The Government Surveillance Letter

Note: The website this post is about is now down. I am not sure if that means this thing was a hoax or something along those lines. Regardless, I believe the sentiments expressed on the website are correct and that Internet companies, large and small, should ban together to express them.

Sometime last night, a letter to the President of the United States and Congress was published on the Internet. It was signed by eight of the largest Internet companies; Apple, AOL, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo!

The website where the letter is hosted outlines five principles for government surveiilance:

1) sensible limitations on government's ability to compel service providers to disclose user data

2) checks and balances, including court oversight

3) transparency about government demands

4) letting information flow freely, particularly across national boundries

5) cooperation between governments to create multi-national treaties

I wholeheartedly support these five goals. These issues do not only impact large Internet companies. They impact all Internet companies. When you get a National Security Letter, you have no choice but to comply, even if it violates everything you and your company stand for.

It is time for governments around the world to rethink how they go about spying on us, particularly with the help of companies, both large and small.

#Current Affairs#Politics

Comments (Archived):

  1. Avi Deitcher

    Hmm, the link is to a default hosting page?

    1. Avi Deitcher

      Ha! Did the NSA already bring it down? 🙂

      1. Leonardo Gjoni

        Sure looks like it.

        1. Avi Deitcher

          It’s back. I guess our little comments shamed them!

  2. kenberger

    It’s back. It’s brilliant. Whoever designed the page, especially for mobile, is a master in viral marketing.

    1. fredwilson

      I agree

    2. Anne Libby

      And a master of truth-telling.

    3. Richard

      How so?

      1. kenberger

        it has:- a simple soothing font and design template.- social proof, listing all these 8 internet goliaths that supposedly all agree on this (whether they actually did come together on this to talk, let alone agree, is super suspect, but a typical ploy of highly successful viral marketing these days is to make a claim or representation which most people won’t bother verifying).- especially on mobile, the 4 top social sites’ posting buttons linger at all times, in your face just barely enough for even techies to tolerate and for the masses to easily act as nodes/relayers.- a universally attractive call-to-action cause, especially as written here.

        1. ShanaC

          screenshot it before it disappears again.

    4. Matt A. Myers

      Only thing they could add is a “Share” area that you scroll into at bottom, to double-down on the call-to-action.

  3. jason wright

    the domain registration is hidden behind Domains By Proxy.this campaign (and i haven’t decided yet whether it’s authentic or brand protection public relations) needs to be transparent at all levels.

    1. LE

      But not from information that I have access to. Because I’m special.Here is the person who registered that domain on 12/4/2013:Registrant Name: Pablo ChavezRegistrant Organization: Registrant Street: 657 E Street SERegistrant City: WashingtonRegistrant State/Province: District of ColumbiaRegistrant Postal Code: 20003Registrant Country: United StatesRegistrant Phone: 2025438409Registrant Phone Ext: Registrant Fax: Registrant Fax Ext: Registrant Email: [email protected] for google apparently:…Google Inc.Senior Director, Public Policy and Government Affairs, Washington, DC. December 2006-Present.As a member of Google’s public policy and government affairs team, I’ve had several leadership roles and responsibilities building and managing our team, and developing and executing our advocacy initiatives around issues including privacy and security, intellectual property, competition, and online free expression.Before that he:Worked as Senior Counsel to the Senate Commerce Committee as well as Chief Counsel for the office of Senator John McCain.Lives here:…See the thing is you never can assume that the other guy doesn’t know more about how things work than you do in terms of getting at information that isn’t public.

      1. ShanaC

        but how?

  4. Conrad Ross Schulman

    Setting forth transparent principles is key here. We’re living in a Hobbes era where we should be living in a Locke framework.

  5. Dale Patterson

    Not sure if it’s a hoax, but it will be greatly appreciated if adapted.

    1. Anne Libby

      I so hope it’s real.

  6. Dave W Baldwin

    This should get interesting. It just seems no matter what is proposed/passed will be behind the massive gathering of info already taking place.

  7. panterosa,

    I thought spying was a private, clandestine activity. I think surveillance covers this better.

  8. JimHirshfield

    Great to see this initiative. I hope it gets some real attention by its recipients. Seems like Obama’s been justifying the surveillance every step of the way.

