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Science

Mass Surveillance Silences Minority Opinions: Study 266

Reader sittingnut writes: According to a study by Elizabeth Stoycheff from Wayne State University -- which was also referred to in the Washington Post, "knowing one is subject to surveillance and accepting such surveillance as necessary, act as moderating agents in the relationship between one's perceived climate of opinion and willingness to voice opinions online." In other words, knowledge of government surveillance causes people to self-censor their dissenting opinions online. This study adds to the well-researched phenomenon known as "spiral of silence", of people suppressing unpopular opinions to fit in by explicitly examining how government surveillance affects self-censorship. Participants who claimed they don't break any laws and don't have anything to hide and tended to support mass surveillance as necessary for national security, were the most likely to silence their minority opinions.
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Mass Surveillance Silences Minority Opinions: Study

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  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @12:45PM (#51800681) Homepage
    So far mass surveillance had zero impact on silencing Anonymous Cowards.
    • by msmash ( 4491995 ) Works for Slashdot <asteriskspace@outlook.com> on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @12:46PM (#51800699)
      Should have seen this coming :-)
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @12:50PM (#51800749) Homepage

      I doubt that. Even ACs are being logged, both by Slashdot (IP address) and by the NSA/GCHQ/Chinese etc. You can bet anything you post as AC ends up in your file at those agencies.

      • by creimer ( 824291 )

        You can bet anything you post as AC ends up in your file at those agencies.

        Slashdot never came up in my background interview for my security clearance at my government IT job. Then again, I don't post under my legal name. A Google search under my legal name shows that I fell off the Internet prior to the dot com bust in 2001. I haven't had any jobs in the last 15 years that made an issue out of my lack of presence on the Internet.

        • by NotInHere ( 3654617 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @01:13PM (#51800989)

          The ability for pseudonyms is something really important I think for freely expressing your opinion, without the fear that some of your future bosses won't like something you said in some forum five years ago.

          • by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @01:19PM (#51801059)

            But the trends online are all moving in the opposite direction, to making people attach their real names to comments - the sole purpose for which is to make retribution possible.

            • by creimer ( 824291 )

              [...] the sole purpose for which is to make retribution possible.

              Uh, no. The sole purpose is to make people think twice about their comments. Nothing stops you from posting, "The president is a [church bells]!" (to paraphrase Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles). Do you really want the whole world to know that you — under your real name — are just another racist nut job? Probably not.

              • by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @01:38PM (#51801237)

                But what is implicit in your statement that it makes people "think twice" before having an opinion? It is that they should be compelled by the threat of retaliation in the real world for what their opinion is. There is no purpose to requiring someone share their real name except to hang the threat over them that if they post something another human finds distasteful, they might be found in the real world and made to pay for it. And as we all know, it doesn't take much for someone in the internet to become unhinged. Something more or less innocuous could cause some whackjob to show up at your house.

                It stifles the free exchange of ideas, and it's only intended to stifle the free exchange of ideas. There's no other purpose.

                This is why I will never post in the comment section of anything that requires your name. You don't even need to be doing anything wrong for someone to become unhinged and start doxxing you or something.

                • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

                  by creimer ( 824291 )

                  But what is implicit in your statement that it makes people "think twice" before having an opinion?

                  Your mother never told you, "If you have something bad to say, don't say it!"

                  [...] if they post something another human finds distasteful, they might be found in the real world and made to pay for it.

                  It's called free speech. Yes, you do have to pay the price for that freedom.

                  • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                    by Anonymous Coward

                    Your mother never told you, "If you have something bad to say, don't say it!"

                    No, because my mother wasn't deluded into believing that the world was all peachy.

                    It's called free speech. Yes, you do have to pay the price for that freedom.

                    If you have to pay a price, then it's not free. You really didn't think much before making that contradictory statement, did you?

                    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                      by creimer ( 824291 )

                      No, because my mother wasn't deluded into believing that the world was all peachy.

                      My mother was the same way. But she taught me to be polite and respectful regardless of how bad life treats you. Politeness and respect are in short supply these days.

                      If you have to pay a price, then it's not free.

                      People are more likely respect something if they paid the price for it. Something given away for free can easily be toss away.

                      You really didn't think much before making that contradictory statement, did you?

                      You obviously haven't thought hard enough about yours.

