Skip to comments.Knowledge is Power: How the NSA bulk data seizure program is like gun registration
Posted on 01/22/2014 9:23:10 AM PST by xzins
....assume instead that the claim of not a single abuse is true.
Does that justify the existence of such a program of data collection on every person in the United States? I do not think so. Knowledge is power, and the power to access this information in secret is a very dangerous one. Consider why gun rights advocates, like myself, oppose firearm registration. We are told by proponents of such registration that it is reasonable because it does not deprive anyone of his or her right to keep or bear arms. Yet the very existence of the data trove makes present and future violations more feasible and, therefore, more likely. For example, the New York Police Department reportedly sent notices to registered gun owners to surrender their guns having a capacity of more than 5 rounds, as such weapons now violate state law. Formerly perfectly legal and entirely conventional guns are now susceptible to confiscation due to registration.
The brute fact that the government does not know where the guns are makes it much more difficult to confiscate them in the future. Not only does this illustrate the practical danger to constitutional liberties posed by the government simply possessing vast information about our activities and associations for later search. The trove of phone and email metadata to which the NSA now has access would make gun registration unnecessary as the government would already possess enough information to identify most gun owners.
This vast searchable database creates three grave threats to the personal liberties of the citizenry. First, illicitly and improperly to target people for political purposes. Second, mission creep, ...NSA is sharing data with other agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration, Third, bulk seizure and storage of other third-party records, such as our credit card statements,
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
'However, our review of the governments claims about the role that NSA bulk surveillance of phone and email communications records has had in keeping the United States safe from terrorism shows that these claims are overblown and even misleading. An in-depth analysis of 225 individuals recruited by al-Qaeda or a like-minded group or inspired by al-Qaedas ideology, and charged in the United States with an act of terrorism since 9/11, demonstrates that traditional investigative methods, such as the use of informants, tips from local communities, and targeted intelligence operations, provided the initial impetus for investigations in the majority of cases, while the contribution of NSA's bulk surveillance programs to these cases was minimal. Indeed, the controversial bulk collection of American telephone metadata, which includes the telephone numbers that originate and receive calls, as well as the time and date of those calls but not their content, under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, appears to have played an identifiable role in initiating, at most, 1.8 percent of these cases. NSA programs involving the surveillance of non-U.S. persons outside of the United States under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act played a role in 4.4 percent of the terrorism cases we examined, and NSA surveillance under an unidentified authority played a role in 1.3 percent of the cases we examined.'
'My conclusion is simple: neither of these cases demonstrates that bulk phone records collection is effective. Those records did not make a significant contribution to success against the 2009 plot because at the point at which the NSA searched the bulk records database, the FBI already had sufficient information to disrupt the plot. It is also unlikely that bulk collection would have helped disrupt the 9/11 attacks, given critical barriers to information sharing and as demonstrated by the wealth of information already available to the intelligence community about al-Mihdhar.'
I hadn’t really thought about it but this professor makes a good point. If I have everyone’s email, phone, and text messages, I can search on the words “gun” “own” and come up with a pretty good working list of American gun owners. I’d probably need to sort it a few more times to refine it, but there’s your national database of gun owners.
I guess as long as one rests assured that whatever he does legally today will remain legal in the future, and that the records of everything he does today won’t be used against him the future to justify intrusive searches or seizures, it’s probably not a big deal. Might become a problem if the rules change, though, or if the lines get blurred between domestic and foreign affairs.
Anyone want to take that bet?
It's about using the collected metadata to build social networks.
Why do they want to do that? What could social networks be used for in the hands of government? Consider:
How will such capabilities be used now? How They Hunt
Is it already too late?
I’m not taking the bet. They’ve already misused it in the DEA case.
I would caution that using data mining methods, it is quite possible to build a fairly accurate (~90% accurate) registration of gun owners WITHOUT overt registration.
For example, email lists from gun clubs (local, NRA, etc) can be cross referenced with: gun magazine subscription lists and gun accessory vendors emails / lists to create a very high percentage of gun owners. These email lists can be obtained as metadata (meaning that the internals of the emails are not read or known) - just based on who is talking to who. Most likely, this data is already collected.
These lists can then be checked against individual emails to build a list of close friends. Those individuals would be a very high percentage chance of being a gun owner. And this is just a small example. There are many other such scenarios that could be built to create lists of friends and foes.
My caution to all of this is that the citizens of the US should be VERY worried about the NSA collecting data on the citizenry. I would further recommend electing politicians who are going to put limits on the NSA and what data they can collect and store.
Scary stuff, Paine. It’s not too late. Most of us are inconsequential to them.
Yes........far too late.
Negative statements about our fearless leader will result in the Secret Service calling up your employer and asking HR if they've noticed any dangerous behavior from you, and if you "seem stable", with predictable consequences to your career.
The objective will be to make right wingers shut up.
A question that no one in the Propaganda Ministry had the brains/guts to ask the President, when he talked about “transitioning the data” was this: Why not simply destroy all copies of it? Then no one has to store it.
Yes you are correct.
I guess my less obvious point is that it would not even take reading into the emails and searching through the content. Just based on who is talking to who, starting with a known list (NRA members, CCW holders, gun accessory vendors, etc) and then following the email headers alone, the government could build a highly accurate list of gun owners.
For example, I am not a CCW holder (kinda expensive where I’m at so I will get one eventually, just not right now). However I do have several friends who are CCW holders. So by mapping the CCW list, following the emails, they would notice that X number (say 6 or 7 people) who ARE CCW holders, have contacted me via email over the past year. That would put a very high probability that I would also be a gun owner. Instead of using emails, you could also use metadata from phone records.
Scary and I’ll bet that the data base is already being constructed.
You misspelled desire. Hope that helps.
It’s time to send the 101st Airborne into Utah to sort out the NSA traitors from the patriots. I expect that we’ll find few patriots. Following orders is not patriotic.