back to article NSA Prism: Why I'm boycotting US cloud tech - and you should too

So, America's National Security Agency has been tapping up US internet giants to gather information about foreigners online, allegedly sharing that data with Britain's GCHQ - and gobbling up details about US citizens' phone calls. When I was a kid my world was full of pro-America propaganda; I never once questioned American …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bravo. Well written and well worth reading even for non-techies.

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      "Bravo. Well written and well worth reading even for non-techies."

      I agree very much, but I would like to point out that those ideas in the American Declaration of Independence came from Europe.

      Referring to the Wikipedia about The Age of Enlightenment (or simply the Enlightenment or Age of Reason) .

      ..In France, Enlightenment was based in the salons and culminated in the great Encyclopédie (1751–72) edited by Denis Diderot and (until 1759) Jean le Rond d'Alembert (1713–1784) with contributions by hundreds of leading philosophes (intellectuals) such as Voltaire (1694–1778), Rousseau (1712–1778) [4] and Montesquieu (1689–1755). Some 25,000 copies of the 35 volume set were sold, half of them outside France. The new intellectual forces spread to urban centres across Europe, notably England, Scotland, the German states, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Italy, Austria, and Spain, then jumped the Atlantic into the European colonies, where it influenced Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, among many others, and played a major role in the American Revolution. The political ideals of the Enlightenment influenced the American Declaration of Independence, the United States Bill of Rights, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, and the Polish–Lithuanian Constitution of May 3, 1791

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Aye, and before France the idea persisted in various cultures for thousands of years. It was the US that made 'em stick and immortalized them with that constitution. There were other things attached that for the first time designed an entire nation in an attempt to preserve those beliefs. Separation of of power being only the start of the things they tried to put in place to ensure that those beliefs couldn't be corrupted.

        Every other time we'd tried in the past it was cute, but layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power and thus severely limited. Though France came damned close...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power "

          I am afraid that the drafters and signatories to the ADI were desperate to preserve their own power in the New World. They wanted to ensure that rich white males stayed on top and their democracy was exactly as democratic as that of ancient Athens, which was a democracy provided you were a citizen who could furnish a hoplite panoply, and not a woman, a slave, or a tolerated foreigner.

          N A M Rodger in one of his books, writing about the reign of King Charles 1st, observes that the function of elected assemblies is always basically the same; to ensure that the group they represent pays as little tax as possible.

          It's worth remembering that in 1812 the US decided to invade and annex Canada and were ultimately defeated by forces that included British soldiers and settlers, French settlers and Native Americans. I find more to be proud of in Canada's nation building story than in that of the US.

          1. Eddy Ito
            Big Brother


            "It's worth remembering that in 1812 the US decided to invade and annex Canada"

            That is a bit of an oversimplification for the cause of that war given it leaves out things such as Canada being a British colony, Britain's attempts to suppress US trade with France and pressing US merchant sailors into British Naval duty. Admittedly some of the last group were undoubtedly British Naval personnel who deserted and found employ among US merchant vessels but certainly not all. Also note that there were Native Americans allied on both sides and it's a good bet some or most of that was the old enemy of my enemy thing. In short the final insult on one side was probably seen very differently by the other side and the "cause" was more a show of wills and egos than anything else.

            The current mess of offenses perpetrated by my government is far less excusable however. It's bad enough that they have insisted on seeing us naked on their scanners and have finally agreed to overlay an outline of Gumby over our nude form as mild appeasement. Tracking our every move, call, word, association and communique is tantamount to high treason. Have we learned nothing from the perversions of our past? Did Harry Truman's warning about good ol' J. Edgar teach us nothing? It seems too many will not care, nor will they realize that their Google, Apple, etc accounts all do the same thing. Give Uncle Same entry into their hip pocket through iPhone, Android or WP8. Should I hold out hope for the Firefox phone? I don't know but fortunately it's approaching cocktail time when I don't have to care about updating my status.

            "yep, son, we have met the enemy and he is us." -- Pogo

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: @ribosome

              The real story of the war of 1812 is very easy to find:

              1. Lars Silver badge
                Thumb Up

                Re: @ribosom/Trevor_Pott

                Adding to 1812 and Youtube what about this, different war, though.


                and the real stuff.



                1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                  Re: @ribosom/Trevor_Pott

                  French horns are awesome. Wish I still had mine.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @ribosome

                I was being slightly more serious than that, I think.

                In response to another poster; the naval issues around the 1812-14 war were very complicated. There is evidence that life on American ships was worse than that in the RN, and that the crews of many captured ships were quite happy to desert for higher pay and free medical treatment. But also the RN came up with the sneaky idea of announcing that slaves captured on American ships would be freed. This idea turned out to have legs.

                It was hardly surprising at the time that Britain was interfering with French trade, given what was happening in Europe. The American alliance with a dictator who used his conquests to find royal jobs for his relatives does rather suggest that by the 1800s the ideals of the Declaration of Independence had given way to realpolitik. Really nothing has changed since. I think it was G K Chesterton who remarked that the difference between Britain and the US was not that there were oppressing and oppressed classes, but that in the US it was publicly admitted, while in the UK the myth of "free Englishmen" persisted.

                1. Eddy Ito

                  Re: @ribosome

                  Yes, realpolitik has been around pretty much since the inception of the US. Consider that it was only 9 years from Washington becoming the first President and the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts which were later used to stifle political opposition. It then follows step by step to the present day with the heel of government coming down on the neck of someone who only really wants what was promised in a document that is now little more than memorialized toilet paper considering how my government really treats it.

                  @Trevor: Great vid. Thanks. :)

            2. WatAWorld

              Re: @ribosome

              Other than historians, few North Americans know the same War of 1812 was going on in Europe.

              The North American side of the war was an attempted land grab by the USA with the aid of their Napoleonic French allies.

              Offensive actions were broadly coordinated to keep the British busy on two fronts, in Europe and North America.

              In the end Napoleon his American allies were defeated.

          2. The Dude

            Re: "layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power "

            Please spare us the feminist revisionist history lesson. Thanks.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power "

              It's you who is dragging in feminism, not me. I merely noted in passing how extremely undemocratic Athenian democracy really was. For your better information, although Sparta was a militaristic society with a form of Government which it is hard to understand, among the ruling classes men and women were largely equal. The argument cannot therefore be made that the subordinate role of women in Athens was simply part of the accepted order of the Greek world.

              1. Peter2 Silver badge

                Re: "layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power "

                Virtually the entire US constitution was either inspired of outright copied from other sources. The American bill of Rights for instance was liberally copied from the 1689 Bill of Rights and parts of the 1215 Magna Carta were inserted into the US Constitution. But the Americans were the first to have such rights of course. Even when pre-dated by other people by three quarters of a millennia!

                1. Matt Bridge-Wilkinson

                  Re: "layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power "

                  Wow so even then they were copy and pasting from other sources for their homework...

                2. Tom 13

                  Re: "layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power "

                  As the descendents of Englishmen fighting to protect our rights as Englishmen it was only natural to draw upon those sources. Yet none of those other documents so clearly and cleverly distilled the essence of what those other documents hinted at. And at the time the document was signed it would still be years before England moved to fully embrace what we now call a Constitutional Monarchy.

                  This wasn't undone until Marx and the idea of the material dialectic which dictated everything that man did came to the intellectual fore that those ideas began to be undermined. It's taken a long time, but it is an ugly thing that work has wrought in the US. Every bit as ugly as it has wrought elsewhere in the world. Yet instead of recognizing it for what it was, and calling it out as such, you gave the current bastage a Nobel Peace prize because you wanted to stick it to the man. Just like Marx asked you to.

              2. WatAWorld

                Re: "layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power "

                Sparta, that great example of feminist fair play devoted to world peace and equality for all? That Sparta?

                Never existed.

                Sparta had almost no adult male citizens resident in it. The women kept the state at war to ensure the men were always away doing battle, until they were past age 40.

                And like other Greek states, Sparta kept slaves.

                Unlike other Greek states, Sparta kept other Greeks as slaves, which was why they had to go.

                They also had a weekend where killing non-Spartans was legal.

          3. WatAWorld

            Re: "layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power "

            "rich white males stayed on top" is more than a touch racist and simplistic.

            They wanted to keep the USA on top.

            Same thing in Greece and Rome, it is about keeping the power class of their nation on top of the world.

            (As long as we're doing simplistic racism) and you do that because power attracts women and women like men who have power, no matter how they get it.

            And the Mediterranean peoples are not entirely white, no matter that many "whites" educated in the "social sciences" like to consider that the invention of their oligarchies by northern Mediterranean peoples constituted white people inventing democracy.

        2. Lars Silver badge


          I agree, it is a long and bloody story and ten books would no tell it all. No reason to leave China out either. The advantage the US had was that they where able to start from scratch and they did a good job about it then.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Every other time we'd tried in the past it was cute, but layered on top of an existing governmental structure desperate to preserve it's own power and thus severely limited. Though France came damned close..."

          Perhaps it is the natural state of things, as they seem to have returned to a structure desperate to preserve its own power again.

      2. Ye Gads

        Actually, the Declaration of Independence had very little to do with French philosophes. It was very much a Lockean document.

        First, some history. After the English Civil War a writer called Thomas Hobbes wrote Leviathan. He basically argued that living outside of state control was so horrible that we would/should accept a ruler with absolute power because any kind of civil society was better than living outside of one.

        A little bit later (1690 something) a writer called John Locke write "Two Treaties on Government", in which he argued that the state of nature was not so brutal and that (wait for it) man had some inalienable rights because of his God-given reason and that, finally, man only formed the civil state to pursue "life, liberty and the pursuit of property". He believed that the state was a man-made thing and required our consent in order to be legitimate.

        The Americans would not have liked Rousseau on little bit as he argued that the state and society had is bound by its laws and people must submit to them (he calls this the "General Will"). Once these are in place people must conform to them. On the plus side, everyone is treated equally before the law but they are expected to submit to it. Given that the American founders were in the process of rebelling against their lawful rulers, I suspect that Rousseau was not their philosopher of choice.

        Locke, on the other hand, fit the bill nicely: "No taxation without representation" is a Lockean argument (I haven't consented to you so you don't get my property), Their argument about "God-given" rights and reason is pure Locke.

        1. Tom 13

          @Ye Gads

          I wouldn't say the Declaration is either Lockean or Rousseaun. It is a careful blending of the two with a dash of Hobbes informing some concepts. I'd agree it is more strongly tilted toward Locke, probably 70/30. And there was certainly a great deal of concern about Rousseau and his concepts turning into the mob rule that it became during the French Revolution. But there were founders of almost every stripe with input into our founding documents.

          The problem is that over time we've moved away from the concepts of Locke and toward the concepts of Marx under the guise of moving toward Rousseau. One of the things Trevor gets wrong is that this hasn't been going on for 30 years, it's been going on for 100 or more. It doesn't help the US any that Europe and even Canada started on the same path and moved down it even further and faster than the US did. It's only now that the poison is visibly affecting the US that everybody else is starting to worry about it.

      3. Maharg
        Thumb Up

        A good read and very well written article, regarding the discussion while I agree the US Constitution was an important document, it must be remembered that it was mostly based on British law, for example the English Bill of Rights from 1689, it is also worth remembering that while the Constitution may have laid out the view on freedoms, rights and liberty, in practice for those Americans who were not of a certain skin colour it might as well not existed for around 150 years afterwards, The British abolished slavery a long time before the US, (1772 in England, 1799 in Great Britian,1807 Slave Trade Act stopping the trading of slaves, 1833 Abolishment Act freeing all slaves in the British Empire) and did not have a war over it, under British law no one has ever been denied rights due to the colour of their skin while in the US equal rights is still in living memory.

        "No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land."

        Magna Carta 1215

    2. issue-taker
      Thumb Up

      you have some wonderful replies from history buffs, but absolutely, this piece puts widely understood words to a very complex issue.

  2. ortunk

    Let's start askin our "multi" national hosting providers

    I for one am using Linode both in America and UK, are they subject to same jurisdictions provided that Linode is an American company, or is every datacenter subject to local laws?

    All law be it national or international is powerless and old in regards to todays interconnected environment in any case.

    #occupygezi #occupyistanbul #direngezi

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Let's start askin our "multi" national hosting providers

      Even if they are subject to local laws you can assume that the UK and US inteligence communities consider themselves above the law.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: inteligence communities consider themselves above the law.

        Not above the law, outside the law. Generally speaking laws only exist within nation states. Relations between nation states tend to be resolved only by warfare. In short they exist in the Hobbesian environment.

        Oh we paper over it from time to time with treaties. And we get up in arms and issue communiques and denounce our opponents. In rare circumstances you might even get a full fledged trade embargo.

        But when push comes to shove, those laws are usually worth less than the paper upon which they were written. As Russia, Iran, Iraq, China, and other nations have proven again and again. In such an environment, it is inevitable that without assistance upholding higher ideals, even the nation leading the charge for those ideals will succumb to the Hobbesian environment and adopt its strategies.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let's start askin our "multi" national hosting providers

      If you're a US company, you are subject to US laws. If any of your datampasses through the US or is handled by a US company then it is subject to the patriot act. If you use a US bank, visa, mastercard or you send money internationally themit's hovered up as well.

      Strong encryption is your only defense.

      I'd use the black helicopter icon except if your bunker is in Montana then your screwed before you start

      1. WatAWorld

        Re: Let's start askin our "multi" national hosting providers

        Problem with encryption is it is bound to red flag you.

        Looking at the size of that data center in Utah, I imagine it would take less than a few minutes to break AES-256 and that they could be cracking thousands of encrypted documents per minute.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let's start askin our "multi" national hosting providers

      So what makes you believe that their standing FISA warrant does not compel them to lie in your face?

    4. WatAWorld

      Re: Let's start askin our "multi" national hosting providers

      American law applies to American companies world wide.

      And the USA enforces some of its laws on companies of any nationality doing business in the USA (trading with the enemy act, compulsion to trade with Israel, etc.).

  3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Hello pot, this is kettle.

    That's a good argument and I applaud it ... but are you so certain the your spooks aren't doing the same thing?

    The stupid thing of course is that this "eye's of others" approach to state security doesn't deter or catch the terrorists because it's quite easy to avoid their nets with some care and inconvenience. Frankly I pity anyone monitoring my email account given the amount of spam that I get every day but there's a gem of an idea in this that I'd like to share.

    I suggest that what we need is a LOIC approach to dealing this - a small app that we all run that continually queries search engines and other monitored servers with a slapdash mix of queries for "gay alien sex", "home made biscuit recipe", "bomb construction" and "american imperialistic heros" ... the list goes on ... basically swamp the bastards with data.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

      "That's a good argument and I applaud it ... but are you so certain the your spooks aren't doing the same thing?"

      Dunno about Canadian spooks, but the GCHQ story suggests that the UK and US are simply using each other's spooks to get around local laws against spying on your own folks. If we all follow Trevor's advice we'd probably end up with many more such bilateral understandings, but probably not much more privacy. The real problem, and I think Trevor's article makes the point perfectly well, is that even the best constitution in human history isn't worth a hill of beans unless you actually enforce it.

      1. Heathroi
        Big Brother

        Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

        the stupid Kiwi government does it so .....probably. Bureaucrats like to expand their empires and the tech is there so.... shit happens.

      2. JohnMurray

        Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

        "even the best constitution in human history isn't worth a hill of beans unless you actually enforce it"

        Enforcement depends upon the very institution that is ignoring that constitution.

        I think you mean:

        "even the best constitution in human history isn't worth a hill of beans unless you actually fight for it"

      3. dave 93
        Thumb Up

        Re: Hello pot, this is kettle - Ah, the irony

        Good article. As an alternative, we should start sending letters again - only one copy with a letter!

        Just as governments are leaning on multi-nationals for globalizing their tax arrangements, to successfully and legally avoid their financial responsibilities.

        Is it a coincidence that those same governments are now revealed to be globalizing their intelligence gathering to avoid their constitutional responsibilities?

        It should be a good fight.

        I hope 'We the people' get a bit more respect and transparency from governments and businesses who have taken us for fools!

    2. Steve Knox
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

      I'm still at a loss about all of this. We KNOWINGLY gave this data to Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook, et al. Their respective sites' terms of use have been regularly shown to give them carte blanche with this data.

      Is the implication here that governments or government officials are somehow more susceptible to corruption and snooping than multinational corporations?

      Haven't these companies spent the last decade trying to outdo each other on data mining technologies, and hasn't the big buzzword in their boardrooms been "monetizing" that data?

      I'm not saying we shouldn't be leery about government snooping in our cloud data; I'm saying we should have been leery about snooping in our cloud data all along, because it's being held by companies who've made a practice of optimizing snooping technologies.

      The point about the Constitution is a great one in this regard, because at the heart of it, it's a contract --just like those contracts the cloud providers offer. What real opportunity do those contracts offer for you to determine if, say, Amazon's (or even just one clever and corrupt techie) dipped into your data for their own purposes? How could you prove it, and how long would you have to fight them through the courts before you received any compensation?

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

        Yes; corporations are by default less corrupt than governments. Corporations do nothing without a profit motive. There is no advantage to a corporation noticing that you are interested in cartoon porn of girls and aliens and then having you arrested and thrown in jail for an indeterminate period of time. Potentially while being held without charge for over a month and not allowed to even contact your family or employer to tell them why you're missing.

        There's no profit in labelling a journalist as a "threat to national security" because they spoke out about a problem in their home country caused by an American country an then have them hassled at the border, refused entry or otherwise severely hassled.

        There's no profit in digging into text files to identify individuals, claim they are somehow a threat (without saying how, because it's all secret) and then beating protesters (in some cases nearly to death) who are occupying a public park trying to get some banks held accountable and demand social change.

        I could go on and on and on. Look; corporations don't have the power of governments to completely ruin your life. They can only do so by involving a government in the first place.

        The US government employs over 2 million people. 2 million! The overwhelming majority of them accountable to no one. The bureaucracy has become paranoid, defensive and dedicated to preserving their own jobs above all else.

        Most of them are good people, but good people can to terrible things when bored, scared or apathetic. When you start to develop and "us and them" mentality you dehumanize the people you are paid to serve and that's where this whole mess starts. Border guards, the tax man, cops, the DMV, you name it! THe US governmental apparatus is deeply embedded in "us" versus " them" where "them is not only "other countries" it is their own damned people!

        So yes, I believe that the cumulative actions of 2 million bitter, disillusioned people who just don't give a damn led by a handful of the truly corrupt are a heck of a lot more damaging than any corporation I can name.

        1. Steve Knox

          Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

          I could go on and on and on. Look; corporations don't have the power of governments to completely ruin your life. They can only do so by involving a government in the first place.

          I don't think so. Corporations don't need government intervention to illegally pollute, to destroy someone's credit rating, to create dangerous workplaces -- in fact the only reason they don't do more of that crap is because of government intervention.

          The US government employs over 2 million people.

          Actually, the Executive branch employs approximately 2.75 million people. (source: -- by the way, this has remained steady (within ~200,000 or so) since 1962. But that's everybody they employ, the vast majority of which aren't involved in this particular scandal and don't have the power over individuals you're trying to ascribe to all of them. The size of the relevant groups (the NSA/CSS, maybe the CIA, and if you're feeling particularly paranoid, the entire FBI as well) is classified, and I've seen estimates from 100,000 to 200,000 people.

          The overwhelming majority of [US government employees] are accountable to no one.

          Says who? How many US government employees have you observed being "accountable to no one"? Give me some real data on this. Most US government agencies are answerable to at least two of the major branches (often Executive and Legislative, but also Executive and Judicial (think law enforcement), and even Legislative and Judicial) and there are more regulations targeting government employee behavior than targeting corporate employee behavior.

          Most of them are good people, but good people can to terrible things when bored, scared or apathetic. And this can't apply to corporate employees as well?

          It's easy to paint any large organization with broad strokes, but the fact of the matter is that more than 90% of the 2 million US government employees you mention have (a) no access to the data discussed in the original article, (b) little to no direct control over the fate of individuals, (c) a hell of a lot more people looking over their shoulder than you or I have and hence way more accountability than you think, and (d) would really rather you just left them to do their job, rather than lumping them in with all of those shady types.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

            I don't think so. Corporations don't need government intervention to illegally pollute, to destroy someone's credit rating, to create dangerous workplaces -- in fact the only reason they don't do more of that crap is because of government intervention.

            Absolutely correct. Don't mistake me for a pro-corporatist...I"m not. I am saying very specifically that I trust a corporation with my personal data more than a government. I don't truly trust either, but I find the government far more likely to do something untoward with that info. The corporation is probably just going to advertise at me (or maybe hike my insurance premiums.) There is a place for government. Public health care. Environmental regulation. National defence, emergency services and policing. That place is not "spying on it's own citizens.

            Says who? How many US government employees have you observed being "accountable to no one"? Give me some real data on this. Most US government agencies are answerable to at least two of the major branches (often Executive and Legislative, but also Executive and Judicial (think law enforcement), and even Legislative and Judicial) and there are more regulations targeting government employee behavior than targeting corporate employee behavior.

            Obama's former director of speechwriting. Look up the interview on the Daily Show between Stewart and Jon Favreau. He is very frank about how damn-near impossible it is to create change int he government because each section reports to a different committee made up of members of the house. Decisions on what to change (if anything) are politically motivated, not based on requirements.

            He makes specific mention of how intractable most agencies are and how resistant to change they have become. He is not remotely the only one to have said so of late, but is the only on at the top of my mind that I can remember a name for.

            It's easy to paint any large organization with broad strokes, but the fact of the matter is that more than 90% of the 2 million US government employees you mention have (a) no access to the data discussed in the original article, (b) little to no direct control over the fate of individuals, (c) a hell of a lot more people looking over their shoulder than you or I have and hence way more accountability than you think, and (d) would really rather you just left them to do their job, rather than lumping them in with all of those shady types.

            Far more of those people have access to the data than should have. Many of them abuse it. Far - far - to many of them (especially border guards) take obvious and notable pleasure in making others suffer. Ultimately, it isn't required that to totality of the organization be corrupt. Enough of the wrong people in the wrong places having abdicated their duty of care is more than enough to turn the whole thing into the very monster it exists to defend against.

            It's too bad, too...because there are examples of governments that actually work well in other parts of the world. Places where accountability and transparency are more important than anything else. Where the government's duty is to the people, not merely keeping one's head down so that they can stay employed.

            Apathy is not an excuse for abdication of ethics.

            1. Sheherazade

              Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

              "many of them (especially border guards) take obvious and notable pleasure in making others suffer"

              I remember when I first entered the US, having a 10-year B1 visa. It was after a 22-hour trip, at the end of which the border officer asked me: 'what is your profession?" - "computer network engineer" - "did you say chemical engineer?". And the same series of questions three times during the interview. It took them 1 hour to search in their databases for something, and he barely admitted me for few days, exactly until my return flight. Ah, I forgot to mention that I also had a 2-year old Pakistani business visa in my passport (as if I was dormant for two years following terrorism training).

              Otherwise, being educated in a former communist country, I am trained to see the symptoms of a government watching intimately close on what their people are doing. As an individual, I can only defend myself by publishing no pictures, having no accounts on social networks, not using cloud based e-mail, and encrypting everything personal. But my kid will never understand.

