DIGITAL AMERICA

Tag: NSA


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The Cyberwar is Coming

// Posted by on 05/28/2015 (4:20 PM)

 

I found the articles we read for this assignment to be particularly fascinating and thought-provoking. In all of my climate-related classes, research, and study, water and water resources are often cited as the likely catalysts for… Read more

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I found the articles we read for this assignment to be particularly fascinating and thought-provoking. In all of my climate-related classes, research, and study, water and water resources are often cited as the likely catalysts for the next great wars, and their arguments are all terribly logical and believable. The experts all say that we’re starting to see signs of this now. For example, “last summer, Isis accused the Turkish government in Ankara, headed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of deliberately holding back the Euphrates through a series of dams on its territory, lowering water levels in Lake Assad by a record six metres. Isis was apoplectic.”

However, after reading “How Digital Detectives Deciphered Stuxnet, the Most Menacing Malware in History,” I really started thinking that maybe wars over water will be undermined by directed malware wars. With Stuxnet, as noted in “The Code War,” the way it worked was “not unlike the enriched uranium the Iranians were working on, but in software form: expensive, highly refined munitions that formed the core of an extremely sophisticated weapons system.”

Attacks like these could very well lead to the next great wars. They are “unobtrusive, can be constant, and they’re invasive. “As the reading shows, these attacks have already started. If Iran had retaliated, or retaliates, what will it look like? Developers designed malware with the ability to tap into Iran’s nuclear centrifuges and alter the speed at which they work. What’s keeping someone or a government from exploiting that ability to an apocalyptic end? Why not? If we can, we should, right? If malware this mischievous can be created and unleashed it in the name of data gathering, sabotage, spying, whatever – and something goes wrong, what kind of collateral damage will there be? As we read, with Stuxnet, there were some friendly fire (assuming that there were some infections in the country(ies) responsible for the attack) accidents. Computers worldwide were infected – even some in the US. “The victims bleed personal data and intellectual property.”

What sectors in the US have unique vulnerabilities like the one exploited in Iran? Likely a lot! Everything is automated these days. Everything is a computer or has a computer. Even the business card dropped off by a bulk water sales rep today had a computer in it.

The image doesn’t do it justice, so here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlayQjxDm0I&feature=youtu.be

Could Diamond Springs unleash malware into this guy’s business card and sabotage his operation? It has a USB port. This item likely has a variety of weaknesses.

Additionally, should the U.S. be using these methods for domestic data gathering? Whether or not they should be, they do. In the example laid out in “The Code War,” with Freedom Hosting, they acquired a warrant and implanted surveillance software.  In doing so, broke up a huge child pornography operation. This is good. However, if the FBI, CIA, NSA, ABCDEFG want to do the same to my computer because I visited a site of an organization critical of the American government, is that right? No. To answer my above question, no, just because we can doesn’t mean we should. These attacks aren’t going anywhere. In fact, Edward Snowden reveled that “the NSA budget included $25.1 million for “additional covert purchases of software vulnerabilities,” suggesting that they both buy zero-days and roll out their own internally.”


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The NSA Knew I Was Going to Write This Before I Did

// Posted by on 05/26/2015 (11:13 PM)

 

The internet was created out of a sense of building community and sharing ideas – sharing, that important lesson our parents drill into our heads when we are little. When you consider this, Constitutionality aside,… Read more

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The internet was created out of a sense of building community and sharing ideas – sharing, that important lesson our parents drill into our heads when we are little. When you consider this, Constitutionality aside, there’s just something wrong and counter-intuitive about all of the secrecy, trespassing, and stealing involved in the government’s questionable acquisition of domestic data.

I think part of the problem is that the American people are constantly bombarded with newer, greater, smaller, and faster digital media that they are led to believe that they must have, must use, and must constantly be connected to. This new media offers the user fresh ways to enter information and communicate with each other. Which, based on the numbers, the American people love! By intentionally making more data available for the government to collect, the general public offers up more of who they are to the scrutiny of the professionals employed by the NSA. The Wired Magazine article, “The NSA is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)”, states that the NSA is “sifting through billions of emails and phone data.

We give them more information, and they spend more taxpayer money on server farms to collect our information. I was shocked, especially during a time of economic crisis, as to how much money the federal government was spending on facilities, servers, satellites, and upgrades solely devoted to capturing domestic communications and data.

$100 million on a renovation

$2 billion on the Bluffdale digital storage facility

$896 million on a new supercomputer center

Beyond the money, what really sticks with me is a question that John Oliver posed to Edward Snowden, “Is it a conversation that we have the capacity to have? Because it is so complicated that we don’t fundamentally understand.” Is this a conversation that the American people are capable of starting and sustaining? I don’t know. John Oliver’s man on the street videos certainly say, perhaps not.

If speed is the most desirable quality for these super computers and data processors, is it even possible for NSA professionals to separate data prior to deciding whether or not it needs to be addressed? Is it just a big jumble data that they are constantly trying to descramble or decrypt indiscriminately, and they don’t really concern themselves with what they end up with? I feel as if I am an informed citizen, especially more so now after reading these articles, but I still struggle to fully comprehend what is happening and to what degree. You can tell me all about yottabytes, but I can’t comprehend the meaning of that. I understand it’s a lot, but it doesn’t mean anything definitive to me.

Further, I fully agree with Snowden’s comment that, regardless of what the interview context may have been, we should send whatever data, information, or ummm…pictures we would otherwise send. We shouldn’t change our behaviors because our government is doing the wrong thing. Something else I don’t understand – why keep this all secret? We already know that it’s happening? Why not come out with it and be transparent?

