The Hunchback of the NSA

We have been hearing information in this regard for some time now. I added my thoughts in my last blog, and as this is such a growing story, let me see if I can add some details to this by looking at a few issues from another side. (Source: www.NOS.nl , www.Guardian.co.uk , et al).

Edward Snowden, His view is that it is up to the people to decide what is to be done. Is it?

2003: Edward joins the Army to deploy to Iraq. He suffers injuries during (basic) training and cannot continue the training.

200?: Edward has been selected into the sanctum and becomes an IT specialist with the CIA, placed in Geneva. Well, that is a nice handle up from basic training isn’t it. Some people dream of opportunities like that all their life.

He gets a dose of disillusionment. (Not my words, just quoting here). The CIA methodology does not sit well with him. As a data analyst with a few decades of experience, including some not to mention data depositories, I can tell him now, that there is method to their madness. I know where he is at this point, because when it is all about data cleaning, integrity checks and verification, whatever you do feels like carrying a bucket of water towards the ocean, but hey, that is what it is. He then decides to quit. That is fair enough! Not all are meant for that lifestyle (including unappreciative bosses that we see by the container load in the commercial world), and as such we should recognise that some of these jobs have a decidedly larger chance of burning out.

2009: He joins the NSA. Really? After he left the CIA? That is an interesting step. Especially knowing that one worries you, the other would not?

Well Edward, this is what you signed up for! But fair enough, you wanted to give it a go. He then becomes NSA’s own Arnold Benedict. Oh joy! (I say in a slightly sarcastic voice) and he ends up feeding the information to the PRESS. I will add that this is slightly better than dumping all this on Wiki-leaks. I will also applaud him for going to the Guardian as I personally see these people as slightly more devoted to Ethics then anything Rupert Murdoch has at present in my humble opinion. Still, Arnold, oops, I meant Edward goes out into the limelight. Consider that his job was to make sure that the American people remained safe. Did he? Many people including terrorists knew this was likely to happen. Now they have confirmation and they might employ new methods, making it harder for the NSA to find them. So who did Edward Snowden actually service? From my point of view it was not the American people. Oh, and Hong Kong of all places? It seems to me that he preferred to be bankable to several potential donators. (But that is just my view).

The NSA has an uncomfortable job that must be done. The terrorist (or perhaps better stated the extremist) threat is real, and as such organisations like NSA, GCHQ and DSD need to look at information as it flows to keep its citizens safe. There is an ugly looking sterile approach to information. It has no emotion; it is simple collection of data. Yes, if anyone gets the wrong phone call we could be checked. Yet, the data is up to a point so complete that these organisations can easily see whether this is a fluke, or if there is more. Is that not the best solution? Most people have this illusion that we have some kind of privacy. The reality is that our information had been collected and data mined by large corporations well over a decade before governments started to collect data.

Do you think that I am kidding?

Take a day in your life. You fill up the tank at a gas station. You use your tank pass to get the 3% extra discount. You pay with either ‘their’ card, or your card. Nowadays it is rare that people pay cash. You go to work. Lunch means that you get lunch at some place. You get a snack and you get 1-2 extra items. Anything at these points that have a pass, or card is in 70% of the cases collected data. Now you go home, get dinner, use your customer loyalty card and you go home. Whenever you did not use cash (and in some cases even if you did) your details were recorded. EVERY day of your life! Whenever you use your mobile, your mobile carrier knows roughly where you are (with some smart-phones they know exactly where you are). All that data has been collected in one way or another.

Yes, even beyond what Orwell contemplated, you are a data collection point, you are marketable!

This is the ugly reality that has been happening since even before 2001. The big problem for you is that many of these companies need to survive, they need revenue, so to survive and you are for sale. Whatever you did is for sale. No matter the amount of cleaning you think they do. It takes but one linkable fact to your raw data details to know exactly who you are, where you are and where you are likely to go. People like the NSA only want to know whether you are a danger to the nation and the people around you. Are you? The others want to make money off you? Only you know how ‘dangerous’ you are, the others want you to spend cash where they like it. It is a never-ending story of greed. So who do you really need to worry about?

So when we see the news on how politicians are all about worries, all about what was done, then ask yourself, what questions have they been asking, investigating and contemplating when it came to the data handed by all to commercial facilities.

Getting back to Edward, whatever his views are. If he was TRULY for the people, and TRULY doing something to make the world better, then he would have done something about the real issues and all those e-mails from bankers and so on. That did not happen, did it? Didn’t Julian Assange ‘vanish’ to Ecuador before he could make good on that promise? So when people are driven by who hold the usage of their credit card, what do we call them then? As for bankable matters, seems that his move to Hong Kong could be all about bankability, but who is banking who?

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