The information age has its benefits, but its downsides are more and more obvious with each passing day. Sensitive information, in particular, has a huge price on the global market and it can shape and influence our modern history dramatically. Edward Snowden is probably the best example in this case, since in June 2013 he started leaking NSA’s classified documents which underlined Internet surveillance programs like PRISM, Tempora and MUSCULAR.
Huawei Breached by NSA
Just yesterday (03.23.2014), The New York Times published this article in which they reveal how the NSA targeted China’s telecommunication company Huawei. It’s a well-known fact that the US has been somewhat reluctant in using and promoting Huawei products from fear of their communications being monitored by the Chinese government through their popular and widely-used products, such as broadband devices and phones.
However, Snowden leaked some more NSA documents which show that the US agency has taken it upon itself to counteract possible threats posed by Huawei and breach their servers to gain access to their intelligence. Aside from that, documents also hint at the NSA installing its own backdoors into Huawei devices in order to monitor consumers and detect possible threats. This is done under the pretext that many of NSA’s targets use Huawei products and that access to their networks could only be done by exploiting the telecommunication company’s devices.
Edward Snowden’s Ted Talk
This news comes after Edward Snowden has made a spectacular appearance at TED, giving his talk by teleconference. He is currently stationed in Russia in order to avoid the consequences of his NSA whistleblowing in the US.
His TED talk – Here’s how we take back the Internet – is both scary and inspiring. I found him to be very coherent and precise in his scope. Nothing he said could be considered far-fetched, especially given his past record in revealing sensitive information.
But I have to be honest – I’m sort of impartial (or trying to be so) towards his supposed contribution. Sure, it’s not ideal that government agencies act like the NSA did. Moreover, the whole thing has a disappointing side to it, given that there was little, if any, citizen representative approval for the agency’s actions. Then again, most of us are still concerned about security threats and would rest easier knowing that there’s someone watching out for us, protecting our and our nation’s best interests, regardless of the nation in question. Yet, it’s hard to wholeheartedly agree that this is the case and that an agency like the NSA is not just going after its own interests, whatever the consequences.
I love my privacy, but I completely understand that what I don’t share online or through other digital communication means cannot be traced. Then again, I’ve got nothing to hide. So what if they know that I’ve bought a certain book on a certain date from a certain website? Snowden addresses this question in his talk. And I somewhat agree with his take, but I can’t say with hand on heart that I would risk increased threats to my country and my family at the expense of a potential increase in my personal online privacy.
In the end, I can and will say that I support his message. For the most part, at least. The Internet is our creation, those who contribute to it in one way or the other and we should definitely have our say on how it is used by our governments and government agencies. Exchanging information is crucial in this day and age and I say it’s the next step in our evolutionary state as a species. And anything that might hinder the safe exchange of information between ordinary people like me and you, should be treated as a threat to freedom itself.