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DOJ Announces New Methods For Reporting National Security Requests

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the stand-on-one-foot-and-beg-really-loud dept.

Government 117

As the NSA metadata collection scandal has developed, a number of technology and communications companies have fought to increase the transparency of the data collection process by publishing reports on how much data government agencies are asking them for. These transparency reports have been limited, however, because most government requests are entwined with a gag order. In a speech two weeks back, President Obama said this would change, and now the Dept. of Justice has announced new, slightly relaxed rules about what information companies can share. According to an email from the U.S. Deputy Attorney General (PDF) to the General Counsel of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Yahoo, the companies can publish: how many Criminal Process requests they received, how many National Security Letters they received, how many accounts were affected by NSLs, how many Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act orders were received (both for communications content and 'non-content'), and how many customers were targeted by FISA requests. The companies still aren't allowed to give specific numbers, but they can report them in bands of 1,000 — for example, 0-999, 1,000-1,999, etc. Information requests for old services cannot be disclosed for at least six months. The first information requests for a new service cannot be disclosed for two years. The companies also have the option of lumping all the NSL and FISA requests together — if they do that, they can report in bands of 250 instead of 1,000.

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Normalization of the Police State (5, Insightful)

shiftless (410350) | about 6 months ago | (#46094149)

This is to be expected. Instead of repealing the police state, they are normalizing it. Welcome to the new Normal.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (4, Informative)

vikingpower (768921) | about 6 months ago | (#46094215)

Mod parent up. This is going on in several European countries, too ( UK, NL ). Congratulations, BTW, for inventing a new terminus technicus: the normalized police state. As much as I hate the thought, I can not but admire the term. Yes, that is what we are going to live in, for the next years.

Do Not Try At Home (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46094349)

It turns out, anal bleaching is something that should be left to the pros. That makes me very sad!

Re:Normalization of the Police State (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46094581)

"Yes, that is what we are going to live in, for the next years."

How pessimistic.

But what I want to know is: where are these "changes to regulations" coming from? Are they orders directly from the President? Was Congress involved?

Bureaucrats don't get to make national security laws. Just more evidence of Obama administration ignoring actual law, and doing whatever the hell it wants.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 6 months ago | (#46094643)

Seriously?

It's from the DOJ. Go see who they report to.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (3, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46094987)

"It's from the DOJ. Go see who they report to."

That's not an answer.

I didn't ask who was ultimately responsible (both Obama and Congress are culpable). I was asking who actually made the change to the regulations... or did they? Are they just ignoring regulations? Did they change regulations? Or are they just ignoring all the rules as they usually have in this administration? Or maybe they're ceasing to ignore the laws as they actually existed?

This is all very ambiguous. And it should not be.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46095063)

The reason I wrote the above is because it has a real impact on our lives.

Let's take Obamacare for an example, because it's a recent and good example. Congress passed, and Obama signed, some things into law.

When events did not go as planned, Obama announced that they were going to ignore certain parts of the law. (Which, in fact, he has no legal authority to do.)

But that means the law is still in place. If he can ignore it by degree at any time, then he can reinstate it by decree at any time.

If the law isn't changed, but just some bureaucrat is deciding to ignore the regulations today, who is to say they won't stop ignoring it again tomorrow?

Answer: nobody. And that's why it's important to know.

This country is supposed to be subject to The Rule Of Law. It isn't run by "whatever the fuck I feel like doing today".

Re:Normalization of the Police State (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46095741)

Which, in fact, he has no legal authority to do"
which, in fact, he does.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 7 months ago | (#46097791)

"Which, in fact, he has no legal authority to do"

No, he doesn't. Obama has NO legal power to either make or ignore LAWS. Congress makes the laws. The President does not.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (2, Informative)

lgw (121541) | about 6 months ago | (#46094693)

Well, we can certainly act according to whether politicians do anything about this. If none of them strike back at the NSA, then we're screwed, but if some of them take action we can at least reward them.

Time has the text [time.com] of a resolution the RNC just passed, which calls for action by Republican legislators in very stark terms. The RNC is as "inside the beltway", disconnected from voters, and generally unconcerned with the sort of issues that make Slashdot as it's possible for a human to be, and yet even those buffoons are up in arms about this.

This is just a call to action, not a bill, but the RNC is usually who the GOP listens to instead of the voters. I'll quote the whole thing below, but they outright call these programs unconstitutional and they call for them to end, with no mention of national security or terrorism. They're also using interesting language: calling for review in a public court, not a secret court.

