Feature Friday: Standing Up For Your Users

I saw this yesterday and it made me so happy:

The list of technology companies allegedly participating in a vast US government surveillance program known as PRISM, which was just reported by the Washington Post and Guardian, is notable for one name that’s not on it: Twitter.

When we think of features of services we use, we don't often think of the backbone that the organization behind the service has. But we should.

This week has been notable for the firehose of news stories coming out about how our government is spying on us. My partner Brad and I talked about it on the subway ride up to a lunch in midtown yesterday. Brad explained to me that in the analog era, the government had to do a lot to get a wiretap. It was possible, but not simple. In the digital age, it is a lot easier. And we are getting spied on more and more.

We've got bills in front of congress like CISPA and CALEA that would make it even easier for our government to spy on us. I am shocked that this issue hasn't become a mainstream political issue. Are we all that immune to it? Is it OK to treat all of your citizens like they are criminals? Shouldn't the fourth amendment extend to cyberspace?

Until the masses wake up to this issue, we will need the web and mobile services we use to stand up for us. And that is a feature that I value immensely. Thankfully, Twitter has that feature.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Barry Nolan

    Google have been challenging the NSLs in federal courts. I hope they go all the way.

    1. Tom Labus

      and then get back to reading your mail. What’s the difference?

      1. Barry Nolan

        It’s called Opt-In

        1. Tom Labus

          I don’t believe people writing to you opt-in

  2. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Well said.

  3. Tom Labus

    I don’t know why this story surfaced at this time but this is not unexpected.After and probably before 9/11 this was the norm.”Privacy is dead. Get over it” Scott McNealy late 90’s.

  4. Jonathan Berkowitz

    i think it’s really interesting that you speak of twitter’s cultural ethos / strength / wiring (whatever the right word is) as a feature … i wonder what would happen if those sorts of discussions were broader parts of early stage “data” companies market messaging?

  5. Fernando Gutierrez

    I don’t want to be party spoiler and I admire how Twitter stands when asked to identify users, but most of Twitter is already public… Yes, I know that DMs and user’s email address aren’t, but it’s not comparable to most of the other companies in terms of privacy risk.

  6. William Mougayar

    When it comes to Internet legal matters, we, Netizens are a bunch of disorganized citizens.We get surprised by these government actions & legislation while they divide & conquer us. They know it that we’ll respond by blogs here & there but we act with difficulty.We need a global Netizen Parliament or Body that can become a real force in countering these moves and being proactive about them. I will personally pledge $100 per year to support this as an average, concerned Netizen.

    1. awaldstein

      This needs leadership first, dollars will always follow .

      1. William Mougayar

        I disagree Arnold. The dollars will show the will to fight. Leaders are here & within, but they are not well organized to fight effectively. We need to move the conversations to actions.

        1. awaldstein

          The leaders of this movement are whom?It’s easy to donate. I do to various causes that I believe in. it helps but it doesn’t move any needle. I makes me feel good.My point is that of course you are right but the web let’s us believe that little acts of support are indeed big acts of action. They matter but leadership gets stuff done.

          1. William Mougayar

            I would trust someone like Nick Grossman with a bigger budget & a bigger voice to go fight this. There is no shortage of capable people.

          2. awaldstein

            It’s not a matter of who can, it is a matter or who is.I not criticizing at all! I’ve learned that in everything on the web, marketing or personal causes, there’s level of actions and most are looking for something to pull them together to make a difference.I believe in this as important. Would I donate? Sure. Would I make it part of who I am to drive change, unlikely.

          3. Elizabeth Golluscio

            Could it be that Netizens are often aligned with Dems in the US and most Dems are pathetic on this topic. e.g. Rand Paul has been extremely vocal on many issues related to privacy, govt. overreach, etc. but many (most?) of us Leftish Netizens find him unattractive as a political “leader” to represent us…

          4. William Mougayar

            not sure. it shouldn’t be a partisan thing.

          5. Dave W Baldwin

            @60fcda604728355d4b53a62cc60e08b4:disqus and @wmoug:disqus , this moves to my point back when. You can argue either/or which immediately evolves into neither/nor, or we can force the issue, choose some leaders and heavily influence those promoted to talk each other and develop a game plan. Then talking points can be shared to be sent to everybody’s social group and congressional representative which actually may be noticed by someone in the US media, instead of depending on the Guardian for real late breaking…

          6. LE

            “The leaders of this movement are whom?”If there are leaders who makes sure they are doing the right thing over time.(Thinking of these wars and bifurcations within open source movements. Or even what happened with Komen foundation over time (apparently events are being cancelled as a result of the planned parenthood fiasco..))

        2. kidmercury

          siding with arnold in this beef. the leadership is weak, lacks consistent thinking, and spends their time lobbying to empower government through greater gun control legislation. real leadership will have the political will to lead organized civil disobedience.

          1. William Mougayar

            Yes we need more leadership & money to better mobilize action. Fred Wilson writing about it is leadership. Others doing the same is leadership. But we are all disjointed & voicing it via blogs & sporadic action, often reactive, rarely proactive. A proper organization of existing leadership will draw more leadership.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      They also have a lot of money to use … that we all contribute to.

  7. PhilipSugar

    We could not agree more. I do not understand how more people are not upset about this. The fourth amendment was written for a reason. It is not fine to say don’t worry if you don’t have anything to hide.This makes me more convinced there just isn’t much difference between either party in Washington D.C. Both are in their own beltway bubble.

    1. Jeffrey Hartmann

      I have actually felt this way for a long time. Obama and Bush are remarkably similar in their actions on the issues that should really matter. I think a lot of the theater that happens in D.C. is to distract the people from the deep issues and backroom dealings that really matter. While on the face of things and certainly for some issues there are differences, but at their core they are the same when it comes to their respect for our rights.

      1. Dave W Baldwin


    2. Dave W Baldwin

      If you think about the avg Joe out there, think of all of the different bills. You had SOPA/PIPA which to them seemed somthing on the fringe, moving over to bills/acts with names that were there for the sale. A lot of gobblygook.Now you enter time frame where you think in your head, “If I protest, what will they do? They have my data!”The government does seem to be like a bunch of kids who have hold of a cool toy they just love.

    3. ShanaC

      we’re overdue for a new party

  8. Mac

    Reminds me why I appreciate Duck Duck Go.

    1. Humberto

      Is it completely private?

      1. Mac

        Good question. Maybe Fred or the team at Duck Duck Go can answer that. It’s my understanding.

  9. Peter BjΓΆrkmarker

    The others claim not to provide “direct access to their servers”. Can someone please ask them about indirect access… :). And why would the NSA want to have direct access? Posting a data dump to their servers is the standard way to load data into a datawarehouse. Direct access would just be a pain from a tech perspective.Can someone explain what’s with all the logos in the Powerpoint? They mix brands and companies and it just looks odd…The official statement that makes it clear that they are only targeting the rest of the world, not US citizens. http://www.dni.gov/index.ph…. Thanks, I feel much better now πŸ™‚

  10. Jeffrey Hartmann

    This is super important that they fight back, unfortunately I believe that companies are being compelled to provide this information in more and more cases. And then hit with gag orders. I am quite disturbed that the spying is so complete that we can all not expect any packets going out of our houses or coming in to not be inspected. Pretty soon I expect precrime to start being a big issue. “Our model of your behavior tells us with a 80 percent likelihood that you will blow the whistle on how bad our spying is, so we are going to lock you up in a room and throw away the room.” This spy vrs. spy world we are living in is quite disgusting to me, and I think it is only going to get worse until it gets better.

    1. Anne Libby

      Minority Report. Not a great movie, in my memory, but it definitely comes to mind.

  11. Dave W Baldwin

    Truly mind boggling. We need to direct our attention to the 16-24 yr. olds. They are worried about it and that will be strengthened as random teachers have them read 1984. On the morning news yesterday (CBS), their expert, who I think was part of the Bush Administration, explained MetaData. We need to force a discussion that will put the specifics out there. The media has been asleep at the wheel.