  9. pointsnfigures

    This is a start. A small start. The US govt has gotten far too big. It’s meddling in all kinds of places it shouldn’t and trying to control all kinds of things it has no business controlling. Glad to see they are doing this because it’s very difficult for individuals to take on the monolith of government-and certain corporations have been blackmailed and cannot.

    1. CJ

      I hate the fallacy that the people have lost control of the government and can’t take it on and affect change. If I had to bet I’d say that common wisdom was started by the government to prevent the people from affecting real change.In the ’60s people changed the course of this nation on Civil Rights and the Vietnam War. Even more recently people have changed the course of this nation on gay marriage and legalizing Mary Jane. The people absolutely have the power to fix these things they just have to care enough to exercise the power they’re given by the Constitution.Now if you want to argue that people are too lazy, too comfortable, too fractured, too unwilling, yes, I can concede and agree with that. However, there is nothing other than those things that outright stop the people from changing our government.

      1. awaldstein

        Really well said. And I agree.Privacy and spying are complex issues to me. Living in the shadow of the new Freedom Tower and living here during 911, this touches the forever uncomfortable discussion about how to allow enough information to protect and not abuse.

        1. pointsnfigures

          But, in recent years the IRS has been used as a cudgel to silence critics. Remember, I live in Chicago. Government hasn’t changed here in 50 years. Yes, we have the capacity to change it. But, representative districts in certain politically polarized states are so gerrymandered it is almost impossible to change. The populace is lazy, might be too comfortable, or might be bought with crony capitalism to care.

          1. awaldstein

            True.But really dramatic change has indeed happened so far in my life and more is coming. Community online as an aggregator of will is both a catalyst and an accelerator for that possibility in my opinion.It’s possible. Just takes enormous collective will to do so.

          2. CJ

            It takes a tangible outcome to change it. Community online is popular as a catalyst because it allows you to feel like you’ve done something while not doing much of anything. In the 60’s people DID something. They marched, they staged sit-ins, they grouped en masse and it led to change. One million digital signatures in a world where app downloads are counted in the hundreds of millions are vastly less impressive.

          3. awaldstein

            Of course. I know this personally.The reality of the web is that it is becoming a tool to aggregate and then serve the needs of us on the street.True for commerce already, Will be true and an upside for social change. Is true already.This taps into your passions and it shows. Great comments,

          4. CJ

            This taps into your passions and it shows. Great commentsThanks. It’s true too. I hate the thought that my generation and the one after me would just rather lay down than fight or would rather tweet than march. I’m extremely grateful for the sacrifices made by my parents’ and grandparents’ generations. My life would be extremely different without their work and I feel it’s only right that I speak out anytime I hear the fallacy that people could organize create change against big money and power BEFORE technology but can’t manage to do so now. It hits me right in the chest. All that said, I should do more than just talk as well and that’s the part where I’m personally not satisfied.

          5. Anne Libby

            I don’t think the majority are comfortable or bought…and lazy is too pat.The term “learned helplessness” comes to mind, as I recall it from studying behavioral science many moons ago, it’s what happens when you’re presented with a negative consequence (i.e. a shock) at random intervals, no matter how you behave.

          6. pointsnfigures

            In Chicago, there are various forms of “learned helplessness”…..crony capitalism was invented here before 1900.

          7. CJ

            I live in Chicago too. I’m very familiar with the crony capitalism that runs this city, I also know that the people here, largely, want their government to perform this way. Everyone knows someone who knows someone who can get them a job or permit or something. I’m friends with a State Rep and three of the last four alderman where I’m from and I’m not unique. No one has incentive to change this system because it seems to benefit almost everyone individually while only benefiting the rich collectively. So I totally agree that the populace might also just be a bit too bought off to care.

          8. pointsnfigures

            If you live in Chicago, you know most everything you hear is a sham. The politicians just want to keep the game going. Now, Washington is Chicago in the ultimate.

          9. CJ

            Yep, that’s exactly how it is though I’d say Chicago is worse than D.C.

