For John, BLUF: The Government is snooping on almost all of us. Nothing to see here; just move along.
Writing for The Atlantic, Reporter Philip Bump gives us "The NSA Admits It Analyzes More People's Data Than Previously Revealed".
As an aside during testimony on Capitol Hill today, a National Security Agency representative rather casually indicated that the government looks at data from a universe of far, far more people than previously indicated.So, the Boston Bomber, the late Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was a Golden Gloves boxer. Even came up to Lowell to fight. If we assume that he knew boxing folks in Lowell, those boxing associates would be the first hop. Now, let us assume that there are people who know and work with some of those involved in boxing in the Lowell area. Perhaps through charities connected with Irish Micky Ward or Dicky Eklund. There is the second hop. Now, assume I have met one or more people on the second hop—and I believe I have—then I am the third hop. That is to say, NSA is checking me out, EMail and telephone.
Chris Inglis, the agency's deputy director, was one of several government representatives—including from the FBI and the office of the Director of National Intelligence—testifying before the House Judiciary Committee this morning. Most of the testimony largely echoed previous testimony by the agencies on the topic of the government's surveillance, including a retread of the same offered examples for how the Patriot Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act had stopped terror events.
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.
Back in November 2011 Facebook estimated that the average distance between two strangers was 4.74 hops.
It isn't like NSA doesn't have a handle on most all of us. The idea of privacy is a mirage. When it wasn't exposed and people weren't disappearing into secret prisons, this really wasn't a problem. Unfortunately, it has now been exposed. The difference between us and East Germany, or Communist Russia or Nazi Germany is that we are all in agreement that we all play by the rules and the rules conform to the Bill of Rights. Even if they know you are guilty of something, they have to prove it the old fashioned way. And no one wishes to expose how much NSA knows and how much it passes on to other Government Agencies.
Someone I know uses as a tag line this item from Edmund Burke, in his First Letter on a Regicide Peace (1796):
Manners are of more importance than laws. Upon them, in a great measure, the laws depend.Good manners is what is keeping us safe. Teach your children well.
Regards — Cliff