So we’ve known for a while now that government spooks were snooping through all of our internet communication, or as I like to put it, they were all up in your business like K-Solo’s girlfriend’s mom. Supposedly, they were just ‘collecting’ it and not ‘targeting’ it. ‘Targeting’ was only for the bad guys.
Now it’s come out this week that the NSA has some very interesting criteria that it uses to narrow down who the ‘bad guys’ are.
Cory Doctorow published an article this week entitled “If you read Boing Boing, the NSA considers you a target for deep surveillance.” In it, he linked to a article on the German news site Tagesschau written in which journalists gained access to the “deep packet inspection” rules used to determine who is considered to be a legitimate target for deep surveillance.
Apparently, the NSA knows when, where, and whether or not you’ve ever searched for online articles about Tails or Tor, perhaps the two most well-known tools used to preserve Internet privacy and anonymity. Now let’s say neither of those names sound familiar and you want to learn more. Before you run off to Google, hear me out first: If you do search for either of those terms, there’s a strong chance you’ll be put on their bad guy list. That’s what I did.
Basically, the NSA thinks it has a right to know if you’re interested (even if only in a casual, ‘here-lemme-click-on-this-link-for-a-second-oh-never-mind-this-shit’s-boring’ sort of way) in the subject of Internet privacy tools, because that interest might translate to you actually using such a tool, which could possibly mean that you’re using it to do ill of some sort (terrorism, cybercrime, piracy, etc.).
That’s some ol’ Tom Cruise Minority Report pre-crime shit if I ever heard of it.
Also–as you’d imagine–anyone who they determine is actually using Tor is also targeted for long-term surveillance and retention. Doctorow writes: “One expert suggested that the NSA’s intention here was to separate the sheep from the goats — to split the entire population of the Internet into ‘people who have the technical know-how to be private’ and ‘people who don’t’ and then capture all the communications from the first group.”
Sad thing is, I’m not even really in the first group and they may already be treating me as such–like, I tried downloading and setting up Tor once, and no matter how many times I tried to key in the command lines, Linux wasn’t havin’ it. I mean, that’s how little I have in the way of ‘technical know-how’. So I was like, fuck it. Doesn’t matter–they’re prolly still gonna read this, and all my email, and all that. And in lieu of coded message about terrorist attacks, they will find boring email back and forth between me and my bosses, banal Facebook posts, and little else I imagine.
I don’t have any illusions about anything I do being at all secure, really. I know basically any jerkass who had a mind to could jack my whole computer up and wreck shop on my hard drive and what not. I’m not naive in that sense. But it makes you think. The government (probably) really is in my business. Damn.