Let's see whether the DNC does something similar, and what congresscritters do as a result. I'd actually be surprised if there isn't at least a bill voted on to end these programs, which if voters actually care they could hold their local critter to accout for.

Resolution to Renounce the National Security Agency's Surveillance Program

WHEREAS, the secret surveillance program called PRISM targets, among other things, the surveillance of U.S. citizens on a vast scale and monitors searching habits of virtually every American on the internet;

WHEREAS, this dragnet program is, as far as we know, the largest surveillance effort ever launched by a democratic government against its own citizens, consisting of the mass acquisition of Americans' call details encompassing all wireless and landline subscribers of the country's three largest phone companies;

WHEREAS, every time an American citizen makes a phone call, the NSA gets a record of the location, the number called, the time of the call and the length of the conversation, all of which are an invasion into the personal lives of American citizens that violates the right of free speech and association afforded by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution;

WHEREAS, the mass collection and retention of personal data is in itself contrary to the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, that warrants shall issue only upon probable cause, and generally prevents the American government from issuing modern-day writs of assistance;

WHEREAS, unwarranted government surveillance is an intrusion on basic human rights that threatens the very foundations of a democratic society and this program represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association and the right to privacy and goes far beyond even the permissive limits set by the Patriot Act; and

WHEREAS, Republican House Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, an author of the Patriot Act and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee at the time of Section 215's passage, called the Section 215 surveillance program "an abuse of that law," writing that, "based on the scope of the released order, both the administration and the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court are relying on an unbounded interpretation of the act that Congress never intended," therefore be it

RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee encourages Republican lawmakers to enact legislation to amend Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to make it clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity, phone records and correspondence -- electronic, physical, and otherwise -- of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court;

RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee encourages Republican lawmakers to call for a special committee to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying and the committee should create specific recommendations for legal and regulatory reform ot end unconstitutional surveillance as well as hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance; and

RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee encourages Republican lawmakers to immediately take action to halt current unconstitutional surveillance programs and provide a full public accounting of the NSA's data collection programs.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (2)

Tokolosh (1256448) | about 7 months ago | (#46099281)

If the GOP ever gets back in power, this will quickly and quietly vanish.

How long did it take communism to fall in Europe? (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 7 months ago | (#46096523)

This is going on in several European countries, too ( UK, NL ). Congratulations, BTW, for inventing a new terminus technicus: the normalized police state. As much as I hate the thought, I can not but admire the term. Yes, that is what we are going to live in, for the next years

Communism rolled into the Eastern part of Europe after the fall of Hitler's Nazi regime. That was in the 1940's.

Communism didn't fell until ***DECADES*** later, and they fell mainly because of fiduciary mismanagement (they ran out $$$).

On the other hand, the Western part of Europe (and now almost engulfing the entire European continent) managed their money better than the communists, which means, whatever form of "system" they want to run, it'll sure run much longer.

Now that the democratic Europe has morphed into " normalized police states ", I sincerely think that the police state will get to continue for at least 50 or 70 more years in Europe.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (1)

cbhacking (979169) | about 6 months ago | (#46094233)

Sad, but true. It has a definite "slowly being boiled" feel to it. What would once have been beyond the pale is now supposed to make us feel happy, because it's better than what we had yesterday...

Re:Normalization of the Police State (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 6 months ago | (#46094329)

"It's okay if we spy on you, providing we implement a highly uninformative reporting scheme. Yay for us, we're so accountable!"

Re:Normalization of the Police State (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 6 months ago | (#46094811)

"One step forward, two steps back" is the phrase you were looking for, not "slowly being boiled." For your mistake, you owe me $200.

Alright, that was a bit harsh. You only owe me $100.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (0)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 6 months ago | (#46094475)

Instead of repealing the police state, they are normalizing it.

*yawn* overhype much?

If we lived in a police state - they wouldn't be allowed to talk about the requests at all. These things are despicable and incompatible with normal criminal procedure, but the hype and irrationality surround them helps no one.

*Sigh* but the 'net's tendency towards shrillness. overhype, and irrationality has already 'normalized' these things.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (2)

the_skywise (189793) | about 6 months ago | (#46094517)

*yawn* overhype much?

These things are despicable and incompatible with normal criminal procedure,

So you agree that secret warrants that lead to secret charging (and hence secret arrests of people) is unlawful.

How is that NOT a "police state" again?

Perhaps this would be the time for some colorful expletives?

If not, when?

