Director of National Intelligence says he must spy on you to keep you safe!

This article from ArsTechnica about an interview the Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, gave to The New Yorker will send a few shivers down your spine:

US intel chief wants carte blanche to peep all ‘Net traffic – ArsTechnica.com

While short on specifics, the New Yorker piece recognizes that any plan requiring the kind of authority McConnell envisions is apt to be a hard sell: “Americans will have to trust the government not to abuse the authority it must have in order to protect our networks, and yet, historically the government has not proved worthy of that trust.” McConnell acknowledges that his initiative is bound to spark debate that will make recent wrangling over reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act seem like “a walk in the park compared to this.”

How broad are the powers needed to keep our servers safe? According to the article, in order for cyberspace to be policed, Internet activity will have to be closely monitored. Ed Giorgio, who is working with McConnell on the plan, said that would mean giving the government the authority to examine the content of any e-mail, file transfer, or Web search. “Google has records that could help in a cyber-investigation,” he said. Giorgio warned me, “We have a saying in this business: ‘Privacy and security are a zero-sum game.’”

Sayings like that, says security guru Bruce Schneier, “are why the police aren’t in charge; security and privacy are complimentary. Privacy is part of our security against government abuse. If they were really zero-sum, we would have seen mass immigration into East Germany.”

If the Director gets his way he’ll be looking at every single bit of data you send over the Internet. All in the interest of keeping you safe, of course. Never would they abuse that power. Honest. You can trust them. Really.

And if you believe that…

12 thoughts on “Director of National Intelligence says he must spy on you to keep you safe!

  1. If this happens expect cost and purchases of Annoynmizers and Proxy Servers to double. Also expect the number of Open Source projects for both to double, or the current ones to get better…

  2. And expect the next move of the government to be cracking down on anonymisers, proxy servers, and personal encryption software because it prevents them from spying on us. Orwell, anyone?

  3. I would like to thank the US “checks and balances is for sissies” intel chief for protecting us in this dangerous time.  By protecting us from checks and balances as well as the dangerous constitution we will all be able to sleep a little better at night knowing that this man is watching us all.  To anyone that thinks the intel chiefs plan is bad I can only say one thing.  Why do you not want America to win it’s ideological war on terror?  All blindly hail our new benevolent, always watching overlord!

    I really can’t see how anything could possibly go wrong with this mans plan.  He does say we can trust them to not abuse their powers.  Just look at the great job the FBI did with their warrantless wiretapping program.  I’m sure they’ll handle the responsibilities just as well.

  4. Some of it they probably won’t really care about, and I wouldn’t mind them having – if they know I like to buy chocolate donuts for breakfast, so what? but I don’t want info sold to marketing companies or my account details leaked.

    It’s a waste of time and money to get too involved on deeply spying on everyone – and besides i doubt there’s the manpower to watch you all the time.

    But I wouldn’t like it if people try to use it as a means to prosecute people violating xian values by going to brothels, downloading porn, etc – trying to enforce their twisted view on the world, or trying to blacken the image of opposition

  5. Some of it they probably won’t really care about, and I wouldn’t mind them having – if they know I like to buy chocolate donuts for breakfast, so what?

    It’s apathetic attitude that gets measures like this one implemented though. The only time the government needs to look into you or me is if they have a warrant to do so from a judge. We have a system with checks and balances to make sure our rights aren’t being abused. As I will argue with people, I don’t care if the police tap my phone as long as they have proof of a warrant to do so.

  6. I think as long as you draw a well-defined line that they don’t cross, it’s OK to let some through as long as it’s not a route to something bigger (which I understand it may be). I think there is a risk of corrution through, with data being sold off by employees/managers.

  7. I think as long as you draw a well-defined line that they don’t cross, it’s OK to let some through as long as it’s not a route to something bigger (which I understand it may be). I think there is a risk of corrution through, with data being sold off by employees/managers.

    There are already rules and lines the intelligence community are supposed to respect.  McConnell wants to remove those things and gain complete access.  He wants no restrictions, regulations or oversight, just like his boss George Bush and the rest of our current Executive Branch have been demanding ever since Congress passed the PATRIOT act.

    I just want to quote Ben Franklin here and say: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

  8. The trouble is with advances in recognition and pattern-seeking algorithms, the volume of data (my donuts, Webs’ organic co-op membership, another person’s email about football) won’t be any impediment to social pattern analysis that is really none of their business.  No more need for “give us the names of all your friends”.  They’ll know.  When someone is denounced it will be trivial to round up everyone who (for any reason) has any first-level contact with them as well.

  9. Also, in addition to DOF’s comment – the “we’re allowed to look at everything” approach includes, almost as a complimentary side dish, the “we’ll STORE everything” demand as well.

    So if you ever in the future get into trouble with the government, even be it for what we our our fathers would consider legitimite dissent, they will be able to go back through gigabytes of data on you and drag out EVERYTHING.

    And leak it to the press if you try to campaign against their political goals.

    And leak what porn you downloaded.

    And let the IRS loose on you, on all the various private and business dealings you discuss in your email (IRS investigations are already a very typical tactic of many repressive regimes that want to LOOK respectable, like Putin’s Russia).

  10. Uh, Les, I think they’re onto you.  The link to the original article in your post is broken.  It send you to a “search” page for “chnica.com”.

  11. And expect the next move of the government to be cracking down on anonymisers, proxy servers, and personal encryption software because it prevents them from spying on us. Orwell, anyone?

    Been there, done that- at least since the early ‘90’s. Anyone remember Phil Zimmerman ?

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