Scoring the game so far: NSA is winning, we’re losing

Summary:  Eleven  weeks have passed since the first revelations by Snowden about the NSA’s surveillance programs. Let’s total up the results. Spoiler for the post: the NSA is winning, we’re losing. But there are some potentially significant effects in other nations.

Keyhole view

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What’s been the effect of the revelations by Snowden about the NSA’s surveillance programs, which has in turn sparked other revelations?

(1)  Column-miles of newsprint and countless hours of broadcast time spent discussing these matters. Entertainment for nerds and political junkies. Success for the news media!

(2)  Column miles of newsprint and countless hours of blather by the government’s courtiers mocking Snowden (e.g., Michael Cohen, Steven Metz) and justifying the government’s actions (e.g., Joshua Foust, Tim Stanley). Entertainment for nerds and political junkies. Success: careers boosted in DC!

(3)  Politicians giving bold speeches. Success: more exposure, name-recognition!

(4)  Effect on the NSA so far: nil. They continue to expand their reach; reforms are defeated or meaningless. In fact, defeating their opponents might make them bolder. This revelation of their strength only boosts their fearsome reputation among US citizens (and tells our foes little they did not already know or suspect).

  • Feds put heat on Web firms for master encryption keys“, CNET, 24 July 2013 — “Whether the FBI and NSA have the legal authority to obtain the master keys that companies use for Web encryption remains an open question, but it hasn’t stopped the US government from trying.”
  • Feds tell Web firms to turn over user account passwords“, CNET, 25 July 2013 — “Secret demands mark escalation in Internet surveillance by the federal government through gaining access to user passwords, which are typically stored in encrypted form.”
  • Pretend reforms: Who will be on the new Committee to review NSA programs? A former CIA Director, a former Homeland Security “Czar”, a White House official in the Clinton and Obama administrations, and an advocate of secret infiltration of citizen groups to increase citizens’ faith in government officials. Its a bad joke. Sources: ABC News and Marcy Wheeler.
  • Three Illusory “Investigations” of the NSA Spying Are Unable to Succeed“, Electronic Freedom Foundation (“Defending Your Rights in the Digital World”), 23 August 2013

(5)  But, there is possible serious damage to exports of US technology (there is a price paid for every win):

Project New America

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Conclusion

There is an air of jubilation in many reports about these events. Perhaps these folks believe that now the American people will see, and decide to act. So far that hope has proven vain, just as in all the previous big stories about the government’s growing power, and the stories about its misuse of that power. People’s outrage means nothing unless it sparks action.

Perhaps some on the Left believe that now the Czar knows what the Cossacks do, and will make reforms! Unfortunately that’s the dream of peasants. The Tsar always knows in general what deeds are done by his Cossacks, and approves of them.

When this story broke my prediction was that this was just another small bump on the road for the growing Security State, and there would be no substantial reforms. Worse, perhaps these revelations were just breaking us to the reins:

This week we learned more about the extent of the National Security Agency’s surveillance. Do not see this as an event, but as a step in a process. Slowly we are broken to accept a harness designed by our ruling elites, administered by their agents — the government.  Slowly since WWII, more quickly since 9-11, the government has extended its supervision over us. Not to control our daily acts — as in 1984 — but to limit our activities. Limit our ability to manage our own affairs.

The changes come slowly. Not like a frog being boiled, because frogs are smart and jump out of the pot. More like bondage porn, where a sub slowly surrenders to the domination by the will of another. Surrendering responsibility, the burden of self-government.

It’s too soon to post this prediction as a win, but it looks good so far.

We’re entering (or already on) the steep section of the slippery slope “S” curve. Each defeat, each blown opportunity for action, makes us weaker. Our cohesion and morale weaken; while the government and its legion of supporters grow stronger and more confident.

What will make the American people unhappy enough to take action? Our ruling elites probably give this much thought. Their slow tightening of the bonds appears well-calibrated. Day by day a New America arises on the ashes of the America-that-once-was.

