The Significance of a ‘Three Hop’ Analysis

Washington’s Blog has an excellent, if somewhat long, post that outlines the significance of the NSA’s ‘three hop’ analysis. It collects and provides some numbers behind basic communications network analyses, and comes to the conclusion that upwards to 2.5 million Americans could be “caught up in dragnet for each suspected terrorist, means that a mere 140 potential terrorists could lead to spying on all Americans. There are tens of thousands of Americans listed as suspected terrorists … including just about anyone who protests anything that the government or big banks do.”

Go read the full post. Some of the numbers are a bit speculative, but on the whole it does a good job showing why ‘three hop’ analyses are so problematic: such analyses disproportionately collect data on American citizens the basis of the most limited forms of suspicion. Such surveillance should be set aside because it constitutes an inappropriate infringement on individuals’ and communities’ reasonable expectations of privacy; it runs counter to how a well ordered and properly functioning democracy should operate in theory and in practice.


Once your life is inside a federal investigation, there is no space outside of it. The only private thing is your thoughts, and even they don’t feel safe anymore. Every word you speak or write can be used, manipulated, or played like a card against your future and the future of those you love. There are no neutral parties, no sources of unimpeachable wisdom and trust.

The lawyers tell you: take no notes.

The lawyers tell you: talk to no one.

It is the loneliest of lonely things to be surrounded by your loved ones, in danger, and forced to be silent.

May you never experience a Federal investigation. I did, and it consumed me, and changed everyday that will come after it for the rest of my life.

American Copyright Gone Power Mad

The fact that American copyright holders basically govern an arm of the US government that can, and is, shutting down website URLs at the TLD root is terrifying. That degree of power, however, looks like nothing compared to what happened in the recent MegaUpload takedowns. Consider the following:

The width and breadth of the global police action are simply massive, and are, quite justly, being painted as a massive over-reach. The full indictment goes so far as to mention Canadian bandwidth provider Cogent, whose headquarter employees were even held and questioned during the raids this week. Indeed, anybody who provided bandwidth, rack space or Internet services appears to have been held, questioned, and/or pressured in the global raids.


The policy of seizing domains and hardware first, without any adversarial court process, limits every person’s ability to contest American efforts to silence free speech. Moreover, the maneuvers taken impose American understandings of American law upon all people living around the world. Such actions not only makes associating with certain others, and certain behaviours, legally dangerous but given a willingness to even threaten major ISPs’ employees it suggests that even third-party data transit providers are at risk. America is (rapidly) developing a policy process and technically-informed system capable of censoring any communication, any speech, any uploaded data that its rights holders believe might damage those corporations’ economic interests.

In the 30s and 40s there was a name for this kind of behaviour: fascism. We’re now witnessing the final stages of what was intended to be the greatest republic in the world go the way of Italy. All that stands between the RIAA and running considerable elements of American law enforcement are the courts.

God save us all.