Poppsikle blog

Censorship on the Twitter Feed



I found out there is a new type of censorship which has been placed on my Twitter account, my posts aren’t showing up in the Twitter feed.

This is only the latest for me! I have faced SO much Censorship in these past 6 years. So much duplicity involved, tech tricks, I have been going up against Silicon Valley Tyrants who take great glee in their censorshipS, as they do with all of their manipulative SpyToyz. Shadow-banning censorship, for instance. The first time I experienced it, with my first Topix profile, I did not know for weeks my comments weren’t showing up, finally someone told me, I saw them posted, I had no idea no one else could. And it was political censorship too, the tea party trolls are given favors on Topix.

I had more than one profile banned on Topix and my comments there would sometimes take 15 minutes and longer to post, giving my stalker time to show up. I wrote on my blog about their targeting on Topix  of Critics, the constant shadow-banning of comments, the corporate attack trolls, the monitoring of targeted posters (by a site which claims to not to be able to afford enough moderators), etc. etc. etc.

I’ve been censored also on Twitter, the shadow-banning of comment replies, it was the reason I began this blog. I have been censored on Facebook which, credit to them, took the censorship off. I have been censored on Gawker which did the same.

My Open Salon blog was shut down, every word erased.


That’s kind of true, it really does suck when something you write is censored just because some creep(s) do not want it read or spread. The worst thing about censorship though, is that it stop the Truth from getting out, and its really needed, there are very real dangers which rage and flame and grow, in the absence of it.

The longtime Irony of the so-much censorship I have faced is that the very worst of the Silicon Valley, leans so heavily on its Free Speech stance, while not, ever, practicing it.

They will allow (and protect) speech which is overtly intent on destroying another person’s life, yet do not allow Criticism, because they are such criminals and fear nothing more than being exposed. That is not what Voltaire meant.

As usual per them, they will point the finger:
They will carp about China and other Country’s censorship,
Here is Palantir-funded Citizen Lab doing it
while engaging in it themselves, here, and against critics.

Don’t let them get away with that. The danger of their Censorship is not only very real, its happening.


Help Francis Jeffrey, Internet Pioneer


Francis Jeffrey, who has written two of the posts on this blog, is an Internet Pioneer who was involved in the invention of the Internet.

Thank you Francis Jeffrey!!! What an Amazing invention! I love the Internet and I say that as one who knows better than most, the many flaws it has. It truly is a Bicycle of the Mind, as Steve Jobs said (who F.J. worked with) and reportedly, pre-Internet.



He is a creative genius whose considerable intelligence was put to work on several projects, including early AI research, dolphin studies – yes, they gave them ipads, the formation of the Internet.


He should be sitting on boards and traveling around the World, teaching and guiding, this is so necessary! The follow-up to the invention of the Internet. No one knew what it would yield and how much devious effort there would be to control it. “The largest experiment in anarchy” gloats The New Digital Age… Well, yes, and people need to realize, that Anarchy can also mean Chaos.

Those this state of things has rewarded, are not often those who should have been.

Francis Jeffrey (@FrancisJeffrey7) has been a lively participant in the Twitter debate – where I met him – giving his insight, something we are so lucky to have.

Independent voices, those unafraid to speak out against the great injustices of these times, are few and far between. Jeffrey adds history to this, his technical knowledge. He has ideas, and good ideas, for how to Solve, the pressing problems of our day related to the Internet. Here is one of them:

Lets Solve the Problem of Restoring Internet Privacy! Francis Jeffrey on How to do it

We need Francis Jeffrey’s ideas!!! And how.

Imagine, for instance, a Genuine Tech non-profit, which worked on Solutions to solve the pressing problems tech has introduced and threatens to destroy with. This is SO needed. Francis Jeffrey would be the perfect person to head the idea component of this, he has the knowledge, he has the history.

His health though, and that of his partner, is fading and they are in trouble with a host of medical bills they cannot afford. They are by no means alone in this, this recent Market Watch article, says this:

“With Americans ever more reliant on self-directed retirement plans such as 401(k)s, missing the post-crisis rally will have long-term implications on retirees’ standard of living for decades to come. About 46% of Americans had less than $10,000 in financial assets in the last year of their life, according to a 2012 study by MIT economist James Poterba.”

That’s so scary, its like 50% (at least) of Americans are heading for bad financial trouble just when they don’t need it.