Re:Normalization of the Police State (-1, Flamebait)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 6 months ago | (#46094683)

Try actually reading what I wrote rather than cherry picking for karma. Then, with a little luck and presuming you have an IQ above room temperature, you might dimly grasp the difference between the current situation and a police state.

P.S. I hope none of the words I used were too big for you.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46095359)

Your hostile attitude tells more about the validity of your original argument than you'd think.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46095757)

this is why:

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

Stop being an alarmist.

Yes it is the time for some action becasue we are not in a police state. If we where, then the expletives wouldn't be allowed.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 6 months ago | (#46094699)

Um, until this decree, they weren't allowed to talk about the requests at all.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 6 months ago | (#46094747)

Um, prior to this decree they did so anyway. (And seemingly without repercussion - I haven't seen any tech CEO's or PAO's or General Counsel's hauled off the camps, have you?) If they hadn't done so, this decree wouldn't have come about in the first place.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 6 months ago | (#46095069)

All they said was that they were not allowed to say anything.

That's meta talking, not actually talking about them.

And they probably didn't get hauled into court, because it's obvious that Google et al would be primary targets for this data interception.

Also, notice how no one said anything until Snowden spilled the beans. Even though it had been happening for a decade.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about 6 months ago | (#46094863)

You have a much higher standard for a police state than I, or many of the people here.

If the police are doing things that not only "despicable and incompatible with normal criminal procedure" but are turning them into normal procedure, and officially operating under these principles; it is already a police state.

In fact, I would say the moment they get away with militarizing the police based on thin excuses about their need to bust in people's doors over nonviolent "crimes" (like some cannabis flowers in their home), it is already a police state.

Frankly, its been a police state since at least the 1980s.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46095771)

All you told me is that you have no clue what a police state is.

Re: Normalization of the Police State (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46097571)

Pot meet kettle
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_state

Re:Normalization of the Police State (2)

gmhowell (26755) | about 6 months ago | (#46095809)

You have a much higher standard for a police state than I, or many of the people here.

Plenty of people don't have a problem with jackbooted authority so long as the boot is on their foot rather than their neck. Bonus points if the boot is on the neck of some ill defined 'other'.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46095361)

talk about the requests at all.

They can't even give a number. They can't even give the number zero. 0-999 is not "talking about the requests" it's "handwaving away the discussion".

Re:Normalization of the Police State (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 6 months ago | (#46095431)

There is no irrationality if you study history. Irrational may be worrying about whether or not what's happening because of a luciferian cult, but not by observing and showing fear over what has been happening. To have no fear at all indicates delusion or compliance, unless of course you are ignorant to history.

Citizens in the US are well armed, and much of our Military and Police force would turn on the government if Obama tried to implement a full blown police state. This is why these things are staged and planned. Not to Godwin the discussion, but Hitler didn't immediately go out shooting detractors, it took him many years of propaganda to get Germany to a police state. Stalin and Mao were able to do things much quicker, but the populace had no ability to defend themselves and lots of turmoil leading up to their police state.

Those are three very easy to study examples showing it's very rational to be concerned/worried/fearful of what's happening. You could look at more history both modern and older and see the same things happening over and over.

Claiming that the people giving warning are to blame for normalizing this is laughable, sorry. You perhaps see nothing wrong so don't want to hear about it, but you have a choice to ignore warnings. History shows how well that works for the populace too, contemplate on that one for a while.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (1)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | about 7 months ago | (#46097253)

If we lived in a police state - they wouldn't be allowed to talk about the requests at all.

Well, since the requests come with gag orders, what's your next rationalization?

Re:Normalization of the Police State (3, Interesting)

deconfliction (3458895) | about 6 months ago | (#46094507)

I have found over the last 10 years or so, that it really helps my sanity to see them play these kinds of reindeer games. The thread that helped keep my sanity together thinking about the security vulnerability of all the closed source firmware I was using was this thought- "If my human society and government was anywhere near the sort of thing I could respect and depend on to protect my 'inalienable rights' those in high levels would be talking openly about how as a society we should be considering such potetential surveillance state styles". It was the fact that I was hearing in the public debate, only (not so) vague attempts from all directions to direct the conversation precisely *away* from that center. That is what kept me sane believing that the center really was there, and at the time, in darkness.

Similarly, this summary, if accurate, is an example of the same thing. The hoops, and games they are willing to go through to try and 'normalize' this, after all that has been revealed in the last year- proves in my mind- exactly how bad things really must be.

I may be crazy. That is how I've seen the world in the past 10 years.

