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Recommended Reading & Viewing – Cyber Edition

Top Billing! John Robb  DATA Dystopia. The NSA Scandal and Beyond. , Iran, Cyberwar, and the Perils of Lazy Thinking , and Canada Makes the Automation of Tyranny Easier 

John went from near blog dormancy to en fuego in a week.

….It’s safe to say that at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do without big brother detecting it.

So, should you be worried?  Of course.  There’s all sorts of nightmare scenarios that can emerge from this collection effort can enable the automation of tyranny (and that’s a very bad thing).

What do I find interesting about this situation?  

First off, it’s amazing how few people care about freedom and privacy.  In short, people have become so dependent on the bureaucracy, they will accept nearly any insult.

Secondly, this activity is clear proof that the government security system increase views all Americans as potential enemies.  It’s also a good indicator that people inside the system don’t have the backbone/character to stop this type of gross infringement from occurring (NOTE:  I don’t know what Snowden’s motivation was, so I’m not holding him up as a example).  We saw something similar with torture a couple of years ago.

Thirdly, this scandal is a good milestone on the decline of the national security system.  Simply, when the costs of it (snooping) far outweigh any potential benefit (protection), it needs to go.  Further, since the nation-state derives most of its legitimacy from its ability to deliver security to citizens, this failure is more proof that the nation-state is in decline as a form of governance.

Finally, unless something drastic occurs, this type of data will NEVER be deleted.  It’s there forever.  It will be used against you decades from now.  How it could be used against you is a matter of speculation today, but due to software automation, it could be used to do very bad things against a great many people in a very systematic way. 

Pundita – 2006: NSA Killed System That Sifted Phone Data Legally (ThinThread) , Classifed documents reveal “top secret rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant.” New Guardian report. , Ed Snowden is a transgender CIA operative from outer space: America’s Tin Foil Hat Tribe gets to the bottom of the NSA Affair 

 The National Security Agency developed a pilot program in the late 1990s that would have enabled it to gather and analyze massive amounts of communications data without running afoul of privacy laws. But after the Sept. 11 attacks, it shelved the project — not because it failed to work — but because of bureaucratic infighting and a sudden White House expansion of the agency’s surveillance powers, according to several intelligence officials.

The agency opted instead to adopt only one component of the program, which produced a far less capable and rigorous program. It remains the backbone of the NSA’s warrantless surveillance efforts, tracking domestic and overseas communications from a vast databank of information, and monitoring selected calls. 
Four intelligence officials knowledgeable about the program agreed to discuss it with The Sun only if granted anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. 

The program the NSA rejected, called ThinThread, was developed to handle greater volumes of information, partly in expectation of threats surrounding the millennium celebrations. Sources say it bundled together four cutting-edge surveillance tools. ThinThread would have: 

* Used more sophisticated methods of sorting through massive phone and e-mail data to identify suspect communications.

* Identified U.S. phone numbers and other communications data and encrypted them to ensure caller privacy. 

* Employed an automated auditing system to monitor how analysts handled the information, in order to prevent misuse and improve efficiency. 

* Analyzed the data to identify relationships between callers and chronicle their contacts. Only when evidence of a potential threat had been developed would analysts be able to request decryption of the records. 

An agency spokesman declined to discuss NSA operations

Small Wars Journal – Bandwidth Cascades: Escalation and Pathogen Models for Cyber Conflict Diffusion 

Adm. James Stavridis- The New Triad 

WIREDIntroducing Aaron’s Law, a Desperately Needed Reform of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act   

Bruce Schneier –Has U.S. started an Internet war?

Foreign PolicyTOTAL RECALL 

New York TimesWeb’s Reach Binds N.S.A. and Silicon Valley Leaders

Ribbonfarm –War and Nonhuman Agency

Recommended Viewing:
Daniel Suarez: The kill decision shouldn’t belong to a robot

4 Responses to “Recommended Reading & Viewing – Cyber Edition”

  1. michael robinson Says:

    This paper “Unique in the Crowd: The privacy bounds of human mobility” published in March may be too technical for some, however the summary is helpful to the non mathematically inclined, in short only four different course data points on the time and location of calls are necessary to identify 95% of the people.:
    “We study fifteen months of human mobility data for one and a half million individuals and find that human mobility traces are highly unique. In fact, in a dataset where the location of an individual is specified hourly, and with a spatial resolution equal to that given by the carrier’s antennas, four spatio-temporal points are enough to uniquely identify 95% of the individuals. We coarsen the data spatially and temporally to find a formula for the uniqueness of human mobility traces given their resolution and the available outside information. This formula shows that the uniqueness of mobility traces decays approximately as the 1/10 power of their resolution. Hence, even coarse datasets provide little anonymity. These findings represent fundamental constraints to an individual’s privacy and have important implications for the design of frameworks and institutions dedicated to protect the privacy of individuals.”

  2. carl Says:

    There is an upside to all this NSA incipient police state stuff. They are likely to become almost entirely dependent upon electronic monitoring to the extent they won’t be able to imagine anything else. So if you live the old fashioned way sans computers and cell phones, you might be close to invisible.

  3. joey Says:

    Carl, I’ll console myself with that thought 🙂

  4. Grurray Says:

    Carl,   great, we’ll all be talking like Joe Pesce & Frank Vincent in Casino.

    According to IBM
    90% of all the data in the world was created in the last two years.

    90% of all the knowledge in the world was not 

    It would be worthwhile to figure out the real value (or lack of) of all this pervasive magnitudism and come up with a better solution

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