    1. Jeffrey Hartmann

      Completely agree here. That metadata includes all sorts of ‘good stuff’ like your position at one second intervals, which gives them things like where you go, how fast you get there, etc. And the fact that all the numbers are easily cross referenced to names, just a database join away. And I really wouldn’t be surprised if the raw call contents are automatically transcribed by voice recognition and stored as ‘metadata’ in some carriers databases (to assist in searching for ‘hot’ conversations.) They also aren’t talking about how all these datafeeds interact together, most of us here know that their derived picture into our lives is nearly total. The only privacy we have really is that the sea of data makes picking out a single person difficult, but if they find reason to ‘research’ you… Well they know more then your Mother does about you.

      1. Dave W Baldwin

        Yes, it is a matter of all that data can be accessed. The disjointed data regarding the Boston Bombers is pushing the momentum to be able to pull up that single person. This is why forcing a true debate over the next year is important so we can be a little ahead of the coming 95-100% accuracy of voice recognition/translation and its natural spiking of data mining.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      They are likely in part involved in media control tactics. Why would PRISM stop at just getting involved with tech companies? Controlling governments love dictating sentiment through major news channels.

      1. Dave W Baldwin

        True, but don’t necessarily make someone an enemy for having an enemy sake. He was actually trying to explain something I could tell was hard to explain. It is one of their regulars.

      2. Hershberg

        Of course they are, and not just “in part.” That started, or gained momentum, when Clinton decided to deregulate the FCC. That allowed a handful of companies (Disney, Viacom, GE, Newscorp, and Clear Channel) to buy up all the airwaves, thereby making it nearly impossible for independent media/voices to be heard. So, instead of covering the issues that really affect us (climate change, the poor, etc), the “news” gives us entertainment and celebrity gossip instead. Now that the internet has made it possible for those independent voices to be heard again, we’re seeing that the government, along with it corporate partners, is prepared to do whatever it takes to silence anyone that dissents from the official narrative.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          Those clever devils eh..

  12. Anne Libby

    I am bereft, not because I’m surprised, but because most of America has not responded/reacted to visible markers of this sort of behavior. Like patting down my mom at the airport. (Like the President joking about pat downs!)In August of 2002, I was at the Duluth (MN) International Airport. I watched as an older woman was selected for secondary screening. At the time, this happened at the gate. She was American, probably Minnesotan, and from an era when a woman dressed to travel: she was wearing Sunday best, and beautifully coiffed.Things I remember like this was yesterday. Her lavender pantsuit. Her brooch. Her towheaded grandchildren looking on as she stood, spreadeagle, being wanded at the gate. And my thought at the time: that we were training these kids (now young teens) to endure illegal search and seizure.This is not why we lived through 9/11. Yes, I’ve written letters, spoken out, even explored action through local grassroots Dem organizations. Not as much as I should have.It is time to end the presumption of guilt for the 99.99999% of us who are not a part of the problem.Twitter, may you be part of an American Spring.Now, excuse me. I’ve got to go put some tinfoil on my head.

  13. Jeffrey K. Rohrs

    We met Big Brother years ago, and it was us. Social media and ubiquitous recording devices (smartphones), recast “sharing” to cover much of what prior generations considered “spying.” Thanks to Zuckerberg’s Law, I would say that many people simply don’t have the same expectation of privacy in anything they do–hence, the lack of outrage over the government’s actions. Our outrage is reserved for actual outcomes, not “what if” scenarios regarding our private data. And for most folks, if you cast the use of that data as helpful in fighting “The War on Terror” (TM), they won’t bat an eye as you tap every device they have.I wish that were not the case as my fear is the one day we’ll need our privacy, it will be too late to reclaim it (if it isn’t already). However, I’m struck by the possibility that the prevailing cultural attitude is not unlike the mentality of leading tech entrepreneurs who run headfirst into the abyss with a singular desire to execute on their vision, naysayers be damned. They rarely expend energy contemplating the potential negative ramifications of their vision because to do so would be to zap their energy and potentially cause them to miss “the next big thing.” I certainly don’t blame them; that’s the focus creators have to have. That attitude–go fast and stop only when there’s a real problem (rather than a hypothetical one) has seeped into our cultural DNA because of The War on Terror. As a result, it going to take a BIG, tangible scandal that impacts us each personally to wake us up.Until such time, it’s all just doubleplusgood.

    1. ShanaC

      the government is also us

      1. Dave W Baldwin

        Thanks Shana. That is the money line I forgot about.

        1. ShanaC

          joy of democracy is you can use it to give liberties away

          1. Dave W Baldwin


      2. deancollins

        What I want to know Shana is how much is this costing us as I’M PAYING FOR IT!! on.fb.me/13feMTlConsidering the infrastructure in the USA is crumbling (eg washington bridge collapsing but had higher rating than 754 other bridges in Washington state) and social retirement befits for senior citizens being slashed, all while states are saying they don’t have the money for education………how come there are no articles about the outrage of what this is costing us as tax payers?#PRISM

        1. jason wright

          because the NSA, the FBI, the CIA, et.c., et.c, not only specialize in projects like PRISM, but also projects to infiltrate and manage the mass media.this PRISM story may be a press release in the guise of a leak. the newspapers involved may not be aware of this subtle manipulation. perhaps the powers that be want to scare the internet companies. if we stop being users they’re in trouble.

          1. ShanaC

            how did you come up with this as an idea?

          2. jason wright


      3. pointsnfigures

        No it isn’t. they have different economic incentives-and a different purpose. People need to be protected from govt-hence the founding docs of the US.

        1. ShanaC

          to some degree – but part of having a democracy means you have a demos. And technically speaking, we’re the demos.

  14. georgebc

    Given no administration willingly gives up power, maybe the solution is to have legislation that expires after a set time period?

  15. jason wright

    does it add up that the preeminent spy agency on the planet failed to detect that its own slide show was being accessed and leaked to the media?

  16. Ela Madej

    Not about privacy but speaking of standing up for your users: “Airbnb is vowing to fight City Hall in New York by standing up for one occasional innkeeper facing a $2,400 fine for renting out his room” (http://www.wired.com/busine…They obviously have interest in doing so (just as every business has interest in keeping their users happy) but THIS is the type of service we all want to use–one that will actively fight for its users and their business.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      This all relates to what Carlota Perez mentions how tech companies need to get more involved in policy — http://www.youtube.com/watc… – interview with Fred in 2011

    2. LE

      “They obviously have interest in doing so”Idealism and self serving. Things like that fade and change over time. [1] In the end businesses make business decisions because they have to. Project forward 10 years and ask your self if that company will do the same thing. Even the heroic legendary Fedex antics of the early 70’s (as popularized in “Castaway”) don’t happen anymore. Good pr though.[1] I remember when credit cards first came out with these guarantees that anything you bought with the card was guaranteed for loss, damage as well as double warranty extension. So people started to take advantage of that and game the system and there was clear fraud as well. So they changed the rules of the programs I don’t even know to what extent they are around anymore or promoted.

  17. LIAD

    Twitter stood up to them and said no or they already had access to all Twitter has to offer through their firehose?

  18. jason wright

    the defense against this must be a new technical architecture.John Doerr talked about simulation engines. that requires mobile devices to be significantly more powerful than they are presently. when that time comes devices could become the only hardware in the network.

    1. kidmercury

      a new architecture is definitely part of the solution. a new architecture is needed anyway to deal with the (illusory) spectrum shortage issue.

  19. Matt A. Myers

    Most data of Twitter users is public, so perhaps there wasn’t as much pressure by the government? How else did Twitter avoid giving them access? Do you know / can you share that Fred?Edit: Or perhaps they found another way to get access to the data, without Twitter having direct knowledge.

