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How Silicon Valley Helped the NSA

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the with-a-little-help-from-my-friends dept.

Government 163

theodp writes "The U.S. tech giants' pledge to up their privacy game in the wake of reports that all-your-data-belong-to-the-NSA rings a little hollow to Abraham Newman, who reminds us that such protections run counter to the business model and public policy agenda that tech companies have pursued for decades. 'For years,' writes Newman, 'U.S. information technology (IT) firms have actively backed weak privacy rules that let them collect massive amounts of personal data. The strategy enabled the companies to work their way into every corner of consumers' lives and gave them a competitive edge internationally. Those same policies, however, have come back to haunt IT firms. Lax rules created fertile ground for NSA snooping. In the wake of the surveillance scandals, as consumer confidence plummets, technology companies' economic futures are threatened.'"

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163 comments

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Like we didn't know (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45389771)

New privacy rules won't do a damn thing. We need to prevent NSA and other trolls from acessing the Linux kernel code.

OT COMPLAINT (-1, Offtopic)

glavenoid (636808) | about 9 months ago | (#45390103)

I have ads disabled Slashdot. ADS DISABLED. It's right there in the little checkbox that indicates that ads are disabled. You even thank me for helping to make Slashdot great.

Why then are there ads on this page? I know I could use a blocker but I shouldn't have to because ADS ARE FRAKING DISABLED.

Thank you for reading. :)

Re:OT COMPLAINT (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 9 months ago | (#45390371)

Are you blocking some or all Javascript, or are you using a slightly esoteric browser? Adds are disabled just for me.

Re:Like we didn't know (1)

hebertrich (472331) | about 9 months ago | (#45390259)

Quite a bit too late since the NSA already publishes ( and for a number of years ) their own security enhanced hardened linux.

Re:Like we didn't know (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45390381)

For various definitions of "enhanced."

Strange (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45389801)

How all of us were "ok" with the companies collecting this information. When an intelligence agency combines this info, we suddenly scream for privacy. I'm scared enough that google accesses my Gmail content, and Apple my iMessages and contacts.

Re:Strange (3, Informative)

mrbluze (1034940) | about 9 months ago | (#45389859)

When the telephone was invented, it was obvious to all and sundry that it was prone to eavesdropping. It's the case with all forms of communication. Privacy is never a given, it is something that has to be actively sought and maintained, like any other human "right". What is insulting is that companies are going out of their way to betray the customer. I am not thinking so much of software giants but Intel which forces you to relinquish your privacy with apparently no way to get around their backdoors.

Re:Strange (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45390779)

I am not thinking so much of software giants but Intel which forces you to relinquish your privacy with apparently no way to get around their backdoors.

Stop worrying about intel. AMD is including a TPM in their CPUs too, it has other purposes as well so it has another name but it's the same shit when you distill it. And all the ARM processors are also working on including them. Anyone who doesn't will find themself in a poor position when they're the only ones not permitted to play DRM video.

Re:Strange (4, Insightful)

Mitreya (579078) | about 9 months ago | (#45389933)

all of us were "ok" with the companies collecting this information. When an intelligence agency combines this info, we suddenly scream for privacy.

Google does not have the ability to put us on the no-fly list. "Ok" or not, the threat level just isn't the same.

Re:Strange (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45389977)

All of us were NOT "OK" with companies collecting this information. If you were, I'm sorry for you. In order to be OK with that you'd have to believe that corporations don't have disproportionate power over peoples' lives, that they won't sell you out in a heartbeat because it's profitable or because they don't want to be bothered, and most importantly, that information once collected won't be abused. Information will ALWAYS be abused and there are only two cures for that: don't collect it in the first place, or jail the abusers of it. That latter is kind of satisfying, but rather hard to pull off unfortunately. It is far better to not allow the collection in the first place, and that means reeling in corporate power in addition to government power.

You say the threat level isn't the same. I would submit to you that the only reason we don't have private corporate armies running around the US (we used to) is that they have simply outsourced that task to the government. So when you speak of government or corporations in this country, you're just talking about the same large entity which has to be stopped.

Re:Strange (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45390077)

All of us were NOT "OK" with companies collecting this information. If you were, I'm sorry for you. In order to be OK with that you'd have to believe that corporations don't have disproportionate power over peoples' lives, that they won't sell you out in a heartbeat because it's profitable or because they don't want to be bothered, and most importantly, that information once collected won't be abused. Information will ALWAYS be abused and there are only two cures for that: don't collect it in the first place, or jail the abusers of it. That latter is kind of satisfying, but rather hard to pull off unfortunately. It is far better to not allow the collection in the first place, and that means reeling in corporate power in addition to government power.

You say the threat level isn't the same. I would submit to you that the only reason we don't have private corporate armies running around the US (we used to) is that they have simply outsourced that task to the government. So when you speak of government or corporations in this country, you're just talking about the same large entity which has to be stopped.

Well, The Market is supposed to protect us against this kind of stuff. If we don't like having our private information passed around like Pokemon cards, we take our business to a company that doesn't do that.

Wait? They ALL do it? We don't have a choice? It must be meddling Socialist Government forcing them to be that way!

Re:Strange (5, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 9 months ago | (#45390185)

Actually - you DO have some choice. Did you fill out that frequent shopper's survey? Chump. Did you supply your telephone number the last time you purchased a pizza over the counter? Chumped again. Do you give out your cell phone and email address everytime a vendor requests it? Chumped, chumped, and chumped, over and over again. Do you use that credit card for ALL your purchases? You are so chumped!

Use dollar bills, in person, and refuse to supply information of any kind to the vendor. THEY DON'T NEED ANY INFORMATION TO MAKE A SALE!!

But, if you insist on getting that penny discount on your next bag of Cheeto's, go ahead and play their game.

