The security state continues its advance

posted at 12:01 pm on August 28, 2013 by Bruce McQuain

The Wall Street Journal points out something that ought to chill everyone to the bone:

The U.S. government has used the merger-approval process to increase its influence over the telecom industry, bringing more companies under its oversight and gaining a say over activities as fundamental as equipment purchases.

The leverage has come from a series of increasingly restrictive security agreements between telecom companies and national-security agencies that are designed to head off threats to strategically significant networks and maintain the government’s ability to monitor communications, according to a review of the public documents and lawyers who have negotiated the agreements.

I think it is safe to say we’re terrified of terrorism to the point that we seem willing to trade freedom and privacy for at least the veneer of security.  And we all know what Ben Franklin had to say about that trade.

The increased oversight reflects the national-security establishment’s growing concern about threats to U.S. networks and the globalization of an industry in which equipment is increasingly made in China and other foreign countries, people familiar with the accords said.

The deals routinely require the companies to give the government streamlined access to their networks. At their most restrictive, they grant officials the right to require firms to remove certain gear and approve equipment purchases and directors.

So government is knee deep in telecom to the point that it even decides what equipment they can use and what directors they can appoint.  While the government’s security concerns may have some validity, are the terms and restrictions too much?

Well, let’s consider a recent example of a related industry during the Snowden affair:

If there’s any confirmation that the U.S. government has commandeered the Internet for worldwide surveillance, it is what happened with Lavabit earlier this month.

Lavabit is — well, was — an e-mail service that offered more privacy than the typical large-Internet-corporation services that most of us use. It was a small company, owned and operated by Ladar Levison, and it was popular among the tech-savvy. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden among its half-million users.

Last month, Levison reportedly received an order – probably a National Security Letter — to allow the NSA to eavesdrop on everyone’s e-mail accounts on Lavabit. Rather than “become complicit in crimes against the American people,” he turned the service off. Note that we don’t know for sure that he received a NSL — that’s the order authorized by the Patriot Act that doesn’t require a judge’s signature and prohibits the recipient from talking about it — or what it covered, but Levison has said that he had complied with requests for individual e-mail access in the past, but this was very different.

So far, we just have an extreme moral act in the face of government pressure. It’s what happened next that is the most chilling. The government threatened him with arrest, arguing that shutting down this e-mail service was a violation of the order.

In essence, the NSA was telling Mr. Levison, via it’s threat to arrest him for not doing what it said, that it was the defacto “owner” of his enterprise.  That he, in fact, had only one duty – comply.  That he had no decision on how to proceed with what he apparently erroneously believed was his property until the NSA showed up.

Another example:

T-Mobile has been operating under a security agreement since 2001, when its parent company Deutsche Telekom AG, acquired VoiceStream Wireless Corp. for $50 billion. The agreement required that communications infrastructure be located in the U.S. and pass through a facility from which lawful electronic surveillance could be conducted.

It also prohibited the carrier from sharing communication data with foreign governments and allowed officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department to interview employees and inspect “communications infrastructure” upon “reasonable notice” in order to ensure compliance with the agreement.

Reasonable or unreasonable?  Who is the defacto owner here?

The carrier also agreed to provide the two agencies with an updated list of principal network equipment, including routers, switches, base stations and servers, as well as manufacturer and model numbers for hardware and software, a provision that wasn’t included in the 2001 agreement.

Such inspection rights have improved the government’s understanding of how the networks are put together, said Andrew Lipman, a partner at Bingham McCutchen LLP who has worked on about three dozen agreements over the last 20 years.

“The fact they have these rights to inspect gives them a window into equipment vendors that otherwise the government wouldn’t have,” he said. The government is using these agreements to “go to school” on network operations. “It’s like a shadow foreman at the factory,” he said.

That knowledge, he added, facilitates “the ability to—when appropriate—engage in record collection, data collection and wiretapping.”

And, of course, we all know that government would never abuse any of this access.  I mean, it’s silly to think, for instance, that NSA employees would use their access to spy on their love interests, isn’t it?

