The State Cannibalizes Its Servants

Bruce Schneier has a good blog post urging companies to fight the National Security Agency’s (NSA) rampant spying:

It turns out that the NSA’s domestic and world-wide surveillance apparatus is even more extensive than we thought. Bluntly: The government has commandeered the Internet. Most of the largest Internet companies provide information to the NSA, betraying their users. Some, as we’ve learned, fight and lose. Others cooperate, either out of patriotism or because they believe it’s easier that way.

I have one message to the executives of those companies: fight.

Do you remember those old spy movies, when the higher ups in government decide that the mission is more important than the spy’s life? It’s going to be the same way with you. You might think that your friendly relationship with the government means that they’re going to protect you, but they won’t. The NSA doesn’t care about you or your customers, and will burn you the moment it’s convenient to do so.

This is a point I’ve brought up to many people many times: the government doesn’t love you. Many people cooperate with the state because they view themselves as patriots, believe cooperating will make their lives easier, or value monetary gain more than principles. In the short term this seems like an effective strategy but in the long term the state has a nasty habit of turning against those who serve it.

In the state’s eyes everybody is a pawn. Nowhere is this more noticeable than politics. If you’ve worked on campaigns then you know how disposable people are. One of my favorite examples, since I’m living in Minnesota, is a particularly sketchy politicians by the name of Kurt Bills. Mr. Bills ran for office under the guise of understanding economics and he did his damnedest to court Ron Paul supporters. After receiving an endorsement from Ron Paul his job of courting became very easy indeed. What happened after Ron Paul supporters sunk tons of time and money into Kurt Bill’s campaign? They were tossed to the side of the road as he pursued social issues, endorsed Mitt Romney, and lambasted Ron Paul supporters for not voting for neo-conservatives. Political campaigns aren’t the only example of this. Law enforcement agents and members of the military are quickly disposed of when they are no longer politically convenient. If you get into bed with the state you will find yourself infected with 15 different sexually transmitted diseases after the breakup.

As Bruce Schneier points out, the companies currently cooperating with the state will soon find themselves out in the cold:

It will be the same with you. There are lots more high-tech companies who have cooperated with the government. Most of those company names are somewhere in the thousands of documents that Edward Snowden took with him, and sooner or later they’ll be released to the public. The NSA probably told you that your cooperation would forever remain secret, but they’re sloppy. They’ll put your company name on presentations delivered to thousands of people: government employees, contractors, probably even foreign nationals. If Snowden doesn’t have a copy, the next whistleblower will.

As Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are finding out, once your cooperation with the NSA becomes public the NSA will do nothing to help you dig yourself out of the hole.