Yes, American spies can and will reach you.

date
Oct 1, 2014
slug
yes-american-spies-can-and-will-reach-you
status
Published
tags
surveillance
data
transparency
summary
Yes, American spies and mass surveillance pose a real threat to privacy and democracy worldwide.
type
Post
From a distance, every politician appears to be a democrat. All claim to have risen to power with the support of the people, to be transparent, and to uphold the law. However, once in power, even well-intentioned politicians often transform into typical politicians. This is one reason why we should be concerned about the mass surveillance being carried out by the American government, specifically the National Security Agency.
During times of peace, no one thinks twice about a form containing their address. But in times of conflict, this information can lead to unspeakable tragedies. This may sound exaggerated, but the threat is real. Near-unthinkable tragedies don't occur overnight. There are certain powers that should not be taken lightly. For instance, almost all ethnic cleansing processes in the last century were made possible by databases. In Nazi Germany, extensive records of citizens' activities and origins were instrumental in locating "enemies". In Rwanda, the government maintained extremely detailed population records, which, during the genocide, essentially served as a hit list.
Furthermore, surveillance of individuals not suspected of any wrongdoing creates a dangerous precedent: anyone can be deemed suspect. If security services designate a particular individual as a "target", they can always find something suspicious in the vast amounts of collected data. In Brazil, for example, former National Secretary of Justice Romeu Tuma Jr. has accused the government of politicizing the Federal Police and using wiretaps before initiating investigations.
Moreover, the NSA goes even further. The American government, in essence, has the ability to eavesdrop on half the planet's conversations. This operation started many years ago, shortly after George W. Bush assumed office. There are numerous reports of telecommunications companies assisting with surveillance, even establishing secret offices at their headquarters for the NSA to access customer data indiscriminately. The NSA's operations reflect George Orwell's Big Brother prophecy. The amount of information the NSA has on both American and foreign citizens far surpasses the sum total of all historical espionage records.
For those justifying the NSA's actions due to fears of "right" or "left" threats, it's worth remembering that organizations like the CIA survive multiple presidencies, often acting independently of the president. These organizations can easily slip out of democratic control and operate in the shadows, creating dossiers and selecting what should or shouldn't be investigated.
The NSA has eroded the internet's neutrality to such an extent that we may soon see multiple internets because the current one, managed by the U.S., is no longer trustworthy. The situation could worsen if extremists like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld return to power.
Are there solutions? Certainly. The most obvious one is to prohibit the State from performing operations disallowed by the constitution and Congress. Unfortunately, this is not the easiest solution. Other options include creating a separate internet, as proposed by Germany, or introducing self-destructing data. Another possibility is to entrust the internet's management to a group of non-governmental entities that monitor each other to maintain network neutrality. The problem is real, but unfortunately, the solution seems to be getting further out of reach.

© Cassiano Gobbet 2023 - 2024