In the final analysis we have to decide where the line is to be drawn in terms of the limits of the security state.  Otherwise, as we’re discovering, it continues to creep into more and more areas and assume more and more powers.  Are we really willing to give government … any government … the sort of power it has apparently assumed on its own?  Are we willing to trust our privacy to an entity which has gone this deeply into controlling this one industry (and how deeply are they into others we don’t know about?)?

Security is important.  Freedom and privacy are more important. More and more it seems our government has put security above both freedom and privacy.  And that is contrary to the founding principles upon which this nation was founded.  The question is, who will call a halt to the creeping security state?

~McQ

Blogging at QandO


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The cheering idiots of the world/land deserve obama in full. May he enslave all of you.

Schadenfreude on August 28, 2013 at 12:05 PM

He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” — George Orwell, 1984

coldwarrior on August 28, 2013 at 12:06 PM

Security is important. Freedom and privacy are more important. More and more it seems our government has put security above both freedom and privacy. And that is contrary to the founding principles upon which this nation was founded. The question is, who will call a halt to the creeping security state?

Nobody in DC leadership, for sure.

We are now in the age of “Big Brother” Orwell warned us about.

Before long, the big screen TVs in our homes will automatically come alive each morning awakening us with the call for the mandatory viewing of Big Brotha Barry issuing our instructions for the day.

Freedom and privacy are to be reserved for our elite masters.

hawkeye54 on August 28, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Security is important. Freedom and privacy are more important. More and more it seems our government has put security above both freedom and privacy. And that is contrary to the founding principles upon which this nation was founded. The question is, who will call a halt to the creeping security state?

What pisses me off is that they are not even hiding it much anymore. Clapper goes before Congress and lies his ass off. The aftermath of finding out there is a domestic spying program- Yeah? So what??? FU America… We’re the NSA.

Happy Nomad on August 28, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Eh, Hope and Change means violating every facet of your life is a good thing.

You lefties better not complain either, you want more government and sister, this is more government. So take your medicine with a smile.

Bishop on August 28, 2013 at 12:08 PM

But what about our chocolate rations? They’re going to go up, right?

Flange on August 28, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Fascism, straight up.

slickwillie2001 on August 28, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Setting precedent in federal government policy and programs, unchallenged by the courts, or by the President, just makes it sooo much easier for the next Administration to do all sorts of foul things…

But, not to worry, so long as Barry is in charge, no evil will befall us.

Is that the meme?

coldwarrior on August 28, 2013 at 12:13 PM

But what about our chocolate rations? They’re going to go up, right?

Flange on August 28, 2013 at 12:10 PM

…and vodka…don’t forget about our vodka rations.

Deafdog on August 28, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Two separate links.

Bmore on August 28, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Hush you fools! Syria must be bombed! Go talk about Miley! Talk about eeeevil rodeo clowns! Ignore race issues! Do not look behind the curtain!

oryguncon on August 28, 2013 at 12:19 PM

But what about our chocolate rations? They’re going to go up, right?

Flange on August 28, 2013 at 12:10 PM

For an impertinent question like that, no chocolate for you! Get back to work, Barry’s counting on you for increased production so more of your pay can go to his truly deserving and unquestioning minions.

hawkeye54 on August 28, 2013 at 12:24 PM

This is a statist Administration – they seek to seize and maintain as much power and control in the federal government as possible. This permits them to use the power of the federal government as a cudgel to ‘fundamentally change’ thoughts and actions.

What is being seen by the NSA is also happening across the Executive Branch in every single department, agency, and organization. This isn’t fundamentally different than the excesses being pushed by the NLRB, EPA, IRS, DoJ, DoT, DHS, etc.

In the case of the NSA, ‘security’ is the excuse that is being given for the unprecedented abuses of power / control. ‘Security’ is said to trump ‘freedom and liberty’ – but in reality, it’s the statist / fascist agenda that is trumping freedom and liberty.

