Edward Snowden has continued to release reports on the NSA and related agencies. This time they have discussed the spying program’s access to Google and Yahoo conversations, as well as plans to exploit the online sexual habits of Muslim academics they consider radical.
These allegations come at a time when pressure is more intense than even on the US government to put a full end to the practices of various spying agencies. Every new report released has increased anger, both America and abroad.
With more information becoming public, and several EU leaders on the list of those who were violated in the spying programs, Europe has threatened to end valuable data sharing with the United States. The exchange, titled Safe Harbor, has shown a number of flaws, the commission has said.
“The commission will underline that things have gone very badly indeed. Our analysis is Safe Harbor seems not to be safe. We’re asking the US not just to speak, but to act,” EU justice and rights commissioner Viviane Reding said in a statement.
“There is always a possibility to scrap Safe Harbor … It’s important that these recommendations are acted on by the US side by summer 2014. Next summer is a Damocles sword. It’s a real to-do list. Enforcement is absolutely critical. Safe Harbor cannot be only an empty shell.”
But such measures are not only coming from Europe. In America, companies are beginning to rebel against the measures. For example, Microsoft, who believe the NSA is set to continue spying despite the scandal, are set to increase their encryption for internet traffic. They hope this will land a major blow against any agencies that might exploit such data.
The NSA made a statement about this measure earlier this week:
“NSA’s focus is on targeting the communications of valid foreign intelligence targets, not on collecting and exploiting a class of communications or services that would sweep up communications that are not of bona fide foreign intelligence interest to the U.S. government.”
However, that doesn’t change the information that the NSA has been using back door measures to listen in on communications from companies like Google and Yahoo, without ever needing access to their data centers. This process, which goes straight through the fiber optic cables rather than through company cooperation, is likely what has prompted Microsoft to make such a move.
For the first time, it is beginning to look as if the tech companies that claimed not to be a part of a bulk of the spying were telling the truth. If the NSA really was gaining back door access, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo and other targeted companies would have been unlikely to have any idea as to the scope of the problem.
In other related news, the NSA has also now been accused of monitoring the porn habits of six individuals, five of which reside out of the US and one who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
This information was set to be used to discredit academics that had been listed as radical, all of them Muslims. According to reports, the unnamed individuals supported violent or offensive jihad, considered non-Muslims the enemy, or took part in other calls that the NSA felt presented a threat to national security.
During the course of their porn gathering, they found what sexual habits the individuals exhibited. These included speaking to young and inexperienced girls (ages unknown) with sexually explicit conversations, and viewing content online. It also looked at donated expenses by supporters that were used for personal expenses, overcharging for speaking fees, and using dubious fact checking in their work.
“Without discussing specific individuals, it should not be surprising that the US Government uses all of the lawful tools at our disposal to impede the efforts of valid terrorist targets who seek to harm the nation and radicalize others to violence,” National Intelligence director Shawn Turner said of the report.
The NSA and US government in general are making a lot of enemies at a time when they cannot afford them. The American public have lost all faith in their leaders, Congress is at an all time low, the NSA is one of the most globally hated agencies in the world, and things are only getting worst. But what is truly incredible is the fact that such agencies, in the wake of all of this information, are still operating to their full capacity.
You can bet that spying has not ceased, not only in the US but around the world. For all their outrage, nearly every country who has spoken out is sure to have their own expansive program running in the background. Several have already been exposed, and other countries have been shown to have aided the US in their spying efforts.
This isn’t a singular problem, or one that is likely to go away any time soon.