You don’t think the NSA had the capacity to intercept and eat Pope Francis’s peace doves? Maybe not, but they may have taken their surveillance mania so far gamers will get themselves organized in a non-virtual way. The NSA is scooping up all kinds of personal information from “leaky apps” such as Angry Birds. I personally could care less, since any and all of my avatars have impeccable manners, excellent diction, and total unconditional loyalty to the legitimate overlords. Moreover, the Fourth Amendment guarantees the security of my home, papers, and person, but not my second and third lives.
In related news, “more than 50 cryptography experts” published an open letter (at MassSurveillance.info) imploring the U.S. government to stop engaging in “deliberate and covert weakening of Internet security standards.” President Obama has said repeatedly that there is potential for abuse but that there have not yet been significant encroachments on Americans’ privacy. The open letter points out that, contrary to Obama’s protestations, “indiscriminate collection, storage, and processing” of personal information “chill[s] free speech and invite[s] many types of abuse, ranging form mission creep to identity theft. these are not hypothetical problems….Inserting backdoors, sabotaging standards, and tapping commercial data-center links provide bad actors, foreign and domestic, opportunities to exploit the resulting vulnerabilities….The value of society-wide surveillance in preventing terrorism is unclear, but the threat that such surveillance poses to privacy, democracy, and the US technology sector is readily apparent….The choice is not whether to allow the NSA to spy. The choice is between a communications infrastructure that is vulnerable to attack at its core and one that, by default, is intrinsically secure for its users.” The cryptographers are not, I think, begging President Obama for favors so much as letting him know the implications of policies that, thoughtful as he appears to be, he may not have considered enough.