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What the Government Pays To Snoop On You

samzenpus posted 1 year,13 days | from the spying-for-simoleons dept.

United States 174

transporter_ii writes "So what does it cost the government to snoop on us? Paid for by U.S. tax dollars, and with little scrutiny, surveillance fees charged by phone companies can vary wildly. For example, AT&T, imposes a $325 'activation fee' for each wiretap and $10 a day to maintain it. Smaller carriers Cricket and U.S. Cellular charge only about $250 per wiretap. But snoop on a Verizon customer? That costs the government $775 for the first month and $500 each month after that, according to industry disclosures made last year to Congressman Edward Markey."

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174 comments

certainly restoring the fourth amendment (5, Insightful)

Presto Vivace (882157) | 1 year,13 days | (#44256907)

could save us a lot of money, in addition to saving our constitution.

Actually (4, Insightful)

arcite (661011) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257403)

It sounds like corporate welfare funded by government spending. ie. your tax dollars at work!

Re:Actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257951)

I was wondering why Verizon paid such high dividends. (They actually do)

Thanks guys!

Re:Actually (4, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | 1 year,13 days | (#44258547)

More to the point, it now makes sense why they market so heavily with anyone with an arabic name, and target individuals on a no fly list! Screw monthly calls membership, wiretapping is more profitable!

Re:Actually (1)

AHuxley (892839) | 1 year,13 days | (#44258031)

No Spyware shall, in time of peace be loaded in any PC, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Re:Actually (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44258403)

No doubt that was the deal that W/neo-cons made with them.
They just love that welfare for businesses.

Re:Actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44260367)

No doubt that was the deal that W/neo-cons made with them. They just love that welfare for businesses.

Yep, lots ow welfare for the rich, nothing for the working poor. [nytimes.com]

Spending is always the goal (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44259817)

I've been saying for years that spending is a bigger goal with these spying programs than control over the populace. In the business of government, spending is always the goal. The more money passing through their hands, the better positioned they are to exploit that cash flow for personal gain. Unique to the business of government, there is no risk in spending other people's money. You simply take more. In fact, government failure is normally rewarded with yet even more revenue, creating a repeating cycle of spending and justifications for that spending.

I cringe when I hear people refer to this as a "waste". That's exactly what government wants you to believe, because the reality is much worse than a "waste" -- it's a scam.

AT&T Introduces Privacy+ Tier (5, Funny)

transporter_ii (986545) | 1 year,13 days | (#44256919)

It's funny. I wrote this in 2006 and originally posted it to Slashdot. Turns out, it was a fairly prophetic piece. It got posted to Slashnot, google finance picked it up, and listed it as a blog post under AT&T's stock!

-=-=-=-=

AT&T Introduces Privacy+ Tier for Consumers and an NSA Turbo-Speed Tier for the government, at Market-Leading Prices

Wednesday April 26, 6:00 am ET

For $24.95 a month extra, the new Privacy+ Tier offers consumers the ability to feed all data to the NSA at the slowest speeds available. However, for an extra $28.95 per month, per customer, the NSA can override the Privacy+ Tier and spy on Americans at Speeds of up to 6.0 Megabits per Second

SAN ANTONIO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 26, 2006--AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T - News) today announced a new, higher-privacy tier for its AT&T Yahoo!® High Speed Internet service that meets consumers' growing outrage for allowing the NSA full availability to its backbone. At the same time, it announced a new NSA Turbo-Speed Tier that, for a fee, allows the government to override the newly introduced Privacy+ Tier.

Beginning Monday, May 1, new residential customers who order AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet service online through www.att.com can purchase the Privacy+ Tier -- offering data to the NSA at speeds sometimes as slow as 56k. (other monthly charges and a 12-month term commitment apply). Effective today, the new Privacy+ Tier is available for $24.99, when it is ordered with a qualifying service bundle. Existing AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet customers can upgrade to the Privacy+ service through the company's Web site and take advantage of the current pricing promotion beginning Monday.

"Consumers are craving greater privacy, and now with the AT&T Privacy+ service, they can at least get the satisfaction that the government is going to get their private data at the slowest speeds possible; "Consumers could easily get more privacy from a company that doesn't offer the NSA a fat pipe right onto its backbone, but with the incredible amount of money that the government paid us for that pipe, we just couldn't pass it up. The new Privacy+ Tier, tips the scales back just a little bit in favor of the consumer," said Scott Helbing, chief marketing officer-AT&T Consumer.

Also effective Monday, May 1, the NSA can sign up for the new NSA Turbo-Speed Tier, which for an extra $28.95 per month, per customer, allows the government to override the newly created Privacy+ Tier. "The NSA is craving greater speed to American's private communications, and now with the NSA Turbo-Speed Tier, they can at least get the satisfaction that they can resume domestic spying at the highest speeds possible; "The NSA will be hard-pressed to find this speed at a better price, for a full 12 months, from one of our leading competitors," said Scott Helbing, chief marketing officer-AT&T Consumer.

AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet also announced that with the NSA paying an undisclosed, but very large amount of money for access to its backbone data, and with a higher than expected demand from consumers, that it has decided to ask popular web sites, such as Google and eBay to also pay a monthly fee to insure a speedy deliver of all consumer data to these web sites. In that regard, AT&T Yahoo introduced the new Extortion-racket Tier.

Also, in a move that is sure to stun Wall Street, AT&T has announced that they will soon enter the "garbage collection" business.

