Tag Archives: big brother

Verizon, AT&T, and BellSouth bought by NSA to hand over phone records

“In other words, one end of the communication must be outside the United States.”
President George W. Bush, on the NSA phone monitoring program

Whoops.

USA Today is reporting that the NSA phone monitoring is far broader than previously acknowledged. Apparently AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth have been, since just after September 11, 2001, complicit in permitting the NSA to create a massive database — possibly the largest database, ever — of phone calls made inside the country (despite the Administration’s consistent reassurances that one end of any monitored phone call is outside the country) for the purpose of attempting to identify terrorist activity by calling patterns. While no voices were recorded, and no customer names and addresses exist in this database, it’s hardly trivial to pin the gathered phone numbers to a person. The same article also reports that the three companies were paid by the NSA to provide this information. More interestingly enough, Qwest Telecom refused to join the program, because of fears over fines and privacy concerns. Bravo.

I’m just starting to wonder what would happen if General Hayden is confirmed as the CIA head. CIA agents working domestically to gather intelligence, much as they would do overseas? We probably already have that too.

Needless to say, I smell a giant lawsuit against these three companies for a gross and willful invasion of privacy. The Fourth Amendment is still valid in the Constitution, right? Or was repealing the 4th yet another secret clause in the “Patriot” Act that no one read? You just can’t make this stuff up anymore. Orwell would be shocked. I, for one, am pretty disgusted.

Starforce DRM is NASTY.

From CD Freaks, as seen on Neowin:

…[T]he anti-piracy system that Starforce is using installs a driver that runs at the highest level of access on the system…[T]his driver runs all the time, regardless of whether or not you are playing a game that used Starforce’s DRM…[I]f the Starforce driver thinks it has detected suspicious activity relating to disc copying the driver will instantly reboot your computer without any notification.

If this software wasn’t under the guise of “digital ‘rights’ management” (more like digital restrictions management), it would probably be classified as a trojan horse. Put another way, if I wrote this software, I’d face prosecution under various laws (including the “Patriot” Act). This kind of vigilante PC policing is nothing short of ridiculous, and does nothing but harm legitimate consumers. Companies used to dissuade people from piracy by letting them know that buying genuine copies of the software would help ensure their safety, as copies from unauthorized sources could be loaded with viruses and other malware. These days, it seems as if the opposite is true. Where companies got the idea of infecting their legitimate customers’ PCs with harmful software is totally beyond me.

It’s times like these where we must take full advantage of the power of the free market. Check out this list of Starforce-infected games and be sure not to buy them, regardless of how good they might be.

“OMG POLICE ON TEH MYSPACE”

There seems to be a lot of concern these days about putting stuff on MySpace or Facebook accounts (to name a couple types) that may be incriminating. Justified? Totally. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if police agencies, employers, etc. are poking around there looking for clues about you and your activities. Whether this is right or not is an extremely loaded topic for another day. Regardless of whatever ethics are involved, people absolutely should watch what they write on their MySpace accounts. The Internet is wide-open to the entire world. What’s posted on one site can be read anywhere else. People talk about this as if it’s a new thing; seasoned Web publishers know from the early days of the Internet not to post anything they wouldn’t want to see in a newspaper that their parents, friends, co-workers, lovers, etc. would read the next day.

For the first time, however, this rule is hitting the mainstream in a huge way. MySpace has made Web publishing (I use the term loosely) accessible to a vast majority of people who would have never considered it before. It doesn’t matter how good you are with computers to do it; they’ve made it nearly foolproof to do so. Unfortunately, this is like a bunch of people jumping into cars without ever learning the rules of the road, and as a result, it’s not difficult to find sites laden with pictures or written accounts of activities that may be considered sub-legal. However, there is an illusion amongst unseasoned Internet publishers that what they write can only be seen by their friends, etc. They’re sorely mistaken if this is what they think. The rule ALWAYS applies – if your friends can read it, so can everyone else with access to a computer with Internet connectivity — and this doesn’t exclude people one would want NOT to read their profile.

So yes, the hype is perfectly justified, but nothing to fear – it’s just time to play by the same rules I and (most) other Web content publishers have adhered to for the last 10+ years.

Sen. Roberts: We don’t need no stinkin’ checks and balances

I rarely discuss politics on this blog, but I saw this on CNN and was utterly outraged.

CNN:

…[T]he Republican chairman [Sen. Pat Roberts] of the Senate Intelligence Committee said he had worked out an agreement with the White House to consider legislation and provide more information to Congress on the eavesdropping program.

“I believe that such an investigation at this point … would be detrimental to this highly classified program and efforts to reach some accommodation with the administration,” Roberts said.

Unbelievable, unacceptable…and par for the course these days. Congressional checks on executive power, anyone? The Framers are turning 10,000 rpm in their graves right now. This is maddening.

Want accommodation? It’s there – it’s called FISA! Or are they going to make a few tweaks and remove the FISA roadblock and permit unlimited wiretapping? That’s sure the vibe I get from all this.

Compromising our liberties is a victory for the terrorists. Make sure you write your Congressional representatives and let them know that. These are the fundamentals of our democracy at risk here.