For More Information

Posts about Edward Snowden:

  1. The NSA news might be a birthday for the New America!, 7 June 2013
  2. The Empire Strikes Back: The Demonization of Snowden Begins, 15 June 2013
  3. America’s courtiers rush to defend the government – from us, 22 June 2013
  4. Thoreau reminds us about one of the few tools we have to control the government, 24 June 2013 — About civil disobedience
  5. Will a wave of leakers undercut America’s national security?, 8 July 2013
  6. The government strikes again, but finds yet another American willing to fight. Applause is not enough!, 9 August 2013
  7. “You’ve had your debate. There’s no need to write any more.”, 21 August 2013

Posts about what we can do – the most requested subject on the FM website:

  1. The project to reform America: a matter for science or a matter of will?, 16 March 2010
  2. Can we reignite the spirit of America?, 14 September 2010
  3. The sure route to reforming America, 16 November 2010
  4. Important: Should we despair, giving up on America?, 5 May 2012
  5. We are alone in the defense of the Republic, 5 July 2012
  6. A third try: The First Step to reforming America, 28 May 2013
  7. The bad news about reforming America: time is our enemy, 27 June 2013
  8. Why the 1% is winning, and we are not, 26 July 2013
  9. The second step to reforming America, 14 August 2013

Somewhere in our future lies the Third Republic

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Phoenix
Somewhere in our future lies the Third Republic

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36 thoughts on “Scoring the game so far: NSA is winning, we’re losing

  1. Sorry, your a bit behind, FM. They won, not are winning. Game is over to date, past tense. Finis.

    Signs are everywhere and in fact have been visible for over 5 years. Picture stuttering Sec of T, Hank Paulson, standing in front of the camera with Pelosi,Reid, Boehner and old befuddled POTUS W. behind him, announcing TARP. $700 Billion; a number pulled out of thin air (later admitted by Neil Kashkari). Gifts to the “Banks”. (this is still defended by many–even you defend it!)

    This is the way Life goes. No surprise actually. US has become a Death Star. A strong and feared impediment to a sane and decent future for many in the world. Emulated by the unwary. A bifurcated Nation of “winners and losers”; exactly what it’s ethos has been promising for generations.

    Go silently. Quietly structure your life as you so desire for yourself, your wife and children. Be aware. This too will pass and the “Security State”, “One Nation under the Financiers” will eventually implode of its own making. That also is very clear….implosion from over reach is what is next.

    And “thx” always fascinating to read your stuff.

    Breton
    Cc: NSA

    1. Breton,

      The two constant points in every discussion about reforming America, against which we can steer as with the stars in the sky, are those who say it is too difficult to try — and those who say we cannot win.

      I attribute this passivity, however elegant the reasoning, to laziness and cowardliness. That is just a guess, of course. The internal clockwork of other living things is unknowable.

      So you will watch. Please stay out of the way of those of us who try.

    2. Yeah, I’ve run into quite a few people from Asia over my life and I’ve talked to quite a few people who have lived in totalitarian or fascist-like situations. Especially South Korea in the 80’s or even the PRC today. Really, far as I can tell, there’s nothing interesting or romantic about it. It’s just if you screw with these people you lose your job and/or go to prison.

      Personally, I’m shocked the US government got information from the NSA, sent it to the DEA and lied to the courts. Are the stories true, that these guys have every internet post, every email every phone conversation I’ve made for the last 10 years? There’s going to be a lot of shopping lists and cat websites in all that, but I think, ultimately, if you did deep enough,everyone is guilty of something. I don’t shame anyone for wanting to save themselves and not get involved. Though I do appreciate those who have sacrificed, like Manning/Snowden, so we do know some of what’s going on.

    3. Mataga,

      That’s a good summary of our situation.

      Fortunately normal political activity is not yet oppressed. But…

      US history shows that people in any active political reform movement should expect to be watched and monitored by the government. That appears to be standard procedure by now. So any “weaknesses” become liabilities not just for the individual, but the group as well.

      Which brings the second point. You risk becoming an involuntary stoolie (informer) for the government. They deeply infiltrate reform movements, and forcing people in the movement to turn is fast and cheap. Guessing, that might be depressing.

      Third, working in a serious reform program is not fun (except for the young). I have done so for decades. I have gotten better at it, but it becomes more difficult with each passing decade. It is a second job, without pay. Business networking will be an important adjunct for the group, for survival.

    4. At this juncture it is worth pointing out something important. An authoritarian or fascistic state can survive a long time if it is fundamentally competent. Hitler built the autobahns. South Korea built all those factories and gave everyone jobs.

      Our current elites simply aren’t doing that. Now, a government which isn’t supplying the needs of the people can survive a long time based on the legitimacy which comes from democracy, the rule of law, etc…. but you see my point now?

      The current system is DEAD, DEAD, DEAD, due to simple failure to function. The worry is about what will replace it. The fall of the USSR led to a new group of people in power, but did they make things better or worse? Arguably worse.

