Later On

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This Newsletter Was Paranoid About the NSA in 1996, and It Was Eerily Correct

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Very interesting report on a prescient newsletter from a decade ago. Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchieri at Motherboard:

Ever since Edward Snowden leaked thousands of top secret documents to journalists laying bare its most guarded secrets, the NSA, a government agency that was once known as the No Such ​Agency for its love for secrecy, has been thrown in the media limelight.

But people have been freaking out, to a certain extent, over the NSA’s powers for a long time.

In a newsle​tter dated May 26, 1996, titled “The [NSA] is Poised to Control the Internet,” the unidentified author talks about how the computer revolution, then in its infancy, would help the NSA spy on everyone online.

“A computer revolution seems to be happening and with it a dramatic increase in people using the Internet, as well as people watching what the people use it for,” read the newsletter, which has been making the​ rounds on the Internet on Thursday, after someone found an old mailing list​ post apparently authored by Julian Assange. (It appears that the WikiLeaks founder was simply distributing the newsletter, but he is probably not the original author of the essay.)

“Ever heard of the NSA? This could very well be the NSA decade for the Internet. Conspiracy, power struggles and surveillance of the citizenry may be what is remembered about the NSA during this period of time,” the author wrote in a newsletter called NorthStar, which billed itself as a “a guiding light to help you focus on the issues which threaten our Internet Freedom.”

The essay goes on to discuss the NSA’s authorities, its budget, and its ability to spy on American communications as long as one end is outside of the country—sometimes even when both ends are inside US borders.

It even criticizes the NSA’s reliance on semantics to justify its actions. “Target” the author noted, doesn’t necessarily mean what you think it means for the NSA. This eerily echoes the NSA’s justification for its bulk data collection programs: it’s just “collection,” not “targeting,” US officials have repeatedly said. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2015 at 1:03 pm

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