Former DHS Official Says Boston Bombing Proves ACLU & EFF Are Wrong About Surveillance And CISPA

from the call-up-OED:-'crass'-needs-to-be-redefined dept

There have been a lot of kneejerk reactions to the Boston Marathon bombing. Between certain politicians and pundits quickly turning the horrific event into makeshift planks to support their pet legislation/conspiracy theories and the New York Post cranking out reports so "exclusive" they weren't even true, the internet and airwaves have been filled with the sort of stupidity we've sadly come to expect when tragedy strikes.

Then something comes along that swaggers right up to you and punches you in the face with its breathtaking imbecility. This is Stewart Baker's "contribution" to the national discussion, filed over at the otherwise esteemed Volokh Conspiracy under the heading "Fool Me Once..."


When people say, "The stupid! It burns!" they're usually referring to garden variety stupidity or the occasional bit of advanced moronics that momentarily derails entire comment threads. This thing that Baker has cobbled together out of the stuff he likes best -- surveillance and more surveillance -- towers over other moments of burning stupid like a Wicker Man made entirely from straw. The stupid here doesn't simply burn. It immolates the rational person's mind, replacing coherent arguments with searing, nightmarish pain that reduces responses to stunted internet-native declarations like "wat."

Baker wants us to believe that the EFF and the ACLU are wrong... in both instances. What it actually shows is the EFF/ACLU's consistency on these issues. Unless Baker has heard otherwise, the EFF and ACLU are still against widespread surveillance (along with CISPA). This event, as terrible as it was, doesn't change that stance.

Only someone like Baker, a former DHS "company man" and freelance contributor to the underdeveloped "TSA porn" genre, would take the stance that the FBI's release of camera footage capturing the two bombing suspects' images justifies the massive amount of surveillance many in this country are subjected to in nearly every public space. (His take conveniently ignores the fact that the stills posted by the FBI appear to have been captured by cameras deployed by private businesses.)

Only someone who seems to detest the actions of privacy advocates would insinuate through a disingenuous headline ("What they said about street cameras before the bombing") that the EFF and ACLU would change their views on surveillance after an event like this. They won't. Only fair-weather friends of Constitutional rights and civil liberties change their stances after a tragedy like this. (See also: EVERYTHING THE GOVERNMENT HAS ENACTED SINCE SEPT. 11, 2001 THAT DEALS WITH NATIONAL "SAFETY" OR "SECURITY.")

And only someone who knows CISPA is a purposely flawed bill aimed at giving the government even more control and surveillance powers would have the gall to cheapen this tragedy by attempting to equate the two using a bullshit "conclusion" hastily MS Painted together and dropped unceremoniously into the blogosphere like a flaming bag of foul-smelling rhetoric on the doormat.

One question, though, Stewart, tied into Boston Marathon as you've done with yours: all of this surveillance, all these increased security measures, all this warrantless wiretapping, all these pat downs and scans at the airport, all of these drones flying all over the world, all these double-secret interpretations of super-secret laws, all of these redacted FOIA responses, all of this Cyber Pearl Harbor hand wringing, all of encroachment of the government into every aspect of American existence?

What did it prevent?



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(Flattened / Threaded)

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    rw (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 5:41am

    And what about all the (self-created)terrorist plots the FBI keeps breaking up. A real one comes along and they miss it completely.

     

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      Ninja (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 5:51am

      Re:

      If this surveillance idiocy keeps building up and they keep criminalizing people they'll create legions that have nothing to lose. That's when they'll have to deal with very real trouble.

       

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        silverscarcat (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 6:01am

        Re: Re:

        Honestly, I think some of us are waiting until people have nothing left to lose.

        Then the rich, the powerful and the influential will finally realize that they should have taken more care of us in the past.

         

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          Ninja (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 6:28am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Aha, the old guillotine episode comes to mind. It'd be very ugly if people started mobbing some rich ppl just because they can.. Still seeing recent episodes such as the police clashing with ppl in Greece, Cyprus it's disheartening to say that but they'll go Syria style if it's ultimately deemed the only solution. Even though everybody will be severely harmed in the long term.

           

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          Jay (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          In a capitalist system?

          We're dreaming if we think that these people will get out of their bubble.

           

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          Jay (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          In a capitalist system?

          We're dreaming if we think that these people will get out of their bubble.

           

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            CommonSense (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 8:40am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            People also tried to say that the housing bubble would never burst either, and we were dreaming if we thought real estate investments were bad...

            If there's one thing we've learned from our history in a capitalist system, it's that all bubbles burst eventually.

             

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              Jay (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 5:50pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              But listen to what CS is proposing...