Also, wasn’t our government intentionally developed with a built in system of checks and balances? Whose day was it to watch the NSA when they decided to roll out all of these secret programs?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YsZoqwRnKE

I think it’s hard to look at this situation objectively, with the exception of that whole Constitution thing. We need to maintain a watchful eye on those wishing to do harm to the United States, but, as noted in “The NSA is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)”, these people were listening into calls from anyone. Former NSA employee, Adrienne J. Kinne, said that she found the act of eavesdropping on innocent fellow citizens personally distressing. She likened it to coming upon someone’s diary and flipping through it.

As noted in the previous paragraph, this also brings up the question of the 4th Amendment and how it is interpreted. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,[a] against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Given this, and our freedom of speech, I’d say that based on everything I’ve said, many of the NSA’s surveillance programs are unconstitutional — PRISM and FISA in particular. As many point out, how can you act on power such as this without abusing it? It must be very tempting.

Edward Snowden claims to have carried out his actions because “so that the American people can decide for themselves what kind of government they want to have.” My assumption is that he means one that spies on its own people, thus violating its citizens rights, or one that in entirely transparent and give its people the opportunity to say yes or no to proposed data collection and related expenditures. This is not at all what has happened in this case. Whether or not I think these programs should be in places, I do think that the people of the United States should have been given the opportunity to voice their opinions. As it stands, 46% of the American people favor government surveillance (Oliver). Does this means they think that they are safer, are they unaware that their privacy is also violated in the process, do the American people care?

I think back to all of the critical things I said about the second President Bush and the war in Iraq back in the early 2000s. I can’t imagine what kind of lists I’m on at this point. It’s not just the Republicans though, the Democrats aren’t any better.

“We all want perfect privacy and perfect security, but these two things cannot coexist (Oliver).” This is also a sentiment that President Obama echoes in the below YouTube video. I must say, he seems nervous doing so.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BmdovYztH8

This kind of surveillance is bipartisan!

Though, this does make the point that the Internet is not democratic. Both parties are going to do whatever they want when it comes to security, or what they feel is security, not want the people vote for. How does that make everyone feel?

No matter what each person believes on this issue, this is the country that we presently live in. Are we too far in to turn around or reevaluate? We might not be able to about face, but there is certainly room for perhaps heading in a different direction. However, per the Constitution, the people should have more of a say. Information such as the information shared by Edward Snowden should be public record — to an extent. I don’t think the general populace can wrap their brains around everything that the NSA is up to, I know I certainly can’t.


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Hope for the best, but plan for the worst!

// Posted by on 05/26/2015 (9:08 PM)

For the past few days I have given a lot of thought to having records of my personal emails and phone calls possibly being stored in a warehousing facility in Bluffdale, Utah.  It is troubling, very troubling.  I can somewhat… Read more

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For the past few days I have given a lot of thought to having records of my personal emails and phone calls possibly being stored in a warehousing facility in Bluffdale, Utah.  It is troubling, very troubling.  I can somewhat understand the idea behind such a place that according to the article in Wired, will be “…secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks.”  It is for the greater good, right?  We should be okay with the NSA doing this as a way to protect us, shouldn’t we?  The issue I have is intent.  What is the intent of all of this data collection?  How will this information be used?  How could it possibly be used against me or someone I know?

When I was in 9th grade I had a world history teacher named Mr. Meyerholz.  He was different from any other teacher than I had ever had before.  He was different because he offered contrarian viewpoints to history.  Up until that point I had been taught that our government would take care of us and had our best interests at heart. (Over simplified for purposes of blog!) In class one day he said that many people did not mind having a dictator as they would not have to be bothered by making decisions about their own lives.  He would question us with what it would look like if we stopped paying attention and just let out leaders rule without opposition. Looking back it all makes sense.  Mr. Meyerholz was ahead of his time!

I have added a scene from the movie The American President. I think it is very appropriate in this situation.  It is the scene near the end of the movie where President Andrew Shepherd addresses some issues that his opponent has questioned him on.  I especially like his explanation of free speech and the way he explains how elections are won.  He doesn’t use the word apathy, but I will.  This seems to be a common theme to me in the articles, especially the Snowden and Assange articles.  Each of these men, in their own way, have brought information to the world and it is up to us to react or not.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OC2jhQ0KAAU

In the Wired interview Snowden made an excellent point regarding NSA fatigue comparing the mass surveillance leaks to the deaths of troops during a war.  We get used to hearing it and we stop paying attention to it.  It is not news anymore, it is the new normal.  I would argue that the average person does not care that the NSA is listening in on their phone conversations or reading their emails.  I would further argue that they do not believe it is going on in the first place.  Why would our government do this to us?  I live in Hometown, USA and I have nothing to do with terrorist plots so why would the NSA worry itself over what I am doing? Why, indeed.

I have also included a 60 Minutes interview regarding the Edward Snowden data breach.  It offers a different view of Mr. Snowden than the article in Wired.   I realize the NSA has to save face and I understand the badmouthing of Snowden, but it felt odd.  I felt as though they were talking someone I knew.  I had not really paid much attention to him until taking this class.  I just figured he was a traitor pure and simple.  The article about him made his explanation sound so plausible.  This 60 Minutes interview discusses the clean up after he left the NSA.  They had no idea what he had done or even taken.

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/the-snowden-affair/

I couldn’t help but think of Mr. Meyerholz when I was reading the article about Julian Assange.  Mr. Meyerholz would say that we are allowing ourselves to be led around by our noses and that we need to question what is going on.  Julian Assange is trying to do this with WikiLeaks.   His life’s work is bringing information to the people and the people are not paying attention.  For example, he and his staff went to great lengths to edit and share the video Collateral Murder.  Once it was made public the military was able to explain its actions by saying that they had not violated any rules of engagement.

Again, I think it is difficult for the average person to think that the military would do something so criminal.  One point that Khatchadourian made in the article that I think is very important to remember is that, “Assange, despite his claims to scientific journalism, emphasized to me that his mission is to expose injustice, not to provide an even-handed record of events.”  This, I think, may cloud the information that he provides.  He may very well be putting lives in danger and there are those that do not understand that policy.

