you will love your pocket Stasi so much you’ll never want to be without it—and Google is right.
The Secret Shopper by Willie Osterweil has a bit too much jarring Marxist jargon for me to feel in tune with it, but it makes some provocative points about the institution of the “Secret Shopper” — the folks hired by management to go to stores and pretend to be customers and then report on the quality of the service.
Stripped of (some of) the cant, the conclusion is that the mystery shoppers are tools of conformity:
Mystery shoppers are miniature thought police, affective pinkertons, mercenary management to whom real management outsources the legwork of everyday psychic control. They are sent in to break the avenues of refusal available to workers, to enforce the arbitrary standards dreamed up by marketers, bureaucrats, and MBAs that so deaden the experience of everyday life under late capitalism. … All just for a little extra cash for the weekend.
Producing identification with the bosses; smashing labor; and making solidarity difficult through contract labor, precarity, and remote working are key features of neoliberal workplace organization. But central to this vision, too, is workplace surveillance. … Heightened workplace surveillance helps build a workplace where no time is wasted, where all effort is put directly into the production of the bosses’ product. But it transforms more than just the bottom line.
The threat of the ever-present spy, the fear that the woman who forgot her ID in the car but swears she’s 18 is actually a scab employed by your boss, means you trust no one, expecting them all to be against you, out to catch you breaking management’s rules, which you now enforce with paranoiac efficiency. Surveillance, ultimately, isn’t about stopping crime. It’s about making police.
I think that even if you are OK with Taylorized service jobs, this critique ties somehow to the importance of privacy in other realms — or the need for concern about the upcoming Dossier Society — more generally. Data is a way to watch you too.