On this NSA thing
So this whole thing with the “leaks” and the NSA is becoming pretty ‘common knowledge’. To be honest though I’m not sure if people are really engaging their critical thinking skills when it comes to this sort of thing. Here are some things that bother me.
This seems pretty important. Every single “Source” of information is simply a newspaper or magazine article, claiming it came from Snowden. We have absolutely no way of independently verifying it’s source nor it’s authenticity. This doesn’t help when different articles claim that allegedly leaked documents say the exact opposite thing, either. Supposedly, Snowden wanted them to be made available to the public. I don’t believe this for a few reasons. First, if he wanted them public, it’s not hard. Upload the information as a torrent and soon it will have so many seeders it would be impossible to get rid of if somebody wanted to. The fact that there is no evident effort makes me wonder if this is some weird experiment.
The fundamental issue is- no source documents. Occam’s Razor. Claiming all the worlds largest technical companies are handing over our personal information to the U.S government is an extraordinary claim. It requires extraordinary evidence. ALl we have are a few slides and jpegs allegedly taken from some leaked documents. They prove nothing- anybody could have typed them, and there are numerous errors that seem to defy how the organization actually works. The poor design on the slideshow, and the inclusion of random Company logos in that slideshow for no reason; etc. It points to one-off hackjob.
Fundamentally, until the source documents are released for independent verification and examination, I see no good reason that anybody should take any of this information as true. Repeatedly I see references to “NSA this” and “NSA that”; how “Microsoft/Google/etc” are selling our information to the government. But before you say something like that, consider what evidence you have. The best evidence anybody has right now is third party- we have articles that supposedly cover parts of documents that were allegedly leaked by Edward Snowden, who used to work for the NSA. One has to ask the question for each step of the way. Did the NSA know he was going to cause trouble and only give him access to stupid looking documents with terrible wording? Did the newspapers supposedly covering the story and posting snippets and images of the leaked documents represent the information correctly? And do we really have any good reason beyond the word of journalists that any of this is actually true? No. sources. Without sources information is meaningless. Right now it’s a bunch of claims with no more legitimacy than if I declared I was Santa Claus. People are more willing to believe it because it makes them feel secure, ironically, in knowing the government actually knows what they are doing to some extent. Sort of like how conspiracy nutters who think the world is run by lizard-people can at least be reasonably secure in the ‘knowledge’ that the goverment is not run by your average human beings.
As far as I’m concerned, all the evidence points to this being fake or otherwise illegitimate somehow. The fact that despite wanting them public, Snowden went to old-style journalism instead of using modern information technology to disperse the information questions that motive. The fact that the NSA did not take plausible deniability and basically admitted that “yes those leaked documents are confidential documents that nobody else should see” questions their legitimacy. And the ridiculous focus on a person (Edward Snowden) rather than on the information makes me further wonder about the motives behind this.