The failed writer who became NSA's in-house "philosopher"


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2015/08/11/the-failed-writer-who-became-n.html


#2

Rick Perry had the answers all along!

Ha Ha Ha Ha Fucking Ha!


#3

It’s pointless generally to post just to say “wow what an incredible article”, but Wow, what an incredible article.


#4

I wonder how long it will take the Internet Hive Mind to track the guy down. It’s not an entirely low-hanging fruit, a look-and-see attempt was not successful in the limited time before my patience ran out, but there’s quite enough data.


#5

Holy fucking shit, that quote makes me sick.

I’m sure he would have made an excellent president during something really big like WWII. “It’s time to just hand it over to god, and let him take care of the Nazis.”

Makes my skin crawl that such a moron even made the republican nomination.


#6

Yahtzee!


#7

Maybe he can start small, by letting his god take over steering while speeding his car on the mountain overpass. I believe you can fly, Rick!


#8

Though Intercept “has a policy of not naming” this comes a hair shy of just outright doxxing.


#9

Can knowing who does a blog really be “doxxing”? If I learn who does a blog, am I obliged to forget? That’s what confuses me so much about the controversy about doxx, it all tends to be publicly available information in the first place. Legally, if I collect somebody’s name, home address, and telephone number, this counts as “identifiable info”. Yet, I could simply read it with thousands of others in any phone book. If somebody wanted to prosecute me for having info about them, how could they do so unless others had the same info to verify it? It seems like an infinite regress.


#10

I think the legal rationale against doxxing is that often putting the info out there in a neat little package can entice abuse against the doxxee. I don’t think I really agree, that purely publishing someone’s info collated in an easy to use form counts necessarily as inciting abuse or violence in itself. But it can be depending on additional messaging.

Like if someone in a Reddit thread or whatever said they wanted to harass a particular person, then someone else went out grabbed the necessary info putting it in a nice blob in a Reddit post, I’d consider that poster to be culpable in any abuse it precipitates. Not as culpable as the actual abusers, but they knew exactly what making that information easily available was going to trigger, and depending on the doxee I may feel bad or good about it. Personally, I like the idea that if you practice bad information hygiene, then you can’t expect to be anonymous.


#11

That’s what gets me - the harassment and/or violence would already be illegal.

I think that people seem to overlook the asymmetrical power this can create between individuals and institutions. Companies ranging from Amazon to collection agencies are never going to be prosecuted for amassing as much data as possible on as many people as they can. It only seems to be a crime when individuals do it.

ETA: There go my notifications again!


#12

There’s asymmetry in doxxing as well. If you’re on a forum thread frequented by 100 active and dedicated users, and an unpopular person is doxxed on the thread, then there’s going to be a lot more than 1:1 interactions within that adversarial space.

There could be dozens of people harrassing that doxxed person day and night, at home, at work, via phone, email, in person via proxy actors, while effectively hiding themselves. It goes from everyone maintaining a moderated equality to literally a mob where their target doesn’t stand much of a chance of escape other than the mob’s enthusiasm running out and boredom setting in, or the spotting of a juicier target.


#13

True, but I am more concerned about myself and others surviving confrontations against countries and corporations than 100 trolls from some web forum. I do not mean to trivialize the latter, but to keep it in perspective.


#15

Dammit! I missed it!


#16

On the other hand, at least countries and corporations have a vested interest in not causing scandals or lawsuits and generally aren’t malicious as an end in itself, whereas 100 trolls risk little to nothing by anonymously indulging their worst personal demons. I don’t mean to trivialize the former, but to keep it in context.


#17

As a philosophical argument, this is nothing new. Enlightenment era philosophers covered this ground centuries ago, hence, among other things, the origin of the term panopticon. The problem, then as now and as a couple millennia ago, is Who Watches the Watchmen?

Transparency can only foster justice if its multilateral and bidirectional, and not always even then (see: tyranny of the majority). But transparency is diametrically opposed to espionage and other areas of intelligence gathering. Spy work relies on having information that your subject doesn’t know you have and doesn’t have the same or comparable information about you. Lack of accountability is literally baked into the foundation of what intelligence agencies by their very nature are tasked with doing. They can, and will, try to excuse this by citing nominal government oversight, but this is equivalent to telling people don’t worry, our general sort of knows what we’re up to, and you know who he is! On top of which they actively try and keep the general in the dark as much as possible because…

a) That gives him deniability when (not if) they violate the law.

b) They trust the general to be a politician, not what they regard as a true patriot.

c) As Ben Franklin long ago observed, three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead.


#18

My experience is that it is not safe to assume this when dealing with them as equals. These groups are tolerant to a point, but when a threshold is crossed are quick to act with assumed impunity, which I think makes them more dangerous.

They also don’t gain much, beyond a temporary hope that their lulz make them less socially impotent, which they don’t. The average person holds themselves in some check, knowing that there might be limits to their anonymity. Whereas countries and corporations are more likely to have ones life figuratively or literally destroyed and not care who knows.

Also, from a law/enforcement perspective, I find the elimination of personal responsibility annoying. I compare it to laws about file sharing. Companies and courts will go after websites for damages caused by the users because it is easier and cheaper to prosecute, and yields a far bigger sum of money for damages. Technological enablement is used to shift who is responsible for the act, and the damages. Also, there are legal double standards with regards to responsibility (such as with drug use) where the individual is responsible enough to be punished, but not enough to be trusted with the implicit risks in the first place. Legislation twists the agenda around from apparently protecting people from each other, to protecting people from themselves. Also known as making their decisions for them. I think it is axiomatically sound to insist upon individual responsibility for all actions


#19

it’s time to just trump it over to trump and let him trump it.


#20

Much of what you say I agree with, but I’d take a different perspective. “If people knew a few things about me, I might seem suspicious. But if people knew everything about me, they’d see they had nothing to fear.” This has increasingly become an effective strategy, especially asymmetrically. Chasing one dog allows you to focus, but chasing many dogs, all of which are barking happily to attract your attention, is very similar to the herd’s method of protecting itself (to mix my metaphors and similes up).


#21

I recently wrote an article for the NSA ■■■ on the philosophy of security. Here is an extract:

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Pretty hard-hitting stuff, huh? I’m surprised they published it in their in-house journal, the ■■■■■■■■■
■■■■■■■■■■■■.