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Apple CEO and other Silicon Valley execs urge President Obama to sign off on surveillance reform

post #1 of 21
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President Barack Obama met with top Silicon Valley executives on Tuesday, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, to discuss digital surveillance and HealthCare.gov Web portal, with the companies urging stricter rules be applied to government-sanctioned surveillance.

Obama
President Barack Obama discusses surveillance, HealthCare.gov with tech executives, including Zynga's Mark Pincus (left) and Yahoo's Marissa Mayer (middle). | Source: Associated Press


As noted on Monday, Silicon Valley big wigs visited the White House on Tuesday to sway the president toward more stringent oversight of the government's spying operations, reports Reuters. The meeting was initially intended to also cover the maligned HealthCare.gov website, but inside sources said the two hours were dedicated to surveillance.

President Obama and his staff are in the midst of weighing recommendations from an outside panel's review concerning the possible curtailing of certain government-sponsored surveillance activities. Specifically, the National Security Agency's digital snooping initiatives that essentially made tech firms partners -- perhaps unwittingly -- in the data dissemination.

In a statement following Tuesday's meeting, the White House said President Obama conveyed to the executives present that he "will consider their input as well as the input of other outside stakeholders as we finalize our review of signals intelligence programs," according to The Wall Street Journal. He went on to say that believes in a free and open Internet.

"We appreciated the opportunity to share directly with the president our principles on government surveillance that we released last week and we urge him to move aggressively on reform," the tech companies said in a joint statement.

Government contractor Edward Snowden set off a firestorm of public discontent when he leaked secret documents outlining the NSA's vast intelligence operation, a good portion of which had access to sensitive user data managed by top tech firms like Apple and Google. Once the snooping operation was out in the open, tech companies quickly went on the defensive, reassuring the public that sensitive customer information was safe.

Ealier in December, Apple joined a coalition of tech companies in signing an open letter to the president and Congress asking that a dedicated set of rules be applied to NSA and law enforcement data requests, as well as overall operational transparency.
post #2 of 21

Just follow the Constitution, Mr. President. All of our nation's ills stem from straying from the strictures on government laid out in that document.

 

Also:

Quote:

Once the snooping operation was out in the open, tech companies quickly

 

 

Was there a sentence in there somewhere?

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post #3 of 21
Let's face it. As far as Cloud storage or Cloud-based applications go, there is no security and no privacy. Anyone who uses a vendor's -- any vendor's -- site for storing anything is just asking for the NSA to view it, copy it and catalog it. Forever. You cannot believe James Clapper about anything -- he's an admitted lier, having lied directly to the Senate Intelligence Committee under oath. So far, it looks like everything Snowden said has been true. The NSA, all US telecoms, and most of the big guys (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple) have been in bed on trashing our rights to privacy. Face recognition is the next major battleground. So sad.
post #4 of 21

The picture at the head of this story sickens me. "Grin for the camera" while we trample on your constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms.

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post #5 of 21

When Apple hired David Rice I knew it was all over.  The NSA didn't need outside help when Apple hires a man from the NSA (also a Navy Analyst) to be it's "Security Czar".  They made sure that there was no such thing as security for any of us.  I'm sure David Rice is thrilled that nothing we do with our Macs is secure, and iCloud is likely a dream come true for him.  I don't trust for a moment that he has our best interests at heart here.  

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post #6 of 21

The idea that Google and Facebook would petition to protect the privacy of citizens is brazen hypocrisy beyond comprehension.

post #7 of 21
At what stage are the public submissions for this review being accepted? This is what counts for democracy these days?
Can someone please help me understand this: were these companies openly working with the NSA before the Snowden leaks? If so, why the sudden change of heart?
If not, were they not aware through logs that this type of activity was occurring?
This whole fiasco, as well as Obama's behind closed doors handling of it, stinks to high heaven...
post #8 of 21
Obama Bomb President Iraq Boston Snowden Afghanistan Praise Allah Assange God Is Great Saudi Government Bush 911 al-Qaeda CIA

Now THAT should get me noticed!
Edited by GTR - 12/17/13 at 7:16pm
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post #9 of 21
This surveillance was authorized by the patriot act which was signed into law in 2001. The Supreme Court has found it to be constitutional. The law needs to be repealed or changed at the least but it will be an uphill battle against the spy community. Obama can make some changes on his own I'm sure, and I'd like to see him show some leadership in encouraging lawmakers to pass laws that scale back the patriot act but it will certainly take some political will from our legislators. After over ten years of having and expanding these surveillance tools it's going to be tough to do that though. They're just now finishing that massive data center to store every digital thought we have. Like I said, an uphill battle.
post #10 of 21
Another thing should be noted here... Presidents don't write our laws, Congress writes our laws.

