M. Ursula Herrmann is Great Lakes Computer’s guest blogger on Government IT Security. You may also recognize her from her work on Crain’s Cleveland Business as a guest blogger on Network Security. Ms. Herrmann is a Network Security Analyst living in Juneau, Alaska. Network Security is not only her career but also her hobby as a blogger. You can check out her full blog here.
Spying on Americans isn’t new. What’s new is that somebody blew the whistle.
The big news in the Federal government for the past month has been the latest leak, i.e. Edward Snowden revealing the NSA’s PRISM and all that entails. There have been a host of denials, both from the NSA and from service providers, and a lot of people are very upset about the possibility of “their data” being spied on by the government.
I’m a little less naive about the situation. For one thing, I’m quite aware that once I’ve posted something somewhere, or used a “cloud” service, that data is no longer “mine” in the way that (say) my jewelry is mine. Perhaps it should be, but it isn’t, and to think that an entity as powerful as the NSA isn’t accessing “your” data in whatever way it wants shows a great deal of credulity. There has never not been a time when the US government hasn’t been able to spy on civilians, nor any reason to think they have not been doing so. Up until recently, what has mitigated the situation is that there was simply too much data to be analyzed for such spying to be useful without a definitive target. Now there’s reason to think that’s no longer the case, and that’s all that’s really changed recently. Big data and the power to crunch through it has its disadvantages.