Friday, June 7, 2013


noun \ˈpri-zəm\
3: a crystal form whose faces are parallel to one axis; especially : one whose faces are parallel to the vertical axis

In other words, two-faced.

The British newspaper The Guardian today revealed that "the National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian."

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims "collection directly from the servers" of major US service providers.

Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program.

In a statement, Google said: "Google cares deeply about the security of our users' data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government 'back door' into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data."

Several senior tech executives insisted that they had no knowledge of PRISM or of any similar scheme. They said they would never have been involved in such a program. "If they are doing this, they are doing it without our knowledge," one said.

An Apple spokesman said it had "never heard" of PRISM.

The NSA access was enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under President Bush and renewed under Obama in December 2012.

Ohhhh, please! Doesn't anyone remember this fun-filled program with the spooky title and logo from the Bush years?

Did you really believe them when they said it was going away? When has ANY technology ever "gone away" when there was still an opportunity to use it? Ask the citizens of Nagasaki, for example: there was no need in 1945 to nuke them too, but we had a spare atomic bomb lying around waiting to be used! Information technology is more powerful than most people realize, far more powerful than a mere nuclear device. Did you notice how quickly the Boston Marathon bombers were identified? Do you think that could have been done that rapidly even ten years ago?

Americans don't, as usual, pay attention. This program started under Bush. The NSA is building a huge data storage center in Utah, large enough to keep a record of every internet search and cellphone call and email made, sent, or received on the planet. Large enough that its capacity is measured in yottabytes (1 yottabyte = 1 trillion terabytes, or 1 quadrillion gigabytes). Hell, it's even got its own Wikipedia page! None of this is a USA secret.  None of this was hidden from the public. PRISM may have been a top-secret program, but is it a surprise? And we KNOW that once the government - any government - has the capability to do something, it will.

But what's in the news? Manufactured "scandals" about the administration, columns and columns of words about movie and music stars; sports elevated to a status
practically indistinguishable from religion. Why? Because it keeps your eyes off what really matters, and most Americans remain blissfully unaware of these issues until they displace the news that Michael Jackson's otherwise unremarkable child attempted suicide, which affects perhaps 0.0000025% of the American populace.

We weren't "betrayed." Our elected officials did as we asked: they tried to protect us. We were too stupid to understand what we were really asking for, and too distracted to keep an eye on what they were doing in our name. And now some of us have the goddamn nerve to act surprised.

Parts of this post taken from an earlier rant on Facebook.

No comments: