Monday, 9 December 2013

NSA Playing Video Games to Collect Intelligence

Earlier today The Guardian reported on another load of classified NSA documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden that show how NSA agents are infiltrating the virtual realm of World of Warcraft, Second Life and so on to obtain real life intelligence. Now, for some this might not come as a surprise and I admit after thinking about the dimensions of online gaming it became clear that it must pose an obvious target for NSA spying operations.

According to Snowden’s documents the NSA has been deploying their agents into digital worlds since 2007 supposedly building “mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network” essentially collecting information about millions of users. The game industry has grown into a multi-million dollar business utilized by individuals all around the world to build their own imaginary characters, which inhabit virtual worlds for all kinds of reason- fighting, killing, saving the world etc.; and just like the characters, World of Warcraft and Second Life are surreal and imaginary environments disconnected from real life situations. The NSA, however, being not only one of the largest and most influential intelligence agencies but also one of the most paranoid suspected that “among these clans of elves and goblins, terrorists were lurking”.

I get it, the amounts of people spending their time with GVEs (games and virtual environments) and the amount of communication going on there – I mean imagine all that information! I am sure the NSA felt an urgent, almost itching need to creep into that online territory under the pretence of national security.

Again, what does this mean for us? Well, now not even your imaginary avatar is protected from the eavesdropping activities of the NSA who obviously strives at exploiting every little corner of the online sphere.

What are you gonna do about it? I am not a gamer or anything but I think this latest disclosure of Snowden’s documents indicates again that everything, absolutely everything, is within reach of the NSA.  And I cannot help thinking about dropping my online profiles essentially disappearing without leaving the slightest digital footprint in order to be myself without someone constantly watching me.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Thank you, Edward Snowden

On June 6 2013, Edward Snowden opened the eyes of the whole world, changing our perception of America and our privacy. On June 6 2013 Edward Snowden sparked a discussing that lasted for six months, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going off the hot topic list anytime soon.

What started off with a one leak about the US government collecting phone call data from its citizens, has quickly transferred into a revolution. Edward Snowden has been leaking documents for the period of six months now, ensuring the public that there is more and more to come. I think it’s safe to say that the American government has been sweating every single time a leak came out, because for the first time they are forced to open their mouth with something else then lies coming out.   

The latest leak came out just yesterday, revealing that the NSA tracks 5 billion phone calls outside the US every day. 5 billion. Every day. Keeping in mind that there’s 7 billion of us in the whole world, that number is pretty impressive. And why does the US feel like they need to have a tap on literally almost every one in the world? Because they need to “find suspicions travel patterns”. Sure US, do your thing, I hope you’re having fun listening to all the crap me and the rest of the population have to say on the phone, just to make sure we don’t want to bomb your glorious country.

Today is it exactly six months from the first leak. I guess we could say that we are celebrating a kind of an anniversary. I mean, we cannot really give Snowden any flowers, or chocolates, but I think it is important to say at least a little thank you. This guy had the guts to stand up against the system, he had the guts to face the outrage of the world’s most powerful political leaders, just so that we can finally get to know what is going on behind the scenes.

So thank you Edward, thank you for standing up for what you believed was right, thank you for saying out loud what no one else might.

What do you think about the latest leak? What do you think is next?

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

When Privacy is Being Violated...

Foreign governments and their leaders are demanding explanation and reforms after Edward Snowden leaking top secret NSA information about the US government spying on allies. The American government is claiming that their priority is to protect their citizens from the threat of terrorism, fair enough. However, if the NSA is collecting extensive data, literally spying on its own citizens and foreign governments doesn’t that imply that these are all considered terrorists?

If the US government is able to obtain telephone records of various EU leaders, it must be incredibly easy for them to spy on any one of us; and apparently they just do exactly that. But do we care? Are we concerned about protecting our security and liberty? We don’t know about you, but we certainly do!

Few might argue that no one is interested in looking at my stuff anyway, so I don’t care. However according to David Sirota’s statement you definitely should. “If you don’t speak up for everybody’s rights you better be ready for your rights to be trampled when you are least expected” were his exact words which should make all of us think again. We need to preserve the right to be free from unwarranted interference in our lives. Don’t you think?

We share a great part of our lives on media, but these platforms let us decide how much privacy we want to have. You do not necessarily need to be suspected of doing something illegal or dangerous to a nation or its national security, which is always the top of mind concern of the NSA operation – apparently. The NSA has no limitations when scrutinizing our lives: collecting your phone records, checking your email or private messages on Facebook, etc. They are violating our privacy, the right that we are all “supposed” to have.

Check out an interesting video that we found: why should we care about NSA’s practices?. Have a look and tell us what you think!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Hero or Criminal?

Hero, traitor, whistle blower, criminal- Edward Snowden has been called all kinds of things in past few months. The opinion about him varies based on which side of the rope you're pulling for.

Those deeming Snowden as a traitor of the state, criminal of the world, are partially right. Of course, he did share classified information with the entire globe exposing the world’s largest and most powerful intelligence institution; and yes of course America does have a law that would put this guy behind bars for the rest of his life. We all know how the U.S. feels about Snowden. But the other half, seeing Snowden as a hero and champion, is the half grateful for the bravery of the man, revelation of the truth, and final halt to all the lies constantly being thrown at our faces. And sure, truth is not convenient for everyone.

What I question every time when something controversial emerges about America is who does the U.S. think they are? The great global power, Xavier of the world, and invincible leader? I don’t think so. I think it is unacceptable that the U.S., even after all the exposure of its surveillance practices, still feels it is their right to take the lead, tell other countries what to do and not do in regards to Snowden.

I feel for this guy, I think he showed great courage standing up against his own government, the government that refuses to critically look at its actions and rather constantly points the finger at other nations thinking their way is superior. Snowden should receive some kind of reward, risking his freedom and maybe life by wanting to let the rest of the world know what they have the right know about. And for me, the U.S. and its arrogant officials are the ones who should stand trial and be held accountable to their citizens and the international community.

How do you feel about the U.S. wanting to prosecute Snowden and trying to get other nations to hand him over and refuse him refuge? Do you think this is fair for Snowden after he simply gave people the opportunity to debate over their own privacy and ask questions about things that matter and have the right to be involved in?