Spying In The Twenty-First Century

Ah, the good old-fashion spying. These days, I am afraid, it is far less 'sepctacular'
Ah, the good old-fashion spying. These days, I am afraid, it is far less ‘sepctacular’

If you did not do anything wrong, you have nothing to fear from the NSA. That would be at least something I still am inclined to say. As I have explained in an earlier posting about even sifting through the information that might be caught by recording telephone calls or worse, emails and that it might take so much time and effort (and money) that it is almost an impossible task. And to be honest, I don’t think it is the NSA that should be feared as much. My greatest fear is with people like Snowden, and not for reasons you might expect.

The reason why I fear people like Snowden, just like with WikiLeaks, is what some people can do with the access to information. What I fear about the NSA is not that they catch and have information that might help keeping us safe, it is about what can happen when people get their hands on this information for who it is not intended. I don’t want to make these easy references to the second world war, and how it had been made all too easy for the Germans  to gather all the personal information about ethnicity and background of people, simply because it was so nicely recorded.

My biggest issue is that although all this information that is being captured might keep us safe, it also might harm us. It is the flip-side of the coin. Security is a double-edged sword. On one side, you trust someone to keep you safe, on the other side you rely your safety on someone that is not you. Just like storing your passwords in an online password program. It might sound like an excellent idea, but what if – just if – that system did not seem all so secure after all, and you will find out after the message has been sent to you that there was a security breach and some passwords might have been stolen. Those passwords that might have been encrypted so nicely, but suddenly might also not have been.

Snowden got the information, and decided to take a lot of information public. And suddenly the world is in uproar, because as it seems, the NSA has been spying on us, and foreign countries.

May I?


How do you think the navy-seals got Osama? How do you think so much intel has been recovered about immanent attacks? It didn’t happen by simply walking up to people and ask them. But people are so happy to say we don’t need all that security anymore, since nothing has really happened for such a long time. Hmmm… one thing to know is that no one would release the information if an attack has been prevented. There is no reason for panic, and it is better to leave the people blissfully unknown to what is really going on.

I have been raised in the seventies and the eighties, with the cold-war still in my memory. The Russians against the American, and we, in Europe, were nicely in-between. If you would have had this Snowden ‘incident’ mentioned then, the whole world would have shrugged their shoulders. Of course the US was spying on the Russians, and vice versa. And every other country was spying on all the other countries. One happy globe of distrusting people.

And things haven’t changed, only now, we want the government to spy on the NSA, to make sure they are not spying. Really?

But, it still brings up the fact that Snowden brought up a very interesting security issue; what if important intelligence is leaked, or people not completely trustworthy are handling it. Personally, I don’t think personal issues are at all important to the NSA. Your email traffic about your extra-marital affairs will not be covered. Read – possibly, but most likely that covers so much information that it would bore them right away by now. And then plowing through the heaps and heaps of Spam. Sure, I hope the NSA has built and excellent spam detector and will soon make it public, because I need one.

And let them tag your mails because there are certain keywords in there. Just like this posting, it might as well be screened. And I do not care. I made it public right here. So why should I care?

But that is not the issue, is it? My biggest fear is that there is so much information, that they need so many people. And I don’t know if you have ever run a business, but it is almost impossible even to stack a small company with people you completely trust. Heck, most people cannot even start a relationship and trust their spouses, let alone build a trustworthy company.

And the NSA is big, just like any other big company. And security background checks only can reveal so much, and are still limited to the personal opinion of someone on top. We do not yet trust computers completely for those kind of decisions, and nor should we. So where does that leave us right now? I think in a situation we don’t want to be in.

Maybe we should be blissfully ignorant, knowing it is not going to change – or – maybe the NSA, just like any other government protection and security agency should be filtered, and really get their protocols in place. It will not eliminate the dangers, or the security issues, but we also know that we cannot live without them. And believe me, we as the normal people sadly do not know what is best, nor can we comprehend what is really going on out there or what threats there are made to our ways of living.

But rest assured… the NSA is not the only one spying out there.


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