About the New AT&T

AT&T Inc. is one of the world's largest telecommunications holding companies and is the largest in the United States. Operating globally under the AT&T brand, AT&T companies are recognized as the leading worldwide providers of IP-based communications services to business and as leading U.S. providers of high-speed DSL Internet, local and long distance voice, and directory publishing and advertising services. AT&T Inc. holds a 60 percent ownership interest in Cingular Wireless, which is the No. 1 U.S. wireless services provider with 55.8 million wireless customers. Additional information about AT&T Inc. and AT&T products and services is available at www.att.com.

You will also be charged a monthly FUSF (Federal Universal Service Fund) cost recovery fee to help cover charges from our data transport supplier pursuant to state and federal telecom regulations. This fee is not a tax or government required charge.

Contact:AT&T Inc.
Sarah Baker, 314-982-8659
sbaker@attnews.us"

Re:AT&T Introduces Privacy+ Tier (5, Funny)

guttentag (313541) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257229)

For $24.95 a month extra, the new Privacy+ Tier offers consumers the ability to feed all data to the NSA at the slowest speeds available. However, for an extra $28.95 per month, per customer, the NSA can override the Privacy+ Tier and spy on Americans at Speeds of up to 6.0 Megabits per Second

You can't stop them from giving the NSA your data, but for an extra $29.99 a month you can have AT&T re-class your data as Privacy+ tier which costs the NSA an extra $599.99 in monthly surcharges to obtain. For the extra-privacy-conscious, you can name your price ($50 or greater) for PrivacyUnlimited and whatever you spend per month will cost the NSA 30 times as much to obtain.

AT&T: We're Listening

It costs the government NOTHING. (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | 1 year,13 days | (#44256935)

The government isn't a producer of wealth. Every penny it spends is taken from us.

-jcr

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257069)

I wish I had mod points.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257095)

With that logic every penny we all spend is taken from our employers? No one/entity is a producer of wealth with your logic. The government does things for us, their employers, that would warrant us paying for. Now, the difference is that we don't have as much say as OUR employers do in how much the government makes off us.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257193)

You should read some introductory economics; then you'd understand what does and doesn't "produce wealth". The government doesn't; some other entities in the economy. To find out who, you have to wait for like the first or second chapter.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (3, Insightful)

Lendrick (314723) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257323)

You might want to get a new introductory economics book. Yours sounds like it was written to promote a political view rather than actually, ya know, teach economics.

The government is just as capable of producing wealth as any other entity. If the government spends money on a program that adds more value to the economy than the cost of the program (such as food assistance, which has close to a 2:1 return), then the government has produced wealth. Whether the entity is public or private doesn't figure into it at all.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257427)

Bzzt! You lose. For your "theory", lets say the government buys a $1000 widget. It didn't produce that widget, it spent the money to buy that widget. It didn't spend $1000 for that widget, it spent $1200 because the government has its overhead. The best part is it took that $1200 from wealth producers and it cost the government an additional $100 to run the IRS for that. On top of that it will probably spend $400 in interest on loans for that original amount.

So, by your example, being generous the government created $1000 in wealth at a cost to the economy of $1700. So for every widget the government "produces" the economy loses $700. Its great if you are the one selling the widget, but the economy overall is a loser.

Thats how it works. No amount of spin or web of lies changes it.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257479)

nope --your simple example is simply wrong and ignores many hidden costs. no amount of ignorance on your part changes it.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (2, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | 1 year,13 days | (#44258099)

You're missing a zero. The government spent $12,000 for that $1000 widget. What with bureaucrats and bribes and kickbacks and stuff... widgets are expensive!

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44259107)

Thats how it works. No amount of spin or web of lies changes it.

That might be how it works in the US.

Where I live the government saw a need in certain fields that the private market didn't fill so the government started its own companies to solve those issues.
The government run companies worked reasonably well and was economic producers.

The way you seem to want it to work is that the government should be an economic drain no matter what it does. You can do it that way if you want to bet that doesn't mean that everyone else have to follow.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (1, Troll)

Joce640k (829181) | 1 year,12 days | (#44259357)

Bzzt! You lose. For your "theory", lets say the government buys a $1000 widget. It didn't produce that widget, it spent the money to buy that widget. It didn't spend $1000 for that widget, it spent $1200 because the government has its overhead.

Bzzt! You lose. The government pays at least 400% markup on anything it buys.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | 1 year,12 days | (#44259761)

Wow, that's the most oversimplified attempt at discussing economics I've seen for a long time. Hint: economics is complicated - if it were easy we'd have a simple working system that everyone could agree one (or, at least, the people who worked out out would get very rich by betting on the economy 100% correctly and other people would notice) - and any explanation that simple is likely to be wrong.

Consider the following counter example:

The government builds and maintains a road between two places. This employs people, taking them out of the labour pool where they could be doing other things, so it's a cost. But it also allows the two places to trade more cheaply, which increases wealth production. Similarly, employers at either end of the road would have access to a wider pool of employees and potential employees to a wider pool of employers and so people would end up in more productive employment.

Now, would the same apply if private industry built the road? This is where it starts to get more complicated. First, who would build the road? It might be some consortium of businesses at both ends who wanted to use it. If so, then they might charge money to anyone not part of the consortium to use it, which would give them a competitive advantage, but be less healthy for the economy as a whole by producing a barrier to competition (and, most specifically, a barrier to entry for new companies).

