NSA Conspiracy Theories Turn Out To Be Totally Correct

Today the Washington Post ran a story that should (but won’t) finally make government spying a household issue.  Under the name PRISM, the NSA has had a direct line into the servers of leading internet companies – Google, Facebook, Skype, and others.  For years, they have been able to tap into virtually all the information that these companies have collected about people, using cross-connections and logins to track people across the entire internet.  The Post is somewhat unclear on whether the actual content is being collected, or metadata – for example, an email’s timestamp and destination is metadata, whereas the actual subject line and text are the content itself.

This is not only unconstitutional, but very obviously and blatantly unconstitutional.  The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution reads in full as such:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Emails and Facebook data very clearly count as “papers and effects”, reading their data without their consent is obviously a “search”, and pulling indiscriminately from all web traffic is an extremely unreasonable search.  Somehow I doubt that the NSA got warrants either.  Their justification is that certain statistical signifiers are used to indicate at least 51% certainty that a target isn’t American – though of course even when they’re spying on foreigners they end up pulling tons of data on Americans as well (e.g., emails sent from Americans to the targets).

To state the obvious: this is illegal behavior from the NSA and horrifyingly shameful behavior from Silicon Valley.  With all their self-righteous talk of privacy and user protection, this is craven and disgusting behavior from companies that aspire to be trusted partners for all Americans.  As for the NSA, those responsible should be fired and preferably jailed.

On the bright side, it’s kind of funny that it turns out all the conspiracy theories about the NSA have turned out to be correct.  For many years, kooky nuts have insisted that the NSA has been watching every electronic communication in America.  It generally focuses on the ECHELON system (the NSA sure seems to be fond of all-caps names, incidentally) but it turned out to be called PRISM.  Responsible adults generally respond by pointing out that such a vast conspiracy would be impossible to keep secret, and furthermore would be so obviously illegal that the NSA’s lawyers would steer clear.  Well, the responsible adults were wrong and the kooks were right.

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15 responses to “NSA Conspiracy Theories Turn Out To Be Totally Correct”

  1. william says :

    BOSTON Bombers casually strolled right through an ONGOING bomb detection drill, set off their bombs, and casually strolled away. They did not consider security cameras, did not have an escape plan, had already been reported by the Russians numerous times, the FBI had actually TALKED to them. Obviously these people are NOT looking for Terrorists, what ARE they looking for??? By the way …. “Ignorance of the LAW is no excuse”. Well, if the “law” is secret, and UNKNOWABLE, then it is NULL AND VOID. Secret laws are not LAWS.

  2. Joe says :

    “but it turned out to be called PRISM” should maybe read “first there was ECHELON, and now PRISM”. ECHELON is as real as you are. Its existence was proven and never denied. Why do you imply that it was somehow unimportant?

    It’s simple. PRISM is fairly new, first there was ECHELON, and now there is also PRISM. Do a bit more digging and you’ll see that they can coexist and have distinctly separate missions.

  3. Paulo says :

    Republicou isso em O Futuro é a Liberdadee comentado:
    Há vários anos, nós da área de TI, sabemos que essa vigilância sobre os cidadãos acontece. Aqui no Brasil, a Polícia Federal possui acesso direto às centrais de telefonia. Eles podem gravar conversas telefônicas de qualquer pessoa, sem sair da sua mesa no escritório. Eu vi isso, pessoalmente, há mais de 10 anos atrás. Imagino o que eles podem fazer hoje. Qualquer profissional de TI sabe que bisbilhotar o tráfego das pessoas é a coisa mais fácil do mundo. Ninguém criptografa dados, e-mails, senhas, nada! Pior: usam Windows que pode ser facilmente crackeado por algum tipo de vírus, sem que o usuário se dê conta disso. Portanto, caros leitores, como o título do artigo abaixo sugere: Não existem teorias conspiratórias. Existem conspirações que ainda precisam ser descobertas e ganhar notoriedade.

    Tradução do título: “As Teorias Conspiratórias a Respeito da NSA Provaram-se Totalmente Corretas”

  4. George W. Obama says :

    Just because they admitted it doesn’t mean it’s true…
    Remember that this is being admitted by the LIEBERAL MEDIA, the same media that lied about Iraq not possessing weapons of mass destruction even though Saddam had a nuclear bomb in his pocket when we found him.

    The kooks are just kooks – the NSA doesn’t spy on people, all our wars are totally justified, 9/11 was the work of 19 cavemen, Assad is more evil than Hitler and Stalin combined, and Iranians are almost begging us to nuke them because they’d rather die than live under their Communist regime (same goes for North Korea and their Islamofascist theocracy).

    Anyone claiming anything else is an Anti-American terrorist.

  5. Rick says :

    At first I thought George W. Obama’s comment was a desperate attempt to muddy the water- this idea that America, or anywhere else has a ‘liberal’ media is laughable- there is a corporatist media, same as everywhere in the west.

    And then I read the second paragraph and realised it was merely unfunny parody.

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