I think it would be interesting and important if more privacy-oriented/privacy-first social networks started popping up in the aftermath of the NSA mass surveillance revelations. Maybe more things like the semi-anonymous service/network of Secret. Anyway, I was recently reading about how Facebook uses human-provided semantic info (tagging of photos) in combination with AI to do facial recognition on images - in service of making it easier to tag new photos. Who knows what else they use it or plan to use that for, or what the potential for government access and querying is. Just think of the billions of photos on Facebook, with multiple photos of varying angles linked to individuals, and the ramifications of that.
"Right now, as soon as someone is encrypting, he gets flagged…We need to show that this [ubiquitous] surveillance practice is an unsustainable use of government resources…Banning cryptography is not an option, and we will never get the government to stop monitoring. But we can make it really expensive. If everyone is encrypting, then the government has to take more care with who it investigates."
— Alexander Morlang, ‘Pirates’ in Germany dodge the NSA’s watchful gaze
Does this sort of “deny and disrupt” campaign sound familiar? It should: you’ve seen it before, deployed against terror networks. That’s because part of the value in targeting the electronic communications of actual terrorists is that the terrorists are forced to use far slower means of plotting. The NSA has learned this lesson well, and is now applying it to journalists. I suppose it’s fitting that Miranda was held pursuant to a law that is ostensibly limited to anti-terror efforts. The National Surveillance State understands that what works for one can be usefully directed against the other. In fact, it’s not clear the National Surveillance State even recognizes a meaningful difference.
The National Surveillance State doesn’t want anyone to be able to communicate without the authorities being able to monitor that communication. Think that’s too strong a statement? If so, you’re not paying attention. There’s a reason the government names its programs Total Information Awareness and Boundless Informant and acknowledges it wants to “collect it all” and build its own “haystack” and has redefined the word “relevant” to mean “everything.” The desire to spy on everything totally and boundlessly isn’t even new; what’s changed is just that it’s become more feasible of late. You can argue that the NSA’s nomenclature isn’t (at least not yet) properly descriptive; you can’t argue that it isn’t at least aspirational.
— Barry Eisler, David Miranda and the Preclusion of Privacy