It might be a third party that thought that the road would be profitable, who would run it as a 'common carrier' toll road. This, however, would provide a disincentive for people to use it. If they priced it too low, then they'd go out of business (which would discourage future road-building companies). If they priced it too high, then they'd make it unprofitable for some users to use it, however given that the cost of the road is now a sunk cost the economy as a whole benefits if as many people as would gain any benefit at all from it use it.

In some cases, the benefit to the economy may be significantly lower than the cost of the road, so it would not make sense for the government to make the investment. It's often difficult to make that call, however. In the UK, be Beeching Report identified a large number of unprofitable railway lines and, to save taxpayer money, the nationalised railway service closed them. Unfortunately, it turned out that a lot of the unprofitable lines were ones that got people from near where they lived to a more profitable line. When they were closed, people at the edges ended up having to buy cars, which meant that they no longer used the larger lines either, and so pushed those into unprofitability (and so there was a second Beeching Report some years later which repeated the entire mistake). The cost to the economy of no longer having a widespread, cheap, railway network is widely agreed by economists to be significantly greater than the savings from closing the lines.

A nationally owned private rail operator may have seen further ahead, but most likely they'd have had shareholders making the same demands: sell off the unprofitable lines and concentrate on the profitable ones. A larger number of smaller railway operators would have had similar problems, with the ones operating the unprofitable lines going out of business and reducing demand on the profitable ones.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (5, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257439)

The government is just as capable of producing wealth as any other entity.

Capable != actually doing it. The private world has the profit motive for keeping it productive. The activity has to generate some sort of value to the actor beyond its cost or it isn't generating a profit.

If the government spends money on a program that adds more value to the economy than the cost of the program (such as food assistance, which has close to a 2:1 return), then the government has produced wealth.

Where is this study that claims a 2:1 return? I decided to google for this and came across this study [usda.gov] . The money quote:

SNAP brings Federal dollars into communities in the form of benefits which are redeemed by SNAP participants at local stores. These benefits ripple throughout the economies of the community, State, and Nation. For example:

* Every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates $9.00 in total community spending.
* Every additional dollarâ(TM)s worth of SNAP benefits generates 17 to 47 cents of new spending on food.
* On average, $1 billion of retail food demand by SNAP recipients generates close to 3,000 farm jobs.

Note that $5 in spending produces $9 in spending not wealth. So right there we don't have a 2:1 return. As I see it, we take $5 of someone's money and use it to generate far less than $5 of value - feeding someone who can feed themselves. That's negative return on investment right there.

It's a destructive economic gimmick to conflate spending or economic activity with wealth creation. They aren't equivalent or even correlated. For example, a disaster creates a lot of spending and economic activity (from reconstruction efforts), but it results in a net loss of wealth.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (2)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257455)

And I might add the "money quote" also uses the infamous "jobs created or saved" metric. 3,000 jobs created for only a billion dollars spent? They should be embarrassed for even dropping that line in there.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44258263)

The private world has the profit motive for keeping it productive.

They have the motive to make profit. That does not necessarily equate to being productive. There are many companies right now that have increased profits with decreased revenues and decreased production. Where's the wealth building in that?

Note that $5 in spending produces $9 in spending not wealth. So right there we don't have a 2:1 return. As I see it, we take $5 of someone's money and use it to generate far less than $5 of value - feeding someone who can feed themselves. That's negative return on investment right there.

You are correct that spending does not equal wealth building. However, there is some correlation. Spending on durable goods is a good indicator of wealth building. The U.S. GDP is somewhere around $16 trillion. U.S. wealth is calculated at over $100 trillion.

It's a destructive economic gimmick to conflate spending or economic activity with wealth creation. They aren't equivalent or even correlated. For example, a disaster creates a lot of spending and economic activity (from reconstruction efforts), but it results in a net loss of wealth.

There is certainly spending that represents a consumption of wealth as well as spending that represents the production of wealth. I think you might be interested in this graph [wikipedia.org] The bottom 40% have .2% and yet we are led to believe that we should tax them more. The government could tax everything they have and it would be almost nothing.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44259685)

As I see it, we take $5 of someone's money and use it to generate far less than $5 of value - feeding someone who can feed themselves.

It's the damn rich people! They're so fucking cheap they can't pass up a free meal! Most of those social welfare-types are actually independently wealthy. And they are hardly grateful for all the arduous work you put in supporting the economy and paying your taxes to pay for these programs... they're just getting richer saving money on soup while you alone labor endlessly, being a self-made man than never had any help from anyone ever.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (2)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257903)

See also: slave labor.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (4, Interesting)

stenvar (2789879) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257933)

If the government spends money on a program that adds more value to the economy than the cost of the program (such as food assistance, which has close to a 2:1 return), then the government has produced wealth. Whether the entity is public or private doesn't figure into it at all.

That money the government spent was taken away from someone who then couldn't invest it in something else. So, in order to show a net benefit to society, it's not sufficient to show that the government produced a positive return, it's necessary to show that it produced a positive return that was larger than the person the money was taken away from would have gotten, and that these benefits are large enough to compensate for the additional negative effects that taxation and government spending have.

Of course, your claim of a "2:1 return" is unsubstantiated to begin with. The USDA study where this number seems to come from (you fail to provide sources for your ridiculous statement, so you leave your readers guessing) claims an economic multiplier of 1.79. An "economic multiplier" is not a "return". You can have "economic multipliers" with no net benefit to society at all, or even negative "returns". And even that number is based on a single report, using an economic model (rather than empirical data), created by single person at an organization with a strong interest to make SNAP appear in a positive light.