              Then the rich, the powerful and the influential will finally realize that they should have taken more care of us in the past.

              The rich and powerful want a system that only works for them. Since the end of WWII, they've chipped away at the government and the public, making them weaker and weaker.

              In the 70s, they attacked the government, took it over and made it the weak... Thing we have today. So we've went from a state capitalist government to a private capitalist government with Reagan being the one at that helm for the past 40 years with regards to his Reagonomics.

              The system has failed. We've tried it. The rich got richer while the poor got poorer. Their jobs are in the BRIC countries. The training is in those same places. We have a workforce that has been decimated with people looking for work but finding copyright and patent issues instead of innovation.

              The system is the problem. A system that rewards the ones that have the most money is one that is very soon going to collapse when it can no longer protect its weakest members and we're very closely hitting that point.

              But to suggest that the rich and powerful will help out the people when the public has already lost so much? That's ignoring the history of what people do in revolutionary movements.

               

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          btr1701 (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 10:45am

          Re: Re: Re:

          > Then the rich, the powerful and the influential
          > will finally realize that they should have taken
          > ore care of us in the past.

          Why don't you take care of yourself instead of relying on someone else to do it for you?

           

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        Zos (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 8:24am

        Re: Re:

        they've been doing that for decades, a million or more a year with the war on drugs...so far, no uprising.

         

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          CommonSense (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 8:48am

          Re: Re: Re:

          so far...

          As recently as 10 years ago only 34% of Americans thought that Marijuana should be legal, while 64% said it should be illegal. The most recent data I saw shows 48% now think it should be legal, with only 50% still claiming it should be illegal.

          The United States of America did not cement its status as an independent nation overnight just by signing the declaration and telling the King it was so... Progress takes time...education takes time...

           

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        Anonymous, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 9:45am

        Re: Re:

        "If this surveillance idiocy keeps building up and they keep criminalizing people they'll create legions that have nothing to lose. That's when they'll have to deal with very real trouble."

        They're much closer to that then they think they are. It's very hard to predict timing -- could be next week, could be in 20 years. However, the US government has thrown away its legitimacy and given a very large number of people nothing to lose. Revolution is inevitable. The questions are (a) can we make it a peaceful revolution, and (b) what is going to replace the existing system.

        It could, for instance, be replaced by a warlord who actually understood how to keep people happy. I'd prefer not, but it's a definite possibility.

         

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      E. Zachary Knight (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:28am

      Re:

      That is a very good point. The FBI spent all that time creating its own terror plots that it failed to find any real plots. This needs to be shouted from the roof tops.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 9:47am

      Re:

      Well they were going to infiltrate them, but the one guy looked too white.

       

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      gorehound (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 12:14pm

      Re:

      Exactly ! The extra double good Surveillance will not stop someone from killing others.They will do it anyways as they blow themselves up and know they will go to their Pig Stye in the Sky.

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 12:27pm

        Re: Re:

        The extra double good Surveillance will not stop someone from killing others.They will do it anyways as they blow themselves up and know they will go to their Pig Stye in the Sky.

        Here are your options.

        1. You do nothing and let everyone have access to everyone.

        2. You secure the hell out of every place you possibly can so that it becomes less possible to commit crime.

        3. You profile better so that you prevent "suspicious" people from have the same freedom of access as other people.

        Israeli air security is easy on most, intrusive for a few: "Israel's approach allows most travelers to pass through airport security with relative ease. But Israeli personnel do single out small numbers of passengers for extensive searches and screening, based on profiling methods that have so far been rejected in the United States, subjecting Arabs and, in some cases, other foreign nationals to an extensive screening that comes with a steep civil liberties price."

         

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          Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 12:39pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I think we're headed for massive private and citizen surveillance anyway. There's just too much data collection and citizen monitoring for it to go away. And there's too much money for companies to walk away from it. The debates in DC may attempt to define government's role in this, but corporations aren't going to walk away from being able to collect info on every person in the world. Sooner or later we'll all be carrying devices which monitor us at all time, and the companies have the ability to analyze that and predict what we will do. That will likely change the security industry and open doors for those companies to sell protection. And the potential market for commercial drones is too big for industry to back away from that. As has been pointed out in another post, Google Street View has been useful for monitoring what citizens in various countries are doing.

