The Crossroads of Privacy & Security.

As if the news of the NSA's phone and internet spying weren't enough to worry us, the FBI has just admitted to using surveillance drones to spy on Americans on US soil. During a Congressional hearing on telephone data collection, FBI director Robert Muller said the agency is in the “initial stages” of developing privacy guidelines, and has only used drones in a “very, very minimal way.” However, Americans are skeptical of such a description after being told that sweeping data collection was only a “modest” invasion of our privacy.

Democratic Senator Mark Udall, said he is “concerned the FBI is deploying drone technology while only being in the 'initial stages' of developing guidelines to protect Americans' privacy rights.” Senator Udall explained that he understands drones have the potential to “more efficiently and effectively perform law enforcement duties,” but promised to do everything in his power “to hold the FBI accountable and ensure its actions respect the US constitution.”

In keeping with the defense of NSA spying, Director Muller urged Congress to consider national security before placing any limits on drone surveillance and data collection. He said, “Are you going to take the dots off the table, make it unavailable to you when you're trying to prevent the next terrorist attack?”

Our nation is at a crossroads in deciding how much privacy we are willing to give up in the name of security. As Benjamin Franklin said, “those who would give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This won't be an easy debate. Stay tuned.

Comments

Vegasman56 9 years 23 weeks ago
#1

We all want to be secure in our lives from the government’s invasion of our private lives, private homes, personal documents and effects, against unreasonable search and seizure, as is stated in fourth amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. When domestic and foreign terrorism violently disrupt our personal lives in one form or another, as in ourselves or the ones we love, we demand answers from the government on how this happened. So what do we do, accept the fact we live in a dangerous world or do we accept the fact that the government has the ability to, or should I say the limited the ability to track not only us but the ones who are desired to do harm to this country. Which is more dangerous our own government, or the small group who cannot get their agenda approved for us to live under their control.

ckrob's picture
ckrob 9 years 23 weeks ago
#2

Would my abdication of my first and fourth amendment rights make me safer or would it lead to my citizenship in a thoroughgoing fascist state? I doubt that 'the machine,' as envisioned, can possibly have an acceptable false-positive / false-negative level of performance.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 22 weeks ago
#3

Why doesn't anyone talk about the security measures we had before 9/11/2001? We had all the intelligence we needed to stop that attack. We didn't need everybody's emails? We didn't need to capture all fibre optic communications? We didn't need meta-data derived from phone records? All we needed is the president to listen to the people who worked for him.

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 9 years 22 weeks ago
#4

George Orwell was only off by thirty years.

(look it up!)

dowdotica's picture
dowdotica 9 years 22 weeks ago
#5

I really dig the movie, "Terminator"! The machines are coming folks!!! Seriously though? One does have to ask if we'd be having this debate if 9/11 had been thwarted. 12.7.41 woke a giant. 9.11.01?

dowdotica's picture
dowdotica 9 years 22 weeks ago
#6

...created the United States of absurd paranoia....

historywriter's picture
historywriter 9 years 22 weeks ago
#7

Collecting massive amounts of data isn't particularly useful. Who is going to analyze all of it? Will computers search for certain words or phrases and track down anyone who writes "terrorism" or "suicide bombing" or something? Lots of luck with that.

By now, these agencies should have some well-honed techniques for finding out about "chatter" and using other tools to try to determine who might be dangerous. If they don't, what have they been doing? As one commentator said, we had that information before 9/11 and some other events and no one looked at it or took it seriously, with the exception of Clarke. The police knew something about those bombers at the Boston Marathon. There have been other incidents--mass slayings where some people should have known about the danger, especially the one at the military base--and no one did anything about it.

We don't have to force people to give up their civil rights. We have to have agencies that are educated, trained, responsible, and listened to.

dowdotica's picture
dowdotica 9 years 22 weeks ago
#8

if you see the drone? just bend over and moon it. when the sky is really full of amchines? won't be much you'll be able to do about it.

Kend's picture
Kend 9 years 22 weeks ago
#9

A guy showed up at my golf course the other day with a remote control helicoper with a small camera he could control and he took some video of us golfing from the air. It was clear as can be. You to can have a spying drone for $500.00. Think of the future they will be everwhere as the Chinese will be selling them for $29.00 soon. Kind of scary eh. Maybe we should get buy them and look into the windows of the politicions, NSA, FBI and see how they like it. I have to go now I have to find a window covering place to invest in.

howardb4 9 years 22 weeks ago
#11

Thom says:"Our nation is at a crossroads in deciding how much privacy we are willing to give up in the name of security."

