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NSA Defends Encryption Backdoors By Promising It's Only Used To Spy On All Of Us

Published: September 6, 2013
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Source: Tech Dirt, Mike Masnick


The Director of National Intelligence has now responded to the unveiling of the fact that the NSA inserted backdoors in various forms of encryption and recruited internal spies at telco companies with one of his typically ridiculous statements using carefully parsed words. It sounds like the NSA rushed out that statement, because the attempt to assure the public that it's just being used on bad people leaves open a pretty large loophole. See if you can spot it:
Throughout history, nations have used encryption to protect their secrets, and today, terrorists, cybercriminals, human traffickers and others also use code to hide their activities. Our intelligence community would not be doing its job if we did not try to counter that.
Highlighting added by me. Here's a tip: when trying to reassure the public that you're not abusing your powers, and that you're breaking basic encryption used widely across the internet for their own good by narrowly targeting whom it's used against, maybe (just maybe) don't include a hedge word that includes every human being on earth. 

As Ken White noted, we are all "others" here. We've already noted that previous leaks, concerning "minimization" have shown that the NSA people believe that if your data is encrypted then they can keep it, because you might be evil, and that comes through here as well. They keep trying to focus on how this is just about stopping terrorists, but it always leaves that massive loophole for "others." 

So, once again, the NSA's attempt to insist that what it's doing is narrow and targeted and just after "the bad guys," yet again only breeds further reasons to trust the NSA even less. As White notes, this whole situation is particularly disturbing because so much can be classified under "others" that should be seen as reasonable and normal activity of a person who questions whether the government is really acting as a representative of the people.

I am the other because I do not trust my government in general, or the people working for its security apparatus in particular.

I am the other because I believe the Security State and its representatives habitually lie, both directly and bymisleading language, about the scope of their spying on us. I believe they feel entitled to do so.

I am the other because I believe the Security State and its representatives habitually violate such modest restrictions as a complacent and compliant legislature puts on their spying — again, because they feel entitled to do so.

I am the other because I don't believe the Security State and its representatives when they say that government spying is reserved for foreign terrorists. In fact, the NSA's "minimization" techniques — touted as methods for restricting spying to foreign terrorists instead of U.S. citizens — are often transparently and insultingly ridiculous.

I am the other because I don't believe my government when it tries to convince us that enhanced spying techniques are used to protect us from terrorists. I believe, instead, that the increased powers acquired by my government since 9/11 have been habitually brought to bear for domestic purposes, including such things as the ruinous and amoral War on Drugs.

Ken goes on from there and it's well worth reading the entire statement. The NSA sees the American public as the adversary and believes it can track pretty much anyone as an "other." And for those who believe you "have nothing to fear because you've done nothing wrong," it's time to recognize that you too, are the "other."

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