            2. TheOtherHobbes

              Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

              Trevor - in the US the big corps are the government. Washington is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall St. The banking fiasco and subsequent fall out - the one where so many banks basically stole houses with judicial consent, while the systemic banking failure on Wall St has ever been investigated properly - proves that democracy is an empty shell in the US.

              The UK is the same. The government is the legislative wing of the City, with significant contributions from oil, media (well - News International), defence/security, and infrastructure, including Internet.

              Did you know that Cameron has closed links with one of the top Google execs in the UK, and was a guest at her wedding?

              That's how seriously we keep church (i.e. business) and state separated here.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

                A rich, powerful and famous person forms a friendship with another rich, powerful and famous person whom he interacts with on a regular basis. Over the course of years that friendship deepens to the point that when one gets married the other attends the wedding.

                Stop the fucking presses, it's a conspiracy.

                Seriously; where do you mean your friends? I meet most of mine through work. I've gone to a few weddings of folks I met through work; even folks from outside the country I mostly talk to over the interbutts! My best man was a dude I met at a LAN party and who ended up becoming a business partner. My other groomsmen were a dude from college, a dude from my childhood a dude from work and a dude I met on my condo board. Obviously, I am involved in something nefarious. Oh noes.

                While I am the first to agree that corporations have too much power in our political systems - Citizens United is something so evil that I am convinced a pantheons of deities will be created and afterlives created just so Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Alito; Thomas, Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor can burn in hell for all eternity - I see nothing nefarious in $politician attending the wedding of $executive. It seems a perfectly normal evolution of social interaction to me; one largely in line with how my own interactions with those around me occur.

                1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                  Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

                  where do you mean your friends? = where do you meet your friends?

                  The PS2 --> USB converter on this keyboard is really quite asstastic. It seems to cut out at random intervals and my brain doesn't adjust so well to the gaps in the words. Reassembles things funny. Hmm...

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

                    3 agencies spying on each other?

                    I seem to remember another person that had 3 different intelligence agencies spying on each other, what was his name, Oh Saddam Hussain. He was a jolly nice chap.

        2. Tom 13

          Re: Corporations do nothing without a profit motive.

          Sure they do. In fact one of Google's founders recently setup a corporation to help only the Democrats tap the Google Big Data motherload for campaign purposes. As any gun runner can tell you, there's always more profit to be made by arming both sides.

          One of the fundamental problems the US had solved (perhaps in the sense of it was solved simply by happenstance rather than as a result of explicit decisions) is that people were free to make money without bowing to politics and politics couldn't redirect enough of the money flow to adversely affect the majority of the population. That stopped somewhere between 1912 and 1932. Now politics can be a major determinant in how much money you can make. That needs to be fixed before we are all safe again. Not sufficient to make us safe, but definitely necessary.

        3. Tom 13

          Re: overwhelming majority of them accountable to no one.

          Yes and no. The low power people are accountable to too many people and too many laws. It's the Robocop 2 scenario. There are so many contradictions that you have to break some law, policy, or guideline to get anything done. Most of them aren't even paranoid, although they do get offended if you think you have a better understanding of the problem than they do. But the corrosive effects of having to break small rules to get big things done makes it possible for the corrupt to really foul things up if they occupy leverage positions. And with that ground already have been prepared by liberal/progressive/communist groupthink, the little things that should set off alarms are easier to miss. Or if you do catch them, it might seem safer to ignore than raise a stink and have the focus of the corrupt regime come down on you.

      2. btrower

        Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

        The contracts you talk about are 'adhesion contracts'. I ignore them because in my opinion the most noxious terms are patently unenforceable on the part of the culprits that created them.

        To be legal and enforceable contracts must have a number of characteristics. Nominal agreement is necessary to be bound, but not sufficient.

        From the Cornell University Legal Information Institute:

        "Courts carefully scrutinize adhesion contracts and sometimes void certain provisions because of the possibility of unequal bargaining power, unfairness, and unconscionability. Factoring into such decisions include the nature of the assent, the possibility of unfair surprise, lack of notice, unequal bargaining power, and substantive unfairness. Courts often use the “doctrine of reasonable expectations” as a justification for invalidating parts or all of an adhesion contract: the weaker party will not be held to adhere to contract terms that are beyond what the weaker party would have reasonably expected from the contract, even if what he or she reasonably expected was outside the strict letter of agreement."

      3. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

        As far as I know, the worst that Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google and similars can do to me with the data I provide them is shower me with ads and help their paying customers induce me to spend money (thank you, Adblock Plus). That, and deliver it to my government, under secret orders about which none may speak.

        The government has the power to take away assets by force and impose prison sentences for a large and growing list of offenses. For some offenses it can impose death and for others restrictive lifetime parole. And the government is not shy about using its power - it is not necessary to be a right wing nut to have misgivings about its actions with respect to Ruby Ridge, Waco, the Amish hair cutters or Aaron Swartz.

        I know which bothers me more.

      4. WatAWorld

        Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

        @Steve: Multinational companies can't put you in jail or have you executed by a drone strike based on meta data.

    3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

      Our spooks tried to obtain the same powers. We shot them down in full public view. Multiple times. They keep trying. We keep denying. If they did it anyways, our supreme court would have a goddamend field day slapping them right back down to earth. There are no Patriot Act style laws here that allow the government to claim "National security" and slap a gag order on it. For that matter if our government attempted to introduce such laws, our supreme court would slap it back down.

      So yeah, I"m damned sure CSIS isn't monitoring my internets. The NSA is (hi, ECEHELON!) and CSIS may periodically go hat in hand to them for stuff, but only once they've a warrant and an individual to target. There are no dragnet style snooping operations in Canada. If there were, I promise you, we'd resolve that right fucking now.

      1. Steve Knox

        Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

        There are no dragnet style snooping operations in Canada.

        That you know of.

        I'm willing to say that given the culture in Canada, such things are less likely, but to make a blanket assertion like that is either incredibly arrogant, fucking naive, or most likely, both.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

          We have recently (as in with in the past year) dragged this through our parliament, our senate and our judicial system. We have had three separate law enforcement/spy agencies investigate eachother to ensure that they are not overreaching and breaking the laws that are very much under debate in our country.

          What's more only one and a half (as in Bell and the eastern portion of Shaw's network) are even capable of massive dragnets involving more than phone records. In theory, it is possible that you could pull the phone records of the cell phone providers en masse. I have my doubts about the landline/sip providers. Retention requirements aren't exactly eternal, and I know a few who are privacy types who will delete the instant they can.

          If there was room 641A-style dragnet snooping going on in Canada it would legitimately be a conspiracy. The kind of conspiracy that has people lying under oath. The kind that is really, really hard to keep a tight lid on and would have quite a few people in the not very nice jails until the end of time when it all came out.

          I am as sure as it is humanly possible to be without actively monitoring every single person at all levels of our government 24/7 that nobody in Canada is operating a dragnet-style monitoring operation on our citizens. Given that I can only point to a handful of politicians in all of Canada that are legitimately corrupt (and not mistakenly trying to do do the right thing while having lost what that right thing truly is) I'm willing to accept the word of the people involved that we are not spying on eachother here.

          That doesn't mean our cops don't want to...but it does mean that they go through proper channels to do so. Those proper channels - in this country at least - require public debate. Besides, I know one of the blokes that runs the tech forensics side of CSIS; he's a good chap and he'd not stand for that sort of thing. Since he's still working there, I have to assume they've not gone yank on us quite yet.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. WatAWorld

          Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

          @Steve, "but to make a blanket assertion like that is either incredibly arrogant, fucking naive, or most likely, both."

          Jealous that we don't all live in police states?

          Canada simply does not have a big enough intelligence budget to do what you've done in the USA.

          Our entire military budget, army, navy, air force combined, is not big enough to do the kind of blanket surveillance you have in the USA.

          The USA spends more on its military than the next 20 or so countries combined. Not even China and Russia have the resources or technology to do comprehensive surveillance on their entire nation that the USA does.

          Also, most Canadians keep their email on google or hotmail or iCloud. That makes it hard for the Canadian government to spy on us. ;)

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

        "So yeah, I"m damned sure CSIS isn't monitoring my internets."

        And you'd be wrong. Look up "United Kingdom – United States of America Agreement", AKA "Five Eyes". In operation since 1946. Echalon (note spleling) is a subset of this network. Yes, Trevor, your .gov is in cahoots with us eeeevvviiiilll Yanks. HTH, HAND.

        1. jake Silver badge

          @jake (that's moi) (was: Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.)

          Opps. It's the CSEC doing the monitoring, not the CSIS. My bad. Mea culpa.

      3. TXITMAN

        Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

        The NSA monitors the Brits. The GCHQ monitors the Yanks. It has been going on for some time didn't you hear?

      4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

        >There are no dragnet style snooping operations in Canada

        There doesn't need to be, unless you are calling Nunavut from the Norther Territories your data is going to go through an American cable and American servers

        The CICS has also shown that it puts "national security" ie being nice to the Americans, ahead of the interests of Canadian companies and citizens

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

          Funny, I know where almost all the routing and even POTS switching is for western Canada and neither my calls nor my packets hit the US when I'm calling another Canadian, unless I'm going way out easy, in which case my packets are probably going through Chicago.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

            "neither my calls nor my packets hit the US when I'm calling another Canadian"

            I helped build that network. You are wrong. HTH, HAND.

        2. WatAWorld

          Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

          Even emails from one Toronto company to another are often routed through US nodes.

          We've completely ignored the possibility that the US government could treat us like non-humans and spy on the contents of our messages, denying us human rights because we are neither US citizens nor US residents.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

            Obviously you aren't Canadian; Toronto isn't Canada. It's Toronto. I'm certain that some Canadian --> Canadian traffic on the bits of Canada that jut down into the states get passed through US nodes. Least cost routing and all that.

            The bits of Canada that don't consider ourselves the centre of the universe, however, are too far from the border for that routing to make sense. Edmonton --> Calgary --> Vancouver and back certainly doesn't go through the US. Indeed, Vancouver all the way to Thunder Bay never has to touch a US node. Lots of fibre out west.

            Similarly, the Atlantic provinces are well wired up; rarely do their packets travel outside our borders. It's just that arse-end of Ontario where it all goes a little squiggly. Oh well, the yanks can have 'em!

    4. Gene Cash Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

      You mean like emacs' spook.el?

    5. M Gale

      Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

      Already been thinking on this problem. Basically a TrackMeNot but for as many forms of communication as possible. Problem is how to make it work without everyone filling each others' inboxes and chat windows up with bomb recipes.

    6. Eddy Ito

      Hang on, that's brilliant

      Have the LOIC do the searches but give it some smarts so it downloads certain things but not others. Heck, on an unlimited plan it could download gigabytes of things that would really twist the shorts of some folks at the National Stasi Administration. Just be sure to point the download folder to /dev/null just in case it picks up anything really bad. I'm sure it could put a big fingerprint out there in the 8 or so hours one is at work with witnesses and all.

      Stasi #1: "Can you tell me where you were between 6 am and 4 pm?"

      Me: "Yes sir, I've been at work all day. You can check with your buddies over at Verizon, Google, Apple, MicroSoft and Facebook."

      Stasi #2: "It checks out, Verizon has him leaving the house at 5:48 and arriving on the jobsite at 6:22. MicroSoft says he logged into Outlook at 6:31 sending and receiving emails until 4. Also Google shows him driving this path to the Taco shack at lunch and back. Then Apple Maps* has him stopping at the grocers on his way home at 4:33."

      Stasi #1: "Apple Maps! Book him!"

      *Sorry, couldn't resist.

    7. Philip Lewis
      Thumb Up

      Re: Hello pot, this is kettle.

      "a small app that we all run that continually queries search engines and other monitored servers with a slapdash mix of queries "

  4. Anonymous Coward

    You're late to the party

    I think the author is overreacting. Understandable, because I suppose that I would too if you suddenly get the feeling that you only now discovered to been living a lie somewhat. For someone living outside the US like me it's easy to comment, I realize this all too well. And if you've been raised to be critical about your environment and not to blindly trust things it becomes easy to raise questions.

    But even so; I can't help feel that your outrage is only based on what has made it to the global media. But the fact is that this has been an ongoing issue for a long time now, even way before the 9/11 attacks.

    When a couple of friends and me were playing with the then rather new FreeS/WAN some of our US peers (who ran a home server) actually got some questions from some law enforcement agency because they had been showing "suspicious behaviour". This was around 1990!

    The US is filled with paranoia in my opinion. And although I admire and respect the fact that you eventually opened your eyes and are now ready to make a statement, I also think it's wise not to overreact. Taking all your hosting away from US companies will only hurt those companies at first, even though they may also feel quite strongly about all this.

    It's a start, sure, but if you really want to make a change I'd say also try to take this to the politicians. Because that may have longer lasting effects then simply opening your wallet and spending a little more on hosting.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You're late to the party

      It's been going on for ages, so why get angry about it? Is that seriously what you're saying because that's what it reads like. Of course it's been going on for ages; however there is a big difference between being pretty sure something is happening but unable to prove it to those who might change their behaviour because of it, and actually having that proof.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        It's been going on for ages, so why get angry about it?

        No, otherwise I would have used other wording. It's been going on for ages, so why get angry about it now? Only because it hit global media this time?

        Of course it's been going on for ages; however there is a big difference between being pretty sure something is happening but unable to prove it to those who might change their behaviour because of it, and actually having that proof.

        As if you needed to look so hard. Just look at how the US treats the privacy of anyone who wants to visit their country. At one time they even made a demand to the EU that they wanted global access to the bank accounts of every EU citizen, or at the very least anyone who wanted a visa to travel there.

        Of course there came trouble when other countries started to demand the same from the US, then it became a matter of privacy intrusion.

        Which raises another question: why is it perfectly ok to tramp on the privacy of everyone else in the world yet it becomes a national scandal when the same thing happens to US citizens? Merely because the government is now violating US law or because things have changed because it's now happening to them as well?

        That is something which somewhat bothers me with all this. It has been going on for ages and no one really seemed to care, and now all of a sudden it becomes an outrage?

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          Re: @AC

          "It has been going on for ages and no one really seemed to care, and now all of a sudden it becomes an outrage?"

          You've said that a couple of times now.

          So do you care or not?

          The fact that this seems to have p**sed off quite a lot of people may just mean that there is a shot at doing something about it, either by getting the Legislature to reign in the USA PATRIOT act or by walking away from US based companies and their just-copy-everything-to-the-USG "data protection" BS.

        2. Tom 13

          Re: now all of a sudden it becomes an outrage?

          Not difficult to figure out really. At least if you've been paying attention. Here are some hints:

          DoJ files warrant under false pretense against James Rosen.

          DoJ files warrant under false pretense against AP.

          Up until that point nobody in the MSM gave a crap about Fast and Furious or the IRS scandal which conservative groups had been complaining about since 2010. But now the media had an axe to grind so they fired up the IRS scandal.

          The IRS scandal broke the unspoken contract: we'll let you spy on us to catch the terrorists as long as you don't abuse it for partisan purposes. With that unspoken contract now broken, confidence that other unspoken contracts along similar lines would be unbroken is gone. Likely also gone is confidence that even explicit laws will remain unbroken.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You're late to the party

      "Taking all your hosting away from US companies will only hurt those companies"

      I think that's the point. They may feel strongly about this, but they need to be motivated to actually act, and quickly rather than eventually. Money may help them be motivated to act soon.

      Politicians? Nope. Politicians didn't even know (or didn't admit) this was happening. Fixing this needs business to know that ignoring the problem, or repeating the problem, will directly cost them $$$.

      Anyway, well said Trevor.

      Shame it all came out the same week as Bilderberg, allowing Bilderberg coverage to be sidelined once again. Just a coincidence, I'm sure.









      1. Don Jefe

        Re: You're late to the party

        Was with you until Bilderberg. Those are the kind of comments that allow pols to write off arguments as coming from the 'paranoid fringe'.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You're late to the party

          "Those are the kind of comments that allow pols to write off arguments as coming from the 'paranoid fringe'."

          No worries Don. Three months ago, this whole thing would have been written off as coming from the paranoid fringe. Not looking so paranoid now.

          Alex Karp, founder and CEO of a company called Palantir, is at at Bilderberg and was there last year too. Who are Palantir and why is this company we've never heard of amongst the great and the good at Bilderberg?

          "The Palantir platform includes the privacy and civil liberties protections mandated by legal requirements such as those in the 9/11 Commission Implementation Act. Palantir’s privacy controls keep investigations focused, as opposed to the expansive data mining techniques that have drawn criticism from privacy advocates concerned about civil liberties protection." source: Alex Karp, via NPR, via Wikipedia

          OK with that?

          Original Alex Karp quote: ""Most people in America believe you can either fight terrorism — i.e., identify and get the terrorists — or you can protect our civil liberties — i.e., make sure the government isn't looking at our personal information when they are not allowed to," says Palantir Technologies CEO Alex Karp. "And that dichotomy used to be true. We've found a way to tag information so the only people who can see it are those who are allowed to see it, so it takes care of that problem.""

          1. Don Jefe

            Re: You're late to the party

            I'm not saying Bilderberg is or isn't anything other than a convenient tool too derail a conversation about issues that do not require a shadowy conspiracy. The issue at hand is publicly acknowledged and in order to keep the conversation pointed in the right direction it should stay focused on known quantities.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Suricou Raven

          Re: You're late to the party

          As conspiracy theories go, Bilderberg is one of the more plausible ones. We know beyond all doubt that the mega-rich-and-powerful all get together for an annual conference. We know where it is. We know a good bit about who goes - government officials and heads of major corporations. We don't know what they are talking about, but it isn't a great stretch to propose that they are indeed conspiring in some way - the secrecy of the event implies there is something going on they don't want the public to know about.

          There isn't much news coverage because there isn't anything much to report: People go in, they come out, that's in. All the scandal, if there is any, happens behind closed doors in rooms swept for bugs.

          1. NomNomNom

            Re: You're late to the party

            Fortunately people like David Icke are standing up to the Bilderberg group.

            It won't be long now until they are all revealed to be extraterrestrial reptilian sub-servants of an ancient Mayan hive mind.

      2. Alfred

        "Just a coincidence, I'm sure."

        I can see it now.

        A dark office somewhere. A chain-smoking man stands by the door, his face hidden in shadow.

        "You see our problem - this is Bilderberg week. A few supermarket tabloids will spout the usual conspiracy theory crap that everyone will ignore even if they notice. We need to smother that story under something else."

        "Something big enough to smother the usual conspiracy crap that nobody notices? How about we leak the extent of our electronic snooping and reveal to the world that the big copmanies they trust their data with hand it to us on a plate?"

        "My God - that'd be huge. But you're right. To hide the usual, tiny conspiracy crap that nobody even notices, we'll have to leak something big enough. Remember last year when Bilderberg was on the front page of every major newspaper in the world? That's what we need to stop happening again."

        In summary, you're talking utter rot.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Just a coincidence, I'm sure."

          "you're talking utter rot."

          Quite possibly.

          HuffPo has a much more plausible story on why it came out when it came out - it was a race between the Guardian and the Washington Post:

          So, just a coincidence then. But still a convenient one, for some :)

    3. Martin Gregorie

      Re: You're late to the party

      "When a couple of friends and me were playing with the then rather new FreeS/WAN some of our US peers (who ran a home server) actually got some questions from some law enforcement agency because they had been showing "suspicious behaviour". This was around 1990!"

      That's not looking nearly far enough back to find the roots of US Constitutional decay.

      The early 'anti-Commie' witch-hunt promoted by Joseph MaCarthy and enthusiastically helped along by J Edgar Hoover in the early 1950s is a much better candidate for the beginnings of their democratic decay.

    4. John Savard

      Re: You're late to the party

      I agree that the author is overreacting. The American people haven't forgotten the meaning of liberty.

      Remember the internment camps for Japanese-Americans in World War II. Today, because of the heightened awareness of the evils of discrimination created by the Holocaust, Americans are accepting restrictions on everyone's freedoms instead of simply rounding up all Muslims in America. That's actually a good thing, even if the consequences to the average American are negative.

      This is a question that requires very serious and nuanced thought. The best answer, of course, is to utterly destroy terrorism at its source, so that we can have both safety and liberty with no problems.

      1. That Awful Puppy

        Re: You're late to the party

        "Americans are accepting restrictions on everyone's freedoms instead of simply rounding up all Muslims in America."

        Seriously, how thick exactly does one have to be to spout such nonsense? Do you really expect a round of applause for not locking up/shooting/gassing members of a certain religion?

        Next thing you know, Angela Merkel will be on the telly, saying "Well, we haven't done any systematic killing of Jews in a very long time, I think it's time we give ourselves a hand."

        1. Michael Xion

          Re: You're late to the party

          Ha,ha. That last line. I believe that's the exact reason the EU got the Nobel peace prize last year - hadn't gassed any Jews or invaded each others borders for 70 odd years.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        Re: You're late to the party

        "The best answer, of course, is to utterly destroy terrorism at its source, so that we can have both safety and liberty with no problems."

        You're either very ignorant of what terrorism is or you're very stupid.

        Keep posting and I'll make up my own mind.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You're late to the party

        "utterly destroy terrorism at its source" - all along, I thought that terrorism occurred because people with nothing to lose found a cause (not necessarily a sane or reasonable cause) they were willing to kill and / or die for, and because it is totally impossible to control all potentially hazardous objects.

        Fortunately, you're here, so I now know there is a Fount of Terrorism whose destruction will mean we never need to worry about anything ever again. If you could provide some kind of map to the Fount of Terrorism, that'd be grand.

        1. btrower

          Re: You're late to the party

          No probs. You can find it between Canada and Mexico, seems to be centered a bit south of Baltimore if I remember correctly.

        2. John Savard

          Re: You're late to the party

          In countries like Pakistan and Egypt, minority Christians and other non-Muslims are discriminated against. Once we get the governments there to thoroughly impose pluralism on the media and educational system, so that we no longer have a new generation of Muslims thinking that non-reciprocal relations with non-Muslims are OK, then they'll understand why the Jews of Palestine had to throw off Muslim rule - and therefore accept that U.S. foreign policy is right and just.

          As long as such thinking is not the norm, then the outliers can get as far as being terrorists in too many cases.

        3. tom dial Silver badge

          Re: You're late to the party

          Terrorism is not done "... because people with nothing to lose found a cause ..." Terrorist acts have long been used by insurrectionists (and criminals) to destroy the effectiveness of governments. The Viet-Nam war and Peru's Shining Path movement provide examples, as do assassinations of government officials in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan and the Mexican side effects of the U. S. War on Drugs. To write off terrorism as desperate acts of the repressed and powerless is simply incorrect.

          It is equally incorrect to think that a war on terror can be won with bombers, tanks, and foreign infantry. It is a tactic that is going to be with us for a while.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: You're late to the party

            There is no way to stop a man with means who is willing to give his life to inflict harm upon you. I can't think of a point in our history where the suicide bomber/gunman/archer/stick thrower/whatever wasn't an uncounterable threat. It will always be an uncounterable threat.

            The point is that so few of us are that completely fucking broken. Yes, some suicide attackers will succeed. Innocent people will die, be maimed, live lives of misery. I'm sorry to say it, but that's life. That is an acceptable price to pay for liberty.

            We can reduce the number of violent nutjobs by treating everyone with honour and dignity. By being decent to others both at home and abroad. It will never stop all of them, but it will stop many - if not most - of them from ever feeling the need to martyr themselves to make their point in the first place.