                      ,

                    • Try the other definition of free. Maybe the definition that mentions restrictions instead of price.

                    • by creimer ( 824291 )

                      That doesn't sound like a very nice thing to say for one who claims that you shouldn't say "bad" things.

                      "The person who loves correction loves knowledge, but anyone who hates a rebuke is stupid." - Proverbs 12:1 (NIV)

                      Nice try at moving goalposts though.

                      I'm not the one is moving the goalposts.

                      Except I'm not spouting illogical and contradictory statements like you are.

                      Think harder. I'm sure it will come to you in time.

                    • by creimer ( 824291 )

                      They are disingenuous, inarticulate, inconsistent and childish.

                      I'm also an asshole. Don't forget that one. :P

                    • by creimer ( 824291 )

                      Practice what you preach.

                      Did I call you an asshole? No, I did not. Did I call myself an asshole? Yes, I did. There's a difference. The former is being polite, the latter is a realistic assessment about myself.

                      Also, Eli the Computer Guy makes a great argument that IT professionals should be assholes anyway. ;)

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_YaNGzplbE [youtube.com]

                • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @02:05PM (#51801489)

                  It is that they should be compelled by the threat of retaliation in the real world for what their opinion is. There is no purpose to requiring someone share their real name except to hang the threat over them that if they post something another human finds distasteful, they might be found in the real world and made to pay for it.

                  Yes, it's simply impossible that any internet site might actually want to promote more civil behavior by causing people to tone down their comments. Instead, the ONLY reason must be that such sites would like people to go around attacking other people in real life for their views. [/sarcasm]

                  It stifles the free exchange of ideas, and it's only intended to stifle the free exchange of ideas. There's no other purpose.

                  Even if it were true that internet sites love encouraging people to go around attacking each other in real life, it's simply bizarre to assert that there could not possibly be another purpose.

                  For example, as I've already noted in another post, tracking your real name and attaching it to your comments, likes, and other online behavior is essential for businesses to build up a profile of you, which they can then use to sell to other businesses (e.g., for advertising etc.). If you post under various names, it's harder for them to track your identity and accumulate data across multiple sites.

                  This is why I will never post in the comment section of anything that requires your name. You don't even need to be doing anything wrong for someone to become unhinged and start doxxing you or something.

                  This may be a legitimate fear. But it's really NOT the reason why internet sites might propose a policy against anonymous comments. There are all sorts of other reasons for it too, like, say, spam filtering. Even the best comment filters for spam will require a lot of intervention with anonymous comments -- requiring a login and a real name can help a lot.

                  (By the way, I'm a strong proponent for allowing pseudonyms in most places online, and limited anonymous commenting where possible. But your repeated assertion that there's no other possible reason for requiring trackable names other than to encourage doxxing is utterly preposterous.)

                  • Yes, it's simply impossible that any internet site might actually want to promote more civil behavior by causing people to tone down their comments. Instead, the ONLY reason must be that such sites would like people to go around attacking other people in real life for their views.

                    You're missing the point.

                    Why would requiring you attach your name to your comments motivate you to ensure your comments are civil?

                    Conversely and equivalently, why does anonymity bring the asshole out in people?

                    Let's answer the second question first. Anonymity brings out the asshole in people because nobody knows who it is that's being an asshole, so there's no possibility of consequences; which is to say, it doesn't matter if your asshole comments piss someone off, because that someone has no idea who you a

                    • The thing is, it doesn't really matter who they are unless some form of direct, personal retaliation is your goal. If they're being an anonymous asshole, they're still being an asshole, and internet-rhetoric-wise, you should treat them as one either way.

                      The down side of "real names" is multifold: People who are stalked. People who are refugees. People who have been unfairly placed in some category by a malfunctioning justice system. People who wish to stay clear of former lovers, spouses, parents, etc.

                      When

                • by KGIII ( 973947 )

                  There have always been repercussions for expressing distasteful ideas. Your mother tried to teach this to you when she said, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all." Saying disrespectful, distasteful, and socially unacceptable things has consequences. The freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. It never did.

                  It also matters, a great deal, how you say them. Saying distasteful things in a civil manner is a skill folks should really learn.

              • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @01:50PM (#51801345) Homepage Journal
                Hell, it isn't just the TLA (Three Letter Agency) fears that squelch minority or even relatively NON-PC speech....you have it in many levels of society today, look at todays college campuses.