Re:Strange (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 9 months ago | (#45390445)

Meanwhile, in the real world, grown-ups occasionally need to buy things that aren't sold at the corner deli.

Re:Strange (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 9 months ago | (#45390529)

And, that is such an adult comment. I got my first paying job in 1971. Graduated high school in 1974. Joined the Navy in 1975. Discharged from the Navy in 1983. Need I go on?

I have walked out of stores where the staff was overly prying. "Why do you need my phone number?" "It's required, we're supposed to ask everyone!" "Good bye then!"

If you CHOOSE to be corporate America's chump, that's fine. But don't make excuses to me for it.

Re:Strange (1)

DuckDodgers (541817) | about 9 months ago | (#45390709)

1. There are cheap, cash-only grocery stores near me - but they're only open while I'm at work. So I have to shop at one of the places that offers "free" membership cards with a 30% discount. I'm lucky enough that I could refuse the membership card without completely breaking the household budget, and I could just live with the $50 or more extra I would spend per month on groceries without it. But most families can't afford the difference.

2. Paying cash for all of my fixed expenses, like the cell phone bill, electric bill, mortgage, car insurance, etc... involves a lot of driving and is a pain in the neck. If I mail out checks or use automatic bill pay - which is what most people do - my bank or credit union knows too much about me and my service vendors know which bank and account number I have. So that's information sharing that it's just not practical to work around. What do you do, get a big batch of cashier's checks from a different source every month and mail them out?

3. Your internet service provider knows a lot about your browsing habits. If you use a VPN service, then all of that information about your browsing habits reside with the VPN service (and for all you know the whole damn company is an NSA front to keep a closer watch on paranoid users). Either way some company has access to your browsing habits unless your entire internet existence is spent on the Tor network or something similar.

4. If you have a cell phone, unless you leave it at home (and if you leave it at home, why have one?) your cell phone company knows your travel habits.

Your advice is useless. Paying cash when you get a pizza won't make any significant difference in your privacy.

Re:Strange (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45390807)

I have a safeway card so old it doesn't have a name. They look at my receipt and go "Thank you, Misterrrrrr...." and I say "You can call me THE BLANK" and take my receipt and go home.

But Google knows all about me :)

Re:Strange (2)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 9 months ago | (#45390063)

This fascistic "only following orders" mindset really needs to be nipped in the bud. America understood that it was unjustifiable in the 1940s, but it's their first refuge now.

If for profit(*) you maintain a product knowingly used for evil, you are just as responsible as the person directing you.

(*) A person who has little choice will have diminished or zero responsibility. So, a destitute person who gets a job as a cleaner for Google when there is nothing else on offer, or someone given forced labour in a prison, cannot really be judged.

Re:Strange (1)

dougmc (70836) | about 9 months ago | (#45390349)

This fascistic "only following orders" mindset really needs to be nipped in the bud. America understood that it was unjustifiable in the 1940s, but it's their first refuge now.

America learned that it was unjustifiable only in the very, very most extreme cases in the 1940s.

If your commander orders you to put a bunch of people into a room and fill it with cyanide gas and you do it ... you might be held accountable for that years later, maybe. (i.e. only if your side loses the war, and you're one the folk they can track down and extradite.)

But if your orders don't involve killing innocent, unarmed, non-threatening people in cold blood -- America expects you to do what you're told. And really, even if your orders do involve killing innocent, unarmed, non-threatening people in cold blood -- you're expected to do what you're told too.

If your military commander orders you to do something, and you don't do it -- bad things happen to you. Now, there is a small chance that years down the road the courts will vindicate you if you decided not to murder a bunch of people -- but if all you did was protect somebody's right to privacy? Yeah, you're going down.

I do agree, the mindset has issues, but our military commanders expect their orders to be carried out, and dissent is only tolerated in the most extreme cases (cases that should never happen, as such orders should not be given.) But if the order is to tap some phones or sniff some networks ... if you refuse to do it, well, you'll get fired and they'll get somebody who does. And you won't be vindicated in the courts, you'll just be blacklisted to some degree in trying to find new work.

Re:Strange (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 9 months ago | (#45390457)

I had thought that the most powerful outcome of the Nuremberg trials was its impact on the public view of necessary ingredients for freedom. IOW, you can never have freedom unless each person acts as a rational individual, questioning everything.

Even if the law hadn't changed, the Western value system had been refined - the civil rights movement of the '60s, for example, was the product of post-war enlightenment. Even the hippy movement was an albeit sometimes directionless expression of, "Question everything!"

But either I have misread the message, or its impact has been lost as veterans and their immediate families+friends have died. I'm sure it's a lot of the latter. 2013 is the first year without a surviving WW1 veteran to stop us forgetting. That scares me a little.

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45390617)

Yeah, look up what happened to the troops that perpetrated the Mai Lai Massacre:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lai_Massacre [wikipedia.org]

and get back to me with your idealism.

Re:Strange (3, Insightful)

WoLpH (699064) | about 9 months ago | (#45390079)

Even besides that. It doesn't matter if you're ok or not. Even if you don't share your information, if one of your friends has your information on a phone and shares this with facebook it will still be shared...

Regardless of whether you've ever consented to share it with facebook or anything else.

Re:Strange (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 9 months ago | (#45390105)

I really want to help all of the people on slashdot to get it once and for all.
Private is what happens in your own home. And once you let in many other people say for a party... Well that is pretty public as well.
What happens on the internet, at a bar, at a party, or anywhere else is in public.
That cell phone conversation you had while waiting in line at the store? Public.
That party where you got drunk and naked? Public.
Email? As private as a postcard.
What do you people don't get about this. If you want something private you have to keep it private.
If you facebook like the International Society of Furry Loving Child Molesting Doms it is not private and people will find out.