          10. LE

            But, in recent years the IRS has been used as a cudgel to silence critics.You make like that is a widespread large problem but in fact from everything I know it is not.The populace is lazy, might be too comfortable, or might be bought with crony capitalism to care.I’m not entirely sure that the “scratch my back” system isn’t a good thing in some way for certain groups of people.

      2. Richard

        American’s have lost the skill’s needed for protest. Our phone’s may just change that.

        1. CJ

          No, we’ve lost the will and our phones will just give us a false sense that’s we’ve made a difference without the tangible outcome.

          1. SubstrateUndertow

  …EDIT:” The medium is the message”The cultural-evolution message that is!Because every new medium redefines the scope, the spectrum, the range, the domain of newly executable possibilities it provides as a construction platform.The internet as a medium massively expands those excitable possibilities by historically unprecedented orders of magnitude, expands them well up into the realm of organically interdependent complexity. It expands them so massively indeed, that it will take decades to explore the social/economic organizational dynamics now made possible.Not every possibility within a medium’s spectrum of excitable possibility turns out to be optimally beneficial.Every medium brings with it a set of services and disservices.When technology gives humans new platform tools, it seems traditional for us to rush in like fools where angles fear to tread. It is what we do! Even human nature as a biological medium come with services and disservices.This organic-compexity-platform suddenly granted us by the internet rises to a level of technological/social hot potato far in excess of any previous technological windfalls.Sure the methodological low-hanging-fruit both in terms of execution and short term nonitization is to centralize money making Big_Data. It is an irresistible money making honey pot for sure.Still, executing inside this new territory, this organic-complexity, with little knowledge or experience at juggling the demons animating the devilish details at play within our mysterious new organic-dynamic leaves us wide open to catastrophic viral runaways.Just like nature abhors a vacuum, biological-organics seem to abhor overly centralized data and process.I think this whole surveillance mess is simple an instantiation of our financially-convenient blindness, our willful ignorance at applying these basic/reusable organic-dynamic principles to the business of Big-Data.Money talks, no Bob was right, money screams, never mind the inherent draconian dangers of centralizing access to to everyones autonomy, by steeling everyones primal ownership of their own privacy, by steeling everyones direct control over their own DATA-SET-PERSONA, there are corporate profits to be make!Do these same corporations offer up a similar 5 point plan to redefine their relationship to their customers data-sets?Ultimately their profit making data centralization is the surveillance-state enabler here.Broken records Ink.Play it again Sam

        2. Dave W Baldwin

          The phone is the lazy man’s way out. Then fall into marketing ploy regarding the bravery thing…..

      3. Kirsten Lambertsen

        That was really well-said.

      4. ShanaC

        Actually I think it is the following: Too uneducated. Gay Marriage and Pot had huge public education efforts behind them for decades.CSA issues – nada

        1. pointsnfigures

          Farmers don’t whine. And I am being sort of serious about that.

    1. William Mougayar

      Good quote from it. “People won’t use technology they don’t trust,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, said in a statement. “Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it.”

      1. baba12

        People are stupid taking advantage of them is the job of the few and thats how it shall be. When people with a conscience are doing the job they shall be the ones who shall change things and that isnt going to happen anytime soon.

  10. William Mougayar

    Frankly, I’m surprised this kind of revolt didn’t happen earlier. These government practices went against everything advanced societies stood for. They put our governments at par with other governments we are used to criticize for how they oppress or mistreat their citizen’s freedoms.

    1. andyswan

      Well see this time it’s different. ..this time our dependence was going to lead to utopia, not oppression! You’ll see…this time it’ll be different, IF we can get the benevolent leader we desire!

      1. William Mougayar

        Yup. Hopefully this was the lowest point it reached, so we can only look forward to turning that corner.

      2. awaldstein

        Would be nice.I’m an optimist but I’m not optimistic of electing that leadership though. Not because it isn’t there, as much as the rancor and polarization of the political process itself. It kllls a lot of my belief in united support cross party to make this happen.

      3. sigmaalgebra

        Let me be sure I understand: You are sayingthat “This time it’s different?” Or are you suggesting that our Constitution is hopelesslyout of date, e.g., the Fourth Amendment is soancient history?

