Is 1984 Arriving a Few Years Late?

If you haven’t seen the documents yet, Wired Magazine has published the complete text of the AT&T documents (PDF format) detailing their assistance in one of the Bush administration’s illegal spying operations on American citizens. Among other interesting things revealed in the documents; AT&T was splitting off traffic at MAE EAST, MAE WEST, and other major peering points. The NSA is not just spying on AT&T customer traffic without a court order, they are effectively spying on all Internet traffic; even you reading this blog right now. You may recall the administration claiming that only a “very small fraction” of their network intercepts were between people in the US and those were caused by a “technical glitch”. Oops. From the released documents, it looks like AT&T put a lot of work into designing and deploying the “technical glitch”.

Wired’s actions are particularly commendable given that the Attorney General was quoted today threatening to prosecute journalists who print leaked information. I think the last administration that considered prosecuting journalists was Nixon’s.

Ironically, with the level of incompetence that has been shown by the current administration, I have a suspicion that not only will all their spying produce no useful results, but they’ll probably do a bad job of securing their system and it will end up being used by spammers and other Internet criminals.

I found myself reading all this and thinking, I should really be using encrypted email more often. I can only recall someone using my GPG key to send me email a handful of times and I don’t think I’ve sent encrypted email much more often than that. Would it matter? I read the other day that in the UK, they’re trying to force individuals and organizations to hand over their encryption keys. Amazingly, that hasn’t happened in the US yet, even though we otherwise seem to be leading the way on giving up privacy protections and individual rights these days.