I happen to think SNAP is one of the better welfare programs and should continue, but your statements about it border on fraud.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (-1, Redundant)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | 1 year,13 days | (#44258793)

False. All that is necessary is to show it is a positive return for society, vs for profit. An individual or a corporation might invest for profit, or to further a pet cause. The promise of government invention, when it is done right (such an essential caveat), is that "we the people" can invest in areas profit has no concern with. That's a very good thing.

Re: It costs the government NOTHING. (3, Interesting)

stenvar (2789879) | 1 year,13 days | (#44258869)

Well, I think then the government should take all the money you earn and reallocate it. You can live in public housing and get SNAP for food. According to you, it's clear that that would produce the greatest societal benefits, since the government according to you knows better what to do with your earnings than you do.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (-1)

mjwx (966435) | 1 year,13 days | (#44258763)

You might want to get a new introductory economics book. Yours sounds like it was written to promote a political view rather than actually, ya know, teach economics.

The government is just as capable of producing wealth as any other entity.

As far as economics go, the government can be a revenue producing entity.

In the case of many governments throughout the world, they are. Most budgest have line items for "interest accrued" and "returns on investment" under Income. In the case of city-states like Singapore, the government owns a lot of private enterprises (Tamasek and Singapore Airlines for example) which provides most of the state revenue (the downside of this is that the state is enabled to run as a dictatorship and yes, Singapore is a quasi dictatorship).

Where government differs from private enterprise in that the primary goal is not to create more income, but to provide services.

If the government spends money on a program that adds more value to the economy than the cost of the program (such as food assistance, which has close to a 2:1 return), then the government has produced wealth. Whether the entity is public or private doesn't figure into it at all.

Quoted for truth.

Governments to produce a lot of wealth, its just that it benefits non-governmental entities most of the time (including the citizens in this group).

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (-1, Flamebait)

jcr (53032) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257285)

With that logic every penny we all spend is taken from our employers?

Please shut up. Your ignorance is painful to anyone who reads it.

-jcr

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (1)

Khyber (864651) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257327)

That isn't ignorance.

It's raw economics.

The fact that the fool doesn't understand doesn't make his point any less true than it already is.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (1, Insightful)

Livius (318358) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257389)

There's a difference between ignorance and a self-evident truth that you happen not to like.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257353)

With that logic every penny we all spend is taken from our employers?

To answer your question... with that logic, no.

Perhaps you don't understand that logic?

The fact of the matter is that you, in collusion with your employer, create wealth.

Spending is not wealth creation. Adding value is wealth creation.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257799)

With that logic every penny we all spend is taken from our employers? No one/entity is a producer of wealth with your logic. The government does things for us, their employers, that would warrant us paying for. Now, the difference is that we don't have as much say as OUR employers do in how much the government makes off us.

You're an idiot!!!

Wealth is created by taking something of little value and making it have value.... For example, sand is pretty common and not very valuable on the other hand, the windshield of your mother's car is quite expensive. They are both made of the same material but one is more valuable. It gained value because someone spent their time and used their skill to make it valuable. When the Govt taxes, there is less money to hire such individuals so less product and less wealth... Also, when the Govt takes the money there is less money to purchase that valuable product. When those two negatives are taken to the extreme as is the current tax situation, the economy as a whole crashes...

Now you know why the economy sucks... The Govt is too big... The Govt only destroys wealth... and more importantly the Govt destroys the incentive to create wealth.

Nope (0)

PhuckIndian (2943641) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257127)

Ben Shalom Bernanke & Co. generates some number in their computer and buying U.S. treasury bills, which in terms fund the government at low interest rates. Let's see who is going to mod this comment down for being anti-Semitic.

Re:Nope (1)

Isara (869637) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257265)

I totally would if I could. Seriously, was it necessary to prove your point?

Re:Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257549)

I agree Isara, let's gas that PhuckIndian and throw him in the oven! There's gotta be at least six-million hooknosed and smarmy but wise-investing asshole trolls like PhuckIndian on the internet who deserved it.

Censor PhuckIndian, he's a racist! Racists should have their posts deleted from the internet! Especially Racists who insult the Jews, for the Jews are the only demographic stand-up comedians are not allowed to insult* !

* It's true - I went to an actual stand-up comedy show in a mid-grade club, and the Hispanic comedian railed on about Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Whites. The club was howling with laughter, then he started railing on Jews and the crowd became uncomfortable with a "ooooooooo" in unison. The comedian pointed out, "Oh, so its okay to do it to the Blacks?" Wisely setting the crowd up to make them look like not only hypocrites, but assholes. Actually, myself and my racist then-date were the only ones who laughed at the Jew jokes.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (4, Insightful)

Jason Levine (196982) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257179)

In other words, it costs us twice. First, to get cell phone service (acceptable though whether the amount is fair is arguable) and second to send our data to the NSA without our approval (definitely NOT acceptable). And the phone companies get paid twice by us (well, once by the government using our tax money). So they aren't likely to argue too strenuously against this unless the potential for bad PR is too high. (In other words, they'll work doubly hard to keep the whole thing secret.)

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (2, Insightful)

norpy (1277318) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257391)

You happen to be wrong because you are forgetting the multiplier effect. Every dollar the government spends is spent repeatedly before it ends up stopped in a savings account or cash horde somewhere. This is why income/wealth is taxed in the first place, to force it back into circulation.
Taking money and then just spending it immediately IS wealth generating, it is the driver of inflation and all that stuff.

