While the NSA has been engaged in a lot of data collection since, well, forever, the press has recently decided to let them have it. It’s been disclosed that they collect the phone records of everyone in the country. They also collect the credit card transactions of everyone in the country. To top it all off, a leaked presentation brags that they have direct access to data from a variety of online service providers including Google and Facebook. Larry Page denies that Google is doing this. Mark Zuckerberg does the same on behalf of Facebook. I think they’re both telling carefully crafted truths to deflect from the one they don’t want you to know.
Both make pains to point out that they do not provide any direct access to use data. Direct. Nothing about indirect access, you see. The NSA is most likely conducting some man-in-the-middle attacks to provide some kind of plausible deniability. If this is the case, then it would be true, and yet dishonest, to insist that no request for bulk data has been received. Why would they need to make a request for the data they’re already getting?
Then there’s the line about following the law. It’s no secret that Google has fought back on national security letters and related requests that prevent them from even talking about the existence of the request. If they’re under a Fight Club rule to not talk about it, how do we know it isn’t the case? After all, those are technically legal.
Then there’s the urging from both for governments to be more transparent about their data collection efforts. Given the rest of the facts, it almost reads as a pleading to please confess to doing it so that they don’t have to.
At the end of the day, I’m not accepting what either company has to say about these allegations, either because they are scared to implicate themselves or found face legal consequences for opening up. Maybe a little of both. This is why the national security state is terrifying.