  20. Shripriya

    I’m confused. I thought if the government demands the data, the company is obliged to hand it over and also obligated to not disclose it to the customers. Is that not correct?If that is correct, doesn’t it imply that Twitter hasn’t been asked?Just curious how it all works.

    1. kidmercury

      you are correct in that government can demand customer contact info (though there are some restrictions on other info) via what are known as national security letters (NSL). they can also require telecom companies to not disclose that such requests have been made, though they sometimes partially relent on this point if pressed. so the whole situation is a bit nebulous. here is an article on NSL requests made to google that may help clarify: http://www.infoworld.com/t/

    2. fredwilson

      they contest every demand they get in the courts

      1. Shripriya

        *That* is impressive. Good for them.

  21. takingpitches

    Eric Schmidt’s comment offended so many people had even broader meaning than known back then: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      Yeah, quite disgusting. I hate that kind of rethoric.

  22. takingpitches

    However imperfect it would be, a digital right to be forgotten should be part of the privacy rights that we pursue.As a byproduct of something very good, we have made it too easy for both public and private actors to do things with our data like leaving all our cash in an unsecured pile out in the open.β€œWithout forgetting it is quite impossible to live at all.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

  23. kidmercury

    i am not sure what anyone is complaining about. you all voted for obama or romney, both of whom support unconstitutional, anti-4th amendment legislation like NDAA which obama signed into law. if you want something different, vote that way. till then, you will need to accept the consequences of your decision, profoundly embarrassing as it is sure to be.anyway. the only answer is non-violent revolution in the form of civil disobedience. start ignoring government and building your own government. money supply is the most important element.

    1. Common sense

      The problem is that it is entirely unethical NOT to use this Data for crimes that rise to the level of terorism, including slave trade, pedophilia, rape and torture.

      1. kidmercury

        no, it is unethical in your opinion to not use this data for such crimes. moreover, that is the warrant process is for.

      2. Cam MacRae

        I’ll see your teleology and raise you deontology, just as the founders intended.

    2. Elia Freedman

      I wish I felt differently, but why does all this feel like we are whistling into the wind? The elected officials keep us focused on gay rights and abortion while it figures out who its enemies are in the name of security through every online service in the country, of which we willing submitted all of our data and information. In another month, most of us will move onto the next government atrocity (or pseudo-atrocity). Saddened? Yes. But the ’60s are over and the hippies became yuppies. Surprised? Not one bit.

    3. robertdesideri

      “start ignoring government and building your own government. money supply is the most important element.”sounds like a kookstarter project. go for it!

      1. kidmercury

        i’m already going for it and have been for years. bitcoin is a step in that direction, though we probably need the next wave of the economic crisis to kick in before things really get moving. unfortunately people do not seek freedom until the pain of tyranny has left no other recourse.

  24. JLM

    .I fear the battle has long since been lost and that at this stage of the game, the government is simply going around bayoneting the wounded. The war is just about lost in its entirety and it is time for privacy to get a launch out to the USS Missouri for the formal surrender ceremony.We own the government and yet it is our biggest enemy when it comes to privacy — not just in violating our own fictitious privacy but in enabling others to pierce and abuse the work product that the government has gathered under the promise of safeguarding our data.The mindset employed here is the same mindset that has given us the IRS scandal — the elites v the little people and the notion that both the elites and the government know bestAll of this compounded by a political toxicity that says that everything is fair game if you can just push it past the next election cycle.If nobody is punished — as an example in the IRS scandal wherein raw political actions were taken by OUR IRS — then it will continue forever.Does the notion that a fairly high level IRS person takes the 5th Amendment to deny testimony to Congress in its legitimate oversight role not suggest that we really do not have a clue as to what our government is really doing?If the IRS is capable of this can you imagine what the NSA and other intelligence organizations are capable of when they start each and every day beyond the reach of even reasonable oversight?I was always pretty sure that the NSA and CIA were in the Internet taking notes but the notion that web and telecom based entities have been cooperating is beyond what even I had expected.Knowing that we cannot trust the government — not a new concern, mind you — where do the boundaries actually reside? Can the government use information for terrorism, law enforcement — how about government contracting? How about immigration?It is certainly chilling to think about how far a dishonest enterprise — like our government — could take this concept and what mischief could be created without your knowing anything.JLM.

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      I have to disagree. The war is not lost. These are a series of battles and we only lose each skirmish because of being weak kneed.Had a group of HS kids who were talking about the government snooping this past March (remember I live in the town everyone thinks they’re Rush Limbaugh). I laughed and told them they already signed away their privacy via Apple, Google, Fb and so on. That is when I moved over into the hypothetical regarding the small drone cameras flying by and catching you in a room, who owns that video? Back to the signing away your privacy, let’s be real. We can say it is all government, but remember the issue of those that are major stake holders in whichever company can gain the ability to glean what their company has.I stand by my position. We need to form a group, not have it be so loose that it is just a fad, and force the issue. As back up, work the design of what can fool the eavesdropper and there is a way to do that πŸ˜‰

      1. raycote

        We can now cost-effectively aggregate an unlimited number of digitally-abstracted shared-interest stakeholder-groups and knit those groups into neural-network-like nodes of distributively-localized shared intent/interests/wilfulness. All those shared-stakeholder-interest groupings can be arithmetically mediated/synchronized via the internet’s inexpensive universal network-transaction fabric.Given the endless possible neural-network-like configurations of such shared-interest stakeholder-groupings it should be possible, using a little collective imagination, to disrupt obsolete over-centralized 19th-century-style representative governance by force feeding the move to more fine grained, distributively-layered direct-governance and control structures, emancipating ourselves a little at a time from the bottom up. First we take the municipalities then we take the Feds.Time to start thinking about what that neural-network-like fabric of distributively-layered shared-interest stakeholder-groups might look like.The internet is shifting us from the industrial/information age into an age of abstracted organically-acceleration-interdependence.If we can’t get a better collective handle on the organic social-synchronicity implications of the internet we are likely to run ourselves over with our new car ;-)That really does require a new topdown set of framing narratives, metaphors and lexicons. Without putting in the collective effort to develop that new collaborative framing language we really are spinning our wheels, trying desperately to solve the obsolete governance problem at an ineffectual level within the system like fixing a file structure problem at the application layer.

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          True, yet remember the danger of the winding network as it spirals, for it can become a cluster fuck. Getting on top of that as language of inner mind becomes the mainstay 10 years from now will be good and achievable with the stronger bond between man and more autonomous machine. Personally, I think we need to come to grips with the Feds and avoid secession issues that would become fodder for the ill minded to use in scaring the innocent… Oh yeah, that’s an election. πŸ˜‰

    2. Tom Labus

      Did you find the timing of the leak interesting? Or am I reading too much into it.That we’re being watched is very old news

      1. JLM

        .If one were a conspiracy theorist there is no question that the timing is quite suspect. The IRS mess is rotten to the core. Goes to the highest levels of the government including the Oval Office.JLM.

  25. ccarella

    the accelerated rate of (surveillance) change.

  26. David Adler

    I think the point is not who or why, but what is next? Will the ever expanding universe of mobile (always on, always aware) services and devices be the last frontier of privacy?

  27. JBPC

    Am I the only one who thinks that our elected officials have a horrendously difficult job? That the very real threat of terrorism weighs on them daily while we enjoy our lives in this country?Like Fred, I live in NYC. I am proud to be in a place that hasn’t had a terrorist attack in more than 10 years since 9/11. I know that this is not a trivial thing, that there are a lot of dedicated men and women who work in organizations like the NSA, CIA, etc. that work daily to make sure that I never have to worry about this. I don’t believe these people take pleasure in snooping on my email or my Facebook status updates.We all make tough decisions in a dangerous world. When the NY Times rails against Obama for going back on what he said before he became president, I really take issue with it. It’s easy to criticize when you don’t have history looking over your shoulder. Instead, this is a guy who came into office and saw the reality of the world, in terms of terrorist attacks stopped because of intelligence gleaned from electronic surveillance, and he changed his mind. I can appreciate that, and I’m glad we have people in government who make these types of hard calls.