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45390121)

Fortunately, some people just aren't willing to give up on having any privacy, as you have. Your archaic notion of privacy has no place in any free country.

Private is what happens in your own home.

Why? The government could install surveillance equipment in your home, just like they can monitor your communications.

Merely because someone could monitor your communications does not necessarily make them public. Email is most certainly not public, even if it is somewhat easy for powerful entities to monitor.

Re:Strange (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 9 months ago | (#45390221)

Email is trivial for anyone to monitor. It is sent in freaking clear text and has been since day one. It is like handing a folded piece of paper to a courier at best.
The idea that something that you post to a bunch of your "friends" on a social networking site is private is pure insanity. You need to get a grip on simple reality public is public.

Re:Strange (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45390255)

Email is trivial for anyone to monitor.

Anyone? Most people aren't even close to savvy enough to do so. And again, the mere fact that it's possible doesn't make it okay, and it doesn't make it public. Hopefully people become more enlightened than you when it comes to matters of privacy, because your ideas have no place in any free country.

The idea that something that you post to a bunch of your "friends" on a social networking site is private is pure insanity.

Straw man. I never mentioned social networking garbage even once.

You need to get a grip on simple reality public is public.

And 1 = 1; pointless. If I invent a device that can see through your house's walls, I suppose everything will become public. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't want to live in a world where the mere fact that it's possible for someone to spy means that your actions or communications are public, and I think we should oppose anyone who wants to make the world that way; they're most likely authoritarians.

Re:Strange (4, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | about 9 months ago | (#45390361)

Not all email is sent in clear text. Some admins aren't clueless.

For instance, my mail server communicates with many other mail servers using SSL, including when talking to other servers. Yahoo, Google, and Outlook.com all use TLS and upgrade to a secure connection on HELO. Likewise my mail servers REQUIRE SSL AND AUTHENTICATION for picking up mail or sending from our addresses. Include SPF in the mix and the only clear text version of the mail is sitting on my server hard drives and the client machines.

I'm fairly confident the NSA hasn't gotten into my system yet, and they didn't fake our certificate chain since its an internally generated chain that no cert provider is in, just our own not network connected CA.

Email can be secured with current technology and protocols. Easily.

Re:Strange (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 9 months ago | (#45390435)

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/09/13/jesse-kline-u-k-surveillance-state-goes-too-far-by-putting-cameras-in-school-bathrooms/ [nationalpost.com]

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/spy-cameras-are-used-to-target-student-protesters-2290783.html [independent.co.uk]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robbins_v._Lower_Merion_School_District [wikipedia.org]

I started out looking for a story from a few years ago. The United Kingdom child services was installing cameras into the homes of troubled youth. Has the internet been "sanitized", or was that a false story? Even false stories are usually available to find again. Things that make you go "Hmmmmm".

But, yes, the government can install surveillance equipment into your home. The UK has apparently done so.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/204775/Surveillance_Camera_Code_of_Practice_WEB.pdf [www.gov.uk] That PDF only applies to surveillance in "public places". It does make reference to yet other regulations that might not be "public places".

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45390659)

> Fortunately, some people just aren't willing to give up on having any privacy, as you have.

Fortunately, some people continue to live with a utopian mindset of freedom and privacy. Those items were bought and sold long ago by politicians (who were collectively voted into office via a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the foot - courtesy of "We The People") and their varied moneyed interests. What exists now is an illusion of freedom and privacy.

> Your archaic notion of privacy has no place in any free country.

Another illusion of the utopian mindset. The notion of a free country also went by the wayside. Most people don't even realize it yet.

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45390879)

Fortunately, some people continue to live with a utopian mindset of freedom and privacy.

Utopias don't exist. Fortunately, what I ask for is not perfection, but merely the willingness to continue fighting.

Re:Strange (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 9 months ago | (#45390163)

Google does not have the ability to put us on the no-fly list. "Ok" or not, the threat level just isn't the same.

But they could affect your credit score which, given the ever expanding uses (like employment, housing, even dating) can have an even larger effect on the average person's life than being on the no-fly list.

Re:Strange (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45390799)

I hope a bitch (which is what she'd be) will check my credit score before dating, and save me some fucking trouble.

The issue of credit checks by employers is an ugly one, though.

The issue of housing is also an ugly one; it's illegal to be homeless, but you can still be denied housing. Compare to car insurance, where SOMEONE has to insure you (used to be GEICO, dunno who it is now.)

Re:Strange (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 9 months ago | (#45390251)

Google does not have the ability to put us on the no-fly list.

No, but it does have the ability to control what you see on the Internet. In fact, it is doing so already, and claiming it is for your own good! Which is more important to you -- to get on an airplane or to get online?

Re:Strange (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 9 months ago | (#45390409)

Neither are required for life in even the slightest way. Plenty of fully functional people have jobs, homes and families and they never fly and don't have Internet access.

Just as a reminder, since it seems to be forgotten so often.

Airplanes are barely a 100 years old.

The Internet, or more specifically, the web, is only about 20.

These are not 'requirements' for life. You will survive without either.

Re:Strange (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 9 months ago | (#45390503)

It depends on who you are. For example, I find it difficult to imagine finding a new job in my field (programming) without using the Internet.

You might argue that I do not "need" to find a new job. To which I would retort, that is an argument against freedom itself.

Re:Strange (2)

Fuzion (261632) | about 9 months ago | (#45390555)

Neither are required for life in even the slightest way. Plenty of fully functional people have jobs, homes and families and they never fly and don't have Internet access.

Just as a reminder, since it seems to be forgotten so often.

Airplanes are barely a 100 years old.

The Internet, or more specifically, the web, is only about 20.

These are not 'requirements' for life. You will survive without either.