Savings and interest payments have the opposite effect, money that is hoarded is a drag on the economy and does not create wealth.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257571)

Economic activity != wealth creation.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (0)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257905)

No. Let me guess, you `invest' your money into gold. *snicker*

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,12 days | (#44260523)

No. Let me guess, you `invest' your money into gold. *snicker*

No, I was merely stating the obvious.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (1)

rtb61 (674572) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257969)

I can't believe anyone could be that ignorant. Piles of printed paper, digital records in computers, lumps of shiny metal, various crystals are all completely and totally valueless with economic activity defining their wealth. It is the trade in goods, resources and, skills that define value and hence wealth. Your simpleton view, that somehow you can survive in a capitalistic world sitting on your meaningless hoard without spending it and creating economic activity, is just so unfathomably ignorant.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (1)

stenvar (2789879) | 1 year,13 days | (#44258007)

You happen to be wrong because you are forgetting the multiplier effect. Every dollar the government spends is spent repeatedly before it ends up stopped in a savings account or cash horde somewhere. This is why income/wealth is taxed in the first place, to force it back into circulation.

This is so ridiculous that I can't tell whether you are trying to make fun of Keynesian economics and progressivism or whether you are that ignorant.

Just on the off-chance that you are actually serious...

Savings and interest payments have the opposite effect, money that is hoarded is a drag on the economy and does not create wealth.

Money that is "saved" is actually invested by others who know what to do with it. When you go to the bank and put your money there, it is immediately put into circulation by others to start companies, expand their businesses, build houses, buy cars, and generate value. That is the primary driver of economic growth. The more you interfere with that through taxation, the worse off we all end up being.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | 1 year,13 days | (#44258111)

Savings and investment are also wealth generators because it's money being loaned out to people who have some sort of track record of knowing what to do with it, otherwise there wouldn't be any interest payments.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (1)

evilviper (135110) | 1 year,13 days | (#44258911)

money that is hoarded is a drag on the economy and does not create wealth.

That's only true if your "savings" is stuffed in your mattress. If your "savings" is in a bank "Saving Account", Money Market Account, Certificate of Deposit, or similar, it's quite beneficial to the economy, as the bank then loans the money out, giving you a cut of the interest.

This should be something you learn when you are 5 years old... The same bank you use for your savings and checking accounts, is where you go to get a mortgage when you want to buy a house.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257557)

The government produces infrastructure (usually), which gives the greatest wealth returns of all.

Your argument is invalid.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257605)

It is actually a (re)distributor of wealth. That is the classic role of all governments/authority figures.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (5, Insightful)

Alomex (148003) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257623)

Actually many of the activities of the government are wealth producing, including science, education and infrastructure.

The funny thing is that obviously false FoxNews talking point gets modded +5 Insightful because it appeals to people to be told that money was unjustly taken from them.

p.s. By the way people out there reading this with mod points, you are all extremely handsome and you pay too much taxes, and you deserve a raise.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44258133)

Liberal arguments are all to often indistinguishable from sarcasm. Not sure if you really believe any of that or not.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44258365)

If you cannot tell that science and technology are wealth producing you are stupider than I thought.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (1)

liamevo (1358257) | 1 year,12 days | (#44259241)

How stupid did you think AC was?

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | 1 year,13 days | (#44258149)

The government able to pay for crap like this is proof that we are over taxed, and the government get's too much funding.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (1, Interesting)

Alomex (148003) | 1 year,13 days | (#44258217)

We are undertaxed. How can we tell? because we are running a deficit. As simple as that.

Say if you go to a restaurant and start paying by installments. How do you go about finding out if you have over or underpaid? well you check to see if you still have a deficit on your tab, if there is still one you haven't paid enough. It is no different with the government,

What you are trying to say is that the government is overspending and I might or might not agree with you (in fact, I agree with you: it overspends by a mile particularly in defense matters and tax subsidies to the wealthy people/corporations), but saying we are overtaxed today is a factual falsehood propagated by the GOP. Given current levels of expenditures we are way under-taxed.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44258209)

I have no problem paying taxes. I have no problem seeing the government spending that tax money. I do have a problem with wasting tax money. And as an engineer who works on government sponsored programs, let me tell you that there is a ton of waste just in my field.

So from that perspective, when the government tells me that I need to pay another $100 and I know that $50 of that is going to some bloated bureaucratic process that adds no value, or to a subcontractor who is actually going to do the bulk of the work, or that the "product" is not worth the price, yeah, I think that is unjust. (I pulled those numbers out of the air by the way.)

This is the argument that the tea party and conservative talking heads try to make. The issue isn't that the government is stealing money. It's that it is blatantly ripping taxpayers off to finance the interests of politicians.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44258285)

It's that it is blatantly ripping taxpayers off to finance the interests of politicians.

....and finance the interests of the lobbying corporations who get said politicians elected (from either party).

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257703)

The government isn't a producer of wealth. Every penny it spends is taken from us.

-jcr

This is funny because every year the government increases the monetary supply - it literally makes pennies and dollars, pennies and dollars that didn't exist before.

