The spy-bureaucrats haven’t actually done this yet. But that is only because they still feel some compulsion to do PR. I have to assume that if an interest in Linux means that a website is an “extremist forum,” that the Fourth Amendment must be considered far more dangerous. (I’m afraid even some people who call themselves “conservative” would agree with them.)
As we read from a German news site,
The XKeyscore rules reveal that the NSA tracks all connections to a server that hosts part of an anonymous email service at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It also records details about visits to a popular internet journal for Linux operating system users called “the Linux Journal – the Original Magazine of the Linux Community”, and calls it an “extremist forum”.
Note that Ars Technica is not positive that the NSA meant to label an interest in Linux as “extremist.” Maybe they are right.
But even so, what about automatically targeting and spying on anyone who ever visits a privacy website? According to Techdirt:
We learnt about the NSA’s XKeyscore program a year ago, and about its incredibly wide reach. But now the German TV stations NDR and WDR claim to have excerpts from its source code. We already knew that the NSA and GCHQ have been targeting Tor and its users, but the latest leak reveals some details about which Tor exit nodes were selected for surveillance — including at least one in Germany, which is likely to increase public anger there. It also shows that Tor users are explicitly regarded as “extremists” (original in German, pointed out to us by @liese_mueller):
The source code contains both technical instructions and comments from the developers that provide an insight into the mind of the NSA. Thus, all users of such programs are equated with “extremists”.
Such is the concern about Tor that even visitors to Tor sites — whether or not they use the program — have their details recorded:
not only long-term users of this encryption software become targets for the [US] secret service. Anyone who wants to visit the official Tor Web site simply for information is highlighted.
So, here is the question: Do non-criminals ever have reason to want to keep their records, identities, or communications private on the internet? Do people not have an interest in staying safe from hackers?
Obviously the answer is yes.
Then how can mere interest in doing so constitute a legitimate reason to spy on someone? It can’t! If the Fourth Amendment promises security in our persons, papers, and effects, then merely trying to protect such privacy can’t possibly be a reasonable ground for a warrant.
The NSA searches anyway without a warrant or probable cause.
Finally, even though taking our metadata is an egregious violation of the Fourth Amendment, we now have direct evidence the NSA does not stop there with emails. As Reason reports,
One of the most important takeaways, tech security expert Bruce Schneier highlights, is the “very disturbing” fact that “this isn’t just metadata; this is ‘full take’ content that’s stored forever.”
What will it take to convince Americans that the NSA bureaucrats are the extremists and the subversives?