Friday, August 30, 2013

Grand Theft Data

Gwynne Dyer contends that America is hopeless - and helpless - when it comes down to securing the data it steals on an industrial scale.  In a country where 850,000 people have "top secret" security clearances and access to this mountain of data there are bound to be plenty of Edward Snowden's quietly digging for the mother lode.  Unlike Snowden, it's unlikely many of them are motivated by altruism.

What the NSA has built is a system that is too big to monitor properly, let alone fully control. The system’s official purposes are bad enough, but it cannot even know the full range of illegitimate private actions that it permits. And this is not a design flaw. It is inherent in the very size of the system and the number of people who have access to it. Which brings us back to NASDAQ, Apple, Goldman Sachs et. al.

If it can be done, it will be done. Algorithms will be written for automated trading at speeds measured in fractions of a microsecond, and the competition will have to follow suit. It will become possible to store immense amounts of data in a virtual “cloud”, and the cloud will take shape. It will become theoretically possible to listen in on every conversation in the world, and the surveillance systems to do it will be built.

This is a genuinely monstrous apparatus.  One of the things Snowden's leaks revealed is that the NSA's "black budget" is a staggering $52-billion annually.  That's far in excess of America's intelligence spending at the peak of the Cold War.    The CIA accounts for just under $15-billion but a lot of the remainder goes to intelligence contractors like those Snowden worked for when he mined his government's secrets.

Worse still, the more dependent the NSA becomes on contractors, the more vulnerable it becomes to espionage.  It simply provides windows of opportunity for foreign intelligence to either buy off contractors' employees or infiltrate their own agents first onto contractors' payrolls and then inside the NSA.

The NSA has become too big not to fail.


Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the U.S. do as Harper does? Harper signs sneak deals behind the peoples back. Why doesn't the U.S. have an Omnibus Bill? China can sue Canada if, anyone blocks China's huge inroads to our country. What about a FIPA deal with China? Would not the U.S. want China to take their country, for a minimum of 31 years? Obama should also sign a deal with, the Communist China Army? How about Obama selling their farms to China, as Harper has done in Canada.
I will quit now or, I will be here all day.

Anyong said...

Life is becoming worthless for those of us who are not multi millionairs, billionaires or top notch millitary personnel. What does that say about our value system and how extreme with irrational fear and distrust of others has become. Room for exhibiting undue suspicion doesn't show much thought nor respect for the word "dialogue".

LeDaro said...

Mound, on different subject matter. I have a question for you. Should America intervene in the Syrian civil war?

You know quite a bit about Middle East and your views will be appreciated.

The Mound of Sound said...

First, LD, I don't understand the legal basis Washington would use to justify attacking Syria.

We don't know what the U.S. plans on doing, precisely how or for how long.

We don't know what the U.S. hopes to achieve. Washington hasn't proclaimed what "victory" would look like, how that is to be accomplished and how American forces can leave without lasting repercussions.

I tend to agree with the Russian foreign minister who said America is acting like a monkey with a hand grenade.

The ongoing civil war is already stoking Sunni-Shia tensions in the region. American intervention would be obviously pro-Sunni which also means pro-al Qaeda. Could this be the fuze for a much larger, regional Arab war, one that would almost certainly draw in Israel?

America has been astonishingly adept at firepower but equally inept at benefiting themselves or anyone else by it.

I think America's chances of this backfiring in one or more of several ways are considerably greater than their prospects of any meaningful good.

LeDaro said...

Mound, thank you. Good insight.

U.S established a Shiite government in Iraq thus bringing Iraq in Iranian fold. Some achievement.