Re:It costs the government NOTHING. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44258089)

Except for infrastructure. Bridges and roads create wealth. Efficiency may be debated but infrastructure does add value to society. Defense, law, and order operate on the premise of preventing the destruction of wealth. Debating about what the government should do and how it should do it is one thing. Acting like the government is nothing but bad is silly and naive. Someone will be in charge.

slightly off topic (2)

Presto Vivace (882157) | 1 year,13 days | (#44256945)

US govt views privacy-enhancing encryption as an illegal weapon

Re:slightly off topic (1)

Pseudonym (62607) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257433)

It's not quite that bad. [wikipedia.org] The current rules are complex and stupid, but not necessarily more evil than any similar complex bureaucratic regulation.

Jeez connect these dots, also off topic (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257601)

Just reading back through some of the linked articles below the PRISM one, geez this stuff is sickening :

"FBI urges renewal of surveillance measures after foiled al-Qaida plot"
http://m.guardiannews.com/world/2012/may/09/fbi-surveillance-measures-al-qaida

"The head of the FBI has said his agency was "exploiting" the seizure of an intact and advanced form of underwear bomb that Islamic militants in Yemen had apparently wanted to use in an attempt to target a US-based jet."

"Robert Mueller told a congressional hearing in Washington on Wednesday that the supposed plot, revealed by the Associated Press on Monday, demonstrated the need to renew surveillance provisions that expire at the end of the year."

"'Underwear bomber' was working for the CIA"
http://m.guardiannews.com/world/2012/may/09/underwear-bomber-working-for-cia
Turns out later he was a CIA agent.

They're making their own terror plots, providing the explosives, RC Planes, underpants?, whatever is needed and creating their own terror plots to justify the surveillance.

I wonder if the FBI chief was in on it when he testified to Congress, or whether NSA & CIA Chiefs simply made up the plot and kept him out of the loop so he could lie to Congress with deniability.
I wonder if Obama (I'm, going to stop calling him 'President' Obama since he's clearly not in charge) was told the Underwear bomber was CIA, or was he told he was a bomber? We Obama lied to aswell?

Did Robert Mueller lie to Congress or did NSA/CIA lie to him?

Re:slightly off topic (1)

AHuxley (892839) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257979)

US govt views privacy-enhancing encryption without a US back door as an illegal weapon.
You can export and offer all the strong encryption you like and present it internationally.
The text or voice or data entry would be on MS or some other US OS/hardware.
The cloud 'key' better turn it back to plain text on a US server.
You data is safe in transit, never safe at each US end.
Think CALEA with extra "illegal weapon" jail time if you or your company does not want to sit down and play nice.

Its about the money. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44256959)

Once again, its all about the money. As bad as it is for the companies to sell this information, I find it much worse that that the government is secretly spending our money on spying on us. A warrant will get them access for free if its justified, right?

Sequester the NSA's funding please. Congress, really, how unpopular would it be to take that money away and spend it on some other stupid program or maybe even a good one?

Save some taxes while you fuck off you fuckers (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44256971)

Their is a simple way for the goverment to save at least fifty percent and stop playing spy. Instead of paying all that freaken tax money to phone companies, just pay my bill and front me a few bucks each month, pay ten bucks to get a second phone on my line. This sure as hell makes me think they have way too much time on their hands to fuck off instead of doing something usefull.

NSA budget is classified (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44256993)

i mean, if you want to start talking about leaks of highly sensitive information, you cant get much more sensitive.
whoever put this info out there is basically, legally, the same as edward snowden.

and also a bunch of people on obama's staff who leaked classified info about the bin ladin raid.

Re:NSA budget is classified (2)

Qzukk (229616) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257121)

What could this possibly have to do with the NSA budget? This is just what different companies charge the government for wiretaps, that's all.

Wonder what Sprint charges? (5, Funny)

pecosdave (536896) | 1 year,13 days | (#44256997)

Because they're sure not using it to make their network worth a crap.

Re:Wonder what Sprint charges? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257101)

They're expanding their direct connections to the NSA. They found out it's a better business model to set up wiretaps than it is to provide good internet connections.

Re:Wonder what Sprint charges? (2)

pecosdave (536896) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257325)

By having a shitty network it could be argued Sprint is looking out for their customers privacy.

Re:Wonder what Sprint charges? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257815)

Because they're sure not using it to make their network worth a crap.

I was wondering the same thing... I'm betting Spring just gives it away!!!

Empower me (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257041)

So the NSA is going to do it anyways... at least let me sell my data. Give me a tax break or something...

Telecoms (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257083)

If the day ever comes, the people in charge of these telecoms need to be the first ones put up against the wall.

Well, maybe the second ones...

These fees acting as a handout... (1)

PhuckIndian (2943641) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257099)

to the big telcos. Treat it as a form of stimulus.

Good for Verizon (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257217)

I' d rather be on the network that charges the government the most to listen to my phone calls...

Do I have this right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257263)

Additional cost to the government to use Prism to get your calls if they don't have a warrant - $0.00
Cost to the government if they have a warrant - $375 to $775

Re:Do I have this right? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257893)

The Prism aspect seems to be a 24/7 open pipe for the FBI links/launders/obfuscates to the NSA.
For something like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A [wikipedia.org] you would only need a few cleared contractors for every packet.
The warrant seems to be more an exchange level log/link/tap just on your line and seems to need hands on efforts or internal legally cleared US admin paperwork.
Roving taps, sneak and peek and other PATRIOT Act fun seems to be lost in the funding mix?

Cut out the middleman (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257311)

Let me sell my shit direct.