    1. GIITH

      I agree in general, but when it comes to the politicians, you’re making a HUGE incorrect assumption: they don’t have jobs like you and I do. Or, at least, it’s not a good thing if they do.Politicians should make decisions without regard to being reelected. Terrorism policy is a perfect example of what happens when they fail to do that. I, like you, live in NYC. And I’d probably vote against Schumer or Gillenbrand if something like the Boston Marathon bombing happened here and their policies prevented its prevention. That’s me being an irrational citizen, though, a biproduct of a (similarly irrational) focus on the evils of terrorism. Heck, on 9/11, there were what, seven *million* people in NYC? And how many were injured or died?A couple of weeks ago, my family and I were in a car accident here in Manhattan. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but had the other car hit us a foot or two over, that may not have been true. Over the few years, I’ve had a handful of other friends, family, and acquaintances injured in car accidents in the city. It’s not an epidemic by any means, just everyday bad that happens everywhere. Over the course of a year, I guarantee you that my odds of losing a loved one (or myself) to a car accident is demonstrably higher than it would from a terrorism attack — if we didn’t have 75% of these post-9/11 anti-terrorism controls.A large part of why we’re upset with Obama, Feinstein, and the other politicians who are making the wrong choice here is because its their jobs and legacies on the line. As long as they’re alive, they’ll be judged by whether another 9/11 happens on their watch.But that’s a terrible way to govern.

      1. JBPC

        Obama cannot run for office anymore. I don’t think that every politician thinks about saving US lives and terrorism as a reelection theme. I think promising entitlements ad infinitum fit in that category, but I would like to believe that to some degree, preventing 9/11 in the minds of our leaders is not simply a re election strategy. I think these people care, and I think there are good people out there. We can freak out about our twitter DMs being read but these guys have nightmares about people getting killed on their watch.Like everything in life, this is the hard tradeoff we have to make. Everyone hates taxes but wants infrastructure. Everyone wants complete privacy and civil liberties but if bombs are going off in every city every day, I guarantee you all of us would be happy to turn over our facebook accounts.The title of Fred’s post is standing up for your users. This organization, called the US government, is standing up for its citizens. By protecting them, by moving heaven and earth when people attack us to bring them to justice. I think we need to give them a lot more slack.

    2. Dave W Baldwin

      Let’s see, if I can pull any 4 monkeys off the street and give them the basics (middle of road, not political) of what we’re talking about in less than 20 minutes leaving a good Q&A for another 10… you mean to cry for the politician who has a staff and so forth?This is their job and they have no excuse. Being illiterate in technology is nothing but choice.

  28. David M. Adler, Esq.

    I think the point is not who or why, but what is next? Will the ever expanding universe of mobile (always on, always aware) services and devices be the last frontier of privacy?

  29. Richard

    If a company like bottlenose can mine TWITTER’s data, why can’t the NSA?

  30. ShanaC

    abuse of power comes as no surprise – jenny holzer

    1. jason wright

      it could be said that power is abuse

  31. Richard

    Its time to debate and decide this issue. The idea that this is going on behind a veil of secrecy, decided by some mysterious group, is “THE PROBLEM”.

  32. jason wright

    the individual citizen may apply to a court for an order preventing GOV from having total access to his or her communications. there is nothing to worry about.

  33. deancollins

    Fred …….Bullshit.Tweets are being archived by the library of congress (Twitter PR hyped this as something cool)…….this means that the NSA already has access to them.Sorry mate but I was hoping for something more insightful from you on the #PRISM issue.

    1. Aaron Klein

      If you’re going to comment, at least know something basic about the subject. PUBLIC tweets are archived in the Library of Congress.IP addresses and other metadata to prove the real identity of dissenters is most certainly not and Twitter resists giving that to any government without a valid court order.

      1. kidmercury

        i’d give this beef a draw. dean is wrong in that in the library of congress stuff is irrelevant since it doesn’t include meta data, though we don’t know if government agencies have requested data via twitter through national security letters — which are not court ordered — and required twitter to remain silent.

        1. Aaron Klein

          They’ve said that’s true. Less than 20% of the cases where they handed over information were under seal.But they have a strong history. The EFF said this:”I don’t necessary blame Twitter for complying with valid subpoenas and warrants, since they are required to by law. It seems they have been vigilant in challenging unnecessarily broad legal requests. They only comply with 69 percent, while Google complied with 88 percent. And they’ve also written a detailed explanation of why they may not comply, and notify users whenever legally possible. The blame lies with the government for making so many warrantless requests and with Congress for not giving much of our electronic data more protection than just a subpoena.”http://news.cnet.com/8301-1…

          1. LE

            “They only comply with 69 percent, while Google complied with 88 percent.”A comparison like that is irrelevant I believe. We don’t know the composition of the requests that were made and for what reason and whether there was a basis for a challenge or not.Numbers have some value but think of the case where one prosecutor wins 99% of the cases he takes while another wins only 80%.Could it be the 99% is simply gaming the system and only taking the low hanging fruit? Same with hospitals and mortality. Certain hospitals have a harder case load. A community hospital in a wealthy community is not the same as an inner city hospital serving the poor or a University hospital which gets the more difficult cases.Google is also a public company, twitter is not.And a private company that is smaller may operate entirely differently. I can tell you that I would comply with 100% of requests. I’ve had requests and have complied with them in the past. (Ironically of course that says something about me obviously which goes certainly in the direction of what the eff is saying.)

          2. Aaron Klein

            Disagree. Google and Twitter don’t choose which requests they get. As long as the data is apples and apples – and EFF seemed to think so – it’s an interesting comparison.Mind you, I’m pro-Google. I’m also not as worked up about this stuff as others. Finding the balance between security and privacy is critical and I’m not sure we’ve found it. But there are terrorists out there who mean us harm, and Presidents Bush and Obama have done a decent job protecting this country, though I can find faults with both.

          3. LE

            “EFF seemed to think so”Eff has a bias in trying to reinforce certain behavior. It wouldn’t be in their best interest to present data in a way that was circumspect that clearly didn’t reward the behavior which they think is favorable and meets “their” standards. They aren’t a newspaper they aren’t in the business of even attempting to do anything but achieve their goal.Say you have two kids and one gets good grades (but you feel has easier teachers) and the other not as good grades (but a harder teacher). You’re not going to tell the kid with the lesser grades that fact otherwise he might feel he doesn’t have to try as hard.This is not to say that there is a difference I’m just pointing out that we don’t know the composition of the requests.

      2. William Mougayar

        Interesting. I didn’t know that. But storing it and retrieving it have 2 different orders of magnitudes in difficulty. As you well know, it’s a easier to write data than read it. I’m not sure to what extent this archival is easily manipulated by the powers at be.

      3. pfreet

        The only reason for NSA not to ask Twitter for the data is because they don’t need it, or already had it. Twitter is no different than any other service provider. If a court order showed up, they would have followed it. Maybe they already have.

        1. Aaron Klein

          The NSA does ask Twitter for data, and Twitter complies with a valid court order. What Twitter doesn’t do is build an “automated lockbox portal” to make NSA requests routine and simple.Bravo Twitter.

          1. pfreet

            That’s an important distinction. Thank you for the clarification.

  34. Salt Shaker

    Clearly I’m in the minority here, but I have no prob w/ this. The 4th amendment guards against “unreasonable search and seizure.” In the post 9/11 semi-apocalyptic world we live in today, where people wantonly kill and maim in the name of religious supremacy, where people vow a deep hatred for everything we stand for and welcome our annihilation, there is a legitimste need to protect our safety in ways that were unthinkable when our constitution was written. (The same applies to the 2nd amendment, but that’s a diff conversation.) The operative word in the 4th amend is “unreasonable,” which is clearly open for interpretation and subject to abuse. However, if our fed govt openly states its policy in how data is captured and mined in support of public safety, with fair and reasonable oversight, then I have no prob w/ this policy. 9/11 for me and many New Yorkers still feels like yesterday, not 12 yrs. ago. Civil liberties are important, but they can be trumped by public safety if policies are reasonably enforced w/ oversight.

