Degrees of Hop

July 18, 2013

300dpi rgb jpg 7.17"x10"Another overcast early morning this Thursday on California’s north coast, but as the case the last few weeks, sunshine will most-likely break the gloom by noon time.
The weekend now only hours away.

Beyond the cycle of the George Zimmerman fallout, there’s continuing saga of the average Joe on America’s streets, caught in the watchful eye of our government watching us whether we’re on the street or not. On the phone, or in our cars, the scared panties of the NSA need to see everything.

Yesterday, Chris Inglis, the NSA’s deputy director, in an appearance before a US House Judiciary Committee rather casually indicated that the government looks at data from a universe of far, far more people than previously indicated.
And could such an enormous surveillance activity be kept secret? DNI counsel Robert Litt: “Well, um, we tried.”

(Illustration found here).

And this revelation is a kind of Six-Degrees-of-Kevin Bacon kind of bullshit:

But Inglis’ statement was new.
Analysts look “two or three hops” from terror suspects when evaluating terror activity, Inglis revealed.
Previously, the limit of how surveillance was extended had been described as two hops.
This meant that if the NSA were following a phone metadata or web trail from a terror suspect, it could also look at the calls from the people that suspect has spoken with — one hop.
And then, the calls that second person had also spoken with — two hops.
Terror suspect to person two to person three.
Two hops.
And now: A third hop.
Think of it this way.
Let’s say the government suspects you are a terrorist and it has access to your Facebook account.
If you’re an American citizen, it can’t do that currently (with certain exceptions) — but for the sake of argument.
So all of your friends, that’s one hop.
Your friends’ friends, whether you know them or not — two hops.
Your friends’ friends’ friends, whoever they happen to be, are that third hop.
That’s a massive group of people that the NSA apparently considers fair game.
For a sense of scale, researchers at the University of Milan found in 2011 that everyone on the Internet was, on average, 4.74 steps away from anyone else.
The NSA explores relationships up to three of those steps.

Well, um, we tried.

And House members acted pissed for a change.

Ranking Minority Member John Conyers (MI): “You’ve already violated the law in my opinion.”
Rep. Jerry Nadler (NY): “I believe it’s totally unprecedented and goes way beyond the statute.”
Rep. Ted Poe (TX): “Do you see a national security exemption in the Fourth Amendment? … We’ve abused the concept of rights in the name of national security.”

The author of the Patriot Act, Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, reminded the government that the act was up for renewal in 2015.
The provisions for phone metadata collection, he warned, have “got to be changed … otherwise in a year or year and a half you’re not going to have it any more.”

Wanna bet?

Even if the law is changed, what’s to keep the NSA from business as usual? If they try to keep shit secret, maybe they could if they were competent, but from all indications already, these people are dumb-asses.

And Jimmy Carter knows it, but the rest of the US MSM doesn’t. Only from Germany’s Die Spiegel (and via Google Translate):

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was in the wake of the NSA Spähskandals criticized the American political system.
“America has no functioning democracy,” Carter said Tuesday at a meeting of the “Atlantic Bridge” in Atlanta.
Previously, the Democrat had been very critical of the practices of U.S. intelligence.
“I think the invasion of privacy has gone too far,” Carter told CNN.
“And I think that is why the secrecy was excessive.”
Overlooking the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said Carter, whose revelations were long “likely to be useful because they inform the public.”

And the public is what’s keep everything sane. An outcry goes a lot way.
Microsoft is hitting back at The NSA — the public wants to know if the computer giant is a government troll pen, and this is the response.
Yesterday, on a company blog, Microsoft’s Brad Smith, general counsel & executive vice president, Legal & Corporate Affairs, hooted:

Today we have asked the Attorney General of the United States to personally take action to permit Microsoft and other companies to share publicly more complete information about how we handle national security requests for customer information.
We believe the U.S. Constitution guarantees our freedom to share more information with the public, yet the Government is stopping us.
For example, Government lawyers have yet to respond to the petition we filed in court on June 19, seeking permission to publish the volume of national security requests we have received.
We hope the Attorney General can step in to change this situation.
Until that happens, we want to share as much information as we currently can.
There are significant inaccuracies in the interpretations of leaked government documents reported in the media last week.
We have asked the Government again for permission to discuss the issues raised by these new documents, and our request was denied by government lawyers.

Well, um, they tried.

And time for me to get my skinny ass to work  — today is payroll Thursday, yeah!
Are you watching, NSA?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.