            The rest is up to us. It is up to us to stand up after such attacks and say "we will not be terrified or cowed by such actions." "We will not negotiate with terrorists and we will not alter our way of life out of fear." It is up to us to help those hurt and to ensure that they do not suffer from neglect or mistreatment for being victims of events beyond their control.

            It is also up to us to remember that terrorist is not a word that applies simply to the lone fanatic or non-state actor. Terrorism is quite often practiced by the state. Terrorism does not mean "suicide bomber" "Muslim" or "crazy person." It means "someone who seeks to use fear to influence society on a grand scale."

            Right now, I honestly believe that describes quite a few agencies and individuals within the governments of the US, the UK and even Canada. They may not walk into a mall full of people and blow themselves up, but they are damned straight all about using fear to cow the people into submission.

            We must not negotiate with terrorists. Not the individual, lone fanatics nor state actors. We need to stand up to these people and say "no." If they are elected then we need to make sure that under no circumstances are they reelected. If they are appointed then we need to get out into the streets and demand their jobs on a platter.

            Anyone who seeks to use fear to coerce the people into action is not to be trusted, not to be accepted into our society and certainly they can not be allowed to lead us. Governments can be destroyed from within just as surly as from without; it is our duty as citizens to be ever vigilant and to ensure that we identify and remove the rot before it becomes to intractable to excise.

            1. Tom 13

              Re: We can reduce the number of violent nutjobs

              by treating everyone with honour and dignity. By being decent to others both at home and abroad. It will never stop all of them, but it will stop many - if not most - of them from ever feeling the need to martyr themselves to make their point in the first place.

              You've obviously never confronted real racism even if you think you have. It's like trying to tell a fish not to swim in the water - he has no idea what water is. I've encountered it only once in my life in the form of an anti-semitic who was otherwise a reasonable person as well as being a hard and dilligent worker. The Islamofascist training going on in most of the Muslim world works exactly the same way except it is directed at The Evil West instead of The Evil Jews. It doesn't respond to kindness. It only responds to being dead.

              Where all of us make our most fatal mistake is believing the myth that this is happening in shadowy groups meeting at random. It doesn't. Our Intelligence agencies tell us that because the hard truth is even more uncomfortable. Terrorism has the backing of Nation States. Powerful Nation States with nuclear weapons acting through proxies and proxies of those proxies. And the way to kill it at its source is to kill the Nation States that are backing it. Nation states that really don't give a damn how many people they kill, even their own people, so long as they get to maintain power. And that means risking real nuclear war. So instead they spin tales about nefarious groups that can't really be targeted. And instead spy on all of us in a futile effort to stop all of the incoming terrorist attacks. Partly because they are infatuated with the technology and think it has all the answers if only they are clever enough.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: We can reduce the number of violent nutjobs

                Racism takes generations to evaporate, but it does evaporate. You need to expose people to an environment where it is considered socially unacceptable. You won't erase it from that individual, maybe not even their children, but eventually, it dies.

                It is a learned behaviour, not a genetic one. So it is not inevitable. It is not incurable. We can - and will - defeat it by sticking to our principles, not giving in to fear and prejudice.

          2. Anonymous Coward

            Re: You're late to the party (re: tom dial @2013-6-9-16:04)

            "It is equally incorrect to think that a war on terror can be won with bombers, tanks, and foreign infantry. "

            Wrong, you simply have to kill everyone. If you leave even a single survivor, you've lost.

      4. hplasm


        "The best answer, of course, is to utterly destroy terrorism at its source."

        Are you threatening the whole US Government?

      5. btrower

        Re: You're late to the party

        Re: The best answer, of course, is to utterly destroy terrorism at its source

        I could not agree more. I think we might have different ideas as to the source, though.

        House Democratic Whip David Bonior called the economic sanctions against Iraq "infanticide masquerading as policy."

        They hate our freedoms? Why on earth do people accept news media that reports such nonsense with a straight face. If it were *your* kids that died, you might think a bit differently. Guess what? The same mechanism used by the same power elite can be pointed square at your kids any time and arguably it already is.

      6. JohnMurray

        Re: You're late to the party

        "This is a question that requires very serious and nuanced thought. The best answer, of course, is to utterly destroy terrorism at its source, so that we can have both safety and liberty with no problems"

        Too bad if the source is near to home then ?

      7. Vic

        Re: You're late to the party

        > The best answer, of course, is to utterly destroy terrorism at its source

        The White House?


    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You're late to the party

      "...I'd say also try to take this to the politicians."

      Which politicians? The ones we elect into office, or the ones that are in office? Being you are not from the U.S.A. that question may sound like a joke, but in all seriousness, it is not. Congress is obsolete and needs to dissolved.

      I know how this sounds, but are we supposed to behave along the lines of "load your weapons" when we find out our government is doing what they currently legally can?

      Bah, I'm feeling tired of too many closely related articles here on the Reg about this topic. But hey, at least I know I can read about them later, because Google will have everything written by everybody cached for anyone to read for years to come, sort of like our government right? ;-)

    6. btrower

      Re: You're late to the party

      Well I agree with the author and I sure as hell am not late to the party.

      This news is not unexpected. For me, it is not entirely new, but it is certainly outrageous. Now that it is in the news it demands a strong response before the short-attention span of the media moves on to more cat videos. A blistering article protesting it is rather a mild response in my opinion.

      Now is the time to raise your voice.

  5. SuperNintendoChalmers
    Thumb Up

    Simply put...

    Bravo Trevor, bravo.

  6. ChrisM

    Ive read the US constitution

    And the bill of rights along with the declaration of independence.

    They are beautiful documents showing some of the highest ideals, there are some outliers of poor judgement like the three fifths compromise.

    What most people forget is that it was intended to be a living document rather than a fly caught in amber.

    If you read the debates during the time of the ratification of this and the bill of rights, you will see that even the most arch-federalist would not recognize the current governental model as true to those high ideals.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ive read the US constitution

      Of course they wouldn't. Progressive reinterpretation of the constitution away from its original intent coupled with a belief that parts could be de-emphasised or even ignored, and the use of the 10th amendment to draw power from the states to the federal government - directly contravening the clause that powers not delegated to the federal government remained in the hands of the states or the people - are the reason why the US government has become so enormously, unrecognisably bloated, corrupt and - dare I say it - evil.

      The problems can be traced all the way back to actions George Washington took while in office, but the rot truly set in with Lincoln. High ideals gave him the "moral authority" to suspend habeas corpus and act to destroy the rights of the states to govern their own affairs, and in the process he transformed the relationship between the states and the federal government almost completely. Hoover and Roosevelt moved this process forward each in their own way, cementing the status of the federal government as all-powerful and supreme in all authority, while the states were reduced to departments of an effectively unitary political entity rather than free members of a federation. Generations prior to those two would generally have named their home state as their homeland and when referring to attributes of of the US would have said "the United States are"; generations after referred to the US as their home and "the United States is". It's a subtle difference in language but it represents a fundamental transformation of both how the people viewed their nation and how that nation interacted with them.

      All because the constitution was treated as a "living document."

      It is neither an amber-trapped fly nor a living document. It is a foundation stone upon which the structure of the United States rests. The "living document" argument is made by people who want to alter the content or meaning of the constitution without going through the process of ratifying an amendment.

      1. ChrisM

        Re: Ive read the US constitution

        The tenth amendment clearly states that all powers not expressly delegated to the federal government are reserved to the people or the states, there is however tension between that and the 'necessary and proper' clause which is where the arguments you ate talking about come from (/with the exception of Lincoln's Habeus Corpu which was a wrong decision then and is now)

        The constitution as a living document is clear from article five where it sets out the process (and has been used multiple times) as you have said.

        You seem to be an adherent of the doctrine of states rights but that meaning is tested once or twice a year I the supreme court and its usually the states who lose.

        That being said the supreme court has defined corporations as people for legal purposes, so shouldn't they be paying taxes on income rather than profit like all the rest of the people?

        1. btrower

          Re: Ive read the US constitution

          Re: "... states rights but that meaning is tested once or twice a year I the supreme court and its usually the states who lose."

          Even a legal determination by the *federally appointed* Supreme Court can't properly take away fundamental rights explicitly guaranteed in the Constitution. The court also cannot give to the federal government powers that are not allowed by the Constitution. They don't have the legal authority to do that. An incorrect decision is still incorrect.

          Re: corporations paying taxes on income.

          Good point. Originally it was supposed to be 'no taxation without representation'. The corporations have turned that on its head so they get 'representation without taxation'.

      2. btrower

        Re: Ive read the US constitution

        Me too. Many times, with an emphasis on Article I section 8. Its intent is crystal clear to me, especially in the historical context and other documents that surround it. The current regime bears no resemblance to the vision of the founding fathers.

        Re: It is a foundation stone upon which the structure of the United States rests.

        Agree. That is a perfect way to describe it. Only the 'spirit' of the original document represents the agreement of the States and their citizens to the federation. Things like the Bill of Rights make sense in that context. I do not think that Amendments that strongly disagree with the spirit of the Constitution properly have the force of law. For them to have real force, you would have to reopen the entire debate. Step one in that re-opened debate would be for the incumbent Federal government to recuse and step aside. Good luck with that.

        I am hopeful that the Republic and other nations affected by all this will be restored, but I worry. It seems to me that technology is beginning to close the window of opportunity. It is hard to plot against a regime that monitors your every thought.

        1. ChrisM

          Re: Ive read the US constitution

          Article one, section eight has two parts which are key to the argument. These are the fact that Congress has a duty to promote the 'general welfare' along with the power to bring bills containing 'necessary and proper' legislation.

          That is where the issues come into play with unenumerated powers, the argument from congress is that the legislation promotes general welfare so is lawful under that power.

          As for the fourth amendment, it should be rewritten to take into account the changes that have taken place... surely emails and documents on the computer fall under the 'papers' provision, but does your history not also count? And monitoring of metadata, doesn't that sound like a 'writ of assistance' fishing expedition?

      3. John Savard

        Re: Ive read the US constitution

        If "the rot set in with Lincoln", well, then the problem is things like states' rights no longer extending far enough to engage in segregation. So most people would properly see any cure as worse than the disease.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ive read the US constitution

          Lincoln didn't give a rats about slavery until it could be used as a political tool to justify his war and as for segregation, recall that the man himself wanted to repatriate all blacks to africa. All of them. There were slaver states in the "free" north and states in the confederation where slavery was illegal. Free blacks fought in the Confederate army, slave owners funded regiments in the Union forces.

          The civil war was nothing to do with slavery, it was about whether the states or the federal government were sovereign. The feds won, the states lost. The result is the enormous monster that the federal government has today become.

          1. Tom 13

            Re: Ive read the US constitution

            Lincoln always cared about slavery. That WHY the Republican party was founded - to eliminate slavery within the United States. Progressives of course want that inconvenient bit of history removed from the textbooks so they can substitute your idiotic rantings.

            In the Civil War States Rights became inextricably entangled in the Slavery question. Mostly because those who were fused with the notion of Slavery lashed themselves to that philosophy as their last desperate attempt to defend their evil way of life. Yes, Lincoln only freed the slaves in the States which had openly rebelled in his Emancipation Proclamation. But he was ready to follow through when the war was over with the amendments which would forever remove sanction for slavery from the Constitution.

            Yes you can trace some of the tendrils of the problems of today to that action. But were it not for the actions of Progressives who came too soon after the Civil War, we might have regained our footing and better balanced the competing interests.

    2. Heathroi

      Re: Ive read the US constitution

      It was a living document in that you were able to have meeting about changing it, hard but not impossible. not twisting words into meaning anything you wanted them to mean.

    3. TXITMAN
      Big Brother

      Re: Ive read the US constitution

      So what is the penalty for violating the 4th amendment?

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Ive read the US constitution

        Promotion, apparently. At least if the past few years are anything to go by.

      2. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: Ive read the US constitution

        The law (or portion of the law) that is in violation of the constitution, as amended, is declared inoperative and government actions taken based on the law are voided. I do not recall hearing of large negative consequences for those who enforced enacted laws later found unconstitutional.

    4. Tom 13

      Re: it was intended to be a living document

      Progressive claptrap! There was no such intention.

      It was intended to be a document of LAW, modified as necessary by the Congress and the States acting according to the LAW it created. It was designed to be a document based on logic and reason that recognizes the human condition (flawed) and constructs bulwarks against failure wherever possible.

      It's all that "living document" horse crap that got us into our current mess, most especially courts assuming powers not granted to them or worse turning a blind eye to obvious infringements and declaring the Constitutional.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I did enjoy one comment I saw somewhere on the interwebs (sorry can't remember where) - that the public would be much more accepting of this behaviour if the NSA gave away a browser, search engine, provided a free mapping service and hosted email.

    1. John Savard


      Ah, yes: the NSA should just buy Facebook.

    2. jamesb2147

      Oooh, do you think I can get backups from them in case of disaster?

      Better yet, by duplicating so much data, are they violating my copyright?

    3. tom dial Silver badge

      Of course, the NSA did develop and give away SELinux. I expect that the code has been examined for faults and backdoors or would not have been admitted to the kernel. For free (courtesy of the U. S. taxpayers). Perhaps they are not entirely evil.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      The NSAnet ..

      I did enjoy one comment I saw somewhere on the interwebs (sorry can't remember where) - that the public would be much more accepting of this behaviour if the NSA gave away a browser, search engine, provided a free mapping service and hosted email”.

      To all intents and purposes, they already do .. ref ref

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Well played.

    I thought it was a very neat run-down on the decline of Western Civilisation. For those who think Trevor is rather late to the party, I would point out that a week or two ago his words would more likely have attracted responses asking for an address to send him tin foil. Now seems a good time to summarise it all, so good for him.

    Whether anyone listens or not is another matter. I have a feeling that when all of this really sinks in the masses will rise up and cry with one voice : meh (or meh-e-e-e-eh) and then turn back to the real world of social media.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well played.

      Couldn't agree more. People are for the most part in one of two camps. Those that have been saying this is going on for many years whilst being laughed at by camp two. And those that were reluctantly woken up to this uncomfortable news, and hope for a few soothing platitudes so they can go right back to sleep.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Look, if they tell you it is all above board then you have to believe them, if they say they are not doing it then it must be true. If they tell us there are safeguards, then we should not question them. God is on the side of the righteous, therefore the righteous must be directed by God. Therefore in conclusion, God gave us America in his image"

    I think they actually believe that crap.

    1. 404

      When we're good, we're really good.

      However the opposite is true too - we're well and truly fscked atm.


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear me, Trevor, no

    Why is it that techies have such short memories. Surely the first law text ever recorded* is the one you should hold up as the single most important document ever written (granted, unlike the two other documents, this one is rather less portable).

    * Code of Hammurabi

    1. Hungry Sean

      Re: Dear me, Trevor, no

      Indeed, who can forget timeless wisdom such as this:

      "If an ox be a goring ox, and it shown that he is a gorer, and he do not bind his horns, or fasten the ox up, and the ox gore a free-born man and kill him, the owner shall pay one-half a mina in money."

      But what was the real intent of the founders of the law? Were they talking about a literal ox, or should this rule cover forklifts as well?

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Dear me, Trevor, no

        What if the ox doth gore a freed slave who was initially born into slavery? Does man mean man as in the Human species or gender? What are the payment terms for said one-half mina: Can installments be made? Is interest accrued? If so from what date and at what rate?

        It really all boils down to what the definition of gore is.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Frumious Bandersnatch

          Re: Dear me, Trevor, no

          It really all boils down to what the definition of gore is.

          Let's not go there. We'll only end up debating manbearpig if we do. (*wink wink*, *nudge nudge*)

          1. 404

            Re: Dear me, Trevor, no

            'I saved the Earth from Certain Destruction. Everybody is super-stoked on me, even if they don't know it'

            - Every politician ever born.

        3. Tom 13

          Re: what the definition of gore is.

          And isn't that an inconvenient truth?

    2. Michael Thibault
      IT Angle

      Re: Dear me, Trevor, no

      @Buck Futter

      Code! On tablets! What could be better?

      1. Tom 13

        Re: Code! On tablets! What could be better?

        But does it have a real Start Menu or just a button?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Welcome to the 'No-Fly' list Trevor

    I am sure your name will be added very soon probably like mine.

  12. Don Jefe


    I sometimes miss living in Canada. It is almost like the States except populated by much more reasoned thinkers. Even their radicals are fairly benign. Their beer is better too.

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: Canadians

      And real bacon.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        Re: Canadians

        "And real bacon."

        And a substantially lower murder rate.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brilliant article...

    ...and I agree with most of it.

    There's only one problem: PRISM is only the tip of the iceberg. The next days and weeks will be interesting, if more details come to light. Otherwise, it probably vanishes from the daily news and all is back to "normal". Meanwhile, in other parts of the western world, the same shit is taking place, except that we haven't yet found evidence for this. (Though the reported link between NSA and GCHQ gives a fairly strong hint.)

    So, while I do agree that PRISM (and related activities) are outrageous, I don't believe that this is limited to the United States at all. The real problem is the "nothing to hide, don't care" attitude paired with "everything on the interwebs should be free as in beer". Nothing is going to change as long as millions (or billions?) of people willingly expose their whole private life in social networks. And technologies like Google Glass will make it almost impossible to keep your privacy.

    Honestly: Who stopped using Google, Yahoo or Bing for search after this scandal? And what are you using for search instead? Who owns an Apple product and is going to replace it now? With what? There aren't many smart mobe platforms apart from Android [Google], iOS [Apple] and Windows Mobile [M$]...

    It's really difficult to escape the data slurping when all important players have already signed up for PRISM. (Or similar schemes, which we may not yet be aware of.)

    I don't think that avoiding American companies helps much (if possible at all). Europe plays along and shares lots of details with the U.S. already. Probably more than we (want to) know of.

    I don't know a solution to this, but it's extremely worrying.

    1. xjy
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Brilliant article...

      Let's think historically, since the Enlightenment and Hammurabi have eased the way for us here.

      The productive forces of human society are enormous and constantly growing, and one of the things they are doing is connect us all up so we know what's happening to everything everywhere, as in automatic inventory, just-in-time production and delivery etc. We also know who's where and doing what.

      Now, the last time the productive forces of humanity took a huge leap forward in world-changing historical terms was when the merchants and bankers turned themselves into manufacturers, and the city took over from the land. Aka the origin of capitalism. This took centuries, but gradually, from the Reformation around 1500 to the French Revolution around 1800 via the English Revolution of around 1650, feudalism as a mode of production and fundamental form of social organization was ejected, violently, and replaced by capitalism. This happened because the productive forces were tied down and being strangled. Workers under feudalism weren't free but tied to the land as serfs, to guilds as apprentices and journeymen, and to lords and masters as servants, and the same went for the means of production. Capital couldn't be bought or sold or moved at will, but was locked into traditional and inefficient niches. The battle for freedom for capital and labour freed them up, and with them the productive forces.

      This is happening today only now it is capitalism that is tying everything down and holding everything back in the name of private ownership of the forces of production and the profit this must generate. We can now produce everything we need to feed, clothe, house, educate and thrill everybody. We have the physical means in the machines, the agricultural capability, and above all the science and technology to manage, develop and plan worldwide deployment of production and the requisite skills. However...

      The feudal constraints on business, movement, thought, etc are now parallelled by capitalist constraints on the free exchange of ideas or of scientific and technological discoveries, in the form of copyright and patents, and on a more and more bizarre insistence on holding back production to protect profits. Housing construction for instance only occurs when a) it doesn't threaten rent incomes, and b) it not only generates a surplus over labour and materials input, but a whopping great ten percent more in money terms that is pocketed by the owners of building companies to consume as they and only they see fit. Diamond-studded dog collars and all.

      Not to mention the boosting of private profits by a) taxing workers' incomes to subsidize corporations (corporate welfare) and b) shovelling huge amounts of the surplus we produce into totally unproductive branches of industry (death and destruction in the military, and misery and ignorance in addiction, sex industries and gambling).

      Anyway, the crises we are going through right now and the surrealistic abuse of advances in science and technology perpetrated by governments like the US, are all part and parcel of the age of transition between an outworn mode of production, capitalism, and a mode of production more appropriate for the productive forces of human society, socialism.

      One of the things capitalism is doing in its death throes is throwing off a spectacular display of sound and fury and phosphorescing lights claiming that it is the end product of human history and that there is no alternative to its methods and traditions. This has been pretty successful at fooling "public opinion" that history doesn't exist and that socialism is an impossible illusion.

      One of the things the present crisis is doing, however, is to show us precisely the historical incapacity of capitalism not only to solve the problems of humanity, but even to solve its own selfish problems of making stuff and selling it. And it also shows us to just what brutal and destructive lengths capitalism in government is prepared to go to preserve its monopoly of power and wealth. Perverting all its own proud revolutionary democratic principles from the struggle against feudalism (eg the US Constitution) in the process.

      Capitalism in its current form is inseparable from oppression, war and the abuse of power. It's utopian madness to dream that there is a good capitalism underneath all the scabs and putrid sores. Just as it was utopian to dream of a good feudalism underneath the boils and gangrene of the Old Regime.

      Think historically, and there are solutions.

      Ignore history, and you'll be trapped in your own nightmare for ever.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        Re: xjy Re: Brilliant article...

        Someone's been reading waaaay to much Marx and Engels. And not the good stuff either.

      2. btrower

        Re: Brilliant article...

        @xjy: Brilliant comment.

        If you get dissed by the PTB fanboy here, you know you have struck a nerve.

  14. tkioz

    Exceptionally well written!

    It's a crying shame when a nation that once a guiding light of freedom and liberty has lost it's way. When I was in school we were taught about the influence of the American constitution on our very own Australian constitution, and it was held up as one of the land mark documents of history... to see such a nation behaving in ways more reminiscent of Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany is just sad.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why this article is apt...

    Well said; a great article and a manifesto for pushing back against an increasingly corrupt US State.

    When the whole "Prism" story broke, my first reaction was outrage, my second was to comment - widely - through columns on sites such as Huff Post & social media sites such as Twitter.

    Then I remembered that for my job I travel extensively, including to the US

    I realised I couldn't afford to end up on a TSA/DHS list.

    I became afraid.

    I chose not to comment.*

    Sums up just how oppressive the "Freedom-Loving West" has become :-(

    * AC here of course. Having said that the comment is assigned to my account, which is probably hosted/mirrored on a US-based Server....gotcha.

  16. Christian Berger

    Never ever ever trust in centralized systems

    That's why you shouldn't use such "cloud" systems at all. So run your own mail server, it's trivial unless you want Exchange. Run your own XMPP server... which is even simpler.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Impossibility of Freedom from American Law?

    I'm pretty sure it would virtually be impossible to be free from the reach of American jurisprudence over any data as they tend to regard anything that passes through their networks (a lot of internet traffic does) as subject to their law. People who have never set foot in the US have been extradited & imprisoned there on that basis. The NSA also have listening stations worldwide so it is likely they have the ability to capture everything that passes over the internet. The US are the Roman empire of our day.

  18. lee harvey osmond

    Why be bothered about 'the cloud' in particular?

    [Er, hi to to all my fans in US domestic surveillance. I didn't have time to read any of my email last month, can you send me a summary of all the good ones?]

    I'm puzzled.

    Various US institutions have decided to ignore the US constitution, and since I'm not a US citizen and don't live in the US, any safeguard provisions in the US constitution aren't going to apply to me anyway.