                You can't say anything there remotely non-PC, or have a dissenting voice on your beliefs if they go against the more politically correct liberal hive mind.

                I saw on the news the other day, that students were saying they had been traumatized by someone writing in chalk "Trump 2016". I mean, I'm no Trump supporter, but seriously, traumatized?

                If you aren't for the latest gay agenda, or if you raise the concern that a certain group does seem to have most of the terrorist problem coming from their ranks....well, you just cannot speak about that without repercussions. It isn't even just being shunned, but you are actively suppressed these days.

                Look at how many comedians these days, won't do shows on college campuses anymore....

                Theres major concern that any dissenting speech is being supressed, if it goes even remotely against the new social agenda.

                Even what used to be common sense has no place in the public square these days. Sure some things change, and some things need to change.....but ALL speech needs to be protected, especially the uncomfortable speech, the fringe element speech....the minority speech.

                But in addition to the privacy issues of the govt....other institutions are putting the clamp on speech that isn't pleasant.

                At the very least...Freedom of Speech, preempts freedom from being offended, and no one should be censored by any means....govt or societal.

                • by Alumoi ( 1321661 )

                  I saw on the news the other day, that students were saying they had been traumatized by someone writing in chalk "Trump 2016". I mean, I'm no Trump supporter, but seriously, traumatized?

                  You don't get it, do you?
                  They were not traumatized by the actual words but by the fact that a person who managed to get to college would vote for Trump.

                • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @04:32PM (#51802737) Homepage

                  That student thing has been debunked: http://www.snopes.com/emory-st... [snopes.com]

                  PROTIP: Most stories about over sensitive special snowflakes are lies.

                  • PROTIP: Mizzou, et al are not all lies. They actually happened and we have video evidence. Ignoring it and relying on other liberals to deny that it happens does not change the reality of it happening.

                • by grcumb ( 781340 )

                  I saw on the news the other day, that students were saying they had been traumatized by someone writing in chalk "Trump 2016". I mean, I'm no Trump supporter, but seriously, traumatized?

                  Others have pointed out that the report was utterly false.

                  Still, look at how well the lie plays among self-righteous bigots with a persecution complex. And yet we still allow Trump and his ilk to spew this shit, because free speech. Astonishing, isn't it, how people will allow people such as yourself to fill yourself with ill-informed tripe, and yet you're the ones who are persecuted?

                  If you aren't for the latest gay agenda...

                  Respectfully: What The Fuck is a 'gay agenda'? Equal rights? Enjoying the same rights as everyone else everywhere?

                  or if you raise the concern that a certain group does seem to have most of the terrorist problem coming from their ranks....

                  Just say it

              • It's a combination of the two, actually - to make people think twice about their comments by exposing them to the possibility of retribution (in the form of social shunning). However some people really want to call the President a [church bells] but don't want to face any potential consequences, and one of the methods of shielding themselves from these consequences is anonymity, so they feel that their free speech is being undermined when private companies no longer give them a platform for anonymous commen

                • by creimer ( 824291 )

                  Some of these same people want to take it a step further and want special protection from these consequences when speech can be attributed to them, which ironically enough would require significant restrictions on freedom of speech, assembly, and association, among others.

                  Whenever someone screams the loudest about political correctness, it usually because they want to say inappropriate and not suffer the consequences.

                  • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                    by Anonymous Coward

                    Whenever someone screams the loudest about political correctness, it usually because they want to say inappropriate and not suffer the consequences.

                    That's because the very concept of political correctness is about designating certain speech as correct or incorrect. Correct speech is protected from consequences, incorrect speech is not, with the implication that you could say/do horrible things to the speaker of incorrect speech without consequence.

                    To paraphrase Bill Maher...

                    "Women are smarter than men" *thunderous applause*
                    "Men are smarter than women" *Sexist chauvinist pig!*

                    • And notice how the Bill Maher example of correct vs incorrect uses definitions of correct and incorrect that have nothing to do with matches facts and does not match facts? That is why political correctness is so wrong and should not even be considered a thing in a free society. Correctness should be defined by "fact matching" and not by a groups comfort level.

              • Racist nut job? Just for saying the president is near?

              • [...] the sole purpose for which is to make retribution possible.