Fate has given me a chance to help raise money for this Internet Great, a strange choice by her, but there you have it. I don’t have much money, I never have, I am an artist who has long lived that lifestyle. I am, as I have posted, an unpaid whistleblower, not one of those fund raisers… I don’t like them anyway, I like it when people do the things they feel they Need to do, are driven by their conscious.

I have donated to help them out and I hope more can. Its not easy these days, most are feeling strapped, what we need to remember is that sometimes people need a hand up, we all do, and there are times we need to help each other.

You can contact Francis Jeffrey on Twitter to ask how to help.


The Wise Jaron Lanier

Jaron at a conference in Victoria, BC

 The Wise Jaron Lanier

I have seen Jaron Lanier derided and this does not surprise me. The voices speaking out against what has been going on, on the Internet, are few and far between – those that criticize that is – those voices who can see the societal problems which have been aggravated there, voices which are intentionally being drowned out by the corporate-backed chorus.

He is very wise though.

This excerpt from a Smithsonian interview, What turned Jaron Lanier Against the Web, is dead-on:

“This is the thing that continues to scare me. You see in history the capacity of people to congeal—like social lasers of cruelty. That capacity is constant.”

“Social lasers of cruelty?” I repeat.

“I just made that up,” Lanier says. “Where everybody coheres into this cruelty beam….Look what we’re setting up here in the world today. We have economic fear combined with everybody joined together on these instant twitchy social networks which are designed to create mass action. What does it sound like to you? It sounds to me like the prequel to potential social catastrophe. I’d rather take the risk of being wrong than not be talking about that.”

It’s a haunting image of speechlessness. A pogrom is carried out by a “crowd,” the true horrific embodiment of the purported “wisdom of the crowd.” You could say it made Lanier even more determined not to remain mute. To speak out against the digital barbarism he regrets he helped create.

The so-much devious effort to cover-up Topix says to me, that there are Interest$$$ out there, who purposely want to foster this digital barbarism, I have proved as much, in my Open Salon posts including: The Dark Ages of the New Digital Age.

But the potential of the People and of Social Media – which Lanier does not like and here I disagree with him – is something very powerful and there is and has been, so much potential there for Change and freedom from the corruption which seeks to control it.

Its an Internet of People, not Things. This is a fact and its the People who love and use it, who will ultimately, determine its Future, and I believe this, and it will be a good future.


What Turned Jaron Lanier Against the Web?



Poppsikle blog, Twitter hack update

I have taken a brief Twitter vacation, after the latest shadow-banning there.

As I have written on this blog and why this blog was initially begun, I have been fighting the censorship Chris Tolles imposed on me there.

In deleted Tweets, the man has bragged of doing “Whatever it takes” meaning hacking, coding, dirty tricks etc. to “get the job done”. He has also bragged in deleted Tweets about “the power of the hack”.

Twitter is Chris Tolles’ perch, the self-titled Meme Fluffer and talent scout (whatever that means) hangs out there and advances his politics, his views on media, which he prizes so highly and clearly feels need expressing.

Somehow Tolles was able to hire a hacker who enabled certain of my Twitter posts to not show up on the threads I post them to, I can see them there, no one else can. They show up on my profile, but I have had Tweets deleted as well.

Tolles is so scared of me and not hesitant in the slightest to use criminal methods and censorship.

He has been like this all along. From the beginning I called out that Topix was lawless and censored, and those who have defended the site believing Tolles to be some sort of Free Speech hero… have been wrong from the beginning.

Tolles is the biggest criminal in the Silicon Valley and media is his weapon. Don’t underestimate the effort he puts into media, to control it that is.

His politics are what he is interested in advancing, and his inhumanism, his media with “New ethics”.

There are interests who actually covet the man’s inhumanism, his total lack of caring for his fellow human beings, his glee in fact, in allowing life-destroying attacks on them (I have written about this), to allow bigotry like no where else, death-threats, harm, to happen on his site. I bet they also covet his flagrant lawlessness, his ability to manipulate the “law” into his service while not hesitating, to use criminal methods.

That he himself, this Tyrant, is a big crybaby is not unpredictable.

I have learned the biggest bullies are always the biggest crybabies. They have the thinnest skins which accounts for the censorship he uses, including on Twitter which I am pretty sure he controls, his hacker has set him up with the ability to shadow-ban my Twitter tweets – he is clearly my biggest fan – someone should check out his Topix computer set up one day.

