Wall Street Journal Suggests Snowden Gave China Its 'Great Cannon' Software... Based On Pure Random Speculation
from the journalism! dept
Edward Snowden sabotaged the intelligence capabilities of the U.S. and its allies, and now we learn he may have given the Chinese regime a weapon to spread Internet censorship across the planet. The Great Firewall, the unofficial name for a suite of blocking tools, stops Chinese citizens from accessing outside information. In the past few weeks Beijing has deployed a new offensive capability, dubbed the Great Cannon.First of all, Snowden didn't "sabotage" any intelligence capabilities at all. He revealed to journalists how the NSA and its partners were abusing certain powers, likely breaking the law. That's not "sabotage." Second, the "we learn" is not based on anything the WSJ's nameless author of the opinion piece actually "learned." It's based on wild speculation by stringing some misleading and unrelated ideas together. So we're already off to an inauspicious start to the piece.
According to a report from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, the Great Cannon is similar to Quantum, a tool developed by the U.S. to track potential terrorists and criminals abroad. Snowden, a former system administrator for the U.S. National Security Agency, revealed the existence of Quantum for the first time in 2013 when he fled to Hong Kong and then Moscow.Loose connection #1.
Did Snowden give the Chinese the code for the Great Cannon? He denies sharing anything with foreign governments. But then he’s an admitted liar, and we don’t know what the Chinese and Russian spy services have been able to copy from what he stole. In any event he alerted them to a weakness that could be exploited.Wait, what? How is he "an admitted liar?" That seems like a stretch already, and seems like the kind of line you'd find in a conspiracy website, not the pages of the Wall Street Journal. Second, the idea that the Chinese didn't already recognize how to do online attacks via such methods until Snowden revealed it seems especially questionable. Among the other things that Snowden revealed: the NSA knows that the Chinese are among the most sophisticated in building tools for mounting online attacks. The idea that they would be totally ignorant of methods like these until Snowden's revelations came out seems difficult to believe.
A South China Morning Post report that the Great Cannon has been under development for about a year is suggestive. This means China’s hacking bureaucracy geared up to produce this new product soon after the Snowden leaks.Loose connection #2. Also, notice that the WSJ doesn't actually link to the SCMP story, so we'll do that for you. It actually doesn't say it was in development for a year. It says that it's "been in operation for about one year." I guess the timing still sorta works if you're making loose connections, but it seems like a pretty big leap to argue that's somehow evidence that Snowden gave the info to the Chinese during his brief stay in Hong Kong.
It also means that in the name of “transparency,” Snowden and his media accomplices may have empowered one of the world’s worst censors.Uh, no, it doesn't. If the WSJ's editorial board knew the first thing about technology, they'd know that it didn't require Ed Snowden to teach the Chinese how to build a giant DDoS machine.
This is another example of how the Western left fails to distinguish between the secrecy and surveillance required by democracies to preserve freedom and that used by dictators to quash it.Huh? That sentence doesn't even make sense.
Either way, as one commenter noted, you'd think that the WSJ might realize that even if China modeled the Great Cannon on the NSA's Quantum, it really says something that we're building tools that can be used to censor the internet. And they should realize that's a problem. Instead, they try to blame the whole thing on Snowden, because... well, actually not for any actual reason that I can see -- just pure speculation. That's the kind of thing we'd expect to see on conspiracy theory websites. Not the Wall Street Journal.