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Thu Jun 6, 2013, 02:59 PM

Re:Collection of data by USG, there is something that is much more invasive than phone meta data.

It seems that many are equating meta data records as being invasive as listening to individual conversations, which of course, it is not.

If we take at face value that this operation prevented one significant terrorist attack I would still wonder about the ongoing efficacy of the operation. Al Queda and other organizations are still around because they are very effective in adapting tactics based on government actions. It is very doubtful to me that it is of any ongoing benefit to allocate massive assets when it is unlikely that they continue to use cell phones in the same way. In the same way that tens of millions of air passengers will needlessly take off their shoes it is highly doubtful that terrorists will use cell phone for communications when they can anonymously set up an email account and send it in an untraceable fashion.

I wonder about the enormous cost of all of these intelligence operations that are added at significant cost because they were useful once but not now. A much smaller irregular use would certainly save tens of millions and have the same effect in the same way that randomly checking shoes would likely have the same effect as making every passenger take off their shoes, the asymmetrical opponent simply makes a change in tactic.

A much more insidious invasion of personal privacy

It appears that the reaction to the metadata is in part because it has to do with telephones and the feeling that it involves individual surveillance, which it does not.

A much greater invasion of personal privacy is the ongoing effort by the federal government to track every single financial transaction. This is justified on two fronts, stopping repatriation of revenue to drug Cartels and choking off liquidity to terrorists.

It used to be that reporting on transactions used to have a reasonable ceiling of $ 9,999. That ceiling appears to be dropping and recently when helping a friend get a relatively small amount (less than $ 500) on a Western Union transaction at a bank I was astonished at how much information was now required by the government for the bank to report.

I am a lot less concerned about the telephone meta data operation than the creeping increase of the government collecting more and more financial information which is not done on a meta basis but on a micro-transaction basis.

I suspect that in neither case was the level of surveillance that now exists was ever imagined at the time the security people started the operations, but that there is an element of operational creep involved that pushes the bureaucracy to slowly demand more and more.

Not only should this be pruned back from time to time with a demanding eye for civil liberty reasons it should also be done to reduce bureaucracy and wasteful use of limited resources. In the same way that we continue to buy tanks that would have been great for WWII but are no longer needed I suspect that this meta data mining is another wasted expenditure that is no longer useful because the enemy has made tactical adjustments.

In the example of the purchase of the tanks, however, the resources used are accountable and not secret and it is the government bureaucracy (the army) that pushes against the economic and political interests requesting that no more tanks be purchased. In a world of secret intelligence budgets without public scrutiny the public is left trying to balance unknown safety issues against unknown civil liberty issues with unknown financial costs.

Beyond the civil liberty issues there are also pressing issues of efficacy and cost and more transparency is needed.

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Reply Re:Collection of data by USG, there is something that is much more invasive than phone meta data. (Original post)
grantcart Jun 2013 OP
longship Jun 2013 #1
grantcart Jun 2013 #3
frazzled Jun 2013 #2
randome Jun 2013 #4
frazzled Jun 2013 #6
grantcart Jun 2013 #5
frazzled Jun 2013 #7

Response to grantcart (Original post)

Thu Jun 6, 2013, 03:26 PM

1. Indeed! Is this just more Security Theater?

Of course, the answer to that question could very well damn us to the continuance of this policy.

I guess it depends on who is making the reply. I do not feel too hopeful.

Two helpful links:

Security Theater

Bruce Schneier who coined the term.

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Response to longship (Reply #1)

Thu Jun 6, 2013, 03:33 PM

3. or Security Masturbation

Phrenic activity that provides for an endorphin like wave of satisfaction that something is being done when the likelihood of fertile activity is not happening.

Also isn't as great a pop as it was 8 years ago.

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Response to grantcart (Original post)

Thu Jun 6, 2013, 03:31 PM

2. I'll tell you what is more invasive

This incessant tracking of what sites we are visiting on the Internet. Every time I look at any commercial website, an ad appears for that site immediately afterward on Talking Points Memo and other assorted left political web sites and news organizations.

So, for instance, today I visited the site for Nambé, in search of a gift. Sure as shootin' the Intertubes NSA followed me there and thinks I want to go back again by reminding me of Nambé on every other site I vist. No, sorry, I don't. I'm just creeped out about the whole idea. Not so much because I think I'm being personally spied on--I know this is just high capitalism at work. What creeps me out is that somehow a profile of all the places I visit on the Internet could be compiled to "profile" me. Just try it ... you'd have a heck of a time trying to figure out what kind of consumer (or anything else) I am.

Sure, I know I can get some browser that allows me to "browse privately" or set up this or that block. But that inevitably leads to other inconveniences. The point is--we allow this to go on, willingly, on the part of private enterprise. Yet we scream bloody murder when the government tracks meta data. I don't get it.

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Response to frazzled (Reply #2)

Thu Jun 6, 2013, 03:34 PM

4. I think the newer generation is going to be more accepting of this.


The Information Age has insinuated itself into every aspect of our existence. I don't see that as a bad thing or a good thing, just a 'thing'.

[font color="blue"][center]Stop looking for heroes. BE one.[/center][/font]

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Response to randome (Reply #4)

Thu Jun 6, 2013, 03:41 PM

6. Well, that seems to be how most Americans have felt about ...

the post-9/11 meta data collection in the name of national security for a long time. I can say it concerned me back 7 or 8 years ago, because it was an administration I didn't trust. Frankly, I don't care any more. It's just a "thing," as you say. (And I haven't seen scores of people thrown into prison or falsely accused of anything because of it. Of course, I know someone will come up with some case in Walla Walla, Washington ... but I'm talking on a grand scale.)

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Response to frazzled (Reply #2)

Thu Jun 6, 2013, 03:39 PM

5. I agree.

Sometimes it is harmless like seeing products related to golden retrievers pop up all over the place (I had a golden and would search for related items).

Last week a friend of mine who is now living in Thailand told me about a site that was exploiting Thai women who wanted to meet foreigners. Out of curiosity I went to the home page but didn't enter any personal info. Now my Thai wife of 30 years is wondering why the internet is covered with ads about meeting single Thai women.

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Response to grantcart (Reply #5)

Thu Jun 6, 2013, 03:42 PM

7. LOL

That's why I always think twice before clicking on a link.

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