This is Big Brother – and it’s protected by the ‘Ministry of Truth’, the intellectually and ethically bankrupt media. The only thing missing is our daily 2 minutes of hate – although, looking at MSNBC and their targeting of the Tea Party conservatives, in that case it’s 7×24 hate.

Athos on August 28, 2013 at 12:25 PM

…and vodka…don’t forget about our vodka rations.

Deafdog on August 28, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Only on Sunday, and then cut with 50% water….that is until Sharia sets in, then goodbye adult beverages…..Chai tea anyone?

hawkeye54 on August 28, 2013 at 12:25 PM

I for one am proud that the government cares enough about me to listen in on my conversions and emails about how to put in a V-8 engine and blower on an AMC Gremlin to escape the zombie apocalypse, cause with out this monitoring I might not hook up the nitrous correctly, and become zombie chow.

Brings tears to my eyes they care so much.

LincolntheHun on August 28, 2013 at 12:26 PM

ALL HAIL BIG BROTHER!

GarandFan on August 28, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Like the Jews riding in the cattle car you have a vague idea of what life is going to be like when the doors slide open at Auschwitz.

Enjoy your ride. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

roflmmfao

donabernathy on August 28, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Why didn’t Obama’s Police State catch the guy over at DHS buying up all the ammo and calling for a race war?

Galt2009 on August 28, 2013 at 12:32 PM

…and vodka…don’t forget about our vodka rations.

Deafdog on August 28, 2013 at 12:14 PM

I prefer Victory gin, but I’ve been informed that my chocolate rations have been taken away. I don’t think I can stomach the greasy gin without my chocolate. Damn this ulcer is killing me.

Flange on August 28, 2013 at 12:33 PM

In essence, the NSA was telling Mr. Levison, via it’s threat to arrest him for not doing what it said, that it was the defacto “owner” of his enterprise.

Wait until the government tells small business owners that they can’t lay off or fire people to maintain an evil profit.

Too bad that we don’t have a political party eager to help us protect our freedoms.

beatcanvas on August 28, 2013 at 12:34 PM

strategically significant networks

Everyone’s computers. That is what they really mean.

Patriot Vet on August 28, 2013 at 12:39 PM

The question is, who will call a halt to the creeping security state?

Armed Militias, if we’re lucky.

Deano1952 on August 28, 2013 at 12:39 PM

The deals routinely require the companies to give the government streamlined access to their networks. At their most restrictive, they grant officials the right to require firms to remove certain gear and approve equipment purchases and directors.

In a communist/socialist system the government would own these companies outright. This is fascism.

rbj on August 28, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Why didn’t Obama’s Police State catch the guy over at DHS buying up all the ammo and calling for a race war?

He’s a good and loyal progressive….

Athos on August 28, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Wait until the government tells small business owners that they can’t lay off or fire people to maintain an evil profit.

I understand in Europe businesses can’t lay off or fire people without government approval, so naturally it will be so here.

hawkeye54 on August 28, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Armed Militias, if we’re lucky.

Deano1952 on August 28, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Barry and his cabal are working on that potential problem….the militias better be prepared.

hawkeye54 on August 28, 2013 at 12:52 PM

‘Toons of the Day: The State of the Nation

Resist We Much on August 28, 2013 at 12:12 PM

I gotta say, the “Would they have given me this peace prize if I didn’t know what to do with it” comment is priceless. Shows just what a sham that award was in the first place, now that we’re on to Obama’s third war.

Happy Nomad on August 28, 2013 at 12:53 PM

We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness

tommyboy on August 28, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Sayonara GOP

Mr. Arrogant on August 28, 2013 at 1:13 PM

I wish I had a dollar for every idiot I hear say, “let them look I don’t have anything to hide”. Yes, America has been reduced to this.

DDay on August 28, 2013 at 1:28 PM

I think it is safe to say we’re terrified of terrorism

No, our government is terrified of implicating Islamist terrorists like Tsarnaev or Hasan. Must catch them secretly!!

PattyJ on August 28, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Nobody in DC leadership, for sure.

We are now in the age of “Big Brother” Orwell warned us about.

