The past few days have been especially turbulent ones for the NSA and its Director Keith Alexander. On Friday afternoon the NSA website experienced a shutdown which was widely reported as a denial of service attack, possibly involving members of hacker collective Anonymous. The NSA later claimed the problem was due to an “internal error” during a scheduled update. It goes without saying that we should take what the NSA says with an industrial-sized carton of salt.
On Friday night Foreign Policy magazine reported a multinational coalition has formed in the U.N. to draft a General Resolution to curb the power of the NSA’s surveillance network. The delegations involved include Brazil, Germany, France, Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Hungary,
India, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Norway, Paraguay, South Africa,
Sweden, Switzerland, and Uruguay. This action follows the political upheaval caused by Thursday’s release of Snowden documents which revealed at least 35 world leaders were spied on by the NSA. Since it’s doubtful they were under suspicion of terrorism, what’s a more likely explanation for the spying? Blackmail.
Just yesterday a massive “Stop Watching Us” rally demonstrated near the White House demanding an investigation, regulatory reform and accountability for those found to be responsible for unconstitutional surveillance. Twelve large boxes of 575,000 petition signatures were shown to the crowd at the foot of the US Capitol. According to a Reuters report:
The march attracted protesters from both ends of the political spectrum as liberal privacy advocates walked alongside members of the conservative Tea Party movement in opposition to what they say is unlawful government spying on Americans.
…The event was organized by a coalition known as “Stop Watching Us” that consists of some 100 public advocacy groups and companies, including the American Civil Liberties Union, privacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation, Occupy Wall Street NYC and the Libertarian Party.
As damaging as the NSA has been to our privacy, they may prove to be more damaging to the government itself. The first steps towards ending an abusive relationship are to snap out of denial, seek support, and address the underlying root of the problem. A positive aspect of the NSA spying scandal is that it’s helping the world wake up to the previously hidden (to many) evil behind the friendly facade. It’s truly a hopeful development to see countries around the world and groups of different political stripes in solidarity organizing around the issue of NSA criminality. We need more of this type of focus and cooperation if we are to confront the sources of our biggest problems and make positive changes in this arena and others.