Joseph Campbell was right when he said about Tyrants: The tyrant is proud, and therein resides his doom. He was right about that.

To the Twitter Community


Geronimo was a longtime Twitter poster and had years of intelligent Tweets. He was a natural investigator and used Twitter to question Authority. He sure made them mad, but that has always been a part of questioning authority and why a Democracy, values and protects it so.

He was a very important PRISM investigator, using Twitter media to uncover inconsistencies and falsities that many players in the PRISM issue were using – there has been so much cover-up – they did not care for his hard questioning, but so what???

So what? Investigative Journalism has always been like that, the best of it seeks to out the truth, which is very often covered up by a web of lies. Its hard, difficult, dangerous work, extremely important work, a cornerstone of our Democracy.

Established press has a method of exposure when they are under attack, citizen journalists are being left very vulnerable. There has been a drastic decline in investigative journalism, citizen journalists have stepped in to fill this void, they have had to! The decline has been an open door to crime, and big crime.


The PRISM issue that Snowden (and myself) revealed is a very important one that affects our common future. The connected issues of privacy, surveillance, the potential for Authoritarian Control – Big Brother is very real. There has been a real need to continue the investigation, there has been real resistance to letting this happen, so much effort put out to hide the truth.

Hard, unafraid, Questioning is and has been needed to solve pressing contemporary problems.

Geronimo was forced to take down his profiles after a group of trolls went on the warpath against him, seeking to out his name, his place of work, his family names etc. I have seen the posts and they are very malicious and include death threats.

This kind of harassment has been going on for a long time, hidden from exposure, on Topix. The notable difference is the high-profile, paid media pundits, who participated in this Topix-level witch hunt, including The Guardian and the ACLU!! Its important to note, as if anyone would forget, that both of them have been heavily involved in the post-Snowden reporting. The Guardian won a Pulitzer prize for its Snowden-related reporting. The ACLU has engaged in reporting, lawsuits, related conferences.

Here is one of their paid staff members, Christopher Soghoian:


He was criticized by Geronimo and for a reason, he has actively been part of the post-Snowden distancing campaign, to distance the corporate culprits in the PRISM scandal. I have criticized him as well. The PRISM scandal is far from resolved – not even close – and the victims of this are every single Internet user. Snowden himself said his revelations were only the beginning of solving the problem. The immense corporate effort to hide their culpability, only proves how big the problem is.

The involvement of the Tor administration, is in itself, deeply troubling and hypocritical. Tor exists to further and protect anonymous bullying, I have long called this out.

I have seen the very worst of corporate tech repression and reprisal tactics used on Topix against critics, its nothing anyone wants to happen on Twitter or anywhere.


Virginia Hoge




Once there was a planet that was mostly Ocean and all of its inhabitants, were fish.

One day, along came this enthusiastic, brilliant group of Hippie programmers who made a brand, new Ocean, OceanNet.

Like everything Good, that is marketable or a coveted source of Power, in they came charging, the Profiteers, the Greedy, to OceanNet.

They had money like few times in History had such money been flowing, tons of money they had at their disposal, they built a white submarine, to patrol OceanNet



A white, cyber-submarine. It could spy on all the fish, it was enormous. It was so big and shiny, the fish were afraid of it.

As it turns out, was a good thing. This white cyber-submarine, had an insatiable appetite, for fish.

Then one day this fish, an absolutely ordinary fish, said: What they are doing is wrong. How can we take back our OceanNet?

But that big, white submarine was enormous, the fish were tiny next to it, it gave them things they liked once in awhile.

It played music and it had fashionable cafes it encouraged them to hang out on.


They did not understand, that if other fish could be eaten up, so could they. Their Safety, their Ocean, their World, was in danger.

The big white cyber-submarine also had fish on its staff, that swam among the fish and told them everything was OK, when it was not.

Everything that Fish who spoke up was saying, was obvious.


The big white submarine was patrolling everywhere, day and night, spying on everyone, eating up fish, it was all public.

It won’t eat us, just them, the fish thought as they enjoyed the toys the big white cyber-submarine provided them with.

They could not see the fish it was eating and if they could, they looked away, they looked away from the danger they were in.

Their data, was in danger. Their Ocean was in danger. Their lives were in danger. OceanNet, was in danger. Some things you cannot look away from, if you want to have a Future.

Finally, enough fish saw that indeed other fish were being eaten by the big, white cyber-submarine and that they too could be eaten, that this was dangerous.

