I read this thought-provoking post over at Popehat this morning. I perused this portion:
<i>the agency has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures e-mails, web searches, internet chats, and phones calls…</i>
…and it got me to thinking:
The Coca-Cola recipe, for example, is a trade secret that has been jealously (and successfully) guarded for over a century now. Does the NSA know the secret Coca-Cola formula? What would Pepsi pay for that information? Is every single person working for the NSA who is privy to this information capable of resisting overtures to the tune of millions of dollars for access to that information? Remember, folks, these aren’t super-humans working at the NSA. They’re just people. Edward Snowden decided to defy company policy and let out sensitive information out of a sense of patriotism. How many who currently work for the NSA would decide to defy company policy for a couple million bucks?
They have the ability to access your bank accounts (really? You’ve never done any online banking at all?). They know your account balances. They know your medical records. They say you have nothing to fear from the NSA, itself, because they aren’t after you, but what about individual NSA employees?
What about the NSA guy who is checking out some rich dude, gets his bank account information, and steals from the rich dude? What about the NSA guy who just steals a little bit from thousands of people? Or the NSA guy who finds some medical dirt on a personal enemy and uses it to ruin him (why would a married guy be getting treatment for a new STD?) Or the NSA guy who is a party hack and is helping the other party (most likely the one in power at any given time, because it only makes sense, right?) dig up dirt on the opposition? That’s Watergate, folks. That’s enough to start articles of Impeachment on any sitting President, and yet we’d have no way of discovering that this is happening, because this is all top secret stuff, bad enough to throw anyone contrary to it into a deep, dark hole for the rest of their natural life.
How will an incumbent ever be unseated with access to this information? This information aggregation is a direct threat to the very fundamentals for the operation of our republic, and we are supposed to just “trust” that the NSA has adequate oversight on the folks privy to it all.
Just like they had adequate oversight on Edward Snowden. Right?
Open your mouth and shut your eyes. Trust us. It will be just fine.
I don’t think they’re after me. I don’t live under any paranoid delusion that I’ll ever be interesting to the Federal Government in any way – I’m too boring. I’m perfectly safe from the prying eyes of the NSA, as an agency (this isn’t written as an approval of what they’re doing, just as a truth). No black helicopters or SWAT teams in the night for Goober, because I’m not really doing anything wrong.
But who saves me from the individual NSA employee that gets a little too cavalier with this information? The Edward Snowden that isn’t a patriot, but a self-serving imbecile consumed by greed? The NSA does not have enough oversight over a program like this for the information to be safe. Proof of that fact is in living embodiment in Mr. Snowden – thank goodness his intentions appear to be honorable, at least on their face. The NSA never will be able to secure this information, because they can’t. This information is too valuable. Bad people will find ways to get their hands on it, one way or the other. As long as this database exists, we are all at risk from it.