        1. andyswan

          I’m being sarcastic as hell.Every time someone says “this time an expansive government will be different” I check my supplies and watch for signs of a wall to keep people IN.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Of course you are being “sarcastic as hell”.And so am I, and also facetious and pissed off.Big Government has tracked mud over much of ourConstitution, especially the Fourth Amendment, andabout that I’m pissed off as hell.To continue the sarcasm, of course, of course, wecan all trust in Diane Feinstein since we know thatshe is diligently watching over the NSA, CIA, FBI,DHS, etc. watching over us. Yes, of course we cantrust the safety and efficacy of Senator Feinstein.Who would doubt that?Real view: Poor Diane is in way over her head, hasbeen duped, and doesn’t know what to do that she cando and also be responsible and get reelected. So,really, she does next to nothing. Then the empirebuilders and control freaks in DC used 9/11 as anexcuse to go way out of control, like the liquorstores around a party school were selling vodka for10 cents a gallon.Nearly all the oversight, such as it is, is secret,which teaches us again the importance of thestatement “Sunlight is the best disinfectant”.

          2. Guest

            I live in SF so Feinstein is my senator. Here is the official brushoff she gave me when I first questioned our domestic spying programs. Both her and Boxer’s expiration dates have long since expired and they need to go.

          3. sigmaalgebra

            CYA boiler plate.”I’m shocked, shocked to find”violations of the Fourth Amendmentgoing on in here! “Here are yourSnapChat intercepts from theSwedish Bikini Team, Sir.”.

        2. ShanaC

          I actually wouldn’t mind a new constitutional convention. Though not because of the fourth amendment. I just think the way power is divided in congress is really not working and creating gridlock for the long term.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            That’s a big subject, Shana.My brother, Ph.D. in political science,was very informed, thoughtful, concerned, and articulate about such things,but I’m not.From my meager understanding, it appearsthat there are up/down sides, that is, theresults could be better or worse. It’s easyto see that we don’t want to assign acommittee to repaint Michelangelo’sceiling, improve on Chambertin, or rewrite’O Mio Bambino Caro’, and having acommittee ‘improve’ the US Constitutionis also risky.Actually, the Constitution does change;we have nine people just a little east ofthe Capitol building working hard on changes. I do suspect that in time areally good Fourth Amendment case willbe brought that will wipe off most of themud recently tracked there by too BigGovernment. Suspect and hope.We should not waste time looking for aneasy solution or be surprised that somemud got tracked. It’s an old story: “Theprice of liberty is eternal vigilance”. No,I won’t award extra credit for knowing thesource of that one!Really the power is in the hands of thevoters, and Congress is not unresponsive.Instead, the voters are apathetic. All ittakes to move Congress is some pollsindicating that 60+% of the voters wantsomething. With 70+% of the voters, Congress can write and pass a bill beforemorning coffee break, and the presidentcan sign it just after lunch. With 70+%Schumer and Paul might co-sponsor thebill with Elizabeth Warren rushing tovote Yea!Maybe we have been in a valley of a little transparency: With littletransparency, the founding fathers could do their work without the nonsensefrom talk radio or the TV talking heads,in both cases just looking for smellybait for the ad hook. That was from alittle transparency, a dangerous thing.Now with the Internet we are getting alot of transparency, and I am hopeful:Surprisingly, in major ways, on the Internet the cream really does floatto the top — Wikipedia,, Hacker News, and more. E.g., recentlyat Wikipedia I learned that the definitionbased just on set theory of an orderedpair as (a,b) = {{a},{a,b}} was from Kuratowski instead of Norbert Weineras I had heard long ago! That’s somenice, rich whipping cream won’t findin the MSM!So, the main means of solution I’m hoping forare the Internet. Ah, what irony: We areseeing that today with Fred’s post!

    2. Elia Freedman

      I’m havering hard time believing there isn’t an element of CYA in these corporate moves. After all, none of them did anything before Snowdon made the information public.

      1. William Mougayar

        Good point, in hindsight. In part, they are trying to look good in front of our eyes, their users/customers. That’s why I was surprised it took so long for a revolt of this scope to come to life.

        1. Elia Freedman

          It saddens me to be so cynical but…

          1. sigmaalgebra

            “A government powerful enough to doeverything for you is powerful enoughto do anything to you.” or some such,right?

          2. Elia Freedman

            Sad but true.

