Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy New Year with Big Brother Looking over the Shoulder

As we wish each other a happy and prosperous new year, more comes to light about the government’s single-minded and untiring attempts at total surveillance of everybody.

Jacob Applebaum, a computer expert associated with Edward Snowden, spoke to a hackers conference in Germany about already existing different new surveillance devices, or devices being developed by the National Security Agency.

One of these allows government spies to transform your iPhone into a microphone through which big Brother can listen to your phone calls. In his speech, Applebaum wondered aloud whether that device was developed and inserted with the cooperation of Apple. That company has since then denied in a press release that they were in anyway cooperating with the government to make their phones into surveillance tools.

Applebaum also talked about ways in which a properly prepared computer can share every keystroke a user makes with a spy, even if the computer is at that moment not connected to the Internet. While you are manually typing away on an email to an old friend, the message you are composing shows up on the spy agency’s computer.

Another device, either in use or in development, allows someone to read messages posted on a computer from as far as 8 miles away. The snoops do not have to hide in a tree outside your house. They can be quite comfortable and warm while they capture what you are writing on your machine.

Applebaum also stressed that what is at issue here is not just individual privacy. These growing surveillance capabilities threaten the life and safety itself of journalists or of completely innocent bystanders. Applebaum told the story of an Angolan journalist whose computer had clearly been tampered with and was uploading its content to another computer. That other computer, unfortunately, was a government machine. A short time later the Angolan investigative journalist was arrested and is now under indictment and faces many years in prison, torture, and possible execution.

The aim of all the surveillance is not just to give spies a chuckle when they read your emails. The aim is political control, and enforcing conformity to views approved of by the government. Mind control is the ultimate purpose. The real threat of all this surveillance is enforcement of political conformity.

Make a resolution for 2014 to defend our traditional freedoms in every way you can.