Encryption going mainstream

In an extremely important and positive development triggered by Edward Snowden, Yahoo announces that like Google they will begin to encrypt email. It was clear that the only way that government spying could be thwarted is if the big companies started including sophisticated encryption methods into their software and made it easy to use, because ordinary people would be too intimidated by what is required to do so on their own. We cannot depend upon Congress to rein the NSA in.
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So much for going through the proper channels

The Obama administration and its supporters of the national security state never tire of telling us that whistleblowers like Edward Snowden should not go public with the revelations but instead go through the ‘proper channels’ since those channels supposedly have safeguards to protect them from retaliation. Apart from the fact that Snowden was a contractor and not a federal employee and thus not entitled to those protections, we saw the harsh treatment meted out to previous whistleblowers who did try to use these methods. Indeed it was seeing what happened to these earlier whistleblowers that made Snowden choose his particular path.
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GCHQ’s activities

While the NSA has been the focus of much my criticisms, its British counterpart the GCHQ has been even worse in its disregard for people’s privacy. Glenn Greenwald has a new story out today revealing more of its activities and its propaganda techniques to manipulate public opinion.
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US and Saudi Arabia cooperation

Saudi Arabia has one of the most brutal governments and repressive social practices. The terrible way it treats criminals and women and gays and indeed anyone who deviates from strict Islamic orthodoxy is legendary. Hence the US government’s close ties with that country and its reluctance to criticize its practices is noteworthy showing how the US’s concern for human rights is highly selective and largely driven by geopolitical interests.
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Whom the NSA is spying on

Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain have published an article that identifies five individuals whose emails were intercepted by the NSA, out of 7,485 listed on a spreadsheet. This is the first time that the targets of the NSA spying have been identified by name. All of them were people who, as far as anyone can tell, had led lives that were free from any suspicion of being involved in wrongdoing. Their main ‘crime’ seems to have been that they are all Muslims.
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Cashing in, big time

It appears that former NSA director Keith Alexander is now consulting on cybersecurity and getting paid $600,000 per month and this is naturally raising questions about the nature of the information he might be willing to give that is worth so much, given that he worked in a top-security agency. It also shows that there’s big money to be made by hyperinflating threats.
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The GCHQ is even more brazen than the NSA

Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now know that the NSA and the US government have used every linguistic contortion, legal loophole and, when those failed to meet their needs, outright breaking of laws in order to achieve its ultimate goal of sweeping up all the communications on the planet, and then lying about it.
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