Sunday, June 16, 2013

NSA Leaks: Part III

"The tactic, which is identified by an internal codeword which the Guardian is not revealing, is defined in an internal glossary as "active collection against an email account that acquires mail messages without removing them from the remote server". A PowerPoint slide explains that this means "reading people's email before/as they do".  
from the The Guardian
The Guardian's scoops on NSA surveillance just keep coming.  This Sunday's scoops show a tightly bonded GCHQ and NSA spying on allies and G-20 partners. Clearly, real-time updates are giving our  (British and American) diplomats and edge:
"In a live situation such as this, intelligence received may be used to influence events on the ground taking place just minutes or hours later. This means that it is not sufficient to mine call records afterwards – real-time tip-off is essential." from the The Guardian
It's all too easy too imagine this type of capacity being used against local activists. Recently, I helped clean the computer of a local activist who was convinced that exactly this type of activity was being used against their political movement.  Although, I didn't set up the type of monitoring that would have allowed me to prove such, years of running my own counter-surveillance have shown me such claims are hardly paranoiac.

I think most of us do not want to deal with the implications that our private emails, telephone calls, movements, web searches are being monitored. After all, most people are not politically active. However, I can assure you that monitoring of local activists in Whatcom County is taking place at various levels of government.  It is 'against the grain' of most liberal expressions of populism to program counter-surveillance into their activism. But this is precisely what they should be doing since the pace of recent NSA infrastructure development in surveillance is increasing:

"Binney, who left the agency in 2001 and blew the whistle on its domestic spying, said the centre could absorb and store data for "hundreds of years" and allow agencies such as the FBI to retroactively use the information.
He said the centre will likely have spare capacity for "brute force attacks" – using speed and data hoards to detect patterns and break encrypted messages in the so-called deep web where governments, corporations and other organisations keep secrets. There would be no distinction between domestic and foreign targets. "It makes no difference anymore to them." " from The Guardian
It will be an extraordinarily brave and terrifying new world when even our private expressions of political sentiment can be known (or predicted) in advance by our state security services.