The recent revelations by journalist Glenn Greenwald and whistleblower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have shed a welcome light on the mass surveillance program of Americans and people in other countries by the National Security Agency (NSA) and its private contractors.
What they revealed was long suspected, and in some cases known, but no less a threat to our right to privacy and control over our own government:
- the logging of who you call, when you call, from where you call and how long you talk provides the NSA with detailed knowledge of who you know, where you have been and what your behaviors are;
- the PRISM program which allows the NSA direct access to, without the need to obtain a warrant, your emails, chats, videos, photos, Voice over IP (VoIP), stored data, access records and other data for Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Skype, YouTube, Apple and other service providers;
- Boundless Informant, the NSA’s datamining tool to track the amount of surveillance data they have obtained for each country, including the US, which the NSA is legally excluded from spying on and which NSA director General Keith Alexander told Senators they could not provide in October, 2012;
- that large portions of the national security state are run by private contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton, the employer of Snowden.
Snowden sums up how these tools can harm individuals by destroying our right to privacy:
Because even if you are not doing anything wrong, you are being watched and recorded and the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude. It’s getting to the point that you don’t have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall into suspicion from somebody even by a wrong call. And then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you have ever made and every friend you’ve ever discussed something with and attack you on that basis to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.
The desire of those in the US government to prosecute Snowden are not unexpected. I am sure I speak for every Pirate that calls by government officials to prosecute Snowden for not abiding by the law regarding classified information are laughable when the information he revealed showed a massive attempt by government officials to subvert the constitutional rights of US citizens. We need more whistleblowers such as Snowden, Bradley Manning, Jesselyn Radack and others.
I share Snowden’s fear that:
… the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. People will see in the media all of these disclosures. They’ll know the lengths that the government is going to grant themselves powers unilaterally to create greater control over American society and global society. But they won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interests.
And the months ahead, the years ahead it’s only going to get worse until eventually there will be a time where policies will change because the only thing that restricts the activities of the surveillance state are policy. Even our agreements with other sovereign governments, we consider that to be a stipulation of policy rather then a stipulation of law. And because of that a new leader will be elected, they’ll find the switch, say that ‘Because of the crisis, because of the dangers we face in the world, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power.’ And there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it. And it will be turnkey tyranny.
But I know that if we value our privacy and liberties, indeed our very control over our government, then we have to stand up and oppose this mass surveillance program.
I urge you to come to Dewey Square, near South Station in Boston, this Friday, June 14th starting at 4pm. We will join with others to peacefully post CEASE & DESIST notices on Verizon, Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and other stores/buildings. Spread the word as far as you are able!
This action is only one of the many steps we must take to roll back the national security state. Together we can secure our privacy!