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U.S. is spying on its citizens and others


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People already make this determination in their "private" lives.....choosing access to information and services over known "problems" and potential for abuses. For instance, Americans have been sold a bill of goods about health care data privacy (HIPPA), but it is only bureaucratic window dressing.

Want telephone data privacy ? Use these:

Right, but... I did want to read the argument against weighing security vs privacy, especially when - as you point out - people do this privately anyway.

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Right, but... I did want to read the argument against weighing security vs privacy, especially when - as you point out - people do this privately anyway.

It is and always has been an academic discussion. Privacy is an illusion, often realized only because of the domain size, but never guaranteed.

Unabomber (Ted Kaczynsk) almost pulled it off, but his own brother ratted him out.

The only real protections come far too late if/when government decides to prosecute based on illegally obtained evidence, as determined by a court.

Edited by bush_cheney2004
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To what benefit? What benefit did anyone derive from Bradley Manning's violating his oath? What benefits does it get from Snowden's betrayal? Everyone pretty much knew the NSA was monitoring vast amounts of internet traffic. This isn't new except to the particularly ignorant. Nor is it going to stop. This program is entirely legal and has all party support.

So what has Snowden really done but point out some details of how it's done to help terrorists avoid notice, and of course, destroy his life? No high tech company will ever hire him again, that's assuming he stays out of prison, which seems unlikely. And the laughable self-righteousness of this guy in saying he did it because of his deep respect for freedom -- then running off to CHINA! Oh right, China is so noted for its love of freedom of information and privacy! LOL. Hong Kong, he says, is famous for its protection of freedom of speech! Hong Kong! Which is in China! Maybe it escaped his notice that the British gave it back some little while back... What a genius.

If he had gone to the U.S., the same thing would have happened to him as it did to Manning.

What is the benefit? You don't seem to comprehend that the NSA can get the information from anyone. Anyone can be labeled a terrorist by the government in order to give them to green light to go after them. Despite all the historical evidence, you seem to have way too much trust in government's secret agency who has until now tried to keep this program a secret from the public.

As I mentioned before; Activists, lawyers or anyone who speaks out against the government can become the target. You might be okay with that, but I'm not.

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I may have been hoodwinked here... this is metadata only ? Has anybody actually asserted that that is illegal ?

Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2009/10/30/20091030metadata1030.html?nclick_check=1

Arizona Supreme court rules meta data is public ?

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I may have been hoodwinked here... this is metadata only ? Has anybody actually asserted that that is illegal ?

It is probably moot, as personal data for an individual would be obtained as a suspected perp or contacts is/are developed, with or without a warrant. Even when barred by federal or state law in the U.S and lacking a warrant., third parties can easily do the dirty work by proxy. This is the very game that the U.K. and U.S. is alleged to have played.

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I was rather surprised that the author didn't spend more time on the second way of justifying a national security program as stated:

"It is important to distinguish here between two ways of justifying a national-security program that demands access to personal information. The first way is not to recognize a problem. This is how the nothing-to-hide argument works—it denies even the existence of a problem. The second is to acknowledge the problems but contend that the benefits of the program outweigh the privacy sacrifice."

"

Likely because that's rarely the argument that comes up. The problem is that people who use the nothing-to-hide argument don't recognize the breach of privacy as an issue. They reject it entirely on the grounds that privacy is only necessary if you're doing something wrong. I don't think i've yet to see someone that says, "yeah, the breach of privacy is terrible, but necessary."

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I may have been hoodwinked here... this is metadata only ? Has anybody actually asserted that that is illegal ?

May not be illegal but still is a concern. The metadata for this website can tell a lot about you Mike.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metadata

The term metadata refers to "data about data". The term is ambiguous, as it is used for two fundamentally different concepts (types). Structural metadata is about the design and specification of data structures and is more properly called "data about the containers of data"; descriptive metadata, on the other hand, is about individual instances of application data, the data content. In this case, a useful description would be "data about data content" or "content about content" thus metacontent. Descriptive, Guide and the National Information Standards Organization concept of administrative metadata are all subtypes of metacontent.[citation needed]

Metadata (metacontent) are traditionally found in the card catalogs of libraries. As information has become increasingly digital, metadata are also used to describe digital data using metadata standards specific to a particular discipline. By describing the contents and context of data files, the quality of the original data/files is greatly increased. For example, a webpage may include metadata specifying what language it is written in, what tools were used to create it, and where to go for more on the subject, allowing browsers to automatically improve the experience of users.

First, they tell us that the programs do not exist.... this is a case of lies covering lies. Misdirection and deceit.

