NSA Wins Crypto Battle, Loses War for Democracy: Jobs’ 1984 Vision

Written by David Michaelis

The NSA strategy to overcome all cryptographic barriers is working. Where have those billions gone? The war against democracy rages.

aNewDomain.net — It turns out the NSA has a winning strategy that can overcome all security barriers. Crypto experts and hackers alike thought they still had curve balls to throw, but new information found in the Snowden files have shed more light on the NSA’s true capabilities.

Bad Investment

The public thought billions of dollars were invested into the government agency in order to protect the citizens of the U.S. After all, the National Security Agency should probably provide security for the nation. Apparently the money has been invested in a different way.

The NSA has poured a great deal of that investment into the breaking of various security technologies, like HTTPS and VPN. It has also increased the level of its technological prowess to a degree that was not thought possible by modern encryption experts.

The details are here:

Although the average lay-person may assume that these types of exploitation capabilities should be commonplace to the NSA, the opposite is actually true: Modern encryption technologies are highly complex, and many skeptics in the cryptanalysis community doubted that the NSA had already reached this level of sophistication.”

The NSA has also deliberately introduced weaknesses and backdoors into commercial products in order to gain and maintain easy access. These revelations may have long-lasting consequences on the reputations of U.S. tech companies.

Winning small battles, like Snowden against the NSA, is a small victory in the long war for our privacy and rights. As the NSA slowly wins the war for privacy, are we all losing the war for Democracy and open society?

Winning a battle while losing the war has happened before.

The Vietnam Analogy

“We had to destroy the village in order to save it,” was a slogan among Vietnam officers.

The initial War on Terror, unleashed by 9/11, was promoted as a war that saved Americans from the enemies of democracy. The “Shining City on a Hill” has global enemies that need to be eradicated, an idea that has taken the front seat while democracy gets pushed aside.

America, A Shining City Upon A Hill

Image credit: http://www.fantasticalandrewfox.com

As security and safety became the hallmark of the land of the brave and the free, the North Star of the city gets lost.

Does the U.S. government need to destroy the right of all citizens to find a needle in a hay stack? Is this shining city protected from its zealous protectors?

Space Commander

Intelligence Dominance

Image credit: Ted Rall

We are not living in a Star Trek film, yet Keith Alexander acts as if he is captain of a spaceship — a spaceship that leads to a total surveillance of all democratic function.

When Steve Jobs thought that IBM was Big Brother he made the (arguably) most-influential message ever against the imagined totalitarian state. Congress needs to see the historic video again.

This Apple ad feels more like a documentary today than a PR stunt.

The Battle in Congress

The hearing this week in Congress started a process of oversight into the matter at hand. If you read the Guardian description, it does not look hopeful.

US intelligence chiefs used an appearance before Congress on Thursday to urge lawmakers not to allow public anger over the extent of government surveillance to result in changes to the law that would impede them from preventing terrorist attacks. General Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, conceded that disclosures by the whistleblower Edward Snowden “will change how we operate.” But he urged senators, who are weighing a raft of reforms, to preserve the foundational attributes of a program that allows officials to collect the phone data of millions of American citizens. In testy exchanges at the Senate intelligence committee, Alexander and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, refused to say on the record where the NSA had ever sought to trawl cell site data, which pinpoints the location of individuals via their phones.”

The evidence in the leaked documents is clear and the names of those in charge are known. But the challenges for Congress and the courts are numerous. Precisely understanding the technology and the still-secret full spectrum of Prism are among them.

One Twitter user wrote: “If our elected representatives had an ounce of courage they’d demand the immediate termination of all private contractors and private contracts involving intelligence work. And then they’d demand a top-to-bottom accounting for each and every bit of data in the NSA/CIA/FBI/& co.’s possession …”

What Congress and the courts do know is that the constitution of the City on The Hill is threatened. The battle for an open and informed democracy is here and now. American citizens need to win the battle against a total-surveillance society, so as to win the war for a democratic USA.

For aNewDomain, I’m David Michaelis.

Based in Australia, David Michaelis is a world-renowned international journalist and founder of Link Tv. At aNewDomain.net, he covers the global beat, focusing on politics and other international topics of note for our readers in a variety of forums. Email him atDavidMc@aNewDomain.net.