Before long, the big screen TVs in our homes will automatically come alive each morning awakening us with the call for the mandatory viewing of Big Brotha Barry issuing our instructions for the day.

Freedom and privacy are to be reserved for our elite masters

So i take it the next GOP President will dismantle the security state. Oh wait….. yup, thought so.

lostmotherland on August 28, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Europe businesses can’t lay off or fire people without government approval

This is absurd. Evidence please? And no, Drudge Report or WorldNetDaily or the 700 Club don’t count.

lostmotherland on August 28, 2013 at 1:44 PM

I think it is safe to say we’re terrified of terrorism to the point that we seem willing to trade freedom and privacy for at least the veneer of security. And we all know what Ben Franklin had to say about that trade.

We’re terrified”? You got a mouse in your pocket?

It’s nothing but an excuse manufactured by govt to impose tyranny, and this sort of statement plays into it.

Akzed on August 28, 2013 at 2:28 PM

lostmotherland on August 28, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Do your own google, but I’ve seen this discussed in print and on news shows many times. It’s one reason there’s high unemployment, because it’s basically impossible to fire anyone, so hiring is done basically when it can’t be avoided.

Akzed on August 28, 2013 at 2:29 PM

In essence, the NSA was telling Mr. Levison, via it’s threat to arrest him for not doing what it said, that it was the defacto “owner” of his enterprise. That he, in fact, had only one duty – comply. That he had no decision on how to proceed with what he apparently erroneously believed was his property until the NSA showed up.

No different than telling a photog she has to work a gay wedding.

Akzed on August 28, 2013 at 2:34 PM

This is absurd. Evidence please? And no, Drudge Report or WorldNetDaily or the 700 Club don’t count. lostmotherland on August 28, 2013 at 1:44 PM

BTW Drudge is just an aggregator. He refers to news sources. So if Moveon.org and Drudge both refer to the same article, does that discredit Moveon.org?

Akzed on August 28, 2013 at 2:37 PM

B

efore long, the big screen TVs in our homes will automatically come alive each morning awakening us with the call for the mandatory viewing of Big Brotha Barry issuing our instructions for the day.

Freedom and privacy are to be reserved for our elite masters.

hawkeye54 on August 28, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Not mine. I live off grid and don’t have cable or satellite TV. Not worth the money. While I do have a small flat screen it is only used for DVD’s and VCR’s.

chemman on August 28, 2013 at 2:50 PM

So i take it the next GOP President will dismantle the security state. Oh wait….. yup, thought so.

lostmotherland on August 28, 2013 at 1:41 PM

You can’t be this stupid then again….

The poster said nobody in DC could be trusted. What part of NOBODY don’t you understand

chemman on August 28, 2013 at 2:53 PM

Europe businesses can’t lay off or fire people without government approval

This is absurd. Evidence please? And no, Drudge Report or WorldNetDaily or the 700 Club don’t count.

lostmotherland on August 28, 2013 at 1:44 PM

I note you deliberately left off the first part of the comment:

I understand in Europe businesses can’t lay off or fire people without government approval

Allowing the opportunity for one as knowledgeable as yourself, should you so desire, to kindly provide a response to point me to evidence to correct my understanding.

hawkeye54 on August 28, 2013 at 2:55 PM

loss of the 4th amendment leads to loss of the 1st amendment

burserker on August 28, 2013 at 2:57 PM

You can’t be this stupid then again….

The poster said nobody in DC could be trusted. What part of NOBODY don’t you understand

chemman on August 28, 2013 at 2:53 PM

Never underestimate the stupid in the Left. It abounds.

hawkeye54 on August 28, 2013 at 2:59 PM

Security is important. Freedom and privacy are more important.

You’re completely wrong here, Bruce. Consider the TSA and the airlines. Allowing people to be blown up at 40,000 feet just so no one “touches my junk” is absurd. Would you rather go through a search to board a flight and come out alive , or board that flight without anyone having ever touched or scanned you but end up dead? If you answer the latter, then you’re a prime contestant for the Darwin awards.