They claim it stopped a terror attack in NYC in 2009. Funny they could not stop the Boston Bombers who were ALREADY under investigation from the FBI and had a heads up from Russian officials.

Even when the government is given the right information they still cannot prevent a terror attack.

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This is just what one small aspect of the NSA's activities revealed over the course of a week. In time, we may know more. But this is the debate the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden wanted to start. What's being collected, what's allowed under the law, and how much is being done?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/10/nsa-metadata-surveillance-analysis

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Don't they usually refrain from denying these things ?

I was under the impression that this was proof of wrongdoing, but one of the links stated that the leaker was trying to start a debate...

Let's say this man who leaked the information, did not have all or the real information. Even if this guy was trying to call their bluff, we now have admissions from Obama and many others about the existence of the program and what they are collecting.

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Don't they usually refrain from denying these things ?

I was under the impression that this was proof of wrongdoing, but one of the links stated that the leaker was trying to start a debate...

Right....the whole methodology is based on covert action(s) by design, not telling the whole world exactly what they are doing. In the U.S., Congressional oversight through specific committees has been the norm for years. The difference now is that operations and objectives are out in the open.

Divulging sources and methods will always be the biggest concern compared to the actual intelligence data.

Edited by bush_cheney2004
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I'm fine with pervasive electronic communications as long as it is directed at target, such as words phrases IP addresses, not just the warehousing of all conversations.

The idea of a search warrant, to me, is a luxury in the age of electronic communications. Since someone can sign up for a new email address in seconds, it handcuffs the security apparatus immensely to not allow them more flexibility in dealing with today's electronic environment.

I see the trade off as merely an abstract loss of rights - since we're specifically talking about security here. ie. If you happen to fall into the search categories - yes you may be searched without your knowledge. No sharing of information should be allowed.

It's an abstract loss of rights since you theoretically wouldn't know if your rights were even violated in this situation.

Not having access to personal communications NOW does not "handcuff" the security apparatus any more than not having access to personal communications did 30 years ago. There is absolutely no justification this...by any honest statistical analysis people are safer than ever before.

The internet changes nothing... if you support warrantless wiretapping of digital data, then you would have supported warrantless wiretapping of analog data or physical data (snail mail, etc).

Law enforcement has ALWAYS hated our freedom, and they have always wanted more access. The only thing that has changed with the shift to digital communications is that they see a new opportunity to get their foot in the door and cowards that have been worked into a frenzied fear of a trumped up "terrorist" threat are stupid enough to let them do it. And they are stupid enough to believe that once that corpus of data is in place to be mined that the scope of whats being mined for will not creep.

By any objective measure this is simply not necessary.

And the only reason its happening is because WE are such poor stewards of our own liberties, and have failed so miserably in keeping our own governments open and honest.

Edited by dre
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Not having access to personal communications NOW does not "handcuff" the security apparatus any more than not having access to personal communications did 30 years ago. There is absolutely no justification this...by any honest statistical analysis people are safer than ever before.

Yes, there is absolutely justification. There are new methods of communication now that need a response. Do you suggest that nothing be done in the face of these new methods ?

Whether or not people are safer doesn't say whether threats deserve a response or not.

The internet changes nothing... if you support warrantless wiretapping of digital data, then you would have supported warrantless wiretapping of analog data or physical data (snail mail, etc).

No, there is enough time to respond to those other means of communication in the conventional ways.

Law enforcement has ALWAYS hated our freedom, and they have always wanted more access.

Ok - well, character sketches of law enforcement don't contribute facts any more than depictions of the evils of communism do for the other side.

And the only reason its happening is because WE are such poor stewards of our own liberties, and have failed so miserably in keeping our own governments open and honest.

I feel, rather, that hyperbolic and hysterical depiction of these things in an US vs Them framework is too common these days. I feel that there are trade-offs to be made. That everyone should decide for themselves where they draw the line between privacy and security. If everyone has an idea of where their personal boundries are, it should be easy for the collective society to draw one that satisfies most people.

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Michael, you mentioned earlier that you wished the article went into more detail about its second point. I believe this article here articulates that side of the story well.

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/06/why-should-we-even-care-if-the-government-is-collecting-our-data/276732/

The article argues that Kafka's work is more apt to describing what's going on, as opposed to Orwell's. It's not about surveillance and being watched. It's about the bureaucracy having an imbalance of power. It's about the government having information which they can use and analyze in any way they please without you having access to it or even knowing about it (PRISM was a secret operation). This is an interesting and important distinction, I believe.

