DIGITAL AMERICA

4Chan’s got nothing on this…

// Posted by on 04/08/2012 (1:56 PM)
Throughout the past couple weeks of class we’ve been discussing the fact that most of us feel we have nothing to hide from trollers but that we’re also apprehensive to risk pissing anyone off and getting our site hacked.  The article we read in Wired called Inside the Matrix makes the threat of anonymous 4chan trollers look like nothing.  Sure you could be subjected to viruses and hate mail or something for years but now the government is building a facility that is capable of spying on basically anyone and can store yottabytes worth of data(10^24 bytes).  This could mean encrypted codes from China and Iran to the emails we sent this evening about the paper due tomorrow morning at 9:00.
It was again mentioned that the average citizen’s email is not something the new $2 billion NSA base will really be after but the fact is they are capable and they have enough memory to store years of emails, text messages and phone calls, just in case.  Can anyone else imagine Ben Franklin turning over in his grave? It’s almost cliche to bring up his quote anymore but the man had a point; “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” It is true that as long as you’re not a terrorist, planning to be one, or phrasing things in such a way to make the government think you’re a terrorist there really isn’t anything to worry about but, there is the argument about the principle of the matter.  Our country won a war for independence sparked by a matter of principle.  Our newly imposed taxes were nothing compared to England’s and it’s only fair to pay for a war that was waged to protect us from the French and Indians. But, by principle we disagreed.  Since 9/11 and the fear that ensued from that terrible day we have lost that sense of principle and allowed our government to spy on us illegally and to eventually pass laws that make it legal.  This fact led William Binney, a former senior NSA crypto-mathematician to leave the NSA when the agency started “violating the Constitution.”
It is highly unlikely that any opposition to this data center will arise and even if it did the government is not going to shut it down, especially after dropping $2 billion dollars to make it.  Ans until it is operational the repurcussions of its existence remain open to speculation.  Perhaps it will focus on what it is advertised to do, break encrypted codes, or to spy on American citizens or something in between. Maybe this will be the institution that can enforce the new law Arizona is likely to pass that will punish internet harrasment.  They are certainly capable of it.  I wonder if the music industry has suggested an area devoted to those who chose to illegally download music?
In case it wasn’t clear, I oppose this data center because it gives too much power to the NSA with no real check and I find that it violates the founding principles of our country.  What are your reactions as a citizen? Reactions as a netizen? How will this change the dynamic of the internet and how we communicate with each other? Will we see a resurrgence of snail mail? Do you think Anonymous will try to do something about this?

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Comments:


Abbey said...

Kelsey, I wrote my post this week on the same issue- I certainly feel like my rights as a US citizen are compromised by this new center. However, it led me to ask myself the question of whether or not our society is capable of functioning “safely” without a total access grant to the NSA to our communications. This may seem very big-brother-esque, I completely agree, but interviews with NSA officials have all clearly stated that this is for the safety of the American people, not meant to be an intrusion. I suppose even if it were becoming an intrusion they wouldn’t want to admit it. How much information of ours they “use” or “evaluate” will never be known, but at least the overreaching goal of national security is what they have in mind. I guess I’m playing devil’s advocate for both of our posts about the unconstitutional nature of what this new center represents. I think we can all agree, however, that cyber attacks are a real threat to our security, and that is the main reason the NSA cites for this center being built. I do think Anonymous will find a way to do something about it, though. To hack the computers which are hacking into and recording our information would be a tall order, but I do think it will happen. I don’t think a return to snail mail will really take off, however, because the conveniences of being online far outweigh my personal concern with the NSA reading my email. If you have nothing to hide, it can be argued that concern over whether or not they are evaluating your technological history is unnecessary.

// 04/09/2012 at 7:02 pm

Tommy said...

While I’m not sure whether I’m really for or against the data center at this point, at least until it’s operational and we really see the repercussions of it, I don’t think that I actually view it as a “threat.” When a troll gets a hold of your personal information, it could lead to viruses or hate mail, like you said, but I don’t see a direct impact of the data center being anything like that; I doubt the data center will start trolling you regardless of what they find (although legal consequences are a different story if you happen to be a terrorist). I think, through this class, that I’ve just come to accept that an open network like the internet means that anything you do online is “out there,” and I think that its a necessary trade off for access to the network. Although the NSA should probably have some kind of checks and balances system in place, I think it’s still important for someone to monitor online activity, and for all we know there will be some kind of system monitoring the monitoring once the data center is complete. To answer your questions, I think that this will really change nothing for the vast majority of people, and communication online won’t really be affected. And as far as Anonymous goes, I don’t think its a question of if but when; and I actually think that this is something Anonymous might come to allow, if only for the reason that it makes any information they might want to hack about a person available all in one convenient, although heavily protected (hopefully) location. When it comes down to it, as long as there isn’t actually a section dedicated to illegal downloading of music, I don’t think that this actually affects any of us; even if then do happen to intercept some of our email, if they are that personal and sensitive we probably shouldn’t be putting them online anyway.

// 04/10/2012 at 10:14 am

Kelsey said...

Huzzah for playing devil’s advocate. Tommy makes a really good point about the internet being a place where anything you post is out there, pretty much forever. I haven’t been thinking about this fact for awhile but it is important to remember that if you don’t want the world to know then you shouldn’t post it. However, there comes a point where I shouldn’t have to consciously think about who might read this and is there any way that it can be used against me in the future. I don’t think the NSA’s base intends to be malignant towards US citizens at this point but, if anything can be said about people it is that they will take anything that you give them. “If you give a mouse a cookie…” It may not be anytime soon but if Anonymous, Iran, trollers, or China go really nuts and start hacking into everyone’s computers then it will again be safer for us to let the government monitor and try to control that and what steps they take to ‘invade/protect’ our technology is un-discernable at this point but authoritarian governments start somewhere. I don’t think we will see a resurgence of snail mail, though I highly recommend writing letters to someone it’s a really nice way to communicate. But, it would be beneficial for the citizens of this country to know exactly what kind of power the government has in attempt to protect us from cyber warfare just in case things go too far.

// 04/11/2012 at 7:59 pm