Stoic Patriot on August 28, 2013 at 3:05 PM

One consideration contra the flow here: What if the Chinese really are (and, BTW, we *know* they have in at least some cases) putting malificent code into their hardware? Back doors, sniffers and trackers, code bombs? If the government is telling folks who are on the national infrastructure they can’t put that hardware into the infrastructure, is that a bad thing? Admittedly, the Chinese are less interested in your pr0n consumption than the NSA, do you really want them watching your every internet move, too?

GWB on August 28, 2013 at 3:08 PM

since the snowden thing I have seen on my site (http://www.theconservativevoices.com) a huge uptick (compared to normal) in google bots. seen a lot more overseas ip addresses also.
not something that can be easily explained either.
been wondering about that, odd stuff.

dmacleo on August 28, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Stoic Patriot on August 28, 2013 at 3:05 PM

And, it’s not simply an either/or proposition. Has the TSA stopped even one incident? Has the TSA even managed to stop any of the bogus test items they send through? (They certainly aren’t batting 1.000.) No, I don’t think being groped and scanned at the airport is either a good method to stop terrorists, nor is it compatible with my freedoms.

GWB on August 28, 2013 at 3:11 PM

The deals routinely require the companies to give the government streamlined access to their networks. At their most restrictive, they grant officials the right to require firms to remove certain gear and approve equipment purchases and directors.

Benito Mussolini would be so proud……..

iurockhead on August 28, 2013 at 3:18 PM

And, it’s not simply an either/or proposition. Has the TSA stopped even one incident? Has the TSA even managed to stop any of the bogus test items they send through? (They certainly aren’t batting 1.000.) No, I don’t think being groped and scanned at the airport is either a good method to stop terrorists, nor is it compatible with my freedoms.

GWB on August 28, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Nope. They wave muzzies through while groping little old blue-haired ladies, just so they won’t be accused of pr0f1L1ng. PC comes first!

slickwillie2001 on August 28, 2013 at 3:26 PM

And, it’s not simply an either/or proposition. Has the TSA stopped even one incident? Has the TSA even managed to stop any of the bogus test items they send through? (They certainly aren’t batting 1.000.) No, I don’t think being groped and scanned at the airport is either a good method to stop terrorists, nor is it compatible with my freedoms.

GWB on August 28, 2013 at 3:11 PM

You’re correct that it’s not necessarily an either-or proposition, but if you’re going to ask which is more important, as Bruce was doing, then that requires evaluating which scenario is preferable when confronted with circumstances where the two are at odds.

Stoic Patriot on August 28, 2013 at 3:28 PM

Allowing the opportunity for one as knowledgeable as yourself, should you so desire, to kindly provide a response to point me to evidence to correct my understanding.

hawkeye54 on August 28, 2013 at 2:55 PM

On what basis do you understand this to be the case?

lostmotherland on August 28, 2013 at 6:12 PM

..as in, where on earth did you get this harebrained idea from?

lostmotherland on August 28, 2013 at 6:13 PM

You’re completely wrong here, Bruce. Consider the TSA and the airlines. Allowing people to be blown up at 40,000 feet just so no one “touches my junk” is absurd. Would you rather go through a search to board a flight and come out alive , or board that flight without anyone having ever touched or scanned you but end up dead? If you answer the latter, then you’re a prime contestant for the Darwin awards.

Stoic Patriot on August 28, 2013 at 3:05 PM

a shoe bomber was stopped by passengers after tsa was groping us.
locking 4 doors would have stopped 911.
blowing up a plane at 40k??
name one that tsa would have prevented.

dmacleo on August 28, 2013 at 6:41 PM

“Is it 1984 yet?”

It was 1984 a long, long time ago.

schmuck281 on August 29, 2013 at 1:02 AM

So i take it the next GOP President will dismantle the security state. Oh wait….. yup, thought so.

lostmotherland on August 28, 2013 at 1:41 PM

On the other hand, at least you’ll complain about it then….

runawayyyy on August 29, 2013 at 12:19 PM