[linux-elitists] Political solutions to mass surveillance?

Ruben Safir ruben at mrbrklyn.com
Mon Aug 4 17:01:40 PDT 2014

On Sat, Jul 26, 2014 at 12:04:01PM -0500, Jeremy Hankins wrote:
> Don Marti <dmarti at zgp.org> writes:
> > I can't see how there's a way to say both (1) we have
> > a secret intelligence program and (2) we have public
> > policy that meaningfully restricts that program.
> This is a hard problem.  Theoretically this is why we have a FISA court
> that is cleared to see secret documents, and why members of congress
> have some degree of oversight as well.  It's that whole separation of
> powers/checks and balances thing.  While neither of these are very
> satisfying solutions, they could be better than they are.


there is no 50/50 on this stuff.  The FISA court is unconstituional and
Congress has the RIGHT to supena anything it damn well wants...


> How much of this can be traced back to dysfunction in congress?  One
> could imagine a congress that raked public officials over the coals,
> destroyed political careers, and so on.  But so far as I can tell very
> little of any real significance has happened.  Part of this is may be a
> partisan accident (how would things have been different with a
> republican administration and a democratic house?), but even so I'd
> expect more opportunistic challenges from politicians hoping to make a
> name for themselves.  Why hasn't this happened?
> > There are symbolic stands that carry more weight,
> > though. The State Department's support for
> > freedom-enabling technologies is a good one.
> >
> > Maybe what we need is action that can be taken in
> > public and verified in public.
> Yes, I agree.
> >> Frankly, I don't see purely technical solutions as being any more
> >> likely to solve the problem.  It's great to use encryption and good
> >> security practices, but those aren't going to end surveillance.  Ask
> >> yourself, who wins in an arms race?
> >
> > Arms dealers, of course.  But this one could have
> > positive externalities in the form of increased
> > software quality and maintainability.  If Alice finds
> > a bug in her company's product, it's worth little to
> > just fix it, but potentially a lot if she can secretly
> > tell Bob and he can sell it.  A lot of software
> > development today is set up to facilitate "insider
> > bug trading" and all the solutions I can think of
> > involve more programmer respect, compensation, and
> > emphasis on quality.
> But this assumes that more money -> more cultural awareness and ethics,
> which is not at all obvious.  This brings to mind the recent thread on
> "brogrammer" culture.
> -- 
> Jeremy Hankins <nowan at nowan.org>
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