Thursday, January 09, 2014

How the NSA Almost Killed the Internet, by Steven Levy

Now that is one bitchin' poster.
How the NSA Almost Killed the Internet, article by Steven Levy
During the conversation, the officials could barely contain the frustration they feel about how the world—and their fellow Americans—views them post-Snowden. They have read Brandon Downey’s heartbroken lament about his own government breaking into his beloved data center. They understand that journalism conferences routinely host sessions on protecting information from government snoops, as if we were living in some Soviet society. And they are aware that multiple security specialists in the nation’s top tech corporations now consider the US government their prime adversary.

But they do not see any of those points as a reason to stop gathering data. They chalk all of that negativity up to monumental misunderstandings triggered by a lone leaker and a hostile press. NSA employees see themselves as dealing with genuine deadly threats to the nation, and it makes them crazy when people assume that spooks at Fort Meade are intent on stealing their privacy.

“It’s almost delusional,” Ledgett says. “I wish I could get to the high mountaintop to scream, ‘You’re not a target!’”
Another quote:
President Obama weighed in. While implicitly confirming the program (and condemning the leak), he said, “With respect to the Internet and emails, this does not apply to US citizens and does not apply to people living in the United States.”

Ah, it is all right then. It is perfectly ethical and legal to spy on everybody, so long as they are not citizens of one's own country! Who cares about the rights of "forriners"?

And now for a bit of satire: 
In October of 2017, a breakthrough on the war on terrorism was finally made, the so-called total-openness-era. 
133 of the biggest nations on Earth made a deal with the USA: recognizing that the people who were the hardest to spy upon were those smart enough to not use the Internet at all, these nations promised to help the USA implement an extensive spy network: Every piece of mail would be x-rayed and the image sent to NSA. Every room of every single building in a country would be set up with microphones and spy cameras, and the sound and images sent to NSA. 
Negotiations are still going on as to what the NSA/US gov. would do in return. When talked to, they are slightly confused. "Why would we have to give you guys anything in return?" they say, "we are the good guys. Don't we always come and protect you guys?"
Then they wink and whisper: "Anyhow, don't worry, we have things well set up here. After all, everybody in USA basically is a foreigner or descendant of one...


Ol' Ben said...

“With respect to the Internet and emails, this does not apply to US citizens and does not apply to people living in the United States.”

Gee, didn't the CIA start out under those same restrictions? And if we like our 2013 health plan, we can keep it, right?

Bru said...

How many people have access to NSA data? We already know that some of these people are contractors and don't work for the government. The phrase "Information wants to be free" implies that the number of people with access will increase continually. My satire: in October of 2017, mall cops will be granted access to NSA data in order to protect the shoppers that they serve.

Anonymous said...

The claim that their spying is all about fighting terrorism and that Americans aren't targeted is a lie, plain and simple. First, we have LOVEINT, in which NSA resources were used to spy on certain Americans who were not suspected of terrorism for personal reasons. I'm willing to write that off as a problem of human nature and lack of oversight. But then we have "Parallel Construction," where NSA resources were used specifically for the purpose of violating Americans' 4th Amendment rights, and the violations were then covered up by presenting false testimony and evidence in courts. In my mind, that is enough reason to shut the whole thing down. But it doesn't stop there folks, because NSA resources were also used for corporate espionage. What does that have to do with terrorism? Last but not least, how were NSA resources used to collect information on, and exert control over journalists and political figures? Why is congress letting James Clapper get away with perjury? Who leaked the info about Petraeus' affair and why?

NSA aren't "the good guys." They are yet another self-serving, entrenched bureaucracy, but with the added bonus of thinking they are above the law.