      2. baba12

        all this is hogwash, they will continue to do the same thing just take a different route. It is make the public think that they are doing something good get free PR and feel good at the holiday parties…

      3. JLM

        .That’s all there is.JLM.

    3. baba12

      you assume wrongly that these governments are advanced and better. They just managed to keep a tight lid on it and have better PR and marketing.That is your ignorance to think that they are advanced and more civilized.

      1. William Mougayar

        We like to keep personal attacks outside of this blog’s discussions.I didn’t say that governments were more advanced or civilized. I said that the societies are.

        1. ShanaC


        2. baba12

          It was not a personal attack at all. When I said your ignorance I meant it in a general sense not specifically you, for that I apologize if it came as an attack.When I discuss about advanced/developed economies verus the developing or not so advanced economies, I always let it be known that the advancement or development has come at a huge cost º¡∞∞ costs from destroying the environments, costs from raping and pillaging of many parts of Africa, Asia and South America by taking raw material resources in pre-colonial days and by supporting thug regimes that have helped provide the raw materials to build out and make certain countries of Europe, North America etc become developed/advanced countries.We never discuss that aspect of how and what it has taken to become Developed/advanced, this conversation about privacy and the role of government also comes down to this area as advanced/developed countries use itheir intelligence apparatus to gain insights into countries/regions that they deem unfriendly i.e not willing to supply the raw materials at the prices they set. So knowing who to depose or to create havoc in those places is a tool we in the advanced countries sanction through our elected representatives.Again I am sorry if it came across as me personally attacking you never my intention.

          1. William Mougayar

            No prob. Consider it water under the bridge.But aren’t we veering off topic a bit? How developed countries became so isn’t related to their exploitation of less developed countries. We’d be mixing politics and economics to assume so. My primary point was that these surveillance practices are more typically associated with some governments of countries that the US usually criticizes. And now, the US is losing credibility by practicing these themselves.

    4. Pete Griffiths

      I suspect that the reason such companies are (ostensibly) rebelling is less to do with their principles than with their fears about the impact on their businesses. The risk, for example, of unpleasant measures being taken, in say Europe, to protect privacy is very real and could materially impact businesses that rely on heavy access to data.Let’s bear in mind that the most senior execs at FB and Google are on the record as having little regard for privacy. When it suits them lack of privacy is the nature of today’s world. When it doesn’t (could impact profits) it is a concern.Nothing surprising here. Just sayin’

      1. sigmaalgebra

        No, not really: NSA spooks with nationalsecurity letters are a “barbwire enema”and “unanesthetized root canal procedure”for any CEO and their operations. If mystartup works, then any national securityletter or anything similar could be a trainwreck for my work just from the bureaucratichassle, contacting lawyers, worrying aboutbad publicity, writing the software theirrequests need, etc. I might just have toshut down for some months. They couldoverload me like a small mouse asked tocarry a big stack of law books.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          i agree. I just don’t understand the ‘No, not really.”:)

  11. Trevor McKendrick

    I hope Snowden is smoking the cuban and enjoying the glass of wine he deserves

  12. Richard

    I have, therefore, chosen this time and place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth too rarely perceived. And that is the most important topic on earth: peace. What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, and the kind that enables men and nations to grow, and to hope, and build a better life for their children — not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace in all time.JFK

    1. andyswan

      Sounds like familiar speech-writing.

  13. andyswan

    Every vote you make, every policy you support…it does one of two things:1) Defends your liberty-or-2) Expands their powerThere literally is no middle ground.How can anyone be surprised that government is spying on you? You have INVITED them into your wallet, your doctor’s office, your self-defense store, your schools….The Federal government knows more about you than your immediate family members do.And you asked for it, citizen.

    1. Richard

      Every breath you take, every move you make, I’ll be watching youSting and the PoliceHow bizarre

      1. jason wright

        i’m waiting for someone to write the defining play on the subject. something that stops everyone in their tracks. David Mamet springs to mind, although he seems to have drifted to the right in recent years.

    2. Rob Underwood

      Well said Andy.