    5. Nathanael,

      “An authoritarian or fascistic state can survive a long time if it is fundamentally competent. … Our current elites simply aren’t doing that. Now, a government which isn’t supplying the needs of the people can survive a long time based on the legitimacy which comes from democracy, the rule of law, etc…. … The current system is DEAD, DEAD, DEAD, due to simple failure to function.”

      I hear that a lot. Seldom with any evidence cited. In fact the US is doing quite well in economic and geopolitical terms (a moral evaluation depends on the viewer). In fact it’s doing better than most (not all) of its developed peers. I’ve written quite a bit about this. Here’s one: Our fears are unwarranted. America is in fact well-governed., 18 August 2011.

      My guess (emphasis on guess) is that the expectation of imminent doom is a commonplace of history. An evil doom lacks the mandate of heaven — and will soon collapse. Evil must be punished by the Gods!

      “Hitler built the autobahns.”

      Not a good example. Hitler wrecked the economy; only his initial victories kept the Third Reich falling forward — towards the ultimate destruction produced by Hitler’s long series of errors.

    6. The government is a growing part of the US economy and what you have to ask, is whether any kind of political involvement, either in protests or online will affect your ability to gain employment in the federal government. Is publicly supporting Bradley Manning, Wikileaks or Snowden or criticizing the security state or US foreign policy going to be a problem? What kind of opinions trigger that ‘insider threat’ program? According to the stories, simply visiting relatives overseas, is already one strike (and this is just outrageous in itself.) Personally I’m so glad I spent my professional life having nothing to do with the US government.

  2. FM: there are times when reading you, I think that – if you were instead reporting on WWII – you would be proclaiming Germany’s certain victory at Stalingrad.

    The banksters and the state have many shortcomings. The Russian winter being but one.

    This has been a massive moral defeat for them. Even my mother has heard of this; and she disapproves.

    1. Duncan,

      I understand your point of view, and you might be correct.

      But — my primary point about the creation of the New America is the divorce of citizens from the State (an extension of sorts of Martin van Creveld’s Decline of the State theory). That is, Americans increasingly no longer see themselves as responsible for the actions of the State, or even able to control them (except in extraordinary circumstances; everybody has limits).

      Our ruling elites share this belief. It’s a consensus, the foundational agreement on which they’re building a new political regime for America.

      The combination means that public opinion has the same effect on the State as it does on your local football team. For both there is some degree of responsiveness, but not very large.

      Look at this issue. The public is learning what the State is doing. This revelations should surprise nobody who has been paying attention. The trends have been obvious for decades, and esp since 9-11. The news media have covered these issues.

      About public opinion:

      (a) It is not unified. Polls show (easily seen in comments and social media) a strong base of support for the government’s growing powers. See Tapatio’s comments on the previous post — firmly closed eyes, strong visceral support for the government.

      (b) Public disapproval makes no difference unless people act on it. Ask your mother what she will do in response to her disapproval. Write to her representatives in DC? Vote against them? Street protests? Contributions to the ACLU or EFF?

      Reform is impossible unless we clearly see our situation. It’s bleak, but not cause for despair IMO. But seeing it through rosy glasses guarantees still more failures in any reform movements.

    2. Duncan raises an important point.

      “This has been a massive moral defeat for them. ”

      I have often mentioned the importance of the moral high ground, often decisive in 4GW — but also often decisive in conventional conflicts (e.g., prerequisites for our wins in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars).

      But, like all generalities, it’s meaningful only when large.

      A large segment of the British people were sympathetic to the 13 Colonies claim that we sought the natural rights of Englishmen. Obtaining that sympathy was a high-level objective of the revolution’s leaders, on which they spent significant resources. We obtained the moral high ground — but on a hill, not a mound.

      Ditto in the Civil War. The British had substantial economic interests that would benefit from a Confederate Victory, as well as potential geopolitical gains by fragmenting a rival. Yet slavery tainted the Confederacy to a large fraction of the British people. A leader advocating supporting slavery for economic gain would be heard by them as advocating evil for the 30 pieces of silver. Again, a high moral high ground.

      But few Americans feel so deeply about the slow growth of government power, their slow loss of liberty and political influence. They are comfortable with the New America being build around them. So claims of the moral high ground based on weakly held public support mean little.

    3. I tend to think that Mother Nature is more important than network technology ( but note that Mother Nature herself does have networks). Nevertheless, this article states much:

      “The U.S. government pursued its vindictive course against Manning to send a message to other potential whistleblowers. The problem is, those whistleblowers — among them Snowden — got the message loud and clear. What Snowden learned is, you don’t work within the system through normal channels, and you don’t play the “civil disobedience” game and take your punishment, unless you want to spend years naked in solitary awaiting trial and then be sentenced to most of your life in prison. You get the information distributed in secure places, get yourself safely out of the country, and then make your move.