           

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            Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 1:13pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            When I say citizen monitoring, I mean citizens monitoring other people via their cameras, check ins, and the like. We have trained a population of people to keep track of everything that goes on around them. We are watching everyone else all the time. And that is quite like how small towns used to operate. Everyone kept tabs on everyone else and if anyone got out of line, it became obvious immediately. It can be stifling, but it can also be handy for crime control. Back then people didn't lock their doors, they felt comfortable leaving the keys in their cars, and if kids ran into trouble, they could knock on the nearest door for help.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 1:30pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              People should be required to take medication that will control their behavior so that they act in accordance with the state's definition of a "good citizen." This, in addition to the monitoring (and possibly some conditioning sprinkled in), should have a lot more people saying "everybody's happy nowadays."

               

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                Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 2:01pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                People should be required to take medication that will control their behavior so that they act in accordance with the state's definition of a "good citizen." This, in addition to the monitoring (and possibly some conditioning sprinkled in), should have a lot more people saying "everybody's happy nowadays."

                We could also let citizen patrols replace police. If you aren't a middle aged white guy with a gun, watch out: you're inherently suspicious and one false move, and you're done.

                 

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2013 @ 9:01am

      Re:

      From the coverage on TV of these two brothers, it was hard to tell if they did any of what they were accused of, hence my frustration. The mainstream media continuously showed them walking around the corner with backpacks on and quite possibly 1/4 million people had backpacks on. And, from that coverage alone a truly contienscious jurer, I would think, would have trouble beyond a reasonable doubt convicting them of anything. Yet, the mainstream media continued to show that clip and another photo of the second suspect rounding the corner of another building as if that were conclusive evidence of their guilt. Is there actual footage of them doing what they were accused of? I'm not saying they didn't do this, but i am hesitant to rush to judgement for the "evidence" the media has not produced. And of course the big showdown that aired globally. Still, where is the real evidence that no one produced with camera footage? Did I miss the shots of them planting the bombs?

       

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    Ninja (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 5:49am

    What did it prevent?

    Nothing. Because if you want to bomb something you'll avoid means prone to surveillance. As much as you put up cameras and microphones there will be a point where it'll be impossible to maintain both socially and financially. And at that point there will still be plenty of ways to plan, discuss and execute any terrorist plot.

    The only ones affected by this absurd surveillance are innocent people and good-willed activists that pose no threat. And ironically, the idiots that go with "if you have done nothing wrong then you ahve nothing to fear" will be equally affected.

    What a brave new world.

     

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      Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:16am

      Re:

      Could not agree more. This kind of surveillance does nothing but create a nation of suspects out of the innocent.

       

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      The Real Michael, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:43am

      Re:

      Yup, look at all the "security" present at the Boston Marathon. Seriously, they couldn't prevent jack unless it was one of their own plots. Of course the government is going to exploit this event in order to further their police/surveillance state. It's like a conditioned reflex: sacrifice our rights and privacy anytime there's a murder of any kind. Intentional all the way.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 8:13am

        Re: Re:

        Also the more they try to build a police/surveillance state, the greater the chance of an insurgency. They could create the very violence they are trying to prevent.

         

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          The Real Michael, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 8:43am

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's an excellent point. Any violence incurred by the public ultimately benefits them. Furthermore, if they can instigate a militant group into violent action, they could theoretically blame it on one side of the policial aisle, call them potential terrorists and prevent them from voting. This would essentially give the other party free reign to become a full-blown dictatorship.

          Before long I expect cameras everywhere, drones in the sky and police/DHS decked out with full military uniform and weaponry, armored vehicles, and bullet-proof checkpoints on state borders. The POTUS will proclaim our 'unyielding strength and unshrinking resolve against fear and terror' or some other such meaningless drivel from his podium, all the while transofrming us into a dictatorship.

          That's my prediction.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:09am

    If all these politicians are so happy with surveillance, why don't we just go ahead and put cameras in every single one of there offices and homes? Would that make them feel "safe"?

     

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    Coogan (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:12am

    One question, though, Stewart, tied into Boston Marathon as you've done with yours: all of this surveillance, all these increased security measures, all this warrantless wiretapping, all these pat downs and scans at the airport, all of these drones flying all over the world, all these double-secret interpretations of super-secret laws, all of these redacted FOIA responses, all of this Cyber Pearl Harbor hand wringing, all of encroachment of the government into every aspect of American existence?

    What did it prevent?


    I'm sorry, but that's classified.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:14am

    Yes because those Government installed cameras solved everything.... o_O

     

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      Wally (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:20am

      Re:

      We got to record things as they were happening and if it weren't for the CCTV system of Boston, we'd have a bunch of shaky footage of the incident.

       

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        That One Guy (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:26am

        Re: Re:

        You sure about that though, from what I've heard the footage was primarily from cameras put up by private businesses, not the city itself, though I could be wrong.

