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“Immediately following the devastating 9/11 attacks, many Americans willingly ceded their rights and liberties to government officials who promised them that the feeling of absolute safety could be restored,” writes John W. Whitehead for The Huffington Post:

Even with our freedoms in shambles, our country in debt, our so-called “justice” system weighted in favor of corporations and the police state, our government officials dancing to the tune of corporate oligarchs, and a growing intolerance on the part of the government for anyone who challenges the status quo, Americans have yet to say “enough is enough.”…

Now, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, we are once again being assured that if we only give up a few more liberties and what little remains of our privacy, we will be a free, safe society. The reality of life in America tells a different tale, however. For example, in a May 2013 interview with CNN, former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente disclosed that the federal government is keeping track of all digital communications that occur within the United States, whether or not those communicating are American citizens, and whether or not they have a warrant to do so.…

In other words, there is no form of digital communication that the government cannot and does not monitor – phone calls, emails, text messages, tweets, Facebook posts, Internet video chats, etc., are all accessible, trackable and downloadable by federal agents.1, i

Top 500 passwords

“If wiretapping is strongly justified in individual cases, then, argues the F.B.I, as communication technologies change, so, too, must those laws and regulations,” notes Tim Wu for The New Yorker:

Hence, as new technologies emerge, or as existing ones become harder to tap, the wiretapping power needs to be adjusted to maintain roughly the same balance. This essential concept of balance is what’s behind the F.B.I’s argument that it needs more power lest its ability to wiretap “go dark.”…

But there are two essential conditions for this balance argument to make any sense. First, if it is to have more powers, the Justice Department should also agree that Web communications and stored records are generally subject to the strict standards demanded by the Fourth Amendment (as are the content of telephone calls). As it stands, the Justice Department has been evasive on this point. It has argued against the need for warrants for things like e-mail messages, and often appears to believe that a mere subpoena (a document issued by a prosecutor) should be sufficient to obtain any record stored on the Web or otherwise.…

The second condition needed for the F.B.I.’s balance argument to work is the limitation of highly intrusive monitoring to cases of serious crimes with clear victims. Federal law is chock-full of offenses, which make everyone a potential criminal and, in turn, at least potentially subject to tapping.…

The whole idea of balance in this area must also be put in the context of a growing “surveillance state,” as Hendrik Hertzberg calls it. As intense as F.B.I. surveillance can be, at least the F.B.I. regards the Constitution as a serious constraint, unlike the National Security Agency, which has repeatedly spied on Americans without a warrant, reaching its maximum level of abuse during the Bush years. That doesn’t mean we should be thankful, exactly, for F.B.I. monitoring, but let’s just say things could be worse.…

“Courts, especially the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, are ahead of the Justice Department in their recognition that the data we all store on the Internet nowadays has become core to American privacy,” writes Tim Wu for The New Yorker.2

Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima report the use of malware for surveillance:

The FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer’s camera – without triggering the light that lets users know it is – for several years, and has used that technique mainly in terrorism cases or the most serious criminal investigations, said Marcus Thomas, former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division in Quantico, now on the advisory board of Subsentio, a firm that helps telecommunications carriers comply with federal wiretap statutes.3

In May 2013, noted that “The US government has been running a quantum Internet for over two years.”

The Tech Review blog announced on Monday [6 May 2013] that Richard Hughes and a team of researchers at Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico have been running an “alternative quantum Internet,” and have been doing so for roughly two-and-a-half years. In a blog post the website broke down the basics of how Hughes and company created a system that works like a hub-and-spoke network in which all messages anywhere in the network get routed from a main node – a central hub.

“The idea is that messages to the hub rely on the usual level of quantum security. However, once at the hub, they are converted to conventional classical bits and then reconverted into quantum bits to be sent on the second leg of their journey,” announced the blog. “So as long as the hub is secure, then the network should also be secure.”

It’s a perfectly secure Internet that by definition cannot be penetrated by wiretaps and eavesdropping – and the US government has been sitting on it for the last two-and-a-half years.4


i “As we all know, the United States is the real ‘hacking empire’ and has an extensive espionage network,” the state-run Chinese newspaper People’s Daily said.
– Chen Weihua, “Accusations fly over ‘spy nets’,” China Daily, 10-12 May 2013, p. 1.


1 John W. Whitehead, “‘Round the Clock Surveillance: Is This the Price of Living in a ‘Free, Safe’ Society?” The Huffington Post, 14 May 2013, at (retrieved: 16 May 2013).

2 Tim Wu, “Wiretapping the Web,” The New Yorker, 14 May 2013, at (retrieved: 14 May 2013).

3 Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima, “FBI’s search for ‘Mo,’ suspect in bomb threats, highlights use of malware for surveillance,” The Washington Post, 6 December 2013, at (retrieved: 9 December 2013).

4 “The US government has been running a quantum Internet for over two years,”, 6 May 2013, at (retrieved: 17 May 2013).

See also

Mark Burnett, “10,000 Top Passwords,, 20 June 2011, at (retrieved: 10 December 2013).

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