Re:Normalization of the Police State (1)

symbolic (11752) | about 7 months ago | (#46097359)

Are we really that completely helpless? All of this was perpetrated by, and maintained by *congress*. It can easily be fixed by congress. Little will change, however, if we do not step up and hold our elected representatives accountable, by first and foremost, ensuring that the *right* people are serving in office. And by "serving" I do not mean "self-serving," which seems to be standard fare these days.

Range of values (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46094151)

We received somewhere between -978 and 22 requests.

Re:Range of values (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46094343)

We received somewhere between -978 and 22 requests.

You're an optimist.

HA! we've got your numbers NOW! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 6 months ago | (#46094169)

sweet, sweet, meta-metadata!

Keep the number of requests below 1000 (4, Insightful)

DickBreath (207180) | about 6 months ago | (#46094187)

Keep the number of requests below 1000.

Vastly expand the scope of each request.

Re:Keep the number of requests below 1000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46094283)

Laughable amounts of transparency from the most transparent administration in history.

Re:Keep the number of requests below 1000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46094287)

Interesting question... Is each request 1 targeted piece of data? orrrr is it 1 request is 2million accounts?

Re:Keep the number of requests below 1000 (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 6 months ago | (#46094339)

Yes

Re:Keep the number of requests below 1000 (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 6 months ago | (#46094577)

They specify both the # of requests and # of accounts accessed, so this issue doesn't exist.

Re:Keep the number of requests below 1000 (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 6 months ago | (#46094337)

Keep the number of requests below 1000.

I suggest reporting the number range in Base2. 1000 is a pretty small number of requests.

Re:Keep the number of requests below 1000 (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about 6 months ago | (#46094439)

The NSA did not specify what radix when they said Google and others must report NSL's in multiples of 1000.

Re:Keep the number of requests below 1000 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46094369)

The FBI/NSA doesn't actually care. It might hurt the PR for one company, but seriously, you're untouchable after obvious revelations about abuse of the information. No one stops you. What do you care if an arbitrary number is higher?

Re:Keep the number of requests below 1000 (1)

swillden (191260) | about 6 months ago | (#46094497)

Keep the number of requests below 1000.

Vastly expand the scope of each request.

What do you mean by "scope"? The companies also report the number of user accounts affected/targeted, so increasing the scope by requesting data for more users will still be apparent in the reports. The government can request more information about a given user, I suppose, but can't go beyond "all of it".

Re:Keep the number of requests below 1000 (2)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 6 months ago | (#46094599)

Presumably. Even a 3-hop request would count as involving only one account, so just request emails from "info@gmail.com" and get all the people they email to notify about a new feature.

Re:Keep the number of requests below 1000 (1)

swillden (191260) | about 6 months ago | (#46095293)

Presumably. Even a 3-hop request would count as involving only one account, so just request emails from "info@gmail.com" and get all the people they email to notify about a new feature.

If the company generating the report has an incentive to minimize the numbers they report, yes, because I don't think the directive defines details like this. And companies may want to minimize the numbers. Users should ask the companies to define their counting methodology.

Re:Keep the number of requests below 1000 (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about 6 months ago | (#46094523)

From TFS:

how many National Security Letters they received, how many accounts were affected by NSLs, how many Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act orders were received (both for communications content and 'non-content'), and how many customers were targeted by FISA requests.

You'll notice that they covered that contingency, actually. They can report not only the number of letters, but the number of people affected by letters.

Re:Keep the number of requests below 1000 (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 6 months ago | (#46094829)

More like "Come up with a double-secret FISA that doesn't fall under any of these rules."

Re:Keep the number of requests below 1000 (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 6 months ago | (#46095161)

Keep the number of requests below 1000.
Vastly expand the scope of each request.

Apple was the first with updated reporting. 0 to 249 requests, affecting 0 to 249 accounts.

"Bands of 1000" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46094229)

You know... 0-999 is a band of 1000. But so is 1-1000. And 2-1001. And 3-1002. *taps nose* Seems like an obvious tactic that could be used to report the exact number.

Re:"Bands of 1000" (1)

crmanriq (63162) | about 6 months ago | (#46094311)

Sounds like fun. Except the part where if you report it in a way the overlords dislike, you go to jail for the rest of your life.

The "system" "works"? (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | about 6 months ago | (#46094325)

It's really really REALLY sad that we have this mid-30s Germany censorship going on here in what can now best be described as a quasidemocracy. Isn't 1K chunks what they were doing before they got the OK from the govt? I wonder when the internet will succeed from the world government bodies & exist as its own sovereign state? Then the companies could apply for embassy status & be void of all this bullshit.

