NSA scandal details exposed by Edward Snowden via his Twitter account. “The most important surveillance story you will see for years just went online, revealing how @ATT became the internet’s biggest enemy, secretly collaborating against its customers and partners to destroy your privacy.”
A mass surveillance operation has been unveiled as AT&T has been colluding with the NSA in actively tracking citizens. A detailed post by The Intercept on June 25th outlined the details of the operation, and the significance of the findings cannot be understated. The AT&T/NSA scandal could go down in history as one of the most extensive recorded incidences of mass surveillance. While previously reported, it has not been examined in detail or brought to the public attention on a widespread basis.
The ATT/NSA Scandal Exposed
The story makes for grim reading. Essentially, AT&T has eight strategic buildings in the USA designed to spy on US civilians. The cooperation between AT&T and the NSA has been going on for many years and has only recently been uncovered. The infrastructure of AT&T made it ideal for the collection of data. A declassified 2011 court case indicated that the NSA had acquired 13 million internet transactions illegally in a single six month period. The issue is that the NSA is collecting data on everybody instead of collecting data on suspected individuals for national security, which is its intended purpose.
99% of the internet communication is transported through cables underneath the world’s oceans, and a large proportion of this data is routed through the US. This is due to its geographic location. The reality is that much of the world’s communication – phone calls, email, or chat – go through the USA.
Once on US soil, it is processed by American communications companies, AT&T is one of the largest and most accommodating to the NSA. The operation deployed by the NSA to use AT&T facilities for spying was called ‘SAGURO’. AT&T helped the NSA to eavesdrop on internet data using the eight sites, which were connected to the major data routes of the world’s communications.
AT&T communications were made accessible to the NSA through the XKEYSCORE tool. NSA employees use the tool to examine skype sessions, emails, instant messenger chats, web-browsing histories, web downloads and webcam photos.
A Consequence of Centralization
The AT&T/NSA scandal is exactly the type that DLT intends to rectify. AT&T had access to data they should not have had, colluding with the NSA, a government entity. It is a prime example of a centralized corporation colluding with a centralized government agency. A violation of privacy and civil liberties seems to be the price paid for being a US citizen and a natural consequence of centralization. And there is the larger issue of the NSA spying on global citizens with this data, not just the USA.
A large segment of the world’s communications runs through the AT&T infrastructure who feed this data directly to the NSA for the purposes of spying. Additionally, there is nothing more centralized than the underground internet cables that run underneath the world’s oceans. A single point of failure for the world’s technology has to be examined sooner rather than later.
Time and time again, centralization leads to catastrophe for citizens. There are countless examples of corruption, and decentralization of authority across all sectors remains the only alternative. We cannot continue to let both corporations and government infringe on civil liberties, and a decentralized economy powered by blockchain remains the only viable solution. It is a simple, obvious, and historically evident truth that the more power is centralized, the more it is abused.
Digital Nomad with an interest in Zen and Blockchain technology.
Law graduate with 3 years experience as a consultant in the capital markets industry and 4 years experience freelancing on UpWork as a Creative Writer.