Technically no freedoms are 'requirements' for life, you can survive without them. 150 years ago people of a certain skin colour didn't have any freedoms in the US yet they were alive. Even now, in many countries, plenty of people have jobs, homes and families without ever having the chance to freely express their political views.

The standard for freedoms isn't what's a 'requirement' for life, and it'd be a very unfortunate world if it was.

Re:Strange (5, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | about 9 months ago | (#45389981)

Most wanted to believe the articulate sock puppets:
Legally you had the US Constitution to keep the US gov away.
Legally you had teams of in house (corporate) lawyers defending the 'brand' from hints of warrantless gov collaboration.
Your political leaders that would 'out' any goverment domestic spying just for party political points.
The US stock market would never allow the US gov to risk its international sales and would side against warrantless gov and keep sales up.
You had the public, gov hardware and software 'interface' that would be uncovered very quickly with great press coverage by so many skilled staff.
You had staff, academies and skilled members of the press who would find some trace.... and then win media prizes with the story of the decade...
Skilled academics, code reviews, gov standards, software brands and teams of individuals had all looked over net encryption and found it usable for consumers.
After Snowden it was all found to be a hoax.
Political leaders did nothing, lawyers said nothing, academics educated the junk code to generations of fee paying students, the tame press never followed any stories, corporations took gov cash and helped, telcos ensured the optical was in place. Mercenaries and contractors enjoyed the overtime.
The brands are now a joke.

Re:Strange (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 9 months ago | (#45390161)

"How all of us were "ok" with the companies collecting this information."

Speak for yourself, Kemosabe. There were a lot of us who have been bitching about the invasion of privacy all along. Were we listened to? Of course not - we were shouted down. "There is no privacy on the internet, everything you put out there is available for public consumption. Grow up dummy, if you've done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide!"

Always, the conversation was derailed with just such words.

Fact is, conversations on the internet are about as private as discussing your private life on the town square. Of course it's not "private", but you don't expect snoops to be actively engaged in eavesdropping activities. On the town square, you can look around to see if the town gossip is lurking behind the nearby bench. Or, whether the Chief of Police is loitering within earshot.

The internet? Only some of the more savvy users are aware just HOW LITTLE privacy they have. We are forced to avoid monitoring and eavesdropping. And, it's impossible to tell just how effective our efforts are. And, we know all the while that if NSA or any other agency takes an active interest in us, they can just tap into everything at the ISP level.

Those of YOU who were "ok" with data mining - it's about time you woke up, and understood that we have valid concerns. Now - what ya gonna do about it? Can we get NSA and a few dozen of the programs that they support defunded? Can we get some of the various police tools shitcanned? What are we gonna DO? Resort to the darknets? That really isn't a solution. All that the NSA has to do, is to install a few thousands of their own onion routers and I2P routers, and whatever else comes along. Perfect MIM attack vectors, since they straddle the backbones anyway.

What ya gonna do? Just sit around and bitch, with those of us who have been bitching for years? Do you have a plan?

You might join us, in writing your congress critters. Repeatedly. Often. Write to your own, and everyone else's as well. Sign all the online petitions that you can find. Start your own petitions. And, bug hell out of your congress critters. They HATE to get hate mail. They much prefer not to hear from you at all, and they love fan mail, so send the HATE MAIL.

Re:Strange (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 9 months ago | (#45390453)

Can we get NSA and a few dozen of the programs that they support defunded?

Two things are wrong with that statement:

A) You don't defund things, thats just being a fucking baby and showing your ass when you've lost, change the farking laws in the first place.

B) Contrary to what you might think, the NSA is a vital organization for our nation. It does need put back in its place, but completely getting rid of it would be utterly stupid. 'The terrorists' and I mean the real ones aren't going to shut down their spy networks, and they certainly have them even though they aren't going to be NSA capable (maybe!), they will still do better than nothing. North Korea, Syria, Iran, some warlords in different parts of the southern hemisphere ... all of these guys are going to continue doing what they do regardless of the existence of our NSA. Don't you think its better to at least stay one step ahead of them?

Re:Strange (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 9 months ago | (#45390893)

Actually - congress has the sole authority to fund government programs for a reason. It is their final check on things. They can, and have, simply defunded things that they ultimately disapproved of. Remember Acorn? If I were to dig, I could find more, I'm certain. The appropriations bills are part of the checks and balances system. It's not so different from your own personal life. "I want this and that and two of these!" But, when the cost is tallied up, you decide that you just can't afford all of that stuff, so SOMETHING is just not paid for.

I won't get into a discussion about how vital NSA is. But, the NSA could be defunded, dismantled, and the necessary functions taken over by a new agency with very strict controls. All the personnel at NSA could be gone just as fast as their offices could be cleaned out.

Re:Strange (1)

DuckDodgers (541817) | about 9 months ago | (#45390803)

Pandora's Box has been opened, no matter what Congress does we have no reason to believe the NSA's surveillance or corporate spying on citizens will ever get better.

I think the real solution to this is ignore the political side completely, and work on technological solutions. Make the next version of SMTP work like the Tor network. Make something like Diaspora or Status.net (open source social networks) so easy to setup and run that it's a few taps on an iPhone, Android phone, Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, etc... and it has no central hosting servers. Make the default behavior in web browsers strip out third party cookies, and switch the way fonts and plugins are enumerated so that web browsers no longer have unique footprints. Maybe convince companies to accept payments in Bitcoins, or the successor to Bitcoin, whatever that is, so that you buy Bitcoins from your normal bank account but then make your bill payments with Bitcoins, and thus your bank doesn't know your bills and the companies that bill you don't know your bank.

We can't trust the politicians to fix this - the spooks and the executives are salivating over everything they can do with additional information about us. The only fix is to make it computationally infeasible for them to learn about us. It's up to us, the engineers, to stop 1984.