Re:The "system" "works"? (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 6 months ago | (#46094619)

What makes me nervous is that this was originally an anti terrorism thing! then it was a terrorism and drug trafficker thing, now it's terrorism/drug trafficking/CP thing. CP is abhorrent to me, but makes you wonder what is next. Add bit coin, then piracy, then I don't even know what.

Re:The "system" "works"? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46095783)

" we have this mid-30s Germany censorship going on here in what"
no, we do not. It's not even fucking close.

Reply to comment (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46097785)

You seem to be heavily invested in this with your proofless NOs all over the thread. How much are you paid? Hopefully more than "our" Russian equivalents who get about 11.80 RUB/message.

To the CONservatives that voted me down before... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46094333)

are you now going to apologize for disagreeing with me that Obama was going to fix this?

Of course not. GOPpers don't believe in admitting their mistakes.

Re:To the CONservatives that voted me down before. (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 6 months ago | (#46094633)

Except that he didn't fix it, he tried to put a veneer on it so we didn't realize that he'll keep doing whatever he wants.

First amendment (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 6 months ago | (#46094345)

Any gag order at all is incompatible with the First Amendment's prohibition on infringement of free speech.

Re:First amendment (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 6 months ago | (#46094661)

Supreme Court has always said that first amendment isn't absolute, in the face of extraordinary circumstances. fire in a crowded theater and all that. That's not just an expression, it was actually used by a justice in a Supreme Court ruling.

Re:First amendment (3, Informative)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 6 months ago | (#46094907)

And since "terrorist threat" is not an extraordinary circumstance (went nine years without going below "yellow: elevated risk" [go.com] ) that clearly wouldn't apply. It's an ordinary circumstance, our rights are being infringed, not temporarily suspended for an important cause.

Case in point: the patriot act is being used for the war on drugs, not the war on terrorism. [washingtonpost.com] If anyone believes that national security requests aren't likewise being used for very very ordinary law enforcement scams or industrial espionage... well then they probably can't understand most of the words in this post.

Re:First amendment (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 6 months ago | (#46094931)

Whether the First Amendment is absolute or not is irrelevant. This is exactly the sort of abuse of power the First Amendment was intended to protect us against. If the government can stop us from discussing factual details about policy, the First Amendment means nothing at all.

Re:First amendment (1)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | about 6 months ago | (#46095045)

... fire in a crowded theater and all that. That's not just an expression, it was actually used by a justice in a Supreme Court ruling.

And a very bad ruling, at that. Find out why [theatlantic.com] .

Re:First amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46095503)

And overturned in Brandenburg v. Ohio in 1969

Re:First amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46095481)

Look up the whole Fire in a Theater, as it is a bad analogy. see Brandenburg v. Ohio in 1969

Re:First amendment (1)

bleckywelcky (518520) | about 6 months ago | (#46094703)

This has baffled me. I know you can be held accountable for yelling fire in a crowded theater. But even then, the act of yelling fire in a crowded theater is not illegal itself. Just the deaths as a result of yelling fire can be attributed to the yeller.

How the government can strictly deny someone from stating mere facts makes no sense. "Yes, I received a FISA subpoena today." Have gag orders been contested at any level of the judicial system?

Re:First amendment (1)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | about 6 months ago | (#46094877)

This has baffled me. I know you can be held accountable for yelling fire in a crowded theater. But even then, the act of yelling fire in a crowded theater is not illegal itself. Just the deaths as a result of yelling fire can be attributed to the yeller.

Anytime someone mentions fire in a crowded theater, I think of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

"Fire, fire, fire, fire. Now you’ve heard it. Not shouted in a crowded theatre, admittedly, as I seem now to have shouted it in the Hogwarts dining hall. But the point is made. Everyone knows the fatuous verdict of the greatly over-praised Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who, when asked for an actual example of when it would be proper to limit speech or define it as an action, gave that of shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre.

It’s very often forgotten what he was doing in that case was sending to prison a group of Yiddish speaking socialists, whose literature was printed in a language most Americans couldn’t read, opposing Mr. Wilson’s participation in the First World War, and the dragging of the United States into that sanguinary conflict, which the Yiddish speaking socialists had fled from Russia to escape. In fact it could be just as plausible argued that the Yiddish speaking socialists who were jailed by the excellent and greatly over-praised Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes were the real fire fighters, were the ones shouting fire when there really was a fire in a very crowded theatre indeed."

