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NSA Leaks - fascinating/tough questions
Old 06-12-2013, 10:36 AM   #1
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NSA Leaks - fascinating/tough questions

After watching Charlie Rose last night, two very tough questions seem to surface. I wish I had easy answers.

1) We want our privacy, and we want to be protected from terrorism, but where is the balance (knowing consensus isn't possible)? If our privacy is fully protected, terrorists will have more success, that's not acceptable to most citizens presumably. If government has unhindered access to any private info they want (not acceptable to most citizens presumably), it gives them better odds of preventing terrorism. So in today's world, we have to sacrifice some privacy, and accept some vulnerability to terrorism?

2) Many are objecting to the NSA's broad access to all US citizens personal phone metadata without approval (not content if I understand correctly, that does require legal approval). With Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Amazon and everyone else gathering up (more) private data on us - why a bigger uproar when the NSA gathers phone metadata as part of counter-terrorism?

And advances in technology will only make these questions tougher in time. It's 1984?
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Old 06-12-2013, 10:52 AM   #2
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What bothers me is the immaturity of the two IT technicians who have 'outed' our security resources. Frankly I think we need to consider that when we give security clearances.
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Old 06-12-2013, 11:00 AM   #3
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Notice to all future contributors to this thread: Please remember that all political threads here MUST be directly related to retirement. So, please be certain that your response is closely related to retirement. Thank you.
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Old 06-12-2013, 11:02 AM   #4
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I agree these are very tough issues. As you say, we need to balance privacy with safety. A couple thoughts:

I'm less concerned that they are recording the times and to/from of calls than I am with the idea that I don't really know what controls are in place. If there are controls so that this is really going after 'bad guys' and it can't be used to single out political enemies (as might be the case with the recent IRS squabble), then I don't have a big problem with it. I worry about the controls on it. Since it has to be secret to some degree to be effective, how can we know the controls are in place?

Stopping terrorist activity is a tough nut - I sure don't envy those tasked with that job. They need some powerful tools to do it. Tools can be used for good or bad.

I know some here get all upset at the idea of google having computers scan your emails or browsing habits to target adds. I don't care one wit about that. What harm is there? And I don't really care if the govt tracks my time/to/from of my calls, if there is some reasonable chance of a benefit in increased safety. I heard one person liken it to putting an address and return address on an envelope that you drop in the mailbox - the govt sees that - it that a problem?

OTOH, it appears the govt had all sorts of yellow flag info on the Boston Marathon bombers, and were ineffective in acting on it. Is this just a broad brush approach that will be ineffective anyhow? Who knows?

At some level, when it comes to national security, I'm afraid that there is a certain level of 'trust' required - what else can we do. That's why it is so important that the govt appears to be trust-worthy as much as possible, and that trust really is questionable.

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Old 06-12-2013, 11:08 AM   #5
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