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post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluestone View Post

The idea that Google and Facebook would petition to protect the privacy of citizens is brazen hypocrisy beyond comprehension.

They are not there to protect our freedoms, they are there to complain about NSA revelations that have harmed their businesses.

Only the American people can make such demands and frankly, I don't see it happening.

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post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post
 

Just follow the Constitution, Mr. President. All of our nation's ills stem from straying from the strictures on government laid out in that document.

 

Also:

 

Was there a sentence in there somewhere?


Yep.  Exactly.  And lets not forget...  The right to bear arms is to protect yourself from the govt.  That time may be getting closer if they don't correct their ways. 

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post #13 of 21
"What do you have to hide" is the famous saying right now from the lawmakers - if you aren't breaking the law what do you have to hide. I wonder how much each acting politician in the world has to hide. This isn't about what we have to hide it is about trust - something that has been broken by politicians voted into government institutions time and time again.
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post
 

Just follow the Constitution, Mr. President. All of our nation's ills stem from straying from the strictures on government laid out in that document.

 

Not so clear as you make it out to be, since the Constitution does not specifically mention cell phones or emails ;) 

post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

Not so clear as you make it out to be, since the Constitution does not specifically mention cell phones or emails 1wink.gif  

Illegal search is already a clearly defined legal concept that has been defended against many times on constitutional grounds.

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post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Common Sense View Post

Let's face it. As far as Cloud storage or Cloud-based applications go, there is no security and no privacy. Anyone who uses a vendor's -- any vendor's -- site for storing anything is just asking for the NSA to view it, copy it and catalog it. Forever. You cannot believe James Clapper about anything -- he's an admitted lier, having lied directly to the Senate Intelligence Committee under oath. So far, it looks like everything Snowden said has been true. The NSA, all US telecoms, and most of the big guys (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple) have been in bed on trashing our rights to privacy. Face recognition is the next major battleground. So sad.

Except for all the security in iCloud? How about the security in Mega.com?

 

The decrying about cloud based systems are purely ill-informed claptrap that is designed to spread FUD by paranoid people unable to fully understand the technology that goes into these sites.

 

I feel safer having my files in my iCloud account than on my desktop because I know that they are backed up and available to me whenever I need them.

post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryn Lowe View Post
 

Except for all the security in iCloud? How about the security in Mega.com?

 

The decrying about cloud based systems are purely ill-informed claptrap that is designed to spread FUD by paranoid people unable to fully understand the technology that goes into these sites.

 

I feel safer having my files in my iCloud account than on my desktop because I know that they are backed up and available to me whenever I need them.

 

Was your last sentence meant to disprove what the original poster wrote?  I figured that after you referred to people with words like "ill-informed claptrap", FUD, and paranoid, you would have offered something more insightful or concrete to justify your berating of those people.  Yet your last sentence is not relevant to the original poster's comment, and it certainly does not disprove anything he wrote.


Edited by Haggar - 12/18/13 at 11:31am
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor David View Post

This surveillance was authorized by the patriot act which was signed into law in 2001. The Supreme Court has found it to be constitutional. The law needs to be repealed or changed at the least but it will be an uphill battle against the spy community. Obama can make some changes on his own I'm sure, and I'd like to see him show some leadership in encouraging lawmakers to pass laws that scale back the patriot act but it will certainly take some political will from our legislators. After over ten years of having and expanding these surveillance tools it's going to be tough to do that though. They're just now finishing that massive data center to store every digital thought we have. Like I said, an uphill battle.

 

The NSA's activities have not been found to be constitutional. Indeed a federal district judge has just ruled that their indiscriminate collection of Verizon records is probably not constitutional. There is the Patriot Act that Congress passed, and then there is the secret interpretation of the Patriot Act that government actually runs with. It's substituting the public text of the law with an alternate text that Congress did not debate or vote on and that no open, adversarial court reviews.

post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor David View Post

This surveillance was authorized by the patriot act which was signed into law in 2001. The Supreme Court has found it to be constitutional. The law needs to be repealed or changed at the least but it will be an uphill battle against the spy community. Obama can make some changes on his own I'm sure, and I'd like to see him show some leadership in encouraging lawmakers to pass laws that scale back the patriot act but it will certainly take some political will from our legislators. After over ten years of having and expanding these surveillance tools it's going to be tough to do that though. They're just now finishing that massive data center to store every digital thought we have. Like I said, an uphill battle.

