The Cloud Belongs to the NSA

More NSA revelations from The Guardian emerged today.

The NSA has a program called XKeyscore that enables them to view and track nearly everything you do online.

“One document,” writes Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald “a top-secret 2010 [analyst training] guide… explains that analysts can begin surveillance on anyone by clicking a few simple pull-down menus designed to provide both legal and targeting justifications. Once options on the pull-down menus are selected, their target is marked for electronic surveillance and the analyst is able to review the content of their communications.”

In other words, they might be watching you. Right now. Without a warrant.

“The days of the Internet as a truly global network are numbered,” The Guardian’s John Naughton lamented. Without freedom of information and privacy, the Web is being chopped up into state-based security fiefdoms. Governments are now feuding with the U.S. over control of the World Wide Web.

“No U.S.-based Internet company can be trusted to protect our privacy or data,” Naughton warns. “Nothing, but nothing, that is stored in their ‘cloud’ services can be guaranteed to be safe from surveillance… by the NSA. That means that if you’re thinking of outsourcing your troublesome IT operations to, say, Google or Microsoft, then think again.”

Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission, agrees: “Why would you pay someone else to hold your commercial or other secrets if you suspect or know they are being shared against your wishes?” The German interior minister warned Germans to avoid using U.S.-based services.

On the bright side, the market is already providing some safer alternatives. SpiderOak, a secure cloud storage company, has seen its rate of sign-ups nearly triple over the past month. SpiderOak says even its engineers are unable to decrypt your personal data, so it is stored safely, according to CSO Online. Many of these are startups or crowdfunded experiments and may be worth keeping an eye on. Apple is expected to announce improvements to its iCloud service soon. How larger companies deal with this may affect markets in interesting ways.

“No one person can possibly comprehend the extent,” Jeffrey Tucker of the Laissez Faire Club wrote here yesterday, “the structure or direction of this order that is emerging in our time.”

Jason Farrell

For The Daily Reckoning

P.S. The Internet is an ongoing experiment in anarchy. Keeping your own information safe will be crucial as the battle over privacy rages. For good ideas on doing so, please visit our NSA report page here.