         

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          Wally (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:31am

          Re: Re: Re:

          TOG, we would not have seen fragments of the bombs flying around without CCTV footage. Besides, the more video footage we can gather the better. CCTV tends to be a bit more of a stable platform as the cameras a re anchored. That combined with civilian work helps further gather information until all the evidence is gathered and analyzed.

           

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            That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 8:52pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            And a majority of the footage of the suspects were from shots from news crews, cell phones, and other private citizens who happened to be taking a picture at that time.

            But this is an example once again of how the Government wants to use an event to forward a policy that pretty much has failed. They hope that the fear and terror will get them more power, line more friends pockets with contracts for snake oil, and maybe let them find someone they can arrest in a showy event to justify invading peoples lives much more.

             

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 9:16am

      Re:

      I hate EFF and ACLU at least 2 minutes each day!

       

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:14am

    That didn't take long

    Another tragedy being used by the unscrupulous to justify their agenda.

    Politics makes me sick.

     

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    Wally (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:18am

    PBS's "Nova: The Spy Factory" put it plainly that this information gathered by the NSA is usually never passed on to the proper authorities in the first place. So when we say that 9/11 or the Boston Marathon bombings could have been prevented...they probably could have.

    Just a bit of a reminder before anyone gets too excited...this is a former DHS "representative" likely interviewed by FoxNews, MSNBC, or CNN.

     

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    Wally (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:22am

    News flash.....they've shot and killed one of the suspects.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:23am

    The true atrocity

    You know, as horrific as events like what happened in boston are, what really disgusts me is how quick scum like this are to jump in and try and use what happened for their own ends, empathy or common decency be damned.

    Instead of thinking 'how best can we help the survivors and those affected?', it seems the first thing that comes to their demented little minds is 'how best can I use this to further my pet project/beliefs?'

    In the end, while those that plan and put into motion events like the boston bombing are deserving off all the contempt and disgust that one can dish out, those who's first instinct is to capitalize on such atrocities for their own selfish ends are just as twisted and deserving of contempt.

     

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      Wally (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:36am

      Re: The true atrocity

      The two suspects are not US citizens and were here on visa's...one is dead the other is on the lamb....we had every right to monitor them on our own soil. I actually blame the NSA for this amount of information not being passed on to the FBI, the DHS, and the Department of the Interior.

       

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        btr1701 (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 10:50am

        Re: Re: The true atrocity

        > The two suspects are not US citizens and were
        > here on visa's...one is dead the other is on
        > the lamb

        You mean "on the lam". What you wrote is a somewhat humorous mental image.

         

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    out_of_the_blue, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:25am

    So... Are you still FOR surveillance by Google and Facebook?

    Cause, those are the entitities MOST surveilling you EVERY day, nearly every online site. They'll sell all your infoz to gov't for a few bucks.

    And of course you've all seen Schmidt's wacky assertion that doing with a drone what Google does with Streetview would be over-lhe-line horrible:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/04/15/google_schmidt_civilian_drones_nimby/

    The implicit theme here at Techdirt is: gov't surveillance bad; corporate surveillance good -- cause that brings us money.

    In fact, ALL surveillance is bad.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:30am

      Re: So... Are you still FOR surveillance by Google and Facebook?

      So... have you stopped beating your wife?

      Provide evidence of Techdirt's endorsement of the "corporate surveillance is good" stance, or please refrain from childishly attempting to cast it in false light.

       

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      Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:36am

      Re: So... Are you still FOR surveillance by Google and Facebook?

      People CHOOSE to use Google and Facebook. They do NOT choose to have their communications watched by law enforcement.

      How can you be so thick that you don't realise this.

       

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      Rikuo (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:42am

      Re: So... Are you still FOR surveillance by Google and Facebook?

      Where's that list of works produced because of copyright? Simple answer. Are you running away?
      Where's the positives of copyright?
      Is it moral and ethical to cause more harm enforcing copyright law than any claims of harm caused by copyright infringement? Given you focus all the time on morality, should be a pretty simple question for you to answer.

      Oh and good job seeing things written that were never actually written. Plenty of times Mike has criticized Google for their own acts of surveillance

       

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      silverscarcat (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:49am

      Re: So... Are you still FOR surveillance by Google and Facebook?

      I don't use Facebook, blue.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 9:05am

      Re: So... Are you still FOR surveillance by Google and Facebook?

      They'll sell all your infoz to gov't for a few bucks.

      And one of the reasons given to oppose CISPA was because it would clear them of liability for doing so. No iknconsistency there.

      Railing against excesssive government surveillance does not mean one is okay with excessive corporate surveillance. Not mentioning Google isn't approval; it's simply staying on topic.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 10:45am

      Re: So... Are you still FOR surveillance by Google and Facebook?