Any information can be manipulated and used for ill will.  I feel the lesson from the readings this week and Mr. Meyerholz is to question what is being done with the information.  The groundbreaking ceremony under a tent in Utah is a bit suspect!  On the other hand I also think it is funny that the article tells us where the top secret facility is!  I know I have just contradicted myself, but it is a very hard topic to form a solid opinion on.  So I will offer this.  I have heard it said before on more than one occasion that hope is not a strategy.  But I hope that the information that is being collected by the NSA is being used for good and not evil.  I hope the information gathered and leads to stopping future terrorist attacks and saves lives.  I hope, I hope, I hope.

UPDATE!

I just saw this and thought it was interesting.  I wonder if Aaron Portnoy helped Apple out?

Apple finds bug that causes iPhones to crash|Reuters

 

 

 

 


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My opinion on Snowden

// Posted by on 05/26/2015 (8:26 PM)

Edward Snowden is referred to as a whistleblower. We all know why he is a whistleblower and have our own opinions as to whether what he did was right or wrong. In my personal opinion I believe what he did… Read more

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Edward Snowden is referred to as a whistleblower. We all know why he is a whistleblower and have our own opinions as to whether what he did was right or wrong. In my personal opinion I believe what he did was right. He did what he did in order to protect our country and not let the government take complete control over our lives. He has no benefit in his decision, he really lost everything he had in order to try to save our country.

What the NSA was doing is against the law. They are invading innocent people’s privacy without any type of legal ramifications. I feel that the NSA thought what they were doing was for the good of our country by trying to stay on top of terrorists but they took it too far. They were abusing their power as a government agency and by paying computer technicians hack into illegal territories. The NSA knew that they needed a warrant for wiretapping but they did not obtain a warrants before wiretapping. It seems that they just got carried away listening to everyone’s conversations and looking at everyone’s emails and text messages because they were not only looking into the United States citizens information, but at people from all over the world.

Working in the legal field makes this topic especially interesting to me, especially with the advancement in technology. Technology is ever changing and growing but unfortunately the law does not change as fast. The law takes time to catch up with technological advances but people should be able to use their own judgment as to whether or not something seems to be illegal. In this case wiretapping without a warrant was against the law.  Probable cause was needed in order for a search warrant to be issued for the government to wiretap and this was not happening. According to the article from Wired after Snowden released his information the government put a hold of warrantless wiretapping of cell phone and email records, it also states this is one thing that would never have happened if it were not for Snowden.

Many people may think that Snowden did this to destroy our country; some even consider him as a terrorist himself. People have considered him a terrorist because he told other countries what we were doing to them, which could have in turn, caused a way between the US and other countries or caused a lack of trust and relationship. I do not agree with these peoples opinion because I still think Snowden was acting in our best interest when he released this information. The other countries deserved to know that they were being watched because it was uncalled for by the US. If we trust these countries and have alliances with them than we should trust they would not turn on us. Like I said before Snowden was not gaining anything out of this other than hope that the government will change for the betterment of his family and friends he left behind in the US.

Another reason I believe that Snowden was not doing this for his own self is because he carefully chose when he released to the public. He took a lot of time and go through documents in order to see what needed to be released. He took into consideration information with people’s personal stuff and tried to protect individual’s identity. According to the Wired article Snowden also tried to leave a trail of what information he copied and what information he just touched in order to give the government a better understanding of what he had taken and what they needed to focus on.

Snowden held out for a couple of years before releasing the information hoping that change would come and there would be a stop to the corruption. All of the articles we have read talk about how he though the Obama administration would be different but it was not. His last straw was when he found out about a new storage center in Bluffdale, Utah. This was going to be a place that would store so much date and essential be like a cloud of all date taken for the NSA. This was going to take the invasion to a whole new level and Snowden was not happy about it. I believe that if Snowden had not have come clean that there would be a lot of damage that would have been done at this new storage facility. People are focusing on the negative effects that Snowden brought but imagine if he had not come clean and so much information was accumulated in Bluffdale that could be even more damaging when released by him or another whistleblower. There is a time and place for everything and I think that Snowden was ready to get the guilt off of his chest.

Throughout my readings on Snowden from this class and other classes it seems that the reporters and media outlets have really worked hard to get the answers we want to hear. I can’t imagine being one of the reporters that was given all of this information and trying to figure out what to do with it. It seems like for the most part it was handled in the best way possible considering nothing like this had happened before. I am sure that it was hard for the average person to believe some random person that the government was doing these bad things but thankfully it was given to someone who had the knowledge to decrypt the information and figure out that what Snowden was saying was true. Overall I stick to my opinion that what he did was right and we now know that we have no privacy.

 

PS- I had two pictures to add but I could not get them to upload, I kept getting an error message.


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The real threat.

// Posted by on 02/21/2014 (9:28 PM)

Attacks occurred on September 11 of 2011 triggered a new urgency to predict threats to the United States and every other nation. Although the headlines of the news were principally oriented to geopolitical strategies, the necessity of a better-prepared country… Read more