  35. deancollins

    lol 2007 Obama video “there will be no more warrantless wiretaps”- http://fabzing.com/watch/?s…Meet the new king….same as the old king #PRISM

  36. ErikSchwartz

    There has been no privacy in communications since the Patriot act was ramrodded through in 2001.”Never write if you can speak; never speak if you can nod; never nod if you can wink.”

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Where’s that quote from? It’s a keeper.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Thank you for the addition to my arsenal πŸ™‚

      1. Donna Brewington White

        and tweetable.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          And, in fact, I did. And it got reTweeted πŸ™‚

  37. Kirsten Lambertsen

    What I think about with this counter-terrorism stuff is, there’s no report card. No one has to prove to we the people that it’s working. Isn’t that something we should know before we form any opinions or make decisions?I remember, while Bush was still president, and the issue of the NSA having its own room for data collection at cell phone companies came up. Bush said that they had to connect the dots, and someone replied that collecting more dots was not the same as connecting the right dots.There hasn’t been another 9/11. But is that truly a direct result of all this dot collecting? Just because more dot collecting and the absence of another 9/11 occur at the same time doesn’t mean one is the result of the other.I’m reminded of the elephant repellent joke. A guy is waving his arms wildly, and another guy asks him what he’s doing. First guy says,”This is elephant repellent.” Second guy, “There aren’t any elephants around here.” First guy, “See, it’s working!”I’m as alarmed about government spying as the next person. But before I came to any conclusions, I would want to know if any of the dot collecting has directly prevented an act of terrorism here in the U.S.or if it’s just elephant repellent.

    1. John Revay

      Nicely said

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Thanks, John πŸ™‚

    2. Dave W Baldwin

      Point of Order- your implication is nothing happened after 9/11. There were at least 40 failed plots that included:Blowing up Sears Tower and othersDevelop chemical weapons here in USAttack synagogues including some in NYAssassinationsBomb other government buildingsBomb sports stadiums, shopping mallsBomb subwaysJFK Airport (and other airports)Blowing up 10 US bound airliners (stopping this was due to our friends at UK)I am rather disappointed that the Chicken Little accusation is used.

      1. Ana Milicevic

        And these were all prevented due to PRISM?It’s a trade-off and it’s not clear cut when something is being used for security, and when simply because noone objected. That’s really the point: so many things can fall under the security umbrella and there’s no mechanism for oversight, asking questions, or validating legitimacy.

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          That reply was to a bash Bush (not defending him) and in that bash insinuating the Chicken Little claim. The 40 examples of terrorism thwarted post 9/11 involves the evolution of defense measures. The current President has been so for a few years. If he wants PRIZM, he needs to stand up and say so. I hear he is having trouble right now because he can’t find cue cards….

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            No, I wasn’t bashing Bush. You have misinterpreted my comment. I simply used the anecdote because that is *when* I first heard of the “collecting more dots” concept.What I advocate and try to discuss here, almost always, is rational and critical thinking because I’m striving for it, myself. I am trying to resist reflexive response in either direction. I would like the data and then an exhaustive analysis of the data before drawing my conclusions.I long ago lost interest in bashing or advocating either party. It’s a sideshow and plays no role in making sound decisions.Now, in this short conversation yours is the only example of bashing that I can see (“…can’t find his cue cards”). Just sayin’.I can’t figure out what you’re advocating, though. Pro-PRISM or anti-PRISM? Please clarify.

          2. Dave W Baldwin

            I’m trying to be neutral to push for real discussion. Technically anti but do know of concerns from other side and actual limitations at current time re billions (trillions) of phone calls and so forth. Don’t worry, I think you’re cool, do enjoy the weekend. πŸ˜‰

          3. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Awright. [Fist bump.] We’re good πŸ™‚

      2. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Your examples are interesting. I will take them into consideration. Although some are a little vague and will prove difficult to research (“Bomb other government buildings”).You have misinterpreted my statement, however. It wasn’t an accusation of any kind, whatsoever. It was a more a question.

        1. Guest

          Sorry, I will provide link. Can’t at moment.

        2. Dave W Baldwin

          http://www.heritage.org/res…These are the ‘public knowledge’ examples. Remember we were caught rather flat footed when 9/11 happened, like having Korean translators, yet hardly any Arabic and so on.

      3. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Also, I don’t imply. If I held the opinion that security efforts had done nothing for us since 9/11, I would just say it. I neither said nor implied it. I do think it’s pretty important that we understand, when our gov’t is invading our privacy on such a grand scale, if it’s worth it. And ya, I think the gov’t should have to prove it. The gov’t reports to us, not the other way around.

    3. Ana Milicevic

      I agree — elephant repellant is a pretty potent thing (and my new favorite way to explain why this is an issue).

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        The great part is, I first encountered that joke as a first-grader πŸ™‚ It really made an impression!

    4. Peter Fleckenstein

      We know for sure that PRISM didn’t stop the Fort Hood shootings or the Boston bombings.

  38. John Best

    Other side of the pond, but day job involves (and obviously being circumspect) processing Police RIPA (regulatory investigative powers act) requests. The majority of them show a low level of understanding of the way the Internet works. Whilst I wouldn’t suggest relying on a lack of competence in the mechanisms of state, I can’t decide whether I’m more concerned by the current situation, or a possible one where they *did* understand.

  39. dan_malven

    I’m definitely in the camp of being fine with the government using my data to combat terrorism and other heinous acts. I totally understand that it could be abused, but I think it nets out to a societal win. Not just for safety, but also for cost. If the government didn’t use digital tools to reduce the cost of providing its services (like EVERY business on the planet is doing) we would have higher taxes to cover the costs of more manual, human-intensive ways of combating terrorism. And that would suck.I live (professionally) in the digital healthcare world, and there is a lot of angst around insurers analyzing medical records. But was is forgotten is that it is the primary tool they have to fight fraud, and there is a LOT of attempted fraud in healthcare. If the costs of fraud increase, then our premiums increase. So I’m willing to have insurers analyze my medical records for the same reason I’m willing to have the government analyze my digital entrails. There are bad guys out there, and bad guys decrease both our safety and our economic well-being. And I just work toward electing good public officials who don’t abuse the power.

    1. Dale Allyn

      I agree that there is a lot of fraud and abuse in healthcare (I’ve witnessed it), but the irony here is that a large part of the abuse, and in fact fraudulent or corrupt behavior is ALSO perpetrated by the health insurance companies and healthcare provider systems. Billing practices are extremely corrupt in many sectors and within many insurer/medical institution relationships.I’ll not get into my rant, but the collusion, abuse and corruption on the admin side is abundant. Personally, I abhor the fraud and corruption of both sides. I definitely feel insurers need a means to curb abuse, but they also must be reconfigured to purge the system of the abuse of healthcare recipients. (And, no, I’m NOT a supporter of ObamaCare. :)Edited to specify “healthcare provider systems”, not referring to individual doctors and nurses for the most part.

    2. ShanaC

      how much bad? At what point do you feel like you’ve lost your freedom?

      1. dan_malven

        It’s hard to answer. I guess only if I was specifically targeted by someone who was voyeuristically following my online activities for no valid national security reason. Basically a creepy rogue government employee run amok. And I view the odds of that happening to me out of the hundreds of millions of people they’re tracking as practically nil. But if it did happen, and I found out about it, I would feel totally violated and be furious at our government for letting it happen. But the odds of it happening are way less than being struck by lightning, and I still don’t (and won’t) ever hesitate about going outside during thunderstorms.