                Uh, no. The sole purpose is to make people think twice about their comments. Nothing stops you from posting, "The president is a [church bells]!" (to paraphrase Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles). Do you really want the whole world to know that you — under your real name — are just another racist nut job? Probably not.

                Hopefully such schemes will get tossed by the Supreme Court, as they have long ruled that anonymous speech is protected by the First Amendment precisely for the reason you list -- so people cannot track you down for retibution.

                It is similar to the right to a secret ballot.

              • And what kind of idiot believes that thinking this (or any other) president is a dumbass or motherfucker or whatever makes somebody a racist?

            • But the trends online are all moving in the opposite direction, to making people attach their real names to comments - the sole purpose for which is to make retribution possible.

              No, that's not the sole purpose. It's true that one reason may be to have the ability to ban users who display aggressive or inappropriate behavior. From my perspective, that's an internet site's right -- just as I have the right to tell you to leave my home if you are a rude jerk to everyone else at a party.

              But another -- more nefarious -- reason is that attaching real names to you wherever you participate on the internet allows companies to profile you better. It's all about ads and selling your pers

              • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @01:57PM (#51801411) Homepage

                That's why Zuckerberg, for example, has claimed that having multiple online identities is fundamentally "dishonest."

                Never mind that Zuckerberg uses Limited Liability Companies (LLC) to conceal his real estate purchases and keep his name off the public records.

                http://www.forbes.com/sites/morganbrennan/2013/10/11/facebook-billionaire-mark-zuckerbergs-quietly-expanding-real-estate-portfolio/ [forbes.com]

                • by Shawn Willden ( 2914343 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @06:23PM (#51803413)

                  That's why Zuckerberg, for example, has claimed that having multiple online identities is fundamentally "dishonest."

                  Never mind that Zuckerberg uses Limited Liability Companies (LLC) to conceal his real estate purchases and keep his name off the public records.

                  Well, to be fair, he never said it was dishonest to have multiple real-world identities.

            • by bkr1_2k ( 237627 )

              Uh, no. The sole purpose of attaching your real name is to more easily sell your data. Nefarious, yes, but in a different way. This isn't about opinion, it's about value to businesses.

            • by ttsai ( 135075 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @02:16PM (#51801601)

              But the trends online are all moving in the opposite direction, to making people attach their real names to comments - the sole purpose for which is to make retribution possible.

              Retribution, or at least the expectation of actual or potential retribution, is the important factor. I don't worry about government surveillance at all, not because the government isn't evil or capable of harm but because I have never (knock on wood!) personally experienced such retribution or personally known anyone who faced such retribution. And because of my past personal experience, I don't expect future retribution.

              In contrast, I expect potential retribution from friends and strangers on social media and from my employer for any non-conformist ideas. In those forums, I heavily censor what I say and write. But for government surveillance, I don't censor my expressions at all (at least not yet).

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            I am, fortunately, able to say this... I don't give a shit what they think and if they dislike something I said five years ago and want to penalize me for it then I really don't want to work for them.

            Of course, that's easy for me to say. I'm retired. However, I'd like to think I've never let anyone influence what I had to say.

            Compound that with the fact that I really do stand behind the vast majority of what I say (sometimes I'm just telling bad jokes) and it makes me care even less. I don't really say anyt

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        ACs will be typically classified as trolls with some personality disorder, and certainly as cowards, but not as a threat. So they should be pretty safe.

      • ACs don't post because they're evading surveillance. They mainly post anonymously because that's how they get away with shitposting.

        • Mainly, yes. While a forum id acts a bit like an alternative personality and people -mainly- don't want to do things that reflects badly on their forum id.
          But you still want that forum id.

      • Just waiting for the day some database from NSA is hacked and released, tying all histories and whatnot together.

    • by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @01:12PM (#51800973)

      Nevermind the NSA, I think slashdot's moderation system probably does a better job at suppressing minority opinions. Or at least, I've had a lot of posts of mine modded flamebait or trolling for i.e. being critical of Bernie Sanders, even though there was no trolling or flaming going on. Likewise I've avoided painting what is IMO a realistic picture of what a Sanders administration would look like (the Francois Hollande government in France) because I know it will just get buried.

      • Or at least, I've had a lot of posts of mine modded flamebait or trolling for i.e. being critical of Bernie Sanders, even though there was no trolling or flaming going on.

        Did you back up your opinions with evidence? Or did you just expect that the Slashdot mods would agree with you and mod you up?

