Samir’s Selection 06/09/2013 (p.m.)

  • Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world’s most secretive organisations – the NSA. In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”

    He has had “a very comfortable life” that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend with whom he shared a home in Hawaii, a stable career, and a family he loves. “I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

    The primary lesson from this experience was that “you can’t wait around for someone else to act. I had been looking for leaders, but I realised that leadership is about being the first to act.” Over the next three years, he learned just how all-consuming the NSA’s surveillance activities were, claiming “they are intent on making every conversation and every form of behaviour in the world known to them”.

     “There are more important things than money. If I were motivated by money, I could have sold these documents to any number of countries and gotten very rich.” For him, it is a matter of principle. “The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to,” he said.

    tags: surveillance bigdata NSA FBI SiliconValley USsecurity privacy whistleblowing

  • “The road to totalitarian hell is paved with gross pretensions. Two of the worst are the beliefs that software can do no harm and that only the guilty have a reason to worry if the government is spying on them.

    A founding principle of our jurisprudence is that you’re innocent until proved guilty; data mining is based on the opposite principle.

    America was built on the belief that government is usually the enemy of individual freedom. Now we have new evidence to support this belief. Apparently the only thing you can keep secret in America is the fact that you own a gun.

    There are at least three problems with tight links between big data and big government: First, data gatherers and government may learn from the other how to treat individuals badly. Second, a company or a government that has too much information probably lacks the judgment to use it wisely. Third, a company or a government that thinks you have no privacy rights has taken a dangerous step to believing you have no other rights either.

    Chevy Chase, Md., June 7, 2013

    The writer was chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 1993 to 1997.”

    tags: surveillance bigdata NSA FBI SiliconValley USsecurity commentary privacy quote

  • “More and more services like Google and Facebook have become huge central repositories for information,” observed Dan Auerbach, a technology analyst with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “That’s created a pile of data that is an incredibly attractive target for law enforcement and intelligence agencies.”

    Industry experts say that intelligence and law enforcement agencies also use a new technology, known as trilaterization, that allows tracking of an individual’s location, moment to moment. The data, obtained from cellphone towers, can track the altitude of a person, down to the specific floor in a building. There is even software that exploits the cellphone data seeking to predict a person’s most likely route. “It is extreme Big Brother,” said Alex Fielding, an expert in networking and data centers.

    Marc Rotenberg [executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center], referring to the constitutional limits on search and seizure, said, “It is a bit of a fantasy to think that the government can seize so much information without implicating the Fourth Amendment interests of American citizens.”

    tags: surveillance bigdata NSA FBI Palantir SiliconValley USsecurity privacy

  • As an only child, with one of my own, and as someone who has just spent three years writing about the subject, I’m convinced that if, by dint of will or biology, you have an only child, you can stop worrying about it…

    Consider the data: in hundreds of studies during the past decades exploring 16 character traits — including leadership, maturity, extroversion, social participation, popularity, generosity, cooperativeness, flexibility, emotional stability, contentment — only children scored just as well as children with siblings. And endless research shows that only children are, in fact, no more self-involved than anyone else. It turns out brutal sibling rivalry isn’t necessary to beat the ego out of us; peers and classmates do the job.

    Nor are only children lonelier… solitude is not synonymous with loneliness and often strengthens character. As one psychotherapist explained to me, only children tend to have stronger primary relationships with themselves. And nothing provides better armor against loneliness…

    An Ohio State survey of more than 13,000 children found that only children had as many friends as anyone else; many of the only children I interviewed had cherished and nurtured friendships that they often regarded with a familial sense of permanence and loyalty…

    The differences between only children and those raised with siblings tend to be positive ones. Ms. Falbo and Ms. Polit examined hundreds of studies in the 1980s and found that only children had demonstrably higher intelligence and achievement; only children have also been found to have more self-esteem. These findings, which have been confirmed repeatedly in recent years, hold true regardless of whether parents of only children stayed together and regardless of economic class.

    My research suggests that only children experience more intensely emotional family lives. The parental gaze is more focused; the love more concentrated. This intensity can be enriching, and also suffocating. Many adult only children told me that they wanted their first child to have a sibling precisely because this kind of intensity was too much for them…

    Still there is something existentially troubling about the idea of facing one’s parents’ mortality alone…

    tags: onlychild children parenting psychology solitude loneliness

  • tags: JhumpaLahiri shortstory story India-culture 1970s WestBengal Naxalbari

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


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