Opt-in matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45390277)

When those companies collect that information it's opt-in, we are aware of the information being collected and we can choose to use the competing service if we want to. Also there's plenty of people worried about the privacy concerns around Facebook, but as always convenience is the great motivator.

Also the government has much potential to abuse this information, put people on no-fly list, arrest them, put them in jail, torture them, put them in a secret jail without due process. They promise to only use it against terrorists, and maybe pedophiles (because that justifies having the tech). But we've seen how the US government treats wistleblowers, Bradly Manning will most likely serve a 35 year sentence. So if this information is somehow abused, who will help out?

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45390329)

I can choose whether or not to use Google's services. I cannot choose whether or not (foreign) government agencies will log my data.

Re:Strange (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#45390389)

you were ok with it since they only had to pay off two dudes of two parties for it.

as to competitive edge? actually there is no actual proof of it giving a competitive edge whatsoever. if it did, american companies wouldn't have been so fucked so many times. it does give an added cost of business though, as you need to spend time pestering the people for their postal codes etc shit and as you spend time sending mail to addresses they haven't been living at for years.

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45390413)

Not all of us were okay with it.

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45390923)

Who is the "all of us" who were OK with corporate spying? I have never used Gmail or Facebook, and I'm not a raving paranoiac. I simply don't want my personal life to be ad-supported and mediated by corporations.

I/O and the internet. Turkey is the State. (-1, Offtopic)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 9 months ago | (#45389807)

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are, you are, you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are."
Pussy said to the Owl "You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing.
O let us be married, too long we have tarried;
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows,
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling your ring?"
Said the Piggy, "I will"
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon.
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand.
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Who can spare a thought for such matters (5, Funny)

korbulon (2792438) | about 9 months ago | (#45389811)

Re:Who can spare a thought for such matters (1)

dorre (1731288) | about 9 months ago | (#45389919)

Dude, my mod points had expired when I finally found an insightful topic completely wrongmodded (+2 off-topic at the moment). Nice touch with the italics .

Re:Who can spare a thought for such matters (1, Offtopic)

cold fjord (826450) | about 9 months ago | (#45390043)

When the next iPhone will be curved?

I'd prefer it if the next iPhone were be cured, but that is too much to hope for.

Re:Who can spare a thought for such matters (1)

Cordus Mortain (3004429) | about 9 months ago | (#45390875)

I'd rather my current iPhone to be cured thanks!

Vote with your feet (4, Informative)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about 9 months ago | (#45389821)

Take your business elsewhere whenever possible. Only thing that will make companies sit up and pay attention is when their bottom line starts to be affected. Computer professionals advise non-techy business types on how best to protect sensitive company information against the massive industrial espionage spy network [startpage.com] . People may not care about their facebook page and personal email is being compromised, but they sure as hell care when their companies sensitive business information is put at risk...

Re:Vote with your feet (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 9 months ago | (#45389987)

Yes new firms in distant lands will offer amazing new deals on servers, local support and boasting of no links in the UK or USA.
Hardware will be rebuild and air gapped. Many will still use and enjoy the 'free' US brands but trust is gone.

Re:Vote with your feet (1)

rmstar (114746) | about 9 months ago | (#45390027)

There is a lot of market potential in air-gapped hosting!

Re:Vote with your feet (3, Funny)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 9 months ago | (#45390081)

tl;dr return to the '80s and '90s where businesses had servers in their server room.

Never left it. Feels good, bro. My only "conspiracy theory" (in that I extrapolated from the available evidence quite a bit) has turned out to be mostly accurate.

Re:Vote with your feet (1)

Cordus Mortain (3004429) | about 9 months ago | (#45390901)

I've always wondered if there's an opportunity in Canada for exactly this, for this exact reason. And as an added bonus they can keep their cooling cheap during winter - just run a water cooling pipe out into the -40C snow. All you need is decent VPN into the data center and it's all good.

There is no free lunch (1)

arjun.jrao (1976036) | about 9 months ago | (#45389823)

Well, it costs money to run all the servers and machines that deliver cat videos and the latest pictures posted by your secret crush. Who's going to pay the bills for those servers ? Someone somewhere has to pay. Either you pay upfront with cold hard cash, in which case you can make indignant noses about unlawful uses of your data. If you don't want to pay cash, and instead have a "free" service, your data is what the developers will try to monetize. And there ain't a goddamn thing you can do about it. Of course, the NSA has gone a step further with their data collection by forcing companies with even paying customers to hand the user data over to the NSA. In this case, get the Internet off the US hands. I see balkanization of the internet in the future.

Re:There is no free lunch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45389865)

Well, if that business model requires tracking of all user's lives, then maybe that business model should be illegal, don't you think? On the other hand, that business model is exactly what the US police state wants, so it won't be illegal. It's unfortunate that we have yet another dictatorship in the world. But I think it will kill itself sooner rather than later. Fuck you USA. And fuck you the people of the USA for letting it happen. Please stay where you are and don't spread your disease to other countries.

Re:There is no free lunch (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 9 months ago | (#45389953)

Wait a minute, don't blame this shit on me. I've been telling everyone that social networking was dangerous and evil since "Instant Messaging" was invented in the 90's. None of them ever fucking listen to a damned thing I say though and neither did you. You have only yourselves to blame.

Re:There is no free lunch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45389881)

There is no problem with "free lunches". If the lunch isn't free, then charge for it, or provide information detailing with you're giving up using it.
Paid services and software has all the same problems as any "free lunch" or "free as in beer" scheme.

The problem is with limitless run-away agencies, politicians selling out their own population and lack of sane regulation and governance.
Free Software is part of a solution.

Period.

