Since the first Snowden leak last summer, almost all of the controversy around the National Security Agency has been focused on the NSA’s programs to collect phone records and monitor Internet communications, and on how to reform the surveillance statutes being used to authorize those programs.
Yet the NSA is also engaged in a wide variety of conduct that’s fundamentally threatening the basic security of the Internet: secretly undermining essential encryption tools and standards; inserting backdoors into widely-used computer hardware and software products; stockpiling vulnerabilities in commercial software we use every day rather than making sure those security flaws get fixed; building a vast network of spyware inserted into computers and routers around the world, including by impersonating popular sites like Facebook and LinkedIn; and even hacking into Google and Yahoo’s private data links.
Finally, though, Congress is starting to pay attention to how the NSA is threatening not just our privacy but cybersecurity itself. In June, the House overwhelmingly voted to approve two amendments that would defund the NSA’s attempts to undermine encryption standards and to insert surveillance backdoors into the communications technologies we rely on--amendments sponsored by Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Alan Grayson and backed by a broad bipartisan coalition.
New America hosted a wide-ranging panel discussion between technologists, policy experts and Internet industry representatives, to discuss how the NSA’s actions threaten Internet security and the Internet economy that relies on it, and how we can address that threat on both a personal and a policy level. With introductory comments by Representatives Lofgren and Grayson and appearances by experts such as Internet security luminary Bruce Schneier and Google’s top privacy lawyer in DC, the panel dug deep into the policy and the technology of the NSA programs that have been most overlooked. The event also previewed the research paper from New America’s Open Technology Institute, “Surveillance Costs: How NSA Spying Undermines the Economy, Cybersecurity, and Internet Freedom”.
Join the conversation online by using #NSAinsecurity and by following @OTI.
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
US House of Representatives
Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL)
US House of Representatives @alangrayson
Chief Technologist, Center for Democracy & Technology (cdt.org)
Policy Analyst, New America's Open Technology Institute
Security Technologist and Author Fellow at OTI and Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society
Senior Policy Counsel, Access (accessnow.org)
Policy Director, New America's Open Technology Institute