Snowden Accuses Feinstein of Hypocrisy, Inventor of World Wide Web Wants Online Magna Carta

Credit: United States Congress, US Senate Photo/wikimediaCredit: United States Congress, US Senate Photo/wikimediaYesterday, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) went to the Senate chamber and confirmed a story published last week, in which Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is quoted as saying that the CIA had taken “unprecedented action” against the Senate Intelligence Committee, which was investigating the agency’s detention and interrogation program. In yesterday’s speech, Feinstein said that the CIA had searched the computers being used in the investigation without asking the committee. CIA Director John Brennan has issued a vague denial of Feinstein’s accusations and has not issued a detailed response.  

Reason’s Scott Shackford outlined Feinstein’s 50-minute speech yesterday.

Feinstein has been one of the NSA’s staunchest supporters in the wake of reporting on the information leaked by whistle-blower Edward Snowden. She has said that Snowden committed treason and that he should not be granted clemency.

Unsurprisingly, Snowden has called Feinstein out for her hypocritical complaints relating to her committee’s computers being snooped on, saying that her protests are the latest example of the "Merkel effect" (being fine with the rights of millions being violated because of mass surveillance but expressing outrage when you are the target of spying).  

News of Snowden’s statement on Feinstein’s statement came on the same day that Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, called for an online Magna Carta.

Credit: WikimediaCredit: WikimediaThe original Magna Carta, which was signed almost 800 years ago, was drawn up by English barons who wanted to limit the powers of King John and have their rights protected. It declared (among other things) that:

No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.

Legal documents such as the U.S. Bill of Rights can trace their roots back to the Magna Carta, and there is a copy of it in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Berners-Lee’s plan for a bill of rights for the web is being taken up as part of the Web We Want initiative which, as The Guardian explains, "calls on people to generate a digital bill of rights in each country—a statement of principles he hopes will be supported by public institutions, government officials, and corporations."

Of course, it is unlikely that an online Magna Carta is going to deter governments around the world from carrying out mass surveillance. The U.S. government has already shown that it is willing to trample on the rights guaranteed in already existing legal documents.

More from Reason on the NSA and surveillance here and here.

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  • Tonio||

    Two marginally-related topics in a single article? Are you mad, Feeney? Is this some sort of mid-morning links feature trial balloon?

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I like how people like Berners-Lee think grandiose projects are the key to solving problems. Can we get less messianic vision and more ground-pounders, please? I'm up to here with "visionaries" and their "big ideas" that wind up meaningless in implementation and have no detail or even a coherent backing in thought.

  • Tonio||

    People assume that competence in one area is evidence of competence in other areas. This is not so, as anyone who has worked with doctors or lawyers can tell you.

    It's just like those people who wanted Albert Einstein to be the first president of the state of Israel. Brilliant mathematician, absolutely unsuited for political leadership.

    Shorter: Top Men fallacy.

  • anon||

    Brilliant mathematician, absolutely unsuited for political leadership.

    Isn't that the problem? That those who are "suited" for political leadership are cunts?

    I want a leader that *doesn't* lead me.

  • Tonio||

    You're right about those who seek out leadership. But Einstein was the archetype of the absent-minded professor, and that's not a good fit for leadership either.

  • anon||

    But Einstein was the archetype of the absent-minded professor, and that's not a good fit for leadership either.

    Why not? Honest question. As long as he doesn't really do anything (regarding imposing new laws/etc) why should I give a fuck?

  • wareagle||

    because absent-mindedness is not a trait usually found in leaders? Not everyone is suited for being in charge; elected officials just have this habit of proving their inability.

  • anon||

    But a leader incapable of leading appears to be the perfect leader, at first glance.

  • uhclem||

    I'm perfectly suited for being in charge of me. And there is not even one other person who qualifies to be in charge of me.
    You on the other hand need a master.

  • A Frayed Knot||

    Well, to be fair, the president of Israel is largely a ceremonial role, so Einstein probably would have been fine.

