Stay tuned people, it’s only going to get worse from here. In yet another attempt to map a visual network of social ties and business connections, the NSA has been dredging the accounts of thousands of American citizens in order to get a read on what people are thinking and planning to do on a scale that would make George Orwell himself tear up at the sight of it all.
On Thursday, the Washington Post reported they had gained access to documents which reveal even more NSA snooping tactics, this time with details on a program designed to farm the contacts and content of everyday users emails, messaging services, and contact lists. Whenever users sign into their inboxes, talk with friends, or sync to several different major cloud services, that data is automatically picked up by mass sniffers which are deployed on the international backbone lines to seek out particular keywords and pull any relevant communications that come up as a match.
Services like Yahoo, Facebook, and Gmail were just a few of the targets who had been named in the internal PowerPoint presentation that was lifted by current international fugitive-turned-privacy-hero Edward Snowden. His leaks show that almost 700,000 address books were collected over the period of a single day, and while Congress has given no approval or had any oversight over the proceedings, they also seem unwilling to prosecute the agency now that the information has come to light.
In order to avoid direct culpability, the NSA outsourced the actual collection and storage of the data to server farms and IT teams located off domestic soil. This move would supposedly clear the actual people involved in running the operation, while also providing an extra layer of deniability to those getting status updates back here at home.
One way the people have been able to fight back against the monster of a machine that’s been amassed in the past decade is with something none of us even knew we had the power to use until now: junk mail. Along with the news of the program, several documents point to issues the NSA has confronted while trying to get the vacuum cleaner to know what to look for in valuable information, and how to discern when it might be nothing more than harmless spam. As it turns out, there just isn’t enough room in the world to make duplicates of all the spam we keep in our emails, and petabytes of it have been clogging servers at their headquarters, forcing administrators to put out an “emergency detasking” order as a way to stop their mainframes from going mental after trying to sort through the mess.
Besides letting your inboxes overflow with flyers about ways to get rich quick or sell your gold online, the next best move you can make is to backup your emails, contacts, and buddy lists onto a disk that is encrypted and hidden by a virtual private network. Private Internet Access is a world leader in anonymity, providing thousands of customers with fast servers and direct access to their top of the line of VPN products that can’t be beat.
And to anyone who doesn’t clean out their spam folders on a daily basis; we salute you.