Re:There is no free lunch (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45389887)

I have many times the server power that is necessary for serving all the data I want to be available online. My internet connection is sufficiently fast for hosting most of it -- all of it if I can use distributed hosting. The cost of hosting is negligible. If there were no Youtube or GMail, the cost of doing it yourself would not crush anybody. Those services feed on laziness, not necessity.

Re:There is no free lunch (2)

geogob (569250) | about 9 months ago | (#45389975)

There is no free lunch

It depends. From the point of view of the company CEO accepting to help the NSA or other agencies, there might be a lot of free lunches. That all that counts, right?

Re:There is no free lunch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45390065)

So Microsoft isn't collecting any data on, say, Xbox Live users, because that service is a paid service?

Re:There is no free lunch (2)

phayes (202222) | about 9 months ago | (#45390131)

Riiighht. The Internet will be balkanised because the US is only govt doing this & there is no cooperation between the intelligence agencies. Hey, it's not like the Communications that the French govt was complaining about was collected by the DGSE & then passed onto the NSA as the price for the USA deploying drone assets to Mali, or that the Germans perform "legal" surveillance of their population secretly or that the Brazilians spy on diplomats or ...

Government heads are protesting much too loudly about NSA practices that they already knew about & that they themselves indulge in. I smell grandstanding to internal audiences & my prediction is that will be little long term effect.

Re:There is no free lunch (2)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 9 months ago | (#45390303)

Either you pay upfront with cold hard cash, in which case you can make indignant noses about unlawful uses of your data. If you don't want to pay cash, and instead have a "free" service, your data is what the developers will try to monetize.

I would love it if I could pay for an effective search engine that didn't track my search habits in order to alter the results.

I would love it if I could pay for a social network to keep in touch with my friends and business contacts and it didn't spy on me and spam me and sell my information to all and sundry.

I would love it if I could pay for news that didn't watch me back, or for videoconferencing that gave me the same privacy assurances my landline phone has (weak as those may be).

These paid service you speak of, they don't exist. The choice is between surveillance-funded services, and no services at all.

Re:There is no free lunch (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45390841)

I would love it if I could pay for a social network to keep in touch with my friends and business contacts and it didn't spy on me and spam me and sell my information to all and sundry.

It's called your own website. Put up a site based on any CMS, say Drupal, and then have all your friends create accounts there. But if you're paying someone else to run a site, then by definition you're paying someone else to compile data on you. Then the government gives them a choice between turning over the data or going to PMITA prison.

Re:There is no free lunch (1)

DuckDodgers (541817) | about 9 months ago | (#45390869)

Google and Facebook make their money through advertising. I expect them to track users for that reason. That doesn't concern me - when I don't want them to know what I'm doing, I use a different browser in which I never login to either service and I have third party cookies disabled.

But what about your cell phone company, your internet service provider, your bank, your physical retailer with an account system (warehouse retailers with memberships like Costco, grocery stores with outrageous prices if you don't get a membership, pharmacies), your online retailer. I pay them all directly, and they still track me extensively. I don't trust Google or Facebook to maintain my privacy, but I don't blame them for being data hoarders either. That's their entire business model. But PNC, Bank of America, Verizon, Comcast, Sprint, Amazon, Costco, Rite Aid, etc... already profit from my business, they're just assholes to collect additional information to sell to other companies and the government. I'd take my business elsewhere, but there are very few companies I can trust not to track me for profit.

The competitive edge is surely the NSA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45389827)

Surely the competitive edge is the hidden market for private data the NSA created!

So business models can undercut rivals by selling your private data to the NSA in secret, and it's really a government subsidy controlled by the military, but is never revealed because it's hidden behind terrorist scaremongering.

The only data that cannot be subpoenaed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45389837)

The only data that cannot be subpoenaed is data that doesn't exist. Collecting data which can be used for tracking is the original sin, and the biggest sinners are Google et al.

Re:The only data that cannot be subpoenaed (1)

DuckDodgers (541817) | about 9 months ago | (#45390933)

I disagree that Google is the biggest sinner. Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Microsoft's Bing and Hotmail track us because that's their entire business model. Targeted advertising is what they do, that's all. That's evil, but it's open evil.

The biggest sinners are banks, cell phone companies, credit card companies, internet service providers, grocery stores, physical store retailers, and only retailers. They get our money directly, and they choose to track us extensively anyway. That's the real sin - "We pretend to have a straightforward pay-for-service relationship with you, but we also pull all the dirty tricks that Google, Facebook, and Yahoo do."

Useless opinion is useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45389845)

Oh certainly Google doesn't want LAWS protecting privacy. That doesn't preclude them whatsoever from encrypting everything. They still get all their own data, and now it's even protected, hypothetically, from the US government which apparently already has cost millions of not billions to US tech providers, but also protection from their competitors cracking their data in a similar fashion.

So they have all the reason in the world to encrypt it, after all the NSA doesn't pay them anything while their angry customers do. But we can also conclude Abraham Newton is a facile idiot.

Re:Useless opinion is useless (2)

DuckDodgers (541817) | about 9 months ago | (#45390899)

It's useless encryption, though. Thanks to the Patriot Act, the NSA can ask Google to decrypt and hand over any information on any person for no stated reason. Google can't even challenge the order in court. Google's decision to use encryption internally was a publicity stunt that only convinced people who didn't take five minutes to think about the value of that encryption (i.e. none).

Corporate America (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | about 9 months ago | (#45389847)

Has far more data that is likely to hurt you than the NSA does, and they have no problem selling to anyone with enough money. Potential employers having access to my salary history without my consent scares me and will hurt me far more than the government knowing I called my aunt yesterday. Likewise with my insurance company knowing that I visited Dunkin Donuts yesterday. Put away your tinfoil hats and see the real threat.