      No that we've agreed that surveillance is bad I take it were on the same page then and six-strike, a corporate surveillance scheme at its very core, should be dismantled? Glad we're on the same page here.

       

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    droozilla (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:27am

    Reminds me of a saying...

    "Never waste a good crisis." -Hillary Clinton

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:30am

    Only someone who seems to detest the actions of privacy advocates would insinuate through a disingenuous headline

    So sayeth the King Of Disingenuous Headlines.....

     

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    Nurlip (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:44am

    If anything, you would think the feds would immediately back off all this CISPA garbage since obviously all of the invasive techniques they already have didn't alert them to the Boston threat at all. Giving the gov't a legal way to access the information won't make their use of the info more effective.

     

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    shawnubis, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:45am

    and what about the INNOCENT falsely presumed

    There were several stories (although not made national) regarding a kid who was mistakingly presumed to be a suspect because of all the video/still etc. Fortunately, nothing happened to him. The question isn't about whether or not the cameras serve a good purpose. They do. But they can also be used to infringe on the rights of citizens. Careful lines must be drawn to protect those rights. That's all.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:49am

    Stewart Baker is a police state apologist fuckhead. He'd ram a scope up his own ass until it hit the small intestine at the request of a meter maid and whistle "The Star-Spangled Banner" while he did it. Fucking impotent worm.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 7:54am

    "Those who would give up some of their freedoms for more security both shall have and deserve neither"

    Benjamin Franklin.

     

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      The Real Michael, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 8:09am

      Re:

      "Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar." - Julius Caesar

       

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    ArkieGuy (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 8:22am

    Texas Plant Explosion

    I have a prediction... Someone in Washington is going to come out and say that hacking was a potential cause of the Texas explosion... Hence we REALLY need CISPA "think of the fire fighters".

     

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      k-h, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 5:11pm

      Re: Texas Plant Explosion

       

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      kh (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 5:17pm

      Re: Texas Plant Explosion

      You might consider the Texas explosion was caused by lack of surveillance. They were last inspected for safety in 1985 and fined $10,000. The various governments apparently inspect companies like this in Texas once in every 126 years.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 8:28am

    CCTV

    With private, non networked, cameras, where the footage is only kept for a few days or weeks, there is no great threat to privacy. When an incident happens the authorities can go and collect the footage. With these cameras, it takes a definite effort to track an individul after an event.
    When the authorities own and network the cameras, they can then use face recognition technology and vehicle tracking technology to track people going about their business. This is a great threat to privacy. Further despite claims to the contrary, cctv does not deter major crime, and is of little help if the criminals are prepared to deal with it, by use of disguises, planned getaway routes etc.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 8:54am

    Ad hominem

    This is the definition of an ad hominem argument. They were wrong about A, therefore they must be wrong about B; and they oppose B, so you should support B. This would be a logic fallacy even if they actually WERE wrong about A - but he even fails to show that!

    Now, I'm not one to go by strict logic. If someone is wrong on a regular basis, I'm going to give their arguments less credibility - even if that's not technically sound logic, it works as a filter on what arguments to even seriously consider. But you also can't say the ACLU and EFF are wrong on everything. They do important work protecting liberties, even though I don't always agree with them. So then, what is the point of cherry picking ONE thing that (he thinks) they were wrong on, out of the thousands of issues they deal with? Even if they WERE wrong on one issue, what does that show, except that they were wrong on one issue? Nobody's perfect, especially in the world of political opinions.

    It's not like he is even showing that they are making the same or similar arguments in both cases. He doesn't even quote their argument against CISPA, just the fact that they're against it. This makes me think he's afraid to actually show what their argument IS, lest people agree with it. Far safer to just paint them as "wrong" and not give any argument whatsoever.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 3:31pm

      Re: Ad hominem

      "They do important work protecting liberties"

      I think that may be the problem, given that Baker describes himself as "a privacy skeptic and national security conservative". An interesting juxtaposition of words, to be sure.

       

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    FM Hilton, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 8:58am

    Prevent what?

    For all of the camera surveillance that Boston has, they didn't even get a good lead on either of the suspects until the public started to submit photographs taken at the Marathon, and then it was only because the cops were begging for them.

    Nice system until it doesn't work, and it never prevented any of it from happening.

    Or perhaps we should remember seeing Atta strolling through Portland Jetport on his way to Boston to hijack a plane...

     

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    DMNTD, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 9:13am

    Right?