    3. baba12

      We the people supposedly decided that we should know about our government and the government should know very little about us. But that philosophy has been turned upside down and people are responsible for it. We abdicated that responsibility and have become numb, dumb and lazy allowing for what we have and shall have unless we get up out of the drunken stupor…

    4. jason wright

      the new america definition of ‘citizen’.Every breath you takeEvery move you makeEvery bond you breakEvery step you takeI’ll be watching you.

    5. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      would like to add3) multiplies the money….

    6. JamesHRH

      Yes, but the third rail is things that are reasonable constraints on your liberty that provide balance to the system that is society.There is always gray.

    7. ShanaC

      Why can’t it do both?

  14. leapy

    Kent Walker (Gen Counsel, Google) and Brad Smith (Gen Counsel, Microsoft) were on BBC Today programme this morning talking about the letter.

  15. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Just fyi – a typo here: “The website where the letter is hosted outlines five principles for government surveiilance:” (should be surveillance)

  16. Guest

    #2 is especially worrisome. We have secret laws that are being interpreted with secret decisions by the courts. That’s not what a free civil society does.NYT from July 7 2013: “In more than a dozen classified rulings, the nation’s surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving the NSA…”I’m probably less worried about the NSA/privacy than most on this board, but at the risk of repeating myself: free civil societies do not have secret laws.

  17. baba12

    I am amazed that so many folks including Fred have a trust in government and business being fair and doing the right thing.My money has been and shall remain on ” do what ever you need to do to amass wealth and power “, if you get caught then the penalties will be a slap on wrist a more serious penalty it can be a slap to the face.The five principles they list or Fred accepts are not new nor do you need any new laws/rules to be created.We as a society are getting to a point where the majority of the folks finally wakeup and realize they are not even getting the bone, in the past they were happy to get a bone with some meat on it, then it was the bone with marrow in it, still was ok, for a while it has been a bone dry without marrow or any meat and majority of the folks are still ok, but it can’t sustain them much longer.Eventually there shall be some form of revolution and you see it happening elsewhere in the U.S it will take a bit longer we still have a lot of blubber.Fred watch this last episode of Bill Moyers where he interviews Mark Leibovich.I don’t believe any new rules etc will help as collective conscience of those in power and those with the money is tending to zero…

  18. pointsnfigures

    The FBI can burrow into your computer, download photos, files and email. Of course, this also means they can plant evidence without you knowing.

    1. JLM

      .The freakin’ FBI can use your computer based cameras to observe you without your knowledge or record. They have had this capability for over 5 years.JLM.

      1. LE

        your computer based cameras to observe you without your knowledge or record.JLM, as an experienced businessman you know all the shit that people get away with that the government let’s them get away with because they don’t have the resources or because it’s small potatoes or they don’t have a rock solid case and evidence.The government doesn’t even arrest all the people who do illegal drugs which are clearly illegal and widely available to see without surveillance. They don’t have the resources.And if you go to the government and say “my neighbor is running a cash business please prosecute him/her” they will not even return your call. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and give it a try. See what they tell you they need. [1] For the most part, other than outlier “whiner” cases you read about on the internet, they don’t operate like that. The internet is full of half bullshit outlier cases that happen where someone gets shafted and simpletons react en masse.I simply don’t get why people are concerned with the parent statement “FBI can burrow”.Just because someone can do something doesn’t mean they will.I can easily read my wife’s emails and listen to her phone calls if I want. I can easily plant things on neighbors computers. If I wanted to I could easily figure out a way to do the same to you. If I wanted to. I’m dead serious.I simply don’t get why people think just because the government can do something (and might do something in certain cases) that they are going to or that any individual should be worried as being the target of that action.Not to mention the fact that given their resources they aren’t going to be able to use that info (given the present laws) anyway.Last week I got caught on one of those red light cameras. Had to pay $85. Clearly the township has installed it most likely as a revenue generator. But I did run the sign and the evidence and presentation was pretty good. I had the opportunity to fight it but choose to pay the fine. Next time I will be more careful. Otherwise fair game. I broke the rules and I paid the price. That said there are numerous times that I have broken the traffic rules and nothing has happened. So in my mind I am ahead of the game. Half full not half empty.[1] Do you work there and can you provide us with evidence which will stand up in a court of law. Otherwise don’t waste our time.