It is my experience that what privacy we lose is not what we as the peo[ple are willing to give up, but just how much the Government Thugs TAKE!!!

Hard to believe Thom still believes we have any inpuit that is effective on almost any issue. And if it seems our input has been instrumental in warding off some tyrannical attempt by the Government., it is only because that issue was used by the government to throw us the 'bone' giving the false immpression that the people could actually stand up and resist an overbearing govt.

historywriter's picture
historywriter 9 years 22 weeks ago
#12

You seem to be suggesting that we might as well stay dumb about these things and not know what is going on because we can't do anything about them anyway, and, related, that we might as well stop trying to do anything and just let them roll over us.

There are too many historical incidences of unexpected change happening in the worst circumstances for us to give up. You can, if you want.

SUITERF's picture
SUITERF 9 years 22 weeks ago
#13

After 9/11, the Bush administration began a secret program of warrantless wiretapping to collect the private information of every person in the United States. Passage of the USA PATRIOT Act in October of 2001 provided a legal basis for these continually expanding secret programs. However, no law can override the US Constitution. And yet no court has consented to hear even one case to determine the constitutionality of these programs. Elected officials don’t take an oath to defend America, they take an oath to protect and defend the constitution. They have violated that oath.

If these programs are essential, and they wish to perform their duties constitutionally, there is a process for that. They need to propose a constitutional amendment, have it passed by Congress, and then ratified by ¾ of the states. The PATRIOT Act needs to be allowed to expire as was intended and our leaders need to start honoring the vow that they took when they were elected to office.

DRichards's picture
DRichards 9 years 22 weeks ago
#14

For all you Trekies out there; I just watched Deep Space Nine, season 4, episode 11 "Paradise Lost" where members of Starfleet attempted to install a military dictatorship in order to keep the earth safe from the possibility of a Changling invasion. So much has changed in our country since the mid nineties.

On another note. Approx a month ago as I was coming home early from work there was a small radio controled aircraft flying above our courthouse/sherriff dept. complex here on Main Street in our small town here in rural Virginia. I am not saying it was a drone, but it did seem very unusual. I didn't see any people, just the small plane flying over Main Street...

bobcox's picture
bobcox 9 years 22 weeks ago
#15

One of the purposes of housing British Redcoats in peoples homes was to gather information as to who would be for the king or who would be for the smugglers (who were combating the East India Company monopoly).

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 22 weeks ago
#16
Quote howardb4:Hard to believe Thom still believes we have any inpuit that is effective on almost any issue. And if it seems our input has been instrumental in warding off some tyrannical attempt by the Government., it is only because that issue was used by the government to throw us the 'bone' giving the false immpression that the people could actually stand up and resist an overbearing govt.

Interesting concept. The contrary may also be true. Perhaps we are intentionally being presented with the idea that we have some input, or control, over the situation by design. Perhaps the plan is to present us with the controversy; and, then use the Corporately owned media to paint public opinion by the majority as to being fine with sacrificing privacy for security. Why not? After all, they seem to be intent on insisting that this erosion of the 4th Amendment is our wish and has succeeded at repeatedly keeping us safe. Who knows, an ignorant and struggling multitude will probably buy this BS without a second thought. I certainly personally know of several very intelligent, well educated, and otherwise gifted thinkers who could care less what happens in politics. They run away from me whenever I mention anything political like I had fleas or something else annoying and contagious. Unfortunately, it is brutally sad but true the apathy, anomie, and alienation that cognitive dissonance hath rot amongst our populace. This is precisely the reason I find such comfort amongst the participants of this blog.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 22 weeks ago
#17
Quote Vegasman56:When domestic and foreign terrorism violently disrupt our personal lives in one form or another, as in ourselves or the ones we love, we demand answers from the government on how this happened. So what do we do, accept the fact we live in a dangerous world or do we accept the fact that the government has the ability to, or should I say the limited the ability to track not only us but the ones who are desired to do harm to this country. Which is more dangerous our own government, or the small group who cannot get their agenda approved for us to live under their control.

Oh, I don't know. Let's put this in perspective. Cigarettes and alcohol kill more people in one year than all terrorist attacks put together in the history of our country, many, many times over. Yet I see no concerted effort to undermine our Constitutional traditions and laws to save any of these victims. Yet, saving these victims would be much easier and would not require any loss of our Constitutional liberties now would it? Food for thought!

