This time we hear a pair of talks from 31C3 - the latest Chaos Computer Congress - both by insiders with extensive experience on the subject of mass surveillance. First, NSA expert, James Bamford, on the relationships between the NSA and the big telecom companies. Next we hear Caspar Bowden, on the legal basis for the NSA's mass surveillance program, PRISM. Microsoft summarily dismissed him from his job of 9 years as head of privacy after he raised this issue, and he has spent the last 3 years alerting people to the danger ever since. In essence, he says, the deliberately complex legal regulation of data privacy, which he summarised at the very start of the show - gives Europeans no effective rights against NSA surveillance, whilst affording Americans rights against spying by other nations. Although neither speaker seems to have much idea about the deep state, their talks nevertheless provide useful information.
Regular listeners will be familiar with James Bamford, who begins our show by describing his early career, and how a chance invite from someone with whom he was out drinking one night lead to him becoming an NSA whistleblower and launched his subsequent interest in the agency. Did you know that in 1975 the US Justice Department was building profiles of the senior NSA employees with a view to criminal charges, and even went as far as reading senior NSA officials their Miranda rights? Bamford tells how he published his book in spite of legal threats. Bamford explains that during wartime, mass surveillance is a breeze as telecos are easily persuaded to cooperate. His remarks on terrorism are somewhat intriguing; interesting details about the NSA's close proximity to the terrorists notwithstanding, he asserts that the NSA "missed 9/11" and a bunch of other recent terrorist plots in USA. His agrees more or less with a questioner that the NSA is mainly a money making exercise, but although correctly noting that no one ever seems to get sent to jail for its palpable crimes, he has apparently missed its suborning by the deep state.
Caspar Bowden's presentation begins with an account of his firing after 9 years as chief privacy adviser at Microsoft. After independently studying US privacy laws, he announced at a Microsoft meeting that the way he read them, mass surveillance by the NSA would be legal - and therefore was probably already going on. This seems to have been an observation that he was not supposed to make, since his boss turned green and he was fired soon after. After Snowden, just as before he states that even in theory, the laws offer no meaningful protection against NSA surveillance, something about which an alarming number of people seem determined to remain ignorant - almost everyone Bowden approached, in fact (except for the Greens, whom he describes as "straight shooters"). Bowden recommends a search for Qubes, a Linux distro for which he is working as a consultant.