[FoRK] exactly how much privacy should we have?

mdw at martinwills.com mdw at martinwills.com
Sun Jun 16 09:08:30 PDT 2013

> On Sat, Jun 15, 2013 at 08:44:23PM -0700, Joseph S. Barrera III wrote:
>> All I can say is... with 20 MEELION dollarz at stake... you can bet
> Does anyone have any idea what the total budget of all spooks
> and sundry ghosts in the US is? It has to be considerable part of the
> GDP, but probably in low single digits.
>> that every internet company is willing to piss all over their good
>> will to get a cut of that enormous pie. Can you imagine what, say,
> It costs a lot less to pass a few secret laws or fund a few
> high-profile litigations which put CEOs in jail for a long time.
> The customers will cheerfully pay for their own surveillance,
> at times outrageous sumes, out of their own pocket.
>> Yahoo stock price would be if they could add just a fraction of that
>> $20 MEELION to their gross revenue?
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I've been reading these emails and I believe there are several wrong
assumptions being made.  I am speaking for the United States citizens

1) The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights were written to CONSTRAIN the
U.S. Government.
2) The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights DO NOT refer to or constrain
U.S. Citizens.
3) The NSA since it's creation was mandated to collect intelligence on
NON-US citizens to protect the U.S. and it's citizens.  The surveillance
of U.S. Citizens was the sole responsibility of the F.B.I. and only under
the constitutional constraints found in the 4th and 5th amendments of the
U.S.  Bill of Rights. (e.g. warrants, probable cause, judicial branch

The collection of any information by any company (non-government
connected) or person is legal.  The only exceptions are: retaining or
collecting information when specifically prohibited by the individual; it
is not required (e.g. signing up for a free email account and being
required to provide a copy of your drivers license or other state issued
ID); or it is prohibited (e.g. HIPAA compliance). That is why you have to
scroll/read through 5 pages of legal agreement and press a button that
says "accept" before you can sign up for anything (U.S. companies).  That
acceptance button is your fair warning ALLOWING the private company to
collect any information you submit and generally they spell out what they
intend to do with that information (U.S. based companies).

The right to photograph/voice record is guaranteed from all public access
areas including those public areas supported by tax-payers money unless
specifically prohibited by prominently displayed warnings (U.S.).  You
cannot encroach on private property to take pictures or record UNLESS you
are allowed by the private property owner to do so (An example is all
tickets to U.S. sports events specifically prohibit photographing,
recording or any type of reproduction of the event without the property
owners permission).

As far as the question "exactly how much privacy should we have?"  A U.S.
citizen CANNOT be surveilled by the NSA. To surveil a U.S. citizen, the
FBI needs to have probable cause, and get approval from the judicial
branch of government. Any NON-US citizen CAN BE surveilled WITHOUT limits
by the NSA while NOT ON U.S. soil (that is why the NSA has tapped the
international phone cables on the ocean floor beyond the 12 mile
territorial limit of the U.S.).

Any U.S. private citizen can record, collect, photograph anything unless
specifically prohibited by signage, personal knowledge, or lack of
permission to do so from a private property owner (in the U.S.).

The issues currently being argued is the NSA collecting phone information
from U.S. Citizens in direct violation of their mandate prohibiting them
from doing so.  They are doing so because they decided to use the most
liberal interpretation of the U.S. Patriot Act (most people agree --
including the original author of the bill -- that it was too broadly
worded originally).

Apparently the NSA, through the FISA court (which is completely hidden
from civilian oversight and all of its proceedings deliberately kept
secret, which itself is in violation of the U.S. Judicial Branch
requirement that all of it's proceedings be PUBLIC and it's decisions be
made publicly available) used the might and power of the U.S. Government
to place servers and other means of collecting data on US soil in data
centers and companies (Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, AT&T points of presence)
in violation of their mandate.

So -- exactly how much privacy should we have? -- As a U.S. citizen I
should have as much privacy as I demand and allow.  The U.S. Government
CAN NOT have my information unless I specifically allow it or they have
probable cause to get it using the 200 years of court rulings laying out
exactly how to get it.  Any information I give out willingly and publicly
that I later regret, is simply 'mea culpa'. -- If I am not a U.S. Citizen,
I don't really care what the U.S. Constitution says since its

Benjamin Franklin said it best: "They who can give up essential liberty to
obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

The issue is definitely giving up essential liberty (the U.S. Patriot Act)
to obtain a little temporary safety (supposedly stopping terrorist threats
on U.S. Soil) and the U.S. Citizens will end up with neither liberty nor
safety in the end.


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