Saturday, November 19, 2016

SURVEILLANCE for Trump - Aviva Rutkin


A man who has expressed  enthusiasm for spying on his  adversaries is about to receive 
mass surveillance powers. It’s common knowledge that  the US collects massive amounts
of data on phone and internet  communications involving both its own citizens and people  abroad. The National Security  Agency (NSA) can read text  messages, track social media  activity and hack your webcam.  Since Edward Snowden revealed  this spying in 2013, privacy  activists have criticised Barack  Obama for not doing enough to  curb the agency. Now, Obama’s failure to act  could turn into a cautionary tale: don’t build a surveillance state,  because you don’t know who will  end up in charge of it.
During his campaign, Donald  Trump railed against Apple after it resisted unlocking the iPhone of one of the perpetrators of last  year’s mass shooting in San Bernadino, California. In July, he invited Russia to hack Hillary  Clinton and publish her emails. He has also spoken in favour of allowing the surveillance of  mosques in the US and of asking  Muslims to register in a federal  database. “I tend to err on the 
side of security,” he said last year. So how might Trump wield  the government’s surveillance
powers? He could try to roll back  reforms put in place by Obama,  such as limitations on when and 
how the NSA can collect and store people’s data. He can decide which  countries the US spies on. He 
might choose to push much harder against companies that 
decline to build government
“back doors” to their technology.
Trump has also promised to  exact revenge on his enemies, 
such as the women who have
accused him of sexual assault.  Back when details of the NSA’s  warrantless wiretapping came 
to light, analysts were caught
snooping on their partners and
love interests. Could Trump take  similar advantage? Now that he  has been elected, privacy activists 
are advising the public to switch
to secure platforms, such as the  Tor internet browser or encrypted  messaging apps like Signal or 
Telegram.
Some wonder what, if anything,  Obama could do to dismantle the  government’s surveillance powers  before he steps down in January.  Fight for the Future, a non-profit  organisation in Boston, has called  on him to “unplug the NSA”, 
deleting all data on US citizens
and taking down its monitoring
infrastructure. “If Trump wants
to spy on hundreds of millions of Americans, make him build this
capacity from scratch,” it says.

“The powers of one government are inherited by the next.  Reforming them is now the  greatest responsibility of this  president, long overdue,” tweeted  Edward Snowden last Thursday.  “To be clear, ‘this president’  means this president, right now.  Not the next one. There is still  time to act.” 

Aviva Rutkin

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