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(It may be coincidence; it could be prophecy).

*To RICHARD SNOWDEN

Philadelphia, December 4, 1793.

Sir: I have received, and thank you for the first vol: of the American Revolution. I shall read it, I am persuaded, when my leizure will allow me with not less pleasure because it is “Written in the style of ancient history.” I thank you also for the favorable sentiments and good wishes you have expressed for me, and am etc.

Did our century’s Richard Snowden create the first volume of a new American Revolution? Some feel he did, by exposing that our government’s treatment of privacy was no different from that of Soviet held East Germany….

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Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate financial systems….

Think back over the past 3 years…. 

Hmmmm.

 

Courtesy of Conan O’Brian

There are 1500 newspapers, 1100 magazines, 9000 radio stations, 1500 TV stations, 2400 publishers, owned by only 3 corporations….

What else are you being fed? Seriously.

By the way, I went out shopping and bought myself one, two, or maybe ten things for myself… Don’t know what came over me. It’s the first year I’ve done that…

Turkey led the pack with 1,673 requests from the authorities to remove content, nearly a ten-fold increase over the second half of last year; the upshot was directly tied to its protests last summer.

The USA was second with 545 requests for 3,887 items…

Other top nations were Brazil, Russia, and India.

These disclosures do not include any  legal demands for information from the National Security Agency (NSA). Those requests are made through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) court and the companies are legally barred from disclosing them.

The President’s report on the NSA just recommended that these be allowed to be reported.

In the US, most requests were petty. Most were denied.   Among those requests was one from a local law enforcement official to remove a search result linking to a news article about his record as an officer.   Judges have asked us to remove information that’s critical of them, police departments want us to take down videos or blogs that shine a light on their conduct, and local institutions like town councils don’t want people to be able to find information about their decision-making processes,  These officials often cite defamation, privacy and even copyright laws in attempts to remove political speech from our services. In this particular reporting period, we received 93 requests to take down government criticism and removed content in response to less than one third of them. Four of the requests were submitted as copyright claims

Some may remember a local blog was temporarily removed at one point during this time frame.  🙂

From January to June the search giant received 3,846 government requests to remove content from its services – a 68% increase over the second half of 2012.  Turkey’s requests alone amount to nearly a ten-fold increase over the second half of last year.

While the information Google presents in their transparency reports is certainly not a comprehensive view of censorship online, it does demonstrate a worrying upward trend in the number of government requests, and underscores the importance of transparency around the processes governing such requests

 

 

 

I really didn’t give this report much respect coming out of the gate for the word-leaked-out, was that it does nothing to stop the NSA’s abuse.   However, I have deep respect for Richard Clarke who was one of the five, so I felt compelled to read the whole thing

Since I’m sure few of you will venture to read the entire report, If something jumps out, I jotted it down below…

1. The United States Government must protect, at once, two different forms of security: national security and personal privacy.

In addition to reducing risks to national security, public officials must consider four other risks:

• Risks to privacy;
• Risks to freedom and civil liberties, on the Internet and elsewhere;
• Risks to our relationships with other nations; and
• Risks to trade and commerce, including international commerce.

We recommend that Congress should end such storage and transition to a system in which such metadata is held privately for the government to query when necessary for national security purposes.

In our view, the current storage by the government of bulk meta-data creates potential risks to public trust, personal privacy, and civil liberty.

We recognize that the government might need access to such meta-data, which should be held instead either by private providers or by a private third party. This approach would allow the government access to the relevant information when such access is justified, and thus protect national security without unnecessarily threatening privacy and liberty.

We endorse a broad principle for the future: as a general rule and without senior policy review, the government should not be permitted to collect and store mass, undigested, non-public personal information about US persons for the purpose of enabling future queries…

We also recommend that legislation should be enacted authorizing telephone, Internet, and other providers to disclose publicly general information about orders they receive directing them to provide information to the government. Such information might disclose the number of orders that providers have received, the broad categories of information produced, and the number of users whose information has been produced…

We recommend that, in the absence of a specific and compelling showing, the US Government should follow the model of the Department of Homeland Security and apply the Privacy Act of 1974 in the same way to both US persons and non-US persons.

