Archive for June, 2013

PRISM: Why the “directly and unilaterally” mistake matters.

Friday, June 21st, 2013

My post about how a central claim of the PRISM story turns out not to be true has drawn a wide range of comments. There’s one particular kind of comment I’d like to address here: the idea that, even if what I said was true, it was a mere technical detail and is not important […]

Parsing PRISM: Gen. Keith Alexander did not claim “dozens of attacks” were prevented.

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Over and over we’ve read that Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, claimed that its massive surveillance program has prevented “dozens” of terrorist attacks. Journalists are careful to report this claim as simply what Alexander said, not as a fact itself — we’re responsible journalists, far too wise in the ways of the world to […]

PRISM: The Problem with Collect-Then-Select.

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

[Note: This post now uses the phrase “collect-then-select”, instead of “collect-then-analyze”, which wasn’t quite as accurate. Other than that, and adding the references at the end, I’ve made no changes. There is a redirection in place from the old URL.] One notion that keeps surfacing in the ongoing PRISM leak is that intelligence services have […]

Epic botch of the PRISM story.

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

[Update 2013-06-13: See Rick Perlstein’s piece about this on The Nation’s blog. Glenn Greenwald later responded here.] Mark Jaquith’s post The PRISM Details Matter is spot-on. Glenn Greenwald has misunderstood a key technical fact, one that removes the most explosive charge in the whole scoop. And for some reason, Greenwald refuses to correct it. The […]

Privacy Promises and Client-Side Betrayal.

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Note: A shorter and less technical version of this post was published in the Slate / New America Foundation “Future Tense” series in January 2014: Privacy Apps Like Snapchat Make a Promise They Can’t Keep For a more general examination of the importance of people having control over the hardware and software they use, see […]