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Yes, there is absolutely justification. There are new methods of communication now that need a response. Do you suggest that nothing be done in the face of these new methods ?

These are just new technologies that facilitate private personal communications. This does not change in any logical way the governments need for access to those personal communications. What you are saying is absurd... If a conversation takes place on an analog phone line, then the right to privacy is intact... but have the identical conversation in an email and suddenly the rules are different? For what logical reason?

Its the same data! Just a different medium. The concept behind privacy rights is that private conversation is protected... it makes no difference if you are talking on the phone, in an email, or if you have a string tied between two tin cans, or if you are simply just sitting in your living room. Rules around warrants struck a good balance... They are easy and quick to obtain if the government can show theres a reason for them, and they position the judiciary as a watch dog for our legal rights.

No, there is enough time to respond to those other means of communication in the conventional ways.

Bullshit. I could purchase a landline ten years ago with a ten minute phone call. I could walk into any post office and mail a letter without any notice what-so-ever, or I could sit in a coffee shop and have a chat with someone.

The warrant system works just as well for digital communications as it did for analog. If they can show a legal justification they can intercept all your digital communications at your ISP/Telecomm, etc. And theres absolutely no indication that this constraint on government was putting us in any danger.

I feel that there are trade-offs to be made.

Trade offs WERE made. The government has always been able to monitor private communications, but there were checks and balances in place to keep them honest. Your "trade off" seems to be to remove them, but you dont seem to be able to articulate any reason why this is necessary, or why these checks and balances are no longer required. And you have provided no logical reason why private communications 20 years ago were subject to limited protection but suddenly now they shouldnt be.

You would completely remove judicial oversight, and allow the government to create a corpus of data that they could use at their own discretion for whatever they wanted.

If everyone has an idea of where their personal boundries are, it should be easy for the collective society to draw one that satisfies most people.

We already did that. Government gets to violate your right to privacy if the courts say its ok. Nothing more is required. And the collective isnt deciding these things... We came extremely close to the government quietly passing legislation that would have forced every ISP in the country to allow the government to install hardware in order to create that backwards-minable corpus of data. Massive violation of our privacy, on our dime no less. There was no "national conversation" about whether or not we should end the limited protection of private conversations.

And since you are worried about the "collective" Ill bet you a case of beer that a large majority of Canadians would agree that the government should need a warrant to read or "mine" your private conversations... regardless of whether they are taking place on the phone, in snail mail, or on the internet.

If ANYTHING modern communication paradigms support the need for STRONGER privacy protections and MORE judicial oversight, and a strengthening of warrant/wire tap rules because its clear that government is both breaking these rules, and trying to quietly get rid of them at the same time.

The REAL problem presented by digital communication is that they are too easy for the government to monitor, and the private companies we purchase these services from play too fast and loose with our data. The warrant system needs to be strengthened.

hyperbolic and hysterical depiction of these things in an US vs Them framework

It was a simple statement of fact. Governments security apparatus hates our freedom and always have. Personal liberty and privacy are a hassle for law enforcement and their job would be easier without the pesky rules.

And the "Us VS Them" system is what we have. Thats why we have the courts and the constitution, and the charter. To protect us from government... because even most people in government would concede that we NEED to be protected from them. The role of the courts is even more important because of our apathy and disinterest in our own rights, and trumped up fears over terrorism. Historically very bad decisions get made by governments during these kind of circumstances.

Edited by dre
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Yes, there is absolutely justification. There are new methods of communication now that need a response. Do you suggest that nothing be done in the face of these new methods ?

The government even admits that the laws need to be updated.

Whether or not people are safer doesn't say whether threats deserve a response or not.

The supposed terrorists are trying to take our freedom away. That is what we are told. But it's not the terrorists who are taking our freedom away, it is our own government. Who is the real threat here now?

I feel, rather, that hyperbolic and hysterical depiction of these things in an US vs Them framework is too common these days. I feel that there are trade-offs to be made. That everyone should decide for themselves where they draw the line between privacy and security. If everyone has an idea of where their personal boundries are, it should be easy for the collective society to draw one that satisfies most people.

Ask around Mike, many simply really don't care or value their privacy. Many of the responses are 'what ya gonna do'. It's a self defeating stance. We've been conditioned to accept this stuff without question. People are starting to ask questions now.

I've been warning about these kinds of things to friends and family for years. And now that it has been admitted by the government, people are still thinking it's a good thing because it stops terrorism. They claim it helped stop a 2009 plot in NYC. But yet failed to stop the Boston bombers who were already under investigation by the FBI.