    Forget about 'US cloud technologies'. Pretty much 60% (or is it 80%? does it even matter?) of all internet traffic gets routed via some major bit of infrasstructure in California, so pretty much every packet can be inspected. I think this means that anything travelling across the public internet can be Got At, whether it's on Amazon's cloud, or someone else's cloud, or no cloud.

    If I send email, at some point someone's going to read the headers. It doesn't matter if message body is encrypted strongly, you can do a lot of traffic analysis with SMTP headers. Or even IP packet headers. But then strong encryption isn't really a help. Not when many ciphers have been designed with the assistance of the same agency we expect to be listening in.

    Those of us that cared could in principle build our own parallel internet. From whom would be buy our switches? Huawei, about whom there are unsubstantiated allegations that they're in the pocket of the PLA and their equipment has back doors? Or from Cisco, about whom we might expect some even more spectacular allegations to be made (in the pocket of the NSA; back doors, etc) once the next round of revelations are made concerning Prism and who's been gagged using the Patriot Act?


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why be bothered about 'the cloud' in particular?

      Forget about 'US cloud technologies'. Pretty much 60% (or is it 80%? does it even matter?) of all internet traffic gets routed via some major bit of infrasstructure in California, so pretty much every packet can be inspected


      Uh, no. Unless they've figured out FTL fiber technology, the latency alone makes that a ridiculous assertion. Not to mention gigantic such a facility would have to be.

      Are you going to tell us next that we don't see it because it is underground in Mojave desert (as are the power lines for the gigawatts of power such a facility would require)

      Crazy claims make it easy for people to dismiss most everything as the ramblings of conspiracy theorists. Here's how it works:

      1) people in the know make claims that are seen by the average person as conspiracy theories (like the room 641A stuff) so the mass media ignores it and the government, if they comment at all, denies it

      2) it eventually comes out that they're right and the mass media reports on it

      3) people in power downplay the significance and create cover stories, claiming it is limited in scope and not as bad as previous reports have indicated

      4) the mass media start to backpedal a bit, not wanting to question those in power and risk losing access to people in power

      5) tin foil hatters extrapolate anything being reported by the mass media as being only the tip of the iceberg of what really must be going on, so they start making claims that defy the laws of physics, economics, etc.

      6) the public gets wind of the crazy theories, deciding to believe the government's cover stories because the alternative is becoming identified with the crazy conspiracy theorists

      1. btrower

        Re: Why be bothered about 'the cloud' in particular?

        Sounds about right, but... It's not a tin-foil-hat... it's a Faraday Cage.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: internet traffic gets routed via some major bit of infrasstructure in California

      I see you've fallen into the Schwarzkopf trap. You keep focusing on the parts of the maps they show to the news media and ignoring the larger picture.

      The whole purpose of the NSA is to spy on outside of the USA, specifically signals processing. Which means as far as the US government is concerned, they have carte blanche to intercept any and every signal communication they can get their grubby little radio dishes and transceivers on. And the only thing they need to worry about is not creating an embarrassing international incident.

      What changes with the interaction of PRISM and the Patriot Act is that whereas they once might have gotten into legal trouble if a US citizen were caught up in the mix, that is no longer a problem. Well, from their point view at least.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Good op-ed, but unfortunately Canada is probably part of the system.

    For generations now, the Canucks have been part of U.S. early warning and monitoring systems, because of their proximity to the Soviet Union. And all those NSA listening sites all over the world? They aren't there because the locals had some extra commercial real estate, they are there because the local government made an agreement with the U.S.--"Sure, you can come in and build your electronic intelligence gathering facility in our country. And no, you don't have to share your spytech and methods with us. However, the information you gather...."

    Are Canadians getting their phone records recorded? Don't know, though it is certainly possible. But any time the Canadian government wants your internet activity, all they have to do is call it up on a terminal or client that probably ultimately queries databases run out of Fort Meade, Maryland.

    It's rather like military spending. In their hearts, a lot of the industrialized world realize that broadly speaking, the U.S. military protects their interests at sea and in important regions around the world. They've outsourced their strategic projection to the Pentagon. The same thing has happened with the NSA. Financially, it's a good deal, but that doesn't mean it comes for free.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Good op-ed, but unfortunately Canada is probably part of the system.

      Frankly, I've been a strong proponent for bloody ages of Canada sinking a hundred billion or so into a revitalized navy. We need to defend our interests in the north and be fully capable of projecting force anywhere on the continent of our choice from a pile of boats at sea.

      You don't need boots on the ground. Tomorrow's wars will be fought by robots, and with a GDP of 1.8 Trillion Canada should damned well be able to defend its interests against anyone. We should not be dependant on the US for anything.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good op-ed, but unfortunately Canada is probably part of the system.

        Probably true that Canada doesn't need to depend on the US for defense, though your GDP is puny measured against that of China, and they can make better robots than you, and you have natural resources they want (to build more robots)

        Since you have to cooperate with the US in many ways, whether you like it or not, simply because you have the misfortune to share a huge ungoverned border with the US, you might as well take advantage of the situation by letting the US pay for much of your defense.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: Good op-ed, but unfortunately Canada is probably part of the system.

          Any future incursions into Canadian territory will be to their north, in what will likely be a viable Northwest Passage. It will likely be the Russians, not robots, and you really need a navy to deal with them. The First Nation people up in Nunavut won't be able to hold their ground for long.

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Good op-ed, but unfortunately Canada is probably part of the system.

          China's GDP: 7.318 Trillion

          China's Population: 1344 Million

          Canada's GDP: 1.736 Trillion

          Canada's Population: 34.48 Million

          I have the deep and abiding suspicion that we can build all the goddamned drones we feel like and have no problems with either the US or China. After all, we can afford to feed our people and build a robot army. We also don't have to buy the resources from a third-party country because we are sitting on all the resources we could ever want. Canada just has to wake up and start building.

          Unlike China we don't need massive labour to build our drones. We have our robots build our drones. As for Chins building "better" drones, I beg to differ. Canada's aerospace technologies are second to none. We have advanced weapons R&D and some of the best and brightest nanotech researchers on the entire planet live in my very own city. If we do need more labour, well, we seem to import it just fine. I hear India has more than a few highly-trained people, perhaps they'd be willing to send some over.

          Canada having an army capable of defending itself against all comers is entirely feasible. I really wish we'd get on with it and stop being beholden to the vagaries of others.

          Besides, a strong drone-manufacturing industry would be a great way to export manufactured goods. We could stop exporting resources and waiting for others to add value and start doing it ourselves. I am certain that the EU, non-EU European nations and the rest of the commonwealth would love a second-source provider for critical defence components that wasn't tied to the US or grossly incompetent. We really should get on that...

          1. btrower

            Re: Good op-ed, but unfortunately Canada is probably part of the system.

            I have long thought the same thing. We should have a military strategy similar to Switzerland where all able-bodied people are trained and military adventure is off the table.

            The best way to stay out of armed conflict is to present a strong enough defense that you do not make a very attractive target.

            I also agree about the infrastructure, but I would (try to) add one wrinkle:

            Design things that have both civilian and military uses -- cars, trucks, ships, planes, robots! -- so that they can do double duty. Of course, a 'haul' truck and a tank are going to be different, but they could still have lots of similarities. This would create some economies of scale, allow rapid switches to and from a military stance and force designers to think similar things through. Should a car's system be as secure as a tank's? Maybe not, but when you look closely you will see that neither are secure enough. Until they are both at least 'secure enough' (whatever that is) you get those economies of scale *plus* a sort of secondary due-diligence.

            Looking at military aspects of civilian gear could yield incredible defensive benefits. I have no idea how vulnerable civilian systems are to things like EMP weapons, but we may find that they are all unacceptably vulnerable and cause the military specifications to partially cover problems in civilian systems.

            A benefit that you would also get with overlapping civilian and military uses is that people would be better able to appreciate the costs of armed conflict. Maybe if we thought more about the damage that war might do to our possessions we might think more about what damage war does to people.

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: Good op-ed, but unfortunately Canada is probably part of the system.

            "I have the deep and abiding suspicion that we can build all the goddamned drones we feel like and have no problems with either the US or China. After all, we can afford to feed our people and build a robot army. We also don't have to buy the resources from a third-party country because we are sitting on all the resources we could ever want. Canada just has to wake up and start building."

            Oh, my. Seek help, Trevor. You clearly need it.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: You don't need boots on the ground.

        You always need boots on the ground. That's the real lesson of the Vietnam war. You need boots on the ground because war isn't really about land. Land is just the board on which the action occurs. The real action is in the hearts and minds of your enemy. The real objective is to break his will to fight. Sometimes that has to be done by killing him. Sometimes it can be done by showing him you're good people who will be only too happy to let him live in peace if he'll do the same with you. Drones and robots can't undertake action on that second front. It's the mistake we made in Vietnam. Then again in Bosnia. Then again in the initial Iraq invasion. The eggheads always think technology will solve the problem. It doesn't. Only flesh and blood can do that.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: Good op-ed, but unfortunately Canada is probably part of the system.

      "Financially, it's a good deal, but that doesn't mean it comes for free."

      The word you're looking for is complimentary

      You're right. It's not free.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Root Cause here...

    The US Federal government has had effectively unlimited money, resulting in $16 Trillion dollars debt. This fake fiscal muscle gives them power; a bit like my own lines of credit. I can't predict which way the US economy will go, but their power will ultimately track their cash flow.

    By way of comparison, according to the news, Canada recently laid off a bunch of Commissionaires guarding the front gates of various military bases. The gates are now apparently left open in a new help-yourself approach to military base security. It's no secret, it's all over the news.

    Money vice No money.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Root Cause here...

      > I can't predict which way the US economy will go

      It's not hard to do. The laws of economics are SOLID. For a time you may stretch them. But then they snap back, like a particularly macro version of Heisenberg's uncertainty relationship.

      The End of Sound Money and the Triumph of Crony Capitalism

      ... a clue to the next phase of this saga may lie in the conterfactual. Had Nixon kept the gold window open, China would have accumulated bullion, not bonds. America would have experienced deflationary austerity, not inflationary bubbles. And fiscal deficits would have mattered. Thus, today's terminally imbalanced world has evolved at complete variance with the outcome that could have been expected under a regime of sound money.

      The risk is that the doomsday system for global money and trade that has metastasized since 1971 may be approaching its endgame. By all appearances, Mao's great rural swamp has now pretty much been drained.

      Global wages will therefore start rising, because even Walmart has not been able to discover another country inhabited by millions of one-dollar-per-day workers. In that environment, the people's printing press in China will have to drastically slow its creation of RMB, and therefore its capacity to absorb Treasury bonds. Its fellow traveling central banks throughout its feeder system of mercantilist exporters will likely follow its lead.

      At that point, the Fed will be the last bid standing. But if it keeps buying bonds, Mr. Market may be inclined to sell dollars with prejudice — even violence. If it stops buying the bond, at what price can trillions more find a place in real, risk-based private portfolios? Either way, it will be a grand experiment. But as they say on television, it's definitely not something that should be tried at home.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But where to go? Where to go?

    Plug the search term ' and gmail alternatives not based in the US' into the chocolate factory's search engine and you'll see a problem. For starters, I would like an email and calendar system that:

    - Is not based in the US

    - Delivers push email to any device

    - Ditto for calendar and todo list

    - While delivering cloud storage for my documents

    - With web based editing?

    I don't believe a service, which meets those criteria, exists at this point. It's a sad state of affairs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But where to go? Where to go?

      @AC 16:37

      Calendar (CalDav) and Contacts (CardDav):, based in Germany, works very well. Have been using it to sync those items between multiple devices for about 9 months now, without any issue whatsoever. (Laptops and smart phone)

      A solution which offers all of what you are asking for could be (they are based in Canada, I believe)

      There are other groupware solutions, some free, some not.

    2. Raumkraut

      Re: But where to go? Where to go?

      * Email server of your choice (postfix, exim4, etc.)

      * OwnCloud for contact/calendar/file sync

      * GreenQloud for hosting (based in Iceland)

      You could even start a business selling such a service to other paranoid^W informed Europeans.Or just find someone who has already done this, and is willing to resell the service.

    3. Don Jefe

      Re: But where to go? Where to go?


  22. shawnfromnh
    Thumb Up

    Shawn Bows in respect

    I guess I need to cross the Atlantic to find someone that understands these words and you made me smile with your eloquent reminder to everyone in the US and across the world we have been shanghaied by corporations and the secret and non secret parts of our own government. I find though unlike this site with such great reporting "and BOFH" the average American is pathetically apathetic and basically are trusting fools that believe or don't care what the government does.

    Thanks for this and for making me a proud longtime reader "around 10 years" of The Register.

  23. Richard Neill

    Preventing all terrorism guarantees Tyranny

    I wish the "security-at-any-price" people could see that, in a world where the state has the power to prevent terrorism, tyranny is almost certain. Ultimately, our democracy relies upon the fact that, if the will of the people is not respected (eg a government loses an election and fails to dissolve), then it can be ejected by force. Such force should never be needed... but if the government had the tools to prevent it, then the tyrant can never be removed.

    Equally, the concept "national security" is, in practice, inimical to the security of a nation. A country that feels so secure that it can act with impunity is one that ultimately makes many many enemies, through the folly of its politicians.

  24. Keith 12
    Thumb Up

    Damn fine article.

  25. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Spy on 100 % to catch the maybe 0.001% who are doing anything.

    Does anything seem wrong about this?

    It looks more like a case of "Because we can" rather than "need" WTF "need" means.

    Yes you should be paranoid.

    Understand this. Corporations are sociopaths. They have no legally obligation to a "social conscience," or indeed any behavior, just to a) Maximize return to stockholders b)Obey the host country's laws (or rather not get caught breaking them).

    That's it. Sorry, everything else is Marketing BS. The sooner every one understands those 2 points the sooner you can start figuring out how to deal with them.

    I'd suggest end to end encryption. If it's on a server you do not directly control, and it's important to you (or your business), it should be unreadable.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Spy on 100 % to catch the maybe 0.001% who are doing anything.

      This is not about corporations, except as a purported instigator of this, which I seriously doubt. After all, they are getting the information anyhow and do not gain in an obvious way from delivering it up to the government. Indeed, some have resisted (Google among them, and back a few years I think also Verizon). Only governments can lawfully deprive you of life, liberty, or property.

      That is not to say that government actions are not desired by and lobbied for by, or do not benefit corporations, but the fundamental problem is that the legislature and executive, with acquiescence and sometimes of the courts, have strayed too far from the original constitutional principles, and that we, the voters, have permitted, encouraged, or even demanded it.

      1. btrower

        Re: Spy on 100 % to catch the maybe 0.001% who are doing anything.

        Re: "the fundamental problem is that ... we, the voters, have permitted, encouraged, or even demanded it.

        Sadly true and quite possibly fundamentally intractable as a problem. We may be doomed to revolution, tyranny and revolution again. Hopefully we don't let things get out of control so that revolution becomes impossible.

  26. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    So say we all!

    A nitpick!

    As the US has spend the past 30 years going completely off the rails

    I think we can agree that it was least going off-rails with Nixon, a low-brow, low-IQ mobster type of President. Heavily. Totally. Monetarily. That makes it 40 years.

    Going further back, there was FDR. A know-nothing and Mussolini admirer who played the system to the hilt (and freedom and dead people be damned) and still managed to get on the history books as some noble person instead of a run-of-the-mill powerseeker. That would make it 60 years.

    1. btrower

      Re: So say we all!

      Things may have started going south with sections 4 and 5 of the 14th Amendment as early as 1868. Once a government infestation takes hold it is very hard to stop it from growing.

      From Section 4:

      "The validity of the public debt of the United States ... including debts incurred ... suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. "

      From Section 5:

      "The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article."

    2. John Savard

      Re: So say we all!

      Why did Obama get elected? Because the stock market crashed - and John McCain decided to channel Herbert Hoover, telling us the fundamentals of the economy were sound, and so drastic action to preserve jobs did not need to be taken immediately.

      So it seems like the American people would still like FDR for the same reasons: letting the ordinary working man put food on the table should take precedence over the freedom of big business to do what it likes with its money.

  27. Mick Stranahan


    Eloquent piece but naive in the broader sense.

    The US has been up to its elbows in the blood of the poor, the powerless, the yellow and the brown for the best part of a century (Vietnam, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, Iraq etc etc etc) but now that it has become clear that US spooks are looking at our emails journalists are up in arms and howling that the world is about to end.

    Has this news seriously come as a surprise to anyone? Oddly enough about a year ago a friend of mine asked me if I though the intelligence services could or were looking at people's digital communications - the answer I gave was yes to both questions. It never occurred to me for a moment that they couldn't/weren't.

    Getting misty eyed about the US Constitution is utterly facile. The governing class of the USA has been fucking over "the people" - be they the rank and file US citizenship or the rest of us on the planet - for a hundred years or more. And no, I don't think the governing class of the UK is any better, its just that the USA's power gives it more scope for abuse.

    If anyone seriously thinks that the USA is any different from China in it's disregard for liberty, freedom and privacy then you seriously need to wake up.

    1. btrower

      Re: Naive

      I am quite certain it was ever thus. They used to put people's severed heads on London Bridge.

      It is different this time. Technology is giving them much greater powers. If we do not stop them this will be the last time rebellion is possible. When there is no possibility of privacy and they know everything you are doing it will be very hard to organize against them.

      As hinted at elsewhere, a partial inoculation against this would be for everyone to start an avalanche of fake messages with all kinds of conflicting and alarming things in them. They would have trouble distinguishing between real messages of rebellion and fake ones.

      1. J__M__M

        Re: Naive

        "messages with all kinds of conflicting and alarming things in them."

        Leave my ex-wife out of this.

    2. John Savard

      Re: Naive

      The U.S. is way different from mainland China, as is obvious from what quickly happens there to those who try to raise discussion about problems in that country.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Naive

        "The U.S. is way different from mainland China, as is obvious from what quickly happens there to those who try to raise discussion about problems in that country."

        Only up to a point. The profound levels of hypocrisy at play in the west must be kept in mind. We in the west really do think we are better than the rest of the world, and on paper perhaps we are. The problem is that our actions often show us to be no better at all. We kill, assassinate, plunder, kidnap, spy and do God know's what else under cover of our actions being for the greater good. But whose greater good?

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: Naive

      <general comment on US foreign policy>

      <No surprise blah blah>

      Cynicism is the easiest political doctrine to adopt. It's an attitude the people who do this rely

      upon. Cynicism, apathy, inertia.

      At present the United States is not China.

      But with enough people like you it can become like china.

      A poor copy, an ineffective ( but very expensive) tyranny.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Cuckoo's Egg

    By Clifford Stoll makes at least one reference to "intercept operators". This was written in 1980. These taps and invasions have been going on for a long, long time.

    Anon. obviously (not that it matters - Hi guys!)

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: The Cuckoo's Egg

      Scale matters. A targeted intercept with a warrant for a single individual (or relatively small group of interconnected individuals) is an understandable and entirely acceptable law enforcement requirement. Dragnet style operations are another thing entirely. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are not supposed to be carrying out fishing expeditions. This has been established over and over at all levels of our courts.

      What about "with a computer" makes it somehow morally, ethically or even legally acceptable to throw out the presumption of innocence? "Because we can" is no justification for changing "innocent unless proven guilty" to "guilty unless proven innocent."

      That's really what this boils down to: it is not my job to prove my innocence. The burden of proof is on the accuser to prove me guilty. Guilty of what, well, since I haven't done anything illegal (that I am aware of) I haven't the foggiest clue. There was a speeding ticket a few years ago, but I paid the fine.

      So what give you/him/her/them the right to presume me guilty and montior all that I do just in case I might be guilty of something? That whole concept goes against the very foundations of our society's belief systems.

      Innocent unless proven guilty. To give that up is to render all of the struggles for liberty through the ages utterly and completely meaningless. If you demand of me and mine that we give up that essential liberty then it's time for the struggle to recommence.

  29. btrower

    Very well said

    What an excellent article. Thanks. I emphatically agree.

    [Note: Canadians are polite. Don't mistake that for weakness. Our military trains with live ammunition. A friend of mine gained a healthy respect for grenades (and his sergeant) this way.]

    All of the big players could put in place privacy that would make it difficult or impossible for them to ever participate in breaching your privacy. Somewhere in the bowels of organizations like Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Dell, Intel, AMD, Google, Apple, facebook, Amazon -- any player with a hint of technology and more than 10,000 employees -- they know it or ought to know it. For a tiny advantage on their part they are willing to expose their customers, employees and business partners, literally, to mortal danger. It is wrong.

    I would like to amplify the following in my comment here: Our rights belong to us and they cannot be separated from us. We cannot give them away even if we want to. A state that violates your rights, is striking at the very heart of the law. We are allowed to enforce those rights if it comes to it. In fact, we have a moral imperative to do so.

    I am also a Canadian and I also look to the U.S. Constitution and the U.N declaration of Human rights for inspiration. The U.S. constitution is very clear about the various boundaries that have been overstepped. The U.S. executive branch is in violation of their oath of office and the law of the land. The legislative branch has similarly overstepped its boundaries and violated their oath of office. The judiciary is the only line of defense still standing and they have been very badly compromised. Only the citizens of the United States can put this right.

    I no longer travel to the United States. If I did, I confess I would not be as vocal. It is now dangerous to do so. Two people I know have already been illegally detained, assaulted and subsequently charged by authorities in the U.S. Neither are vocal, politically active or anything that would attract negative attention. They were both educated middle class professional women. One of them was tackled out of the blue when she was at a business conference and charged with assault and resisting arrest. She has no idea at all why she was targeted, even to this day. She was given the choice to plead guilty to a lesser charge or remain in jail and launch a financially ruinous campaign to clear her name. Justice, in a case like this, is not an option.

    There are absolutely malevolent forces of evil, but each of us has a responsibility to fight to maintain control of our rights. The most precious of these is our liberty and arguably, the right to speak is the most precious of those liberties. If you do nothing else, use that right while you still can. They can never take that right away, but they have done a fearsome job of making it difficult to exercise. If you think this can't reach you, you wrong. It already has.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Very well said

      I travel to the US. I have clients there. I go to conferences there. If they want to hassle me for speaking my mind, well...oh well. It may be that the price I pay for having principle is that they extend the war on journalism to encompass me. That would suck, but this is way bigger and way more important than just me.

      Stopping our descent and getting back on the path starts with one person willing to say "hey, I think we took the wrong fork back there."

      1. btrower

        Re: Very well said

        Good on you. If more people were a little more brave you would not see people wandering around airports in their stocking feet wondering why strangers are touching their children's genitals.

  30. Grogan Bronze badge

    Another Canadian agrees

    I made that decision more than 10 years ago... I always make sure my servers are not in U.S. datacenters. (I explicitly ask where the datacenters are and in fact have used those same words. "It's subject to Canadian law only, right?")

  31. Danez
    Big Brother

    One way ticket

    There was a time when we had the cold war and government could justify maintaining its spook department, and keeping it from the eyes of the people. Then in 1988 when the final nails where going into the cold war's coffin, Al-Qaeda shows up, well that was convenient. It is a natural thing for some to seek power, whether it is by imposing sharia Law or using secret government departments that are beyond scrutiny. Ultimately they want as much control as they can get. I think the US government folks are really freaking about this brave new digital world where you can reach millions of people with the click of a mouse. It seriously changes the game and detracts from their power. That is why they impose such draconian prison terms. Their natural response is to try to get some power over this unwieldy beast. Remember, those who seek power are probably the last who should be trusted with it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One way ticket

      You do realize that the CIA funded Al-Qaeda, right?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'person of interest'...