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Attacks occurred on September 11 of 2011 triggered a new urgency to predict threats to the United States and every other nation. Although the headlines of the news were principally oriented to geopolitical strategies, the necessity of a better-prepared country didn’t end there.
Experts on Nation’s Security turned their sight to the Internet. Therefore, in a decade of dependence on technology the fear of digital attacks began to rise in the Congress of the United States, who believed that the camouflage provided by the cyberspace could set the perfect scenario for what they called “cyber-terrorism”, which included espionage programs leaded by terrorists organizations targeting the United States.
What really happened since 9/11 is that World’s politics failed to reach the gigantic steps of telecommunications and virtual space. Therefore they didn’t identify the real threats and intending to protect national security, government violated the freedom of speech and the privacy prior given by the Constitution of the United States of America.
In that matter, Chris Clymer, manager of advisory services at SecureState affirmed “terrorist have focused on doing physical damages to the United States instead of cyber-wars”.
On the other hand, smartphones, tablets and such devices didn’t exist as popular as they are now back in 2011. Nevertheless, the real threats were not, are not and probably will not lay in the communication established via daily used apps (“angry birds”, Hotmail, whatsapp, and so). Instead, they will hide in the dark corners of the “deep web”, which is a space away from any controlled or regulated site of the Internet. In that place; hitmen, weapon traffic and human trade are a common practice. As a result, violating the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution by searching everyone’s data without a warrant and with no logical or sustained suspicious will only break the trust of citizens in their government and will not prevent the real threats of the cyberspace to explode.
Finally, if Internet continues being used as a way to complete unjustified investigations on innocent people and prohibiting the freedom of speech given by the Constitution what will happen is that the monster of anger and distrust will spark in the citizens and a more horizontal (and less vertical) communication between the government, the media and the people will be demanded resulting in real “sneak-leak” attacks not committed by other countries but by the local press and the average citizen, as already happened with the Snowden issue.

 

Itzel Hervert 888568


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Digital America: knowledge is power

// Posted by on 02/21/2014 (4:46 PM)

Samantha Dalaí López

The internet being relatively new is rapidly becoming a political ground where the absence of physical frontiers allows the spread of data at incredibly fast rates. The appearance of organizations such as Wikileaks… Read more

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Samantha Dalaí López

The internet being relatively new is rapidly becoming a political ground where the absence of physical frontiers allows the spread of data at incredibly fast rates. The appearance of organizations such as Wikileaks where people can share information that otherwise would be kept secret by the governments and institutions that control it all is a necessity. Why are things kept in secret in the first place? Well, because the government doesn’t want you to know what they’re doing to say it briefly. They say that it’s because then national security would be threatened but when you look at the information that they don’t want the public to know it becomes obvious that rather than being issues of security they are issues of politic and economic interest.  Whistleblowers, wikileaks and this information sharing centers, have uncovered many documents that report of the abuses committed by the governments which include human right violations such as the conditions at Guantanamo bay facilities, civilian deaths at Afghanistan and other places where U.S. has deployed military forces, the reports also include environmental crimes and economic corruption such as the practices that lead to Iceland’s bankruptcy and NSA’s illegal practices and overspendings. Of course this is to name a few, but obviously knowing this does not threaten ‘national security’ but instead reveals the abusive acts committed by governments.

 If the civilians cannot know what their governments are doing and if they knew and wouldn’t approve then there’s something wrong. Government is acting against the will of their people.

One of the questions that arises from this unjustified secrecy and lack of transparency on part of the government is, whose interests are they acting for?  Some of the organizations vouching for dismantling Wikileaks include banks and credit card companies…. That means economic entities that in no way should be that linked to government issues.

This is one side of the issue, the lack of transparency on part of the governments, but the exact opposite happens on part of the civilians. The NSA and the government in general have total access to civilian information. One of the recent leaks revealed how the U.S. government has access to a grand part of online information.  This is rather unjust, they won’t give away information but are capable of saving every single conversation on the internet, organize them, search for keywords and then spy on you because your conversation topics aren’t of their pleasure.  I’m not saying that they’re doing that to everyone, but they have the ability to do so and in my opinion that represents a threat on liberty and freedom of speech.  I believe that discussing ideas and sharing them with others that think the same way is a way of organizing but with governments watching over there’s no real freedom. There’s also the issue that the internet does not belong to a country, so the NSA can spy all over the world and not be stopped because they contract non-government companies (to whom they pay a lot) to do so. Recently it was confirmed that the US government spies on other governments which caused anger on part of many presidents and governments, so the threat is real. So civilians can’t know this information but entities outside of the government can do so and use the information in their favor. On the bright side, this is how information gets to us by whistleblowers.

I believe that the inequality on access to information is the main problem with this issue, while governments and secret organizations have all the information (and hence the power to use it for their own benefit), civilians have zero access to it, are being spied on and have no real liberty of organization or action. For example the boycott of wikileaks from these huge organizations like banks is an abuse and simply means that they don’t think people deserve to know what is really happening in the world, power is concentrated in a few hands and they’re not willing to give it over a bit.

 I believe in transparency and freedom, governments and their actions should be subjected to the will of the citizens and serve their interests.  If there’s any form of censorship on the internet and access to information it’s as if they were blindfolding and ignoring us. On the other hand I believe in privacy, the government shouldn’t know all what their citizens do because as an institution it has a lot of power that could be used against the individuals that don’t conform and this threat diminishes freedom of action and speech. In conclusion, the internet giving us access to information and the opportunity to organize ourselves offers a great weapon against the abuses of power. All of us should be watching over the powerful not the other way around.


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Response to Tec Blog: “Freedom of Speech vs. National Security”

// Posted by on 02/21/2014 (4:21 PM)

By: Deirdre O’Halloran and Cora Andryc

 

 

Snowden Quotes:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/27-edward-snowden-quotes-about-u-s-government-spying-that-should-send-a-chill-up-your-spine/5338714

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By: Deirdre O’Halloran and Cora Andryc

 

 

Snowden Quotes:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/27-edward-snowden-quotes-about-u-s-government-spying-that-should-send-a-chill-up-your-spine/5338714


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Response to Tec: The Regulation of the Internet

// Posted by on 02/21/2014 (3:07 PM)

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Assange & Snowden: whistleblowers of the internet (Tec Collaboration)

// Posted by on 02/14/2014 (5:01 PM)

By: Molly Reilly, Deirdre O’Halloran, Rachel Hall, and Claire Hollingsworth

You can be in your own home on your personal computer or tablet, yet there are people out there who can see everything you search, watch, and do. When you… Read more

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By: Molly Reilly, Deirdre O’Halloran, Rachel Hall, and Claire Hollingsworth

You can be in your own home on your personal computer or tablet, yet there are people out there who can see everything you search, watch, and do. When you visit certain websites they install a “cookie,” which is a piece of data kept in your browser to track your activity once you’ve opened that web page. The purpose of this is to store information for your convenience (added items in a shopping cart, edits to your facebook page), however it seems crazy that numerous websites can then access your personal information. Tracking and third-party tracking cookies can be used to get hold of your long-term history; even beyond when you had authorized a site to put a cookie on your computer (created a username or account).

