The debate over the U.S. government’s monitoring of digital communications suggests that Americans are willing to allow it as long as it is genuinely targeted at terrorists. What they fail to realize is that the surveillance systems are best suited for gathering information on law-abiding citizens.
Think about it for a second: is a Facebook chat or a Gmail conversation the method you’d choose through which to plan an act of terrorism? It doesn’t make any sense.
According to this recent piece from InformationWeek, attempts to hide your online activities from the NSA will (predictably) make you a target:
When encryption is encountered […] the gloves can come off, with analysts being allowed to retain "communications that are enciphered or reasonably believed to contain secret meaning" for any period of time. […] Since the NSA guidelines say that a person "will not be treated as a United States person" without a positive identification based on name, address, electronic communication addresses or geographic location, encryption users may because classified – at least temporarily – as non-U.S. residents by NSA analysts.
So if they can’t tell where you are, you lose your already dubious "rights." If you close a door behind you, there’s a 100% chance that you’re doing something very, very bad.
We have treated a whistle-blower like a traitor — and thus made him a traitor. Great job. Did anyone in the White House or the N.S.A or the C.I.A. consider flying to Hong Kong and treating Mr. Snowden like a human being, offering him a chance to testify before Congress and a fair trial? Maybe he would have gone with President Vladimir V. Putin anyway, but at least he would have had another option. The secret keepers would have won too: a Congressional hearing would have been a small price to bring Mr. Snowden and those precious hard drives back to American soil.
It’s hard to argue otherwise; of course, Americans are cowboys, and don’t care much for due process any longer.
The Washington Post previously reported that the NSA only needs to have 51% confidence in a person’s “foreignness.” These new documents reveal that if the NSA cannot determine its target’s ‘foreignness,’ they can keep on spying. Instead, you “will be presumed to be a non-United States person unless [you] can be positively identified as a United States person."
I trust that the NSA is making every effort to ensure my "non-foreignness" before they store and index my data. Don’t you trust them?
The first thing I did after I heard about the highly classified NSA PRISM program two years ago was set up a proxy server in Peshawar to email me passages from Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. A literary flight of fancy. I started sending back excerpts from Gerard Manley Hopkins poems.
Two weeks ago, when technology companies were accused of indiscriminately sharing customer data with government agencies, Apple issued a clear response: We first heard of the government’s “Prism” program when news organizations asked us about it on June 6. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer content must get a court order.
Everything we’ve seen in the news in recent weeks would suggest that denials like this one are utter bullshit–whether they’re issued by Apple, Google, Microsoft, or Yahoo1. Anyone–like Jim Dalrymple–who is so blinded by his appreciation of Apple that he accepts this non-denial as the complete truth is making an idiot of himself.
I still refuse to type that ridiculous exclamation point. ↩
The director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Robert Mueller, told lawmakers in a hearing today that the data collected through its and the NSA’s mass surveillance of all Verizon customers, and other US phone carriers, can only be used in FBI investigations into terror plots, not for separate domestic criminal investigations.
Oh, good. I feel much better now. Yup, I believe him completely.
Michael Arrington, I must admit, can generally be considered to be representative of flawed humanity at its worst. But I want to hear him out on PRISM and FISA, because his seemingly wild rants have an unsettling ring of plausibility in them:
[…] we won’t be able to go back and change our history. They’ll see that a decade ago we donated to Planned Parenthood and voted for President Obama. Suddenly, going out and buying a gun or two won’t be enough. The new government will know we’re not true believers in the cause. We’re secret left wing or right wing extremists, and guilty of a new crime – engaging in personal behavior designed to fool the surveillance state.
Yes, I can easily see a future law that prohibits us from engaging in behavior that is designed to trip up the surveillance machine.
There may be no point in attempting to maintain even rudimentary notions of privacy, because the entire history of everything you’ve said, done, or looked at on the Internet is already sitting on an ugly government server, ready to be mined, searched, and cross-referenced on any future date, to serve any Totalitarian purpose. And any attempt to hide what you’re interested in will seem suspicious.
That pretty much sums up my thoughts on the subject. The actual spying is not particularly news to anyone, I should think. The real news here is the frightening prevalence of mockery aimed at those who still want to be able to take a shit in private.