The above link is unrelated to the post I am about to compose, but I posted it both because the information shared within is interesting and (more importantly) it brought to mind some of the things that have annoyed me about the whole Edward Snowden situation.
When it comes to Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and wiki leaks, I really have no opinion or viewpoint. I see many that praise the three for exposing government secrets, but I also know people that personally despise them for putting real people in danger as a result of the leaked documents . As such, I have no real opinion on the situation. The only thing I will say about the whole wiki leaks scandal is, it has come in handy when it comes to the 9/11 truther debate. If there are ANY documents that the world would LOVE to see, would those surrounding the 9/11 plot not be of the utmost priority?
Death by drones is terrible, but we’re talking genocide on the order of 3000 plus people . . .in other words, what will convince these people that they are just as faithful in their assumptions as theists are in their deities?
But moving on, we get to Edward Snowden.
Some years ago now, he jumped into the spotlight around the world by releasing documents proving that the United States was not just using its intelligence community to spy on its own citizens, but also on citizens of many other nations.
It was a revelation that at the time, shocked the world. But it did not shock me. If anything, it was amusing.
Post 9/11, it should have been blatantly aparent that someone (or at very least, some algorithm) was watching. Or at least it was to me. I always figured that something was keeping it’s eye on world wide communications at a macro level, but it’s not something I ever worried about. It’s just a part of using proxy communications systems.
Then came the nova documentry called “The Spy Factory”, outlining the actions and activities of the NSA and other intelligence organizations (in the context of uncovering cracks that let the 9/11 hijackers slip though). That program outlined NSA surveillance programs previous to 9/11 in a fair bit of depth. But it also went into how the communication networks of the 21st centery presented problems with gathering intelligence. Rather than the previous Era of most signals intelligence being passed around via analog phone connections and satellite relays (fairly easy to tap), most communication has shifted to fiber optics. Instead of easily observed satellite signals, the bulk of the world’s communications traffic (both international and intranational) moves though fiber optic cables. Even that 3G/4G/LTE device that you carry around in your pocket utilizes this technology (guess what connects those cell sites to the macro network?).
This new way of connecting with the world presented a problem for the NSA, but the program showed it’s early stages of trying to solve this issue. One example is its installation of mirrors in various communication backbones (they take a mirror image of the traffic flow and send it somewhere for storage). Another angle explored by the program, was in how they could deal with the massive volume of data that is generated by today’s technology saturated world. With terabytes of data created on a daily basis, how do you find the needles in the GIGANTIC haystack?
All of this was explored within the program, still a favorite (because it is so interesting). And the best thing about this program. . . It was released 2/3, maybe even 4 years prior to the Snowden revelations. Snowden did not release anything new, he just released a more recent photograph of how the NSA has matured a new program that was in its infancy when the PBS nova segment came out.
Don’t get me wrong, Snowden did do the worldwide public a great service by speaking up. But he is no hero. It be one thing if this was the first this info was released.
But it was not. It was just a massive public shock, because people were to busy playing on Farmville and enriching Facebook profiles to see the obvious. A phenomenon that continues to this day (as is noted every time a scamer or lier deceives the drones of social media).
The revelations did bring to light some new things for me personally. One question I always had was if an intranational entity like the NSA had any authority to observe people outside of their boarders. Though I never could get a satisfactory answer, I always assumed it to be a no (each nation has to deal with its own citizens). But it turns out that was a false assumption, being that national privacy laws do not apply to outside intelligence organizations.
Another new revelation was the partnership between various American national ISPs and online platforms, and the NSA. But this was not all THAT surprising, since the bulk of data flying around these days (due to nessesity) is encrypted. Pretty much anywhere you need to log in, the data sent between you and that Web server is encrypted from end to end (making the NSA’s mid trip data collection method usless). So they need a backdoor into these servers themselves to see what’s happening.
Do I necessarily agree with all of this mass surveillance and bulk data collection? No.
But there is not a whole lot I can do about it either. Not to mention that when it comes to privacy concerns, there are bigger foes to worry about than the NSA, CISIS, or Britan’s GCHQ.
Though many focus on the back doors present in many Web portals, it makes me laugh a HUGE majority of the time, because these people seem to forget about what they leave in the public domain.
Though its a bit worrisome that the NSA (and others) could see beyond the curtain and into your emails, private messages and IM’s etc, most of the contents of most social media profiles are NOT behind a curtain. Though it varies by what your privacy settings are, the vast majority of the information on these sites is open to the public. And as such, all you need is Google to access much of it.
Think about some of your social media postings. Not just in terms of nefarious people that could use information from those profiles (identity thieves, home robbers, scamers). But also legit people (future employers, bosses, teachers etc). Are you leaving yourself open to potential problems due to this angle?
And do you even know what the word privacy means (or entails) if you fail see these obvious conflicts with the principal?
When it comes to privacy, it’s not something I give much thought to (in terms of my personal context). I have my public angle mostly under control, so that’s good. When it comes to entities collecting data, though I do not LIKE it, it’s just a part of life in the modern world. I love modern technology and the convenience it offers. The price, is having (potentially) eyes on you.
I would worry a lot if I were a fugitive, or if some dramatic twist brought me into the 3rd Riche 2.0. But at this point, such fears are irrational. And even so, if such were to arise, what are you going to do?
It’s like people I know that are always speculating about the end of the world. If it bothers you so much, WHY DO YOU STILL LIVE IN A CITY?!
This point literally made all 3 say “What are you talking about?!”.
Grocery stores that feed us, water that bathes and quenches our thirst, gas and fuels that move us and keep us warm . . . . Will become irrelevant.
How can a person SERIOUSLY ponder THE END without taking THAT into consideration?!
The same with technology. If someone is truly concerned with privacy to the point of being paranoid, there is only one way to totally (well, mostly) insulate yourself. That is by way of total disconnection. Delete everything online, close all profiles, cancel all communications services, close all electronic accounts and use cash. And for an extra layer on top of that, leave the big metro cities of the world (they have the most surveillance of anywhre).
If that is not something that is appealing, than what are you complaining for?
There are problems with mass signals intelligence grabbing. But one of the biggest is not what the public is fixated on. It’s the gigantic pile itself (when will it become dangerous to be fixated on that? Has that already led to misaligned resources, and then to problems sliding under the radar?).
But my most important question to most people . . . if your so worried about international spy agencies and governments, have you ensured your not VOLUNTERILY giving up your hand?