      The next whistleblower will do it even bigger and better, and learn from Snowden’s example. See, networks learn from their experiences. Hierarchies kill the messenger.

      On top of that, the U.S. government’s draconian prosecutions of Manning and Aaron Schwartz have turned them into martyrs and created sympathy among millions of people around the world. In its obsessive pursuit of Snowden, the U.S. alienated public opinion and national governments in most of Latin America by forcing down the Bolviian president’s plane.”

      The alienation of Latin America is very important. Note also the vigorous response of Brazil’s government to the Miranda episode.

      With Enemies Like This, Who Needs Friends?“, Kevin Carson, Center for a Stateless Society, 23 August 2013

    4. Duncan,

      You raise two important points, on which we can so far only guess. Here’s my guesses.

      (a) It’s too soon to see if Obama’s aggressive program to identify and crush leakers will deter future leakers. My guess is that it will.

      Snowden and Manning are odd ducks. Such people are few in the government apparatus — and I’ll bet there are large-scale programs in progress right now to identify these kinds of people (ie, likely to leak) and weed them out. Furthermore, I think the efforts to crush these people will deter other leakers.

      There was a romance to the idea of a whistleblower, from movies and such going back to Deep Throat (who suffered not at all from his actions). No longer.

      Also — there has been little public support for Manning and Snowden. Applause from the bleachers means little to them. Money, pressure on the government, support for the organizations helping them — that’s what counts.

      Also, less often mentioned is the government’s increasing pressure on journalists. The days are long gone when releasing secret government information building careers like Woodward’s & Bernstein’s.

      (b) Reaction of world governments

      I believe you grossly overestimate this. Latin American governments have protested oppressive acts by the US government directed at them for over a century — with no visible effect. Their protests at key US domestic policies (with foreign effects) will have even less effect.

      The possible exception I mention in the post, damage to US exports if tech products are less trusted.

    5. Fabian, you haven’t thought about this clearly. Perhaps because you don’t know the sort of people the NSA employs.

      Snowden is not unusual in his attitudes. He’s normal for a cryptographer, if perhaps a bit cleverer than normal. There’s a reason that there are *six* major NSA whistleblowers already.

      Regarding the reaction of world governments, you’re thirty years out of date. Bolivia and Venezuela have now survived US attempts to replace their governments. *Survived* them. The US has been revealed as a paper tiger, and everything is going to change. The US is going to be surrounded and isolated — a policy of “containment”, if you will. And that is going to work.

    6. “FM: there are times when reading you, I think that – if you were instead reporting on WWII – you would be proclaiming Germany’s certain victory at Stalingrad.”

      Exactly.

      Now, before revolution happens within the US, the US will first be isolated by the rest of the world. Empires do not collapse from the middle, they collapse from the outside. So things are likely to get worse within the US for a while. But the Austro-Hungarian Empire eventually had a revolution even in Austria. It’ll happen.

  3. Several articles appeared recently which bear on this subject. Science fiction author Charles Stross recently wrote the article “Who ordered *that*?“, Charlie Stross, 31 July 2013 — Excerpt:

    I have a new speculative hypothesis to stand alongside the Martian invasion and the bad dream. It is this: the over-arching reason for the clamp-down on dissent, migration, and freedom of expression, and the concurrent emphasis on security in the developed world, constitutes the visible expression of a pre-emptive counter-revolution.

    The fuse for a revolution was lit by the global financial crisis of 2007/08, in a process that looked alarmingly close to triggering the Crisis of Capitalism (a hypothesized event which is associated with an ideology to which the current political elite of the USA and EU are for the most part highly allergic, for anyone aged over 50 spent their formative years under the bipolar tension of the Cold War). It sputtered briefly in the west in the form of the Occupy and related movements, but truly caught fire in 2009 with the failed Green revolution and in 2010-11 with the Arab spring—which were inflamed by the spike in global food prices caused by capital fleeing into commodities in the wake of the banking crisis. Meanwhile, the imposition of disaster capitalism in the west (as a purported “solution” to the debt-based spending bubbles various western governments embarked on during the boom years of the 1990s-2007) inflamed popular tensions in those countries, with results like this (undirected rioting) that never adhered to any political direction, but nevertheless terrified the ruling elite, leading to their retaliation via draconian punishments.

