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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

the spooks are the hackers « Previous | |Next »
February 2, 2014

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, is seen as a traitor by the conservative Abbott Government. In so doing they take the position of the security hawks.

Security hawks consider any unauthorized disclosure of classified information unacceptable, stressing that cleared employees take an oath not to disclose such information, and that no government can operate without some secret deliberations and covert actions.

So what are these secret deliberations and covert actions?

The spy agencies had hijacked the internet is what Snowden told us. The NSA was hoovering up metadata from millions of Americans. Phone records, email headers, subject lines, seized without acknowledgment or consent. From this you could construct a complete electronic narrative of an individual's life: their friends, lovers, joys, sorrows.

Luke Harding in The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man tells us that:

The NSA had secretly attached intercepts to the undersea fibre optic cables that ringed the world. This allowed them to read much of the globe's communications. Secret courts were compelling telecoms providers to hand over data. What's more, pretty much all of Silicon Valley was involved with the NSA, Snowden said – Google, Microsoft, Facebook, [and] Apple. The NSA claimed it had "direct access" to the tech giants' servers. It had even put secret back doors into online encryption software – used to make secure bank payments – weakening the system for everybody.

The secrecy is not being used for legitimate purposes of national security, but to shield illegal or embarrassing activity from public scrutiny. NSA has been cooperating in potentially disturbing ways with its British, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand surveillance counterparts. In this case the benefits from revealing illegal abuses of authority by the national security state outweigh the costs of disclosing those secrets.

Ministers in the Abbott Government are not even bothering to try to make the case for mass surveillance of communications data following the revelations by Edward Snowden. They turn their guns on newspapers and media that covered the leaks. Their stock response is that we have intelligence services because it is a dangerous world, there are people that want to do terrible things and that Snowden is causing damage to our security in the fight against terrorism.

They hold this position even though the mass surveillance spying programmes are much more than 'overstepping their boundaries'. They are probably illegal and have been signed off by ministers in breach of human rights and surveillance laws. The spooks then lied about their activities, then, when exposed, kept on lying. When placed in the context of the current undeclared war on whistleblowers and independent journalism ramping up in the US, the UK and Australia we can see that this is an attack on democracy.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:27 PM | | Comments (2)


THe bottom line is, even the security of data collected can NOT,finally, be protected or not exploited by the wrong people for the wrong purposes.

This relates also to the subjectivities of the people collecting and using information.

Isn't the Snowden/Assange issue the living, breathing proof of this?

Sen. Penny Wong was correct, I beleive, to assert that the slanderous antics of the government over Snowden, Assange and others are more about defending avoidance of scrutiny than anything to do with real world threats and pursuing legitimate security concerns.

They say they are out to track insurgents, but given lack of oversight, how are we to know if the practices are not about tracking local dissenters (eg environmentalists protesting logging or gas fracking to profile?

It's not far-fetched..even the Victorian ALP government a few years ago was happy to ultimately farm out data on dissenters to logging companies.

David Glance at the Conversation writes:

The Snowden affair has snowballed into an all-pervasive paranoia about intelligence agencies being able to somehow know everything about all of us..... Unfortunately this has possibly led to a predisposition to see threats where none exist and discussions about the issues of privacy conflated with all-out spying.

"to see threats where none exist "? The spooks hacked the tech giants' servers; put secret back doors into online encryption software; secretly attached intercepts to the undersea fibre optic cables that ringed the world.

The tech giants weren't too happy and saw the hacking as a threats.