        I've expressed many opinions here over the years that were against what was clearly the "Slashdot consensus." When I do so, I make a reasoned argument and back it up with facts and often links to reputable sources so those facts can be verified. That's the way you break into a discussion and overturn a flawed consensus.

        Yes, sometimes my posts have been modded up and down in w

        • Did you back up your opinions with evidence?

          Typically, yes. Again, going back to Bernie, I compare his views on taxation as being remarkably similar to Hollande's, which was a disaster (and yes, links provided in those cases, but not going to do so here because I don't want to debate that here.)

      • Nevermind the NSA, I think slashdot's moderation system probably does a better job at suppressing minority opinions.

        Only if you care about /. karma. I don't. I get down-modded quite a bit because I don't beat the leftist drum either. Any time you say something criticizing any idea of a socialist or naturalist position, you'll get down-modded as a troll or flame bait. It's the nature of socialist "justice" whiners to try & suppress anything that challenges their worldview.

        • I don't care about Karma. However if the comment is going to be quickly buried to the point that users with the default settings won't see it, then why bother?

        • by Halo1 ( 136547 )

          Nevermind the NSA, I think slashdot's moderation system probably does a better job at suppressing minority opinions.

          Only if you care about /. karma. I don't. I get down-modded quite a bit because I don't beat the leftist drum either.

          I see your leftist Slashdot conspiracy and raise the fact that the same often happens when you don't beat the rightwing drums: exhibit 1 [slashdot.org], exhibit 2 [slashdot.org], exhibit 3 [slashdot.org] (click on the comment score when logged in to see the fight between the flamebait and interesting/insightful mods).

          Stupid moderators downmod stuff they don't like as flamebait/troll. There's nothing particularly leftwing or rightwing about it.

          • This is something that meta-moderation was supposed to counteract, precisely because dumbasses suddenly granted power decide to treat things they don't agree with as a scourge that must be removed from existence.

          • I see your leftist Slashdot conspiracy and raise the fact that the same often happens when you don't beat the rightwing drums: exhibit 1, exhibit 2, exhibit 3

            Not sure if down-modding pro-homeopathy is really a right-wing type thing to do, probably more of a secular-humanist type thing. In Exhibit 3, it looked like you might have misunderstood the parent poster but they thought you were being coy. Communicating tone isn't easy on the internet. Yet another reason I don't care about karma.

            • by Halo1 ( 136547 )

              I see your leftist Slashdot conspiracy and raise the fact that the same often happens when you don't beat the rightwing drums: exhibit 1, exhibit 2, exhibit 3

              Not sure if down-modding pro-homeopathy is really a right-wing type thing to do, probably more of a secular-humanist type thing.

              If you click the links I posted in my comments (to other Slashdot stories, e.g. about the use of VR to dull phantom limb pain), you can see it's just about the fact that triggering a placebo effect can be a valid course of therapy in some cases. Homeopathy is, as far as I am concerned, a obvious example of triggering a placebo effect.

              I'm pretty sure the downmodding was more because I was countering the attack on Jeremy Corbyn (which that whole story was about), who is the devil incarnate as far as the right

        • It's the nature of socialist "justice" whiners to try & suppress anything that challenges their worldview.

          As can be verified by my posting history, I'm both a socialist and strongly opposed to the "social justice warrior" phenomenon. Please do not conflate two entirely unrelated issues.

          If you're indeed referring to socialists who you feel are whiners, and not social justice warriors, including the word "justice" only confuses the subject.

    • That's one serious argument in favor of anonymous cowards. And even one for doubly anonymous cowards, that are hard to track for those with 'access'.

    • But try going against the "group think" on Reddit and see what happens to you.
  • No, I didn't read the article. But, One government's "surveillance" does not necessarily equate to another government's "surveillance". Additionally, what is the definition of "surveillance"? And what is the purpose , and what actions does it result in? These things vary throughout the world. It can be reasonably argued that governments need to be aware of what's going on with various groups within their societies.

    • , One government's "surveillance" does not necessarily equate to another government's "surveillance".

      Very true. And TFA doesn't find a link between surveillance and self-censorship. It finds a link between surveillance of certain types and self-censorship.