  • Tonio||

    So, yeah, worldwide Magna Carta. Sounds good at first look, but the devil is in the details. Who would enforce that? National governments whose power that document seeks to limit? The UN?

    And what interesting "rights" would creep in to that document? The right for certain touchy religious groups to be free from criticism of their practices and founder? The right to free stuff?

    And who would get to vote on that document?

  • Doctor Whom||

    I demand my freedom from cross-posting, so that should definitely be included.

  • anon||

    So, yeah, worldwide Magna Carta. Sounds good at first look, but the devil is in the details. Who would enforce that? National governments whose power that document seeks to limit? The UN?

    I'd make it part of an open-standing free trade agreement: Sign & abide by this document and you have the right to export shit to my country with no other strings attached.

  • albo||

    I've drafted the text:

    Internet Magna Carta Act of 2014.

    Section 1.--General provision.

    (a). Leave me alone.
    (b). If subsection (a) is achieved, you will be left alone by persons covered under (a).

    Section 2.--Effective date.

    Immediately.

  • anon||

    I like it. Unfortunately, 250 years from now there'll be 9 assholes in black robes imposing some new bullshit under "Well leave me alone doesn't include taxes, and this is a tax!"

  • Doctor Whom||

    "Leave me alone" is subject to a residuum of sovereignty. Therefore, it doesn't actually mean "Leave me alone." Alternatively, we'll collapse it into some other word and construe that.

  • anon||

    I swear to God (or whatever), if I find out at some point in the future that you're John Roberts I'm going to kill myself.

  • ||

    you will be left alone by persons covered under (a).

    So, Google and Facebook are free to spam the shit out of you?

  • uhclem||

    Clause 61

  • Doctor Whom||

    If people nowadays wrote a bill of rights on any subject, it would be so larded up with free stuff, the right not to be offended, and the idea that the innocent have nothing to hide that it would likely be worse than what is happening now.

  • UnCivilServant||

    We can digitize the magna carta, no problem. Beyond that... you're an idealist.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I enjoy Snowden more every time I hear from him.

  • ||

    I agree. I hope he gets a post at a prestigious European University once the regime is out of power and the fatwa has been lifted. I bet there's at least one or two good books to be written.

  • John||

    No one believed me when I said this was going to be a big deal. I don't care how craven and partisan they are, Senators are first and foremost assholes. There is no way they are going to take the CIA spying on them or their little snowflake staffs lying down, no matter how much the Chocolate Nixon tells them to take one for the team.

    They have no problem with government spying as long as it is something that happens to commoners. If it happens to them, it is different.

  • anon||

    Senators are first and foremost assholes.

    DING DING DING, WE HAVE A WINNER.

    Seriously though, this can't be repeated enough.

  • anon||

    Dude, you're not supposed to post pics of zombies without alt-text.

  • PD Scott||

    I like how dark it is, as if her malevolence is such that it sucks in light.

  • airforce||

    First, you have to be a Baron. Then, you have to find 29 more Barons who think like you do. Then, you have to kidnap the King...

  • anon||

    "calls on people to generate a digital bill of rights in each country—a statement of principles he hopes will be supported by public institutions, government officials, and corporations."

    What a fucking asshole. He doesn't give a flying fuck about individuals, just people he can squeeze for money.

  • Tonio||

    Meh. I think he's just too idealistic and naive to realize the implications of any of that.

  • anon||

    At least he has Good Intentions(tm)!

  • Tonio||

    ^That

  • SweatingGin||

    An online magna carta, to have *any* strength, can't just be a document.

    It has to be enforced by code. Pervasive, end-to-end encryption, by default. Peer-to-peer networks in everything (email, IM, DNS, Identity management, reputation management).

    Unencrypted traffic has to be the oddity, and the authentication portion of that encryption needs to not depend on central authorities.

    That's how you can have an online magna carta. It has to be backed up by making it impossible for a state to violate it.

  • anon||

    Doesn't matter what security measures you take, they can always be breached. It's mostly because of this that I oppose any organizational attempt at all.

  • albo||

    Yep. Evil tends to have better hackers. And lawyers.