  40. Semil Shah

    One way to think about Twitter in this news story is that Twitter is its own nation-state. A bit far-fetched, yes, but if one assumes it is, it has the right and duty to protect its citizens in exchange for that sovereignty.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Wow, that generated a whole sci-fi novel in my head :)It would be quite a thing to see these companies join together in solidarity and refuse to provide the information, period. Is the gov’t going to shut them all down? The standoff would be very good for public discourse.

      1. Semil Shah

        Hi Kirsten. Having been a long-time student of history and politics, and having worked in public service and gone to school for economics and development, I am of the belief that that Internet-based communities will be better for inhabitants and more fair (hopefully) than government is today.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Hello, Semil πŸ™‚ No one ever says, “Hello” in comments – that’s very nice!Agreed. Do you think they are examples of anarchy actually working? Not trying to draw you out or be controversial πŸ™‚ I just can’t help but see them that way sometimes.

          1. Semil Shah

            Good question. Dunno…as with all change, usually there is someone unpredictable catalyst.

    2. kidmercury

      that’s exactly the right away to think about it. the problem is they are too big and thus too easy of a target. IMHO small networks working together will be more capable of asserting their political will over the nation-state.

      1. Semil Shah

        I sure hope so…anything will be better than what we have today.

  41. RichardF

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? “Who watches the watchmen”, nobody is the answer. Privacy in the western world has gone under the guise of “national security”.The trouble is the masses haven’t woken up to it and probably won’t either.

  42. Andrew Kennedy

    “It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once. Slavery has so frightful an aspect to men accustomed to freedom that it must steal in upon them by degrees and must disguise itself in a thousand shapes in order to be received.” β€” David Hume

  43. panterosa,

    If you have ever been watched/surveyed/tapped, you know the creepiest part is you don’t know exactly what they are looking at or for. I found it a profoundly disturbing experience. There are certain things to this day I will only say face to face, in a public place.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      So, that’s an interesting comment, to say the least. Certainly makes me want to learn more.

      1. panterosa,

        Meet over coffee or wine someday. Didn’t we talk about that at some point?

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Would love that. Don’t suppose you’re in Manhattan Tuesday? We can take this offline πŸ™‚ I’m at kirsten at kuratur dot com.

  44. baba12

    why is there such a big deal being made about this. This is not surprising and nothing new. I believe that the U.S. Government has been and will continue to collect data on people. Just as Experian, Equifax,Transunion, Facebook, Visa, Yahoo, Twitter, Google, Amazon, ebay and other companies out there that are collecting data on people.What I hope does not happen is that tax payer funded data is not used to profit from.When private enterprises does it nobody seems to be bothered by it, actually they encourage it and wish for people to share more data so they can profit from it.The founding fathers had envisioned for a Union where the governement was transparent and the citizens knew about their government while citizens remain private.We have turned that around completely, we don’t know what our government does while the government knows everything you do.I use the word “government” loosely in that I believe the Googles of the world are part of the Government, we have corporations that are considered too big to fail, just as we believe that our system of governance is too big to fail and we shall do whatever it takes to sustain it.Mr.Wilson writes about Data Scientists, a lot of the investments made by USV are in companies that are collecting data which then is used to massage and shape the way a user of that service is guided to make decisions that lead to profit.I would think that if the masses awakened then oh blimey USV’s of the world will have to figure out how to profit.The future is all about who owns the data and what they do with it. For the masses to awaken would be very bad for the upper crust of society, it is not in their best interests.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Yep, Experian has known everything about you and me (whether we did it or not) for decades. Of course they shared that with the gov’t. The GOOD part is that the Internet has indeed liberated a great deal of information, so now people *know*. In general, I think things are moving in the right direction. The gov’t has spied on us forever. But now we know – and more importantly, talk about it.

  45. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    SO the powers know my facebook data or linkedIn data and can identify me from them.If I allow these apps to generate a tweet cannot the powers then map the meta data regards my future tweets for a trivial bit of relating a tweet to a facebook account.The whole point about sharing is that is what it does. I think the debate is not so much about who has your data ( assume everyone does ) than controlling that what they are *allowed* to do with it.It is accountability or lack thereof that matters, rather than intelligence (which it is only safe to assume)

  46. Kirsten Lambertsen

    So, @kidmercury:disqus how many of these comments do you think are psyops?

  47. Dave W Baldwin

    Good luck Fred. I guess my position is obvious related to pushing this into the public spotlight forcing real answers. We have to formulate a compromise that does deal with threats to US and our allies as well as coming clean on what our rights are in the world wide web.But when I read (12 o’clock hour CST) someone claiming that nothing has happened since 9/11 and saying that is not due to security just frosts me.

  48. Dave W Baldwin

    Worth a read, written by Julie Roginsky, who worked for Lautenburg, Pallone, Sires, Rothman and Corzine http://www.foxnews.com/opin…Money line is at end “Progressives should stand with the Times on this. Otherwise, we are just rooting for the name on the jersey, and not for the values that the jersey represents”.

  49. Ana Milicevic

    I went to an interesting lecture last weekend that looked at how our legal system is adjusting to certain medical advancements mainly on the brain scanning and mapping front. To Phillip K. Dick fans this will start to sound remarkably similar to the concept of PreCrime — basically as brain scanning technology advances, can/should/will search warrants be extended to one’s (private) thoughts. It’s a case of technology moving faster than our collective concept and understanding of morality and making new types of monitoring possible. Doesn’t mean we should implement them just because we technically can. I think that principle holds in this discussion about government spying.

  50. matthughes

    The Patriot Act — questionable as it was — is a classic case of unintended consequences.Also, Quartz is shaping up into a terrific news source.

  51. scottythebody

    I am in the “security” field. I was at a Giant Security Conference last year and I was meeting with a vendor. They had an amazing malware and pattern detection capability they were selling, which worked by being “tapped” into the data stream of your company. I asked what was required to install this capability for my network, and the guy said “where are you located?” When I replied, he said, “oh, nothing special. You just subscribe.” When I was puzzled by this answer, he said “we are already in your telco.” “Which one?” I asked. “All of them,” he replied.

  52. zvozin

    /devil’s advocate,but this can just as easily be viewed as part of normal back and forth between government and vox populi. Historically speaking, unless the issue obviously concerns one of the Core Three(tm) (sex, death, and money), vox populi tends to ignore the issue. A hypothetical threat to privacy and liberty from a surveillance program …And since songs are the way we make our point in this post, http://www.youtube.com/watc… πŸ˜‰

  53. Kirsten Lambertsen

    This whole damned PRISM thing is just a sad effort to distract us from National Donut Day.

    1. jason wright

      have you seen the design of the new Apple building?

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Is that sorta like – 😐 ?

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Weird! Very “Repo Man” πŸ˜‰

  54. pointsnfigures

    I was totally disturbed by the way the Obama administration targeted conservatives for surveillance, and curbed free speech by delaying applications in a systemic way at the IRS. Conversely, when the Patriot Act was passed, I was totally disturbed that government would curb our freedom guaranteed in the Bill of Rights in exchange for safety on a five standard deviation event. At least Bush was transparent in who he was spying on-and they were international, not interstate or intercity communications. They also weren’t targeting a political class for the benefit of a competing political class.Most of the commenters on this blog are not from Chicago. I am. I know what gangster government looks like. I know the costs gangster machine style politics imposes on local populations. Chicago is the city that works-but its pretty expensive to run the machinery. Unnecessary expense.I am glad Fred wrote this post, because it’s very important to keep the freedoms we enjoy and were guaranteed under the Bill of Rights as we transfer to a digital age. Bloggers ought to be protected by the First Amendment. Some in DC (from both sides of the aisle) don’t think so. It shows their hubris.Our system of government was setup to keep government from being tyrannical over the people it governed. Unfortunately, it’s not working out that way now and hasn’t since around 1991.No President is all good, or all bad-or all evil, or all angel. But, this Obama character doesn’t have the same values that most Americans have, and simply exists to extend government power over it’s serfs. America operates the other way around.

