Let’s start off with Conor Friedersdorf, with a closing statement that might have been shocking only a month ago:
To sum up, America, the privacy protections you’re afforded are much weaker than you’re being led to believe, and when it comes to destroying communications that concern U.S. citizens, the NSA is either lying to the Senate about its ability to flag those communications, or else misleading the public about how reliably the communications of American citizens are destroyed.
Michael Horowitz, writing for Computerworld has another unsettling discovery about the security of HTTPS transaction — specifically talking about outlook.com in this passage seems to have some slightly more shocking information:
But every lock has a key and outlook.com has a HUGE MASTER KEY. Anyone in possession of this master key can read the encrypted HTTPS pages. All of them. Every single encrypted web page that has ever been transmitted by outlook.com to millions of former Hotmail users can be decrypted with a single master key.
Horowitz goes on to explain how to get around it — right now only Google and Bloomberg are the ones that employ the best standards for HTTPS transaction. Apparently Google and Bloomberg want to be the only ones that can spy on you.
The above seems in line with this post from Leonid Bershidsky on PRISM and its effectiveness for fighting terrorism:
The infrastructure set up by the National Security Agency, however, may only be good for gathering information on the stupidest, lowest-ranking of terrorists. The Prism surveillance program focuses on access to the servers of America’s largest Internet companies, which support such popular services as Skype, Gmail and iCloud. These are not the services that truly dangerous elements typically use.
Sounds like the “security theater” that the TSA practices — only a lot more expensive and time consuming.
‘Digby’ has brought to light a federal program I had not heard of. It’s called the “Insider Threat Program” and designed to have government workers spy on each other to make sure that neither is doing something labeled as “treason” like leaking documents (classified or otherwise) to the media.
Which rather comically (if you can ignore how stupid this program is) leads to:
When the Department of Education is searching for “insider threats” something’s gone very wrong.
So far we have learned that the U.S. has an awful lot of resources spent spying on U.S. Citizens — and Federal employees.
Which is pretty annoying, but not as concerning as this post from James C. Goodale on how President Obama is doing his best to reduce the first amendment rights:
Until President Obama came into office, no one thought talking or emailing was not protected by the First Amendment. President Obama wants to criminalize the reporting of national security information. This will stop reporters from asking for information that might be classified. Leaks will stop and so will the free flow of information to the public.
This to me is one of the worst things I have heard about the current White House — this simply shouldn’t be. We are getting closer and closer to Minority Report… and that’s not praise.
Lastly, in a post on Medium, Colin Lee claims to have known Edward Snowden from gaming, and makes a salient point:
When you grant excessive powers even in limited circumstances, it becomes very difficult to take them back or to limit them. This is how many dictatorships came to power throughout history.
It’s like that old saying (as dumb as it may be): “You don’t boil a frog by tossing him in boiling water, instead put him in cold water and slowly bring the pot to boil.”
The proverbial pot looks to be boiling.