It was hiding what it was doing on its dark underside and enough fish swam under it and saw the foul, reeking mess there, the carcasses.


The fish said: Enough.

Oh, that made those in charge of the big, white cyber-submarine so mad! They got so mad!!! The Ocean raged with fierce storms for many days and nights.

Days of storms turned into months. The planet had never seen such a huge storm, a storm like never before, but the fish held on.


See, it was the expensive cyber-submarine, that was most jolted by the storms of its Own making.

The fish, they rode the waves, they bore out the storm and always would.

That expensive, gigantic, white cyber-submarine, started to crack, by a storm of its own making.

And by its inconsideration and violence towards its neighbors, its own neighborhood, towards the Ocean, OceanNet.

By its spying on them, its wanting to know them, wanting to be them, wanting to replace them, its not caring about their very lives. Thinking it was better than them, thinking it had all under its domination.

The big white cyber-submarine cracked in half and began to sink. It started to flip over and then everyone could then see, its dark, reeking underside. The white paint long ago replaced by oozing toxic rust and decay.

The loud volume on the rock music blasting as it was going down, its final attempt to lure them in, just made the whole scene that much more surreal.

It sank.

Japanese Ko-hyoteki class mini-submarine sunk by USS Ward at Pearl Harbor

All the fish were still. And then, all of OceanNet, breathed a sigh of relief.

OceanNet belonged once more, to the fish, and it thrived as never before.


Priorities in the Internet Crises. Draft 3

Third Draft*

*Thanks to Francis Jeffrey, for his good ideas and long history with the issue as an Internet pioneer. Thanks to Cari Machet for good input. Thanks also to Maciej Ceglowski whose excellent ideas I have reprinted.

No crises on the Internet exceeds the harm that is happening to innocent lives. There has been life-destruction going on for a long, long time, this has been sheltered, enabled, the stats are not even being kept (and this is coming from the SV, which claims to be so fond of Data…). This must end.

The collapse of Internet privacy has been ongoing for too long now, with raging, out-of-control profit interests grabbing up our personal data every single minute on a World-wide scale, a complete collapse is on the horizon. The situation is nothing less than dire, the future of the Internet is at stake, the future of personal and business interests connected to it, the future of the data they are hoarding, what will happen to it. Every single internet user is in danger, not only present and coming danger, but danger from what they’ve already got.

Awareness Raising

One of the giant issues is there is an oppression of information – just like with green energy way more is happening than people are aware of and yet much more could be happening if people were made more aware – especially of what they themselves can do to make a difference.

If only we had a 1st grade class entitled ‘you are personally responsible for life – do work hard the time you are here to protect it. That has been what is needed, for people to inform themselves and to act, since the forces in power have only been complicit, weak, and ineffective to this major problem.

There is great danger going on, the madness of unethical, unthinking, out-of-control Power. We cannot let them destroy the Internet.

This is a list of priorities, for us to fix, what is most urgent to solve, to end. All are very important.

1. Human Lives and their essential Rights, number One, the Right to Life, must be ensured and much better protected.

2. Ownership of Our data must be made into law.

Lets Solve the Problem of Restoring Internet Privacy! Francis Jeffrey, on How to do it


3. Protection of essential privacy. Companies like Google and Microsoft, our government’s NSA, need to immediately stop lifting and scanning all data that is personally identifiable, all emails, any private correspondence, all private messages, any private credit card information, all passwords and logins. People need to feel safe again writing and sending private messages, as they are not now, their passwords protected, they have been left extremely vulnerable by the data lifting. Everyone needs to understand that destroying internet privacy is a dangerous right’s invasion and will destroy the Internet.

4. Existing lifted data needs to be destroyed. Companies like Gigya need to stop the selling and sharing of personally identifiable data. They cannot store it, its too dangerous A. Because of potential hacking B. Because of potential future government corruption that could and would summon it for incrimination C. For potential corruption from the big data corporations themselves. No one wants to in any way, aid a future fascist State or corporation. Its not safe for any of us.

