I came across a disturbing report from The Raw Story about National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell’s plans for cyberspace spying that would make the current debate on warrantless wiretaps look like a “walk in the park,” according to an interview published in the New Yorker’s print edition today. The plan would give the government the authority to examine the content of any e-mail, file transfer or Web search.
What is even more disturbing is that the infrastructure to tap into Americans’ email and web search history may already be in place.
The article refers to a November incident where a former technician at AT&T alleged that the telecom forwarded virtually all of its Internet traffic into a “secret room” to facilitate government spying. Mark Klein (the former AT&T employee) said that a copy of all Internet traffic passing over AT&T lines was copied into a locked room at the company’s San Francisco office – to which only employees with National Security Agency clearance had access in a cable splitting device.
“My job was to connect circuits into the splitter device which was hard-wired to the secret room,” Klein. said “And effectively, the splitter copied the entire data stream of those Internet cables into the secret room — and we’re talking about phone conversations, email web browsing, everything that goes across the Internet.”
“As a technician, I had the engineering wiring documents, which told me how the splitter was wired to the secret room,” Klein continued. “And so I know that whatever went across those cables was copied and the entire data stream was copied.”
According to Klein, that information included Internet activity about Americans.
“We’re talking about domestic traffic as well as international traffic,” Klein said. Previous Bush administration claims that only international communications were being intercepted aren’t accurate, he added.
“I know the physical equipment, and I know that statement is not true,” he added. “It involves millions of communications, a lot of it domestic communications that they’re copying wholesale.”
How many other companies are storing data such as this? This is one of the reasons for the search engine privacy wars in July of last year where the four major search engines made moves to protect users privacy.
Another scary thought is that is companies like AT&T, Google and even the government have access to our most private information, could it not easily fall into the wrong hands – the hands of those who would look to use it for evil?
Advocates of this type of policy would probably argue that if you have nothing to hide, than you have nothing to be afraid of. However at what point do we say, “enough is enough!” When we have no privacy left whatsoever?