This lack of privacy and lack of regulations were just a few of the reasons Edward Snowden felt an obligation to the American people to expose the NSA. His core beliefs of freedom of privacy and freedom on the internet lead him to make this massive sacrifice and turn over confidential documents. Snowden was quoted in the guardian article Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations, as saying “I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.” The lack of privacy at the corporate level through cookies and data tracking is a source of great concern, however the fact of government sponsored tracking is of much greater concern.

While it might not be completely ethical, corporations have gotten around the laws in order to capitalize on the data available on the internet for their own personal gain. The government, on the other hand should be there to set guidelines helping to protect us from these very corporations, not utilizing the same tactics they implement. Snowden exposed these policies in hopes of forcing government officials to rethink how they gather data and making a more transparent U.S. government. While we will never really know the extent to which Snowden made an impact on NSA policy, it has made everyone in the U.S. more aware and wary of the policy regarding privacy. We could say he has successfully completed his goal of transparency to a small degree, allowing this information exposed and analyzed.

The article “Leaky Geopolitics” looks at the unprecedented reactions of the “free world” in attempting to take down WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.  The author’s bias is evident from the very beginning: any charges against Assange were trumped up by a capitalist-governmental elite class to attempt to discredit him after the leaks began.  The way this article looks at the idea of crime — outside of formal charges, in the court of public opinion — seems to be a pretty accurate way of representing how people are perceived on the internet.  But the court of public opinion seems to be pretty divided on WikiLeaks: groups like Anonymous that prize freedom of information have stood behind the site, but other groups point to a security risk that can come from leaking government documents.

The idea that WikiLeaks and the public reaction to it can have such profound impacts on the geopolitical order –that it can lead people to question the authority of the state, and to think critically about issues of transparency and privacy — leads me to question if, in some ways, Assange and Snowden may have really won, regardless of the threats on their heads.  If the goal was to spur a conversation about these limits, it seems impossible to say that they didn’t achieve that goal with flying colors. The article also takes on the question of the government-industry connection in looking at the corporate responses of MasterCard, PayPal, etc, in taking on the role of protector and enforcer: roles usually reserved for the government, after extensive trial.  The success of WikiLeaks in exposing this portion of the problem also seems pretty undeniable.

In another article, “The War on Wikileaks and Why it matters” Author Glenn Greenwald illustrates the ways in which the U.S. Government has responded to the wikileaks. Wikileaks and Snowden have been a topic of great controversy and debate.  This has surely set the stage for political and public conversation surrounding privacy and regulation of the internet. As government officials the army and its supporters consider snowden to be a criminal and traitor, supporters of Snowden and the wikileaks revolution, see these actions as efforts to expose the government in the name of freedom of information.  Those opposed to wikileaks consider it a threat to American national safety, while Greenwald suggest sites like wikileaks are vital to Americans to provide information where the media is becoming more unreliable at “exactly a time when U.S. government secrecy is at an all-time high, the institutions osensibly responsible for investigation, oversight and exposure have failed”.  This is mostly because media and journalism are generally co-opted outlets controlled and regulated by the U.S. government more so than ever  as “private efforts to manipulate public opinion has proliferated”. Wikileaks, who consider their work to serve as the intelligence agency of the people, see the governments efforts to harass and ultimately destroy them altogether as a result of feeling threatened.

This provokes the idea, is information free?? If its not, should it be? Do we as citizens have the right to know information considered “classified”?  Wikileaks also exemplifies the rise of the term “netizen” in which people are turning to the web as a medium to facilitate social and political change. Is this a good thing? or potentially detrimental?  Setting aside personal views and opinions on the ethical side of wikileaks, it is undeniable that it has opened up the door for conversation as to whether digitization and diplomacy is helpful, or harmful.


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Protesters or Pirates (Tec Collaboration)

// Posted by on 02/14/2014 (4:58 PM)

          Does information really want to be free? Information may want to be free, however intellect does not. Intellect has forever been valued and should never be tampered with. People have the right to their own ideas, whether you publish… Read more

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          Does information really want to be free? Information may want to be free, however intellect does not. Intellect has forever been valued and should never be tampered with. People have the right to their own ideas, whether you publish it in a book or “tweet” it, every thought belongs to its owner. Anonymous should no longer be able to hack our systems and retrieve information that is not rightfully theirs. Although some of their motives may have universally positive impacts, their behavior outside of the law qualifies them as a near terrorist organization. According to the FBI, the definition of domestic terrorism is, “to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or to affect the content of a government by mass destruction.” We believe by this definition the actions of the member from Anonymous are considered domestic terrorist.

WikiLeaks, run by the non-profit group Sunshine Press, is a website that promotes itself as “the intelligence agency of the people”.  The site is committed to exposing suppressed government & corporation corruption by publicizing many of their closely guarded secrets.  Over the past few years, it has become an increasingly hated target of numerous government and economic elites worldwide, as it has been responsible for the exposure of numerous confidential, incriminating documents that publicized the activities of many different governments and corporations.  Within our group, we tried to reason whether WikiLeaks should be regarded as free speech or illegal speech.  The general consensus was that, although WikiLeaks prides itself on being the intelligence agency of the people, it is generally threatening to the confidentiality and safety of the various world governments as well as the people themselves.  The Site is based on obtaining a wide-array of secret documents and sharing them with the public, but how do we know what effects that will have?  They are sharing incriminating information under the guise of free speech and we have to wonder to what degree is that justifiable?  There is an increasingly blurred line between what information should be “free”, as hackers can access almost anything and, as we have learned, the government can too.  In a society where the Internet and information are becoming more easily accessible and widely shared, it is difficult to decipher the boundaries between private and public.