    What I've learned from the revelations of the past days is- it can be a risky proposition hosting your site in the US. What if a handful off your users are targeted by the Patriot Act or FISA? You could unwittingly find your business crippled because of a minority of users that are a 'person of interest' to the US Govt.

    For example. I still do not understand how the US was able to shut down Liberty Reserve in Costa Rica. Can someone enlighten me? If its solely a money service for criminals then it deserves to go. But how did the US have jurisdiction n Costa Rica? It was swift sharp action that's for sure. A quick retaliation for the massive card scam exercised against middle eastern banks?

    The US also cut off a US money transfer's service to BitCoin in recent weeks. I'm not happy about that. Some commented on here that BitCoin'ers would just go elsewhere. Yes and No! BitCoin users still need a money transfer service for BitCoin to be practical today, and countries tend to follow the US' lead or get bullied...

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: 'person of interest'...

      Right or wrong it boils down to financial and political support. For better or worse, not many countries can say no to the US. There is too much money to lose and forget about privileged trade agreements. If the issue is important enough (to someone) recent history has shown the govt will send in planes, tanks and troops until they get the answer they want.

  33. merle
    Black Helicopters

    So... you want to make it easier for them?

    Let's see..

    "Subject to American law" means having to fill out all the paperwork, get a warrant (secret or no), get it through the FISA court, and then wait for the corporation to cooperate and provide the needed data.

    "Not subject to American law" means none of the above, they can just hack the service provider and take the data they want.

    And the latter is better than the former... how?

    Do you really think your provider of choice is bulletproof against nation states?

    1. The Dude

      Re: So... you want to make it easier for them?

      It's not that it is better or worse. My servers are in Canada and I am quite aware that this makes them "not subject to US law" for good or bad. The purpose of not using servers in the US is because money talks. If enough people stop using US servers then perhaps the US government will and US corporations will rethink their laws, for financial reasons. We know they won't rethink it for Liberty or moral reasons, so financial is all that remains.

      I remember back in the day, a lot of people had a sig file on their email that went something like "...hello to all my friends in the NSA, my keywords today are: Bombs. Guns. Attack. Government building." etc.etc. etc.

      Whatever happened to Jim Bell?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Big Brother

        Re: So... you want to make it easier for them?

        The joke in the early '80's was: If you want to work for the NSA, call your grandmother and ask for an application.

        Today, you could do the same by copying a file to /dev/null.

        Tomorrow, well, I need another copy of "Catcher in the Rye."

  34. @YevP

    Not all cloud tech is bad

    Yev from Backblaze here. Not all American cloud tech companies are involved in this. Backblaze is an online backup provider based in the United States and we have NO involvement in the PRISM program. . We don't allow anyone but our customers access to their own data. We're working on a few blog posts over this weekend that address this, and will be publishing them soon on our blog (

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Not all cloud tech is bad

      Your solution to angry men with guns and a warrant is what, exactly? Please do remember they can crack most encryption is they so choose.

    2. sysconfig

      Re: Not all cloud tech is bad

      Quite frankly, in my opinion it's rather poor sport to use this subject as an opportunity to place advertisement for your company in a discussion forum, YevP.

  35. Diskcrash

    Great quotes

    The quotes in the article are all perfect for the desired sentiment.

    The issue is really quite simple can you still be called the good guys if you do bad things? Yes, bad guys do bad things that is why they are the bad guys but this does not mean that in order for the good guys to triumph that they should fall to the same level or use the same or even worse tactics.

    The logic behind the UK snooper's bill and the equivalent ones in the USA are that it is better to loose a bit of freedom to allow the good guys to catch the bad guys because obviously the innocent have nothing to fear. Other than the good guys throwing them in jail without due cause or the right to defend themselves.

    Anyway, good article, good points and we need to call these people on their actions.

  36. dickiedyce

    Huawei Prism

    ... is a very popular, cheap android phone I'm led to believe.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm rapidly moving from being "uncomfortable hosting my data in a US-controlled cloud" to "feeling ethically bound to vote with my wallet in order to send a message".

    The problem with voting with your wallet is that a large number of fuckwits will completely misrepresent your protest as something else entirely, that fits in with their education/experience/worldview.

  38. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    This appeared on reddit recently

    It's very long, but I think links all the revelations that have been made in recent weeks, along with the demands of the spooks and their supporters.

    [–]1617197 6511 points 22 hours ago*x8

    I live in a country generally assumed to be a dictatorship. One of the Arab spring countries. I have lived through curfews and have seen the outcomes of the sort of surveillance now being revealed in the US. People here talking about curfews aren't realizing what that actually FEELS like. It isn't about having to go inside, and the practicality of that. It's about creating the feeling that everyone, everything is watching. A few points:

    1) the purpose of this surveillance from the governments point of view is to control enemies of the state. Not terrorists. People who are coalescing around ideas that would destabilize the status quo. These could be religious ideas. These could be groups like anon who are too good with tech for the governments liking. It makes it very easy to know who these people are. It also makes it very simple to control these people.

    Lets say you are a college student and you get in with some people who want to stop farming practices that hurt animals. So you make a plan and go to protest these practices. You get there, and wow, the protest is huge. You never expected this, you were just goofing off. Well now everyone who was there is suspect. Even though you technically had the right to protest, you're now considered a dangerous person.

    With this tech in place, the government doesn't have to put you in jail. They can do something more sinister. They can just email you a sexy picture you took with a girlfriend. Or they can email you a note saying that they can prove your dad is cheating on his taxes. Or they can threaten to get your dad fired. All you have to do, the email says, is help them catch your friends in the group. You have to report back every week, or you dad might lose his job. So you do. You turn in your friends and even though they try to keep meetings off grid, you're reporting on them to protect your dad.

    2) Let's say number one goes on. The country is a weird place now. Really weird. Pretty soon, a movement springs up like occupy, except its bigger this time. People are really serious, and they are saying they want a government without this power. I guess people are realizing that it is a serious deal. You see on the news that tear gas was fired. Your friend calls you, frantic. They're shooting people. Oh my god. you never signed up for this. You say, fuck it. My dad might lose his job but I won't be responsible for anyone dying. That's going too far. You refuse to report anymore. You just stop going to meetings. You stay at home, and try not to watch the news. Three days later, police come to your door and arrest you. They confiscate your computer and phones, and they beat you up a bit. No one can help you so they all just sit quietly. They know if they say anything they're next. This happened in the country I live in. It is not a joke.

    3) Its hard to say how long you were in there. What you saw was horrible. Most of the time, you only heard screams. People begging to be killed. Noises you've never heard before. You, you were lucky. You got kicked every day when they threw your moldy food at you, but no one shocked you. No one used sexual violence on you, at least that you remember. There were some times they gave you pills, and you can't say for sure what happened then. To be honest, sometimes the pills were the best part of your day, because at least then you didn't feel anything. You have scars on you from the way you were treated. You learn in prison that torture is now common. But everyone who uploads videos or pictures of this torture is labeled a leaker. Its considered a threat to national security. Pretty soon, a cut you got on your leg is looking really bad. You think it's infected. There were no doctors in prison, and it was so overcrowded, who knows what got in the cut. You go to the doctor, but he refuses to see you. He knows if he does the government can see the records that he treated you. Even you calling his office prompts a visit from the local police.

    You decide to go home and see your parents. Maybe they can help. This leg is getting really bad. You get to their house. They aren't home. You can't reach them no matter how hard you try. A neighbor pulls you aside, and he quickly tells you they were arrested three weeks ago and haven't been seen since. You vaguely remember mentioning to them on the phone you were going to that protest. Even your little brother isn't there.

    4) Is this even really happening? You look at the news. Sports scores. Celebrity news. It's like nothing is wrong. What the hell is going on? A stranger smirks at you reading the paper. You lose it. You shout at him "fuck you dude what are you laughing at can't you see I've got a fucking wound on my leg?"

    "Sorry," he says. "I just didn't know anyone read the news anymore." There haven't been any real journalists for months. They're all in jail.

    Everyone walking around is scared. They can't talk to anyone else because they don't know who is reporting for the government. Hell, at one time YOU were reporting for the government. Maybe they just want their kid to get through school. Maybe they want to keep their job. Maybe they're sick and want to be able to visit the doctor. It's always a simple reason. Good people always do bad things for simple reasons.

    You want to protest. You want your family back. You need help for your leg. This is way beyond anything you ever wanted. It started because you just wanted to see fair treatment in farms. Now you're basically considered a terrorist, and everyone around you might be reporting on you. You definitely can't use a phone or email. You can't get a job. You can't even trust people face to face anymore. On every corner, there are people with guns. They are as scared as you are. They just don't want to lose their jobs. They don't want to be labeled as traitors.

    This all happened in the country where I live.

    You want to know why revolutions happen? Because little by little by little things get worse and worse. But this thing that is happening now is big. This is the key ingredient. This allows them to know everything they need to know to accomplish the above. The fact that they are doing it is proof that they are the sort of people who might use it in the way I described. In the country I live in, they also claimed it was for the safety of the people. Same in Soviet Russia. Same in East Germany. In fact, that is always the excuse that is used to surveil everyone. But it has never ONCE proven to be the reality.

    Maybe Obama won't do it. Maybe the next guy won't, or the one after him. Maybe this story isn't about you. Maybe it happens 10 or 20 years from now, when a big war is happening, or after another big attack. Maybe it's about your daughter or your son. We just don't know yet. But what we do know is that right now, in this moment we have a choice. Are we okay with this, or not? Do we want this power to exist, or not?

    You know for me, the reason I'm upset is that I grew up in school saying the pledge of allegiance. I was taught that the United States meant "liberty and justice for all." You get older, you learn that in this country we define that phrase based on the constitution. That's what tells us what liberty is and what justice is. Well, the government just violated that ideal. So if they aren't standing for liberty and justice anymore, what are they standing for? Safety?

    Ask yourself a question. In the story I told above, does anyone sound safe?

    I didn't make anything up. These things happened to people I know. We used to think it couldn't happen in America. But guess what? It's starting to happen.

    I actually get really upset when people say "I don't have anything to hide. Let them read everything." People saying that have no idea what they are bringing down on their own heads. They are naive, and we need to listen to people in other countries who are clearly telling us that this is a horrible horrible sign and it is time to stand up and say no.

    1. Gordon 10

      Re: This appeared on reddit recently

      Bravo sir!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This appeared on reddit recently / Will Godfrey

      Bravo ! Keep posting, please ! (Pity I can only upvote it once)

  39. This post has been deleted by its author

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    European Dropbox/Skydrive/Box alternative:

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      With no European servers? No US legal attack surface?

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        "No US legal attack surface?"

        That's critical.

    2. Richard Boyce
      Big Brother

      Cloud storage

      The biggest virtue of cloud storage like Wuala is that all data is encrypted automatically before it's uploaded and the service provider doesn't have the key. In this situation, it doesn't matter where the server is located, as long as the key generation system (which is client-side and subject to scrutiny) is OK.

      Whenever considering using a cloud storage, ask yourself, do they offer a data/key recovery option? If they do, that's a dead giveaway. For this reason, I have always recommended avoiding Dropbox, and using an alternative like Wuala, even before knowledge of PRISM. The only cost is that you must not forget your own password. If you must use Dropbox for some strange reason, then you need to manually encrypt the data before giving it to Dropbox and the US government for their automated commercial and political scanning. Far better to simply use a system that's designed to be secure.

  41. Jorba

    Generally agree with your points, but if you think that the UK is any better, or that capture by "agendas" is any better than capture by the "almighty dollar" then you need to think again. This trashing of basic concepts has been going on for the last century as all western governments have been subverting the threat posed to them by democracy by teaching the man in the street that they are dependent on the the government.

    It is actually a credit to the US, that this sort of thing still raises such a furor. The reaction to the snoopers charter in the UK is negligible by comparison. Whether it actually makes a difference is another question.

    And the ECHR being the most important document in history? Thats just bent.

  42. Matt Bryant Silver badge


    Hahahahahahaa! Oh Trev, when did you decide to go into comedy? Or have you gone completely Potty?

    "....Rights are innate and inalienable. All human beings are born with them and they cannot be taken from us....." Complete fantasy. Birth is a biological act, nothing else, and you are no more born with rights than a cold virus. Society gives you rights, and those rights are the result of centuries of socio-political and religious practice. Yes, I said religious - a large chunk of the whole Western ideal of "equality for all" is straight out of the Bible, something that really upsets the Liberati but happens to be a fact. People in ancient cultures that thought they were the peak of development had rights, those rights changed with time, so expecting us all to have the same rights unchanged in a few hundred years is probably a bit myopic. Childishly insisting that you're going to take your toys and play in someone else's sandpit smacks of cutting your own nose off to spite your face.

    1. Hungry Sean
      Thumb Up

      Re: Classic!

      amazed at the downvotes-- exactly what part of this is off-base? Even in the US, under the oh-my-god-amazing constitution, equal rights for blacks and women didn't come from thin-air, they were won through bloody struggle. As Frederick Douglass said, "Power never ceded anything without a demand."

    2. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Classic!

      Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and Mao would, I think, agree wholeheartedly.

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      @Matt Bryant

      <badly formatted rant>

      And your point?

      1. hplasm

        Re: @Matt Bryant

        When has MB ever had a point?

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          Re: hplasm Re: @Matt Bryant

          Do you mean when has MB had a point you could actually counter? I note that your post was awful thin on arguments.

    4. M Gale

      Re: Classic!

      I think you'll find that the age of comparitive enlightenment we live in around these parts is due to people fighting for, dying for, and eventually winning the ability to raise a middle finger high in the direction of religion and established dogma without it getting chopped off.

      Probably upsets you but it happens to be a fact.

      Childishly throwing spiteful comments when the only thing that US corporatism will ever understand is the bottom line is simply petulance and, perhaps, ignorance.

  43. Dave Harris 1
    Thumb Up

    Non US Hosting service AFAIK is French and not in any way behoven to the US. I've been using there services for about 7 or 8 years and find them reliable and good value for money.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You're (so very) late to the party.

    Centuries late; think the signing of the US Constitution(s)!

    I expected this years ago; I expect everything I do in public to be spied upon now, especially on-line, so I behave accordingly i.e. no 'Social' Media or Mobile Phone.

    The US Government went bad because fools in the North America thought a Constitution would protect them; It was broken from the start, because enforcement of the Constitution was made the responsibility of

    a branch of government rather than the responsibility of the people, so it was being corrupted and dismantled not long after being signed, and is now in tatters.

    Try, the Austrian Economists have some very interesting ideas. My favourites include Rothbard and Mises.

    I now regard anyone who thinks we need any governments or worse has faith in one, as a sucker; even seemingly intelligent and well read people seem vulnerable to this delusion; ironically even US people of a Libertarian bias, they should know better. Rothbard made this very clear, and in great detail, in the 1970's, because it was so very obvious to him; he explained what the Left and Right wings of politics historically were, and that modern politics is now mostly Right wing Corporatist based, yes Socialists and Communists too!

    I don' t trust the Government of the country I live in, certainly not the Imperial (neo-Roman) US government. It is quite appropriate that the Roman Fasci became used as symbol by the US Government, and this Corporatism is everywhere to varying degrees. This is only compounded by transnational corporations.

    Oh, you do know that most modern Governments are a kind of Corporation; that changes lots of things!

    The current pretence of a world economic system is in such a mess from the feeding frenzy of thievery inside and outside governments, that it is near death, and now being flooded with state backed zombies and torrents of fraudulent 'money'; I have no idea how long they can keep it on intensive care. I suggest you prepare for the Ponzi collapse; I am!

    I suspect there will eventually be another Civil war in the US, as predicted by the suspiciously short lived TV series "Jericho", and it seems by the new series "Revolution" too. The series "Continuum" also has some interesting angles.

    1. The Dude

      Re: You're (so very) late to the party.

      Rothbard was a Republican and an economist, and had no better answer to the problem than anyone else at that time.

      Now, we might. Read Narveson.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You're (so very) late to the party.

        Re: "Now, we might. Read Narveson."

        Thanks for the tip, I'll see if I can find more of Jan Narveson work, not much I can find so far on and elsewhere, so far.

        BTW: The work of Rothbard's I was referring to was "For a New Liberty" a quite overtly anarcho-capitalist book; so dismissing him as a Republican seems contradictory, and as an economist maybe confusing him with the failed Neo-Classical economics mainstream.

        US Republicans look to be hard old Right biased; and even outliers like Ron & Rand Paul are at best Constitutional educators and lobbyists, but still compromised by old Right and Religious centralist ideas.

        1. The Dude

          Re: You're (so very) late to the party.

          Jan emailed me a copy of his book "The Libertarian Idea" after I loaned out my paper copy and didn't get it back. It is well worth reading, and should be available from most libraries. If you can't find it anywhere, email him and ask for a copy. He will probably send it.

  45. r0ar

    Silent Circle

    1. Evan Essence

      Re: Silent Circle

      Headquartered in the US.

  46. T__K

    An excellent op-ed. As an American, I can say that our best friends are those who don't let us drive drunk. We need foreign friends who say "no!". I applaud and support your suggestions.

  47. macole111

    Companies that have avoided the USA

    I believe when OVH (French webhost) started a North American arm they specifically went to Canada not the US so that they avoided the whole system. And it was made completely separate to the other operations.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Companies that have avoided the USA

      Alas, their About Us web page currently details their BHS-1 data centre - in the good ol' USofA.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Americans have so deeply forgotten the concept of "liberty"....

    #1. "Americans have so deeply forgotten the concept of "liberty" that they no longer speak of their freedoms as innate but rather as rights granted them by their government. They see themselves as helpless before an unstoppable and inscrutable juggernaut and their own belief in this makes it so."

    #2. "US industry has spent incomprehensible amounts of money lobbying our governments to seize our rights from us!"

    #3. "....non-US Western businesses need to start using not subject to US law" as a marketing point. "


    The extracts above particularly hit home to me. I recently left America after two decades. This was largely due to gun violence which did irreversible harm to my family and friends. No one was ever caught or incarcerated because there's no money and no will, and police forces are being routinely decimated. Instead the billions keep rolling into the Military-Industrial-Spending-Complex. The NSA forms a large part of this cost center but performs akin to 'Burn After Reading' (2008) .... (a panto of intelligence screw-ups).

    The direction the US is heading is akin to an abusive imperial power killing civil liberties and ultimately killing its currency. I've since moved to Asia and South America. There is corruption everywhere, but at least its not the most hurtful kind-- the corruption of lobbying, and the corruption of officials trading on inside information. The extravert US has never been particularly good at examining itself, but it needs to.

    ...Thanks to Trevor for being brave and writing this bold article...

  49. John Deeb

    Clever people misunderstanding a powerpoint presentation?

    Am I the only one thoroughly unimpressed by this Powerpoint "bombshell"? Apart from the hyping of the media, "Prism" seems to be really nothing else than a fancy name to request through various legal departments some traces of traffic but now without the usual complex individualized processes of authorisation and falling under a more general broader authorization. This makes it all faster and more efficient for sure! It brings together various complex processes and procedures, hanging them under some large umbrella and offering it as operational tool to certain operatives. Legal? Unsure. Super high-tech spy tool? Certainly not.

    The conclusion by the Guardian that "NSA is able to reach directly into the servers" is hyperbole only for consumption. The access is obviously not "direct" (as that would risk an immense back-door and corruption of security of millions) but the request for information is *only* more direct from the NSA perspective. That's what the slides are talking about!

    The NSA will be the last one to explain themselves though. Even if they didn't leak it themselves, nothing better than giving criminals the impression they cannot hide! Stirs up the hornets a bit.

    1. TXITMAN

      Re: Clever people misunderstanding a powerpoint presentation?

      Nice work, NSA/GCHQ shill.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Clever people misunderstanding a powerpoint presentation?

        Agree with TXITMAN....Mr Dweeb sounds like a politician baring platitudes....

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          Re: AC Re: Clever people misunderstanding a powerpoint presentation?

          LOL! I really should have taken that opportunity to invest in tin foil a few years back, it's obviously a booming market!

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    if you want to remain private, you've got to boycott all western based technology. this includes windows, m$ office, skype, adobe, java, google, aol, etc. i say western based technology, because western countries like europe, australia, and canada share information with each other. so you are hardly hiding from anyone if you are using an australian service. and most of all, you got to stop using iphones, and android phones. your best bet is a huawei, or zte. as far as operating systems go, i believe the kylin will be the most secure.

    1. RcR

      Right...Using Chinese servers is far more secure


  51. The Dude

    This sort of thing has been going on for a long time. The only real difference is that the government is now acknowledging it, and reporters from the big media can no longer ignore and/or condone it.

    and yes... I am quite certain that our Canadian spooks share some of the data, just as the British spooks do.

  52. Mike Wilson

    Excellent article - I agree action is necessary

    If braver people than me are prepared to die for liberty, the least I can do is work out how to live without gmail. If a non-US company offers "not subject to US law" web mail, they've got my business. If it's as useful as gmail, that's a bonus. And there's the problem with a boycott - for many people it will be too much effort and too many of us won't realise how valuable privacy and liberty are until it's too late.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Excellent article - I agree action is necessary

      "If a non-US company offers "not subject to US law" web mail, they've got my business."

      Mike, don't forget that legislation such as the PATRIOT Act not only compels businesses and individuals to comply with government demands, but to lie about it too. So the fact that a US corporation says "not subject to US law" doesn't mean they aren't - perhaps even willingly.

      In any case, as far as the White House and the Pentagon are concerned, US law extends to everywhere that can be reached by a drone or a B1. In other words, everywhere on the surface of the Earth.

  53. Cyfaill

    "They" can have my hard drive...

    ...When "They" pull it from my cold dead fingers.

    Dream in the Clouds... And the wind will decide what shape the dreams will be. Trusting your works to corrupted intent... never.

    Trust is a hard thing to re-establish once the reason for the trust is lost.

    I for one would trust in the reasonable concepts of Benjamin Franklin and not in the new redefinitions of words like liberty and freedom as espoused in the new-think of the world today. Before the Constitution of the US or the Deceleration of Independence can have any meaning...

    ...It is the Bill of Rights... intractable and adamantine, must be the center, of all.

    It is the core of Freedom and Liberty... it is not something that can be negotiated away by any "government" Believe that to your core and you will know what to do. Swearing allegiance to a flag (a piece of cloth) is silly and meaningless, it states nothing. Swearing allegiance to the actual words and understood meaning of a document that is the real center of it all... That is what the founding fathers knew

    Understanding that would redefine with precision that actual intent is something tangible. Something like; I swear allegiance to the Bill of Rights and what it stands for... that says something real. That concept is something the US never exported.

    And believed in it... I think it would have made a different better world.

    As real knowledge goes out the window as it now has for the majority of all peoples, this world presently reflects, in the nature of collective understanding, what that loss is. Just look at the fear.

    I think the American population wanted to believe. Trust at large goes first.

    Believe in the "Bill of Rights" and you will know what to do.

    The individual rights of a free people collectively enforced by all.

    Respect is given, not demanded, by a government of a free peoples.

    Respect of the Freedom of Liberty’s of the peoples of a government controlled by the peoples is the law of the universe in this reality.