        1. JLM

          .Like a lot of things, it matters whose ox gets gored.When this capability is focused on terrorists, much of America will join the applause.When this capability is focused on innocent Americans, much of America will be appalled.The truth of the matter is that the government has no respect for the provisions of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution which forbids unlawful searches.The FBI is not allowed to satisfy their curiosity while they certainly have a vested and legitimate interest in investigating terror organizations.JLM.

          1. ShanaC

            I hate to say this:There is a very thin line between terrorist and citizen. I tutored a girl in math in high school who I am sure is a Kachist*. I’m also sure when she was in the states that she did nothing.It is very easy to watch in these situations. Too easy.*kach is considered a terrorist group by the CIA. As how I know this…long story.

          2. pointsnfigures

            I think the line is thicker than you might see. I know a fair amount of muslims that I would not consider terrorists. But, I probably know more communists and fascists than anything else.

        2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          Half full , half empty or more disruptively – wrong sized glass !

      2. Dave W Baldwin

        Yes and the latest headline about the NSA tracking 5 billion cell phone locations per day….

      3. jason wright

        i use Blu-Tack

      4. Matt A. Myers

        Hey there sexy..

        1. JLM

          .Pretty damn……………………………..creepy.JLM.

          1. Matt A. Myers


        2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          Nice understatement – almost missed it ! 😉

    2. ShanaC

      wouldn’t planting leave forensic marks?

      1. Dave W Baldwin

        Before you could get around to that, the accusation and/or announcement of investigation would be headline… somewhere down the road proving it was planted wouldn’t make page 10.

  19. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Sounds total bullshit to me … what is wrong in governments knowing about us when these corporate’s know about us?How sure are we these corporate’s won’t sell the same thing to some X,Y and Z??Can’t trust anything (one) with Money or Power or Both….sellables :-)btw, I did not see Apple in the company list who support this on the webpage … may be on the wish-list of companies which will protect our personal info.

    1. Hershberg

      Apple is listed as a signatory to the Open Letter at the bottom of the page,

  20. JLM

    .There is a charming sweet naivete on this subject which is completely disconnected from the reality of how our intelligence agencies actually operate.It conflates spying and surveillance.Intelligence agencies are in the business of breaking laws. You might think they are in the business of breaking foreign countries’ laws exclusively but that is simply not true. They routinely break our laws and rarely even seek forgiveness.Why are the intelligence courts secret? Uhhh, because their activities cannot stand the sunlight and for no other reason.Can you imagine what they do and don’t even ask permission for? Can you imagine a 28-year old NSA guy NOT looking up everything on his hot new girlfriend? Marinate that for about 30 years and imagine that the NSA is not looking through your medical, financial, email, social, communications networks?Recently James Clapper testified to Congress and told them a bald faced lie — he indicated unequivocally that the NSA did not spy on Americans which has turned out not to be even remotely true.When pressed for an explanation, he said it was the smallest lie he could offer by way of explanation. Lying to Congress is a felony. Clapper could have asked to answer in a classified briefing or he could have asked to answer subsequently in writing but he elected instead to simply lie.Take a look at this video to get an idea of the hubris of this man on this subject. http://www.huffingtonpost.c…The NSA has enjoyed direct and unfettered access to ATT and all these late to the game Internet companies. Direct and unfettered.Can you imagine what they can get their hands on when they have 1MM SF of Cray computers at their disposal.Remember something about these big Internet companies — they all have dealings with other parts of the government such as the DOJ on antitrust. Do you think that the NSA doesn’t twist DOJ arms to get what they want from these companies?The NSA and other intelligence have the ability to hack into anything. The ARE getting direct and unfettered from these Internet companies. They can buy or bribe their way into anything they want.There is a reason why the NSA Director is a long term General officer much the same reason why guys like Reagan kept USMC Lt Cols like Ollie North around the White House.The NSA does not even feel the compulsion to report to the President of the US what it is doing as Clapper’s comments so clearly indicate.When you core business mandates that you break laws, who GAS what the laws say? Not the freakin’ NSA, I can assure you of that.JLM.

