Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Stop making the NSA the bogeyman of privacy

Snowden is my hero, but here's the thing: the NSA is the least of our worries. Firstly, their attention is foreign, not domestic. Secondly, they are relatively uncorrupt. Our attention should be focused on the corrupt domestic law-enforcement agencies, like the ATF, DEA, and FBI.

I mention this because a lot of people seem concerned that the "cyber threat sharing" bills in congress (CISA/CISPA) will divulge private information to the NSA. This is nonsense. The issue is private information exposed to the FBI and other domestic agencies. It's the FBI, ATF, or DEA that will come break down your door and arrest you, not the NSA.

We see that recently where the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) has been caught slurping up international phone records going back to the 1990s. This appears as bad as the NSA phone records program that started the Snowden disclosures.

I know the FBI is corrupt because I've experienced it personally, when they threatened me in order to suppress a conference talk. We know they are corrupt in the way they hide cellphone interception devices ("stingray") from public disclosure. We know they are corrupt because their headquarters is named after J Edgar Hoover, the notoriously corrupt head of the FBI during much of the last century. 

For all that the FBI is horrid, the DEA and the ATF are worse. These are truly scary police-state style agencies which we allow operate only because their focus is so narrow. Every gun store owner I know has stories of obviously dodgy characters trying to buy guns who they are certain are actually ATF agents doing "sting" operations. One of the many disturbing elements of the "fast and furious" ATF scandal is how they strong-armed gun store owners into complying.

In any case, even if you hate the NSA the most, the NSA's frightening ability to monitor everything outside the United States means they probably don't need the domestic "cyber threat information".

My point is this: stop making the NSA the bogeyman of privacy. Domestic agencies, namely the FBI, are a far greater danger.


ajs124 said...

"Firstly, their attention is foreign, not domestic"

I'm German and therefore foreign…
Now explain to me again, why you don't care about the NSA spying on my nation? The whole "it's _foreign_ surveillance" thing really pisses me off.

7c35dc08-de13-11e4-b030-5b59161852d7 said...

The NSA also provides information to the other 3 letter agencies including domestic. There have been many reports of the NSA providing DEA/ATF and even the IRS with "cyber information".

The comment about uncorrupt, they are also the lease audited/supervised agency...

Trevor said...
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Ivo Blaauw said...

Hear hear.
I guesse Rob is pretty OK with the Russians hacking the White House and spying on their businesses. Because to Russia that is foreign.

LostAndFound said...

While I agree with most of what you write, I strongly disagree with your opposition to domestic agencies. First, you tend to use the word 'corrupt' way too loosely. There are corrupted people littered everywhere, some in which are in federal agencies and some not. Just because you felt the blunt of one of these situations doesn't corrupt the entire agency. Just because the HQ is named after someone who used controversial tactics doesn't make the agency corrupt nor negate the positive impact he made while here. Just because they don't want IMSI catchers to become widely disclosed doesn't mean they are secretly sitting outside your house and monitoring your phone. Your overuse of hyperbolic fodder to attack domestic agencies is disturbing and in light of softening the blow to the NSA makes the motive even more questionable. Are you even aware of the issues facing society and the types of situations law enforcement put themselves in (outside of the digital world), in order to mitigate threats? I'm sure the rebuttals that come following this comment will attack my character because it's controversially opposing those who hold their 'right to privacy' so securely but my issue isn't with the privacy concerns or implications, we gave up those rights long ago. My issue is with labeling entire domestic agencies with such a negative light all because of a small window of a much larger system that you are looking into. What about local law enforcement? What about Department of Corrections? Do we throw all authority away to govern and protect ourselves just because we want privacy?

DarkIye said...

If you know the FBI is corrupt, how can you so brazenly and openly declare that they are? They can easily find you. Aren't you scared you'll be silenced painfully?