#1 By: Cory Doctorow, September 7th, 2013 10:01
#2 By: Tualha, September 7th, 2013 11:00
Pretty sad that it has to be couched in terms of protecting the sales of US corporations. Personal privacy? An all-seeing government that's been proven to misuse its powers? Nah, we don't care about that crap.
#3 By: Val A Lindsay II, September 7th, 2013 11:05
Amazing Obama has to be so wishy-washy and unsure about everything except in matters like these. Nice to see such legislation though. Too bad it won't be noted by the Masses and make them change their mind about current party politics...
#4 By: rocketpj, September 7th, 2013 11:25
Well, making it about corporations is an unfortunate necessity. Once the big corps realize their profits are seriously threatened (who would want an iPhone or an Android with a bug?) they might start putting money and support behind legislation like this.
If your elected representatives do nothing else, they certainly answer to the rich corps that fund their campaigns. Get them on board and you might have a campaign.
Of course, it means you have to resign yourself to the reality that you are trying to work within a corrupt oligarchy, but pretending otherwise at this point is mostly denial.
#5 By: Gerard Pierce, September 7th, 2013 18:11
These days, the only way to bring either corporations or government under control is to convince them that another corporation wants to eat their liver.
Security software could be an opening wedge because the firms providing it have a lot of other interests. If communications security opens the door to selling bloated consulting services, it becomes a competitive service even if they actually have to offer an honest deal - just once.
#6 By: Miles, September 7th, 2013 18:31
Am I breaking the spirit of the forum if I express my views both here an on Slashdot? Here was my opinion on this legislation at Slashdot: First the Stick, THEN the carrot
I believe that this legislation is well intended, but probably ineffective. The NSA has shown themselves a master in creative interpretation of law. Any new law will be twisted to their purposes. Then there will be years of appeals in the courts.
Congress has other, more effective tools at their disposal. Before they attempt new laws, they should immediately reassert Congress's most basic and irresistible power: The power to control the purse.
Congress's first act must be to slash the NSA's budget in half.
It is like working with a mule. First, you have to get their attention. As they slash their budget, they should explain that many of the NSA's actions have been dishonest. The NSA has created long term problems for the rest of the country. And the NSA has been spending it's budget in ways that Congress does not approve.
After Congress slashes the NSA's budget, it should then ask the NSA to give the complete Congress a full accounting of how they intend to spend their remaining budget. Give them a week.
If the NSA waffles, or insists on secrecy, or presents an incomplete accounting, then Congress should cut their remaining budget in half.
At no point should we worry about the NSA. It has tens of billions of budget. You can cut their budget in half several times and they will still be able to support their best analysts. Their hardware is cheaper and more powerful than ever before. Even after the cuts, they will be as effective as any time in the past few decades. But, the cuts will remove the NSA's ability to dominate entire industries. And they will not be able to use that support to justify their illegal and unethical acts. And that is a good thing.
Above all, Congress should not be deterred by the Executive branch. Controlling budget is Congress's natural, constitutionally mandated role. Congress has been shirking their duties lately. The Black Budget has been a shameful abrogation of it's responsibilities. Controlling the budget of the executive branch is Congress's job.
It may take several rounds of budget cuts, but eventually the NSA will come back in line. Then we can use law to guide them.
#7 By: Ben W , September 7th, 2013 23:37
An honorable idea, to be sure, but for the sake of argument I wonder if your efforts wouldn't be better suited to slashing the CIA's budget in the same ways you mention above. Granted, the NSA is doing quite it's share of dirty work, but I'd argue the CIA does far more of the wetwork, so to speak. Fomenting unrest, assassinating enemies of the state, extraordinary rendition, etc, etc. So while the NSA might know that you peruse pornohub's selection of foot licking vids (DON"T JUDGE ME MAAAN!), they're not actually pulling the trigger on any folks.
As for what Congress approves/disapproves, I'm wondering if you will be speaking on deaf ears in those particular halls. In addition, I'd guess that in the eyes of Congress, whatever issues the NSA creates for us in the world as you say (a statement I agree with, BTW), Congress would take one look at the intelligence they can provide and respond with a big fat meh.
Then again, it's late, I done been drinking good...wait...no, cheap scotch, and I'm feeling a little dystopian attitude coming on.
#8 By: Jeff, September 8th, 2013 15:35
The article in question is somewhat misleading. This is no carrot.
Rush Holt's bill would completely dismantle the PATRIOT Act and FISA Amendments Act. The barring of enforced hobbling of encryption is just one part of it, and not even one of the major bits.
Read the text of the bill. It has been floating around for a while. It's not "cut their budget in half", but I'm not sure that would do the trick at this point (much of this apparatus has already been developed). A full repeal of the legal framework they're using to (flimsily) justify these programs, though, would be far-reaching.
It's no coincidence that most of this stuff popped up after 2001.
#9 By: Miles, September 8th, 2013 16:24
Thanks darchmare for that correction. I found the text of the bill here.
You may be correct. If this bill would pass it would probably be sufficient to correct the current problems with the NSA. The history of the NSA is one of mostly correct service interrupted by brief periods of dangerous excess. The NSA submitted to the corrections of the Church period and remained under control until recently.
As wrecksdart pointed out, the CIA probably is the greater danger. The history of the CIA is almost an inverse of the NSA's. The CIA's history is a continuous pattern of excess interrupted by brief periods of sanity. They fought the Church recommendations tooth and nail. Manning's recent exposure of CIA torture, assassination and secret wars is the norm, not the exception. Historically, the CIA has been the smallest member of the intelligence community because that is one of the few ways to successfully limit the collateral damage. It terrified me to learn last week that the CIA now has a bigger budget than the NSA.
#10 By: Vadym Zakrevskyy, September 9th, 2013 00:26
Present day presidents (or congress) do not have any real power. Mr. Obama, promised quite a bit; President Obama delivered very little. I'm sure he wants to do stuff to make US (and world?) a better place, but it seems to me his hands are tied, and he isn't (and none of the past presidents in the past ~16 years were not) any longer in charge.
Money rules the world, and the US. Political decisions are made based purely on financial considerations of those who hold the most of it, which is fine if these were inventors or private businessmen of founders' age. These days, it is Wall Street, Big Energy, Military/Intel contractors, etc. The President (whoever it may be) will be held hostage to these strong financial interests and no longer be able to care for the rest of the population. He will be promised that if he does so-and-so the public will be safe and healthy. The results - however grim/great they seem to be to the public at large - are always a financial win for the largest of the financial institutions.
What can be done to solve this issue?
(please, no violence,- we've had enough)
#11 By: Cory Doctorow, September 12th, 2013 10:01
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