  55. Steven Kane

    hi fred. how did twitter end up outside PRISM? did twitter get a request from the NSA or federal government to participate in PRISM and decline? Or were they not asked?also, Tumblr?btw, i 100% agree with you that it is shocking this issue hasn’t become a mainstream political issue. even worse, it was a white hot issue when GWB was president (as it should have been) but now that we have a liberal president, liberals seemingly arent as upset anymore?

  56. Peter Fleckenstein

    Great post Fred. and I do have to say that I can’t even imagine Twitter or Foursquare is not part of the NSA’s PRISM program. Twitter & Foursquare are the two most real-time networks of anything out there and both are veritable goldmines for the NSA. Google and Facebook both denied being part of the PRISM program as well.Why should you or anyone else be shocked that this is not a mainstream issue? The people that have been warning us about this from BOTH sides have been called conspiracy theorists and have been ridiculed.There is an intrinsic pattern here that no one wants to recognize.We have Obama telling people we’re “5 days before the fundamental transformation of America”.We have ObamaCare that we know now is the monstrosity it has been from day one. (ObamaCare has nothing to do with health care. Nothing.)Comprehensive Immigration Reform is an abomination and good programs like the ones you promote Fred suffer. (There is nothing reforming about a program when you need 400+ waivers.)We have gun control posing as gun safety and at the same gun violence has dropped 38% over the last 2 decades. (Meanwhile every mass murder in the past 20 years has been committed in a gun free safety zone)And that’s just the start. I haven’t even mentioned the IRS, AP, Rosen, Benghazi nightmares.See the pattern yet anyone?Here it is:Americans, we know what is best for you. We control you through pretending to do what’s for the good of the country when it really isn’t. We shame you into thinking that YOU owe someone something when you don’t. We OWN you citizens of America because YOU let us. – Sincerely, The GovernmentLate yesterday afternoon the NSA rushed to brief 27 senators due to the uproar. And almost every one of them used identical language when they came out to talk to the press.Then last night DNI Director James Clapper came out and said no Americans were part of the programs.Then Obama today came out and said condescendingly “No one is listening to your phone calls”.And that sent a chill through my spine. We have a President who thinks he’s doing Americans a favor by not “listening” to the phone calls. So he thinks it’s perfectly fine to data mine the living crap out of every American just so long as no one’s listening. (With today’s tech, no would would have to listen – It can be transcribed and read on a screen within seconds.) I’m sure this entire post and everyone involved in it is now a part of PRISM.The question to every American here is – Do you have the balls to take back what has always been yours?

  57. Zachary Reiss-Davis

    I hope everyone has also seen Google and Facebook’s very firm and very senior level denials:http://googleblog.blogspot…. for Google’s, written by Larry Paige and David Drummond, Chief Legal Officerhttps://www.facebook.com/zu… by Zuckerberg. I’m trying to rationalize the statements into some version of what to believe.

  58. William Mougayar

    @rachelsklar has a sense of humor- TheLi.st email I just received has a Subject line:Proofread by The NSA

  59. us0r

    Gnip, Topsy or DataSift?

  60. JannV8

    I’m not sure I’ve understood this…To get detailed information about a U.S citizen they have to go through court but for foreigners they don’t have to do that? So as a foreigner I have no say and my rights don’t matter at all?At least you have some influence on this issue. Over 80% of facebooks users are not in the U.S.I’ve never really cared about this kind of stuff but this pisses me off.

  61. jason wright

    i’d recently become aware of this new (at least to me) ‘four horsemen’ tag, describing the quadverse of GOOG, FB, Amazon, and Apple, and since then i’ve been wandering what their future apocalypse might be. i now sense that it could be upon them, and far sooner than i had expected, although i did say recently on here in another of Fred’s posts (Running The Table) that every empire falls.is this one of those black swan events?

  62. Dave W Baldwin

    This may be difference, after reading http://email-sg.xydo.com/wf… I realized it may be public vs. private

  63. StartupBook

    As a VC, did you have any idea that Twitter was dealing with these NSA requests? How big a concern were they in the actual company?http://startupbook.co/2013/

  64. PhilipSugar

    I’m not sure he’s wrong. That article says Twitter fought for the subpoena three and a half months then complied after a valid court order for ONE person’s records.I can live with that. They fought, they lost, it was a valid court order, they complied. That is the way wire taps and surveillance always worked.That is not what we are talking about here.

  65. andyidsinga

    I didn’t see anything about PRISM in the CNN article ..how are they connected other than they are both government?[edit: I take that back .. I see how they’re connected around the fundamental question of giving up privacy rights when using the internet]

  66. raycote

    In that context all that audience cheering at the end is kind of creepy or maybe it was a special concert put on for the members of the senate and congress.The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)http://www.wired.com/threat…”Information Awareness Office” sealhttp://upload.wikimedia.org…http://en.wikipedia.org/wik

  67. LE

    The last time you posted a music video that I remember it was “Exciteable Boy” and I forked for hours and picked up many other music videos I enjoyed so thanks for that. Wasn’t a fan until seeing that video either the curation is appreciated.That said this:”Any company that refuses is in danger of getting shut down by the fed.”Are you suggesting something happens outside the legal system or “getting shut down” meaning “if you don’t comply with laws passed”? Twitter has a legal team this is not a main street business which can’t afford to vet the governments wishes.

  68. CJ

    I respectfully disagree. There is a difference between publicizing, fighting, and ultimately complying with a court order rather than giving the government a private API into your users’ private lives.

  69. PhilipSugar

    Did anybody read this: http://www.nytimes.com/2013…Money line:”Twitter declined to make it easier for the government. But other companies were more compliant, according to people briefed on the negotiations. “

  70. Techman

    On the alternative companies could relocate overseas and then take away jobs that the US needs. The government will have to compromise it wants to save its own butt.

  71. kidmercury

    agreed, it can go back even further depending on how you want to measure it…..but people seem to continue voting for the 2 party system, so presumably this is what they want.

  72. Dave W Baldwin

    @c54077ded9301e8aef0cdfc47ccdf871:disqus Charlie, appreciate your being cool and staying on the factual line. Going to bed last night, I heard whichever gal on Fox actually claim she can’t believe Bush meant for this to happen (sigh)… Kidmercury, don’t go after who’s fault so much. Remember under Bush, the magic of Accelerated Return hadn’t happened to bring us to where the inevitable is today. We need to fight this dog before the Accelerated Return has us in a heap of trouble in 2015-17.

  73. ShanaC

    but why bother – we’re sort of boring as a group

  74. PhilipSugar

    You know its always about me. :-)My Marine Corp Rugby coach always yelled there was no I in team, but I pointed out to him there was a ME.Seriously though, its one thing to give up info on one person and its another to give all whereabouts about everybody.Its one thing if you know you are posting something public and another if somebody is accessing the very device you hold dear, the one most people have next to them every night.Because I travel that phone sleeps next to me more than my wife.And yes you are correct this really started under Bush, but that doesn’t mean it could have stopped.Finally those that say the only ones that have to worry are those that are doing something wrong, seem to get a little antsy when they are not in power.That is where I agree with Kid. Both parties are the same.

  75. kidmercury

    i blame the american people, because they’re the ones who caused it, the only ones who can solve it — and because they won’t be able to solve it until they realize how they caused it.

  76. pointsnfigures

    I think the difference is Obama targeted a political class that didn’t agree with him. He also lied about it (or his administration lied about it)-and he hid it. Bush was more transparent, and snooped on terrorists. The Patriot Act, Dodd-Frank and Obamacare all have pieces that allow the government to arbitrarily go through all your personal records line by line as long as some bureaucrat determines you are a risk to something or someone. That’s too much power in government no matter who is in charge.

