'Team Sport' Is The NSA's Buzzword For Getting Companies To Violate Your Privacy

from the that's-not-very-sporting dept

I noticed something interesting in two of our recent stories about NSA surveillance. In yesterday’s revelation in the Guardian about how Microsoft had made it easy for the NSA to record Skype audio and video, an internal NSA bulletin referred to the situation this way:

The document continues: “The FBI and CIA then can request a copy of Prism collection of any selector…” As a result, the author notes: “these two activities underscore the point that Prism is a team sport!”

That was apparently written on August 3, 2012. But the “team sport” phrase caught my attention, because while Tim Cushing was writing up that story, I had been working on the story about the NSA’s talking points for the groundbreaking of its massive datacenter in Bluffdale Utah. Those talking points were for January 6, 2011, but they too, reference “team sports” as a way to describe the collaboration with tech companies:

Cyber must be a team sport — it is too big for one agency, or even one nation to be able to “control.”

Seeing that exact phrase show up in two separate documents, which were both revealed on the same day, through different means (one via a leak, one via a FOIA request), were written at different times, and were revealed through very different sources, has me wondering. It seems likely that this is a key talking point that the NSA has been working on for quite some time, should information on PRISM and other programs ever get out. As long as they call these efforts a “team sport” perhaps people won’t be as freaked out about them, or something.

But it’s kind of a funny thing to call them. Who is the “opposing” team here? The public? And it’s a funny sort of “sport” when the rules are all secret, and the referees and umpires get to reinterpret the rules in secret with the NSA/companies’ team, without ever informing the public of the rule changes. There’s definitely a team here, but it doesn’t seem very sporting. It seems more like a bunch of people with way too much power screwing over the public. Perhaps that’s what they should actually call it.

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Comments on “'Team Sport' Is The NSA's Buzzword For Getting Companies To Violate Your Privacy”

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John Fenderson (profile) says:

It's adding insult to injury

I find the use of the phrase “team sport” to be incredibly insulting. It’s reducing the wholesale invasion of our privacy to a game. If they’re going to be doing this, I at least would prefer that they don’t do it so lightheartedly.

The word “sport” means “play or a pleasant pasttime,” after all. Unless you’re 16th century royalty, for whom the term “sport of kings” meant war-making.

Guardian says:

time to boycott then all major sports

when you all boycott major sports then the nsa gets sued cause of the term they used harms the majors….then they get bent over to “NOT BE PART OF THIS”

and aint that just hitler like to get you on the team….
take one in the ass for a team yup
i bet the flamin idiot that dreamed this up is some NFL moron just salivating at the money he just raked in for a stupid idea that now as its spying lying sack a shit gets turfed up to the bad winds ….well unemployment cant happen to nicer people.

when they are all turfed to the curb without a job will be the day i never give homeless and poor any coin ( as the majority of them will ONLY be these types a sick fucks)

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