Reset the Net

Through the Intercept and it’s splendid site, i’ve just discovered Reset the Net, which sports on its home page a quotation from Edward Snowden, “Mass surveillance is illegitimate. I’m taking steps to take my freedoms back and I expect governments and corporations to follow in my footsteps and take steps to stop all mass government surveillance.”  and asks you to sign up and take the pledge.  Ummm, well….

Did a little Googling around and found that Google has joined hands with Snowden and has released the source code for a new Chrome extension that provides end-to-end encryption.  The extension is currently in testing and is expected to be released soon in a format that will be much easier to use than older E2EE applications.  Oh joy.  But well, before we go dancing through the parks singing Free, Free at Last, let’s think.

Wasn’t it Google who, along with all the other major internet companies, sold us all out to the NSA and then, when Snowden revealed this duplicity, had its CEO and owners stoutly denying any knowledge of the actions of their company until further revelations made it clear they were remorseless liars who could not possibly have been unaware of the NSA efforts?

So now i’m supposed to accept Google’s kind gift without once thinking that it is absolutely certain to be outfitted with NSA back doors, side doors and front doors that will automatically send NSA the unencrypted text of every message you apply it to.

I mean, think about who you’re dealing with here.  The big internet companies are all part of the system.  Remember Skype when it was young and Finnish and so well encrypted that it would take the NSA days, if not weeks, of heavy computer grinding to decrypt a single conversation?  And remember how when the founders were about to sell the company to Microsoft, the Great Philanthropist decreed that as a condition of sale the encryption process had to be made NSA-compatible so as to save them all that needless effort?

It’s close to already too late, but if it isn’t, the only thing that will save this country from devolving into a total police state of which the Stasi would have been sick with envy is legislation to rein in the NSA and return it to its original mission of providing signal intelligence on foreign entities rather than its post-911 goal of simply casting its net over the entire planet, examining everyone, including all Americans, and then sifting out the enemies.

But look closely at the legislation.  Big Sister Feinstein and her accomplices are highly skilled at crafting legislation that appears on the surface to restrict government spying but in actuality facilitates it.  Obama has turned out to be a major disappointment in this area since he’s endorsed and even amplified the worst aspects of the previous administration’s War on Privacy.

The only shred of encouragement i find is that finally Republicans are joining Senator Wyden and other Democratic critics of the NSA.  If enough of us, of all party affiliations, push back, we may be able to save the country.  A strange bedfellow on this is Ron Paul, who despite being a vile racist, vicious homophobe, and ardent misogynist manages to get a few things right – like understanding that keeping this country strong does not require running around invading countries all over the planet or recording all our emails and phone conversations.

Which is not to say that if millions of Americans jump onto the Reset the Net bandwagon, it will not send a message to our legislators that embracing real restrictions on the NSA might keep them in office longer, but just don’t use Google’s E2EE encryption for anything you want to keep secret.

Here’s a wonderful old building on Folsom Street.  Looks like it ought to be NSA, but it’s really PG&E.

PG&E bulding on Folsom St.





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  1. ckm
    Posted 10 June 2014 at 05:21 | Permalink

    You might remind your readers that encryption is a ‘feel-good’ exercise, because NSA can and does read whatyou type as you type it, long before encryption gets applied.

    • Matte Gray
      Posted 10 June 2014 at 07:43 | Permalink

      Good point, and one that readers should remember. That said, i covered this in my 24 May post “Interesting Times”.

  2. David
    Posted 10 June 2014 at 12:26 | Permalink

    Love the PG&E building–built back in the day when they knew how to do things properly. There’s an AT&T building in Walnut Creek that also looks like an NSA building–which part of it probably is. Built like a fortress, but, oddly, with bright yellow panels here and there. Cheer amid the gloom. I emailed John King that he should review the building, and he wrote back that he was aware of it, but not sure how to approach a review.

    Oh, and those snow peas–quite a bit to them! But I can handle it if I only have one at a time in my mouth. Delish, and thanks again.

    • Matte Gray
      Posted 10 June 2014 at 14:25 | Permalink

      That PG&E building has fascinated me since i first saw it in the seventies. A fortress, yes, but a very handsome fortress, and i’d love to read King on its Walnut Creek counterpart. And regarding those pickled legumes, some folks like to fish the pepper out immediately after opening the jar so the damn things don’t get any hotter.

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