“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Yes, there is a basic human right to privacy. Thank you Edward Snowden

Can Snowden revert privacy to a social norm?

Byron Acohido, USA TODAY 7:50 p.m. EDT October 30, 2013

SEATTLE – The steady trickle of revelations of government snooping that continues to seep from the Edward Snowden documents is serving to keep attention riveted on how privacy in the digital age ought to be defined.
That' most probably not to the liking of Google and Facebook. In January 2010, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg infamously declared that the expectation of privacy was no longer a social norm, and, in October 2010, then Google chairman Eric Schmidt said "Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it."
By rationing out details of the NSA's bag of tricks on a regular basis, the Guardian and the Washington Post have orchestrated sustained attention on the true cost of using free services from Google and Facebook , whose business models revolve around unfettered access to your online persona.
So far the NSA and White House have taken much of the heat for the varied methodologies we now know, thanks to Snowden, that the NSA uses to tap into the trove of data compiled and packaged by search engines, social websites ad popular apps.
"This totally violates the privacy of US citizens," says Craig Kensek, senior manager at anti-malware supplier Ahnlab. "The NSA is coming across as a rogue operation, splitting technical fine hair, since data could literally reside anywhere in the world, thanks to cloud technology."
It's unlikely Congress will do much to restrict the NSA's ability to deter terrorists.. So the enduring effect of shedding steady light on Snowden's stolen documents may be exactly opposite of what Facebook and Google want.
The slow process of raising awareness about the desirability of privacy as a social norm appears to be gaining traction.
"The on-going persistence of the Snowden story with its continuing revelations appears to be reaching people's consciousness," says C. J. Radford, Vice President of Cloud at data security firm Vormetric. "At the same time, I don't believe that most U.S. consumers have connected the dots.
"The large amount of private information about them exists because it was collected for other purposes, such as advertising, billing, service delivery, etc.," Radford points out. "But they are learning, and the level of awareness is rising."
It's not just consumers who ought to question the level of privacy associated with use of the Web's most popular services, as we've come to know them. Companies are embracing BYOD – the trend of having employees use personal mobile devices for work duties – and are also increasingly relying on services delivered over the Internet cloud.
Pierluigi Stella, chief technical officer at Network Box USA, points to heightened privacy concerns raised for commercial users of Google's popular Web-delivered productivity suite, and would-be Office killer, Google Docs.

"Now we know that whatever they write is being collected and analyzed by the NSA before it is stored in the Google cloud. Do I really want my business emails to go through that? Do I trust that no illegitimate use will come of it?," Stella observes. "Personally, I prefer the good old e-mail server I control, because it is unlikely the NSA will come snooping simply because there is nothing of interest for them."


  1. The US intelligence services allegedly eavesdropped on cardinals before they elected the new pope at last March’s conclave, the Italian weekly magazine Panorama claims. The Holy See says they are not aware of such activities.

    In an exclusive report on Wednesday, the magazine published allegations that the US listened to phone calls to and from the Vatican and wiretapped the accommodation where Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, future Pope Francis, was staying at the time.

    “The National Security Agency wiretapped the pope. There are apparently also calls from and to the Vatican. It is feared the great American ear continued to tap prelates’ conversations on the eve of the conclave,” the magazine, which is owned by former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, said.

    It added that the pope has been of interest to the US secret services since 2005 and that the calls from the Italian bishops and cardinals were divided into four areas of interest: Leadership intentions, threats to financial systems, foreign policy objectives and human rights.

    Other major leaders inside the Vatican that may have been the victim of US spying include acting Director General Ernst von Freyberg.

    But the Vatican denied any knowledge of the spying.

    “We have heard nothing of this and we are not worried about it,” Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman told Naharnet, an online news site based in Lebanon.

    Likewise, the intelligence agency has denied the allegations.

    "The National Security Agency does not target the Vatican. Assertions that NSA has targeted the Vatican, published in Italy's Panorama magazine, are not true," agency spokesperson Vanee Vines said in a statement.

