Yet another point on the latest NSA/GCHQ revelations concerning backdoors into all sorts of commercial encryption tools, buried within the stories is the pretty clear admission that the NSA and GCHQ views the public as the enemy. First, as Marcy Wheeler points out, all of the programs are named after civil war battles in which the same country’s own citizens were seen as the enemy:
The full extent of the N.S.A.’s decoding capabilities is known only to a limited group of top analysts from the so-called Five Eyes: the N.S.A. and its counterparts in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Only they are cleared for the Bullrun program, the successor to one called Manassas — both names of American Civil War battles. A parallel GCHQ counterencryption program is called Edgehill, named for the first battle of the English Civil War of the 17th century.
Unlike some classified information that can be parceled out on a strict “need to know” basis, one document makes clear that with Bullrun, “there will be NO ‘need to know.’ ”
But it actually goes even further than that. As the Guardian report notes, in one of the documents, the public is flat out named as the “adversary.”
Among other things, the program is designed to “insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems”. These would be known to the NSA, but to no one else, including ordinary customers, who are tellingly referred to in the document as “adversaries”.
Kind of says it all, doesn’t it? For all the bullshit coming out of the administration and the defenders of this program that they’re about protecting the safety of Americans, that’s clearly not the overall intent. It’s to compromise the privacy of everyone.