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      Stumbled across this lovely chart the other day. The core fact most people, including the folks in the “best every world” Panglossian movement (like Pinker) don’t seem to understand, is that even if they were right (questionable), the prosperity we have is based on burning down our house. “Sure is hot! Hottest it’s every been!” […]
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FISA Unintended Consequences

FISA and businesThis past year, my PC at work has gotten slower. Muuucccchhh Slllooowwwerrr. It started happening when new firewalls went up. Then there were new encryption applications applied to all of the disks. Then there were severe restrictions placed on the size of data transfer. It went from gigabytes to tens of megabytes. Last week, my PC was migrated to a domain behind one of the new secure firewalls. One of my first attempts to download a patch for one of my department’s applications went from seconds to 22 minutes. The patch was 11 mb.

This was part of a new security initiative. Now, it could be that my company, notorious for over the top IT domination, was just doing what comes naturally. But it is also an international company with many European sites. We all share information between these sites. The information we share is literally worth *billions* of dollars. That’s Billions with a B. It can’t be understated. If there is a bad guy, ie, industrial spy out there listening to our transmissions, that bad guy could sell the stuff he intercepts to our competition and put us at a competitive disadvantage for decades.

What if that bad guy is our own government? Ha-ha-ha!, you laugh. GB is letting her paranoia get the best of her again. I’m serious. Does anyone doubt that the Bushies are capable of such iniquity? My company is based in a European country. The US facility is simply a branch. According to the way Bush has circumvented FISA, he’s had the ability to monitor every transmission we make over the internet and regular phone lines since 2001. Every patentable, proprietary discovery at all companies like mine has been in the hands of his droogs at the NSA for 7 years. He could sell this information to the highest bidder for campaign contributions or whatever. It could be used to extort cooperation. In short, it’s a fricking gold mine for anyone who has access to it. Now, I’m not saying the Bushies did it but would anyone really be shocked?

So, now, I’ve been told that I can no longer rsync information containing gigabytes of information over the net. If I need to transfer something, it will have to be copied onto CD’s or DVD’s and hand carried across the ocean on a plane. People don’t send CD’s like this by themselves in the mail. It’s going to have to wait for someone on a business trip to do the transfer. What might have taken minutes or hours will now take days and weeks.

Russ Feingold makes a good point about his phone transmissions. Everyone you call is vulnerable not just the people overseas. If your kid makes a stupid call about acquiring a joint from a friend, there’s a distinct possibility that the call could be intercepted leading to legal consequences and, poof!, there go the government backed student loans you needed for college. Your hidden lust for gay porn at home could be exposed to your church group or employer. Those saucy emails you’ve been sending to your wife’s best friend? The NSA’s been reading them with great intensity. Feingold points to the overseas transmissions but if the government thought they could get something on you, they’d come up with an excuse to eavesdrop.

Meanwhile, the slowing up at work continues with unintended consequences. In all of the migrations, I’ve lost some of my email with attachments as I scrambled to meet the new security measures before I was whisked to a new compartment between me and my colleages.

Progress marches backwards.

Here’s Feingold’s FISA in 30 seconds. Pass it around…

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