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21st November 2013

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"In the short term, we need more transparency and oversight. The more we know of what institutional powers are doing, the more we can trust that they are not abusing their authority. We have long known this to be true in government, but we have increasingly ignored it in our fear of terrorism and other modern threats. This is also true for corporate power. Unfortunately, market dynamics will not necessarily force corporations to be transparent; we need laws to do that. The same is true for decentralized power; transparency is how we’ll differentiate political dissidents from criminal organizations."

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11th October 2013

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"It’s equal folly to believe that the NSA’s secretly installed backdoors will remain secret. Given how inept the NSA was at protecting its own secrets, it’s extremely unlikely that Edward Snowden was the first sysadmin contractor to walk out the door with a boatload of them. And the previous leakers could have easily been working for a foreign government. But it wouldn’t take a rogue NSA employee; researchers or hackers could discover any of these backdoors on their own. This isn’t hypothetical. We already know of government-mandated backdoors being used by criminals in Greece, Italy, and elsewhere. We know China is actively engaging in cyber-espionage worldwide. A recent Economist article called it “akin to a government secretly commanding lockmakers to make their products easier to pick — and to do so amid an epidemic of burglary.”"

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26th August 2013

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"This leaves one last possible explanation — those in power were angry and impulsively acted on that anger. They’re lashing out: sending a message and demonstrating that they’re not to be messed with — that the normal rules of polite conduct don’t apply to people who screw with them. That’s probably the scariest explanation of all. Both the U.S. and U.K. intelligence apparatuses have enormous money and power, and they have already demonstrated that they are willing to ignore their own laws. Once they start wielding that power unthinkingly, it could get really bad for everyone."

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31st July 2013

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  • Ars: What about changes on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court? All the judges on it are appointed by one person, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Does that need to change?
  • Sen. Wyden: There is much about the FISA court that is anachronistic, and it needs to be updated. Their work back in the 1970s was garden variety stuff: they looked at government applications for wiretaps, and made judgments about probable cause. But 9/11 changed all of that. The FISA court [today] is a result of these take-your-breath away rulings—they said the Patriot Act could be used for bulk surveillance. I know of no other judicial body that's so one-sided. The government lawyers lay out their arguments, and the court decides just on that.
  • <a href="http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/07/two-years-later-senators-criticism-of-nsa-spying-sinks-in/"> Sounding the alarm: Ars speaks with vocal NSA critic Sen. Ron Wyden | Ars Technica</a>

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11th July 2013

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"Secrecy impeded effective oversight Though ultimately more than 3,000 people—mostly within the NSA—were read into the program, the initial secrecy around it was so intense that, notoriously, even the NSA’s own lawyers weren’t allowed to see the legal reasoning justifying it until 2004—something NSA officials themselves found strange. That secrecy meant that the NSA’s own Inspector General—the agency’s primary internal watchdog—wasn’t cleared to know about the program until August 2002, nearly a year after it began. Even that appears to have been a reluctant concession; NSA Director Michael Hayden had to “make a case” to the White House for reading the IG in. As a result, it was not until February 2003 that the IG “learned of PSP incidents or violations that had not been reported to overseers as required, because none had the clearance to see the report.” The precise nature of those “incidents or violations” remains unknown."

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