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 22 weeks ago
#18

They say repeating something over and over again makes it a reality... Or something like that. Let me repeat this: We the People should unite in defense of our Constitution to sue our Government for breach of their primary responsibility to "protect and defend the Constitution of The United States of America." A class action lawsuit that recoups all loses--with a handsome profit--for all persons involved. The real objective--to force the Supreme Court to declare The Patriot Act and all of its enactions as unconstitutional.

Surely out there is some gifted law school student or struggling young law firm partner who is reading this and who desperately needs an opportunity to make a name for themselves and pay off their student loan. Here's your chance. Go for it!

Not only will you be famous and rich; but, your name will go down in history!

akunard's picture
akunard 9 years 22 weeks ago
#19

For tyranny to grow and flourish the government MUST monitor the movement and communitation of the people. Homaland Defence is prepairing to put down civil unrest.

For the 4th time "THEY' had the older brothers name and Boston didn't hit the radar screen.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 9 years 22 weeks ago
#20

Wow, it's gonna be real hard for the Teabaggers to drown the FBI and NSA in a bathtub, but I have some ideas on how we can save save some money in these billionaire driven austerity times. Let's get rid of all the current wasteful socialism the military industrial spy complex is currently enjoying and go billionaire capitalist crazy. Have workers in Communist China build the god damn drones for 80 cents per hour and then issue special work permits to illegal immigrants who then can operate the joy sticks for seven bucks per hour.

This has already happened to millions of unemployed private sector workers who didn't have the socialist economic protection the FBI and NSA have. Why should these agencies be immune to capitalist crazy trickle down austerity? After all the Republicans want to shrink all Govt. and further enrich the rich....don't stop now .....do it!

meemee 9 years 22 weeks ago
#21

In doing some deep thinking, do you suppose most/all Republicans & Tea Partiers are No. 2 children? I have a couple, & they can be very difficult to reason with. Just wondering ....

Vegasman56 9 years 22 weeks ago
#22

Would you say the same if somebody you love let's say your wife or kids get caught in an explosion that could be prevented by a domestic threat. Then would you approve of such practices, would you say to the government could you have prevented this. Do you think or believe that parents of the children in Newtown school massacre would want the authorities to monitor this individual activities if they could. It is a hard decision to make, but is it better to make decision before something happens or after. Depending on the extent of the surveillance should we allow it to be use. A computer and software monitoring a few phrases does not violate the fourth amendment, or does it. Isn't that the real question. Or is it considered as unreasonable

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 22 weeks ago
#23
Quote Vegasman56:Would you say the same if somebody you love let's say your wife or kids get caught in an explosion that could be prevented by a domestic threat. Then would you approve of such practices, would you say to the government could you have prevented this.

Vegasman56 ~ Good question! Here's my answer. My favorite uncle, aunt, best friend, and my own mother died at the hand of cigarettes. Yet by no means am I going to sacrifice my Constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties to possible save their lives. I know that their deaths occurred for completely non-Constitutional reasons. So do most preventable deaths.

How many soldiers have died to protect the Constitution of the United States? I have a father, two nephews, a niece, and many uncles who have risked their lives to protect our Constitution from much greater threats than terrorists. The scenarios you've mentioned can be addressed quite easily without attacking our most sacred traditions. 911 was preventable with Constitutionally obtained intelligence which is historically recorded to be sitting on the desks of President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prior to 911. Illegal and unconstitutional search and seizure of private comunici did nothing to prevent the Boston bombing. Perhaps you would like to explain to the young lady at the site who lost her leg how much safer we are in the age of legal digital piracy; which, you seem hell bent on promoting.

What would you have us do? Sacrifice our most celebrated traditions to "maybe" protect 3,000 lives that were lost because of gross negligence of the most irresponsible leadership this country has ever experienced at the hands of a particular Republican Presidential Administration in the last 13 years? How many hundreds of thousands of lives were sacrificed to protect this tradition?