Re:Corporate America (1)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about 9 months ago | (#45389853)

Corporate America in general can't directly intercept and store your emails, chat logs and VOIP sessions. They have little data fiefdoms dominating partial areas on your online life related to their respective businesses, wheras the NSA has built massive data warehouses to record and store all your bases...

Re:Corporate America (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 9 months ago | (#45390575)

No, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft do it for them, then run the analytics for them, and sell them the results.

Re:Corporate America (1)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 9 months ago | (#45389909)

How amusing. That really is a good one. Not sure how you got so many people in on the joke.

You are all implying that the NSA (i.e. the government) and corporate america are separate entities....

My my, what a chuckle.

You were joking......right?

Re:Corporate America (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45389979)

Even if they were separate entities, the government simply has much more power to harm me than corporations, and they routinely use it to harm people.

Re:Corporate America (2)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 9 months ago | (#45389989)

Put away your tinfoil hats and see the real threat.

What tinfoil hats? Are you suggesting that it is crazy to be afraid that the government might abuse the massive amount of power we've given it, even though every government has abused its power without fail? The people who work for the government are humans, not perfect angels; thus, it makes no sense to me to not be wary of them.

Of course, I don't think corporations having all this data is a good thing either, but there are no tinfoil hats present here.

Re:Corporate America (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 9 months ago | (#45390315)

There's no DIFFERENCE between corporations and government. Look at CISPA. Read it, and understand it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyber_Intelligence_Sharing_and_Protection_Act [wikipedia.org]

Re:Corporate America (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 9 months ago | (#45390335)

Well, okay... but my post didn't really strongly suggest that there were significant differences to begin with. I'm aware that any information these corporations have will likely also fall into the hands of government thugs.

Re:Corporate America (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 9 months ago | (#45390305)

You really need to read up on CISPA. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyber_Intelligence_Sharing_and_Protection_Act [wikipedia.org]

If passed, then all corporate data becomes government data, and government can and will choose to share that data with yet other corporations. In short, you will no longer be able to distinguish between corporate and government surveillance - it will all be intertwined.

Backward (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 9 months ago | (#45389851)

Lax rules created fertile ground for NSA snooping.

No, rules don't make any difference to criminals, NSA or otherwise.

It is the high value of centralizing all that data info which makes for fertile ground.

Re:Backward (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 9 months ago | (#45390007)

Yes centralising and the setting of global "US" standards. You wanted to book a room, sell, buy, trade, fly, call, fax, email - a US entity was in someway setting global interconnects and multinational support. Your safe encryption was their joke.
Everything could be sold on for marketing, value adding, research, fine print.... all safe back to the 'allowed' buyers.

Re:Backward (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45390763)

No, rules don't make any difference to criminals, NSA or otherwise.

Citation? You can't prevent murder by outlawing it, but you may well reduce it.

Government doesn't need fertile ground. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45389961)

"... Those same policies, however, have come back to haunt IT firms. Lax rules created fertile ground for NSA snooping."

Fertile ground?

What part of a Federal order that says "plug this black box into your WAN router and don't ask questions." needs to be fertilized?

Government asks no permission, and therefore does not abide by rules, firm or lax. Corporations agree under the duress that they all enjoy the luxury of being a US corporation. Don't play by the rules, you'll find yourself out of the capitalist boys club, one way or another.

And any corporation claiming they're going to tighten up security is merely going to increase password minimum length by a character or two, call that "secure", charge you $1/month more for it under some bullshit privacy surcharge, and rake in millions, all while continuing to allow Government to monitor everything.

Snowden revealed the actions of today's NSA. Nothing has been done to interrupt that. And why anyone would assume a US corporation holds that power is beyond me.

Yeah right (2)

StripedCow (776465) | about 9 months ago | (#45389963)

... as consumer confidence plummets ...

As if the average facebook user cares about privacy.

Re:Yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45390047)

the average FB user draws their curtains at night, and does not post pics of them on the shitter..
anyone saying "the average", or "most fb user dont care about privacy" is entirely INCORRECT. Some friends share personal stories and humble moments with friends, but they are friends, not the general public or a non-friend.

any luck finding the real-deal behind FB, (akamai,onavo), the PRISM scandal (SiSense)?

THE NSA IS OVER-RELIANT (yea, even dominated by) on ISRAELI COMPANIES.********* PRISM= an illegal israeli operation developed and sold by SiSense,
one of the many israeli-front-companies in SiliconValley.

If noone cares about privacy, lets see what those israeli-front-companies are hiding.....

Fuck the NSA (1)

magic maverick (2615475) | about 9 months ago | (#45390011)

More stringent security measures. Universal electronic surveillance. No-knock laws. Stop and frisk laws. Government inspection of first-class mail. Automatic fingerprinting, photographing, blood tests, and urinalysis of any person arrested before he is charged with a crime. A law making it unlawful to resist even unlawful arrest. Laws establishing detention camps for potential subversives. Gun control laws. Restrictions on travel. The assassinations, you see, establish the need for such laws in the public mind. Instead of realizing that there is a conspiracy, conducted by a handful of men, the people reason—or are manipulated into reasoning—that the entire populace must have its freedom restricted in order to protect the leaders.

Of course, I would sound like a paranoid if I invoked the Illuminati, so I won't. *cough*

Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean they are not out to get me.

Re:Fuck the NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45390263)

Just because you are insane doesn't mean you can't drive a car or post on Slashdot.

