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[liberationtech] Spin alerts

Todd Davies davies at stanford.edu
Mon Jun 10 22:29:45 PDT 2013


On Mon, 10 Jun 2013, Gregory Maxwell wrote:

> On Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 4:03 PM, Todd Davies <davies at stanford.edu> wrote:
>> Two issues that are tending to get conflated in the wider discourse about
>> PRISM, Boundless Informant, etc. are:
>> (1) Are these programs justifieid?
>> (2) Was it justified to keep the existence of these programs secret?
>
> (1) can't be answered in a vacuum of secrecy because— as almost anyone
> who finds the program concerning would agree— a fundamental concept of
> democracy is no one person or small group of people has the general
> moral authority to make that kind of decision— absent some kind of
> immediate exigency ... uh, which is really hard to argue for something
> which has gone on so long.
>
> And so absent (2) we can't even have the conversation about (1).  I
> think these two points are less distinct than you think they are:  (2)
> was the question Snowden needed to answer for himself so that the rest
> of us would be able to even consider (1).

I agree with your last sentence (after the colon), Gregory. And my own 
answer to both questions is a firm "no". But if we want to convince enough 
others, we need to pay attention to what *they* think. My point was that 
there are lots of people who answer "yes" to (1) and "no" to (2). And that 
is an opening. The opinion poll I also mentioned shows us that people 
haven't really thought this through, because about half the U.S. 
population change their position on surveillance depending on who is in 
power at the moment.

Todd


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