People offer it as an example of the limits of free speech, all the while completely unaware of the saying's origin.

Re:First amendment (1)

Sabriel (134364) | about 7 months ago | (#46096331)

People offer it as an example of the limits of free speech, all the while completely unaware of the saying's origin.

I suspect because people expect common sense sayings to have common sense origins. It is a good example after all - it's not the saying's fault that Holmes used it in Schenk outside of its proper scope (e.g. from Wikipedia, "Chafee argued in Free Speech in the United States that a better analogy in Schenk might be a man who stands in a theatre and warns the audience that there are not enough fire exits").

Re:First amendment (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 6 months ago | (#46094785)

And the right to due process. It's hard to contest a demand for records when that demand is accompanied by a gag order.

Obfuscation (2)

fallen1 (230220) | about 6 months ago | (#46094353)

This is simply obfuscation through aggregation. All this is for is to make it SEEM like the DOJ is listening to the companies and the public outcry.

Don't believe the hype. Don't believe the lies.
Down this pathway, freedom dies.

Re:Obfuscation (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 6 months ago | (#46094363)

Freedom is already dead. This is what is simply the icing the on surveillance state's cake.

Re:Obfuscation (3, Insightful)

DickBreath (207180) | about 6 months ago | (#46094551)

Oh, I think we've only started down the road. We're not close to the end of the road yet.

Yes, they can stop us for any reason. Detain us. Search our laptops and devices without a court order or oversight. There are huge constitution free zones. They can snoop into all private communications to the point where no two human beings can have a private conversation. We have to take our shoes off at the airport and submit to naked scans and patdowns. People like Aaron Swartz can be harassed to death over things that are minor crimes if they are even crimes at all. Rich people routinely get away with things that poor people go to jail for -- for years. Compare penalties for copyright infringement to penalties for murder or robbery. Police brutality is becoming more common. Filming the police from a distance without interfering is treated as a crime.

How soon do you think it will be before they can search your home without a warrant? How soon before you have to show ID to travel within the US -- maybe even within a city? How long before anonymous cash disappears?

I'm just asking. But if you think this is just the icing on the cake, I want to tell you that this is still the cake, and there is a lot more cake to come before we get to the icing.

Those who fail to learn from history. Etc.

Re:Obfuscation (1)

Entropius (188861) | about 6 months ago | (#46094999)

Filming the police from a distance without interfering is treated as a crime.

SCOTUS has said, very explicitly, that this is legal.

Re:Obfuscation (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 6 months ago | (#46095407)

Filming the police from a distance without interfering is treated as a crime.

SCOTUS has said, very explicitly, that this is legal.

That has not stopped LEOs from harassing & arresting citizens video recording them. YouTube is filled with videos of this still occurring widely with very little in the way of serious consequences for those LEOs, despite SCOTUS' ruling.

Strat

Re:Obfuscation (1)

deconfliction (3458895) | about 6 months ago | (#46095217)

Police brutality is becoming more common.

Citation and clarification of statistic requested. I'm guessing the rate of Rodney King style common police brutality has been a fairly steady drop over my lifetime. At least from casual observation of mainstream news sources. I do suspect there is much underhanded 'brutality' going on that merely uses things like 'government blacklisting' (as mentioned in the Seeger news articles today). But as for club blows and kicks raining down on people, I feel like I see less of that in the news over the years, not more. So I worry that one comment, unless you bolster it, really works against the rest of everything you said.

Re:Obfuscation (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 7 months ago | (#46097539)

Really, you have no samples you can find? Start with the cops in California that beat a homeless man to death, and extend from there. There is no citation needed. Video cameras have been around for a while, so the excuse of "it happened and we just didn't film it" does not work.

Re:Obfuscation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46095337)

That was a very well written "the future is bleak" comment. Then, when I was done reading it, I happened to look up at your name, and LOST it.

Re:Obfuscation (1)

AssholeMcGee (2521806) | about 7 months ago | (#46097249)

As the NSA metadata collection scandal has developed, a number of technology and communications companies have fought to increase the transparency of the data collection process by publishing reports on how much data government agencies are asking them for.

Right lets ignore the fact that companies are trying to save face after being exposed for intentional back doors and exploits in there hardware/software, and all the other "warning systems" that were ignored from the agencies hacking into systems.

This shouldn't be about people protecting or feeling sorry for million/billion monopolies, but we should continue to include the possible fact they're in on it of there own freewill.