  77. Dave W Baldwin

    Good point, but we have to take it to the people in ordinary language, otherwise we just keep the devolving gobblygook that is irrelevent.

  78. LE

    “And yes you are correct this really started under Bush, but that doesn’t mean it could have stopped.”So what does that tell you if the anti-bush comes in and decides that maybe this some of this surveillance has a point?

  79. Donna Brewington White

    “the only ones that have to worry are those that are doing something wrong”The definition of “something wrong” can change based on who is in power.

  80. Cam MacRae

    Great record.

  81. jason wright

    Meat Is Murder, on tape. a classic.

  82. Druce

    You get an order to provide info. You don’t comply, government starts seizing servers. Twitter’s legal team can provide enough cover to give Feds some grief, keep management out of jail, unlike Kim DotCom,

  83. kidmercury

    absolutely! love morrissey!!

  84. PhilipSugar

    It tells me he too is drunk on power and is a moron. It also tells me when people say it started under bush they have no capacity to lead. Can you imagine if one of my employees was doing something wrong and the excuse they gave was the guy that left over five years had the idea? Fired on the spot

  85. CJ

    As an Obama supporter this is my biggest issue with him. He’s continued a lot of the Bush policies around national security, real and supposed, that I absolutely abhor. The problem, for me anyway, is that the other side absolutely does not want my vote. Hell, they don’t even hide it, they don’t even try. What’s a voter to do?To be clear, I don’t care if it has merit or not. I’d rather live with the threat to my freedom than secure in the knowledge that it’s gone forever.

  86. LE

    “Can you imagine if one of my employees”The difference is that at your own company you have access to all the facts and information and have almost complete control over things.I look at it differently. I have a saying which is “when something doesn’t make sense there is probably something about it you don’t know”.People in power make mistakes as Physicians make mistakes.People are always quick to point out certain decisions that either appear to be wrong or are (even I agree) clearly wrong in retrospect. “I told the doctor “x” and he said “don’t worry now I’m dying” type of thing. Oh by the way keep down my health care costs. Oh and by the way if that building falls in Phila (one just fell in center city) we will tell you to spend more time and money on inspections, procedures and safety to save the “nth” life. But we don’t want to pay anymore taxes. If terrorists take out some people with a bomb at a marathon we will fire someone for not doing their job with the tools that they have. (Same stuff that happens at companies all the time.) And that drone better not kill any innocent civilians either! We want perfect results. We want security at the airport but don’t want a hand to go over our crouch! [1] After all we are perfect in what we do every day.Generally though you hope that the people in power, the ones with more information that what you and I have access to are taking everything into account in making the decisions that they make.[1] Used to happen at the mens store all the time as a kid.

  87. raycote

    “take it to the people in ordinary language”I kind of agree with that sentimentbut stillI can’t stop myself from spewing a little cynicismThat is exactly what the short sighted, constitutionally witless, bipartisan government hacks presently in charge are in the process of doing in the ordinary language of pain. The slow creeping pain of losing your constitutional rights and democratic controls.When that pain starts to bite hard enough on enough citizens we will get some, too little too late, action focused on the problem.Until then the-people are mostly too busy tring to keep their heads above water to respond to the presently low level pain signal.The sea change in practical realities as culture transitions into universal-network driven social exchange and control fabrics just might warrant some sort of new-ordinary-language more suited to capturing the recurring political and economic features of our new digitally-abstracted transactional landscape?Just maybe we need a whole new set of ordinary-language narrative and metaphors that are more efficient, more practical, and more meaningfully sharable out here in cyberspace.

  88. CJ

    Exactly. They’ve always done this the right way. It’s up to The People to lobby to get this changed.

  89. karen_e

    Ever since nineteen-eighty-whatever, I’ve been singing his songs right along with him. Not only are they catchy and clever, they are also right smack in the middle of my vocal range. I’m sure I’m not the only one who enjoys belting along with Morrissey. Whatta guy, huh?

  90. Dave W Baldwin

    The people are worried, yet they don’t know how to cognitively bring it down to level that this can be discussed finding the compromise needed between national defense and who owns my data(?).My point about terminology is just a matter of explaining what eveyone’s rights are and compare to where it is going. Otherwise the whole issue is confusing as the right and left extremes give us nothing but hot air. That is what scares the populace and eventually they go back to taking care of the job, home and so forth because they feel powerless.Doing the anti SOPA logo on my Twit pic was easy. But if you start gaining exposure going after where we are now, is it a matter of being prosecuted? What will it be like two years from now?

  91. PhilipSugar

    You need to use one hell of a better example than the Philadelphia Department of Building Inspections. I dealt with them four times my fraternity house is the one in the center of Penn next to the Compass and Ben Franklin. (new roof, removing boiler, etc)Calling them moron’s is an insult to morons the world over.

  92. PhilipSugar

    “when something doesn’t make sense there is probably something about it you don’t know”I agree and most of the time its because they are screwing you hard.Like the car dealer that pays you too much for the trade and has you pay too much for the new car because it makes the True Car price which is found by looking at DMV records go up and she gets a bonus from the manufacturer for holding price.When you don’t know what you don’t know look out or just know you are screwed.

  93. LE

    “you” = “other people” it doesn’t mean me.Car dealers? I look at what they do and how they make their money as a system that allows me to pay less because they make more from others who don’t know the game. [1] I don’t hold any bad will toward any of their manipulations or maneuvers. I have no ties to the auto business at all but I know customers are absolutely brutal and many will pull a deal over $25. It’s a tough business. In business I’ve had loyal customers obviously but I’ve also had customers that have thanked me repeatedly for my time in helping them with something (I once spent an hour on a cell phone giving advice to someone) only to later call up and ask me to match someone’s price that they have never dealt with before.[1] People like my daughter. I went shopping with her for a car last year and the salesman told her the price per month. She replied “oh that’s not bad” just like that! It was a great teachable moment. She didn’t even know you could negotiate for new cars (she knew you could for used cars for some reason). (She lives with her mother.). Top grades bla bla bla but doesn’t know what she hasn’t been taught or know from friends.

  94. kidmercury

    no doubt about it, siding with charlie in this beef. because:1. history shows tyrants use protection as an excuse to grab and abuse power (hitler, reichstag fire)2. calling obama the anti-bush is silly when their policy agendas are basically the same corporate banker stuff (war, debt, loss of civl liberties)3. charlie kept comments short, gotta give bonus points for that

  95. LE

    “He’s a 3rd-way, Cliontonian Democrat, a neo-liberal”YP, MP I don’t understand all this industry jargon. [1][1] Bogie Nights, Dirk Diggler’s partner to the recording studio when they didn’t have the money to pay for the demo.

  96. Kirsten Lambertsen

    If they all sat down in front of the bus together, that would be a bumpy ride for the bus.

  97. ShanaC

    we won’t know until a b corp is tested – and how many privacy oriented b -corps are there

  98. Kirsten Lambertsen

    me too!

  99. falicon

    The truth is, we’ve never *really* been ‘free’, we’ve just mostly been ignored (because it was too difficult to keep everyone in-line at a micro level).To us ‘regulars’ (we used to be called peasants) it used to be hard to tell the difference but technology (and our own use/understanding of it) is just waking us up to the fact that there actually is a difference…

  100. Dave W Baldwin

    I agree.

  101. Richard

    Yep, keep an eye on the REIT known as COP.

  102. CJ

    He ran on an anti-Bush platform. He’s achieved far less. πŸ™

  103. PhilipSugar

    Much better said than I did. It is too bad you feel “the other side” doesn’t even want your vote, Too bad because there should be more than one side. I’m really thinking the two party system is not a good thing. It would be great to have multiple parties.

  104. anne weiler

    Is Twitter the only private company on the list?BTW, as a landed immigrant who has been fingerprinted, retina scanned etc, I’ve never assumed I had any privacy.