This shows that blanket security and snooping does not prevent terrorism.

And the only reason its happening is because WE are such poor stewards of our own liberties, and have failed so miserably in keeping our own governments open and honest.

I do agree that these problems can be resolved if people are simply paying attention. Many seem blindsided by this kind of massive data snooping and collection, but simply they have not been paying attention. If more and more had, then you are right, this would not be the case.

But Janet Napolitano said, 'If you see something, say something'. Manning and Snowden are simply following orders.

Lee Camp sums up some of my feelings on this ... warning on language.

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...I feel, rather, that hyperbolic and hysterical depiction of these things in an US vs Them framework is too common these days. I feel that there are trade-offs to be made. That everyone should decide for themselves where they draw the line between privacy and security. If everyone has an idea of where their personal boundries are, it should be easy for the collective society to draw one that satisfies most people.

Anyone who voluntarily uses modern telecommunications networks and data stores has already opened the door to such broad government and private party scrutiny. Antiquated notions of "privacy" gave way to security and convenience long ago, going back at least to airport security screenings (late 1960's in the U.S.), except for abortion rights !

Collective society can draw all the boundaries it wishes, but governments will always circumvent such policies when faced with a real or perceived existential threat, and the courts will back them up in most cases. Just ask the families of Japanese Americans or Canadians interned during WW2.

Forgiveness is easier to get than permission.

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These are just new technologies that facilitate private personal communications. This does not change in any logical way the governments need for access to those personal communications. What you are saying is absurd... If a conversation takes place on an analog phone line, then the right to privacy is intact... but have the identical conversation in an email and suddenly the rules are different? For what logical reason?

Because email communication can be set up instantly, can be encrypted easily, is untraceable to a permanent physical location. Those are reasons that come to mind right away.

Also, since this story broke I have to come to understand we're talking about meta data only which is not the same as eavesdropping on a conversation at all.

Bullshit. I could purchase a landline ten years ago with a ten minute phone call. I could walk into any post office and mail a letter without any notice what-so-ever, or I could sit in a coffee shop and have a chat with someone.

Landline had a physical location attached to it, letters take a lot longer to go from point to point and can be subpoenaed too, physical meeting hasn't changed in character but we're talking about electronic communication.

The language isn't necessary, either.

And you have provided no logical reason why private communications 20 years ago were subject to limited protection but suddenly now they shouldnt be.

You would completely remove judicial oversight, and allow the government to create a corpus of data that they could use at their own discretion for whatever they wanted.

I did provide reasons above, and I'm continuing to provide more.

In the second paragraph you attribute opinions to me that aren't true.

Ill bet you a case of beer that a large majority of Canadians would agree that the government should need a warrant to read or "mine" your private conversations... regardless of whether they are taking place on the phone, in snail mail, or on the internet.

I feel the same way about reading my private conversations.

It was a simple statement of fact. Governments security apparatus hates our freedom and always have.

If it's a statement of fact, give me a cite where a security chief explains how he/she hates freedom. It's your opinion, only, and your strident and breathless tone only validates my suspicion that you're too emotionally invested in this.

As I said, tell us where your line is. I have stated where mine is. The dialogue is ongoing, and it will work out. Stay calm, relax.

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The supposed terrorists are trying to take our freedom away. That is what we are told. But it's not the terrorists who are taking our freedom away, it is our own government. Who is the real threat here now?

Answer: The terrorists. Nobody is reasonably afraid that terrorists will bring forward a court order or a constitutional amendment: they're afraid of attacks. Let's just have a normal conversation about this, shall we ?

If people don't care that they're being eavesdropped on, then guess what ? They will be. I don't have an emotional reaction to any of this, but I don't think government should have a warehouse of all of our conversations.

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Answer: The terrorists. Nobody is reasonably afraid that terrorists will bring forward a court order or a constitutional amendment: they're afraid of attacks. Let's just have a normal conversation about this, shall we ?

The terrorists are not taking our freedom away, the government is using the excuse of terrorism.

If people don't care that they're being eavesdropped on, then guess what ? They will be. I don't have an emotional reaction to any of this, but I don't think government should have a warehouse of all of our conversations.

No emotional reaction whatsoever? And they do warehouse all the conversations. Even if you believe that it's only metadata they are looking at, it's all being archived somewhere. With the amount of data being collected (heard things like petabytes) on a daily basis, they cannot build datacenters fast enough or upgrade the current ones to archive all this information.