  • I thought we heard this "story" last month. The consensus seemed to be that it wasn't "government mass surveillance" that was causing people to self-censor, it was the prospect of being fired or failing to get a job because someone might be offended by something someone dropped on social media ten years ago.
    • I thought we heard this "story" last month. The consensus seemed to be that it wasn't "government mass surveillance" that was causing people to self-censor, it was the prospect of being fired or failing to get a job because someone might be offended by something someone dropped on social media ten years ago.

      I have a Facebook account specifically for work and things like that where I post nothing but cat videos

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @12:55PM (#51800803)

    The mass crushes beneath it everything that is different, everything that is excellent, individual, qualified and select. Anybody who is not like everybody, who does not think like everybody, runs the risk of being eliminated...

    Published in 1929 [thedailybeast.com]

  • Most people don't want to end up on lists and hence avoid saying anything radical and contrary to mainstream beliefs. We already know that things as mundane as belonging to or associating oneself with a political group or movement get you interest from the FBI [slashdot.org]. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. What was done in the past [eff.org] to silence inconvenient voices is most likely being done today, too, and probably using even more sophisticated methods.

  • by backslashdot ( 95548 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @01:05PM (#51800897)

    then it's cool for someone to videotape you naked and having sex? If you have nothing to hide why any concern about that?

    • then it's cool for someone to videotape you naked and having sex? If you have nothing to hide why any concern about that?

      Possibly. In your scenario, does money change hands?

  • Ironic... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lendrick ( 314723 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @01:08PM (#51800929) Homepage Journal

    The people who claim that they have nothing to hide apparently have more to hide.

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @01:11PM (#51800969)
    "All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression." - Thomas Jefferson's first inaugural address.
  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @01:15PM (#51801003)

    Rather obviously, surveillance by the NSA, GCHQ and others does not serve to make anybody more secure, as it is now exceptionally obvious it does not help against terrorism or the other "Horsemen of the Infocalypse" at all. So why do it? Sure, one aspect will be the fundamental desire of any bureaucracy to increase its size and to absorb (i.e. waste) as many resources as possible. Look at the TSA for a text-book example of that happening. But that is not enough to explain what is going on.

    I have by now come to the conclusion that these people have either completely lost their minds (unlikely) or that they know exactly what they want (likely) and that is the chilling effects that general surveillance causes: They want "troublemakers" to keep silent and self-censor and to not rock the boat. They want to be sure they have some dirt on anybody that may ever come into political power so they can prevent that if they do not like the ideas of that person. Unlike the publicly stated motivations for universal surveillance, _these_ goals are rational (if utterly despicable and evil) and achievable.

    It used to be an all-seeing all knowing-god that served this function. People would "confess their sins" (i.e. do self-surveillance and report to their case-officer on themselves) and would be told what was acceptable to think and what was not. Now, even most religious people do not fall for that anymore and so a cabal of power-mongers has decided to implement a technical solution that replaces said god with technology. The mechanisms are a bit different, people now pay for being being spied and provide the hardware (e.g. cellphones) instead of doing it themselves manually. The direct feedback from the confessor has been replaced by general guidelines. The news are showing "bad people" being sent to prison and hint they are being tortured there, not so different from what the inquisition did, just adjusted to the information-age. And so on.

    Universal surveillance is a direct, targeted and determined attack on free society. There really is no different purpose it could serve. Sure, it is carried out and furthered by a lot of "useful idiots" that do not understand what the actual goals are and why it is being done (and I expect quite a few of those would still go along if they knew), but those in control will know. It will be how we, as a still mostly free society, deal with this challenge that will determine how history remembers us.

  • A Perfect World (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @01:15PM (#51801005)
    In a Perfect World, whenever anyone uttered the sickening phrase "If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide", they would forcibly stripped of all their clothing and stuffed inside a glass cube on the public commons until they honestly realized the errors in their 'thinking'.

    A free society is impossible without true privacy.
    • by tekrat ( 242117 )

      Unfortunately, from what little I know of her, this is what made Kim Kardasian famous in the first place.

    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      I don't care if people see my naked body. If you want to see it, just go with me to a place where being naked is acceptable, like in public showers.
      The reason I don't normally show it off is because of social norms. Just because I don't care if a bunch of kids know how my dick looks like doesn't mean that I will stand naked beside schools.

      A more appropriate punishment would be to put their credit card number on a billboard.

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @01:15PM (#51801007)

    The other part is corporate data retention and data mining.