    The report that the NSA has targeted the Vatican may seem ironic considering how secretive the Vatican is itself. It has a system installed in the Sistine Chapel which can scramble any mobile phone calls, and if any one tells the media or anyone else important Vatican secrets they are then excommunicated.

    The allegations follow a report on Cryptome, an anti-surveillance website, which reported that the US intercepted 46 million telephone calls in Italy between December 2012 and January 2013.

    Italian prime minster, Enrico Letta, said that US secretary of State, John Kerry, has assured him that the US administration had “put the issue under review”. Letta has also convened a meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee on Security on October 31 in order to discuss the situation.

  2. ”The National Security Agency does not target the Vatican. Assertions that NSA has targeted the Vatican, published in Italy’s Panorama magazine, are not true,” agency spokesperson Vanee Vines said in a statement

    The thing that makes this believable is because it is so stupid, it has to be true.

    1. If they say they didn't, they did. I cannot wait until the documents show spying on the SCOTUS. While I usually agree with Scalia, in the instance I think "unreasonable search" implicitly covers privacy.

  3. LOL ...”if any one tells the media or anyone else important Vatican secrets they are then excommunicated.”

  4. The Vatican is remarkably easy to penetrate. Quirk got in by dressing up in a Cardinal's zoot.. When the noses were being counted during the Conclave, he was in the wine cellar filching wine. He was able to make off with twelve bottles, one for each of the apostles, he said.

    1. Q claimed also that he had made a Vatican maid named Merry in the wine cellar. I don't know what he meant exactly, but he said she knew how open a bottle, and other things too.

  5. U.S. military commandos made it to Benghazi
    Two out of eight in Tripoli sent to rescue, honored for valor

    By Rowan Scarborough-The Washington Times Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    Keeping a Secret: President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton left out of their story line of the Benghazi attack the fact that U.S. military special operations commandos came to the rescue of besieged Americans. (Associated Press)

    Masked from public view, two of the U.S. military’s elite special operations commandos have been awarded medals for bravery for a mission that further undercuts the Obama administration’s original story about the Benghazi tragedy.

    For months, administration officials have claimed no special operations forces were dispatched from outside Libya to Benghazi during the Sept. 11, 2012, al Qaeda terrorist attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission and CIA annex because none was within range.

    The Pentagon, under intense public criticism for not coming to the aid of besieged Americans, published an official timeline in November that carefully danced around the issue.

    It said time and distance prevented any commandos outside Libya from reaching a CIA compound under attack. The timeline disclosed that a reinforcement flight 400 miles away in Tripoli contained two “DoD personnel” but did not describe who they were. Later, the official State Department report on Benghazi said they were “two U.S. military personnel” — but provided no other details. It made no mention of special operations forces.

    But sources directly familiar with the attack tell The Washington Times that a unit of eight special operators — mostly Delta Force and Green Beret members — were in Tripoli the night of the attack, on a counterterrorism mission that involved capturing weapons and wanted terrorists from the streets and helping train Libyan forces.

    Read more:

    1. Dumbshit Farmer Fudd still does not understand that he is not in the "Need to Know" loop with regards Benghazi.
      A nitwit and a charter member of the Dimwitted Duo.

      Thinks what he reads at American Thinker and FOX News is all there is to the story.

    2. With due respect, please cut the crap!

  6. One can keep one's privacy if one doesn't email, snail mail, text, Skype, use any type of phone, have an address, work and pay taxes or invest in land, other real estate, stocks, bonds or vote.

    Other than that it's possible to live a private life.

    1. Another inane remark from the fascist Farmer Fudd.
      The fellow that advocates for limiting liberty, and is feckless with freedom.

      Keep your daughters under lock and key when the rapist Fudd is lurking in the shadows.
      He makes Q look the gentleman, by comparison.

    2. At least Quirk wines & dines 'em, the Fudd just fucks 'em and forgets the pleasantries, like permission

    3. Deuce, really you ought to start taking rat's stuff down.

    4. Who is Farmer Fudd?

    5. Why would Fudd

      hutr Hunter's comments about a mythical character be less appropriate than Anonymous's comments about Quirk's love life

      Quirk is a contributor, Farmer Fudd is not.
      Quirk represents a real person, Farmer Fudd does not.