These request letters, are more or less a disguise/decoy to what people should really be talking about. The government has had tremendous success in going after the little guys and getting them shut down, for refusing to co-operate, and the little guys have gone public over it. Large Companies kept quite over it, because they're part of it, not because they were being threatened, I'm getting a little annoyed with people using that argument when it comes to million/billion dollar companies that are contracted with government to provide infrastructure, and other services, that there victims.

This should be a full on attack at everyone involved, the government surveillance of US citizens is decades old, but companies willfully participating to make it easy for them should be closely investigated, and publicized as much if not more then the stories over the NSA and other agencies doing something they have done for years.

Transparency, for the NSA is going to do nothing when there are at least another 10 agencies that will continue where the NSA has been exposed, and companies will continue to aide those agencies until [or if] someone exposes there operations, then we will be right back at this very discussion yet again.

Re:Obfuscation (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 7 months ago | (#46097533)

How soon do you think it will be before they can search your home without a warrant?

Katrina and the Boston Marathon bombing make it clear that this can happen and has happened, and they are trying to normalize it by not discussing it.

Re:Obfuscation (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 6 months ago | (#46094673)

Mmm, cake... I could go for some of that right now!

still pretending hitler worked alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46094377)

as the never ending perfect balance holycost burns higher. are imaginary semi-chosens expecting some kind of warnings? double digits will not help extreme unction does not work either the great hereafter is here now

Are companies allowed to include metadata? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46094415)

I.e.:
"percentage of requests that we bet are bullshit"
"number of man-hours wasted collecting the NSA's data"
"estimated amount of force required to insert clue into requesting agent"

Re:Are companies allowed to include metadata? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46094929)

They can publish when they received the request from who and over what channel they received it from. Since this is "meta-data" and not the actual content of the request I don't think the NSA would particularly mind. Let's see how they like it when they're on the end of this particularly bad turd of logic fallacy.

Useless Information (3, Insightful)

s.petry (762400) | about 6 months ago | (#46094417)

Nothing of value is being done, which reflects the politicians which are offering no valuable solutions. End the programs, end the corruption, and for pity sake end the careers of these corrupt politicians. The data collection and paid shilling are useless to the population. They have value to an entrenched group of people who use all available means (illegal and legal) to further entrench themselves.

Claiming that FISA courts can't release any data is idiocy and completely against the spirit of the Constitution/Bill of Rights. John Doe could be redacted from the court documents so that we could see what is happening without assisting John Doe. If Company A may be a risk, Company A could also be redacted for the same purposes.

Nobody should be surprised at this decision, Obama stated that nothing would change except for who is holding the data that is collected. The solution is to vote out every career politician and elect people of high moral character.

Re:Useless Information (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46094529)

"Vote out?" Plurality voting leads to there being exactly two viable choices in any election. And the stable-state for a 2-choice election is one where the two candidates are very close ideologically. www.rangevoting.org has a great explanation of all of this.

The only solution is to replace plurality voting itself with a better method.

Re:Useless Information (1)

swillden (191260) | about 6 months ago | (#46095643)

The only solution is to replace plurality voting itself with a better method.

I'm sure the two dominant parties will be anxious to push that through.

Re:Useless Information (1)

PrimaryConsult (1546585) | about 6 months ago | (#46094623)

Nobody should be surprised at this decision, Obama stated that nothing would change except for who is holding the data that is collected. The solution is to vote out every career politician and elect people of high moral character.

Except by default someone has to be a career politician to get anywhere. To get from "mayor of small town" to "US Senate" you need to win a series of progressively more aggressive elections (effectively making a career out of it). The best solution to this is to decentralize power to the point where the decisions made by people closer to the "mayor of a small town" level are more important in your day-to-day life than those made by "US Senator".

Barring that, I think something crazy like this would work: randomly select 9 registered voters as candidates for each electable position (from the pool of people eligible to vote for that position). Fund their campaigns, and disallow anyone outside that pool from campaigning. Think of it as a political version of the draft or jury duty. As seemingly bad as this scheme sounds, I find it hard to imagine the end result being any worse than what we have right now.

Re:Useless Information (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 6 months ago | (#46095179)

Except by default someone has to be a career politician to get anywhere.

Nope, they don't. You have been trained to have this belief, but that belief is nowhere near reality. Study Plato's "The Republic", the answer has been known for thousands of years (about 2,500 that we know of). This is why people are not taught this information, and in most College classes you will only study a few of the books.

That out of the way, I agree with your statements about decentralizing power. This is how the US was founded, and we functioned for a short duration with these principles.