    The wave of revolutions has so far been contained within the Arab world (a part of the globe which—I don’t think this is any kind of coincidence at all—is suddenly becoming much less important to the energy geopolitics of the west, with the switch to fracking and renewables now under way). The policy of pre-emptive counter-revolution, facilitated by the imposition of the global internet panopticon, has clamped the lid down tight.

    So, in summary: I believe what we’re seeing is a move towards the global imposition of a police state in the developed world, leveraging the xenophobia that naturally emerges during insecure times, by a ruling elite who are themselves feeling threatened by a spectre. Controls on movement, freedom of association, and speech are all key tools in the classic police state’s arsenal. What’s new about this cycle is that the police state machinery is imposed locally, within national boundaries, but applies everywhere: the economic system it is intended to protect is transnational and unconstrained. Which is why even places that were largely exempt during the cold war are having a common police state agenda quietly imposed. There is to be no refuge, other than destabilized “failed states” where the conditions of life make a police state look utopian in comparison.

    This system has emerged organically, from the bottom up, and is not the result of any conspiracy; it’s just individuals and groups moving to protect their shareholdings in the Martian invaders, by creating an environment that is safe for the hive intelligences to operate in.”

    The Guardian has published a two-part article “Fiction in 2043,” a depiction of the future collapse of the global economy due to concentration of economic power and the destruction of original content due to the demonetisation of all the major media, and the subsequent global revolution.

    Time will tell whether either of these visions comes true.

    1. “the over-arching reason for the clamp-down on dissent, migration, and freedom of expression, and the concurrent emphasis on security in the developed world, constitutes the visible expression of a pre-emptive counter-revolution.”

      My response: Of course, but that’s unbelievably stupid as a policy.

      When people have no food and no jobs, they stop caring whether they have offended the security forces. Pre-emptive counter-revolution was tried by the Tsars from 1909-1918. Big failure.

  4. Pingback: Links 8/24/13
  5. This analysis fails to understand the structure and history of political revolutions.

    Of *course* the NSA appears to be winning. It’s not. It’s losing. It’s losing in exactly the same way Hitler was losing when he invaded Poland. It’s losing in exactly the same way Louis XIV started losing when he moved the noblemen to Versailles. It’s losing in exactly the same way that Brezhnev’s crackdown on civil society was losing.

    And yes, it’s going to be nasty for quite a while. But no government survives without public support. None.

    Are we winning? Probably not. The NSA losing simply creates an opening, an opportunity for the competent to take power; we may not like the people who take power.

    But the NSA Police State system is falling apart already and will collapse quite soon. The real risk is what will replace it.

    1. What I *fear*: the politics of Mexico from 1807-1876, rolling coups one after another.
      What I *expect*: someone equivalent to Porfirio Diaz, sweeping away the old deadwood and ruling *competently* with the acquiescence of the people.
      What is *impossible*: the survival of the current incompetent “security” forces.

  6. The functionality of internet software is evolving quickly. The Stasi-like spying of the NSA won’t work for much longer. An indication of the direction its evolving in is the FT article titled “Internet launches fightback against state snoopers” by Robert Cookson.

    My own behavior has also changed. I now contact the internet through a VPN, have reconfigured Firefox to insist on “Perfect Forward Secrecy” and have created an email account to be used preferentially with PGP over a tor network.

    I’m a long time OSX user, but given that Apple is one of the giant firms cooperating with the NSA, I’m installing a FreeBSD firewall and will transition to new apps on the new host OS. Nothing but open source from now on.

    What I can’t yet defend against is a man-in-the-middle attack. Using a web of trust database like that provided by PGP is a step in the right direction, but it does not go far enough because centralized providers are an easy target against letters de cachet.

    I’ve done this because I detest being snooped upon, not because of any political ideology.

  7. The Firefox add-on that restricts connections to SSL protocols with perfect forward secrecy is at:
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/calomel-ssl-validation/

    Some sites, especially google, are configured to use these protocols, but many sites do not because it takes more computing resources to use them as throw-away session keys have to be generated that are unique to each user&session.

    Remember- the man-in-the-middle attack is not fixed with these protocols, so some kind of web of trust is needed to fully verify the SSL connection directly connects to the server without some intermediary in between.,

    calomel.org has many “how-to” articles on running open source software. The Firefox tuning tool is merely an example.

    There is an open-source user productivity suite at kolab,org. They have Linux binary packages available for distribution, Installing that gives you an open source email server, calendar etc. There is a commercial version of the suite at kolab.com. It costs $10 per month to use, so organizations can try it before making the commitment of installing and maintaining it.