        As Henry Farrell and Martha Finnemore discuss in their article, “The End of Hypocrisy” the WikiLeaks group needs to be stopped. Farrel and Finnemore call the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, a “high-tech terrorist.” We totally agree with these two authors as high valued information, such as government operations should never be leaked to the public. There are certain facts and/or ideas that the American citizens and foreign countries should never find out. Hacking into the government database and retrieving knowledge and confidential documents should never happen. I do agree with Farrell and Finnemore that the American public should no longer be lied to about government information. We all deserve to know more, however not as much as the WikiLeaks uncover. There is certain restricted information that should forever be kept secret.

The argument of cyber libertarianism made David Golumbia, that information wants to be free, does not hold true in all cases. While many of us are willing and happy to publish our thoughts and ideas online for free in the form of blogs, tweets, and Wikipedia. This does not hold true in case of classified government documents. During the summer of 2013, Edward Snowden an employee of a company contracted by the National Security Agency. He leaked the details of two high-level intelligence programs the FBI and NSA use to collect information in order to protect American citizens from terrorists attacks. Upon the initial leak of information, the public was in shock of our government’s ability to collect information such as call logs and email chains. Upon further investigation, provide by the United States Congressional hearing of the FBI and it’s director Robert Mueller, it is the clear that this programs have provided the FBI with important information, crucial to protecting American citizens from terrorist attacks. Edwards Snowden’s actions do not classify him as a whistleblower but rather an American traitor.  The ability to share and spread information over the Internet does not mean that all information that is store in a digital format is meant to shared with the public. In Snowden’s interview with The Guardian, He explains how he exposed this information to make the public aware of the actions of it’s government, but no where in the article or interview does he go into the real specifics of the program. The truth behind the government’s abilities and actions are best explained in the Congressional hearing, available on C-span.

This is how information should be provided to the people, by our own government not by individual actors motivated by private agendas. While it is important to have oversight on our government and to hold them responsible for their actions, we do not believe that hacking and leaking is the most efficient and legitimate way to go about this. Hacking and leaking does not provide for any formal structure to prevent issues exposed by hackers from happening again. It simply gives instant gratification to those who feel that an injustice has occurred. This is not the way to build a safe and product society.

Transparency and accountability within government processes and corporations are expected now more than ever in the Internet era. The Internet has allowed people to access and share information more readily, which, in the case of Wikileaks, can have questionable ethical implications. The notion of “Information wants to be free” is the driving force behind Anonymous, hackers, and Wikileaks, but what does this really mean? Unfortunately, because of the dangerous consequences of Wikileaks in regards to government operations, the State has to respond in a more authoritarian way, which results in harsher penalties for hackers and cutting off access to revenue in the case of Wikileaks. The State is aware that their consequences are being scrutinized by the public, and in some ways, this is a good thing—the State can no longer can deceived the population. We have been grappling with the ethical motives behind Annoymous hacks and Wikileaks. What makes the debate harder is that some things that are leaked and brought to the public eye are done with good intentions—to bring hard issues to light, such as the dealings with the Ohio rape case. However, in most other cases, confidential information is someone’s property, and leaking that confidential information is piracy. Further, Wikileaks and Anonymous could be considered a “foreign terrorist organizations” because they are threatening organizations and intimidating their opposition. If you try to take down Anonymous response to their hackings, you get destroyed.

           In previous weeks, we’ve talked about the “third space” that the internet provides for a shared global culture. This idea of a shared space seemed to be a running theme in many of the arguments about WikiLeaks in the article “Leaky Geopolitics.” Many of the contributors discussed how a site like WikiLeaks provides a space for an overwhelming wealth of information and knowledge, but the article also expresses the concerns that a space like this presents: a challenge to the sovereignty of physical nations, the amorphous and expanding nature of WikiLeaks and the danger and the geopolitical influence such shared information has. But the authors also make a point to discuss how WikiLeaks points out flaws within our current geopolitical culture: the notion that a site of free flowing information like WikiLeaks must be controlled, the violent extent to which governments will go to do so and how this highlights issues such as hypercapitalism, privacy and political corruption. There doesn’t seem to be a distinct opinion on whether WikiLeaks is inherently “good” or “evil.” The debate mostly shows the uncertainty surrounding the site.

        The big issue presented by WikiLeaks is that it is completely unassociated with any state. In the first section by Simon Springer and Heather Chi, they describe how such a fluid flow of information will intrinsically pose a threat to and destabilize state power. Critical public scrutiny of state action opens up the idea of sovereignty and where power really lies. Springer and Chi emphasize the shift toward the values of transparency and accountability, yet the reaction of the state to leaked information is the authoritarian action of shutting down and blocking websites. Not only does WikiLeaks become a grey area of who controls what, but it also prompted governments to act in unexpectedly harsh ways. In democratic nations like the United States, the government’s need to strictly control WikiLeaks begins to question how democratic those actions are.

        What I found most interesting in this article, though, was Fiona McConnell’s concluding line about the overall perception of WikiLeaks: “WikiLeaks may have made certain procedures of foreign policy transparent, but having the information and acting upon it are two very different processes.” This brings up the question of whether WikiLeaks is really that much of a threat, or if nation states are overreacting in their handling of it. How do you control the flow of information in such a decentralized space such as the internet, and how do you determine if it’s even worth controlling at all?