The lottery method is not a better version of what Socrates laid out. It may seem good because it's simple, but simple is not necessarily better when it comes to Government.

Re:Useless Information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46096243)

You're using "The Republic" as your guide for just government? You do know that there were three classes of people in Plato's ideal, the political class (philosopher kings), the enforcers (guardians), and everyone else (the polis). Only the first two groups have any rights. Guess who makes all the stuff, though.

How convenient for Plato that the people who are most fit to rule are philosophers

Re:Useless Information (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 7 months ago | (#46097573)

You are a liar, either due to ignorance or intentionally. We could debate perhaps what Socrates meant when he talked about "Philosopher Kings", but even that is spelled out very clearly. Socrates did not have three classes of people, he had one class for all people. He was against slavery, and believed that women should hold the same positions as men. No, I'm not going to paraphrase hundreds of pages of translated text to show you are wrong. Simply read what was stated and keep things in context.

Um (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#46094455)

They have the undersea cable tapped, all of Goolge/Facebook/yahoo's equipment hacked and therefor only need to issue an NSL when they are taking someone to court. So what's the point of this?

Re:Um (1)

redelm (54142) | about 6 months ago | (#46094835)

Good point. The question is whether TLAs can backdate NSLs so their ill-gotten trove can be used as evidence and not just threat identification/blackmail. Since NSLs are supposed to be secret, how can a judge rule on the [in]admissibility of evidence? One might hope that failing some authorization (warrent, unsealed NSL? etc) an intercept would be ruled inadmissible.

See That? All Better Now, Pumpkin (3, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 6 months ago | (#46094557)

According to an email from the U.S. Deputy Attorney General (PDF) to the General Counsel of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Yahoo, the companies can publish:

Ahh, I feel so much better, now. The rich who monitor everything we do have convinced the powerful who monitor everything we do to disclose slightly more about their constant surveillance of us to We The People, sovereigns of this nation.

Metadata regarding metadata (1)

jpschaaf (313847) | about 6 months ago | (#46094653)

The government doesn't want any metadata surrounding their requests to be released to the public.

It's algorithm time.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46094675)

If they report each block separately in units of 1000, then report the total in groups of 250 units, then using subtractive reporting, also in units of 250, they could get us to with 250 for both sets independently without falling afoul of the rules.

The fact that we as citizens even allow this to happen is beyond me.

It's time for a simple grassroots movement to evict the current government entities and get people who stand up for us, not themselves in place.

Wholesale clearing out of the incumbents, along with some long jail terms for those who committed acts of treason by violating the constitution.

Tops on those lists, the entire House of Congress, Senate, President, Vice-President, Attorney General, NSA, FBI and CIA top officials, should all be serving time in prison right now for their cowardly acts of treason.

Stoner Obama SOTU Toking Game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46094743)

I bet stoners in Colorado will be lighting up to Obama's one-liners. :-D

When Obama mentions 420, take a drag.

When Obama mentions ACA, take two drags.

When Obama mentions Marry Jane Legalization hit the "Hoover" switch and fill your lungs.

When Obama mentions alcohol break out a bong and don't stop.

Can't say "none" (3, Insightful)

Jonathunder (105885) | about 6 months ago | (#46095055)

I read the letter. The smallest "bands" that can be reported are zero through 250 for aggregate orders, or zero through 999 for more discrete types. In other words, the companies are not allowed to say there were none; instead they have to say between 0 and x.

Re:Can't say "none" (2)

Lost Race (681080) | about 7 months ago | (#46096129)

Does this mean it's technically illegal for anyone in America to say, "I have received no National Security Letters today"? I feel a T-shirt design coming on....

Light of Other Days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46095273)

I would recommend that the /. crowd take a peek at Arthur C. Clark / Stephen Baxter's 'Light of Other Days'. The somewhat megalomaniacal rich due that creates the technology (WormCam ) aside, a very, very, interesting look into what our future may bring. Google Glass taken to the ultimate extreme A completely transparent society where everyone can find out anything they want on anyone, at any time. Definitely worth the read.

FredInIT

Secret justice (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 7 months ago | (#46096877)

New rules may be nicer than the previous, but the whole concept of a secret justice remains a shame.

Peanut Butter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46097175)

So the "ruling" of the illustrious DoJ basically says that the male "secretary" i.e. prostitute must use peanut butter as the preferred lubricant with giving "head jobs" with his mouth to the Official.

Crunch Peanut Butter is NOT allowed!

}:-D

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