Encryption and the NSA

Redmond Magazine has a new article entitled Microsoft To Add Data Encryption in Response to Gov. Snooping at

http://redmondmag.com/articles/2013/12/05/microsoft-to-add-data-encryption.aspx

which they summarize in the first sentence as

Microsoft yesterday announced that it is taking steps to guard against government surveillance of its customers’ data.

Which made me laugh…sorta.

Previously, we couldn’t have secure systems and communications for two reasons: First, that would make it difficult for Corporate America to creep on you whether in your role as worker, consumer, or competitor. Secondly, making that security available represented an additional “cost” to America’s operating system vendors and/or their major corporate customers and/or America’s communications equipment vendors/carriers. (Three reasons, depending upon your level of cynicism/awareness: You cannot overcharge for encryption “add-ons” if encryption is commonly available in operating systems.)

Consequently, those who wanted to penetrate information technology in America didn’t have much of a challenge. Everybody knows about attacks carried out over the internet – the easiest scapegoat – but that isn’t the only penetration route. Everything – from a penetration perspective – gets easier if you have physical access to the databases, systems, and/or communications lines storing or carrying the information that you’re interested in. Potential attack…effectors…aren’t artificially limited to somebody sitting in a basement miles, nations, or continents away; they include Americans who have the head start of physical access to data systems/communications lines within CONUS if/when they have an ethos bounded by dollar signs, Americans who have loyalties to what they see as being a “greater cause”, and H-1Bs whose loyalties unsurprisingly remain offshore.

That ability to attain physical access would, obviously, also encompass those who are beneficiaries of outsourcing/offshoring. Offshoring is a particularly golden opportunity for those who are interested in profiting from/driving the decay/destruction of America as the entire decision process in America centers upon “shareholder value”/(compensation in the executive suite)…that is, the decision process centers upon whether the corporation in question can increase margins by even a hair through offshoring, which means it devolves down to whether or not a nation has the lower cost of living – in terms of America’s dollar – required to make their labor rates “cheaper” (again in terms of the American dollar).

Thus a nation-state has only to rig their currency exchange rates – or have operatives within a nation-state that rigs its exchange rate – to guarantee physical access to almost inconceivable volumes of American data. (Don’t do a web search for “The Maoist insurgency, which began in the eastern state of West Bengal in the late 1960s, has spread to more than one-third of India’s more than 600 districts.” if your compensation/rate of wealth accumulation depends upon your ability to profess plausible deniability to your publicly-held corporation’s consumers and/or your shareholders.  “History” gets recorded, ya know.)

Such sloppy security/willingness to make assumptions if the course of action is “profitable” is understandable given earlier ignorance on the part of the general public about the risks (uh…plausible deniability) that result from the combination of greed and complacency-because-change-costs-money that controlled the “corporate persons” in America…at least before the “NSA wake-up call” (if you will).

Prior to the consequence of the “We should grant those who control corporations which own politicians the ability to define ‘secure’ as it applies to national security in terms of their own profits.” decision that is Snowden, Corporate America’s perception was that “only” their customers (a.k.a. “the American people”), their workers (a.k.a. “the American people”), and the safety and security of these United States (a.k.a. “the American People”) were being placed at financial, economic, and physical risk by the poor security that they permitted in the name of avoiding costs/increasing profits.

Hence my amusement at the news of Microsoft’s plan to make encryption readily available now that the probability that “the government” might be able to see and record efforts to evade taxes and/or criminal acts committed in the name of increasing “shareholder value”/(the compensation of the executive suite) has become unavoidably known to Wall Street and its sphere of influence.

But…it is annoying. We might get security only now that acts committed by the individuals who have absolute control over America’s irresponsible and un-convictable “corporate persons” might be going into retrievable electronic storage????

lolll…only now that Americans who are considered to be “important” by those who control America’s “corporate persons” – that is, America’s CEOs and major shareholders themselves – might be exposed to risk, suddenly “We, the People” might just attain the ability to increase our own, individual security?

If, that is, you are willing to assume both that whatever encryption systems/methods are deployed to the general public do not have vulnerabilities built in pre-deployment and that all cryptographic keys will be under your control alone.  In my opinion, those assumptions are invalid at a minimum – and may well be especially foolish – given that America cannot go a week without reading or hearing of one corporation or another insisting that their attempts to capture, record, and analyze your data – and even use it to manipulate you – are “different” from the NSA’s efforts because Corporate America does it to make money from compromising the security of your personal data/intellectual property while the NSA does it to ***protect national security.

That is, Corporate America – and the right, and the right’s media – insists that their collecting of data about you is “OK” because they’re doing it to enhance their ability to transfer your wealth (and so, under capitalism, your power) from you to them but the NSA’s collection of data in order to defend these United States and our people “against all enemies, foreign and domestic” is…somehow wrong.

An argument which makes a whole helluvalotta sense, eh? Or not.

There is another, significant issue: Do you seriously think that America’s “corporate persons” will/do not hand the results from Corporate America’s unprecedented invasion of privacy – and the consequential ability to leverage/manipulate the American people in their roles of worker, consumer, and voter – over to those politicians/political entities/media arms which promise to increase the rate of wealth accumulation/retention of those who control or own large enough chunks of those “corporate persons”? No matter which of the principles outlined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights they wish to compromise?

Something else to bear in mind: Propaganda – in America, the word is almost always a synonym with lies conveyed as political advertising or opinion-as-“News” – is targeted at vulnerable audiences and shaped to manipulate that audience through its biases and beliefs. For that, you have to collect data on your audience in order to find their vulnerabilities; the data Corporate America collects by invading your privacy is invaluable for propaganda purposes. For Corporate America to suddenly make encryption and the protection of your privacy their priority flies in the face of Corporate America’s behavior since OPEC and the subsequent arrival of media-owning proof that American citizenship isn’t necessarily earned…or justified. Americans would do well to research multiple encryption technologies…particularly those which are not the products of Corporate America.

The American people would further do well to remember that Corporate America’s evangelists (e.g., GE’s Jack Welch…and all of Wall Street – which in turn effectively/pragmatically means all publicly-held corporations) have asserted that they have no moral or ethical obligation/reason (which would include patriotism, obviously; an inescapable conclusion given their exportation and subsequent manufacturing of dual-use technology to/in nations having systems of government which are inimical to democracy and liberty) to follow any dictate other than increasing “shareholder value”/(the compensation of the executive suite).

In practice, that means that Corporate America has and will continue to directly harm their workers, consumers, the environment, and the safety and security of the United States of America if that course of action increases “shareholder value”/(the compensation of the executive suite).

To close (finally…lolllll), the fact that Wall Street and everybody in their chain of command/sphere of influence – to include their tool, the Republican Party – is suddenly getting encryption-conscious since they learned that the NSA is actually doing its job should tell you something…should tell you a lot…about both Wall Street’s/Corporate America’s present activities and what they wish to do in the future.

(***Note: Yeah, “protect” – IMHO – is the correct term for what the NSA is doing; discounting even the real and present danger of external enemies who have in the past and may yet be operating internally, I hold that economic sabotage [such as the mortgage-backed securities pyramid scam] is also a threat to national security as it compromises the tax base it takes to buy ammo for our military.  Does the NSA have that same perspective? I don’t know…but I believe that they should.

Obviously Corporate America now fears that the NSA does have that perspective.)

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