    Years ago, when young Google was still seen as a genuinely benevolent company and "social media" didn't exist, I was interviewed by a newspaper regarding a hot and highly publicized issue involving hacking and the newly-voted DMCA that I got involved in. I wasn't careful about what I said to that newspaper, and it got republished on the internet.

    Soon after, I realized Google never forgot anything: for the following 10 years, each time I'd go to a job interview, that episode of my life - and the unfortunate statements I gave to the newspaper - would come up in the conversation. For a good 10 years, I had to explain myself, and explain that no, I wasn't a dangerous hacker, what really happened, and that, yes, I can be trusted with company secrets.

    I quickly realized I had to shut my trap and hide my identity as much as I could online, if didn't want whatever I did or said to bite my ass in the future ever again.

    Now, years later, Google has finally forgotten about me. If you know my name and you look it up, you can still find references to what happened 16 years ago. But thankfully, with the advent of social media and people who bear the same name as mine, it's buried in pages after pages of mindless drivel. So you have to know what you look for to find out what I said back then.

    The lesson here is: Google turned me into a very paranoid person online, not government surveillance. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the government isn't the real threat here: it's rogue corporations who operate in the data mining sphere. At least the government is openly nefarious, and somewhat accountable. Google & Co aren't: they pose as friendly innovators, when in fact they're just out to make a buck on your back, regardless of how much they can ruin your life.

    • The other part is corporate data retention and data mining.

      Years ago, when young Google was still seen as a genuinely benevolent company and "social media" didn't exist, I was interviewed by a newspaper regarding a hot and highly publicized issue involving hacking and the newly-voted DMCA that I got involved in. I wasn't careful about what I said to that newspaper, and it got republished on the internet.

      Soon after, I realized Google never forgot anything: for the following 10 years, each time I'd go to a job interview, that episode of my life - and the unfortunate statements I gave to the newspaper - would come up in the conversation. For a good 10 years, I had to explain myself, and explain that no, I wasn't a dangerous hacker, what really happened, and that, yes, I can be trusted with company secrets.

      Umm, I do feel for you and your experience. But I'm not sure how any of this is Google's fault or really has much to do with "data mining." It's just basic search indexing.

      Instead, you gave information to a newspaper, who chose to publish it on a public website. Google's "intentions" here were neither benevolent nor malicious -- they were just indexing public information.

      As far as I can tell, if you want to blame anyone, I'd put the blame on the newspaper -- unless their general practice was to publi

      • It was long enough ago that he assumed it would be printed in the hardcopy newspaper and forgotten. The DMCA passed in 1998. (Actually, Google postdates the DMCA, so it may not have existed yet.)

        Yes, this is not Google's fault.

        But the point remains. Google is scarier than the NSA. They collect more data, they have less oversight on retention and exploitation, and if you're frightened of the NSA, Google has no pesky "privacy rights" that cover the data they have about you

  • Maybe most peeps aren't as brave as they think they are. If you are afraid to say your mind because of your surroundings then you need to work on your own fear. I say whatever I feel like saying, and I do whatever I feel like doing, and I am not afraid to act and speak no matter where I am. Yea, I have been arrested for telling a cop to fuck off after he was harassing me because I don't look like a good ol boy. Went to court and judge threw it out. Even if he hadn't, I would have done my time , walked out a
    • The Way of the Samurai is found in death. When it comes to either/or, there is only the quick choice of death. It is not particularly difficult. Be determined and advance. To say that dying without reaching one's aim is to die a dog's death is the frivolous way of sophisticates. When pressed with the choice of life or death, it is not necessary to gain one's aim.
      We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowar

  • by Jawnn ( 445279 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @01:30PM (#51801167)
    What part of
    "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. "
    ...does our current group of "leaders" not get? Once upon a time, we the people considered that right to be so important that we made it a foundation of our system of law and government. That it has now been eroded that certain groups are silenced by fear is cause for deep, deep shame for us as a society.
  • The thought that minority voices are being silenced by surveillance is absurd; witness all of the protests around Ferguson, or Black Lives Matter protests everywhere. Never has the minority voice been louder or more strident.

  • So mass surveillance is having a chilling effect on the climate?

    Doesn't that mean that mass surveillance is beneficial to the earth so we should be doing more of it?

We can found no scientific discipline, nor a healthy profession on the technical mistakes of the Department of Defense and IBM. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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