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      What irks me is all of the Congressional folks who have been getting briefings from the Intel side, and they don’t show up. If there wasn’t a public concern, they still wouldn’t be going to those meetings.You are more than correct regarding the spy world is and always has been to thwart any rules that get in the way. Yet at the same time, you have to have a DOJ that functions regarding the safeguard of the regular folks.Anything that has been said by any of these guys (Homeland, CIA, FBI….) has proved to be a lie within a week.IMPORTANT- looking forward, that poll showing the youngest generation being Independent instead of Dem/Rep is more than ACA, those kids are tired of the bullshit storyline. And they know they’re getting screwed.

    2. Pete Griffiths

      Well said.

    3. LE

      People are always “mr big balls” on this subject when it doesn’t affect them.I’m sure if they had their wife, siblings, girlfriend, mistress, cleaning lady etc. kidnapped they’d want the government to do anything and everything legal and not legal in order to secure their safe return.Otherwise if they are not personally effected it’s all abstract to them and they can take the high road and try to protect the rights of the group.Bottom line with this is you (not JLM but “y’all”) a) can’t have it both ways and b) understand that you don’t know enough to know what the right thing to do is because all you do is read the newspaper or listen to bloggers.Here’s the bottom line with all of this. What do you gain vs. what do you lose? To me I gain a more secure country. So far with all the whining I don’t see what I personally lose. At all.

      1. Peter

        I disagree. I think you will need to make some big compromises but also stay true to some principles. Currently, from an outside view, you seem to have lost regard for those principles.I am Swedish. During WWII you and many others were fighting for freedom in Europe. My former elected officials choose to allow Nazi-Germany to transport troops through our country. It helped them invade Norway. We gained security and it probably spared a lot of Swedish lives.The bottom line is not what you personally gain or loose in the short-term. The bottom line is whether or not it is the right thing to do?The old quote from Winston Churchill sums up the current situation quite well: “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”

    4. baba12

      Sir the “they” you refer through out this post refers to folks in the government elected or otherwise appointed, but I would like to state that we the people are responsible for what has happened/happening to us in our society. We the people elected folks who then have done what they believe is best for us, nobody put a gun to our head to elect these folks yet time nd time again we have put people in office who have not delivered much for us but we accept it.On average over the course of the last 45 years 80% of elected representatives of the 535 member congress have been re-elected question is why do we keep re-electing nincompoops.

  21. JamesHRH

    Hard to believe Li & MS CEOs delegated this issue.Hard to believe Tim Armstrong is involved #irrelevant.

  22. brianmcdonough

    Good to see some push back, despite the soft push.

  23. sigmaalgebra

    Now, now, now, Fred, what’s the worry? I mean,don’t you trust Uncle Sam? Big Government is serving us, remember? Besides, if we’ve done nothing wrong, then what do we have to hide? And, Uncle Sam is protecting us, remember that, too? Your writing seems to indicate that maybeyou don’t fully trust the Uncle Sam crowd, thatthey might go too far, violate some parts of ourConstitution, but who would believe such a thing?Oh, how I sleep knowing that the NSA is watchingover me!!!! Or maybe the NSA is watching overus because we have been sleeping? I mean, after Diffie-Hellman and RSA, what’s the NSAto do but watch what they can see flowingover the Internet backbone links? That theyhave software to pick out the best of the teenage’selfie’ SnapChat traffic is just a rumor! Theydon’t need to do that! Instead, they have foundways to install malware on any operating systemand, then, remotely turn on the microphone andcamera and watch and listen!!! I mean, shouldn’twe trust the NSA???

  24. Robert Heiblim

    Thank you, sensible, reasonable so lets hope it can be. I will certainly put effort into speaking to those in Washington about how important this is.

  25. Anne Libby

    Where is @kidmercury today?

  26. deancollins

    Everyone has a choice Fred……1st choice is move overseas. The real question is what happens to silicon valley/alley once this happens?…..and how will usa based VC’s feel about funding these offshore entities?

  27. Madeleine Wragge

    We the individuals apparently made the decision that we should know about our govt and the govt should know very little about us. But that viewpoint has been converted benefit down and individuals are accountable for it. We abdicated that liability and have become insensitive, foolish and sluggish enabling for what we have and shall have unless we get up out of the intoxicated stupor…fake phone number lookup