We recommend a series of organizational changes.  We believe that the Director should be a Senate-confirmed position, with civilians eligible to hold that position; the President should give serious consideration to making the next Director of NSA a civilian. NSA should be clearly designated as a foreign intelligence organization….

The head of the military unit, US Cyber Command, and the Director of NSA should not be a single official.

We favor a newly chartered, strengthened, independent Civil Liberties and Privacy Protection Board (CLPP Board) to replace the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB)…

We recommend that Congress should create the position of Public Interest Advocate to represent the interests of privacy
and civil liberties before the FISC.

The US Government should take additional steps to promote security, by

(1) fully supporting and not undermining efforts to create encryption standards;

(2) making clear that it will not in any way subvert undermine, weaken, or make vulnerable generally available commercial
encryption; and

(3) supporting efforts to encourage the greater use of encryption technology for data in transit, at rest, in the cloud, and in
storage.

The use of “for-profit” corporations to conduct personnel investigations should be reduced or terminated.

There then follow forty-six recommendations, most of which were mentioned above… They start on page 26 and continue until page 44,  For the most part, these are where the complaints that the report is too soft, lie.  The report states things should be in a certain way, and like the Articles of Confederation, there is no teeth to back them up….  For instance it states we recommend that private third parties turn over data only if it is necessary to the security of the United States… Easily setting up this scenario… “Hi, can you give me info on Ms Murphy.  Appears we have some trousers in some soup…” ” Is it a national emergency?” “Yes, sure is”… “Ok here are all their calls…” Essentially unless teeth are added, this allows the same actions as go on today, to progress further.

Teeth such as:  any third party who gives, or any governmental employee who asks for private confidential information for purposes other than an immediate physical threat to national security, may be sued in court for any damages such misuse of information may cause…. etc…

It is our sincere hope, that one, this power is removed from the government.  Private corporations cannot arrest one in the middle of the night, and that with this data in the hands of private entities, that those private entities are at risk if any wrong information falls into anyone’s wrong hands…

Most of us would still trust our privacy in that scenario…  “What?  Someone just told my spouse I was sexting Miley Cyrus?  Oh well, (sigh) with the judgment of $68 million I’ll eventually receive, I’m much better off if I’m divorced before I receive it… ..”

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. today declared that the NSA’s mass phone records surveillance is likely unconstitutional, ruling that the plaintiff’s data should be purged from the system and prohibiting the NSA from collecting further phone records from the plaintiffs.

 “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval,”

The order was stayed pending appeal, but if the appeal does not overturn his decision, the injunction will go in effect at that time.

As is expressed by those NSA officials, including General Alexander, it’s head, a reading of the decision does indeed show the acquisition of every American’s personal data, was not accomplished by standing on any legal ground…

The excuses offered by the US Government, are extremely flimsy….

The judge noted:  the NSA’s data base has never truly served the purpose of rapidly identifying terrorists in a time sensitve investigation.

The Fourth Amendment is violated with every sweep…. .

Today the Brits are putting up a motion to curb their end of the spying racket…  The proponent putting up the piece that should get wide spread support, is of course… a liberal democrat….

The bill –  would make sure Britain’s spy agencies could never intercept calls or data without a specific warrant . Furthermore, is sets up a demand that the parliamentary regulatory body which oversees intelligence gathering, be made up not of secret appointees, but be chosen by an open election on the floor of the House of Commons.

“We’re very conscious of the need not to prevent the security services doing their work, but there are certainly gaps in the law. That much is clear.” says the pusher of that bill,  Mr.David Health.