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 22 weeks ago
#24

There are risks in life just as there are risks in any human endeavour. Are we to sacrifice our most cherished traditions for the illusion of security? How secure are we when we go to bed at night or cross the street in the day? Life is risk and life worth living is risk worth accepting. No founder of our Constitution lived a life free of risk. None of us ever--regardless of our situation--will ever live a life free of risk. It is how we confront our fears and overcome our adversaries that determine our character. it is also our resolve as a people to live lives free of fear that determine our character to a world full of witnesses. Shall Democracy prevail or fail is a question that will be answered by not only our generation; but, every generation to come. Let us give a noble and responsible answer to that question; for, it will be reviewed by all generations to come as a deciding--and defining--moment in human history. Let us step up to the plate as informed, resolved, and committed to stand by our fundamental beliefs and laws. Let God, and man, judge this generation not as an excuse of human flaws and fears; but, rather, as an example of human determination and courage. Let this generation be a beacon of light to the future of mankind; and, not a tunnel of shadows to another Dark Ages of human failure and regret.

Loremaster's picture
Loremaster 9 years 22 weeks ago
#25

It's worse than we thinh, oh and Thom they have drones the size of Mosquitoes, not Dragon flies. They can be used to gather DNA as well as "other" things

Loremaster's picture
Loremaster 9 years 22 weeks ago
#26

A lot of Jews felt the same way when they started the Census in Germany! IBM created the first computer for the sole purpose of tracking people and that information was used to great effect! This is not merely a Government effort, there are a lot of companies behind it. People were alarmed that Microsoft's new Xbox required everyday access to the internet, what they ignored was the fact that the new Camera, which also does IR is on 24/7....

Don't sleep on whats going on, or you may wake up in a place you don't want to be.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 22 weeks ago
#27
Quote Vegasman56:Depending on the extent of the surveillance should we allow it to be use. A computer and software monitoring a few phrases does not violate the fourth amendment, or does it. Isn't that the real question. Or is it considered as unreasonable

Another good question! Here's my answer. Yes, monitoring, "sifting", reading all violate the fourth amendment. Let's look at that amendment again:

The United States Constitution Bill of Rights
Quote The Fourth Amendment:The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.[1]

Here we see the words "persons," "houses," "papers," and "effects" against "unreasonable searches and seizures." The amendment goes on to describe a reasonable search and seizure as one "upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Microsoft described these searches as "Hoovering." An most meaningful word. As a verb it sounds like the indiscriminate vacuuming of information during the cleaning process. As a noun it refers to J. Edgar Hoover who collected volumes of information indiscriminately on American citizens as the first head of the FBI in order to intimidate, blackmail and control them. Microsoft insists the term refers to the later definition.

The unconstitutionality of the searches in this effort pales in comparison to the unconstitutionality of the seizures. Clearly, when you seize all the "papers" and "effects" of everyone, there is no "probable cause" for anything. Do you imply that you suspect every fellow American of being a terrorist; including, of course, yourself? Everyone is a probable suspect and we can just throw out the rest of the amendment as well concerning proper due process to invade our privacy? Perhaps the government should be able to compel us to write down our dreams every night, and provide stool samples and lists of the food we eat everyday as well? After all, if you're willing to surrender your privacy, why just stop at communications.

Some people out there seem to think that the words "papers" and "effects" should not apply to communications in the 'new' digital age. Lets see:

The Modern Digitalized Google Dictionary
Quote Defining the word, "Papers":Significant or important documents belonging to a person

"Significant or important documents" could also easily define emails and text messages of any kind. Now lets look at the word, "effects"

The Modern Digitalized Google Dictionary
Quote Defining the word, "Effects":Personal belongings. property of a personal character that is portable but not used in business

Personal property that is portable. Intellectual property fits this definition perfectly and easily applies to all digital data sweeps being made. (Phone call records are a shady area. However, phone call content is not and in my opinion is strictly protected by the fourth amendment.)

It can be argued that companies already collect data from us for marketing purposes. This collection is agreed to by us before we use the software. Others may argue that we have already surrendered the fourth amendment to the DEA. This also is correct, however the draconian legislation passed in the "War on Drugs" is equally unconstitutional and also needs to be corrected. Remember, two wrongs don't make a right. Just because this type of crime has been committed by our government in the past doesn't make it alright.

Therefore, It is in my humble opinion that any personal property (digital information) created by any citizen that is seized without probable cause or due process, sifted, monitored or used in anyway, including only being stored violates the fourth amendment of the Constitution of the United States not only once, but three times. Belongings are being seized, and searched, without any probable cause or due process. Such data collection is unreasonable, unconstitutional, and a serious threat to the National Security of the United States, the citizens thereof, and our Constitution.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 22 weeks ago
#28

I thought Snowden's point was that Booz-Allen (the Carlisle group) coud get the data without warrant, but the NSA (govt) could not. No one here seems to addressing the issue from that viewpoint.

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