      Farmer Fudd represents evil incarnate, an Anonymous fiend that feeds in the shadows, but tries to walk amongst honest men.

    6. :)


      You're really really fucked up, and prove it every day.

      g'nite, get some beauty sleep now Whacky

    7. Fudd Hunters - R - Us

    8. Fudd Hunters InternationalThu Oct 31, 04:37:00 AM EDT

      Keeping our digital community safe from Anonymous stalkers.

  7. There is no privacy in Moslem societies -

    Cultural psychology: How Islam managed to stay medieval for 1,400 years
    While almost all other cultures changed from primitive and medieval to democratic and egalitarian societies, one culture managed to keep even its most brutal and backward traditions and values for 1,400 years until today. Still today, the majority of Muslims prefer to live by values that can be traced all the way back to the desert tribes in which the founder of their religion lived. Getting to know life in Muslim families and societies is like traveling back in time to the time of Muhammad. Here one finds shocking laws and traditions that are obviously criminal and inhumane -- but for some reason accepted -- in our otherwise humanistic culture.

    While non-Muslim scientists invent new fantastic medicines and technologies daily, discover the most amazing things about the universe, its building blocks and inhabitants, and Western voters and politicians have created the most humane, rich and free societies in world history, most Islamic countries are still amputating limbs for theft, stoning women and homosexuals, heavily inbred, denying people free speech and democracy, and contributing absolutely nothing when it comes to science, human rights or peace.

    What are the cultural psychological factors making Islam able to stay medieval for 1,400 years?


    One main factor is that while all other religions allow their followers to interpret their holy scriptures, thereby making them relatively adaptable to secular law, human rights and individual needs, Islam categorizes Muslims who do not take the Quran literally as apostates. And according to Islamic law, the sharia, apostasy is to be punished with death. The sharia thus makes it impossible for Islamic societies ever to develop into modern, humanistic civilisations.

    The fact that Muslims deviating from the Quranic world view are to be punished has the direct consequence that scientific facts conflicting with the naive and childish world view held in pre-Enlightenment cultures are suppressed. Together with massive inbreeding -- 70 percent of Pakistanis, 45 percent of Arabs and at least 30 percent of Turks are from first cousin-marriages (often through many generations) -- this has resulted in the embarrassing fact that the Muslim world produces only one tenth of the world average when it comes to scientific research, and are dramatically under-represented among Nobel Prize winners. Fewer books have been translated into Arabic in the last thousand years than the amount of books translated within the country of Spain every year.

    Within Islam, faith and tradition is obviously valued far, far more than inventions and discoveries that would ease suffering and lead to a more reasonable understanding of the complexity of the universe and the potential of its inhabitants.

    1. Half of the Muslim think the other half a apostates.

      There is no single Islamic culture.
      There are dozens of variants within that community, just a there is amongst Christians.
      Even Jews.

      Half of the Ashkenazi are "Secular Jews", which means they do not believe the God of Moses is their God.
      Just as there are Jews that are not Judaic, there are Muslims that are not Islamic.

      How much more apostate can a group get?

    2. There is a huge difference Anon between secularized Jews and secularized Muslims: Jews can shout it from the roof tops without fear; Muslims are in mortal danger, on the other hand.

  8. Child rearing

    Another powerful defence mechanism within Islamic culture is found within Muslim child rearing. A very real threat of violence and even death is over every Muslim child's head, should he or she decide to choose another life style than that of its parents. Even if the parents allow their child to choose his or her own religion -- or none at all -- other Muslims are dedicating their lives to kill them. Together with the wide use of violence and even torture within Muslim families, the horrific amount of daily family executions of Muslim youth, this is enough to keep the vast majority from even considering escaping the way of the sharia. The Quran's and the Hadiths' many promises of hellfire to those who go against Muhammad's orders and example scares many from leaving the culture that brings them so much suffering. I clearly remember how several Muslim inmates at the prison I was working in as a psychologist expressed what seemed to be compassion, when I told them that I do not believe in Allah.