    It works best that way, Study History and learn well.

  54. mkurdziel

    A cloud the government can't get

    This is why we created adeptCloud...on-premise, private cloud storage that's as easy to use as Dropbox.

    1. Evan Essence

      Re: A cloud the government can't get

      Headquartered in the US.

  55. cybspi

    The Answer: Host it Yourself

    If you are truly concerned with privacy, it's clear public cloud options are not the best for a variety of reasons. The best way to ensure privacy is to use on-premise tools that you host yourself.

    adeptCloud ( offers an dropbox like experience, but all data is only hosted on your computers, never the service providers. This way, even under PRISM or whatever subpoena, outsiders cannot get to your data without your knowledge.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trust ?

    Yes but who do you trust ?


    UK ?

    France ?

    Russia ?

    China ?

    Maybe a neutral country like:






    Maybe not Ireland because the US can bribe the fuck out of them. and not Sweden as they seem to love bending over backwards for the US.

  57. NotMyRealName


    Given the wholesale expansion of this data slurping, is it not equally probable that the primary targets are not "terrorists" but those citizens who seek to uncover and highlight the wrongdoing of governments, politicians and their corporate backers? Is it purely coincidence that, in the USA, whistleblowers are now being indicted at far higher rates than ever before? (Let's face it, TPTB are quite blasé about the security and welfare of the average Joe or Jane and terrorist attacks are more likely to affect only the latter ... and, in any case, are a statistically lesser threat to life than road accidents.)

    Should you be inclined to have a dig at the ordure around any of TPTB, this is why you have to fear the data dragnet. Yet there are still useful idiots who proclaim "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear".

  58. Shane McCarrick

    Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

    "Canadians, for I am one, are viewed by the world as timid and meek."?

    Definitely don't think so. Over these parts we still hear stories of when Canada invaded the US- even if the occupation of Washington only lasted a day. I'm sure you must all learn of it in school- we certainly do here in Ireland.

    Timid and weak- you make it sound like you're wusses! Anyone who can happily live in your climate- deserves an award.

    Most of us view Canadians as the 'Intelligent' North Americans.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

      When I lived in Canada it was always fun to mess with them and their insistence they too were Americans (which is true) but not those Americans (also true).

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        Re: Don Jefe Re: Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

        IIRC, those "meek" Canadians are the only country to have invaded the US and burnt the White House to the ground (in 1814, with a little help from the even more "meek" British)!

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          Re: Don Jefe Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

          "IIRC, those "meek" Canadians are the only country to have invaded the US and burnt the White House to the ground (in 1814, with a little help from the even more "meek" British)!"

          Yes. But "Red Dawn" would not have been much fun if the invaders were from Canada, would it?

    2. RcR
      Thumb Up

      Re: Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

      I'm with you there. As a 'Merican, I can say that Canucks are viewed as pretty badass; for example, a Canadian sniper took out a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan from 2400 meters with a .50 caliber rifle.

      1. The Dude

        Re: Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

        Why are our Canadian troops shooting people in Afghanistan? How does this defend Canada from anything? Well... perhaps it is some sort of 'defense' against offending the U.S.A. government but is that a good reason to be shooting people in Afghanistan or anywhere else?

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

          The reason we're in Afghanistan is frankly that there are still rather a lot of very bad people there sitting on enough weaponry (continually sold to them by Russia and China) that they can do rather a lot of damage to us if they choose. They have access to boats and planes, missiles and other things that they can strike us and/or our allies (think the EU) if they so choose.

          We are attacking them in Afghanistan for the simple reason that if we don't, we'll have to fight them on our soil, or that of our allies. More to the point, we don't want them to have control over Afghanistan because we don't want them to A) become a legitimate state B) have the resources of a nation-state at their disposal.

          We cannot eliminate their ability to make war because their funding and arms supplies are damned near infinite. So our only real options are to clean them out almost completely - preferably whilst training the local Afghans up enough to keep fighting the fight over the long term to mop up the stragglers - or to pull out and wait a few years before they regroup and bring the fight to us.

          Left alone, they will bring the fight to us. They started from a religious extremist position and a desire for personal and collective power. They started a war and as a result we've done terrible things to them. This is more than a simple ideological war at this point, it is about blood vengeance. That is something that only ends when one side is eliminated or after the passing of many - many - generations.

          1. The Dude

            Re: Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

            I am not aware of any credible threat(s) to Canada from Afghanistan, ever. There is not, and never has been, any reason for Afghans to make such threats, much less act on them. If that changes, then perhaps your justification of shooting people in Afghanistan might have some merit. Until it changes, the hypothetical nonsense about "religious extremists" and other jingoistic nonsense does not persuade.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

              "I am not aware of any credible threat(s) to Canada from Afghanistan, ever. "

              Quite. Trevor does his case no favours with that claim.

              The significance of Afghanistan to North America's fuel supply routes isn't widely known, but stories of the US being in Afghanistan to protect their fuel supply have more credibility than stories of the threat to Canada from Afghanistan.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

                Do the Taliban have anything that can hit Canada? Probably not. But they do have things that can affect our interests on our allies. Those interests include (but are not remotely limited to) the oil pipeline. They are not going to bomb Toronto. They might just launch a few at Israel or Turkey, however.

                If they really wanted to, they might be able to drive a boat into the harbour in PEI and blow it up. Not a huge amount of local damage to Canada. But the damage they could do to our allies in the region is quite significant. Along with that comes threats to our economic interests, security assets and more. Anyone that dedicated to taking you down a peg is a serious risk, even without a cloud of ICBMs to back them up.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

                US energy supplies and Afghanistan?

                Brownback's proposed Silk Road Strategy II Bill in 2006:

                "To update the Silk Road Strategy Act of 1999 to modify targeting of assistance in order to support the economic and political independence of the countries of Central Asia and the South Caucasus in recognition of political and economic changes in these regions since enactment of the original legislation."

                [big snip]

                "The pressing need for diversification of energy resources makes access to Central Asian and Caspian Sea oil and gas resources a high energy security priority of the United States."

                That includes Afghanistan. Read the rest for yourself. Or just downvote this if you find the truth inconvenient.


                Unless you know better, obviously.

          2. Vic

            Re: Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

            > They started a war

            *Who* started a war?


    3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

      Oh, yeah, so intelligent we let that idiot Mulroney sign NAFTA and screw our whole country over by handing the reigns of our economy over to the USA. The USA that religiously breaks the terms of that treats - and its WTO obligations - to screw Canada and then turns around and threatens us when we attempt to enact trade sanctions which are our due under the terms of those same treaties.

      We should have joined the EU. Yes, we'd be one of the nations propping up all the others. I don't care; I'd rather work with the other nations of the EU to build a long term hegemony based on multiculturalism and cooperation that might one day evolve into a truly great political union focused on the preservation of liberty and human rights than I would prop up the theocratic extremists of the US of A. *sigh*

      No sir, we aren't that bright. Not at all.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

        If it makes you feel any better Trevor, NAFTA screwed the common person in the States too. Sure some higher level executives got rich but all the small factory manufacturing jobs went away. The small towns in the Southern states were decimated and have never recovered. But a least the corporate overlords can bring their profits back with no tax penalties. That's good right? Right?

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        Re: Potty Re: Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

        "....We should have joined the EU....." So what you're saying is you'd like to be the next Greece or Spain? You do realise that the EU is a big bunch of unelected and corrupt bureaucrats? That's the kind of socialism-for-socialism's-sake that got the EU in such a mess - "yeah, let's all join in socialist heaven and sod the economic details, we can sort them all out in a few generations time!" Massive fail!

        ".....Yes, we'd be one of the nations propping up all the others....." No, you'd be economically screwed seeing as the US is your largest trading partner. instead you'd just be Germany's bitch.

        ".....I don't care; I'd rather work with the other nations of the EU to build a long term hegemony based on multiculturalism and cooperation that might one day evolve into a truly great political union focused on the preservation of liberty and human rights than I would prop up the theocratic extremists of the US of A....." Yeah, just ask the Greeks how that kind of mindless economic planning worked. Personally, I'd rather the UK left the EU and joined NAFTA. For a start, it would be much easier trading with countries that at least speak English, even if it is with that silly Canuck accent.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: Potty Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

          I'm betting Matt Bryant is not Canadian. Please reference earlier post regarding the higher proportion of reasoned thinkers in Canada. Also note that NAFTA is the North American Free Trade Agreement. The UK isn't invited. I'll give you one guess why: There's a hint in the name...

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

            Re: Don Jefe Re: Potty Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

            "I'm betting Matt Bryant is not Canadian....." Correct.

            "......Please reference earlier post regarding the higher proportion of reasoned thinkers in Canada....." Please supply some verifiable research to back up that statement, otherwise I'll just put it down to nationalistic pride.

            ".....Also note that NAFTA is the North American Free Trade Agreement. The UK isn't invited....." Actually Clinton did punt the idea of inviting the UK to join when the UK was mulling over the whole EU idea a few years back.

            "......I'll give you one guess why: There's a hint in the name..." The original NAFTA agreement superseded an US-Canadian agreement, and Bill and Shrillary always said they would have liked to extend it further south into Latin America. Besides, why would you want to limit yourself to just North America, that's not very open and inclusive. After all, it's not like all the members of NATO have shorelines on the North Atlantic....

    4. The Dude

      Re: Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

      That's very nice of you to view Canadians that way. It might even be true of many, but not those in government. The Canadian government is as stupid, corrupt, inept and venal as any other. maybe even worse than a lot of others.

      And yes, I know I can move out of Canada. I am sure there are many in the Canadian government who would really appreciate it if I left the country. Perhaps that's why I don't.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

        Some in the government certainly are as you describe them. (Vic Toews springs to mind.) Most aren't. In fact, my experiences with most levels of Canadian government - as opposed to American government - lead me to believe that most Canadian bureaucrats and politicians are neither corrupt nor apathetic. (As is the case with their American counterparts.)

        The problem with the Canadian government is that the ones who are corrupt/apathetic end up being middle management in the bureaucracy or cabinet members/judicial appointees of the Prime Minister. It wasn't always this way, but Harper's managed to do a lot of damage in a very short period of time.

        1. The Dude

          Re: Canadians are viewed by the world as timid and weak?

          Hi Trevor;

          The currently governing political party is the least of the problem. It is merely froth upon the sea.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple pie and lawlessness

    'Not subject to American law'

    Oooooh, my big chance to be just like POTUS!

  60. IGnatius T Foobar
    Thumb Up


    Hats off to you, sir. Your understanding of the meaning and purpose of the US Constitution is clearer than that of most people who actually live here.

  61. Wardy01

    You cannot avoid being tracked

    Even you never went online you would still be tracked.

    If you have a birth record, a social security / national insurance number, a bank account, a home address, a car.

    The list is endless, and this information all ends up in databases that are being more connected to more arms of government every day.

    Just face the fact that you're being watched and deal with it.

    What worries me about all this is corruption.

    If any part of any government suddenly takes a disliking to you, your done for!

    People go missing every day, their friends and family go asking the government for help finding the missing thus they only get the result the government chooses to spoon feed us.

    People talk about things like tianamon square only happening in china, are you really sure about that?

    Do you really think that only happens over there?

    And who is to blame?

    We are, we give these people the power to handle situations we aren't interested in being part of.

    The general population doesn't want to handle killers, terrorists bomb threats and god knows what else they simply want to get on with living their lives to the ideals set out in documents like the US Constitution.

    The side effect is an implicit trust, they do what they do and you go about your life hassle free, not knowing what could be happening just next door.

    Is it worth it?

    That's a perspective point of view and will always be based on the life you have.

    The only way you could live without most "privacy invasion" is to pack up and find a nice spot in the middle of a forest somewhere ... you'd still be watched from satellites mind oh and there would always be some government near by that claims they own your land that you setup your "hut" on so don't count on it for long.

    I've even seen websites that offer you a chance to buy a portion of the moon.

    Your best bet is to invent warp drive and get the hell out of earth and on to a planet with no governments.

    Oh wait you won't be able to since you'd have to do that in private or likely some government would get all "ansy" about what your up to and claim your planning a missile attack or something ... so basically you're screwed!

    Anyway since this is being copied on to a government system right now ...

    Hi [insert branch of any gov here]

    Could someone who looks after your searching system do a quick search for me and tell me where i put that quote for a new pc my mate sent me last week ... I can't find it and I know you guys have a bunch of backups of it?

    Oh and since money is technically unlimited (according to america anyway) can't you just quickly drop a few million in to bank account, I need to buy a few things?

    1. The Dude
      Big Brother

      Re: You cannot avoid being tracked

      Yes, actually, one Agency of the Canadian government did take a dislike to me... published Defamatory lies (so said the judge), got me fired and ruined my IT career, destroyed my finances, inflicted so much stress on my family that my wife had to seek medical help, and then the courts said they could simply get away with it because it was an opinion - a "fair comment" defense.

      This particular government publication was "policy research" that recommended internet censorship of any website that disagreed with the Agency's ideological position (so said the judge). It also recommended "monitoring" and jail for anyone who runs a website that criticizes their ideological position.

      Our tax dollars at work.

  62. Darren Coleman

    Calm down

    It's ok, William Hague was on The Andrew Marr Show today to tell us all that "law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear". Crisis averted!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Calm down

      'It's ok, William Hague was on The Andrew Marr Show today to tell us all that "law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear". Crisis averted!'

      Never believe anything until it has been denied by William Hague.

      (with apologies to Claud Cockburn)

  63. Don Jefe

    Boundless Informant

    So The Guardian is now talking about 'Boundless Informant' - the reporting system tied to PRISM and other NSA surveillance programs. In the link below there's a great screen shot of a heat map based on quantity of data slurped from a country. The U.S. is the most spied on country on this side of the planet! Canada, all of South America and Greenland appear to be fairly good places to set up shop if you want to avoid too much attention.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Boundless Informant

      Ök Don Jefe, but all this has not really been about "if you want to avoid too much attention."

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Boundless Informant

        That's precisely what it is about. Did you bother to read the article and the comments?

        Besides, it was supposed to be taken as tongue in cheek. James Clapper is saying they can't apply surveillance to US citizens or people living in the US but screenshots of their system shows the US getting more attention than anyone in the hemisphere. It underlines the fact that are feeding us a bunch of shit.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Liberty and secrecy

    Maybe people are forgetting the meaning of liberty; they think they should be totally free.

    Its not hard to argue that we need a thing like this, but the fact that its existence, rather than just its means of operation, was secret is a problem.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Liberty and secrecy

      If it isn't hard do justify, let the operators produce a fully worked out example in which the large scale data slurp and analysis uncovered and prevented an attack that could not have been uncovered and prevented by limited scope filtering for which an ordinary federal court could have granted a warrant. This should explain in detail what was gained that would have been unavailable with the help of a narrowly targeted warrant such as the fourth amendment allows. It is no longer enough for those caught with their hand in the cookie jar to ask us for trust; they need to prove it by proving the necessity of what, on its face, is a serious violation of trust.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        Re: AC Re: Liberty and secrecy

        ".....let the operators produce a fully worked out example in which the large scale data slurp and analysis uncovered and prevented an attack that could not have been uncovered and prevented by limited scope filtering for which an ordinary federal court could have granted a warrant....." Just imagine if they'd said the same about fingerprinting or DNA testing - "provide a case where you could not have proved guilt in any other way, even before you get to use it". Duh!

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: AC Liberty and secrecy

          If they fingerprinted and took DNA samples of everyone your comment would approach something resembling a valid argument. But they don't, so it doesn't.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

            Re: AC Liberty and secrecy

            "If they fingerprinted and took DNA samples of everyone your comment would approach something resembling a valid argument. But they don't, so it doesn't." Oh Don, if only you had taken half a minute to read up on the history of DNA profiling then you would know that's EXACTLY what they do. Colin Pitchfork (, the first person convicted on the basis of DNA evidence, was done so after mass DNA screening.

            Remember, kiddies, Wikipedia is your friend and can help avoid those situations where your political leanings cause you to bleat rubbish without thinking. Even Don!

            1. btrower

              Re: AC Liberty and secrecy

              Re: Wikipedia is your friend

              Trust by verify.

              I am not sure you have a handle on this.

              For your analogy to hold in this case, the authorities would have had to crept into every house in Britain and surreptitiously taken DNA samples without permission. No doubt something similar is in the offing. I am pretty sure that would solve more crimes, but not at an acceptable cost. Britain has taken an aggressive leadership role in the race to form the total surveillance state, but even they are not quite that bad yet.

              There is another way your analogy could hold, but that would have to mean that every person in Britain was assumed guilty and obliged to give fingerprints and DNA samples.

              Trevor is reporting on something very important and you are quibbling about details. It is like he had said he saw a man in a grey suit kill his wife and you insist the suit was more of a bluish color. The color of the suit is not what is important there. Similarly, it is the fact that every person whose information is passing through U.S. networks is either under surveillance or about to be *and they admit it* that is important.

              Most of us had to know the authorities were doing this. What makes this 'emergent' is that it has a little traction in the media *right now*. We need to make what noise we can before Justin Bieber gets a new haircut and forces this back out of the spotlight.

              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

                Re: btrower Re: AC Liberty and secrecy

                ".....Trevor is reporting on something very important......" Potty is not reporting on anything, it is an opinion piece based on the claims of a "whistleblower". Edward Snowden having already started making wild claims such as "they can get all your passwords" - how can they do that by simply sifting call data? I'm sure you'll be queuing up to buy his inevitable book.

                " are quibbling about details. It is like he had said he saw a man in a grey suit kill his wife and you insist the suit was more of a bluish color....." So please do point to the body on the floor. All you sheeple are doing is taking the report of call origin/destination sifting and blowing it up into some massive conspiracy where you can run around bleating "OMFG, The Man is listening to all my calls!" Seriously, get a grip! I know the weather has got better and we're into the annual protest silly season, so should we be surprised the herders are preparing this year's bleating tutorial? Evidently not.

                Step back and THINK for a second if you can - they don't have either the resources or the inclination to listen to everyone, this is only a means to allow them to select targets for more in-depth surveillance. And as for this bollocks about "they're all corrupt and will sell my business info" do you even work on anything worth stealing? That's ignoring the fact any diversion of resources would be promptly noticed and investigated.

                For all I care Potty and you and your like-minded sheeple can take your computing elsewhere, it will hopefully free up some bandwidth for the rest of us for you lot to be sending your gormless conspiracy theories through other networks. You can all go join Edward "look at me I don't want to be the center of attention" Snowden in Iceland. WTH, Iceland's economy is screwed, they can make a new national industry of homing the tinfoil attired.

                1. btrower

                  Re: btrower AC Liberty and secrecy


                  It comes to a point ... we disagree. I will not try to convince you, but I feel obliged to respond.

                  Re: "not reporting on anything ... wild claims ... sifting call data"

                  Even if what you say is true, which I dispute, the reason to make a noise is because there is a light shining on this right now. It has always been important and will continue to be. Unless enough people wake up to what is happening, it will continue to our peril. The fact that someone who participates in a tech site such as yourself is not able to appreciate what is happening here makes it all the more important to communicate while we have people's attention.

                  Re: "call origin/destination sifting and blowing it up into some massive conspiracy"

                  There's that word again. We would not have a word for conspiracies if they never existed. Can astonishingly terrible things happen with the rot all the way to the top? We know they can and do. We have known that for a long time: -- Is it happening here? Clearly it is.

                  I will take you at your word that you do not understand and/or believe that data mining can occur and give results. At least some of the people reading here know how that can go terribly wrong and I am one of them. Besides, even *if* your assertions were correct, they do not have the right and the auspices under which it is being done are shredding the law of the land. I do not have to justify to you or anyone else my wish to keep who I talk to and when to myself. What is happening is fantastically wrong and now that a light is shining on it, people who have a notion of what this is about should speak.

                  Re: Step back and THINK for a second if you can - they don't have either the resources or the inclination to listen to everyone, this is only a means to allow them to select targets for more in-depth surveillance

                  I can't imagine how you believe this is true, but no matter how sincere you are in that belief it will not make it true. Even in the absolute most benign scenario, they do not have the right even to that information and they were dishonest about collecting it. What makes you think they will not begun even more illegal drilling into people's affairs? More to the point, where would you get the fantasy notion that they haven't already.

                  Re: " this is only a means to allow them to select targets for more in-depth surveillance"

                  Some of us believe that is a *bad* thing, not something that speaks in their favor.

                  Re: "For all I care ... blah blah ... conspiracy theories blah blah ... [fuck] Snowden] ... [fuck] Iceland ... tin foil

                  Uh, the invective is ineffective. It is amusing but it is hardly convincing. Bad people have done, and are doing, bad things. Now that everyone is looking, we should speak up. Is it honestly your thesis that nothing wrong has happened here and we should encourage the tentacles of the police state as they reach out for us.

                  1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

                    Re: btrower Re: btrower AC Liberty and secrecy

                    ".....Unless enough people wake up to what is happening, it will continue to our peril. The fact that someone who participates in a tech site such as yourself is not able to appreciate what is happening here makes it all the more important to communicate while we have people's attention....." Oh puh-lease! I've heard that same melodramatic male bovine manure from dozens of groupies over the years - "my cause is so important, we need to get everyone listening or the <insert impossible catastrophe> will happen!" It's worn we'll past thin. Reality check - some people do not believe in the Bogeyman or monsters under their beds because we have actually looked under our beds and noted the monsters appear to be busy elsewhere.

                    ".....Dreyfus....." Local Dupe, is that you? Gormless swallowing of conspiracy theories - check! Desire to thinks he worst of The Man - check! Complete disregard of all evidence to the contrary - check! Constant regurgitation of the same debunked bleating as last month - check! It is you!

                    Do I believe that The Man is watching? Sure. Do I think he's watching me? Well, actually I do, because I have signed the OSA, which means my name is already on several lists. Should I decide to visit some "unfriendly country" like North Korea or Iran it would be flagged, someone would make a decision on whether they needed to call me in for an interview or enhance my level of notice (i.e., spy on me) and - guess what - I don't actually care! I know that the people doing the job don't have the time or resources to watch everyone and therefore TARGET their resources to those they suspect. All the call data sifting is just that - targeting. The requests to organisations like Google? - the majority of you cheerfully give Google more data than that every day. So, when numpties like you want to insist you can tell me all about it, my frank response is you are wasting your time and it would be better spent getting a grip and a clue.

                    Being positively flagged does have it's advantages though - unlike Potty, I never have any trouble with US Immigration. Someone obviously never explained to him that if you lay down with wild dogs you will get fleas.

                    1. btrower

                      Re: btrower btrower AC Liberty and secrecy

                      "Power is not a means; it is an end. ... The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power." -- A government that allows Guantanamo and the NDAA (Happy New Year America!) thrive is bad one.

                      If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

                      This is a dictatorship in everything but name.

                      Maybe Obama will refuse to step down at the end of his term. I doubt even that will move people to action, but at least it would be clear what was going on.

                      We have already agreed to give up our liberty. We are just haggling over a price now. Frankly, I thought we would hold our for a little more.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: AC Liberty and secrecy

              Wikipedia indeed is my friend. The case you cite was in Great Britain, not the U. S.; and the DNA samples were volunteered (except by the perpetrator, once caught). The example you give is far afield enough to be irrelevant. I am waiting still for my worked out example.