    "One question, though, Stewart, tied into Boston Marathon as you've done with yours: all of this surveillance, all these increased security measures, all this warrantless wiretapping, all these pat downs and scans at the airport, all of these drones flying all over the world, all these double-secret interpretations of super-secret laws, all of these redacted FOIA responses, all of this Cyber Pearl Harbor hand wringing, all of encroachment of the government into every aspect of American existence"

    That's what I'm saying. Like every law once it's "in the books" it just stays there hurting innocent people never having to prove it's helping the people it was pushed on.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 9:13am

    The ideological divide

    Even if the massive surveillance state were 100% effective in preventing these types of disasters, I would still oppose it with all of my being.

    It is wrong and is contributing to the slow destruction of the US. Whether or not it's effective couldn't be less relevant.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 9:17am

    is anyone actually surprised about this statement? i'm certainly not. i am a little surprised that it took this long to come out though. i also wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't done on purpose to try to justify getting CISPA forced through and into law. it wouldn't be the first time and it wont be the last!!

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 9:43am

    Surveillance happens all the time now

    You can get government out of the surveillance business, but citizens are doing it all the time now (to the extent that businesses are now trying to prevent them from monitoring farms, industrial accidents, etc.)

    The FBI enlisted citizen help to find the bombers. At some point I imagine citizens will start monitoring everything themselves, with the positives and negatives that entails. There will be accurate and inaccurate identifications done in citizen forums and perhaps citizen justice (gotta get the NRA in there to protect us).

    There will also be increased use of locked communities with private security. Businesses will continue to use their own security and for offices, require IDs to get in and out. Perhaps more public places (e.g., airports) will become private, so that only certain citizens have access to them.

    This comment from VC and popular blogger Fred Wilson.

    A VC: Evidence On Our Smartphones: "The rise of computers that we all carry with us everywhere, and their ability to capture what is going on around them, time stamp it, and geotag it, creates a ton of interesting opportunities. Including law enforcement opportunities. And I think that is a good thing."

     

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      Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 9:52am

      Re: Surveillance happens all the time now

      Here you go. Just one example of a private company being able to monitor what is available to the public.

      Boston Start-Up Buzzient Offers Social Data to Police on Explosives Chatter - NYTimes.com: "The holy grail would be something similar to what happened with the ricin letters that were sent to the White House: someone who has logged onto a forum, and has logged in with some identifying piece of information — a user name, an e-mail address — has asked particular questions, commented, maybe, on other posts. Someone who has, in effect, self-identified, where someone basically puts out enough information you could say, 'Oh, this person is kind of asking pretty much the same sorts of questions that correspond to what we found in the physical forensics.'"

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 10:05am

        Re: Re: Surveillance happens all the time now

        There is a huge business opportunity in surveillance and data collections. It's happening with or without government. I think it is fine to debate what government can or cannot do, but don't let the focus on government misled you into thinking it isn't done by private enterprise, which will make a lot of money providing data and security to those who will pay for it.

        The "plan" is that every citizen will have a camera and augmented reality and can collect data and do IDs on the spot. Want to know the history of everyone around you? It will be available.

        Why Is Angry Birds Addictive? Helsinki Pitches to Be a ‘Neurogaming’ Hotspot - Tech Europe - WSJ: “'Connect Google glasses to a headset and you have a whole different beast. Imagine walking around a city with that on and seeing an overlay of how everyone around you is behaving in their minds. Are they relaxed, or stressed? And you could actually see that. Instead of seeing someone’s Facebook status, you could see information about what people’s minds are doing. There’s a lot you could do with that data.'”

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 10:17am

    Should put "We have to destroy our freedoms to protect our freedumbs" under the "Bad" category.

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 10:44am

    Prevention

    > What did it prevent?

    That's a bit of a disingenuous question in itself. If something doesn't happen, how does anyone know about it?

    For example, if the security at a presidential speech deterred someone from trying to attempt an assassination, no one will ever know about it.

    I don't necessarily support all this "OMG Terrorism!" stuff (TSA's security theater is ridiculous for the most part), but I also like to keep the other side honest too, and your last paragraph/question was anything but.

    There may be good reasons to argue against some or all of the things you listed, but "What did they prevent?" isn't one of them.

     

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      Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 10:52am

      Re: Prevention

      There may be good reasons to argue against some or all of the things you listed, but "What did they prevent?" isn't one of them.

      I agree. If people feel we need absolutely no security protections, why do we have locked apartment buildings, offices where you need to show an ID to get in, etc. There's always going to be an adjustment between doing too little and doing too much. I continue to raise the issue of what we will have if businesses and citizens take protection, security, and data collection into their own hands. Will that be better or worse than what we have now? Will we be safer? Will we get mob-run lynching?

