Wyden: Surveillance is worse than they admit

Yesterday, Sen. Ron Wyden said U.S. intelligence agency violations of court orders on surveillance here are more serious than the intelligence directors are telling us.

Will they add up to the death of the IT cloud services?

Wyden (D-Ore.), as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is privy to classified briefings on the government’s surveillance. On Tuesday, he told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC that all he could say is that the violations are worse than being made public.

“We had a big development last Friday when Gen. [James] Clapper, the head of the intelligence agencies, admitted that the community had violated these court orders on phone record collection, and I’ll tell your viewers that those violations are significantly more troubling than the government has stated,” Wyden said.

[…] Wyden has been an outspoken critic of the surveillance programs but has been restricted with what he can release about them because of his position on the Intelligence Committee. He said since the government made the compliance issues public, however, he could warn about them.

“They did say last Friday that there had been violations of those court orders with respect to the bulk phone record collection, so that’s on the record, I’ll tell you those violations are more serious than they stated,” Wyden said.

But here’s the real story no one’s talking about. British academic John Naughton lays it all out in the Guardian:

[…] The issue of internet governance is about to become very contentious. Given what we now know about how the US and its satraps have been abusing their privileged position in the global infrastructure, the idea that the western powers can be allowed to continue to control it has become untenable.

Third, as Evgeny Morozov has pointed out, the Obama administration’s “internet freedom agenda” has been exposed as patronising cant. “Today,” he writes, “the rhetoric of the ‘internet freedom agenda’ looks as trustworthy as George Bush’s ‘freedom agenda’ after Abu Ghraib.”

That’s all at nation-state level. But the Snowden revelations also have implications for you and me.

They tell us, for example, that no US-based internet company can be trusted to protect our privacy or data. The fact is that Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are all integral components of the US cyber-surveillance system. Nothing, but nothing, that is stored in their “cloud” services can be guaranteed to be safe from surveillance or from illicit downloading by employees of the consultancies employed by the NSA. That means that if you’re thinking of outsourcing your troublesome IT operations to, say, Google or Microsoft, then think again.

And if you think that that sounds like the paranoid fantasising of a newspaper columnist, then consider what Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission, had to say on the matter recently. “If businesses or governments think they might be spied on,” she said, “they will have less reason to trust the cloud, and it will be cloud providers who ultimately miss out. Why would you pay someone else to hold your commercial or other secrets, if you suspect or know they are being shared against your wishes? Front or back door – it doesn’t matter – any smart person doesn’t want the information shared at all. Customers will act rationally and providers will miss out on a great opportunity.”

4 thoughts on “Wyden: Surveillance is worse than they admit

  1. I’ve been wondering if the current freedom to use the internet world wide — that www part of the web– may be destroyed by the United States and it allies’ desire to have full access to too many users of the web..

    Will gateways, similar to what China does, be set up by other nations? Will we lose our true freedom to communcate with individuals of other nations? Or will we forced to find alternatives for any privacy? Encryption, to work, requires setting up a network of others using the same encrytion, right?

    Freedom on the internet was dicey and tenuous to begin with, but…now? With all these revelations?

    And it’s not just the clouds that can be accessed: Any physical point of connection, any physical cable can be hacked into or opened for full digital traffic hoovering and storage.

    Thanks a lot, hegemonic idiots.

  2. Today I heard some guy comment that because bad guys use the web, we all have to give up all our privacy to be safe.

  3. The Fascists need to control communication. But then there’s this puzzlement? Rupert Murdoch is the largest stockholder in NewsCorp (FOX). Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal is the second largest stockholder. Bin Talal is a member of the Saudi royal family and has a net worth of at least $7 billion dollars. He is a strong supporter of Fatah (the PLO). He hates Hamas. He hates all Shiites. FOX is pro-Zionists and anti-Shiite. Saudi Arabia is anti-Iran, anti-Assad, anti-Morsi of Egypt, etc. Just like Israel. So far the Obama administration has refused to use our military as rental soldiers in the service of the Saudi royal family and Israel. (Which is what Bush did.) Even though Fox would like us to.

  4. If Congressmen of Ellsberg’s day had the spine of Ron Wyden, Daniel would be languishing in prison or military brig waiting the arrival of Snowden for company.

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