Quotes from the Floor…

“But any surveillance and any clandestine operation in a democracy raises questions, he says. These can’t be answered by the agencies or the executivebut only by the legislature. Such as: where are the boundaries between privacy and legitimate intelligence gathering? What controls are in place to prevent abuse? Where are the limits of secrecy? How does our legislation and capability measure up to the latest technology? How comprehensive is the scrutiny and legal framework?”

“He has received assurances from ministers that the security services are not acting outside the law – but the law cannot keep up with their capabilities,”

“We need to deal not only with direct interception of communications but also collection of communications metadata. That is “an area where the law is silent.  We need to deal with the UK collection and that of allies,”

“The security services cannot police themselves”, he says.  “Their focus is on doing the best possible job – the job of parliament is to set the proper boundaries for their work”, he says.

===

In summary the ideas are sound… One cannot be unbiased when monitoring ones self.  That we ever thought so is madness.  It is therefore paramount that we follow some of the Brits’ ideas over here and make those who are in charge of our intelligence also be voted from the floor of Congress in a public debate as is any law or appointment,  and not be appointed in private by the head of  the legislative body with no accountability…

Furthermore,  having a true court hearing and not a rubber stamp session each time when approving the wiretapping or Constitutionality of data collection, would impact greatly on the credibility of any legitimate act of data extraction performed in the future….

This is the newest revelation from Snowden.  It should not be a surprise knowing what we already knew.

Essentially the NSA uses cookies to track your internet traffic.

Which brings up this moral question.

Cookies were allowed for commercial opportunity.  To find what you like, and then offer you ads for that activity.   That sort of benefits both advertisers and potential consumers.  if I as a consumer have to look at ads, aren’t i better served seeing ones I’m interested in, as opposed to ignoring all of them as I do in the News Journal?

Yes… I’ve benefited from cookies.

At the same time, someone out there, knows a lot about me.  And a lot about you…  Whereas computer technology can accurately predict where Peyton Manning will throw the ball on 3rd and 10, it can also predict when and what you will buy at Wal*mart with 90% accuracy…  One could get in big trouble if ones spouse ever got hold of that information….

But we were given ways of opting out of cookies, of removing them if we wished, and it continues to be allowed…

There are no laws against making bets on what someone will buy..   However.. THERE ARE LAWS AGAINST  government spying on you.   Against powers of prosecution innocent victims have no powers other than forcing prosecutors to produce evidence.   Now that evidence can be produce readily whether a person is guilty of anything or not,  there is no defense against state prosecution.

This disrupts commerce.  Now I can’t engage in commerce because my government may one day invade my domicile, grab my computer,  pull one or two bytes out of one or two gigabytes, and prosecute me.

So now, with the NSA, a government entity using cookies,  the actual use of cookies themselves may become under suspect of being illegal…

With continuous free use of cookies, using them to spy on you will continue.  Now is the time to  move to requiring cookie-use only with a court order, and hopefully, it must emanate from a court which has an advocate for privacy rights being the antagonistic force against the government’s claim for its right to spy….

So with the right advocacy, this crumbling cookie situation may lead to legislation ensuring our privacy is again under our control, and as a result… no longer forcing us to live like celebrities or former witches and fear Allan Loudell or the paparizzi  (of course, in the form of cookies)….   hiding in our bushes

Pri-(e)-vate Eyes;  They Are Watching You, Watching You….  And today the big guns fired back…BOOM! BOOM!BOOM!

In a letter to Obama during a time of the year usually reserved for  letters to Santa,  the top heads of these eight IT companies, AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo demanded changes take place….

“This summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.”

The Following are a Bill of Rights for an Artificial Intelligence Age… The Bedrock of the next 200 years…..

