Tuesday, March 20, 2012

NSA, Data Encryption, and the Turnkey Totalitarian State

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Wired  reports on the the National Security Agency’s construction of a $2 billion fortified center designed to capture, store, and analyze foreign and domestic information such as cell phone calls, emails, financial transactions, and personal purchases. The Bluffdale Utah center is designed to capture the exponential growth of information being produced openly and on the invisible web . The NSA expects to capture yottabytes of data, a number so large that no term exists to describe the next higher level of magnitude.  However some information most prized by the NSA is unusable as a result of strong encryption commonly used both by government agencies and average citizens to secure data.  To solve this problem the NSA is building faster computers designed to break the encryption algorithms. But until that time the NSA continues to collect data at an unprecedented pace. Some critics wonder if the government can resist using this information for political purposes such as eavesdropping on political enemies or dissidents.
Former NSA official [William Binney]held his thumb and forefinger close together:  “We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.”

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