5. CyberCrime needs to be immediately addressed

CyberCrime Costs the World Economy hundreds of billions of dollars: http://time.com/2849814/cybercrime-costs-the-world-economy-hundreds-of-billions/

Cybercrime is already costing the World hundreds of billions of dollars. This is only going to get worse and worse. So long as our data is being stored it is clearly a commodity, companies like Gigya make no secret about this. The mentality is not different than a criminal’s, and this is where the big problem lies. Malware attacks are becoming more and more frequent. I have written for over 5 years about the mass destruction of human life happening on Topix. All this money is constantly being put, in the Silicon Valley, into “New” start-up, companies. What are needed are companies whose purpose is to Clean Up this Mess. I have long suggested, for instance, Rich Skrenta himself, should devote his resources and thinking, to solving the many problems, which he has either founded or invented (like Malware).

Hack-a-thons are being held, how about Save the Internet, a-thons? Seriously, there is only one Net, not one single user, wants it destroyed, wants it to be unsafe.

6. “Safe” data needs to be defined and distinguished, from “Unsafe” data.  Safe data would be data that could be shared. Not personally identifiable data, which has to be made private again. Untouchable.

7. Tracking reform. Tracking reform is urgently needed, people’s homes should not be in a search engine. This is a very basic safety precaution.

Some townships in the US have made new laws – the Google cars that film for the map were driving into peoples driveways and such. If you check maps for federal government sites you will find them blank on the map – they don’t show the people the government but the government gets to see all about the people.

8. Ownership of your data. A new clarification is needed, as to what belongs to a person, what needs to be private, and what is public. What is private needs to be the province of the individual or business, untouched, unsold, unmarketed.

9. Ownership of your own image. Google Glass presents a huge danger because there are currently no laws that say a photo taken of a person, belongs to that person. This is an open-door for blackmail and indeed, this has already happened.

10. Change of Consciousness/Awareness. The whole mentality that developed the invasion of personal data needs to be re-thought, its wrong, its destructive, its dangerous. It can, will and is, destroying the Internet, this will only further deteriorate.



Maciej Ceglowski had excellent ideas along the same lines he gave in a speech, I am reprinting his ideas for saving the Internet:

It should be illegal to collect and permanently store most kinds of behavioral data.

In the United States, they warn us the world will end if someone tries to regulate the Internet. But the net itself was born of a fairly good regulatory framework that made sure de facto net neutrality existed for decades, paid for basic research into protocols and software, cleared the way for business use of the internet, and encouraged the growth of the commercial web.

It’s good regulation, not lack of regulation, that kept the web healthy.

Here’s one idea for where to begin:
1. Limit what kind of behavioral data websites can store. When I say behavioral data, I mean the kinds of things computers notice about you in passing—your search history, what you click on, what cell tower you’re using.

It’s very important that we regulate this at the database, not at the point of collection. People will always find creative ways to collect the data, and we shouldn’t limit people’s ability to do neat things with our data on the fly. But there should be strict limits on what you can save.

2. Limit how long they can keep it. Maybe three months, six months, three years. I don’t really care, as long as it’s not fifty years, or forever. Make the time scale for deleting behavioral data similar to the half-life of a typical Internet business.

3. Limit what they can share with third parties. This limit should also apply in the event of bankruptcy, or acquisition. Make people’s data non-transferable without their consent.

4. Enforce the right to download. If a website collects information about me, I should be allowed to see it. The EU already mandates this to some extent, but it’s not evenly enforced.

This rule is a little sneaky, because it will require backend changes on many sites. Personal data can pile up in all kinds of dark corners in your system if you’re not concerned about protecting it. But it’s a good rule, and easy to explain. You collect data about me? I get to see it.

5. Enforce the right to delete. I should be able to delete my account and leave no trace in your system, modulo some reasonable allowance for backups.

6. Give privacy policies teeth. Right now, privacy policies and terms of service can change at any time. They have no legal standing. For example, I would like to promise my users that I’ll never run ads on my site and give that promise legal weight. That would be good marketing for me. Let’s create a mechanism that allow this.

7. Let users opt-in if a site wants to make exceptions to these rules. If today’s targeted advertising is so great, you should be able to persuade me to sign up for it. Persuade me! Convince me! Seduce me! You’re supposed to be a master advertiser, for Christ’s sake!

8. Make the protections apply to everyone, not just people in the same jurisdiction as the regulated site. It shouldn’t matter what country someone is visiting your site from. Keep it a world-wide web.


I was very taken with Bastian Allgeier’s talk yesterday on decentralization. And we’ll be discussing a lot of these issues at Decentralize Camp tomorrow.

Folklore has it that the Internet was designed to survive a nuclear war. Bombs could take out lots of nodes, but the net would survive and route around the damage.

