It astonishes me that some Americans still believe in the wholesomeness and good intentions of the NSA and that people still act incredulous when I suggest that the spy agency violates the Constitution.
Over the last two years, we’ve seen one revelation after another exposing the duplicity of the NSA and the web of deceit government officials weave in order to assure Americans that the spy agency only serves to protect them from evil terrorists.
Yesterday, The Intercept dropped another bombshell revelation based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
These things used to shock me.
They don’t any more.
The Intercept revealed that a joint unit manned by agents of British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the NSA hacked the computers of the largest SIM card manufacturer in the world and stole encryption keys used to protect cell phone privacy. According to The Intercept, the breach at Gemalto “gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data.”
The Amsterdam based company has facilities all over the world, including the U.S., and serves some 450 wireless network providers, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint.
With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider’s network that the communications were intercepted. Bulk key theft additionally enables the intelligence agencies to unlock any previously encrypted communications they had already intercepted, but did not yet have the ability to decrypt.
Of course, we have nothing to worry about, right? The NSA would never use its power to illegally spy on Americans. No way! We can certainly count on the people who stole the encryption keys to keep within the limits of the law when utilizing this pilfered information.
On top of revealing that the NSA and its British cohorts hacked private computers, stole encryption keys and now potentially has the power to tap into millions of cell phones without having to bother with obtaining warrants or dealing with pesky communications companies, the leaked documents also revealed yet more surveillance state official lies.
In January 2014, Pres. Obama gave speech addressing the NSA scandals. During the speech, he swore the agency doesn’t spy on “ordinary people,” and that surveillance only targets suspected terrorists and criminals.
The bottom line is that people around the world, regardless of their nationality, should know that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security and that we take their privacy concerns into account in our policies and procedures.
Unless we no longer consider employees of an international tech company “ordinary.”
“The NSA and GCHQ view the private communications of people who work for these companies as fair game. These people were specifically hunted and targeted by intelligence agencies, not because they did anything wrong, but because they could be used as a means to an end,” ACLU Principal Technologist and a Senior Policy Analyst Chris Soghoian told the Intercept.
You would probably do well to just assume everything any NSA official tells you about how they protect your privacy, follow the law and revere the Constitution is a lie.
The NSA is a bunch of liars and thieves.