While those credulous enough to trust any assertions made explicitly or otherwise by the security services of the UK and USA continue to nod obediently whenever the spooks kick the deeply subversive Guardian and its partners in the States and mainland Europe, not everyone is so happy about the behaviour of the NSA and GCHQ. In fact, Google and Yahoo are livid at their alleged treatment.
As the Washington Post revealed yesterday, “NSA apparently taps Google, Yahoo networks without companies’ knowledge”. To no surprise at all, the targets of this latest bombshell were not happy bunnies. “Google has expressed outrage following a report that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has hacked its data links ... An executive at Google said it was not aware of the alleged activity, adding there was an ‘urgent need for reform’”.
Yahoo weren’t exactly ecstatic, either: “Google and Yahoo, two of the world's biggest tech companies, reacted angrily to a report on Wednesday that the National Security Agency has secretly intercepted the main communication links that carry their users' data around the world”.
Google’s Chief Legal Officer noted “We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we have continued to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links, especially the links in the slide ... We do not provide any government, including the US government, with access to our systems”. Well, now we can see how the NSA gets in anyway.
Yahoo also protested that they were not aware of the surveillance: “We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency”. As the Guardian put it, “Internet firms go to great lengths to protect their data. But the NSA documents published by the Post appear to boast about their ability to circumvent those protections”. And the more populist press is waking up to the NSA, too.
“Did the NSA even spy on the POPE? U.S. spies accused of intercepting phone calls during conclave as he was elected head of Catholic church” howled the Mail today. The article went on “Archbishop Bergoglio had been a person of interest to the CIA since 2005” and that Pope Emeritus Benedict may have been another target.
If the Snowden revelations are garnering interest in the Mail, that suggests Paul Dacre deems the matter important enough for his readers to be told. That in turn means that waving the matter away with “you’ve nothing to fear”, “trust what the Government spokesman tells you” and “spies spy – who knew?” will no longer wash. We need to know about this kind of behaviour. And we need better oversight.
Hopefully some of our elected representatives will take that on board.