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Selling your privacy

Written By: - Date published: 4:07 pm, August 12th, 2013 - 16 comments
Categories: capitalism, Ethics, Spying - Tags: , , ,

Good piece by David Fisher on selling your privacy. Don’t worry citizens consumers, it’s nothing personal. It’s just business:

Spy access to NZ used as bargaining tool

The ability for US intelligence agencies to access internet data was used as a bargaining tool by a Telecom-owned company trying to keep down the cost of the undersea cable from New Zealand.

Lawyers acting for Southern Cross Cable quoted a former CIA and NSA director who urged the Senate to “exploit” access to data for an intelligence edge.

The value of intercepted communications to the US was raised during negotiations last year which could increase internet costs 15 per cent. …

Telecom Users Association chief executive Paul Brislen said revelations about US interception of internet traffic meant “we have to assume that all our communications are intercepted”. He said internet and telecoms companies had to comply with US rules or be shut out of lucrative contracts. …

Tech Liberty director Thomas Beagle said any use of American services and networks exposed data to being captured by the US. But shifting to other countries “will just expose you to surveillance from their national governments”. “It seems that we now have the choice between taking the time to understand and implement secure encryption or choosing services based on which governments we don’t mind spying on us.”

16 comments on “Selling your privacy ”

  1. Huginn 1

    There’s growing oncern in the US about the way that NSA data is being used.
    This is no longer an NSA data, or DEA data story, it’s morphing into a federal, state and local government data-trafficking story. Google-collected and Verizon-collected data seems to very broadly available.


    It’s institutional corruption. If you’re still saying ‘nothing to hide – nothing to fear’, just think about the way that traded data is used in tandem with civil forfeiture where Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes.


    • Molly 1.1

      .. thanks for the link. The way that the civil forfeiture legislation was/is being used is a throwback to highwaymen on the roads of Europe in the 17th century. “Your money or your life! (liberty)”

      Sometimes the most frightening abuse of power comes from those who believe they are always right.

  2. karol 2

    good on David Fisher for writing about this.

    I’m a bit confused. Is fisher saying that, because our communications are valuable to the US, it could cost internet users 15% more to pay for that dubious privilege?

    Or would it cost more to have a cable from NZ to go to another country to avoid the NSA surveillance?

    Or would one branch or other of Echelon get access to all our net traffic anyway?

    • Huginn 2.1

      More that the US military/industrial/intelligence complex is so deeply entrenched that telecommunications and IT that providers and users have to factor their presence into the costs of doing business.

      The lack of transparency here will generate perverse outcomes e.g. Libertarian Edward Snowden seeks asylum in Russia where the Russians have less or even different interests/uses for the sort of Google-collected and Verizon-collected data that the NSA is collecting.

      Bearing in mind that the Russians were right on the money with Tsaernaev, and they were prepared to share their information. This can be taken to suggest that the Russians spy on their enemies because they worry about security, whereas the US spies on it’s own citizens, and the citizens of friendly nations en masse as part of an economic strategy.

      This economic strategy is not likely to be to our advantage and we have to factor the costs that it imposes on us into the way we use these ubiquitous technologies.

    • exitlane 2.2

      No confusion — Fisher is effectively saying Southern Cross / Telecom are in donkey deep with US spy agencies — why else would they use US spy access to foreign cables such as Southern Cross’s as a bargaining point to encourage then to stay linked to Uncle Sam rather than move their cables to Mexico or Canada.

      Problem is –while this collaboration has likely been going on for years – trashing kiwis privacy in the process –the telcos omitted to tell their NZ customers. Govt stayed silent too of course citing “national security”

      Major UK telecom companies have given the UK spies “unlimited access” to their cables. At least 30 international cable companies including Aussie’s Telstra (since 2001 ) have written agreements with US spy agencies granting them similar access. Details only made public thru leaks by Snowden and others

      The best Southern Cross and Telecom can do is parrot that they have to comply with US law. Never mind NZ privacy law then.

      Expect more on this? UK lawyers are threatening to add UK telecom firms to a legal action against the UK government

  3. Richard Christie 3

    “let them eat cake fish snapper.”
    Marie Antoinette John Key.

    • Richard Christie 3.1

      (Key was repeatedly asked on Campbell Live, Mon 12 Aug what he believed NZers thought of the GCSB Bill. He replied, and then reiterated, that he believed they were more interested in recreational Snapper quota.)

      • karol 3.1.1

        Unbelievable – response from Key. And Campbell Live showed that to be a fallacy. They randomly asked people in the far north and far south for their views on the Bill, Campbell was surprised by how well informed people are on the Bill. Some were for it. Many were against it.

        And, while the snapper issue is important, how many people actually go fishing?

    • geoff 3.2

      Indeed. What an arrogant man John Key is. To say something that way means he’s written off Campbell Live viewers as mostly not National supporters. Probably the only way to damage Key is to ruin his audience on the likes of More FM.

  4. tricledrown 4

    Was his face red muldoom all over again bullying by bullshitting!

  5. Huginn 5

    Recreational fish = Red Herring

  6. North 6

    Magnificent rubbishing of ShonKey Python by Rebecca Wright on Campbell Live last night.

    I wonder when the Karl Roves behind the ShonKey are gonna decide – “We’ve had enough of that John Campbell…….we’ve gotta deal to him !” ?

  7. exitlane 7

    Fisher’s article is important for being the first time the MSM has connected Edward Snowden’s revelations back to New Zealand .

    The article has opened a can of worms — it is just not US, Aussie and UK internet and telcos which are collaborating with Spy agencies in the country in which their cables land

    — surprise surprise — Fisher has exposed the close relationship between NZ telcos and US Intelligence agencies. As a customer are you pissed off ? I know I am

    • Sable 7.1

      Its not just telcos. Have a look at what the electronic freedoms foundation has to say about Windows, in particular Windows 8. Your operating system can spy on you too if it likes. Thinking about loading Ubuntu (Linux) to mitigate the threat. Guess what! Windows 8 shuts out other OS’s so unless like me you are a geek you are stuck with it!

      Oh and lets not forget Skype that so loved by many. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest its in bed with the NSA.

      If you want privacy you wont find it on line.

      • exitlane 7.1.1

        Its not an either or argument. Almost without exception international internet and telcos are collaberating with spy agencies.

        What makes Fisher’s story stand out is that for the first time NZ owned companies are implicated ?

        The muted response from posters here to this new kiwi element to the Snowden leaks is puzzling ?

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