When there is a next terror attack, people will be looking at this and asking why they could not stop it if this data is to stop terrorists. Actually we can ask that question now in regards to the Boston bombers who were actually tracked by the FBI. Incompetence? Are they accumulating so much data that they have no clue what to do with it? And with that much data are they actually able to find anything of relevance?

First the government tells us the program does not exist......................

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The terrorists are not taking our freedom away, the government is using the excuse of terrorism.

You asked who is the real threat - the answer is the terrorists. Governments invading privacy aren't threats, except in some abstract way.

No emotional reaction whatsoever? And they do warehouse all the conversations. Even if you believe that it's only metadata they are looking at, it's all being archived somewhere. With the amount of data being collected (heard things like petabytes) on a daily basis, they cannot build datacenters fast enough or upgrade the current ones to archive all this information.

No emotional reaction. And... we haven't heard that actual conversations are stored yet, even with the whistleblower. Can you imagine the outrage ?

Are they accumulating so much data that they have no clue what to do with it? And with that much data are they actually able to find anything of relevance?

There was a security expert on CBC radio today talking about how these organizations are having real trouble managing the information.

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Michael Hardner, on 11 Jun 2013 - 3:14 PM, said:

You asked who is the real threat - the answer is the terrorists. Governments invading privacy aren't threats, except in some abstract way.

Invading privacy is a threat to your freedom/liberty. That is a governmental reaction to the terrorists. Indirectly you are right, the terrorists are taking the freedom away. More directly the government is loosening laws or change them to take away your freedom/liberty. The terrorists are not making the laws.

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No emotional reaction. And... we haven't heard that actual conversations are stored yet, even with the whistleblower. Can you imagine the outrage ?

Obama said he would not be like the last president. Was this the hope and change the American people were looking for? Sounds quite hypocritical of someone to say they would not do these types of things, but yet do exactly these types of things. Close gitmo?? Right. Policy drives the laws, not a President.

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There was a security expert on CBC radio today talking about how these organizations are having real trouble managing the information.

If they have no idea what to do with all that information, then why are they collecting such mass amounts? This is raising more questions than answers.
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Answer: The terrorists. Nobody is reasonably afraid that terrorists will bring forward a court order or a constitutional amendment: they're afraid of attacks. Let's just have a normal conversation about this, shall we ?

If people don't care that they're being eavesdropped on, then guess what ? They will be. I don't have an emotional reaction to any of this, but I don't think government should have a warehouse of all of our conversations.

No the answer is both... The threat from terrorists (while trumped up and grossly exxagerated) is obvious... they might blow a few people up now and then... But we also face a myriad of threats from our own governments reaction to these things. Western governments have confiscated and spent trillions of our dollars, started wars using terrorism as an excuse in which thousands of us have died, and used terrorism as an excuse to erode our civil liberties.

As I said, tell us where your line is. I have stated where mine is. The dialogue is ongoing, and it will work out. Stay calm, relax.

Two very strange statements. First of all I told you exactly where my line is in my opening post and ellaborated on it. If the government wants this information and can demonstrate a legitimate need for it, then they can appear before a judge and get a warrant. Its a speedy process, that works just fine. And I have no idea where the "stay calm, relax" stuff is coming from.

I feel the same way about reading my private conversations.

Oh! Its all a big misunderstanding then. I thought you were advocating giving the government the power to sieze information from private telecomms (either metadata, or content... but I assumed you meant content since you talked about searching for certain phrases) without a warrant.

Edited by dre
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....If it's a statement of fact, give me a cite where a security chief explains how he/she hates freedom. It's your opinion, only, and your strident and breathless tone only validates my suspicion that you're too emotionally invested in this.

As I said, tell us where your line is. I have stated where mine is. The dialogue is ongoing, and it will work out. Stay calm, relax.

Agreed....no amount of teeth gnashing or dramatics is going to change the material facts. The policies will continue, albeit with some window dressing to appease the strident and breathless ones. Frankly, I don't understand why President Obama and the NSA would get so much reaction from Canada, which has its own apparatus in place. Security starts at home ! :o

Edited by bush_cheney2004
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If what this Snowden leaker said is true (I'm not apt to believe Zuckerberg) I'm pretty PO'd. The Patriot Act is a legal piece of garbage. This PRISM program is ridiculously unconstitutional as it tramples all over the US 4th Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized

Bush, Obama, the CIA, the NSA, and officials in US Congress who voted to make the Patriot Act law and uphold it in 2012 can all kiss my rear end. Special thanks to the tech companies involved (Google, Microsoft etc.) if this story is true for quietly going along with this.

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