I think this remains a valuable idea, though we never quite got there. A good guiding principle is that no one company, or one country, should have the ability to damage the Internet, even if it begins to act maliciously. – Maciej Ceglowski


Silicon Valley Magna Carta (2nd draft)


I love my Country and believe in it as a Democracy. A Democracy, guarantees certain essential liberties, understands that they are in the best interest of the Country itself and all of her People, its having a sustainable, healthy Future. They encompass Empathy, Equality. Justice, Safety and Humanity.

Essential Liberties include the right to Safety, the protection of innocent lives. The People have to be Safe, to not fear for their lives, not have their lives assaulted.

They have the right to be free from spying and surveillance, to have private thoughts, to dissent, to question, and not fear reprisal for it, to have trust again in the essential right to Privacy.

A Country without either of these, becomes a violent, chaotic, mess, as happened in Rwanda, for example.

As has happened here in America, in the Silicon Valley, due to the Greed of certain Silicon Valley business people. They have been out in the open in the Silicon Valley, carrying on crimes against Humanity. This must end.

They are destabilizing the entire Country, the entire World also.

I propose these as Essential Liberties that the Silicon Valley must agree to, must not invade, must support and must address with problem-solving action, where they are being violated.

1. Human life is sacred. It must be protected.

2. Children must be protected, as need to be their families.

3. Security. The right to Safety. Millions of people’s lives have been made unsafe, this is wrong, counter to our values and must end.

3. Privacy is a must. Spying and surveillance of innocent people needs to end, and we must have free thinking without fear of reprisal.

4. Data that has been put onto the Internet with the confidence that it is secure, must be made secure, without invasion or lifting.

5. Ownership of private data must be restored. See, Let’s solve the problem of restoring Internet Privacy, Francis Jeffrey on how to do it: https://poppsikle.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/lets-solve-the-problem-of-restoring-internet-privacy-francis-jeffrey-on-how-to-do-it-2/

6. Personally Identifiable Data which has been lifted and stored up until now, must be permanently deleted. A new leaf needs to be turned over, a mindset that has Sustainability, Reason, and Logic, in mind.

This is a second-draft, I welcome input and suggestions.

Virginia Hoge, August 2014


Comments disappeared on Wired post after it is called out on Twitter

I approached Wired reporter David Kravets on Twitter in March of 2014,  about 2012 comments of mine that begged Wired to report on Topix and its NSA data sharing.

At that point, March 11, 2014, all the comments were still on the thread, there were other comments there besides mine. This is the thread:

California Starts Up a Privacy Enforcement Unit

As you can see now, all the comments are gone. Where Comments are numbered on the post, the number is 0.

Here are my deleted comments, which I had fortunately screen-shot:



David Kravets said Wired deleted all the comments on its posts in a site update:

Why would they do that? As my comments prove, they are sometimes crucial information coming from whistleblowers.






Francis Jeffrey: President’s Review Group Finds Biggest NSA Program 100% Wasteful and Hazardous to National Security


Dear Colleagues,

I finally had a chance to read—

Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies  { file:  2013-12-12_rg_final_report }*

–and recount here, following, the portions that seemed most pertinent to the issues I’ve expressed concern over and interest in addressing via the software, “stochastic” & “human factors” paradigms.  (In other words:  pulling signals out of noise via targeted sampling constrained by budget, etc.;  and, pattern recognition that results in patterns recognizable to typical humans.)    The relative efficacy of “Section 215”  and  “Section 702”  are touched-on herein. *+*  {my letter footnotes are at bottom of this document file.}

Herein, attached following, I highlight the key lines.

Best Regards,

Francis Jeffrey


{Note: The following are direct text copies from the published .PDF but I have inserted the page references in parentheses, dotted ellipses & curvy brackets containing my comments and  “f/n” number citation to the original documents own footnotes,  for clarity sake.  Throughout, “section 215” refers to telephony metadata aggregation.  The asterisks and crosses refer to my own, added footnotes at the bottom of this letter}  **

The President’s Review Group writes: Although NSA maintained that, upon learning of these noncompliance incidents, it had taken remedial measures to prevent them from recurring, Judge Walton rejected the government’s argument that, in light of these measures, “the Court need not take any further remedial action.”  Because it had become apparent that NSA’s data accessing technologies and practices were never adequately designed to comply with the governing minimization procedures, NSA Director General Keith Alexander conceded that “there was no single person who had a complete understanding of the  [section 215]  FISA system architecture.”  {f/n.104} (p 106)


