“Well if the data was useless they wouldn’t be a very good reason to collect it, would there?”- US Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren
Earlier today, The Guardian published a six-page infographic on their website, which went into great depth and detail about the NSA in America, GCHQ in the United Kingdom, and FSB in Russia.
Each section covers a different set of topics, arguments, and video interviews related to the mind-blowing spy network that has been erected from nothing dust in just the past 11 years. Top-ranking figures interviewed include Senator Ron Wyden, Lavabit founder Ladar Levinson, former NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker, and Senior Executive of the National Security Agency Thomas Drake.
It goes into extensive detail about programs such as PRISM, MUSCULAR, and STORMBREW. It details the involvement from multiple governments, including the UK and French heads of state who swore by similar constitutions to protect the rights, privacy, and free speech of the people they lorded over. It also goes as far to condemn technology firms like Google, AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook, reminding us that the United States wouldn’t have been able to gain access to those files if the companies in charge of it hadn’t started amassing them in the first place.
Ultimately, the report brings up the most important point of all: that in a lot of ways, likely more than any of us would be willing to individually admit, we brought this on ourselves. We decided to blindly trust these gigabyte giants who bore innocuous slogans like “Don’t Be Evil”, and hoped they wouldn’t take that sense of safety and protection we gave to them without question for granted. Every late-night inquiry about the bunion on our left foot, the early-morning chats with bosses and friends and loved ones, and everything that happened in the afternoons between, even this blog is something I’m trusting to the open internet. Hoping, praying that no one will look at it as a reason to set up shop on my server and surveill all my metadata moves.
At the conclusion of the document, The Guardian and its author Glen Greenwald paint, surprisingly, a picture of relative optimism. Detailing bills that have been introduced to the house, activist groups who are fighting back, and courts taking cases of everyday people looking to make a change in the way information is handled in this country and abroad. Personally I’ve been weary that something this big, so well-funded, and widely supported by the government officials who put it in place could be dismantled at the drop of a hat.
But, like Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden, and my local Congresswoman — I’m also holding onto the dream that hope is not yet completely lost, and that as a collective people we still have a chance to fight back.
“In the end, it may be through the courts rather than Congress that genuine reform may come. Privacy groups such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Electronic Frontier Foundation launched lawsuits that have led to disclosure of hundreds of pages of Fisa rulings on Section 215. GCHQ and NSA surveillance is facing a legal challenge at the European court of human rights from Big Brother Watch, English PEN and Open Rights Group.”
Stay tuned tofor all the latest news, updates, and releases regarding the NSA leaks.