  1. Limiting Governments’ Authority to Collect Users’ Information… Governments should limit surveillance to specific, known users for lawful purposes, and should not undertake bulk data collection of Internet communications
  2. Oversight  and AccountabilityReviewing courts should be independent and include an adversarial process, and governments should allow important rulings of law to be made public in a timely manner so that the courts are accountable to an informed citizenry.
  3. Transparency About Government Demands… Governments should allow companies to publish the number and nature of government demands for user information. In addition, governments should also promptly disclose this data publicly.
  4. Respecting the Free Flow of Information Governments should permit the transfer of data and should not inhibit access by companies or individuals to lawfully available information that is stored outside of the country.
  5. Avoiding Conflicts Among Governments,,, there should be a robust, principled, and transparent framework to govern lawful requests for data across jurisdictions, such as improved mutual legal assistance treaty — or “MLAT” — processes. Where the laws of one jurisdiction conflict with the laws of another, it is incumbent upon governments to work together to resolve the conflict.

If one remembers correctly, these large conglomerates were originally skeptical when the scope of Snowden’s announcements were first previewed.  However as continued information was released, they became very alarmed and harsh critics of the spying program.

Truth is:  today one cannot trust any US server… The Russian’s have a higher level of respectability; only the Chinese are less trusted than Americans when it comes to international commerce…

For this to change, and again establish America as the land of the free, (funny how that rings true, isn’t it),  oversight needs to be in place now.

Impartial and non-intelligence agency sources need to become the deciders over whether each spying incident should be sanctioned or forbidden.  Furthermore, reopening the possibility of  legally acquiring robust monetary damages for whenever such information is misused and creates harm, would indeed be the greatest safeguard in preventing such data mining to occur, ever again….

In all regards. the NSA has overstepped its bounds and all bulk acquisition of data should be made illegal and destroyed….

The cost is far more than any benefit would warrant.

I’m a little late, but I wanted to mark down mostly for myself but sharing it as well, the accomplishments being made as a direct result of last year’s elections….  Some of the conclusions are superfluous, but are perceived to be a result of the election’s consequences, and since perception is nine tenths of reality, they too are a force with which to be reckoned..

Remember this is general and is being painted with a broad brush….

The economy is number one.  Some taxes were raised which boosted the economy almost immediately.  This has been the most consistent trend over the past year.  The economy has benefited the same people it benefited before. It has not seemed to help those who were not helped before.   If you are an investor, this has been a great year.  Stock Market has never been higher.

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The number of private sector jobs has consistently grown across 2013…..

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One of the marvelous trends is the fact that once the solid line is crossed in the year 2010, it never drops below…  That means we have consistently been growing private sector jobs… Since 2010 we have never had a negative month… one where we actually lost jobs.  However Unemployment has not fared so well.  Even though we are growing jobs, we still have a ways to go.  In one of the most amazing graphs… so amazing I’m rather surprise it has not been featured until now, one sees all employment across this century….

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What is fascinating is first, the constant rate of growth.  the pitch of the line never changes.   But what is freaky, is exactly how that pitch mirrors the employment growth of the Bush years…  Not even Republicans can fault George W. Bush’s employment growth up until 2007.  Obama’s rate mirrors his rate exactly.

It needs more quantified research, but initial speculation would be that since the tax rates were similar (The Bush Cuts were carried over) that factor pretty well determines the maximum rate at which our nation’s economy is able to grow.  Furthermore it shows us that if consistency prevails, and since it has for the past 10 years there is little likelihood it wouldn’t, then we will have grown into employment levels which we had just before the crash in fall of 2014……

So investors have done well; the middle class hasn’t.

Consumer spending is exactly the same level as of the first of the year.  It’s low was reached during the sequester fight (Jan 28) and its high, was on August 18th.  As for now, we are were we were Christmas Day 2012.

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Consumer Confidence is right where it was in January.  We had some peaks over summer, but he shutdown lowered us back to where the threat of a shutdown held us hostage as the year began…..

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Only since 2013 have we made progress on hammering down the deficit.  The national debt is still huge.  it will take multiple budget surpluses to whittle it down, and to achieve that, we need to again tax more than we spend.  But we are not spending a trillion dollars in deficits anymore. we are only over spending by 600 billion which may become less by years end than 2003’s deficit….

