The National Security Agency pressured Johns Hopkins University to take down a blog posting that was critical of its efforts to defeat encryption. A dean at the university asked Matthew Green, a computer science professor, to take down a blog post because it had links to articles exposing the NSA’s attempts to crack encryption programs in The Guardian, The New York Times, and the website ProPublica.org.
The attacks on free speech and journalism that questions NSA techniques spells a very dark future of internet regulation, where top alternative news sites would be threatened for exposing the NSA. And as Anthony Gucciardi has highlighted in a special report, the corrupt elements inside the US government are most definitely losing to the power of the real media.
The NSA had contacted the dean and asked him to remove the blog because it had links to “classified material”, Green told reporters. The acting dean, Andrew Douglas, complied with the order, but later apologized when he realized that the “classified information” came from newspapers. Douglas sent Green an email that told him to take down the blog and advised him that he could face legal action.
One of the main concerns that the NSA had was that its logo was part of Green’s blog post. The agency apparently does not want anyone writing about its activities or even criticizing them. It cannot go after reporters directly, but it can go after professors like Green because he works for a school that receives money from it. Reporters, however, may be next.
Green works at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins, which has close ties to the NSA. In his blog, Green expressed his outrage at the NSA’s efforts to deny private citizens the ability to protect their data from spying with encryption.
Part of the reason why Green may have been targeted is that he spoke to a reporter for the website ProPublica about encryption. In other words, the NSA doesn’t want computer science professors talking to reporters because it makes attacks on surveillance more credible. Once again, talking to a reporter is being criminalized in the United States.
In his post, Green also explains how encryption works and reveals some details about it, which also might worry the NSA. The last thing the NSA wants is computer science experts explaining encryption to the average man.
This sounds as if the NSA is trying to pressure computer science professors not to criticize its programs and actions. It also sounds as if the NSA is not content simply to trash the Fourth Amendment and is now going after the First Amendment as well.