Edward Snowden, with his tales of collected cellphone metadata, was small potatoes. A new tattler tells the Guardian that audio of our conversations is monitored and stored by the NSA. Antony Loewenstein reports:
William Binney is one of the highest-level whistleblowers to ever emerge from the NSA. He was a leading code-breaker against the Soviet Union during the Cold War but resigned soon after September 11, disgusted by Washington’s move towards mass surveillance.
On 5 July he spoke at a conference in London organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism and revealed the extent of the surveillance programs unleashed by the Bush and Obama administrations.
“At least 80% of fibre-optic cables globally go via the US”, Binney said. “This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores.”
Outrageous though this revelation surely is, we should not be surprised. The combination of ever-improving high technology, within a political context where individual rights are routinely sacrificed for a perceived “greater good,” makes this kind of surveillance inevitable. Once contained only in dystopian fantasy, global population monitoring has emerged as a plausible reality.
We’re not going to be able to put the technological genie back in the bottle, and mere “oversight” won’t be able to keep up with emerging surveillance capabilities. Instead, if we hope to avoid Binney’s predicted “total population control,” we need a philosophical revolution which culminates in stripping government of the funding and authority to maintain such blanket surveillance.
(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 17:25 minutes long; 16.79 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)