Every few days or so, there’s another revelation on National Security Agency spying techniques that come from the file dump by former analyst, now Russian refugee Edward Snowden.
Some revelations are pretty interesting. But then a new “revelation” is brought to light, and it makes you wonder if it’s really a revelation.
Like this report yesterday, released by three news organizations. Here’s the summary from Pro Publica:
The NSA has secretly and successfully worked to break many types of encryption, the widely used technology that is supposed to make it impossible to read intercepted communications.
Referring to the NSA’s efforts, a 2010 British document stated: “Vast amounts of encrypted Internet data are now exploitable.” Another British memo said: “Those not already briefed were gobsmacked!”
The NSA has worked with American and foreign tech companies to introduce weaknesses into commercial encryption products, allowing backdoor access to data that users believe is secure.
The NSA has deliberately weakened the international encryption standards adopted by developers around the globe.
Encryption is electronic coding of material, designed to ensure its security during transmission. The NSA is a spy agency. The main job of spy agencies is surveillance. Most of the time, that involves cracking code.
So what I gather from the above bullet points is “the NSA is cracking code.”
And were supposed to be surprise by this because …?
I’ve already posted a number of times that in a digital world, you have no secrets. I’ve never been under the impression that governments (and hackers) aren’t trying to unlock encrypted material.
I’d just ask that when these revelations like the material above is released, the news agencies provide some context on what it means. Are they saying it’s bad?
The lead of the Pro Publica story says this:
The National Security Agency is winning its long-running secret war on encryption, using supercomputers, technical trickery, court orders and behind-the-scenes persuasion to undermine the major tools protecting the privacy of everyday communications in the Internet age, according to newly disclosed documents.
But there is no privacy in everyday communications. Rupert Murdock‘s newspapers in London have been busted for hiring private detectives to hack the phone mail of politicians. movie stars and a dead teenager. Anything you post to social media is instantly accessible to people you don’t know. And (since I like posting this video) even your bank records are open to the world:
So, I ask again, why should be be surprised by this NSA “revelation”?
(Oh, yeah. And I hate the word “gobsmacked.”)