Tag: Vacation

NSA and The Florida Department of Departments

I’m on vacation this week in Disneyworld with the wife and Sal 11000 Beta. It’s a quiet week in politics anyway, with the most interesting commentary revolving around the NSA’s pathetic lies and the pathetic pundits who believe those lies. Check out this evisceration of Jeffrey’s Toobin hacktastic work in which compares Snowden’s leaks to the MLK assassination (seriously).

You can also check out ZDnet’s hilarious “data driven analysis” which tries to convince us that NSA is no big deal. Taking it apart is pretty trivial:

  • The 2776 leaks documented by Snowden are from one year and one collection center and represent reported leaks. It does not include illegal abuses that have no been reported (duh). The NSA is increasingly reminding me of a bad liar. “We don’t routinely collect data”. “Well we do, but we don’t collect data we shouldn’t.” “Well, we don’t do so abusively. It’s all an accident.” We know what the next lie is: “We do abuse it but only on bad people like Tea Partiers”.
  • The claim that Facebook collects 20 times more data per day is irrelevant and misleading. FB collects a ton of information, so if NSA is collecting 1/20th of that, that’s way too much. And remember the euphemisms NSA uses for “collecting” data. Also, FB can’t put us in prison.
  • That the percentage of reported errors is tiny is not very relevant, since the system is still leaky. It also contradicts point one. You can’t simultaneously claim that the errors are tiny compared to the vast amount of information NSA collects and then claim that the NSA doesn’t collect a lot of data.
  • He claims the NSA collects an amount of data less than one MP3 file. This is bullshit. He deliberately confounds metadata — of which the NSA collects trillions of pieces without a warrant — with records, of which it collects a lesser number. He also claims that NSA only makes 2776 mistakes a year. That is flat wrong. That 2776 errors, some of which means thousands of pieces of illegally collected data, not metadata. So this complete horseshit.
  • He then says that these numbers would be regarded as a triumph for a corporation. Well, first of all, if ATT erroneously charged people for phone service, they’d get sued. And second … do I need to say this again? … apparently I do … corporations do not have police power over us.
  • Anyway, that’s the NSA rant that has been building in my mind whilst taking advantage of the free wireless Disney provides in long lines to get princess signatures.

    I did think you’d get a kick of this, however, which I photographed on a vending machine today:


    As far as I could tell, the point of that notice is to be a notice. But Ken at Popehat tweeted me that he blogged about this over a year ago. The best explanation in the comments, which sounds right to me, was this:

    My brother and his wife own a large vending machine company. The stickers are not proof of taxes paid, or anything like that. You can buy them from private vendors. The reason for the stickers was that they used to have information on them as to who owned or operated the machine. The problem is that they had the FEIN of the business on it, and this was frequently used to fraudulently steal the identity of the operator.

    To fix this, the vending companies were lobbying to have the law changed so that the decals were no longer required. This effort was unsuccessful, but in 2010 the vending lobbyist was able to accomplish the next best thing: They had the requirements of the sticker changed so that it no longer has to contain information that can be used by identity thieves. That is how it happened.

    Even if that’s right, it’s still pretty stupid.

    Have a fun week, guys.