Friday, July 04, 2014

The NSA targets the privacy-conscious

The latest NSALeak: anyone who even searches for common web privacy tools like Tor and Tails is targeted for surveillance:

Since the start of the Snowden story in 2013, the NSA has stressed that while it may intercept nearly every Internet user's communications, it only "targets" a small fraction of those, whose traffic patterns reveal some basis for suspicion. Targets of NSA surveillance don't have their data flushed from the NSA's databases on a rolling 48-hour or 30-day basis, but are instead retained indefinitely.

The authors of the Tagesschau story have seen the "deep packet inspection" rules used to determine who is considered to be a legitimate target for deep surveillance, and the results are bizarre.

According to the story, the NSA targets anyone who searches for online articles about Tails -- like this one that we published in April, or this article for teens that I wrote in May -- or Tor (The Onion Router, which we've been posted about since 2004). Anyone who is determined to be using Tor is also targeted for long-term surveillance and retention.

They also target various other privacy tools, the anonymous remailer system, and the Linux Journal, which the NSA call an "extremist forum".

The full article with technical details (and leaked XKEYSCORE rules) is here.

The obvious question: is NSA data on NZ Tor users (and people who search for Tor, as I just did to get the links to put in this post) shared with the GCSB? Do they have, or have access to, a database of all such "extremists" in New Zealand? And shouldn't they be focusing on real threats to security - such as people with guns and bombs - rather than people who merely want to protect their privacy from a snooping, spying government?