Is There a Software Solution to the Surveillance Debate?

Last year, the president asked the intelligence community a question: Is it possible to create software that would enable targeted surveillance to act as a substitute for dragnet surveillance? In response, the National Academies released a report which you can read here.

Unsurprisingly, the report found that there is no such "technological magic." In other words, there is no software solution that results in targeted surveillance being an exact substitute for bulk surveillance.

But, it would be a mistake to misinterpret this finding as justification for continuing dragnet surveillance or rejecting reform efforts. Such conclusions both misread the report and ignore the core of the surveillance debate.

One, the National Academies did not find that existing mass surveillance programs have been effective intelligence tools. For example, it does not rebut findings by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, President's Review Group, and others that the domestic nationwide call detail record program has never stopped an act of terrorism or led to the identification of a terrorist suspect. Indeed, the report does not even attempt to provide one concrete example of a case where bulk collection was essential to a national security investigation.

What the report says is that information collected in bulk, and retained indefinitely, could theoretically be of use in a terrorist investigation. But, it doesn't suggest that this theoretical possibility has happened, is likely to happen, or justifies mass surveillance.

Two, the report did not find that the resource costs, privacy impacts, and economic harms associated with bulk collection are balanced by any concrete benefits in intelligence capabilities. In fact, the report emphasizes that the policy and legal arguments that weigh in favor of ending mass surveillance programs are not at conflict with their conclusions.

Finally, the report acknowledges that there are additional steps that the intelligence community can take to increase transparency, improve oversight, and limit the use of information collected through surveillance.

Fundamentally, the surveillance question is about whether our country is willing to trade constitutional liberties for dragnet surveillance programs that have yet to prove their effectiveness.

And, unsurprisingly, there is no software solution to that debate.

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yebed nunny

Surveillance vs Encryption:

Bad guys will quickly learn how to encrypt their messages using unbreakable code. The average joe will learn how to employ this technology and avoid detection. Surveillance is a short-sighted approach for managing violence.

Satire Music Video about Surveillance and Patriot Act trending in France and Europe - youtube: "Active Member Camera"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8NY-SCbF_Y

Anonymous

NSA has supercomputer in Utah with a river cooling it. UNBREAKABLE CODES VERY FUNNY!

Anonymous

That's bull anyway. Back in 2000, a man named J. Kirk Wiebe noticed that the NSA chose a software application dubbed TrailBlazer over another one called ThinThread. TrailBlazer was significantly less respectful towards the 4th Amendment and did not have the same effectiveness as ThinThread. This is a matter of public record.

J. Kirk Wiebe worked in the NSA for over 30 years. He was one of the first few people who realized that the NSA was directing its resources to spy on American civilians without any probable cause. This became apparent to Wiebe almost 9 months before the 9/11 attacks, and voices were raised in favor of ThinThread, a data processing and mining system designed to collect meta-data (data about data), that could have been used to stop the 9/11 attacks.

FREEDOM TO TRAV...

There is also a parallel between dragnet surveillance and unlimited "administrative" security searches. Both are warrentless, suspicionless searches without any individualized suspicion.

The courts have allowed blanket civilian "administrative" searches at airports, where inch-by-inch searches of our bodies are done. These are the most intrusive searches ever in the US.

In contrast, the NYPD was found to have violated 4th Amendment rights with "law enforcement" searches without any suspicion when they did the "Stop and Frisk".

So, we have cases of dragnet surveillance, and two versions of unlimited dragnet body searches.

It appears that the airport searches have completely neutered the 4th Amendment, while the courts occasionally pay some lip service if actual law enforcement officers (which the TSA employees are not as the govt argues) do the searches. So, why not just have all surveillance or searches performed by non-law enforcement positions, thus negating all of the 4th Amendment?

So, why do we allow "administrative" searches of the most intrusive nature - no different from searching every room of our house -

Anonymous

Hack a private WiFi password and use the network for JUST BROWSING in order to bring the nasers into public court with their secret courts.

Anonymous

ACLU IS NSA LITE because the Hollywood commie can eliminated their opposition via NSA gangslanging. BUT Alabama christian judges opposing gay marriage then you get sued.

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