Thursday, March 12, 2015

Google and Apple Won’t Save You

NSA spying is old news. A year ago people were up in arms and congressmen demanded reform. It was all a smokescreen intended to soothe angry people until they got distracted by other stories like Obama starting a third war in Iraq.
It worked. The National Journal reports, “The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved the Justice Department's request for another 90-day extension of the National Security Agency's controversial mass-surveillance program, exposed publicly last summer by Edward Snowden and authorized under Section 215 of the post-9/11 Patriot Act. The spying authority is next set to expire on Dec. 5.” There’s no outrage at this rubber stamp.
But recent announcements by Apple and Google claiming they would encrypt all information on their phones by default gave some commentators hope. Don’t fall for it. Apple and Google are so thoroughly protected and controlled by government, they’re effectively government agencies. They wouldn’t do anything to bite the hand that feeds them.
Google and Apple, Goopple, are trying to recover from the public relations nightmare that resulted when NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked information showing these companies gleefully participated in NSA spying on their customers. Government’s giant corporate agents scrambled to make it appear they were being forced to spy against their will, but they never resisted until their complicity was made public. They aren’t sorry they spied for the government. They’re just sorry they got caught.
While the plutocrats from Goopple huddled in the world’s most outrageously expensive resorts with NSA bureaucrats trying to figure out how to recover from this PR debacle, small, nimble organizations like Silent Circle and Redphone implemented strong encryption protocols on mobile devices. Silent Circle is a security company, and Redphone is an open source project, so both have a genuine interest in securing your communications. Making encryption cheap - free in the case of Redphone - and easy for the masses created a new problem for NSA spies because it takes them years to defeat strong encryption. The more widespread encryption becomes, the more likely NSA won’t have the resources to defeat every encrypted communication. They might miss seeing some naked pictures of teenagers, and they can’t tolerate that. Their only hope was to outlaw such encryption, but those small companies don’t have enough customers to justify Congress targeting them with a law.
Those products also created problems for Goopple because they drew customers, especially foreign, away. So big business and big government - one in the same really - jointly conceived a solution: Goopple would encrypt all its data too, forcing Congress to outlaw it, protecting both NSA and Goopple.
As if orchestrated, because it was, Google and Apple announced their plans the same day. FBI howled in outrage the next. The Washington Post reported, “FBI Director James B. Comey sharply criticized Apple and Google on Thursday for developing forms of smartphone encryption so secure that law enforcement officials cannot easily gain access to information stored on the devices — even when they have valid search warrants.”
His comments were the most forceful yet from a top government official but echo a chorus of denunciation from law enforcement officials nationwide. Police have said that the ability to search photos, messages and Web histories on smartphones is essential to solving a range of serious crimes, including murder, child pornography and attempted terrorist attacks.”
In other words, NSA’s institutionalized, legalized perverts and therefore other hackers must be able to secretly ogle your children’s sexts supposedly to protect your children from other perverts who might ogle them. Cops want you to believe they were never able to solve a crime until they gained the power to hack cellphones. That’s ridiculous. The only hinderance to law enforcement this encryption creates is forcing them to obey the Constitution by obtaining a warrant.
The real problem with default, strong encryption is it forces NSA to obey the Constitution too. It blocks bulk spying on a huge segment of people worldwide. The phony complaints by law enforcement gives politicians in both parties the pretense they need to demonize Goopple and pass a law banning this encryption “to protect the children” right after the election. As always, the plutocrats, politicians and spies win. The people lose.
Journalist Tom Engelhardt describes the futility of ubiquitous spying. “It’s quite an achievement, especially when you consider its one downside: it has a terrible record of getting anything right in a timely way,” he writes. “Never have so many had access to so much information about our world and yet been so unprepared for whatever happens in it.”
While the NSA spies monitors social media of high school students for personal titillation, they’re unable to find a top al Qaeda recruiter operating in Britain, and they allowed an American jihadist to come and go freely between the US and Syria before he set off a suicide bomb in Syria. The FBI says it has no way to stop ISIS jihadists with American passports from re-entering the country and attacking Americans.
That’s because our rulers consider us, not terrorists, their real enemies.

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