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 10:57am

        Re: Re: Prevention

        The reason I have participated in these discussions to such an extent is that I see a major disconnect between people complaining about government surveillance and companies boosting about data collection and all the nifty tools they have so people can record every aspect of their lives and those around them.

        If privacy was truly an issue, we'd have companies more careful about privacy. But, no, they are selling our lives in a huge way. So I don't see that they are the least bit concerned about privacy.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 11:06am

      Re: Prevention

      For example, if the security at a presidential speech deterred someone from trying to attempt an assassination, no one will ever know about it.

      How about the security guy that arrested the would-be assassin?

       

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        btr1701 (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 10:39pm

        Re: Re: Prevention

        > How about the security guy that arrested the would-be assassin?

        I'm talking about the assassin who shows up, sees how much security there is, realizes he'll never get past it, and goes home.

         

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      John Fenderson (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 3:57pm

      Re: Prevention

      If something doesn't happen, how does anyone know about it?


      If the government ever actually prevented a real terrorist event, they would trumpet the news loudly from the hilltops, over the internet, and over every radio and TV station in the land. The PR and informational warfare gains in doing this would be incalculable. Everyone would know about it.

       

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    mac65, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 11:29am

    it seems...

    that based on what was released by the FBI and the subsequent
    behaviour of the terrorists, they knew the cameras were there
    and defiantly strolled past them to make their point.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 12:18pm

    The internet is their biggest enemy.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 1:31pm

    Meanwhile, Boston is effectively under martial law as they search for one man. Congratulations, terrorists. You've managed to turn America into a caricature of all the things it claims to stand for.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 2:27pm

      Re:

      Given the shootings carried out by the police hunting a rogue policeman in California, staying out of their way seems like a good idea.

       

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    Nick (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 3:42pm

    They need to crowdsource law enforcement. I'm sure if they requested politely from civilians that were there to give up the phones (temporarily) to access videos and pictures people took, they could have identified the victims just as if we had governmental cameras watching our every move.

    The difference? With civilians incidentally filming me, I know they won't watch my every move as it happens to ensure I'm not breaking some silly law that nobody follows (jaywalking in suburban areas), aren't freaking out because I look middle eastern (well, some may), and won't keep the footage once there was no attack.

    I'm fine being caught on random film because I know I'm too ugly for anyone to want to keep a picture of, and aren't keeping it (like the government may) to watch my every move.

     

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      Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 3:52pm

      Re:

      The difference? With civilians incidentally filming me, I know they won't watch my every move as it happens to ensure I'm not breaking some silly law that nobody follows (jaywalking in suburban areas), aren't freaking out because I look middle eastern (well, some may), and won't keep the footage once there was no attack.

      I assume the opposite. I figure the government doesn't have the manpower to watch everything, but huge corporations do, plus the computer power to match faces and info across lots of different data. I think the real surveillance is already coming from the private sector. And at some point politicians won't bother to debate this. They'll just let the government work with private companies serving as security contractors. The government won't get in the middle of it. Private enterprise will do all the dirty work and if a crime is committed (hopefully private enterprise will prevent it in the first place), private enterprise will identify the suspects and turn them over to the authorities at the appropriate time.

      What I am concerned about in letting citizen groups take over crime prevention is a vigilante mentality. But perhaps we're headed there, too.

       

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        Nick (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 3:59pm

        Re: Re:

        Ok, not quite vigilanteism, I really meant just let people go about their lives, filming events to keep for their records. Eventually, someone will accidentally get bits and pieces here and there of people, such as a video of the finish line with in the distance a guy dropping a bag and walking away. in another video, the same guy is walking with the bag, and they get the face.

        I'm not at all asking people to now film things and pan the cameras to try to capture everyone doing everything in case later something happens and provide it to police, but I see how what I said could be interpreted that way.

        And yeah, this fascination corporations seem to have with monitoring us disturbs me. They may do it to get our reactions to an ad, so they can better try to brainwash us into buying their products even if we didn't want it and ignore it (thank you Axe bodyspray, but please go the f*** away). And how the government is, via acts like CISPA, is simply demanding companies who gather this info for their own records now pass it to the government for uses we CERTAINLY did not authorize when we signed up for that Netflix account.

         

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 4:07pm

        Re: Re:

        Think about it. Gun manufacturers sell more product by convincing citizens they will have to protect themselves. Private prison operators make more money to encouraging laws that lock up more people. Defense contractors make more money by encouraging the country to spend more on defense. And so on. I don't think politicians operate without the support from some element of private industry. So whatever laws that do or don't get passed enable financial gain somewhere in the system.

