Email of the day 3
Comment of the Day

January 03 2014

Commentary by David Fuller

Email of the day 3

On NSA’s monitoring of global telecommunications:

“Of great though perhaps not "incalculable" importance is the year end revelation that the NSA have now established near complete control of global telecommunications infrastructure, particularly modern mobile devices and networks. As Jacob Applebaum pondered at the December CCC event, the degree of subversion and possible collusion of major American manufacturers may well lead to a backlash with a long-term economic impact for the U.S.

“I think anyone even without a background in signals intelligence and related technology should watch the whole of Applebaum's presentation to be aware of the real state of the technology base. As a thought experiment consider what exploits will be possible when the much vaunted 3D printing becomes established. This gives a whole new meaning to and perhaps reification of the currently virtual backdoors and trapdoors.”

David Fuller's view

Many thanks for the comments and YouTube video which I have only had time to watch about half of so far, as it is about an hour long.  Although it contains too much programmer jargon for this interested layman, Jacob Applebaum makes some important points.  The tradeoff, which we know about, is that surveillance has also prevented some terrorist attacks which could have been much worse than overly zealous snooping.

Few of us are happy with the levels of monitoring that can and sometimes do occur, whether undertaken by government agencies from National Security organisations to tax inspectors, outright criminals or corporate monitoring of rival firms, personnel and potential customers.  

However, I am less worried about this becoming a serious problem in democracies because we have rights and people like Jacob Applebaum are free to speak out, and they do, as we know.  The modern version of George Orwell’s 1984 is much more likely to occur in totalitarian regimes.  

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