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The European Parliament held a three hour debate today on mass surveillance conducted by the NSA and other spying agencies elsewhere in preparation for a vote tomorrow by its 766 members representing 28 countries.

Where the rubber meets the road in connection with this issue is still a mystery to most Americans. However, the puzzle pieces may soon fall into place for them. A piece published by The Hill on March 9 warned of the impact of Europe’s actions on the US economy ahead.

The tech industry is bracing for a vote next week at the European Union that could put its business on the continent at risk.
The San Francisco Bay Area, home of the Silicon Valley tech industry, stands to be hit the hardest, with billions of dollars in lost business.

A Q&A on the Parliament’s action is posted at the EuroParl website.

The Parliament will be voting Wednesday on a gargantuan package of directives that restrict law enforcement, the judicial system, and commercial business enterprises in the handling of electronic data to protect the fundamental rights of citizens. Enforcement with heavy penalties for violations is included. Europe’s trans-Atlantic relationship with the US will be transformed.

The numerous details of the data privacy package include Amendment 1, introduced by Jan Albrecht, (Greens - Germany) which calls for European national governments to provide protection to Edward Snowden as a whistle blower. Snowden’s written testimony was added to the record of documents last week and it’s worth a read.

How did so many Americans lose their way and disregard the inherent risk related to mass surveillance and the violation of privacy rights? How did they lose sight of fundamental civil liberties without the slightest hint that it even matters to them?

There’s no single answer. After watching the 3 hour long European Parliament debate today, my conclusion is that the interests of those who profit must have something to do with the absence of a similar debate in the US.

There’s more to the present situation than politics, national security, counter terrorism, and new technology.

Americans were informed years ago that data about their online habits was being collected for businesses that wanted to market products to potential customers. They weren't informed that their data was also being collected for the NSA. There’s no outrage from the public because profitizing the collection of personal data that flows to the NSA makes it acceptable, even desirable.

This isn't the first time that business profits depended on keeping customers in the dark.

The tobacco industry once resisted telling its customers about the hazards of using its products because it would have reduced the prevalence of smoking. Most smokers didn't perceive any immediate danger from using tobacco, either.  

Big Oil doesn't want to advertise the hazards of piping Canadian tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico. Business and government work together today, too, to keep the public in the dark about the hazards of the trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific free-trade deals.

Collecting online data is another gravy train, and the less said about it, the better, for those who profit from it. Public debate would bring up questions about who owns the data, disclosures made to consumers, and the need for choice.  It would raise issues about the rule of law, fundamental rights  like privacy, data protection, freedom of expression, presumption of innocence and redress for people whose rights have been violated.

Sure enough those are the issues dragged out into the daylight in Europe.  And sure enough the US tech companies that profited without regard for the human rights of their customers will get the only reality check that they understand.

Originally posted to researchandanalyze on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 02:25 PM PDT.

Also republished by 11111000000.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is firecracker hot news, should be on the (10+ / 0-)

    rec list !

    Snowden apparently spoke to interested attendees attendees at SXSW in Austin .  Would have loved to have been there.

    NYTimes blog

    South by Southwest March 10, 2014, 12:09 pm
    Snowden Tries to Rally Tech Conference to Buttress Privacy Shields

    Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

    by divineorder on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 02:41:27 PM PDT

    •  Whew. I'm so glad you didn't give me a kick in the (6+ / 0-)

      pants for posting this.

      I saw part of the SXSW online. This is going to be one of those issues where it breaks to right side/wrong side of history.

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 02:51:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There must be a huge scramble right now (5+ / 0-)

        by some in the US gov and NSA contractors to pressure for opposition to some of the possible outcomes you report?  

        Too bad the President's plan of changes to NSA etc were not a little more, shall we say, 'robust.'  Might have given EU a little more confidence for the future of the relationship.  

        Will be interesting to see how they vote.....

        Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

        by divineorder on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 02:56:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have some favorites among the MEPs that I follow (6+ / 0-)

          on their side projects and there's talk for the first time in the last few days of pressure. Obama is going to be there for a EU summit in Brussels on March 26.  Holder promised a remedy through PCLOB and blew it off when their study said metadata collecting is illegal. One of the Commissioners said today they just want to see legislation passed at this point. They passed the point of listening to empty promises.

          There is no existence without doubt.

          by Mark Lippman on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 03:16:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Also RE: (8+ / 0-)
      Collecting online data is another gravy train, and the less said about it, the better, for those who profit from it.
      Came across this very interesting article from back in 2000 which describes   outsourcing began under Bush:

      Contractors Spy Dollars In NSA Outsourcing

      Contractors Spy Dollars In NSA Outsourcing<@VM>Groundbreaker Players Club

          Jun 16, 2000

      Three leading systems integrators have begun selecting partners as they gear up for a $5 billion National Security Agency contract to outsource its basic computer and telecommunications operations. While a request for proposals still is several months away, teams of contractors are being led by AT&T Corp. of Basking Ridge, N.J., Computer Sciences Corp. of El Segundo, Calif., and OAO Corp. of Greenbelt, Md., industry sources said. The contract is expected to be awarded in spring 2001 and could be worth $5 billion over 10 years. Called Groundbreaker, the contract would move 4,000 to 5,000 information technology workers from the government to the private sector. NSA is looking to outsource distributed computing, enterprise and security management, networks and telephony, according to a statement by Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, NSA director. Outsourcing will allow the spy agency to modernize and improve its IT infrastructure and shift money to its core intelligence functions, he said. "It is critical that we have a robust and reliable infrastructure capable of supporting our missions," Hayden said. The agency needs to invest more money in technology to gather intelligence from new sources, such as fiber-optic networks, satellite communications and the Internet, said an industry source familiar with the agency. "This is an attempt by the agency to recapitalize its resources for the future," the source said. The teams chasing the contract all boast extensive outsourcing experience.

      Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

      by divineorder on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 02:51:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It was a great event. (8+ / 0-)

      When Edward Snowden speaks, the entire world pays attention.

      It's a much watch for relevant global citizens:

      •  Good catch, thanks. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, dharmafarmer

        Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

        by divineorder on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 03:05:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  He's very consistent in what he says. Very focused (7+ / 0-)

        on the public good. Imagine if we had people in Congress like that.

        There is no existence without doubt.

        by Mark Lippman on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 03:06:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  From the event: (6+ / 0-)
        The ACLU was instrumental in getting Snowden to agree to the session. He has been in exile in Russia, and his videoconference chat was bounced through seven “proxy” locations.

        Snowden said that such tools must pass the “Glenn Greenwald test,” referring to the former Guardian reporter who broke the NSA story. Snowden believes any journalist should be able to find tools that allow completely secure communication without government snooping.

        Unlike Julian Assange’s presentation on Saturday, which drew similar attention and was largely a recap of the potential dangers ahead, Snowden’s was full of actionable suggestions.

        He said that people can make their communication more secure by using whole-disk encryption, using network encryption, using Web browser plug-ins to make connections more secure and using Tor, a tool for preserving online anonymity.

        “Encryption works,” Snowden said. “It’s not an arcane black art.” At the very least, the panelists suggested, using encryption makes mass surveillance too expensive to be practical for the NSA.

        Unfortunately, Soghoian suggested, most Internet users are going to choose the cheapest service and whatever default apps and tools are made available on their phones. He asked if people would be willing to pay $5 more to have encrypted tools on their devices by default.

        Snowden expressed no remorse about his current situation or his decision to leak documents.

        “Regardless of what happens to me, this is something we have to work through,” he said. “I took an oath” to uphold the Constitution and felt compelled to report its violation.

        “If we allow the NSA to continue unrestrained, every other country … will accept it as a green light to do the same,” Snowden said. Snowden also urged more oversight of the NSA and suggested a watchdog group to monitor Congress.
  •  Oh hell, the US tech industry was finished (7+ / 0-)

    …back in June 2013, as I explained in my Top Ten Shared Diary of the year at Daily Kos:

    US & NSA Accused of Criminal Privacy Violations in Dozens of Nations - Snowden Blowback

    The entire world is now working together to marginalize the US police state and reshape the Internet to bypass US telecoms.

    Just as I said it would.

  •  It isn't a stretch to understand why status quo... (6+ / 0-)

    ...Democrats, including far too many around here, are not keen on undermining the tech sector and abolishing our surveillance state: "Who Buys the Spies? The Hidden Corporate Cash Behind America’s Out-of-Control National Surveillance State," as Thomas Ferguson (one of the all-time great poli-sci people teaching in this country, right now) reminds us. All one has to do is "follow the money."

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 03:10:21 PM PDT

  •  Snowden and many others are bringing about... (5+ / 0-) unavoidable reckoning (at least partially so) with the status quo, no matter where they obtain their profits: Big Pharma, the Military Industrial Surveillance State (which most certainly does include all the big, corporate I.T. players), Wall Street (not so much, IMHO), Big Ag/Big Retail, and Big Oil. The resistance/pushback/whatever to the status quo is manifesting itself in totally new shapes and forms, and it's not going to be relenting for the foreseeable future. We're living in this now, and we're not really paying attentions to the nuances, perhaps. But, it is happening. Something's gotta' give, other than the diminishing quality of life of the unwashed masses. The folks espousing the stale status quo memes--including far too many around here--better get a clue before it's too late.

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 03:19:56 PM PDT

    •  Case in point: Wednesday's NYT Editorial... (8+ / 0-)
      The C.I.A. Torture Cover-Up
      MARCH 11, 2014

      It was outrageous enough when two successive presidents papered over the Central Intelligence Agency’s history of illegal detention, rendition, torture and fruitless harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects. Now, the head of the Senate intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, has provided stark and convincing evidence that the C.I.A. may have committed crimes to prevent the exposure of interrogations that she said were “far different and far more harsh” than anything the agency had described to Congress.

      Ms. Feinstein delivered an extraordinary speech on the Senate floor today in which she said the C.I.A. improperly searched the computers used by committee staff members who were investigating the interrogation program as recently as January.

      Beyond the power of her office and long experience, Ms. Feinstein’s accusations carry an additional weight and credibility because she has been a reliable supporter of the intelligence agencies and their expanded powers since the 9/11 attacks (sometimes too reliable).