    In order further to make sure that the children grow up to follow the same patterns as their family, many of them are subjected to mind-numbing repetitions of Islam's exceedingly violent scriptures, making many of them ticking time bombs where ever they live.


    Muhammad's teaching that Muslim females can only marry Muslim males -- often within their own bloodline -- further bolster the culture of his followers against outside influence. The fact that the wives are kept like slaves in the way that they can only divorce if they are set free by an Islamic authority, keeps them from escaping the religion and and very often violent husbands, that leaves them with so few freedoms and rights. Should they chose to run away or divorce, they will in most case be cut off by their family, the often violent father is entitled to the children, and because they are categorized as outcasts and have had no or very little right to educate themselves, the possibility to sustain themselves is strongly limited. On top of that, many will live with a death sentence over their head for the rest of their lives for having insulted the family's honor.

    Almost all Muslim women are thus threatened or even forced to fulfill their responsibility of continuing and passing on the Islamic culture, including its many misogynistic aspects. And the marriage rules within Islam makes sure that non-Muslim influence is not invited into the family.

    1. View on non-Muslims

      One basic principle within Islam is hating and harming non-Muslims. The Islamic scriptures are full of dehumanizing propaganda against us, and contain dozens of orders for Muslims to suppress, harm and kill atheists and followers of all other religions. The devaluation and demonizing of non-Muslims can easily be compared to the propaganda spread about the enemy by governments in wartime in order remove their soldiers' psychological hindrances that would otherwise keep them from attacking the opponent. Not surprisingly, Muslims are not allowed to take non-Muslims as friends.

      Thus keeping a mental and physical distance to people from other cultures, Islam prevents its followers from being influenced and inspired by our less barbaric values.

      Ethnic pride

      Another cultural psychological factor enabling Islamic culture to remain unchanged in a globalised world with all its possibilities concerns Muslims' ethnic pride. No matter how ridiculous or embarrassing it may seem to the outsider, most Muslims are proud of being Muslim and a follower of Islam. According to Islam they are destined to dominate the rest of us, and we are so bad that we deserve the eternal fire. Working as a psychologist in prison, I heard how the Muslim inmates talk about their non-Muslim victims -- and their victims were always non-Muslims, unless it concerned women or rival gangs -- and I have no doubt that there exists a severe and widespread racism against non-Muslims among Muslims.

      The cultural osmosis

      Islamic culture thus has several defence mechanisms that prevents it and its followers from being influenced by non-Muslim values. At the same time, Westerners expressing pride in our country, culture or faith are immediately branded as racists, nationalistic or intolerant.

      At the same time, we in the West have a longstanding tradition of tolerance and openness, together with the multicultural agenda pushed by the Left, the Media, EU and UN. The cultural osmosis can therefore go only one way: Islam stays where it is, while it drags the West back into medieval darkness, with its limitation of free speech and pre-enlightenment-style acceptance of religious dogmas and sensitivities.

    2. More rattle trap pornography, the host should really take this propaganda, this hate filled disinformation down.

  9. “I never told my own religion nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another's creed.
    I am satisfied that yours must be an excellent religion to have produced a life of such exemplary virtue and correctness.
    For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be judged.”

  10. Robert Anton WilsonThu Oct 31, 04:29:00 AM EDT

    “The Bible tells us to be like God, and then on page after page it describes God as a mass murderer. This may be the single most important key to the political behavior of Western Civilization.”

    1. Please cite those pages describing G-d as a mass murderer.

  11. Alexis de TocquevilleThu Oct 31, 04:31:00 AM EDT

    “Every nation that has ended in tyranny has come to that end by way of good order.
    It certainly does not follow from this that peoples should scorn public peace, but neither should they be satisfied with that and nothing more.

    A nation that asks nothing of government but the maintenance of order is already a slave in the depths of its heart; it is a slave of its well-being, ready for the man who will put it in chains.”

  12. Desert Rat's sister -