Budget Savings 2013

 

Enough economics.

On the world front:

  • We have a possible solution to Iran’s giving up on being a nuclear power.
  • We have Syria dismantling their chemical weapons.
  • We are on course to leave Afghanistan.
  • We have Iraq begging us to please, please come back.

All of these would have gone completely the opposite way if you remember what Romney was promising during the debates.

  • Attack Iran with shock and awe.
  • Attack Syria with shock and awe,
  • Attack Iraq with shock and awe… oh wait, that was Rumsfeld.  Instead, Iraq was that we should never leave, and we should also stay in Afghanistan indefinitely.  But we should have never gone into Libya. My goodness, can you image the shambles the world would be in if he had ever been elected?

Not to mention,  his pushing of tightening up the money supply.  Just the anticipation of such, sends our stock market into a panic.

Domestically we have weathered Benghazi, more a Republican talking point than anything important.  We worked through the IRS scandal which it was revealed to be a forward thinking sound policy and not a scandal after all..  Political groups friendly to the president were swept up in the nets as well.

The Common Core package fortunately seems to have stalled.  It was always a low priority, and with the drying up of TARP and Stimulus funding, it seems like most state’s enthusiasm is drying up as well.   The program does not seem to be able to get past the roadblock that the tests themselves create.  There is enough opposition  by enough parents so that this program maybe salvageable in part, but dead in the water as a whole.

It would be nice to have a viable program in its place.  One that aims to put an 11:1 student/teacher ratio in troubled public schools.

But, the most notable event and the one with the biggest blowout, was the revelations by one Edward Snowden which were made last July. America is collecting huge amounts of data.  Since then the leaks have only become worse.  Americans have compromised the entire Internet.  They have broken into banks, they have spied on foreign competitors, they have become a service offering  “information for hire…. ”  And although too early to tell, implications are that is may have been done secretly even keeping the president and his officers completely in the dark….

Which is really scary.  Cheney’s shadow government is alive and well……

If true, this is our greatest threat.  Simply because unlike the economy, unlike unemployment, unlike Syria, Iran, or Israel, unlike the Republican yellow journalistic scandals…. this one is against us.  It violates our Constitution.  It is against all we purport to be…..

One interesting parallel…. Long, long, long ago, the city state of Rome was also a viable democracy, and like us, it too expanded its empire across the known world…  Until Julius Caesar marched his armies into Rome, took over the reins as dictator, done in order to bypass the quagmire in which it’s Congress had become bogged down…  It was originally supposed to be a temporary solution….  For the next 400 odd years, Rome never went back… Instead one bad Caesar followed another, often at the point of a sword (there was no NRA back then)…

Looking the other way at a scandal of this proportion, especially if it was done as a rogue element of which the White House now even barely has a clue as to how deep it goes… and what is has been doing,  then we already have a Caesar, and whoever it is, they are not elected by us, We, The People….

This can be fixed quietly, internally, and we may never hear of its resolution.  Or it could get worse.  Much worse…

The final solution is to cut off the NSA from its unlimited sources of money…. Even shut it down, or better, let a more porous government agency, even that of the CIA take it over….

Spying on American citizens is simply put…. un American.  It has never been who we are.  We’ve always chose the other way.  It does not represent what we want ourselves to be….   Any person could spy on their neighbor if they wished.  Any person could hide in his neighbor’s bushes and watch them get undressed… Most of us would be so creeped out at just the idea, we would never, ever consider doing such a thing.

The fact that most of us would never consider something that creepy, has always been what has made Americans so special, so likable, and so loved the world around…. We were different from those Communists….  Well, not any more.

As each new NSA revelation comes out, one just can’t shake the creepy feeling that somewhere Voldermort,  somehow is pulling all the strings……