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I Have Nothing To Hide… But I Guess Nobody Likes To Be Spied On: A Response to Steven Levy’s Feature Article in Wired Magazine February 2014 Issue

// Posted by on 01/29/2014 (5:49 PM)

In the most recent installment of Wired Magazine, Steven Levy writes a feature article outlining the NSA spying issue, which highlights the effects the recent Edward Snowden debacle has had (and still continues to increase) on the way individuals… Read more

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In the most recent installment of Wired Magazine, Steven Levy writes a feature article outlining the NSA spying issue, which highlights the effects the recent Edward Snowden debacle has had (and still continues to increase) on the way individuals throughout the globe view the internet.  Essentially, Levy makes the case that the future of the internet is put at risk if individuals lack trust in their online security.  Given the NSA’s newly revealed ability to  access online records, many individuals are losing faith in their privacy when storing information on internet mega-giants such as Google, Yahoo!, etcetera.  Without this line of trust between internet service providers and consumers, the thriving success of the internet is at risk of being stalled, or worse case scenario, destroyed.

Levy does  a pretty good job of staying relatively detached during the piece.  He does not outright attack the NSA for their selected security measures, and he does not attest that internet giants should be doing much more to fight the government and keep all information private.  However, what he does do is bring to light an interesting issue in American society today in regards to the importance we place on the safety of our nation as opposed to our individual security.  If the answer to this question was purely that we want our individual information secure over anything else, then the internet would undoubtedly collapse.  No one would trust these gigantic company’s servers with their information because then their information would be at risk of being sent to the government.  However, that has not happened yet, and Levy in no way suggests that this will happen any time soon.  Losing faith in the internet is something that could happen after a long period of time, as individuals slowly decide that they cannot trust personal information over these servers that may be forced to release information to the American government.  This is especially a concern from civilians living outside of the United States, seeing as using services like Gmail and Yahoo! mail may result in a foreign government receiving their information, which appears as a large violation of their privacy.

In my opinion, I do not believe that there is any reason for anybody to get worked up about this issue and lose any faith in large companies such as Google and Yahoo!.  These companies have been at the forefront of American innovation for years, and have done nothing but provide the world with consistently better services.  ”But I don’t want to use a service that may leak my information to the government!  That is a violation to my privacy!” someone might say.  Well, yes, I suppose it is a violation to your privacy.  However, I don’t think that the United States Government has any interests in the selfies you took with your dog, nor the relationship troubles you’ve been emailing your friends about.  Whether its these subjects that you are using internet services to discuss is irrelevant.  Basically what I am trying to say is: If you have nothing to hide, then the government is not reading through your information.  And by “nothing to hide,” I don’t mean a small skeleton in the closet.  Of course everyone uses internet services to discuss somewhat sensitive, personal information; but the only sort of skeleton that the United States government is interested in is something of the atomic bomb, terrorist attack nature.  These NSA is not even tracking in-country criminal activity of any sort.  And even if they were, they could never convict anyone in court of any non-terrorist oriented crime because that would denote improperly obtaining evidence.

I do understand, however, that no one wants to be spied on.  I feel the same way, and of course the idea of the government having access to a large amount of information makes me nervous.  However, the question I couldn’t help but ask myself while reading this article is: If the government having access to my information could stop a terrorist attack, would I give it to them?  And the answer is always yes.  I know they have no actual interest in looking at my information, but simply receive a bulk of information in order to narrow it down to possible threats within the country.  As stated by US Army General, Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, “We recognize that if we do [give away our power to monitor information], our nation now is at greater risk for a terrorist attack.  So we’re going to do the right thing; we’re going to hold on to it, let people look at the options.  If there is a better option, put it on the table.”

Frankly, I would have to agree that there is no better option.  Unfortunately, America is a country susceptible to threats, and I for one would like to take all measures necessary to make sure that innocent Americans do not die from a terrorist attack.  If that means the NSA receiving my personal Gmail information in a gigantic lump with thousands of other individuals (including individuals from other countries), then so be it.  I have nothing to hide, and I know they won’t be interested in anything available on my account.  As long as you have nothing to hide (Note: Again, by nothing to hide, I mean no terrorist plots to threaten national safety), then the American government will have no interest in looking at your personal information, whether they have it on file or not.


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Hijacking Airplanes, from the Ground.

// Posted by on 04/18/2013 (7:37 AM)

A recent article published by CNN talks of the possibility of an IPhone app that is capable of hijacking an airplane. “A German security consultant, who’s also a commercial pilot, has demonstrated tools he says could be used to hijack… Read more

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A recent article published by CNN talks of the possibility of an IPhone app that is capable of hijacking an airplane. “A German security consultant, who’s also a commercial pilot, has demonstrated tools he says could be used to hijack an airplane remotely, using just an Android phone.” A speaker at the Hack in the Box summit spent 3 years creating an app that he says has the ability to take over control of an airplanes controls. This is a very frightening idea if one looks at it from a security standpoint.

The hacker Hugo Teso actually demonstrated through a flight simulator the power that this app can have over an airplane. “Teso showed off the ability to change the speed, altitude and direction of a virtual airplane by sending radio signals to its flight-management system. Current security systems don’t have strong enough authentication methods to make sure the commands are coming from a legitimate source, he said.” Never before has an app had this type of power, the power to remotely control a plane from your android phone seems crazy, but it is possible.

Thankfully Teso does not plan on using this app for evil and has “said at the summit that he’s reached out to the companies that make the systems he exploited and that they were receptive to addressing his concerns. He also said he’s contacted aviation safety officials in the United States and Europe.” This is welcome news to just about everyone in the world. The power to hijack an airplane is a scary thought and brings to question is technology getting to powerful?

While reading this article I couldn’t help but think thank god that this man made the app, not some deranged person out for vengeance. However, who is to say that next time it wont be someone with cruel intentions who makes an app capable of the same or equal terrorism and chaos. In my head I asked questions that I couldnt contemplate answers for, such as, When is technology going to become to powerful? Will it ever? And lastly if it does what will need to be done to stop it? Will it even be possible to stop such advanced technologies?

