Spying on Democracy for a Price

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is prohibited by law from spying on the domestic activities of Americans but that hasn’t stopped them from paying a giant telecommunications company for the phone records of Americans making call overseas, as reported by the New York Times in an article by Charlie Savage:

The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company’s vast database of phone records, which includes Americans’ international calls, according to government officials. [..]

The program adds a new dimension to the debate over government spying and the privacy of communications records, which has been focused on National Security Agency programs in recent months. The disclosure sheds further light on the ties between intelligence officials and communications service providers. And it shows how agencies beyond the N.S.A. use metadata – logs of the date, duration and phone numbers involved in a call, but not the content – to analyze links between people through programs regulated by an inconsistent patchwork of legal standards, procedures and oversight.

Author of Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance, Heidi Boghosian joined Bill Moyers on Moyers and Company to discuss spying and  our civil liberties

Transcript can be read here

Book Excerpt: Spying on Democracy

by Heidi Boghosian

In describing the National Security Agency’s (NSA) Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), best-selling author James Bamford, whose reporting in the 1980s revealed the existence of the NSA, calls the database used to store names gathered from the federal eavesdropping programs a disaster. The advent of digital communications and mass storage, he says, coupled with a failure of law and policy to keep abreast of technological advancements and an NSA “where the entire world’s knowledge is stored, but not a single word understood,” yields “the capacity to make tyranny total in America.”

Much of the information in government databases such as TIDE is collected with the cooperation of corporations. Although the US surveillance state is colossal in scope, Americans need not be complicit in sustaining it. Tethered to electronic gadgets, under watchful corporate and government command, Americans have a choice about the amount of information afforded to authorities. We can embrace the positive aspects of technology while electing to actively resist and dismantle its invasive and anti-democratic aspects.

To do so, it is essential to reject outright the premise on which a domestic surveillance grid has been erected: that it makes us safer. Comprehensive monitoring and the targeting of certain individuals and social networks for greater observation, is demonstrably ineffective in its purported function of making Americans more secure.


1 comment

    • TMC on November 14, 2013 at 02:13

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