      Today, the C.I.A. director, John Brennan, denied hacking into the committee’s computers. But Ms. Feinstein said that in January, Mr. Brennan acknowledged that the agency had conducted a “search” of the computers. She said the C.I.A.’s inspector general had referred the matter to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution. “Besides the constitutional implications,” of separation of powers, she said, “the C.I.A.’s search may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the C.I.A. from conducting domestic searches or surveillance.”

      Ms. Feinstein’s speech detailed the lengths to which the C.I.A. had gone to hinder the committee’s investigation, which it began in 2009 after senators learned the agency had destroyed videotapes of the interrogations under President George W. Bush. Under President Obama, prosecutors exonerated the officials who ordered those tapes destroyed.

      Ms. Feinstein said that when Senate staff members reviewed thousands of documents describing those interrogations in 2009, they found that the C.I.A.’s leadership seriously misled the committee when it described the interrogations program to the panel in 2006, “only hours before President Bush disclosed the program to the public.”

      The interrogations included a variety of brutal methods, some of which — waterboarding in particular — were unequivocally torture.

      When the Senate staff compiled its still undisclosed 6,300-page report, it described these acts and also concluded that the C.I.A. had falsely claimed that torture and other brutality produced useful intelligence. The report has been going through the snail’s pace review and declassification process since December 2012. The C.I.A. disputed some of its findings. But Ms. Feinstein publicly confirmed today that an internal review by the C.I.A. inspector general had reached conclusions similar to those in the Senate staff report, which the C.I.A. now publicly disputes.

      It was the committee staff’s possession of that internal review — which the C.I.A. has refused to give to the Senate — that spurred what Ms. Feinstein said was an illegal search of computers (provided to the Senate staff by the C.I.A.) that contained drafts of the internal review.

      Ms. Feinstein said that staff members found the drafts among the documents that the C.I.A. had made available to the committee. She said she did not know whether the drafts were put there inadvertently, or by a whistle-blower. The Senate’s possession of the documents was entirely legal, she said.

      She dismissed the acting C.I.A. general counsel’s claim that the Senate staffers had hacked agency computers as intimidation. The counsel, she noted, was a lawyer and then chief lawyer for the interrogations division and is “mentioned by name more than 1,600 times in our study.”

      The Justice Department now has a criminal investigation to conduct, but the C.I.A. internal review and the Senate report must be released. Ms. Feinstein called on President Obama to make public the Senate report, which is expected to get final approval this month, “to ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation will never again be considered or permitted.”

      The lingering fog about the C.I.A. detentions is a result of Mr. Obama’s decision when he took office to conduct no investigation of them. We can only hope he knows that when he has lost Dianne Feinstein, he has no choice but to act in favor of disclosure and accountability.

      No investigations of torture. No jail time for bankers. State Department enabling an end run on climate change activists...and on, and on...

      There's a pattern here, if you're not blind. Then again, what's that saying from Upton Sinclair?

      "It is difficult to get a politician man to understand something, when his campaign contributions salary depends on his not understanding it."

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 03:35:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, Feinstein really objects to being spied on (0+ / 0-)

        Notice she was all-in to maintain the status quo until this week when she got the bad news the CIA was down her panties.

        Don't fuck with government officials, man.

        No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

        by koNko on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 05:20:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  None of the members who did the amazing work to (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dharmafarmer, Pluto, bobswern, Don midwest

      get this done are from the privileged classes. Claude Moraes from London, Jan Albrecht from Germany, and Sophia In't Veld are all grass roots activists. They earned the support of the distinguished uppers with conscientiousness and competence.

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 03:45:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As I've always said" (7+ / 0-)

    The US can only be changed from outside the US -- with the help of the entire world.

    Looking for a political solution on the inside is a fool's errand. The US government is a rogue and compromised corporate tool.

    But we have bigger tools and better tools:  Vision, uncompromising integrity, and a clear view of the future.

  •  Bright, shiny objects tend to distract (0+ / 0-)

    And even now, I don't think the majority of American internet users (and others - not a uniquely American problem) give much thought to how valuable privacy is and how cheaply theirs is bought by corporations trading "free stuff"  or governments appropriating it as they wish.

    But the light went on in the IT industry when they realized how badly they pawned by the NSA in ways they didn't expect   (not the usual written request, but just tapping into their servers and laughing in their faces with Post-It notes).

    Now there is a war between corporations and the US government for ownership of this digital flesh; Google switched-on the SSL to protect their own bottom line interests, but don't expect them to do an about face and change their business model.

    Instead, they will try to point fingers and try to convince you with this self-serving crap instead of something like this.

    So what I think is that Europeans have to lead on this because they have the history to understand why and also the existing legal framework to extend basic principles to policy in this area.

    But I also have a challenge for Europeans; that some European companies such as FinFisher (DE) and Hacking Team are part of the problem and some of the worst offenders selling spy software, so what will be done to reign them in?

    I will republish this to 11111000000. Thanks for your good reporting on this.

    No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

    by koNko on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 05:16:46 AM PDT

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