[ExI] The NSA's new data center

Stefano Vaj stefano.vaj at gmail.com
Wed Mar 28 22:56:37 UTC 2012

On 28 March 2012 19:09, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:

> On Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 02:46:15PM +0200, Stefano Vaj wrote:
> > The problem is that privacy is a doctrine at war with itself.
> I do not see why.

How do you check that Mr. Smith's privacy is not being infringed? By
violating the privacy of Mr. Jones, Mr. White, the rest of the world and
its dog to check that they are not in the process of illegally processing
Mr. Smith's data.

> power to spy on you and process your personal data, provided at best that
> > While the States obviously maintain in full their factual and even legal
> They do not seem to concern with legality overmuch. The legislation
> pattern does start looking ominously like we've last seen in Weimar.
> (This doesn't mean that this have to end like Weimar).

Yes. But the point is: do privacy regulations actually limit the power of
States in respect of snooping? No. If anything, they provide for and
sanction for State control upon it (in terms of monopoly and/or of
regulating anybody else engaged in such activities).

> > some procedural steps are complied with and that no private-interest use
> is
> > made of such data (and even that really pertains only to using the
> Individual usage of data is fine. Institutional (whether federal or
> corporate) is distinctly not.

Abusing, eg, police database for private, individual reasons is illegal.
But no limit exist as to the use of such database for police official

> network* in order to check what you are doing with them (you could be
> > engaging in illegal personal data processing or surveillance, couldn't
> > you?).
> Not as an individual or a small group, no. As a corporation, yes.

Individuals and small groups are as subject to privacy regulations as
anybody else. One could even say that they are the only parties actually
affected by such regulations and exposed to their enforcements.

> > Now, I do maintain that attempts at their enforcement are anyway becoming
> > increasingly futile, owing to technological progress.
> I don't see why, once a violation is detected you can send people
> to jail for a long time, and a few billions EUR here and there do
> add up to some real money.

The war on drugs or the prohibition were not so successful, I do not expect
the enforcement of restrictive regulations on personal data processing to
be much more, given that technology is making surveillance devices cheap,
ubiquitous, accessible to anybody, and almost impossible to detect.

The stupidest client, policeman, criminal, bailiff, opposing counsel,
prosecutor, private detective, are already now in a position to record
whatever I tell them with things that would hardly come up with a summary

With marginally more effort, unless I take extraordinary measure which are
increasingly expensive and burdensome, they are as well in a position to
intercept what I tell others.

As I already mentioned, the only consolation I can have in this respect is
that the information collected illegally may not be admissible as evidence,
especially if the collectors does not want to expose themselves.

But if I were to rely on the idea that this is not going to happen because
it is "illegal", I would be stupid myself.

Stefano Vaj
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