Wait (4, Funny)

superwiz (655733) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257365)

Can I get in on that action? That's waaaay more money than a phone subscription would cost. I'll record all of my own conversations on all communication devices (and I'll increase the number of those that I have by a factor of 10-100) if they pay me half of that amount for each device-subscription combo. Heck, I'd do for a quarter of that amount. I'd still be ahead.

So now we know Skypes business model (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257381)

This must be Skypes business model then. Well do you think Microsoft develops all these backdoors and supplies them for free? No way! The company was never worth $7 billion on it's disclosed revenue, it must have had some other value to Microsoft.

Next big elephant in the room, IS WINDOW BACKDOORED. I mean beyond the NSA certificate, has Microsoft sent down updates that are really NSA spy packages?

How much of Silicon valleys business is a subsidy from the US Gov in the form of a pay-to-spy?

Sweet Jesus (1)

f00zbll (526151) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257465)

I'll sell my phone records to the NSA any day as long as I get the same fee. That would pay for my cell phone bill with extra to go to my kids college fund.

It gets worse. (4, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257709)

For example, AT&T, imposes a $325 'activation fee' for each wiretap and $10 a day to maintain it.

These are only promotional introductory rates, good for the first 24 months. After that, the charges revert to "standard" rates, the details of which are not available anywhere.

Even the NSA has not been able to find any information on what they will have pay at the end of the promotional period.

Cut out the middleman! (1)

John Pfeiffer (454131) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257819)

Hell, they could just pay me and I'll conference in a number they provide on every call.

so much money (2)

NovaHorizon (1300173) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257881)

How about they just pay me $500/month and I'll let them listen to one of my phone lines 0.o That's a lot of money I could use right now. Hell, they can make it $3000/month and I'll let them have one of my email addresses, my skype, and one of my phone lines.. even the text messages for that line... (I'll just then be careful what I say on those specific sources xD )

Re:so much money (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44258885)

The point of spying on someone is doing it without their knowledge. :P

Re:so much money (1)

crtreece (59298) | 1 year,12 days | (#44260373)

my skype

Microsoft [slashdot.org] already gave that up for you

So what you're saying is (3, Interesting)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | 1 year,13 days | (#44257959)

So what you're saying is the telcos have a built in motivation to search for and find (or create) the perception of as much criminal wrongdoing on the part of their hapless customers as they possibly can. Don't bother telling me me they wouldn't do this- I read The Guardian, not the Washington Post.

Re:So what you're saying is (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | 1 year,13 days | (#44258731)

I read The Guardian

So what you're saying is, you've got that perception covered for them?

A little tidbit from the peanut gallery (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44257997)

Been there, setup that.

CALEA stands for "Cellular Assistance for Law Enforcement Agencies. It says that Cellular companies are to assist - but it doesn't say that they do it for free. What I can tell you is this:

1) Most of the taps my carrier did were done using Internet VPN's to our gear. The protocol used between the collectors (owned by the LEA) and our gear is called J-Std-25A and J-Std-25B. The PBX feeds to LEA's are controlled in the carrier by something called a "stargate".

Normally these feeds include the time, source number and destination number of a call. The contents of any text messages. The packet data of picture messages and all Internet traffic, along with the source and destination IP's. Getting actual call data requires a bit more setup and is a tad more advanced than the cheap tap prices listed. More features == more bucks.

2) When a wiretap is issued, it's signed by a judge and has a lifetime of 30 days. Data *MUST BE DELIVERED* during that 30 day period. Any data collected during that period by the carrier must be delivered to the LEA during the court order. If data is collected and not delivered, come the end of the wiretap, the LEA cannot use that data. The collection systems they use enforce this. If the VPN isn't provisioned when they get the tap order, then they have to submit a request to build a VPN, then we build the VPN, then we test, then it gets turned up. Note that the legal department at the carrier audits all tap requests before approving them. If they don't pass muster, they don't happen.

3) Most of the LEA's in question use Nortel Contivity firewalls, however, most are switching to Cisco 5505's. Most LEA's who setup this stuff have at best one guy who knows how to setup and maintain the firewall gear. Many let the makers of the collection software handle their VPN's.

4) The collection systems correlate gobs of data from multiple wiretaps and then produce reports. Lincoln Systems is one of the big players in this space.

5) Carriers cannot keep logs for long - because the volume of traffic is insane. For example - you have a firewall with a /24 block of IP's assigned for just customer NAT using overload NAT - and every IP is in use, 24/7, and just imagine how many droids are going out and checking email every 10 minutes. Remember, carriers combine markets. It's even worse if you use a Blackberry as all your traffic goes to their DC in Canada before getting out. In any case, there's always some random cop that emails crap like "I need to know who had IP address x.y.z.q on Feb. 25th." - good luck with that buddy - unless we're logging a user specifically - and that ain't a standard CALEA request, there's no way you'll ever know. With IPv6 is used, this convenience goes away, FYI - as the IP address assigned will likely be linked to the MAC of your phone's radio.
6) Under exigent circumstances, getting locational data on a user can be done by LEA - and then we'll find out what tower they're near and what sector from it. We cannot force the GPS on, but we can narrow them down to a particular 10-block area easily enough. This usually happens during kidnapping or child abduction if they have a number for a suspect who's not answering their phone..

7) Carrier IQ information is an excellent source of information on folks as well - though the LEA's don't usually get that data - when someone says they had a call drop, carrier IQ data is often queried to find out if they're correct - or if they're lying. People try to lie their way out of contracts more often than you'd believe.

