RSA takes one for the team, but which team?

RSA_EMCEdward Snowden says (according to Reuters) that RSA Security accepted $10 million from the National Security Agency in exchange for installing (or allowing to have installed) a secret backdoor so the NSA could decrypt messages as it pleased. Hell no says RSA (a division of storage vendor EMC), stating in very strong terms that this was not at all the case. But then in a second day look at the RSA/EMC statement bloggers began to see the company as dissembling, their firm defense as really more of a non-denial denial. So what’s the truth here and what’s the lesson?

For the truth I reached deep into the bowels of elliptic […]

Gallows humor for the NSA privacy debate

williamsessionsIt’s hard to believe sometimes, but I began writing this column — in print back then — during the Reagan Administration. It was 1987 and the crisis du jour was called Iran-Contra, remember it? Colonel Oliver North got a radio career out of breaking federal law. The FBI director back then was William Sessions, generally called Judge Sessions because he had been a federal judge. I interviewed Sessions in 1990 about the possibility that American citizens might have their privacy rights violated by an upcoming electronic surveillance law. “What would keep an FBI agent from tapping his girlfriend’s telephone?” I asked, since it would shortly be possible to do so from the agent’s desk.

“It would never […]

What if Marissa Mayer went to jail?

Dai SuganoWednesday at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer presented her company’s side of fighting the National Security Agency over requests to have a look-see at the data of Yahoo users. It’s a tough fight, said Mayer, and one that takes place necessarily in private. Mayer was asked why tech companies had not simply decided to tell the public more about what the U.S. surveillance industry was up to. “Releasing classified information is treason and you are incarcerated,” she said.

Go directly to jail?

No.

How would that work, exactly? Would black helicopters – silent black helicopters — land at Yahoo Intergalactic HQ and take Marissa Mayer away in chains? Wouldn’t that defeat the […]

Edward Snowden is trying to be Daniel Ellsberg on Twitter

snowdenscreensWhat are the differences between Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, and Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers back in 1971? Not much, really, but the distinctions that do exist are key:

  1. 1.  Ellsberg, a true product of the establishment he was undermining, had the New York Times and the Washington Post simultaneously releasing in its entirety all that he had to share, while Snowden is dribbling his news through The Guardian and the Post, with neither paper taking much of a legal or ethical stand behind him, much less printing verbatim thousands of pages of classified material as happened with the Ellsberg case in the early 70s. If Snowden is the Ellsberg of this century, […]

Snowden and the NSA reflect a millennial climate change

mt_snowdonSnowdon (not Snowden) is the name of the tallest mountain in Wales and while by Swiss or Colorado standards it may not seem like much the weather on Snowdon is unpredictable and has taken many lives. I climbed Snowdon as a schoolboy with my class and that day on the mountain another school group was lost in a blizzard and some boys died. This is what first came to mind when I heard about National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaking documents and fleeing to Hong Kong. Like his namesake mountain, this Snowden is trouble for those who are overconfident or unwary.

I’ve written about this general topic many times over the years and doing a […]