The leak of the NSA’s PRISM program hit the corporate media like a drone strike (LOL) the other day, which coincidentally is the exact day George Orwell’s 1984 was published 64 years ago. So suck on that irony. And privacy. Oh.
What’s PRISM??? lol I love texting! You guys heard of Napster?
PRISM is the laser beam mounted above James Bond and if he doesn’t escape – wait no the other PRISM is an NSA program that allows complete and unrestricted access to Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo – you name it, it’s on there – and all the glorious, juicy data they contain. So basically everything you’ve ever said, liked, purchased, shared, privately discussed, visited, and even your preferred image filter for your scrotum. (Mine is Valencia btw.)
If you’re familiar with ECHELON, it monitors key words over telephone and satellite comms. ECHELON was used briefly in The Bourne Ultimatum when the CIA tracked the word Blackbriar to a Guardian journalist who was trying to reach out to Jason Bourne and then become target practice for a sniper with a sweet BMW. PRISM is the next step: electronic communication. All of it. All the things.
The PRISM leak is now being touted as larger and more controversial than Watergate or Wikileaks – and if you combine those together it sounds like a nasty plumbing problem. But what rustles my jimmies is that everyone is so shocked and enraged. As though they didn’t know this was happening.
Under Communism, the Stasi in Eastern Germany opened everyone’s letters in fear that someone was an enemy of the state. Today, there are over 30 million surveillance cameras in the United States, 6 million in the UK and about 300 (not million, just 300) in Australia. The rest are mobile cameras mounted to kangaroos. Every credit and debit transaction is tracked. Buying behavior is tracked and sold both offline and online. Websites track your behavior. Your smartphone has a detailed track record of everywhere you’ve been.
The NSA already track every conversation and can pinpoint key words in real time or in their seemingly bottomless data archives – and thanks to the UK-USA agreement this extends to Australia too. A billion phone calls, emails, text messages, photographs and internet searches are harvested every day. It’s reported that the NSA alone gathers 2.1 million gigabytes of data every hour. Our lives have always been constantly monitored. We live in a grid of surveillance. YOLO.
So now that everyone knows what privacy advocates knew 12 years ago, let’s get to the juicy stuff…
Why the NSA doesn’t need Apple’s permission
In the leaked PRISM PowerPoint slides, the big names such as Apple, Google and Microsoft are listed as current providers. How dare they agree to supply our private information to the NSA? Problem is, you can be a provider without knowing about it. Chances are, the NSA can intercept whatever they want. Drawing up official agreements to steal Microsoft’s data seems silly when you can just take it. Which might explain why, one after another, the big names are denying any knowledge of PRISM. They probably found out about it the same day we did. LOL JOKE’S ON THEM. Wait.
There are many ways for the NSA to have all Apple’s bases belong to them. The NSA could just steal the data as it travels through the Tier 1 optical carrier lines. But what about encryption, you say? Facebook uses 128-bit encryption, for example. Are your Farmville accomplishments safe from the prying eyes and hardening crotches of NSA boffins? Doubtful. 128-bit encryption is a piece of cake for any NSA supercomputer kitted out for cryptographic work. You don’t even want to know what a more exotic NSA supercomputer could do.
Here’s an even easier way: the NSA cracks your encrypted sext sessions on Skype and Facebook with compromised certificates from the issuing certificate authority. Say that thrice with a banana in your mouth. Oh baby. You wouldn’t even need a fancy NSA supercomputer to decrypt all those saucy interludes. Hell, you could serve a secret warrant against the certificate authorities because you’re Hitler, that’s why.
No one in Google, Apple or Microsoft would ever know, not even their CEOs. In fact, the certificate authority’s CEO wouldn’t even need to know thanks to a handy fist up the rear. Uh, I mean FISC order. Which let’s be honest is basically the same thing. And once you have that, you can forge any SSL certificate. Any data in transit is yours. Yep, there’s nothing quite like a NSA man-in-the-middle violation to get the juices flowing.
These are all a bit boring though. I know if this went down in one of the books in my Fifth Column series, this is how it would play out:
- The NSA send in a team of clandestine operatives disguised as specialist contractors to all the Tier 1 network providers (the arteries that power the internet), including AT&T, Verizon and Telstra.
- The operatives are permitted inside the Telstra datacenter. They install the necessary wiretaps without arousing suspicion. Or so they thought. A Telstra security officer questions them, but they distract him with a really excellent rhubarb and apple pastry that Denton baked that morning. And then bam! Smoke bomb and they escape.
- Build a giant NSA datacenter in the desert somewhere in Utah that can hold 5 zettabytes of data because who even knows what a zettabyte is seriously.
- Sophia blows it up.