Headline, March13, 2014



100% GIVEN,  !00% agreed,  that constant vigilance : Yes, that constant vigilance is the task of people who protect society from enemies intent on using subterfuge and violence to get their way.

But never ever overlook the poignant fact :: that it is also the watchword of those who fear that the protectors will pursue the collective interest at untold cost to individual rights?!

Hero, Edward Snowden, a young security contractor, has come down on one side of that tussle by leaking documents showing that the National Security Agency  -NSA  spied on millions of American phone records and on the "Internet Activity"   of millions of foreigners.

It is thus, so very obvious and so convincingly conclusive, and should always be so, that official denials of such machinations fail to reassure that the governments acting outside public scrutiny are just not to be trusted:

James Clapper, America's director of national intelligence, told Congress last March that  NSA does not gather data on  "'millions of Americans"'.

He now says that he answered in  "the least untruthful of manner"'  possible.

The stark realism   -is that trawls   -through big databases may produce interesting clues  -but also life ruining false alarms, especially when the resulting decisions are cloaked in secrecy.

Snoopers International, is it?  Then: China dined out on the surveillance saga, with the state-run China daily remarking that it was  "certain to stain Washington's overseas image", and citing a Chinese academic who condemned: "The unbridled power of the American government".

Peter Schaar, Germany's data-protection chief, said the alleged scale of the spying was "monstrous". Europe's politicians have long fretted about FISA.

In October last, a report prepared for the European Parliament warned that the law had granted American spies  "heavy-calibre mass-surveillance firepower" and recommended that the  cloud-storage  providers should be required to warn European users of the risks.

The weaker powers granted to European spooks are part of a pattern. In April last year, the British Government was forced to drop plans to make it easier for the investigators to see whom troublemakers contact online.

It aimed to require more phone and internet firms to store data about what their customers do, but would probably not have allowed authorities to download and store it daily, as in America.

Critics mauled the proposal, but appreciated that it had been made public and debated. European privacy groups blame American lobbying after the September 11th  attacks for the EU's own limited data retention law.

Germany, Belgium, and the Czech Republic have failed to ratify it fully; Austria and Ireland have asked a European court to rule on it.

But America's energetic snooping is a part of a broader global trend. Each year authorities in South Korea make more than  37m  requests to see communications data stored about the country's 50m people.

Police in Britain make about  500,000.

New laws in Kenya let the government snoop on suspects indefinitely once an application is approved.

India is considering a plan to route communications through government equipment, helping it to eavesdrop without alerting service providers.

A report presented June 4th last year, Frank La Rue, the UN'S special rapporteur on free expression, warned that broad interpretations of outdated laws were enabling  sophisticated and invasive surveillance measures to flourish around the world.

He called for governments to draw up new regulations that properly acknowledge the growing power of modern spying equipment.    

Every single informed citizen understands, that the very first and foremost job and honour of every government is to protect its citizens. But that should be based on informed consent, not blind trust:

So even when better and better protections against abuses get incorporated, the online spying will continue.

One retired intelligence official, when asked, about the outcome of the present furore, said:

"It's that we have a debate and keep doing what we're doing in better conscience."

'Sorry, Sir,  -that is less than half the answer."

And to thousands and thousands of you, dear students, who want my advise:

'Well, all I can say to you is, "'Perhaps some things shouldn't be online at all?~"'

With respectful dedication to   "'!!! Justice, Liberty, Freedom and Democracy and Humanity !!!"' . See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless :

"'Hands Off Our  Metadata"'

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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