Forgot your password?
Encryption Government Privacy United States

Snowden: NSA Spied On Human Rights Workers 230

Posted by Soulskill
from the also-on-non-human-rights-workers dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "The Guardian reports that according to Edward Snowden, the NSA has spied on the staff of prominent human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. 'The NSA has specifically targeted either leaders or staff members in a number of civil and non-governmental organizations including domestically within the borders of the United States.' Snowden, addressing the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, said he did not believe the NSA was engaged in 'nightmare scenarios,' such as the active compilation of a list of homosexuals 'to round them up and send them into camps.' But he did say that the infrastructure allowing this to happen had been built.

Snowden made clear that he believed in legitimate intelligence operations but said the NSA should abandon its electronic surveillance of entire civilian populations. Instead, Snowden said, it should go back to the traditional model of eavesdropping against specific targets, such as 'North Korea, terrorists, cyber-actors, or anyone else.' Snowden also urged members of the Council of Europe to encrypt their personal communications and said that encryption, used properly, could still withstand 'brute force attacks' from powerful spy agencies and others. 'Properly implemented algorithms backed up by truly random keys of significant length all require more energy to decrypt than exists in the universe.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Snowden: NSA Spied On Human Rights Workers

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Hang Him High (Score:5, Informative)

    by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @07:37PM (#46700179)

    Snowden didn't run to the People with his juicy intelligence; he took it to Putin.

    He didn't take it there.
    Our Glorious Government and Dear Leaders trapped him there.

  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @08:23PM (#46700519) Homepage

    First, future generations may find of historical interest all those NSA records. Just think of all the data historians in 100 years (if humanity still exists) will be able to use for PhDs! And I'm only half joking about that.

    The deeper issue relating to "prison" is more, is what we are doing effective? With a huge relative-to-population real prison and parole population in the USA, with vast numbers of people living in relative poverty, with thousands of nukes ready to destroy the world as we know it in a few minutes and related anxiety, with schools increasingly like prisons, and so on, one might argue the USA has already become its own anxiety-provoking prison for all too much of its population. Perhaps that's one reason for the US drug war -- while the Soviet Union had to guard its borders from escapees, the USA has to guard its medicine cabinets from escapees? (See also Wikpedia on "Rat Park".) There used to be a time when people in the USA aspired to more than that, and in that sense the USA is rapidly heading into a "Dark Age". From: []
    "Dark Age Ahead is a 2004 book by Jane Jacobs describing what she sees as the decay of five key "pillars" in North America: community and family, higher education, science and technology, taxes and government responsive to citizen's needs, and self-policing by the learned professions. She argues that this decay threatens to create a dark age unless the trends are reversed. Jacobs characterizes a dark age as a "mass amnesia" where even the memory of what was lost is lost."

    I agree that pervasive one-way surveillance in a society shifts the balance of power, which is the reasons for US constitutional protections relating to search and seizure of documents. One can contrast that with David Brin's two-way "Transparent Society" idea, or Marshall Brain's similar suggestions in "Manna". Historically humans living in tight-knit tribal villages may have not had much privacy from each other in many ways, so our very conception of privacy via anonymity and hidden transactions or hidden records may be a new thing. In any case, these are somewhat different times from 100,000 BC or 1776 AD given cheap storage, cheap sensing, and cheap search. There also the unreliability of cryptographic systems in practice (OpenSSL bugs, spear phishing, MITM, key loggers, evil upgrades, provider compromise, and so on), so depending on encryption seems problematical, assuming hiding information really had social value in general in social movements. I'm not saying privacy is evil; I'm just suggesting that depending on privacy in a social movement is probably foolish at the very least for practical reasons. Beyond practicalities, I feel the way forward has more to do with popularizing good ideas (like about the potential for abundance for all such as by a "basic income") rather than trying to hide plans of whatever sorts from prying eyes. In the USA and many other countries we have hard-won democratic freedoms like freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. I feel it is best to use those freedoms to build something better, even knowing such efforts for change will be under constant public scrutiny. The problem is of course that building something better is hard work filled with a lot of uncertainty, including from resistance put up by those with a powerful position in the status quo or those who aspire to such a position. See also, on "Security: Crypto Imagination vs. Reality": []

    There is a scene near the end of James P. Hogan's "Voyage From Yesteryear" where a soldier makes a silent plea for sanity with another soldier at a command post by how the soldier moves and carries his equipment, and that is something to think about. What signals do we send others when we focus on encryption as a way to security rather than focusing on broad social and material uplift? I'm not saying there is not conflict there, just that we can look to a parallel ar

  • by tlambert (566799) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @09:02PM (#46700735)

    The chair for this guy when he's caught.

    We'd have to elect him to the Senate, and get him on the Intelligence Committee, afte which he'd need a few years of seniority before he could get the chair.

    But yeah, I agree with you: he'd make an excellent Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

  • Re:Outrage fatigue (Score:4, Informative)

    by dbIII (701233) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:28AM (#46701881)
    A shining example from another agency is when a lot of Farsi speakers were fired just as more interest was being taken in Iran and automatic translation was relied on to a greater extent.
    This of course was seen as a very stupid idea even back in the 1960s - a Desmond Bagley spy novel had an example of "hydraulic ram" coming back from translation as "water sheep" as a reason for human intelligence instead of signal processing intelligence.
  • by jma05 (897351) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @02:19AM (#46702309)

    > It's an intelligence agency, it spies on people. The only thing to discuss is whether it is allowed to spy on American citizens. Everyone else is fair game AFAIC

    OK. Apply that logic to China spying on US govt, corporations, citizens and the rest of the world as well. No need for POTUS to raise issue at all on unsophisticated Chinese attempts at US. Right? Just a spy agency doing its thing... what its' paid to do and all that. Huawei can be banned in US, and Cisco, MS and the rest of the silicon valley can be banned in the rest of the world. Right? And with attitude such as yours, who would trust their data within US juristriction? And if NSA can tap lines, out of US, without consent of foreign governments, can Chinese intel agencies do it to you too? and you would not protest at all for your rights? Its an intelligence agency, after all.

    AFAIK, NSA is quite unique in spying on wholesale foreign populations - all comms, all of the time, just in case - nothing "fair game" about it. Screw other countries, as long as I get my rights - is colonial era thought... quite indefensible in current international discourse.

The one day you'd sell your soul for something, souls are a glut.