PRG: NSA believes that on at least a few occasions, information derived from the section 215 bulk telephony meta-data program has contributed to its efforts to prevent possible terrorist attacks, either in the United States or  somewhere else in the world. More often, negative results from section 215  queries have helped to alleviate concern that particular terrorist suspects are in contact with co-conspirators in the United States.  Our review suggests that the information contributed to terrorist investigations by the use of section 215 telephony meta-data was not essential to preventing attacks and could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional section 215 orders.{**}   Moreover, there is reason for caution about the view that the program is efficacious in alleviating concern about possible terrorist connections, given the fact that the meta-data captured by the program covers only a portion of the records of only a few telephone service providers.  {++} (p.104)


PRG: Third, one might argue that, despite these concerns, the hypothetical mass collection of personal information would make it easier for the government to protect the nation from terrorism, and it should therefore be permitted. We take this argument seriously. But even if the premise is true, the conclusion does not necessarily follow.  Every limitation on the government’s ability to monitor our conduct makes it more difficult for the government to prevent bad things from happening. As our risk management principle suggests,  the question is not whether granting the government authority makes us incrementally safer, but whether the additional safety is worth the sacrifice in terms of individual privacy, personal liberty, and public trust. (p.114)
{para. refs. implicitly:  f/n.113–Church Committee Report at 778 (April 1976).}


PRG: There are two distinctions between the hypothetical and actual versions of section 215.   First, the total amount of data collected and retained in the hypothetical version of section 215 is much greater than the total amount of data collected and retained in the actual version. This means that the possible harm caused by the collection and the possible benefit derived from the collection are both reduced. Everything else being equal, this suggests that the balance between costs and benefits is unchanged.  {f/n.114}


{footnote here:}

PRG: 114 — It is possible, of course, for the government carefully to target its collection and retention of data in a way that maximizes the benefit and minimizes the cost, thereby substantially altering the balance of costs and benefits.  But there is  no reason to believe  that this describes the decision to collect bulk telephony  meta-data, in particular. (p.116)


PRG: We recognize that there might be problems in querying multiple, privately held data bases simultaneously and expeditiously. In our view, however, it is likely that those problems can be significantly reduced by creative engineering approaches. (p. 118)


{Conclusion is hidden in footnote here extending over bottoms of p.119–p.120:}

PRG: It is noteworthy that the section 215 telephony meta-data program has made only a modest contribution to the nation’s security. It is useful to compare it, for example, to the section 702 program, which we discuss in the next Part of our Report. Whereas collection under section 702 has produced significant information in many, perhaps most, of the 54 situations in which signals intelligence has contributed to the prevention of terrorist attacks  since 2007, section 215 has generated relevant information in only a small number of cases, and there has been no instance in which NSA could say with confidence that the outcome would have been different without the section 215 telephony meta-data program. Moreover, now that the existence of the program has been disclosed publicly, we suspect that it is likely to be less useful still.

{end of f/n that extends across the bottoms of p.119–p.120}

PRG: C. September 11 and its Aftermath

The September 11 attacks were a vivid demonstration of the need for detailed information about the activities of potential terrorists. This was so for several reasons.

First, some information, which could have been useful, was not collected and other information, which could have helped to prevent the attacks, was not shared among departments. 

Second, the scale of damage that 21st-century terrorists can inflict is far greater than anything that their predecessors could have imagined. {…} (p.71)

– – – – – – –

* Source:
Report and Recommendations ofThe President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies
{ 2013-12-12_rg_final_report }
Executive Office of the President
Washington, DC, 12 Dec. 2013


**Note: Bold emphasis added. In all of the above excerpts except one, “section 215” refers to the automated telephony metadata aggregation program, citing to the section number in the Patriot Act, now codified at 50 U.S.C. § 1861. The exception is “conventional section 215 orders” (on p.104) – viz: individualized orders to collect data, which were the apparent & original intent of that law. Underline emphasis added.

*+* The most obvious (& publicly disclosed) design defects and legal defects in the “Sec. 702” programs will be treated in a subsequent letter.—FJ 12.Feb.2014

++ On p.104, the hazard subtly alluded to is that “alleviating concern” this way is likely to amount to FALSE NEGATIVES, causing real threats to be discounted !