 


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The NSA

// Posted by on 02/24/2013 (6:19 PM)

Lying just outside Washington, DC in Fort Meade, Maryland is the National Security Administration-the NSA. This uniquely enigmatic government entity  is one of the largest and most closely guarded branches of the United States Department of Defense (DoD). It is… Read more

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Lying just outside Washington, DC in Fort Meade, Maryland is the National Security Administration-the NSA. This uniquely enigmatic government entity  is one of the largest and most closely guarded branches of the United States Department of Defense (DoD). It is a cryptologic intelligence agency. Cryptology, the practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of third parties, has become an increasingly important aspect of national defense and cyber security.

The NSA is technically responsible for “the collection and analysis of foreign communications and foreign signals intelligence, as well as protecting US government communications and information systems, which involves information analysis and cryptanalysis/cryptography.” By law, the NSA is only authorized to collect foreign and international information although there have been incidents of the agency breaching this rule and interfering/monitoring domestic communications as well (see here).

The agency is unique in a few ways. It immediately draws attention from I-295 as it has its own highway exit (the sign simply reads “NSA”).

Second, the agency is kept so under wraps that the total number of employees is technically unknown. The scale of the operations at the NSA is hard to determine from unclassified data; some 18,000 parking spaces are visible in photos of the site. With roles in creating new encryption systems and monitoring telephone, fax, and data transmission, the NSA is heavily involved in daily life yet remarkably discrete. Even though the original DoD branch was founded in 1949 as the Armed Forces Security Agency, according to David Kahn author of The Codebreakers “a brief but vague reference to the NSA first appeared in the United States Government Organization Manual from 1957, which described it as “a separately organized agency within the Department of Defense under the direction, authority, and control of the Secretary of Defense [...] for the performance of highly specialized technical functions in support of the intelligence activities of the United States.”

This author takes the “well I’m not doing anything illegal, so I don’t really care how much wiretapping is done” point of view regarding NSA activity, but there are many citizens who believe that this agency is infringing on their rights. Do you feel comfortable knowing that your data-transmission activity may be monitored by a government agency? Clearly this organization raises questions as to the classic liberty versus security debate…

 

 

 

 

Ellen Nakashima (January 26, 2008). “Bush Order Expands Network Monitoring: Intelligence Agencies to Track Intrusions”The Washington Post. Retrieved February 9, 2008.

David Kahn, The Codebreakers, Scribner Press, 1967, chapter 19, pp. 672–733.


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Everyone is Visible

// Posted by on 04/09/2012 (4:11 PM)

 

Over the past few months, discussions of security have always been coupled with discussions of the goings-on in our new digital age. It seems that with the progression of Digital America has come a progression of decreased personal… Read more

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Over the past few months, discussions of security have always been coupled with discussions of the goings-on in our new digital age. It seems that with the progression of Digital America has come a progression of decreased personal security of information when it comes to anyone who uses any kind of technology at all. The WIRED article about the new NSA data center being built in Utah (dubbed simply the “Utah Data Center”) both shocked and worried me. Anything about a person’s life, down to a phone conversation with their grandmother on her birthday, is subject to review by members of the NSA. Further, after the Utah Data Center is built, virtually ALL communications made over the internet, phone, basically any technological medium possible, will be recorded and available for future evaluation. My idea of constitutional rights, as pointed out in the WIRED article by the former NSA official William Binney, is being seriously challenged with this new practice. While the NSA has made statements (like in this article from Fox News) about how the Utah Data Center is “designed to support the Intelligence Community’s efforts to further strengthen and protect the nation,” I have not been convinced that what we as Americans are afraid of happening really is. I’m both disturbed and challenged by this Orwellian state that the WIRED article is depicting: the days of NSA being called “Never Say Anything” seem to be coming back, and everyone is a target.

 

In this Fox News Interview, the center is first and foremost called a “spy center,” a claim that is defended by a former CIA officer and current president of a global intelligence and security firm, Mike Baker. He argues that the size of the facility is what is creating the stir, because this new center is not the only physical holding that the NSA has. Baker claims that the number one threat to the United States is not Iran, but cyber warfare and the “daily, astounding number of attacks” directed at our country. He also says, surprisingly to me, that “there is a tendency…for the average American to think that their life is fascinating enough for the government to want to surveil them all the time, to collect information on them.” I guess I have never thought about it this way; that we, as average Americans with no terroristic tendencies, only fear the government spying on us because we think they would be interested. Why would they be interested, after all, in my birthday conversation with my grandmother? What Baker does not do a good or even mediocre job of defending is that, despite the government’s disinterest in personal conversations that pose no threat to national security, they still have access to them. If they wanted to know what Nanna and I were saying, they could. That ability is, in my opinion, a violation of my right to freedom. The interview can be watched in the video below:

 

 

Another article I recently read revealed an operation of the NYPD to “infiltrate” the lives of Muslim students in the Northeast. The article says that the mission was, reportedly, “part of police efforts to “keep tabs” on Muslims throughout the region, as part of the department’s anti-terrorism efforts.” If this isn’t a blatant violation of constitutional rights, I don’t know what is. The article goes on to claim that “The FBI is sending out pamphlets to military surplus stores, saying anyone who buys matches and a flashlight is a potential terrorist. Paying cash is suspicious. Shielding your laptop screen is suspicious. Lowering your voice if you’re having a phone conversation in public: also suspicious.” So, while Baker’s point about how the NSA simply doesn’t care about average Americans’ goings-on, I’m not totally convinced this is true. If I can’t buy a flashlight without being watched or having my “file” pulled at the new Utah Data Center, then how is this still the land of the free? Are we not living in a time where this ideal is still possible? Do you feel violated by these new happenings?


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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

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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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