Glenn Greenwald has become one of my favorite journalists. His scathing stories about the National Security Agency (NSA) are almost a daily thing now. The latest one has to be one of the best though. As it turns out, the NSA isn’t simply collecting information on every man, woman, and child in the United States. They’re also sharing that information with Israel:
Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.
The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of US citizens caught in the dragnet. The intelligence community calls this process “minimization”, but the memorandum makes clear that the information shared with the Israelis would be in its pre-minimized state.
Why not? We share everything with Israel including fighter jets and palettes of money. At this point we might as well share private information about the people living here as well. I’m sure it makes Israel’s interrogation of American citizens entering their country easier.
This story does go to show how quickly information can circulate. As soon as you tell one other person a secret that secret can spread infinitely. Anonymity is important because it disconnects you from circulating data. You may not be able to control how quickly a secret spreads but, if you are able to initially share that secret anonymously, you may be able to prevent it from being tied to you. Once again I find myself stressing the need to use cryptographic and anonymizing tools. It’s not just the United States government that has access to your information. The NSA is sharing its information with at least one foreign country and it’s highly probably that we’ll learn that it’s sharing its information with other foreign governments.