  • anon||

    I really don't think a high percentage of hacking (attempts & successes) comes from malice but rather curiosity. Sometimes you just wanna see if you can get around something.

  • ||

    That's funny, I was gonna say that the good rifleman always end up on the right side of history.

  • SweatingGin||

    I'm not sure they can. If you decentralize enough, there's no one to point a gun at, or beat with a hose. If everything is encrypted, there isn't traffic to scoop up. Sure, they can, but even as good as they are at breaking it, they won't break much.

  • anon||

    I'm not sure they can. If you decentralize enough...

    That'd be a wet dream for government snoops. If you decentralize and anonymize everything enough, it's a wide open door for someone (like say, the NSA) to sponsor enough nodes to do everything they want (and more) without anyone ever bearing any responsibility regarding legalities.

  • Tonio||

    Absolutely correct.

    And a perfect example of the type of issue that would sideline any discussion of actual rights.

  • Aloysious||

    The photo of that dude you heartless bastards attached to this article is repulsive. Which H&R poster is it?

  • anon||

    Warty, duh.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    To be fair, that was one of his earlier skin suits (before he discovered that having his victims apply lotion to the skin worked best).

    Still a good - if gruesome - attempt by someone sewing with a ball gag in his mouth and wearing a gimp suit.

  • Aloysious||

    That is not the kind of squatter I imagined Warty as.

  • albo||

    Right. You know, much of the world wasn't a part of The Enlightenment or has a cultural tradition of popular sovereignty and freedom of speech.

    Just because we in the West think a free internet is a good thing that falls within our traditions of individual liberty doesn't mean the rest of the world has any clue about what we're trying to do or if it's a good thing.

    The majority of the world is used to being a society of modern cattle overseen by tribes, chiefs, and bosses. That's hard to change.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I don't even want Europeans, who at least are in the liberal state camp, deciding what my rights are. I have enough trouble with the U.S. abusing them without adding to the problem.

    While I agree that Feinstein is a hypocrite of the highest order, it is a big deal. A separate big deal from the fact that our rights have been trampled on quite illegally, but one that still requires some sort of response.

    How people are not being fired and even tried for this violation of a branch of government's prerogatives, the flagrantly illegal spying, and the absurdly bad security protocols that allowed Snowden to take everything shows just how far gone we are. Tyrants are unaccountable, not politicians and officials of a free republic.

  • anon||

    While I agree that Feinstein is a hypocrite of the highest order, it is a big deal.

    Feinstein is just getting a taste of her own medicine. Fuck her, fuck her supporters, and fuck everyone else that agrees with the current surveillance state philosophy. I only wish someone stole some information that could be used maliciously against her, hopefully to cause her to have a heart attack and fucking die.

  • PD Scott||

    Don't hold back, anon, tell us how you really feel.

  • Doctor Whom||

    And fuck sideways those people who say that yes, it is different when you do it to Dianne, Duchess of California, and not just to the peasants.

  • Tonio||

    How people are not being fired and even tried...

    Remember, she's going up against a spy agency. They probably have personally-damaging information on her, or could manufacture such.

    They may also have information, or claim to, about Terrible National Secrets(tm) that the proles can never, ever find out about.

  • anon||

    You mean like that plane that went missing 5 days ago?

  • Tonio||

    Don't have any specifics in mind, just that there is great potential for blackmail and mischief.

  • ||

    How people are not being fired and even tried for this violation of a branch of government's prerogatives, the flagrantly illegal spying, and the absurdly bad security protocols that allowed Snowden to take everything shows just how far gone we are. Tyrants are unaccountable, not politicians and officials of a free republic.

    Fuck tried and held accountable. Bill Gates, for all his crimes, gets a fucking pie in the face.

    How the hell do these people catch a cab or get hot coffee in a cup?

  • anon||

    How the hell do these people catch a cab or get hot coffee in a cup?

    By reporting to the local DMV, duh.

  • Pinky||

    Who IS this imposter who purports to be Al Gore?!!!

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