 

This is the important part, remember the government and I will leave the presidents name our since that does not matter anymore. The US declared war on Terrorism/Person/Group, not a countries, and the Patriot act was pass as part of the war declaration. Someone correct me if I am wrong but the US is still in a state of war with Terrorism and as such they are allow to suspend the constitution in the name of national security. This what is going on and unless the Patriot is rescinded or the government declares the war on terrorism is over they can continue doing what they have been doing. The issue here is the fact  the government actions has implicated private companies who are not part of the so call war machine. I said this before, this meeting and letter sent by these companies has to do with lost business outside the US. No government or company outside the US is going to want to do business with US companies if they think they are in bed with the US government.

post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Common Sense View Post

Let's face it. As far as Cloud storage or Cloud-based applications go, there is no security and no privacy. Anyone who uses a vendor's -- any vendor's -- site for storing anything is just asking for the NSA to view it, copy it and catalog it. Forever.

The worst part is their monitoring of central internet data channels. Your data has to pass through routers and apparently they've cracked some SSL encryption:

http://www.zdnet.com/has-the-nsa-broken-ssl-tls-aes-7000020312/
http://blog.cryptographyengineering.com/2013/12/how-does-nsa-break-ssl.html
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/05/nsa-gchq-encryption-codes-security
https://threatpost.com/how-the-nsa-could-be-breaking-ssl/103091

The last site mentions that if a scheme uses the same key, even if it's strong, they can store the data in an encrypted way until they get that one key and decrypt it all, without the knowledge of the companies storing your data.
Quote:
Originally Posted by taekat 
"What do you have to hide" is the famous saying right now from the lawmakers - if you aren't breaking the law what do you have to hide.

Eric Schmidt said something similar about Google and privacy but these days he has a problem with Amazon drones with cameras - interesting how people change their tune when they aren't in control. Google Maps has snapped intimate pictures of people. What's he doing in his back yard that he doesn't want Amazon to know? I think he's shooting kittens but you'll have to ask Schmidt.

Question is though, which setup has the best outcome - all privacy or no privacy?

All privacy means that people can trade illegal pornography, they can abuse kids online, deal drugs (Silk Road that got shut down recently), trade firearms, incite acts of violence/terrorism.
No privacy means that someone somewhere you don't know could be watching everything you do online, everything you say, profiling you and maybe one day use that information against you, look at intimate communication between loved ones that is only meant for you. It may even be used to violate freedom of speech.

I don't want either. I don't like walking through an airport and having someone touch my balls or look at them on camera (unless the person happens to be a beautiful woman but it's usually a short bald guy) but I also don't like the idea of the plane exploding in mid-air. I don't think I can have both outcomes.

Ultimately, information has to be processed by a human and humans are corruptible so no matter how automated the data filtering is, someone has to have the ability to see any monitored information, one of those people being Snowden.

Where do we draw the line? Bin Laden was found by monitoring a phone call yet there have been bombings in spite of all this data snooping. If it's not working all of the time, do we just take our chances the rest of the time to feel a sense of privacy? How would we be able to check compliance without threatening security?

If I was in a position of monitoring sensitive information, I'd probably abuse it. I'd try and find more pictures of Marissa Mayer. But would it be harmful if she didn't find out about it? I'm thinking of her right now and she doesn't know anything about it. Well, she would if she read this but if she didn't, it has no effect.

On the other hand, I'm reminded of a story in Australia where a guy drugged and abused women who didn't know about it until they saw the videos he recorded of them:

http://au.greekreporter.com/2009/12/23/xydias-to-pay-victims/

The harm is done as soon as you find out. When none of us were aware this was going on, we had no problem with it, no harm done. The second we find out about it, there's a problem. But it seems wrong that simply knowing about it makes the difference in the harm caused.
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magic_Al View Post

The NSA's activities have not been found to be constitutional. Indeed a federal district judge has just ruled that their indiscriminate collection of Verizon records is probably not constitutional. There is the Patriot Act that Congress passed, and then there is the secret interpretation of the Patriot Act that government actually runs with. It's substituting the public text of the law with an alternate text that Congress did not debate or vote on and that no open, adversarial court reviews.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magic_Al View Post

The NSA's activities have not been found to be constitutional. Indeed a federal district judge has just ruled that their indiscriminate collection of Verizon records is probably not constitutional. There is the Patriot Act that Congress passed, and then there is the secret interpretation of the Patriot Act that government actually runs with. It's substituting the public text of the law with an alternate text that Congress did not debate or vote on and that no open, adversarial court reviews.

You're right(I was wrong)it hasn't been found to be constitutional yet so there is hope. But this isn't new. There was an AT&T whistle blower lawsuit around '06 or '07 by a technician saying the government was tapping AT&T's backbone. I think the patriot act that was discussed and voted on was the one we got. It was an over reach of power and they knew it. But plenty of people thought it was a fine idea back then. We were told the terrorists hated our freedom, so we decided to remove that target. At least we don't get those stupid color coded government alerts telling us how scared we should be anymore.
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