              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

                Re: Absolute Cretin Re: AC Liberty and secrecy

                "Wikipedia indeed is my friend...." Well that's probably because Wikipedia doesn't know you too well.

                "......The case you cite was in Great Britain, not the U. S......" And another complete missing of the point - when DNA profiling was even suggested it was shrieked at by the "rights" sheeple as an invasion of privacy, that The Man would abuse it to some unspecified Bad End (eugeneics maybe, who the fudge knows what was rattling round in the tinfoil hats), and that the people MUST refuse to submit and give their DNA. And the shrieking sheeple were proven wrong, as they just about always are.

                ".....and the DNA samples were volunteered...." In the UK, whilst it is not an offence not to supply a DNA sample when asked to do so voluntarily, it is often a tactic used by the police to ask for one to judge your willingness to co-operate. If you give a sample the police can then use it pretty much as they wish. If you don't they can later point to your refusal in court and infer it was because you were trying to hide something. But, if you have been arrested, the police can actually take a DNA sample by force if you refuse. Oh, sorry, did that make the US look less of a police state than the UK when you sheeple are so determined to make it out as the worst fascist state in the World?

                "....,The example you give is far afield enough to be irrelevant....." No, it is simply that you are too ignorant to know the history behind the struggle to get DNA profiling accepted as a legal tool of the police. The truth of the matter is sheeple like you shriek and bleat about any new technology, measure or power given to the authorities because you are in love with hearing your own bleating, you think it is so chic and radical. You are beyond Luddites, you are intentionally blinded by your own stupidity.

                "......I. am waiting still for my worked out example." Evidently you are still waiting on a clue delivery too.

  65. Belamanth

    Non US services

    I'll throw in an app for Android that provides secure end-to-end encryption, is not decrypted on the providers systems, and is not hosted in the US, but in Switzerland: Threema

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Hague: Law-abiding Britons have nothing to fear from GCHQ"...

    Here's a multiple choice test for politicians: 'Law abiding'...Yes we get it, but WHO writes the laws?

    A. The average voter or Reg reader....

    B. Politicians obeying their pay-to-play elite pals....

    C. Unselected Officials in Europe...

    D. Corporations & lobby groups. 'We don't know about these low tax laws. We just obey them! '

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: "Hague: Law-abiding Britons have nothing to fear from GCHQ"...

      For some reason you seem to have forgotten to mention the unions and their puppet politicians....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Hague: Law-abiding Britons have nothing to fear from GCHQ"...

        "For some reason you seem to have forgotten to mention the unions and their puppet politicians...."

        Top-dog union officials = elites. Please see 'B' 'Politicians obeying their pay-to-play elite pals....'

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    By far the best article I've read on el reg in some time. Bravo Trevor for putting so bluntly and so clearly.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Why thank you! But really, it was my left testicle jumping around on the keyboard while I chugged coffee. Chris Williams had a good look at it and made me rewrite a couple paragraphs too, which helped make it more comprehensible.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At the very least look at the Canadian link below, to see how bad this could get.

    Don't assume this greater threat is limited to the USA.

    Yes, seeing the spy lies being demolished is amusing; however a cornered tiger can be very dangerous, so don't be complacent.

    Be aware that knowledge of your current location can be security issue too; so don't take a powered WiFi device or mobile with you, if you don't want to be tracked! Yes, this maybe painfully inconvenient for 'social' people.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: At the very least look at the Canadian link below, to see how bad this could get.

      "Current location?" I"m probably fat enough to picked up by satellite. My address is public knowledge, my car is registered and the US has already very clearly demonstrated at one of my interrogations when crossing the border that they know my entire client list.

      Credit card records will tell them my favourite restaurants, where I buy my groceries and even where I gas up my car. They have my fingerprints on file and from my writing and videos they have both my writing style and samples of my voice. My search engine usage probably gives them my writing cadence while my youtube history tells them what TV shows, comedians and so forth that I like.

      If these people want to listen in on every thing I say, do harm to me, interrogate me or intimidate me there is absolutely nothing I can do. I can not hide from them, I can not outrun them...nothing. I have no privacy and the chances are I never, ever will.

      But I sincerely hope that if enough of us work together then the next generation of humans will have privacy. That our generation will serve as a lesson to those that follow us. With luck, our posterity will say "this must not be allowed to happen again" and enshrine privacy and personal liberty in law for another couple hundred years.

      Before, naturally, it all happens again and the struggle has to occur one more time...

  69. WereWoof

    Perhaps we should all sign up for multiple email addresses from various providers then use them to sign up to every spam site around, log in once a week or so to delete them messages and maybe overload the system :) Substitute trigger words with innocuous ones such as cupcake (a very old trick) encrypt everything just to be annoying. Hopefully it will work like "Window" and cause so much noise as to make their efforts useless. After all the powers they have are more than adequate. I lie on my census as this is information gathering on a par with IBM in NAZI Germany, and we know how that went for certain groups,

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tech Examples where 'Laws' are morphing 'Animal-Farm' style to 'keep us safer'

    Following on from "Hague: Law-abiding Britons have nothing to fear from GCHQ". Two quick examples related to tech :-

    #1. Hacking for education is becoming illegal. Indie security researchers and bug hunters are now being prosecuted and risk becoming extinct in countries that persecute them. As a result some have had to relocate elsewhere to places as exotic as Thailand...

    #2. Net filtering is creeping in-- all in the name of keeping families safe of course. But we saw how well that went in Australia with blanket IP blocks that took out dozens of innocent sites including a dentist....

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PRISM does or doesn't exist today....?

    1. PRISM exists but we the data collecting US mega-corporations on the list can never admit it...

    2. PRISM doesn't exist yet! But has been introduced as news now in order to 'manufacture consent' as Chomsky would say, and allow it become law in the immediate future...

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    When in the desert, the Jews started to worship the Golden Calf. God clearly told them this was not the way. Today, that admonishion is completely forgotten not only by the Jews, but by almost all other nations.

    America, when it fights terrorists, that is people who kill innocent and defenseless civilians, is in the right. But because of its present worship of the Golden Calf, when supposedly fighting terrorism, America has already killed many times more innocent bystanders (civilian casualties in Irak &Afghanistan) than all the terrorists combined ever managed to kill. Every day, America creates for itself mortal enemies in people whose friends and relatives were senselessly killed, maimed, raped or otherwise robbed of possessions of natural resources by the hired mercenaries of Blackwater-like companies.

    America, don't let us down - you are going to create a holocaust for the planet - even as you stay at the mercy of the Golden Calf and global corporations, the present-day embodiments of evil!

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: jan

      Golden calf? Like a McVeal sandwich?

  73. RcR
    Thumb Up

    Fuckin A, but also take personal responsibility. Encrypt your files even though it is a pain in the ass. Use KeePass or some other open source without a backdoor to generate real passwords and use them as a matter of fact. Let the idiot bureaucrats use billions of CPU-GPU cycles to decrypt pic of your cat.

    1. Evan Essence
      Thumb Up


      Also, use HTTPS everywhere, everywhere you can. Many services support it, even if you haven't noticed.

      The easiest way is to use the Firefox or Chrome extension from the EFF.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Absolute Power....

    I debated whether or not to post this as its rather contentious, but I will as its topical and closely related to recent abuses of power. Please note I feel its necessary to state upfront I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories or the new world or one-world order. Humans who lust for power are just too selfish, short-term minded, inept, lazy and far too complacent to ever conspire to something on such a grand scale. However, should we ever conquer death a.k.a the last great disease with billionaire elites living to a thousand years, then I might have to re-consider...

    Here the BBC, on one of its flagship business programmes ridicules a journalist who is making serious accusations about 'criminals' attending the Bilderberg Group. He claims they are being protected by the Watford police. Henry Kissinger apparently has warrants out for his arrest regarding war crimes in South America, and HSBC and Barclays were caught ripping people off by fixing Libor and / or laundering funds etc. The latter merely paid fines out of shareholder returns. The journalist argues that the police are facing the wrong way. What do others think....?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Absolute Power....

      To be honest, I don't get the rage surrounding the Bilderberg Group. Yes, people without power and money will look on this as "the Illuminati" and feel angry, envious and even jealous that they do not have a seat at these meetings. That said, I cannot agree with the sentiment.

      I'm a mid-level kind of guy. Middle manager, mid-sized importance, mid-size influence on the world. I will never be a member of the Bilderberg Group. Despite this, I do understand why they feel they have to get together and I believe it has absolutely nothing to do with plotting to take over the world.

      I myself call meetings with what I consider to be "my peers" on a semi-frequent basis. These are not necessarily individuals who are my friends. Many of them are my rivals; others outright hostile to me. Yet they are individuals of equal intelligence, charisma, social stature, knowledge, influence and capability.

      The meetings are both an attempt to let off steam and to put our knowledge together to act in a predictive fashion so as to better our place in the world, collectively. It is a place to share gripes and concerns, to settle of grudges and reach new understandings. It is also where we talk about which issues we've seen in companies or even governments that might affect our ability to do business as we had been conducting it thus far.

      The rules are pretty simple: no business dealings are to be conducted at such meetings. These meetings have nothing to do with that. They are for solving the interpersonal difficulties we have that could prevent business from going smoothly in the future. They are for sharing information we all have to the benefit of all.

      When I picture the Bilderberg Group I picture something very similar, but with people several levels of importance, social standing and means above mine own. I understand the necessity for those sorts of meetings; to take the "personal" out of the "business."

      But conspiracy theories are just so much more fun...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Absolute Power....

        "To be honest, I don't get the rage surrounding the Bilderberg Group"

        The controversial but always insightful trader / economist / writer Nassim Taleb said something similar. He was referring to Davos specifically but he put the G8 / WTO / WEF under the same umbrella. He said "Davos is a waste of time. People go to Davos to name drop". .

        But that wasn't my point. My point is that HK is wanted on war crimes regarding his interference in Chile etc, and the offences committed by the banks was criminal. The facts are the facts. There's no conspiracy there. Some elites at that meeting should be in jail!

    2. Evan Essence

      Re: Absolute Power....

      > What do others think....?

      I think Brillo's an arse, with that constant backchat of his all the way through the interview.

  75. Petrea Mitchell

    It's worse than that

    Well said, but I wish to argue with the assertion that this sort of thing has only been going on for 30 years. See the Church Committee report:

    1. btrower

      Re: It's worse than that

      Re: this sort of thing has only been going on for 30 years

      Longer than that. However, the high-tech surveillance state made possible by advances in technology and the ubiquity of the Internet is relatively new. It is surely cause for concern. An enforced 24/7/365 surveillance of every single one of us is scary.

      People advancing the cause of the increasingly invasive state say that you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide. That is so incorrect on its face it is hard to form a response. Rules change and often not for the better. What is innocent today may be *retroactively* criminal tomorrow.

      Regimes change. A Murphy's law analysis of our situation says that despotism is inevitable unless we take aggressive proactive steps to prevent it.

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    It has been going on for a long time

    People seem to think this has only just happened when in fact this has been going on for a very long time.

    Read Puzzle Palace and The Shadow Factory by James Bamford.

  77. btrower

    The IRAQ Gambit

    Here's a fun video of the Los Angeles police staging an exercise to show how they would respond to the threat of 'weapons of mass destruction'. I call it the IRAQ Gambit for obvious reasons. The only weapon of mass destruction *I* see is the LAPD arm of the state's enforcement apparatus.

    Good times.

  78. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Commercial liability

    Imagine that the US intelligence agencies considered it their patriotic duty to pass on any useful info to American companies vital to US national security, or that possibility that somebody in the US intelligence agencies might be susceptible to a bit of bribery to pass on that info.

    If i'm a shareholder in Rolls Royce/Thales/BAe/Airbus/etc and i find that they have been using US email/software/operating. systems/cell phones/cloud providers and any of that commercial data leaked - I think i would have a reasonable case for a shareholder lawsuit against their negligence.

  79. FrankAlphaXII

    Again, the Spooks do not care about you. I'll shout this until I'm blue in the face, but you aren't important enough for them to care about. They don't care about average boring fuckers like you, no matter how much you seem to wish they did. Doesn't seem a week goes by without Mr. Pott being paranoid in one of his articles or his comments about how the big bad NSA boogeyman is coming after you, your piddly shit data and your pathetic networks.

    Plus the only thing being recorded was metadata, and virtually the same metadata that your androids and iphones send back home to Mountain View or Cupertino (or to any number of "app" vendors, take a look at your permissions) without your consent as well. What do you think that permission to "read phone state and identity" is, as well as the network-based location permission is?

    Yet for some reason I don't see the amount of vitriol and hyperbole about that around here. But perhaps when phone vendors and network carriers are your advertisers or using you for publicity the rules are different. Funny that.

    1. Don Jefe

      You obviously don't come round here often enough to see all the privacy related articles and comments about corporate responsibility for private data and how consumer trust is regularly abused. It happens a few times a week.

      Secondly, if you really can't see the difference between Facebook knowing I like Asolo boots and the government knowing who I call and what I do online then you are already lost. Possibly an idiot to boot, but certainly lost.

    2. chairman_of_the_bored

      I agree with most of what you say (especially the "you aren't important enough" bit) but the comparison between Apple/Microsoft/etc and state organisations is a little facile. The former are only interested in making money out of people who think a free service is the same thing as a free lunch. The latter can ruin your life.

      My personal gripe is that this extra monitoring is very likely worthless. See how long Osama Bin Laden (damn, there goes my rating with the NSA and GCHQ) survived undetected in plain view.

    3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      You talk big, but you've not been on the receiving end of a government with too much info about you, a bad attitude and promotions based on how many people you successfully hassle. I have. Many, many others have had it far worse than I.

      Yes, the spooks are interested in me. They want to make sure that I am not doing work on American soil. (Because I don't qualify for a TN visa and can thus not work as a computer consultant or analyst in the US.) They will thus cheerfully hassle me every single time I cross the border and the amount of information they know about me is truly terrifying.

      Now, I'm a good person trying to obey the laws. I ensure that I do all my work from Canadian soil and do not "do work" on US soil. I will attend conferences and some types of meetings - explicitly allowed by our treaties - but I will not "perform work". (Give advice, write an article, etc.) Despite the, I get hassled ever single time.

      Now that's a very minor issue and I am a very minor person. You should hear what happens to some of my buddies when trying to cross the border when they have the temerity to be from an "unclean" nation. They are carefully law-abiding folks - perhaps even more so than I am, because of the crap they get - and they are hassled all the time. Again, the amount of information the border guards know about them is insane.

      We're just talking about border guards here! Department of homeland security, yes, but the level of access to information is positively alarming. TO think what the NSA might have on us that is getting filtered through an algorithm somewhere...

      Look: this isn't about the spooks targeting you and going after you. If the spooks are actively targeting you you'll get a goddamned warrant and there is nowhere you can hide. The issue here is how many people will be caught up by an inhuman algorithm and flagged as a "person of interest" despite having done nothing wrong.

      It is about the presumption of innocence. If you can't understand that, I weep for you..and for the future of our nations.

    4. btrower

      Re: I'll shout this until I'm blue in the face

      Shout away. It is not going to make your assertion true.

      Re: you aren't important enough for them to care about.

      You would think. But you would be wrong. They did not pass legislation (including, but not limited to the PATRIOT Act) for nothing.

      Being imprisoned in the United States hardly makes you a member of an elite group.

      If they did not care about you, they would not have such a massive dragnet in place. Believe it: Big Brother loves you and it is quite personal.

      Perhaps you are not particularly important to target specifically right now, but rest assured, they will get to you sooner or later -- sooner if you let them.

  80. robertsgt40

    "Don't believe in overarching evil conspiracies"? How big does it have to get, intergalactic?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Do you honestly believe that a bunch of people sat down in a room and said "here is how we are going to keep the hoi polloi servile"? Honestly?.

      I don't.

      I think that each step along the chain - with perhaps one or two exceptions - the individuals involved in these breaches of ethics and trampling of liberty honestly and truly believe they are doing the right thing. They think they are striking the right balance because they, personally, value security more than liberty. Does that make them bad people, evil conspirators? I don't believe so.

      I simply think that a series of people have made a number of wrong choices. One here, one there...over decades it grew into a culture that separated the powers that be from the people they are supposed to serve. I absolutely do not believe that they are out there conspiring to oppress us. The result is merely an unfortunate side effect of their wrongheaded beliefs and their unfortunate actions.

      It is a result we must change, but not by leaping to the conclusion that the people involved are evil, conspiratorial or otherwise "out to get us". (Border guards excepted. Those people seem to be almost universally sadistic and entirely "out to get" as many people as possible.)

      1. Squander Two

        The path to Hell.

        You are absolutely right. Problem is, the lack of evil actually makes the situation worse. People living under evil tyrannies can overthrow them. How do you get rid of a tyranny when it's the systemic result of a load of good or at least not particularly bad people trying to do what's best? Replace them with better people working within the same system? That's not going to bloody work, is it?

        A republic, if you can keep it.

  81. Micha Roon
    Big Brother

    time to encrypt your messages

    If you don't want someone else to read your messages or documents, the only thing you need to do is encrypt them. Math can not be corrupted and no government has the computing power to decrypt all the communications.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: time to encrypt your messages

      Decryption gets easier every single day, and the NSA measure their computing in acres.

    2. btrower

      Re: time to encrypt your messages

      It is not sufficient for one person to encrypt their messages. Everyone must do so. Otherwise, you will be targeted.

      As of this point in time, encrypted messages that cannot be inspected by the state are effectively illegal for any practical purpose in many jurisdictions.

      The way the U.S. is conducting their business these days, it is only a matter of time before they proactively prevent you from defying a court order to reveal your keys by simply outlawing encryption entirely. In fact, they are constantly attempting to do this by making all encryption subject to decryption by the state.

      I think that the only way to shut down these relentless assaults on our freedom is to criminalize the attempts to do so.

      I would have thought that officials could be charged with something for so flagrantly violating their oath of office, but I can't actually find any place where it says there is any penalty at all for violating your oath.

      People in the States should know about Jury Nullification and (despite the above) Grand Juries. If people in every major city in the United States formed Grand Juries to investigate whether or not to lay charges against officials for overreaching their authority, I am pretty sure it would get noticed. Similarly, if *everyone* was well aware of Jury Nullification the state might find it more difficult to follow through with prosecution for some of their more outrageous laws.

      1. Squander Two

        Re: time to encrypt your messages

        Attempting to inform a jury of the existence of the concept of jury nullification is effectively banned in the US.

  82. chairman_of_the_bored
    Black Helicopters

    Through a glass (PRISM) darkly

    No security professional ever made a good living by suggesting we need less security.

    The sad thing is that all this snooping is only really going to catch the idiot low-life who feel a need to be strident in their extremist views. The Woolwich killing was used by (ignorant or duplicitous) politicians as an excuse for more surveillance, but in reality the perpetrators would not have caught by any new powers. The same applies to every terrorist outrage - we are always told after the event "it proves we need to introduce measure X Y or Z" without ever being offered a logically coherent argument as to how such measures, had they been in place, would have helped.

    Meanwhile, in the Real World. the seriously Bad Guys will revert to operating off-grid (what, you think there was no terrorism before the advent of the Internet and mobile phones?????) and our glorious State will expend ever greater amounts of treasure and effort making sure it can keep tabs on the rest of us. I have nothing to fear, except the misuse of my taxes and the insult to my intelligence.

    PS and what about the amusing posturing about the security risk (allegedly) posed by Huawei? Intrusive monitoring of network traffic by a foreign power??? Outrageous! How dare they - that's our prerogative

  83. MrXavia
    Thumb Up

    Brilliantly said!

    I completely agree and will be voting with my money, actively making an effort to buy from non-US companies where possible...

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Going on for a long time

    Although the conservatives are trying to blame President Obama for this, this spying by NSA has been going on for a long time (The Patriot act was passed as result of 9-11). In my opinion, the Patriot act was a over reaction to 9-11 and should have never been allowed because it violates American constitutional rights (Gitmo does too). But the only reason that the conservatives are throwing this and everything else that can find at President Obama is nothing but an attempt to do something that they couldn't at the polls. Which is trying to build a case of impeachment of Obama, or at least cripple the position of the Democrats. This along with obstructing everything President Obama/Democrats try to do will occur until they get everything that they want or they are voted out of office.

  85. cortland

    Interesting times

    What I thought of when I first read this story on the news was that we in the USA had finally copied what Britain had been doing for a very long time. At one time (and perhaps still) the UK required a copy of every telegram sent be provided to the government. And now we've caught up.

    Is it a race?

    If done here as described by our government, this has been functionally equivalent to letting the FBI and the spy agencies have a copy of the addresses and return addresses on every piece of mail. Defenders of the program say they weren't opening the letters. Complicating things is that a even a targeted approach would still require being able to intercept the communications.

    We do live in "interesting times."

  86. Mikel

    NSA is a global thing

    I've never seen so many El Reg comments on one article. I can't be bothered to sort them all and see if this has already been posted.

    The US NSA operates globally. If you think your Bangalore or Libya or Tehran-based cloud is immune from their monitoring you are mistaken. Avoiding US clouds does nothing to get you away from them. Knock yourself out.

    They are not even the only US spy agency that does so. There are at least seven. Some are not even on the books. A lot of the time they're spying on each other.

    What I'm surprised by is the sense of surprise. Didn't you all know that there was a significant fraction of the global GDP dedicated to everybody spying on each other? That these agents are bound by no law except the primitive "don't get caught"? This is not a new thing and the US is not exactly the worst offender.

    1. Squander Two

      Re: NSA is a global thing

      This is not the same thing as espionage. Espionage is deniable and often illegal or at least extralegal. As a result, when it gets found out, it gets wound up. The fact that it has to remain secret is itself a limiting factor.

      If proof turned up that the NSA were doing this to, say, twenty thousand French people, there'd be a diplomatic furore and the NSA would deny it and stop it. The French would insist on an official apology from the US President and would probably get some concessions out of the US at the next round of military or trade negotiations. Yes, it goes on constantly, yes, it's a game they all play and all the leaders involved privately treat it less as "What a scandal that they were doing such a thing!" and more as "Ha ha, we captured their rook", but still. It's not the fact that espionage is happening that is such a scandal; it's the reaction of the entire US government: "Yeah, and?" THAT is unprecedented, and worrying.

      Also, Trevor did not suggest that you can escape espionage by the NSA by keeping your data out of the US. Obviously, your data is always subject to illegal access: that's what "illegal" means. What he suggested was that a large number of companies using "Not subject to US law" as a selling point would put commercial pressure on the US to change this appalling law and thus address the issue of legal access, which is far worse.

  87. jimmyregister

    Magna Carta

    I enjoyed this article but numerous references to the US constitution and it being followed by the West makes this an unbalanced opinion-piece. No mention of the Magna Carta?!?! - a document 500+ years before the documents (Human rights, constitutions etc) that are so espoused repeatedly above.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Magna Carta

      I'm aware of the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta was important; but it was layered on top of extant power structures. The US constitution was the first such document upon which a brand new nation was formed. Ground-up. Start from scratch.

      1. Petrea Mitchell

        Re: Magna Carta

        "The US constitution was the first such document upon which a brand new nation was formed."

        The US was formed with the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution as we know and love it today came along later, after everyone agreed that maybe giving the federal government *some* power might be a good idea after all.

  88. Baneki

    Beyond the Borders

    Cryptocloud VPN set up shop outside the United Police States of America back in 2007, expressly to protect against the obviously expanding dragnet surveillance it has so disastrously come to love. Having learned the lessons of Echelon and Carnivore.