Re:Fuck the NSA (1)

magic maverick (2615475) | about 9 months ago | (#45390383)

You're a moron. That quote, that quote's from 1975. People have been warning about overreaching government for a long time (long before 1975). I was just giving an example of that. You seem to imply that you think I'm crazy. It doesn't take a crazy person to recognize that "Western" governments have been getting more authoritarian and totalitarian as technology progresses. Soon enough we'll be at the stage of voluntary always on telescreens (c.f. Microsoft's Xbox and camera). The police state loves that sort of stuff. And "Silicon Valley" (i.e. the tech companies) are more than happy to help out, because they can sell more stuff, and make more money. All hail the almighty buck. No. Fuck that shit.

We should string the tech company executives up alongside the politicians and bureaucrats. And when the revolution comes, apologists will also be up against the wall.

Re:Fuck the NSA (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45390817)

It's just the typical cycle. Rewind to the 80s, hippies passing out flyers on streetcorners warning of the trilateral commission's influence on American finance and people throwing them away saying "this looks like a bunch of bullshit". Forward to 2000, the trilateral commission's influence on finance and politics is a proven fact, and now we're looking at more groups like the Bilderbergers etc and people are saying "this looks like a bunch of bullshit" all over again.

We should string the tech company executives up alongside the politicians and bureaucrats. And when the revolution comes, apologists will also be up against the wall.

Sadly, when the next revolution comes, we will all be against the wall, because it will be due to massive collapse.

Grammar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45390057)

in the wake of reports that all-your-data-belong-to-the-NSA rings

That should be "all your datum are belong to NSA"

should be how Americans helped the NSA (2)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 9 months ago | (#45390083)

Everyone wanted free Internet, free search engines, free Webmail, free coupons, free 5% off clubs, free 1-click shopping.... what did people think was going on there?

Re:should be how Americans helped the NSA (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 9 months ago | (#45390195)

Loss leader and branding was the story told. That until the CPU, GPU, RAM, storage, bandwidth was 'usable' at the consumer end. It was better to build the brand at the server end - to be ready in 1-5-10 years and their newer interactive PC's.

How Silicon Valley Helped China... (1)

tommeke100 (755660) | about 9 months ago | (#45390143)

Oh, come on.
Plenty of these companies already worked together with China behind the great firewall or other countries that required a tight all encompassing security/censoring framework.
It's just the quirks of doing business in a country, your home country included.

That's the convenient viewpoint (3, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | about 9 months ago | (#45390207)

...perhaps I could correct this a little:
"'U.S. citizens have passively accepted weak privacy rules that let companies collect massive amounts of personal data. The strategy enabled the companies to work their way into every corner of consumers' lives ..."

I keep hearing about the "US govt" this and "companies" that.
The fact is that the whole 'privacy' thing is comparable to the cigarette issue for the last 50 years....NOBODY believed cigarettes were in any way good for you, and by the late 1960s pretty much everyone recognized that they were quite harmful (regardless of what the cigarette companies insisted).

In short, the consumers willfully participated and knew (when they bothered to think about it) that companies were collecting massive amounts of data with every transaction, using (without complaint) their social security number as an id#, etc.

When I've got a friend or three complaining about companies/government gathering private data, they're usually paying for their meal with a credit card.

Even Firefox (1)

hebertrich (472331) | about 9 months ago | (#45390235)

I mean , the browsers allow all the tracking etc .. Once the people doing the browsers are done selling us , maybe we'll have a break.
Browsers have to be made not to allow the snooping. They are not made that way , they are made to support snooping.They are made to help advertisers take all they want from our machines.

Time to fork and abandon browsers that do not make the efforts to protect us l

You have native means (hosts) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45390909)

Hosts do more w/ less (1 file) @ a faster level (ring 0) vs redundant browser addons (slowing up slower ring 3 browsers) via filtering 4 the IP stack (coded in C, loads w/ OS, & 1st net resolver queried w\ 45++ yrs.of optimization):

---

APK Hosts File Engine 9.0++ 32/64-bit:

http://start64.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5851:apk-hosts-file-engine-64bit-version&catid=26:64bit-security-software&Itemid=74 [start64.com]

(Details of hosts' benefits enumerated in link)

Summary:

---

A. ) Hosts do more than AdBlock ("souled-out" 2 Google/Crippled by default) + Ghostery (Advertiser owned) - "Fox guards henhouse", or Request Policy -> http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4127345&cid=44701775 [slashdot.org]

B. ) Hosts add reliability vs. downed or redirected DNS + secure vs. known malicious domains too -> http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3985079&cid=44310431 [slashdot.org] w/ less added "moving parts" complexity + room 4 breakdown,

C. ) Hosts files yield more speed (blocks ads & hardcodes fav sites - faster than remote DNS), security (vs. malicious domains serving mal-content + block spam/phish), reliability (vs. downed or Kaminsky redirect vulnerable DNS, 99% = unpatched vs. it & worst @ ISP level + weak vs FastFlux + DynDNS botnets), & anonymity (vs. dns request logs + DNSBL's).

---

* "A fool makes things bigger + more complex: It takes a touch of genius & a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - Einstein

(Addons are more complex + slowup browsers in message passing (use a few concurrently - you'll see))

---

** "Less is more" = GOOD engineering!

(Vs. slowing down SLOWER usermode browsers layering on MORE in addons which slow them down more: I work w/ what you have in kernelmode, via hosts - A tightly integrated PART of the IP stack itself)

APK

P.S.=> "The premise is, quite simple: Take something designed by nature & reprogram it to make it work FOR the body, rather than against it..." - Dr. Alice Krippen "I AM LEGEND"

...apk

Love (1)

shimul1990 (3413815) | about 9 months ago | (#45390367)

Love has many dimensions & forms but it is very much sole related in all forms.

No threat to companies: we've forgotten already (3, Insightful)

fygment (444210) | about 9 months ago | (#45390579)

Few people really 'got' what was going on; some people remain unaware; and most really don't care.

Companies will lie, politicians will lie, and the people will pretend to believe them and carry on.

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