By Rebel Fagin
The NSA has eviscerated our 4th Amendment protection to privacy and the
damage goes beyond surveillance. If you are reading this you’re probably on the Known or Suspected Terrorist Watch List. Ever try to influence government? Know any foreigners? Do you have a name similar to a known or suspected terrorists’? How ‘bout your friends, friends, friends, friends? Do you belong to an organization like a sports club? Whoa behold you should you be a Muslim. The NSA profiles entire groups. Just ‘cause your dead doesn’t remove you from the list. In 2001 there were 16 people on the no-fly-list. By 2013 there were 47,000.
The legal grounds for this unconstitutional spying lies in an interpretation of section 215 of the Patriots Act.
Most of this illegal spying comes down to two programs: PRISM and BOUNDLESS INFORMANT. PRISM allows the NSA to “collected directly from the servers of these US Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Paltalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple.” These providers have backdoor connections directly to the NSA.
BOUNDLESS INFORMANT is an NSA program designed to collect
individuals’ phone calls and e-mails.
These programs are easily accessed through X-Keyscore. This program
allows NSA agents to download information on anybody by e-mail address or
telephone number. This is the program Snowden was referring to when he said
he could intercept Obama’s e-mails.
There are also Sting Rays. These are electronic spying devises used by
police to mimic cell towers so they can download cell phone locations. To find
one phone requires locating many.
Everyone has something they’d like to keep private. This is normal
human behavior and not unique to terrorists. Experiments have demonstrated
that we all self-censor when we think we’re being watched. One goal of these
NSA programs is to condition us to self-censor while maintaining an illusion of free choice. They can’t watch all of us all the time, but they may be watching us at any time so it‘s best to conform all the time. This is cultural suicide for it stifles the creativity and experimentation necessary for growth and innovation.
One way this information can be used is as blackmail. That’s how
J. Edgar Hoover kept his job as long as he did. Even if you’re clean you can be made to appear dirty on-line. The NSA uses “honey traps”. They change photos on social networking sites, write blogs purporting to be victims of their target, send e-mails to colleagues and friends with false accusations, or, as the title suggests, use the internet to lure male targets into compromising situations with female agents.
There are things we can do. An off-the-shelf computer can be an “air gap” computer. You can write on it without being hacked as long as you stay off-line. If you order a computer on-line the NSA may, as they have in the past, detour your computer, implant devises in the router, and then, factory seal in tact, send it on its way to you.
Cell-phone can be used as position monitoring and listening devises even
when shut off. For privacy take out the batteries. It is wise to cover the
web cam on you monitor when it is not in use as it too can be used as a spying
We can also use servers that do not comply with the NSA . Try
DuckDuckGo or StartPage. Both are privacy oriented. StartPage uses Goggle search results but strips all identifying information.
Encrypt sensitive information. There are many encryption programs
like GNU Privacy Guard Encryption and Pretty Good Privacy. These will lead you to others. There are also privacy conscious email providers like RiseUp, GuerillaMail, Rediff and HushMail.
Mostly we need to take actions that combine legal remedies with direct
actions that hurt the providers who violate our rights.
Sources: No Place to Hide by Glenn Grennwald © 2014; IVPN 8/5/13, video of Jacob Applebaum called The Militarization of the Internet; KPFA, Democracy Now! 6/26/14; The Intercept 7/23/14 & 8/5/14.