    At the time, the "cool kids" laughed about how silly and paranoid such decisions were. After all, "the law" prevented that kind of thing from happening so only tinfoil-hatted nerds worried about such things. They claimed "America" was the safe place to be - that or some American ally like Sweden.

    We decided we didn't trust any government that much, and we set up so that no one country had jurisdiction over enough of the network to do anything to compromise the whole thing. And we vowed to fight like wildcats if some government tried to get us to backdoor our systems. We said we'd go to prison if they threatened us, and if that didn't work we'd erase the entire system and every bit of data on it before we'd turn on our customers.

    Turns out one of our founders went to prison after the Feds tried to force access to the network. Nobody had to wipe the servers, because the Feds realized the company would never backdoor itself under threat or pressure.

    The story wasn't cool enough for the "cool kids" to report on truthfully, so it got swept up in a wave of Fed disinformation and press lackey smears. That's what happens to companies who have the balls to tell the Feds to fuck right off: they get smeared, tarred, ripped up in the mainstream press. Oh, and the little girls at Wilder's forum jump right on board - carrying water for the Fed Gestapo.

    But you know what? Not a single customer had a single bit of data exposed to the surveillance monster. Not once customer. Nobody ever reported on that - because something not happening doesn't make a sexy story, I guess. It sure mattered to those customers who got the protection they were promised. It still matters

    So, yeah, some companies were astute enough to see it all coming - and strong enough to resist the extra-legal pressures brought to bear even on those with infrastructure and corporate existence outside its borders. The cost paid by those who stand against the surveillance state is high: it's not like in the movies, where the heroes get a rose petal parade.

    But right is right, and in the end it's the courage to stand against oppression that matters most. No technology can substitute for that, nor can choosing the "right" country protect against nation-states gone bad. To do that you need courage. Real courage.

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just read the entire thread ...

    Nice trolling, Trevor. Isn't that kinda against ElReg's house rules?

    Signed: jake (see why wetware works better than bozo filters?)

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: I just read the entire thread ...

      I am jake, and I approve of the above post ;-)

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: I just read the entire thread ...

      Who's trolling? I haven't trolled once in this thread. In fact, I haven't trolled anything, anywhere in probably 3 months. Maybe more. I don't have time to troll. To many articles to write. My responses in this thread are sincere and honest. I am sorry if you feel otherwise, but that really isn't my boo-hoo.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: I just read the entire thread ...

        "Who's trolling?" He asks, eight minutes after my post.

        Pardon me if I step out for half an hour, I have a horse with colic to walk ...

  90. Cipher

    Part of the answer is...

    Ubiquitous *Strong* Encryption.

    All email should be encrypted for a start...

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Part of the answer is...

      No. Email should be treated as holiday postcards. Most of it is pretty much useless babble. Save encryption for shit that needs it.

      1. Cipher

        Re: Part of the answer is...

        You miss the point. Encrypt everything. Make them work real hard. Then, maybe, they'll concentrate on the stuff they need to be looking at instead of harvesting the net for everything.

        trust me, encryption everywhere is not what they want to see...

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Part of the answer is...

          Your solution to Big Brother is herd immunity? Doesn't that only last until they either build rainbow tables/other decryption mechanisms big enough to deal with the problem or make encryption illegal? Before you get your corporate "it'll never happen" in a twist, realize that making encryption something you need to "get a license for" (while registering your keys with the central registrar) is entirely doable and could use existing registry systems like those used for business licences or vehicle registration.

          Encryption everywhere may simply force those who wish to monitor everything to solve the encryption "problem". I believe that removing the "right" to monitor En Masse is probably a better long term approach.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Trevor Pott

            You Anglos appear to live in a state of permanent fear of the state. You are frightened to hell about what they "could possibly do".

            I say, bring on the shit. Outlaw encryption and see what people will do. See how Google will do in the face of total surveillance. The merkins actucally shot off their right foot with this thing. They will realize that when the unemployment numbers come in.

            Regarding Britain's Crypto-laws - if everybody enrcypted all emails, used their own RaspPI-based personal, encrypted cloud server, THEN they would have to demand the keys from the actual 0.1% of suspects in criminal proceedings. Or, they would have to break into those 0.1% of households and clandestinely acquire the keys. That situation is much, much better than "let's take everything from the 99% of populace who use Google, webmail and facebook, we might need it in the future". Give them the key when they demand it, that's infinitely more transparent than the current situation.

            In short - Modern Freedom Lives On Cryptology ! Middle fingers to the insane snoopers.

  91. Old but bold

    The beacon ( of freedom) that died

    Killed by torture of prisoners,

    by killing (murder) of citizens with out trial (drone strikes)

    by not being able to say what you are made to do (cellular surveillance)

    holding prisoners with out trial

    and ... add your own


  92. David Hicks
    Paris Hilton

    Been saying it for years

    1. The US has even less privacy and protection on the books than we do.

    2. That's for US citizens. For foreigners there's basically nothing.

    3. The US has shown no qualms in the past in digging in to foreign individuals and companies' data for commercial advantage, let alone "security reasons"

    4. It's long been known that various global intelligence agencies listen in on each others' citizens and trade the data, to skirt around local protections.

    5. Trusting your data to someone else is *always* a bad idea, but add in the above and why the hell would you think anything you store with a US company anywhere in the world is even possibly secure against government snooping?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Been saying it for years

      Indeed. This whole affair has the potential to kill off Google, Facebook and the like. When people start to secure their computer habits by means of TOR, GNUpg, TrueCrypt, encypted Pidgin, all those new "web 2.0" businesses will cumble.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Been saying it for years

        Don't forget rooting their phones to get rid of the GooNSA spyware, disabling the GPS, using other people's open wlans and so on.

  93. Mr Anonymous

    Pott, this is the other kettle calling

    Migrated all your office365 clients yet?

    Second question, is this the end of the MS eulogising?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Pott, this is the other kettle calling

      I have only the one client on Office 365 left, and they are migrating soon. Most of the rest are on Google. Some of them are planning on migrating to a hosted Canadian provider.

      As to your desire to shape my discourse in the future, I'll not commit to discussing or not discussing any topic. I call things as I see them, not as they suit my personal agenda. Unlike some I could name...

  94. Aitor 1

    Not only US

    You have to avoid both US based biz AND europe based US owned companies.

    And I am saying "softlayer" as they just got bought by IBM, and if NSA/FBI/CIA demand info to spy on your company.. bad lack.

    My employer has encrypted all our laptops. But if we got to the states, first we have to erase all sensible information, as we compete with US defense contractors.. and it wouldn't be the first time they demand to clone a laptop HDD, and you have to provide the PWD or have HUGE problems.

  95. Squander Two


    Almost every bank in the world is currently bending over backwards to try to comply with the US's horrendous FATCA legislation, which insists that all banks everywhere should pass on information about their customers to the IRS. If you want to put your money where your mouth is, you might be interested to know that the notable exception to this is HSBC, whose response to the threat of a withholding tax on all their US operations if they don't comply was to pull all their operations out of the US.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Banking

      Interesting. Got a link to some details?

      1. Squander Two

        Re: Banking

        Nope, sorry. This is related to my work, so all the information I have is from meetings, not the Web.

  96. MacroRodent
    Black Helicopters

    The spying eye in my pocket

    I have a Windows phone, and for convenience and fun I turned on the feature in it that makes it upload low-res versions of all snapshots to Skydrive pretty much immediately (usually Skydrive shows even the failed photographs I deleted from the camere soon after taking). Makes sure the snaps exist in some form even if the phone is lost or breaks.

    After recent revelations I am wondering if I should turn this off. The Skydrive servers are probably somewhere in the USA, so if NSA felt so inclined, it could follow see my "photo stream" in real time...

    The really scary thought is that maybe if I try to turn it off, all I accomplish is that *I* don't get the photos, but NSA still does. Tin foil, anyone?

  97. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A Challenge to William Hague

    So then WIlliam, you think that law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear from strangers rummaging through their private stuff.

    Presumably you consider yourself to be law-abiding, do you not?

    In that case, feel free to forward all of your emails on to me so that I can peruse them at my leisure.

    After all, if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to hide, right?

    Thanks in advance.

  98. david 64

    Erm.... Magna Carta, Shirley?!

  99. cloudguy

    All governments hate the Internet

    A worthy post, but all governments hate the Internet for the simple reason that information can flow freely over it. In states without a tradition of individual liberty, it is easier to control aspects of Internet use. The "Great Firewall" in China prevents obtaining results on searches that contain certain words and phrases. In Cuba there is practically no Internet availability for the average citizen, although recent developments indicate the Cuban government may be relenting a bit. In the countries of the "Arab Spring" uprisings, governments under siege by their citizens were able to cut-off Internet and cell phone service for a time.

    In the United States, Internet service is widely available and commerce is heavily dependent on it, so it is not acceptable to use such crude methods as blocking searches and interrupting or suspending Internet service. The NSA, which is part of the U.S. military establishment, has resorted to widespread data collection (Big Data) and analysis of both foreign and domestic Internet traffic. The data collections is indiscriminate and universal. NSA has a one-million sq. ft. facility built in a mountain in Utah just for the purpose of storing and analyzing data scooped up off the Internet or out of the air.

    The mere fact that such huge volumes of data is being collected and permanently stored is sufficient evidence that the foundations of a modern police state are being established. It remains to be seen whether Americans will be able to push back against the government-backed military establishment.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: All governments hate the Internet

      The US military will be about as oppressive as those of Egypt, if the American people are acutally determined to do something.

      The problem is that too many people still believe the official propaganda and somehow think they are "on the side of the winners, fuck those few losers who protest".

  100. Dennis Wilson
    Thumb Up


    I consider this article to be the second most important article since humanity became a species. every word of it I hold close to my heart with unequalled passion.

  101. Do Not Fold Spindle Mutilate
    Big Brother

    Canadian surveillance approved (today's headline Globe & Mail newspaper)


    I agree with much of what you say Trevor but this is the front page headline on today's Globe and Mail: I am not surprised. The article does not have much detail but seems to say it has the telephone meta data. The article says "In Canada, a regime of ministerial directives - decrees not scrutinized by Parliament - have authorized the broad surveillance programs."

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Canadian surveillance approved (today's headline Globe & Mail newspaper)

      ".....have authorized the broad surveillance programs....." Yeah, but I'm certain they did it in a meek manner.

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Canadian surveillance approved (today's headline Globe & Mail newspaper)

      I will check in to that. If true, I expect the supreme court - if not the rest of parliament - to dismantle those programs and the associated ministers with all speed. We have before. We will again.

    3. WatAWorld

      Re: Canadian surveillance approved (today's headline Globe & Mail newspaper)

      Really? It wasn't headline news on their website.

      From what I've seen, there has been scarce coverage of this scandal and its ramifications for Canadians. But I'm only looking at web editions of newspapers and at Bourque, and only the international, national and Manitoba sections on a regular basis.

      I've been figuring the NSA or CESC or both must have enough stuff on our reporters or their publishers to demand their silence.

      But then I see it started under the Liberals and the CBC, Winnipeg Free Press and Toronto Star won't admit anything bad ever happened under the Liberals. So maybe the NSA and CESC aren't to blame for the poor coverage.

      "It was first explicitly approved in a secret decree signed in 2005 by Bill Graham, defence minister in Paul Martin's Liberal government."

  102. ScissorHands

    What's your excuse?

    I have a Nokia N9 at my side, and I'm writing this comment on Opera/Presto.

    Nokia has been microshafted and Opera has been Chromified while the tech journals applauded - just like Lewis Page and its "Why bother with our own weapons, the USA makes them better and cheaper" - well, then, now you see the strings that come attached to the USA's "generosity".

  103. sidqq

    Resistance is FUTILE

    Freedom is an illusion, according to the late political genius George Carlin. So, boycotting US cloud tech is futile. Any other political borders in mind? How about rooting for cloud tech. in China? My point it simply this: governments aren't the ones to worry about, it's the companies. The church once ruled, then the politicians and now, we're seeing the emergence the corporation and multinational conglomerates - and it's only the beginning. When companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo oversee most of our daily electronic communication and snoop for commercial purposes, we seem to be alright with that. Even if we are not alright with it, we have no recourse because corporations legalize their wrong-doing in fine print - it's too bad most governments can't and don't do the same. The truth is, there's no privacy, no freedom of speech, freedom of choice, etc. And if you store unencrypted files somewhere on the internet, someone somewhere is liable to read it. The next question is, why do these companies not provide and simplify a process of encrypting your own before sending it to them?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Resistance is FUTILE

      urrrm, yeah. Or NOT. You can easily use open-source tools and a RPI-based server to have essentially the same services without using the nicely packaged poison of Google and Facebook.

      The RPI server will consume something like 30kWh per year. That should be in the order of 10 dollars/euros/year.

      But hell, it will take away your precious time you need to view a crap movie from horrorwood.

      If you are still interested, look up







      1. WatAWorld

        Re: Resistance is FUTILE

        Bugs creep into open source and nobody notices them. So I'm sure backdoors can creep in too, if the product is big enough.

        Remember, any regular reviewer of the open source code could be compelled by US law into compliance and silence under penalty of several years behind bars.

        It is really a nightmare not just for privacy advocates, but for regular law abiding people who want a bit of privacy.

        I can't see anyone having a life so boring they are not affected by this.

  104. WatAWorld
    Big Brother

    Simple fact is that to the US politicians and US public foreigners aren't human

    Simple fact is that to the US politicians and US public foreigners aren't human.

    I say that because the politicians say, and the public accept, that provided the human rights of Americans are not infringed no human rights abuses are occurring.

    The idea that any of us "foreigners" should need to explain to any other "foreigner" why ours, our employer's or our client's data is not secure on a server based in the USA or on a server operated by a US controlled company anywhere is rapidly becoming absurd.

    I used to be very pro-American. I remember in the early 1970s sitting around the student's union building with my fellow student politicians (here in Canada). They were mostly poli sci and education students, Marxist Leninist, Maoist, Trotsikite, regular socialist, and I was a conservative electrical engineering student.

    We'd have nice chats were they would tell me all the great things about communism and all the bad things about the USA. I'd tell them all the great about the USA and all the bad things about communism.

    30 years later it turned out we were both right, about the bad things. Communism did do all the bad things I said and the USA did do all the bad things they said. And we were both largely wrong about the good things, although they were more wrong than me.

    The US Constitution is a nice document, but remember those who wrote it and signed it included slave owners -- it allowed slavery so how can it be that great? I suppose for its time it was a breakthrough, like Magna Carta.

    Since the end of the War of 1812 the USA hasn't tried to invade us again. It has been a pretty good country to have had on our southern border. I can't think of a better country to have had there.

    But treating us foreigners all like non-humans, denying us a right to privacy, treating their Canadian and UK allies no better than the Chinese and Russians, that has to stop.

    But maybe we do the same to them. Echelon, "The Five Eyes", the idea that the spy agencies of the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand each spy on each others citizens and residents because they cannot spy on their own, and then share the info -- have we been doing that to them?

    Have our governments (UK, Canada, etc) been in cahoots with the CIA and NSA denying US citizens their human rights?

    Are we treating them like non-humans?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simple fact is that to the US politicians and US public foreigners aren't human

      You better build your own nukes, if you really want to stay sovereign.

  105. WatAWorld

    I wonder if the NSA subsidized Hotmail's and Google's increased storage space

    I wonder if the NSA subsidized Hotmail's and Google's increased storage space.

    Disk storage does cost money, even if the price has gone down, so could Hotmail and Google afford those major increases in storage space that suddenly came along 10 years (or so) ago?

    Maybe it was subsidized by the government to make spying easier.

    On Sunday I was looking for a Canadian replacement to Hotmail and they've all gone away. My only option is my ISP and his limited email.

    Cloud computing too, is that technology subsidized to make spying easier?

    A week ago I'd have said these questions would be absurd, but this week to not ask these questions is absurd.

  106. Moe_1984

    1984 Hosting Company, Iceland

    We have your back. We will defend your rights to privacy with all our might before the courts and elsewhere. The name of our hosting company is NOT a coincidence. We have been in business for 8 years and are by far the biggest web host in Iceland.

    1. WatAWorld

      Re: 1984 Hosting Company, Iceland

      Good going Moe. Hopefully The Reg will give some publicity to companies like yours in an article on what alternatives there are to US-based providers.

  107. Peter Bennett 1

    Ballot papers now printed as bank notes?

    Interesting article. The diversion of money to make a political point is rather accepting that politics is all about money, when I believe it should not be. We elect politicians, who then accept, well.....

    I had an idea the other day, citizens should set up a lobby group and pay politicians a few tens of thousands a year to do what we want them to do, and make it binding upon them not to do anything against the interests of the lobby group. Perhaps we could call the payments the lobby group makes, oh, I don't know, a salary? And we could call the way that we arrange for the transfer of funds something official sounding, oooh, how about taxation?

    Do you think such a lobby group could be set up, or do you think the funding issue might make politicians blush to accept such an amount and do so little to ensure they do what they're paid for?

  108. RockingM

    well written and thanks

    believe it or not, our troubles started here in the uS when the U part thought it was over the S part.

    that was in 1865 and it's been a downhill spiral since then for liberty.

  109. Michael C.

    Good post but my one bugbear this constant description of human rights as innate. There's no such thing as innate rights, there's no omnipotent justice minister. People in committees decide what your human rights are. They're weren't delivered from space on a moral meteorite.

    You're right in one aspect, and I believe this was probably what you were getting at in a round about way: for all intents and purposes they should be considered innate. However, it's very important to remember that they are written by people, and whilst they should hold great reverence, they are not entirely exempt from criticism.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Obviously, you didn't actually understand what was written, nor why the US constitution was so important.

      Yes; rights are innate. They cannot be taken away by anyone. Anyone who attempts to do so is breaking the most fundamental rules of our society; more important than law, more important than religion, more important than anything else. That is the concept of essential liberty; that you do not belong to anyone. You are not property, chattel or a subject. You do not belong to your state, your state belongs to you.

      And frankly, those rights are innate. When you strip away all socialisation we are animals. Animals do not belong to one another. They are their own masters. They may fight - and lose - but they belong only to themselves.

      The wolf can choose to leave the pack. It can up and walk away. Some members may follow, start their own pack. The cougar can challenge another for territory. The bird can fly where it chooses. We belong to noone but ourselves. Our rights are innate.

      We choose to suborn a limited number of those rights to a centralised authority in exchange for a communal benefit. yet that centralised authority exists at our sufferance, not the other way arround. Remove the centralised authority and we are as free as the bird, the wolf or the cougar.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        You might realize NOW

        ..why there are tribes in some parts of the world who will defend their own, decentralized way of life. They know that hospitals always come packaged with some kind of secret police, abduction of your children and the like.

        I am not saying they are saints, but I respect their dislike of an overbearing, centralized state which inevtiably sets up insane secret police systems int the name of "100% security".

        Next time you say something derogatory about Afghans, remember Waco !

      2. WatAWorld

        The US Constitution failed to recognize blacks, Asians and foreigners as humans.

        And it didn't recognize US women as having a right to vote.

        I'm not saying it wasn't progress, but it was not as much progress from ancient Athens as some like to think.

        It has made some progress since its creation, but apparently still regards foreigners as non-human and not entitled to the inalienable and innate rights real humans are.

  110. gkroog

    The problem is the people...

    "stopped asking if "freedom" still represents the belief we have all been raised to defend"

    They stopped asking the question because they assume "freedom" = "liberty," and that they already live in an absolute state of freedom. They live on the world their fore-bears wrought with literal blood, sweat and tears, and are blind to the necessity that they expend a bit of the same to maintain it.

    They assume the liberties that were won from poverty, hunger and oppression are "just there" and won't ever disappear. America has indeed changed fundamentally over the last six or seven decades, so that I've even heard some say that the country that won the second world war no longer exists...

    Americans need to wake up to this and assemble peacefully, and in massive numbers, in front of their government's buildings, which are really theirs, and ask them to explain this and rectify it, or be evicted from said buildings. I wonder how long it would take for riot police to be called in on them...

  111. Cipher

  112. richardzybert

    Private Cloud prevents snooping

    We have developed a solution - mainly for SMEs to enable them to get away from PRISM. Secure Private Cloud Appliance allows the business to keep functionality of the cloud, but keep the data private.

  113. WatAWorld

    US courts rule companies have to hand over data on foreigners (us) even if no warrant

    Note: The way I read this, if the account holder is not a US resident no search warrant is required.

    Secret Court Ruling Put Tech Companies in Data Bind


    Published: June 13, 2013

    "... In a secret court in Washington, Yahoo’s top lawyers made their case. The government had sought help in spying on certain foreign users, without a warrant, and Yahoo had refused, saying the broad requests were unconstitutional.

    The judges disagreed. That left Yahoo two choices: Hand over the data or break the law.

    So Yahoo became part of the National Security Agency’s secret Internet surveillance program, Prism, according to leaked N.S.A. documents, as did seven other Internet companies. ..."

  114. WatAWorld

    Consumers want to know what alternatives there are to US-based services

    Consumers want to know what alternatives there are to US based services.

    Not necessarily truly secure, but at least as secure and private for non-US residents as Hotmail, iCloud, Yahoo and Facebook are for US residents. Hopefully a bit more secure.

    True security, PGP encryption and so on, set-up for that is beyond the abilities of most consumers. Besides, encrypted emails are just going to red-flag a person, and I have no doubt the NSA can break AES-128 encyption if they want to devote several seconds of computer time to the task.

    But how can consumers actually have at least the level of privacy they thought they were getting with US web services?

  115. LaeMing

    Interesting side-effect

    The NSA has potentially placed all these companies in breach of contract with their customers. If you have any sort of contract with a US-based or -data-hosted company which you want to bail on early, this may be an excuse to do so.

  116. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Who else will Potty be avoiding?

    Oops! Amongst all the shrieking, it seems a lot of you missed ACTUAL human rights violations (as opposed to imagined, hypothetical ones) happening in the World. For example, will Potty be keeping his business strictly away from anything to do with Ecuador seeing as Correa has just put even more restrictions on the press there ( Will he be shortly posting an article announcing how his Anon buddies view it? Maybe he'll wonder if that "champion of freedom of information" Julian Assange will be looking for alternative accommodation?

    How about France, will he be avoiding anything even remotely French now that the French government is using its socialist friends' powers in the EU to remove political opponents? After all, Matie Le Pen may be a racist, fascist idiot, but isn't Potty all for the ideal of free speech? Should the socialist government be allowed to remove her political immunity, in a secret meeting, and ban Le Pen's party ( Surely the fact she garnered 18% of the votes in the recent election has nothing to do with their decision.

    And I'm certain he'll be avoiding Turkey. Not just for Erdogan's reaction to popular protests, maybe he'll also question the Turkish role in the ongoing Syrian civil war. Which of course means he has to stop interacting with companies from the Gulf States, who are stirring the sectarian pot in Syria (whilst using massively more invasive schemes to spy on their own populations).

    China is obviously out, and Japan just asked to implement a similar scheme to PRISM. In fact, just about all of Asia is already further down the "rights violations" path when it comes to spying on their citizens and foreigners.

    Yeah, that sound is the flying pigs warming up! If Potty carries on riding round on his moral hobbyhorse he will soon find a reason not to do business with everyone in the World.

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