If The NSA Doesn't Know How Its Systems Are Used, Then It Can't Know They Haven't Been Abused
from the because-they-have dept
As Zeynep Tufekci notes, anyone who claims that the NSA's data hasn't been misused would have to know more about the NSA's system than the NSA does, since they don't seem to have a way to make sure it wasn't abused.
Given this reality, can anyone truly deny the possibility that a malevolent Snowden or a foreign government that might have placed a sysadmin mole into NSA has NOT scooped up personal information on influential and important politicians and is now (or will in the future) blackmailing them? Can we be sure that there is not already massive “unauthorized” snooping at lower levels? There is already a whistle blower who claims Barack Obama was wiretapped by the NSA along with a whole number of high-level US politicians. The possibilities for mischief—ranging from the small potatoes cases of scorned lovers to significant political and personal blackmail and deep privacy violations—is vast. And the scary truth is that nobody really knows for sure what has already happened, nor can anyone claim or guarantee that it won’t. Not the pundits, not the NSA itself, and not any individual sysadmin because, as I’ve already argued, digital unknowns can stay buried forever if tracks are covered with expertise and root access.This, right here, is a key part of the problem. If there has been abuse (beyond what's already been reported), we probably wouldn't even know about it because the only ones who do know about it are those involved. And that's what's so scary here. The defenders of this system seem to have astounding and naive levels of trust that everyone working for them is trustworthy when that's almost certainly not true. The system itself is broken, and the claims from its defenders aren't unbelievable because they're unbelievable, they're unbelievable because what they're saying is impossible.