    I think packages like kolab, installed by various organizations, could basically take the place of google groups. Its a lot harder to go after thousands of smaller organizations, each with their own server software clone and encryption, than to go after a central service like Google.

    1. There is so-called “tor browser” that is a specially configured version of Firefox to present that same set of browser features by everyone using it.

      Its perfectly feasible to install the calomel addon to this browser, so the any end-to-end connection through tor is encrypted by session keys that are unique.

    2. If you just think about it for a second — there are two sides to web browsing a client (the user) and a server (the web site). Both sides know everything that’s going on and both sides can potentially release everything about the transaction to the NSA. If I secure all the data going from fabiusmaximus.com to my computer here, that doesn’t do any good if the server at fabiusmaximus.com is itself compromised. Here’s the thing — if you don’t trust google to reveal to the NSA what you do on their site (and I wouldn’t), then you can’t do anything to hide that.

      I suggest rather we start ‘talking like a terrorist.’

  8. “Feds Are Suspects in New Malware That Attacks Tor Anonymity“

    I’ve read about this attack. What was exploited was not a bug in tor but instead a bug in the Firefox browser that allowed Windows-specific malware to be installed. The malware was placed on sites that might be frequented by tor users, and was injected into their Firefox browsers. The malware phoned home to a site in Virginia.

    The Firefox bug has since been fixed.

    Tor itself is vulnerable to traffic analysis. Given that the NSA is watching everything, and has partners in other countries that watch everything, then timing analysis is likely to reveal the path through the tor network. This can locate users of for, but a sufficiently strong SSL connection will prevent the intercepted internet packets from being decyphered in a practical amount of time.

    1. David,

      Thanks for the explanation! It will be interesting to see how this plays out, govt surveillance vs people’s desire for privacy.

      My guess is that commo security — and more broadly, security — is too difficult for anything other than a small group. The best path for a reform program is e tremendous transparency, plus strong be orbital rules to minimize the effect of agents provocateur.

  9. I would try to find out what big finance companies do to secure their privacy. Think Goldman Sachs… The scenario is another Edward Snowden out there, but his job at the NSA is to keep tabs on them. Maybe one day he decides to retire early and sells out to a hedge fund in the Cayman Islands or Hong Kong or something… They’ll probably just build their own private internet.

    1. asdfg,

      That’s an important and fascinating question: how to banks and brokers — and all the other corrupt corporations in America — maintain loyalty of their key employees (ie, those with access to incriminating information)?

      My guesses:
      (1) Good pay.
      (2) Effective blacklisting to those who break the rule of omerta.
      (3) Sense of futility about telling the public.

      The last might be the most significant. How many times has wrong-doing of large US corporations — been revealed during the past several decades? How much information has come out about horrific massive law-breaking by banks during and after the housing bust? With what reaction by the public?

      As I have said so many times, self-government starts with the man in the mirror. So long as we’re passive — consumers, subjects — the Constitutional machinery remains inactive. Ultimately nothing else matters.

      Once this passivity becomes ingrained, then it’s game over for the Second Republic. My guess (emphasis on guess) is we’re near that point. Each round of non-response makes our rulers more confident and bolder — and diminishes our cohesion and spirit.

    2. My wife works for a very large insurance firm, as a attorney/claims examiner.

      At work, she is restricted to company servers. Its interesting that she has a work laptop that is removable from its docking station and is expected to carry it home overnight and on weekends.

      Her laptop is restricted to using only the corporate servers. Google/Yahoo/FB/eBay are all not accessible.

      When she does work from home, she uses the home access point through Charter cable, but connects to the company servers through a vpn. This is normal procedure and is expected of her as a part of her job.

      This very large insurance firm has its own IT staff, and keep very close track of what connects to the corporate network. It does not seem to matter where they connect from, just so they use the corporate hardware through the corporate vpn.

      It speaks to the security of vpn’s and the trust by corporate entities in the protection provided by encryption. The people authenticating these networks are paid big bucks and have not changed their policies after Snowden.

      As a mathematician/engineer I trust the encryption protocols for secure communication. I’m not sure I would absolutely trust the people that implement them. The weak points lie in the day to day details and in the people that use the system.

    3. Thanks for this info about the strong precautions this company takes. It cost more but might be cheaper in the long-term.

      Most companies have employees use their personal machines for home use, connecting via a an encryption scheme, linkage provided by GOOD Technology.

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