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We Shouldn’t Wait Another Fifteen Years for a Conversation About Government Hacking


We Shouldn’t Wait Another Fifteen Years for a Conversation About Government Hacking

Nate Cardoza, Andrew Crocker

With high-profile hacks in the headlines and government officials trying to reopen a long-settled debate about encryption, information security has become a mainstream issue. But we feel that one element of digital security hasn’t received enough critical attention: the role of government in acquiring and exploiting vulnerabilities and hacking for law enforcement and intelligence purposes.


To me it is unacceptable that the government is involved in hacking at all but I agree if they can't be stopped they most certainly should share the vulnerabilities so that others can find and fix them.
Not long ago they were pestering the computer giants to install a back door so they can hack more easily. Really? Of course the companies didn't see it that way for obvious reasons. If they have a back door or if they have the encryption
key it leaves it wide open for others to us as well.
My understanding is the government is more interested in being able to hack us than for all of us to be safe from hackers of every sort.
It is absolutely time to get involved and have that conversation it is getting out of control already.


Oh, gee, where does one start?

First, hacking misrepresents this. The problem for the population is government and corporate surveillance. Hacking was and for some still is a word concerned with programming and monkeying with software. It came to be used by the uninitiated to refer to criminal, quasi-criminal, allegedly criminal, immoral, and allegedly immoral activities involving invasion of privacy and alleged invasion of privacy.

All that would be a small point except that the use of the term creates a dangerous distortion. It creates an impression that there is some sort of divide between legal and legitimate government surveillance and illegal or illegitimate surveillance, some of which may be carried out by governments. That does not describe any actual world.

In truth, entities within and around governments carry out massive surveillance. The US-related network is only the most extensive. Because surveillance is almost completely and fairly reliably invisible and anonymous anyway, governments can and have and do enforce their codes selectively, allowing their agents and associates to break privacy laws while threatening and coercing people like Aaron Schwartz, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and others.

Next, with regard to imagining that one has any sort of absolute privacy, forget it. Accept that in that sort of sense, the system is completely porous. Moreover, the parts of the systems that you and I use are easily porous. Windows, Mac, Ubuntu have easy walk-in back doors, as Snowden revealed. Tor has reportedly been cracked, though I cannot confirm that and disinformation around these things is endemic.

Snowden himself, as you may recall, was not working for the government but for a contractor. That means, of course, that the contractors not only can and do collect everybody's information, but that none of them have to be Evil Geniuses or drink unfathomable amounts of coffee to carry that out. It's there, and insofar as they have a use for it, they use it.

Next, it is useful in these things to recognize that there is no particularly clear line between the government and its associates or between one or another sort of governmental associate. So, for instance, let is imagine that someone were unworried that, oh, the MIC or the B of A had his or her information. I am not suggesting that this in itself is the least bit harmless, but we have all probably heard such opinions.

We have an unusually clear snapshot of this, albeit not a complete one, with regard to the DNC and its fraud and theft of the Sanders candidacy.

  • Obama instructs the DOJ to not indict HRC on felony charges
  • The DNC, CNN, NYT, WaPo et al engage in more open than prior fraud to stop Sanders' popular victory, which will make Clinton's victory via loading the electoral college vote with "superdelegates" look as bad as it is.
  • A long history of fraud, malfeasance, and treason is leaked
  • Included, the DNC has arranged sale of Obama's attention to corporations in return for funds for Hillary Clinton to use against Bernie Sanders.
  • Officially, Clinton accuses Russia of spying, but there are statistically unlikely sudden deaths among DNC staff and the person who served the summons
  • Clinton and her link to moving NATO and harassing Russia is linked to George So ros
  • S oros is linked to laundering drug money, along with a very many other things
  • Going back, just a bit, we find that Obama has granted arms to the government of Mexico "to fight drugs." Of course, in Mexico, it would be immediately obvious to anyone that this means that he gave arms to one narcotrafficker to fight another.

A lot of other data exists, in various conditions of documentation and innuendo, some more and some less reliable. For the moment, my point is not Hillary Clinton, but to point out that the promiscuity of your information is something like that of a green dollar bill, except that it can travel digitally. It may be protected in one exchange, but it has already been released in another.

And this idea that either the government or business might be responsible with it is either stupid or just misinformed. If the government has the information, so does the B of A, and so do the good fellows who bring marijuana and cocaine to your city streets.

So, uuf---talk about it? We probably should.

But we are not going to be able to regulate it, at least not in anything like the world we live in now. I think we shall be able to keep the grand conspiracies from remaining private, and we may be able to disallow the power that makes for the worst of these abuses. But as to privacy, the protection that you have is that nobody cares.


I may be fooling myself, but it seems to me that great hackers will usually work for the common good. One would have to be stupid not to see that we are in this together and great hackers are not stupid.