However, this week I've noticed a useful and positive trend in response to President Obama's lame, rhetoric and baloney filled speech about reforming NSA mass surveillance. The response has been almost universal condemnation from a variety of perspectives. I'm happy to see that anyone judging otherwise is being shoved aside and left in a small minority. I'm hoping this means that my country is not going to go fascist any time soon, that actual/factual freedom and liberty still ring in the USA, despite political pressure and ignorance attempting to force otherwise.
Here is a string of three posts on the Internet which I like very much. One leads into another. The place to start is an article at TechDirt.com, a terrific website for keeping up with the relationship between technology and the world around us.
Open Letter From Security Researchers Explains How NSA Has Weakened Our Communications Infrastructure
Among the many problems with President Obama's weak statement concerning NSA surveillance was the fact that he didn't even address the serious issue of the NSA undermining cryptography with backdoors. The White House's task force had included a recommendation to end this practice, and the President appeared to ignore it entirely. Now, a large group of US computer security and cryptography researchers have sent a strongly worded open letter to the President condemning these efforts (and his failure to stop the program)….An Open Letter from US Researchers in Cryptography and Information Security
- January 24, 2014
…The value of society-wide surveillance in preventing terrorism is unclear, but the threat that such surveillance poses to privacy, democracy, and the US technology sector is readily apparent. Because transparency and public consent are at the core of our democracy, we call upon the US government to subject all mass-surveillance activities to public scrutiny and to resist the deployment of mass-surveillance programs in advance of sound technical and social controls. In finding a way forward, the five principles promulgated at http://reformgovernmentsurveillance.com/ provide a good starting point….Reform Government Surveillance
The undersigned companies believe that it is time for the world’s governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information.The companies signing these reform principles are:
While the undersigned companies understand that governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety and security, we strongly believe that current laws and practices need to be reformed.
Consistent with established global norms of free expression and privacy and with the goals of ensuring that government law enforcement and intelligence efforts are rule-bound, narrowly tailored, transparent, and subject to oversight, we hereby call on governments to endorse the following principles and enact reforms that would put these principles into action.
Their five principles are:
1) Limiting Governments' Authority to Collect Users' Information
2) Oversight and Accountability
3) Transparency About Government Demands
4) Respecting the Free Flow of Information
5) Avoiding Conflicts Among Governments
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The First Amendment to the US Constitution
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution
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.
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
- Theodore Roosevelt - Kansas City Star (7 May 1918)
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Some people have insisted that US government mass surveillance started during the President Clinton administration, but no references supporting that statement have been offered to me.
I've read that mass surveillance during the Obama administration has increased exponentially. Understanding this to be the case, I see no reason to respect either the Democrat or Republican parties, both of which have been guilty of pushing this treasonous calamity upon us.
Regarding NSA surveillance of people outside of the USA, that's a matter of international law, of which I am no expert. Keep an eye on The Guardian website for relevant details as they emerge.
Final note: I consider Edward Snowden to be a US patriot whistleblower. I'm not at all impressed with his turning to Hong Kong, then Russia for sanctuary when Iceland repeatedly offered him asylum. No doubt his story is more complicated than I comprehend. Nonetheless, as a US citizen I have to appreciate his bringing the surveillance crimes of the US government into the light of citizen scrutiny. I wish him well and wish he could simply return to the USA without prosecution. It's difficult for me to comprehend the point of view of those who disagree. What is human freedom and liberty worth? I'd say everything.