Former NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker
Yesterday, Reuters reported that Yahoo secretly built software to scan its customers’ emails for keywords provided by the NSA and FBI. One can only imagine the number of recipes for bars this program uncovered. Among Americans, at least, a Yahoo account is a badge of unfamiliarity with the contemporary internet second only to Hotmail. But this remains a massive breach of trust. Your aunt might not have signed up for Yahoo mail if she knew all her messages would be scanned and turned over to law enforcement. This may be the secondary infection that kills Yahoo’s ailing business, but I’m more interested in the argument this discovery prompted from Stewart Baker, former general counsel at the NSA. I quote:
“[Email providers] have the power to encrypt it all, and with that comes added responsibility to do some of the work that had been done by the intelligence agencies.”
Does it? Close reading after the jump.
An orangutan uses the telephone, in one of many fun images you can purchase from Masterfile.
Why is this orangutan wearing a knit sweater when he is already covered in orange utan hair? His mom made it, you dick. You’re at the mercy of what your parents consider important, because there are twice as many of them as you. Case in point: Vodafone announced Friday that several governments have direct access to its customers’ data, including the ability to listen to phone calls in progress. Originally, that was supposed to be something they could do only with judicial oversight, but if one of those secret rulings doesn’t work out, the government of, say, Ireland can just use its technical backdoor. I’m sure none of those foreign governments—which may include our own—would abuse their direct lines, though. In unrelated news, the government of Britain made over 500,000 requests for communications data in 2013 alone.
Good news, you
guys terrorists: the foreign intelligence surveillance court order that authorizes the NSA to collect calling data on every American expires Friday. Also, ambiguous news, you guys: President Obama plans to ask FISA to extend the program for another 90 days, but he will also ask Congress to end it. The secret domestic surveillance program that for the last decade has been totally legal and okay will go away now that we know about it. I’m pretty sure that means the terrorists won. Thanks a lot, Edward Snowden.
Some high-value tactical communication on World of Warcraft
I don’t know about you—because what am I, the NSA?—but I worry that blanket domestic surveillance will be a problem because the federal government could use it for evil. Recent developments suggest that I may have overlooked another possibility: blanket surveillance could be a problem because the government will use it to waste vast quantities of money and time. I refer, of course, to the news that intelligence agencies are monitoring Second Life and World of Warcraft. Props to Mose for the link. The NSA, FBI and CIA believe that terrorists and other international criminals could use online multiplayer games to secretly communicate with one another and exchange resources. In fact, terrorists are most likely to use World of Warcraft to get called fags by 14 year-olds in Ohio. It’s a real misunderstanding.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel describes the ideal bratwurst.
The New York Times reports that President Obama plans to ban NSA spying on heads of allied governments, because the Germans are upset. For those of you who do not surveil all electronic communications, the US government was embarrassed last week by revelations that the NSA had monitored the phone calls of 35 world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The President totally didn’t know about it, though. Or at least he said he didn’t, which makes a lot of sense.