Latest news roundup of NSA hypocrisy

Read NSA as including the rest of the "Five Eyes" signals intelligence network: UK's GCHQ, NZ's GCSB, Australia's ASD, and Canada's CSEC.

  • For over a decade the NSA has advised not to buy networking equipment from Huawei or ZTE (the top two Chinese telecoms) because the Chinese might be using them to spy on you - but they didn't provide any evidence. They blocked these telcos from access to the US market and those of their five eyes allies as much as possible, and Huawei abandoned the US market as a result. Yet the NSA has long been actively developing exploits of Huawei products to spy on people! Additionally, the NSA regularly inserts spy hardware into network equipment bound for export and repackages them so they look untampered.
  • The NSA has always maintained the danger of leaking top secret material (such as evidence of the Army targeting civilians in Iraq released by Chelsea Manning, and the Snowden leaks). One of the prime reasons they give is that "disclosure would endanger the lives of NSA personnel by inviting retaliation from people in those countries who might become angry". But they continually leak top secret stuff when they think it shows them in a positive light - for instance, that they need better surveillance to kill more people with drones, or that they can search through "every Iraqi email, text message and phone-location signal in real time." Other leaks from NSA reveal they plan to expand this surveillance to five other countries this year. "They'll claim with no evidence that a story they don’t want published will “endanger lives,” but then go and disclose something even more sensitive if they think doing so scores them a propaganda coup."
  • The NSA says "defense comes first". Yet they knew about the Heartbleed bug years ago, keeping it secret so they might exploit it, at the same time leaving everyone vulnerable to other state spy agencies and cybercriminals
  • The NSA and its Five Eyes allies have often argued that the collection of metadata doesn't constitute a threat to privacy. Yet they've also said "metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody's life. If you have enough metadata, you don’t really need content." and "We kill people based on metadata."
  • The NSA decries the use of social media manipulation for propaganda (eg. China's "50 cent party" which sways domestic opinion using social media comments), yet the Snowden files show they're leading the world in technology which does exactly that. Domestic propaganda is illegal, but in the Internet age foreign propaganda is also domestic propaganda.
  • The NSA scours the Internet to find people it deems "probable" system administrators to hack them and gain access to their companies and customers. That's right, it doesn't just target terrorists and criminals, it also targets and hacks ordinary IT workers!
  • The NSA denied that it was "impersonating US social media or other websites" and said that it had not "infected millions of computers around the world with malware." Yet their leaked internal documents show that one of their systems "pretends to be the Facebook server" and that they have infected around 100,000 computers with malware - including many with *no Internet connection* - and plan to "aggressively scale" their systems to "allow the current implant network to scale to large size (millions of implants)."


Glenn Greenwald's new media organisation "The Intercept" is one of my favourites.


(This post was originally posted to Facebook; see further updates and comments there)


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