In a radio
interview, Wall Street Journal reporter Julia Angwin
(who’s been one of the best at covering the surveillance
state in the US) made a simple observation that puts much of this
into context: the US surveillance regime has
more data on the average American than the Stasi ever did
on East Germans.
American government has more information on the average American
than Stalin had on Russians, Hitler had on German citizens, or any
other government has ever had on its people.
As the top
spy chief at the U.S. National Security Agency explained
this week, the American government is collecting some 100 billion
1,000-character emails per day, and 20 trillion communications of
all types per year.
He says that
the government has collected all of the communications of congressional
leaders, generals and everyone else in the U.S. for the last 10
explains that he set up the NSA’s system so that all of the
information would automatically be encrypted, so that the government
had to obtain a search warrant based upon probably cause before
a particular suspect’s communications could be decrypted.
But the NSA now collects all data in an unencrypted form, so that
no probable cause is needed to view any citizen’s information.
He says that it is actually cheaper and easier to store the data
in an encrypted format: so the government’s current system
is being done for political – not practical – purposes.
He says that
if anyone gets on the government’s “enemies list”,
then the stored information will be used to target them. Specifically,
he notes that if the government decides it doesn’t like someone,
it analyzes all of the data it has collected on that person and
his or her associates over the last 10 years to build a case against