8) Carries often outsource the handling of all CALEA requests to a company called Neustar. These guys take on the legal review, and tap provisioning and in some cases even the VPN stuff. They also automate their stuff as well, and run all this from their own call centers.

9) Carriers are also outsourcing lots of data to data processing houses like Terradata. Sending stuff like authentication logs out to a third-party for large database reporting sounds like a good idea - but keep in mind that someone getting access to that data will be able to determine where you are based on what towers you're authenticating with. Remember, your phone authenticates itself with EVERY visible tower in the PRL, and then when none of those are handy, it'll try roaming. When it logs into a tower, an authentication request is recorded - along with some info about the MDN such as sector, power, Etc. Correlate that on a few towers and I can know where you are without a GPS. All the gov needs there is a prism tap..

10) Carriers outsource the geolocation of calls based on tower data. This is called E2 services. The groups handing the E2 resolution of location also provide E5 services - that's the emergency responder info for the area that your E2 resolves you in. This is how they know you get the boony cops in boonytown, and the moony cops in moonytown.

11) Every once in a while, if your phone has been quiet for a long while and they're not sure if their wiretap is working, some of the riskier agencies will call a target just to make sure their stuff is working. This is obviously high risk (and stupid IMHO) but nonetheless, done.

I know of a case where a 10-month investigation into a drug ring in a southern state, one that resulted in 20 folks getting arrested, the final bill for the taps was up in the $700k range.

Conclusion:

3G has more anonymity than people realize from a wireless carrier standpoint. You can get away with plenty on a 3G data connection.

To get wiretapped, LEA's gotta pay - and that kind of money doesn't grow on trees. Some carriers are cheaper than others, but not too long ago taps for $2000+ per number..

If you want to use cell phones and do illegal shit: Get a Trac Phone for $20 (cash) to use as a toss phone, get an activation card for $20. Register everything using the phone. Don't turn the phone on anywhere except in your car, away from your house. Remove the battery before going home with the phone. Don't keep Smartphones near the toss phone. Once every couple of months, toss the toss phone and buy a new setup for $40 cash. Once you start really wheeling and dealing, toss the toss phone monthly - and after you get any wrong numbers.

Re:A little tidbit from the peanut gallery (1)

AHuxley (892839) | 1 year,13 days | (#44258431)

Re: If you want to use cell phones
They will still get you from the numbers you ring and sooner or later get your voice print due to the contacts made.
Say you ring 20 people. 2 could be undercover or turned - all logged. 1 could be known and under active surveillance.
If a 3G data connection was not easy to track it would have never been adopted as a standard.
The standard would have been send back to the developers until the US/UK govs where happy with it ie keep amateur scanners out, gov gets it all.
Powerful computers and voice-recognition software allowed for sigint to got vast upgrades in ~2005 for the UK.
Deep packet sniffers seem to have been added too under "maintaining the capability" from classic taps.
Everything that nation states had for war 10 years ago is now up for sale to federal task forces and city/state use depending on federal funding.

Re:A little tidbit from the peanut gallery (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44259773)

Everything you said is a fable. Not one once of truth other than to be weasel words/phrases. Nice try .gov

That big price tag would be more satisfactory (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | 1 year,13 days | (#44258797)

If it didn't come out of your own pocket.

Re:That big price tag would be more satisfactory (1)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,13 days | (#44258897)

If it didn't come out of your own pocket.

well, these are just the legit on warrant taps. not the dump taps.

It's not the government that pays, (1)

zapyon (575974) | 1 year,12 days | (#44259487)

it is YOU, the tax payers. So, in effect, you are all paying for being surveyed. Yes, me, too.

Why am i suddenly feeling all warm and cosy – not?

Re:It's not the government that pays, (1)

buck-yar (164658) | 1 year,12 days | (#44259789)

Who cares, most people in this country are statist/authoritarians. I'm glad the govt is sucking them dry, spending $600k on facebook likes and **** like that. They voted these people in, they should reap the misery they produced.

Save Tax Dollars (1)

coinreturn (617535) | 1 year,12 days | (#44259919)

If want to save your tax dollars for something more useful, just post all your information on Facebook.

You don't think those fees get *paid*, do you? (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | 1 year,12 days | (#44260237)

Maybe for individual wiretaps and criminal investigations. But the blanket surveillance? That's just co-location expenses. Remember, compliance with federal law is one of the requirements of licensing, and if federal law says "we get to look over your shoulder at your switching records" then that's just part of the cost of doing business.

Look at all the tax and right-of-way concessions already being made. It's one of the annoying little things about so-called "deregulation" - some of the regulations and requirements and price controls had been the trade-offs for free or cheap access to properties and rights-of-way to install wiring. At some point in the 1970s or 1980s the accountants took over the world and insisted on "monetizing" every layer of everything independently, which caused part of the economic bubble: the amount of money supposedly being spent to buy and sell things went way up, but the numbers were far beyond the actual productive activity - it was all about prices being put on separate things that had previously been bundled parts of the same company ("delivery + usage" of utilities, for example), or for things that had been bartered and/or cooperatively paid (electric and phone lines on the same pole co-maintained by in-house staff vs. two companies each paying a third company to maintain, plus adding cable company etc.)

Plus investment periods ran out. 50 year startup periods sounded like a long time . . . 50 years ago. All of the new suburbs built in the 50s and 60s aren't new any more.

Fed Phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44260243)

Why not just offer free phone service themselves. Would be cheaper for people, free service, and cheaper for them, free surveilance.

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