        The data gathering/monitoring industries may want government to get out of the way, but they will make money selling that data and all that goes along with it. I don't think you can separate government in the US or in any country from the companies/people who will profit from the laws or lack of them. I am inclined to think that these days multinationals have far more influence globally than nation-states.

        Blaming politicians is convenient, but I'd look more closely at the political/economic systems that have put them there in the first place.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2013 @ 9:33pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I don't think you can separate government in the US or in any country from the companies/people who will profit from the laws or lack of them."

          You do know what that is, right?

          Fascism.

          People need to learn to live with either very limited government or very limited companies/people or they become fascist. IMO limited govt. is the right choice. Let companies/people make their own decisions without the support of govt. so they must act in a rational manner. Let's evolve. It will not happen by relying on a destructive crutch. We posses the power to connect, all of us, but we don't really try at all. Sad, really.

           

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 21st, 2013 @ 10:30am

    The judicial process now

    About an hour ago I uploaded a link to a story about how photos taken by by-standers proved helpful to the FBI. It's awaiting moderation, so I don't know if this one will get through, either.

    I wonder how juries will be affected as more instantaneous info becomes the norm. We've always had potential jurors exposed to info before they are picked, so it isn't new, just the degree to which they are likely to see and perhaps be influenced by a much bigger pool of info and opinions.

    Tragedy In Real Time: Living A Terrible Week, Vicariously : NPR: "This week, these awful events have cemented the reality that the media is now everyone, anyone, with a computer or a smart phone, a Twitter account or a Facebook page."

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 21st, 2013 @ 11:12am

    Private contractors will take over the monitoring

    The more I read about the stalemates in Congress over control and the more I read in places like Techdirt decrying government involvement in security, the more I believe government will get out of the business and just hand it over to contractors doing all the online monitoring. The info is available; it's just who sees it first and decides what to do with it. Why bother with search warrants when the cloud sees everything anyway? If you can track and monitor everyone who turns up anywhere, then figure out how to use it to improve national security and safety. If Google wires the country and knows what everyone is doing on every device they own and if AI and big data become so sophisticated that they allow us to know who is likely to do what when and where, we don't need politicians debating what has already been facilitated with technology. Private companies are moving much, much faster than government in this regard.

    Lindsey Graham: FBI 'Dropped Ball' In Boston - Business Insider

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 21st, 2013 @ 11:22am

    A good summary of what I have been posting

    This is a good article about the new world of crime solving: traditional institutions aided by crowdsourcing and citizen-owned tools at the scene. It's not really a situation where government acts alone anymore.

    Boston Bombers Caught by Cops, Community, Cameras

     

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    Coyne Tibbets, Apr 21st, 2013 @ 11:25am

    In actuality, despite the DHS claim to the contrary, this proves nothing about surveillance.

    The problem with "secret surveillance" is that...it is secret. You can't use the information it accumulates, because doing so reveals your surveillance capability, which is...secret.

    You can have all that information, and gloat over it like Scrooge McDuck gloats over the money in his bin, but you can't use it.

    That is perhaps the worst aspect of all this surveillance: That it is justified by its supposed value while in reality it is valueless.

     

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      Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 21st, 2013 @ 11:52am

      Re:

      You can have all that information, and gloat over it like Scrooge McDuck gloats over the money in his bin, but you can't use it.

      I understand how secret means it can't disclose what you are doing to the public, but what prevents you from "using" it? Companies use processes all the time that they don't disclose.

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 21st, 2013 @ 12:15pm

        Re: Re:

        The other point I have been trying to make is that these days nothing is really secret anymore. So much of what we do is being sent to companies which are monitoring it that it's becoming harder to fully function in the world in total secrecy. That's also why I keep saying that the wall between companies and government is an artificial distinction. When the info/data/monitoring is out there and often is already public or for sale, then saying the government can't have access to it is unrealistic. There are ways around that. In the push to make everything available to them, companies have also opened everything up so that in one form or another everything is available to everyone. The debates about what government can or can't do just haven't caught up to that yet.

         

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          Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 21st, 2013 @ 12:23pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The debates about what government can or can't do just haven't caught up to that yet.

          I'll go a step further and say that I think companies KNOW this. I view the "anti-government" crusade as a diversionary tactic. Companies have the info. They are using it to their advantage. If they paint government as the issue, maybe you won't notice what the companies are doing with your data.

          Look, we've just seen the extent to which citizens have gotten involved in police work. Break down the walls between government, private enterprise, and citizens and we'll see how it all turns out. I'm hoping more work will be done by citizens to monitor environmental hazards. Laws may try to prevent it, but if leaks are happening on your property and you're shooting photos on your property and then posting them online, it is going to get out.

           

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