Technology with attitude

Why It Matters.

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I hate it when people say about those with whom they disagree, “they just don’t get it.” It’s elitist, arrogant and obnoxious. But, here I go anyway: people just don’t get how dangerous this NSA surveillance of domestic phone calls is.

As I demonstrated with the post below, it takes just a few seconds on Google to connect an unidentified originating phone number, and a called number, and draw conclusions. In this case connecting Senator Kyl of Arizona with a manufacturer of high end (no, no, not a pun) sex dolls.

If I can do it, and you can do it, the NSA can do it. In fact, given the ease of the thing, and given the NSA’s technical capabilities, it is simply absurd to pretend that a phone number and the owner of that number are seperate.

So, let’s take a scenario. Let’s say the NSA wants an increase in its budget. Let’s say the hold out is Senator X. The NSA has the following data: two late night phone calls from the Senator to a woman not his wife, a phone call to the reservations desk of a local motel, and a phone call from that motel to a liquor store that delivers.

The NSA needs that budget increase to fight terror. The only person standing in the way is Senator X. Explain to me why the NSA won’t arrange to let Senator X know what they know?

Let’s walk the scenario a little further forward. Senator X says to the NSA, “Well, you could embarrass me sure, but I have an explanation. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be bothered to have this information come out, but not so bothered that I’ll just roll over for you. I won’t give you what you want, unless you have a carrot to go with that stick. Now, have I mentioned that I face a tough race for re-election?”

So, always pursuing its vital goal of defending us from terror, the NSA pulls up phone records from Senator X’s opponent, Candidate Y. Turns out Candidate Y is clean. In fact, he’s a saint. But one of his chief campaign aides, Z, made a phone call to a gay chat room, even though this aide is happily married.

Campaign Aide Z is approached and he folds up. He offers a preview of his candidate’s media plan and some suspicions he has about one of the campaign’s donors. Senator X, armed with this information, wins re-election. In gratitude he supports the NSA funding increase. And, from the NSA’s perspective, the war on terror is advanced.

Now. Explain to me how this scenario is impossible, or benign, or irrelevant.