Powerful Nations and Companies Fight Back Against NSA Spying

New Telecommunications Infrastructure Is Being Built to Avoid American Spying

One of India’s largest newspapers – The Hindu – reports:

Most of Brazil’s global internet traffic passes through the United States, so [the Brazilian] government plans to lay underwater fiber optic cable directly to Europe and also link to all South American nations to create what it hopes will be a network free of US eavesdropping.

A consortium of telecom and undersea cable companies competing for the contracts for the proposed BRICS cable show what they think the project should look like:


(BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.)

The BRICS countries have the muscle to pull this off.  Each of the BRICS countries are in the top 25 largest economies in the world. China has the world’s 2nd largest economy, India is 3rd, Russia 6th, Brazil 7th, and South Africa 25th.

As Reuters notes:

* The BRICS countries make up 21 percent of global GDP. They have increased their share of global GDP threefold in the past 15 years.

* The BRICS are home to 43 percent of the world’s population.

* The BRICS countries have combined foreign reserves of an estimated $4.4 trillion.

* Intra-BRICS trade flows reached $282 billion in 2012 and are estimated to reach $500 billion by 2015. In 2002, it was $27.3 billion.

* IMF estimates of GDP per member in 2012, China $8.25 trillion, Brazil $2.43 trillion, Russia and India at $1.95 trillion each, South Africa $390.9 billion.

China is also dropping IBM hardware like a hot potato due to security concerns.  Intel and AMD may not be far behind.

Economic powerhouse Germany is also rolling out a system that would keep all data within Germany’s national borders.

New Hardware Is Being Built to Thwart Spying

Anti-virus legend and wild man John McAffee claims that he has created a $100 hardware router which will block NSA snooping:

There will be no way (for the government) to tell who you are or where you are ….

FreedomBox has been developing a similar concept for years:

And numerous other competitors will soon jump into the fray.

Of course, one of the simplest hardware solutions is to unplug.  For example, by using an air gap, duct tape or a typewriter.

New Internet Architecture Is Being Developed to Minimize  American Spying

ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the organization which controls domain names and internet addresses.

ICANN has long been a U.S.-controlled organization. Even after ICANN become more international on paper, it has still been dominated by America.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main international standards organization for the Web.   For example:

W3C tries to enforce compatibility and agreement among industry members in the adoption of new standards defined by the W3C. Incompatible versions of HTML are offered by different vendors, causing inconsistency in how Web pages are displayed. The consortium tries to get all those vendors to implement a set of core principles and components which are chosen by the consortium.

Together, ICANN and W3C – along with groups like the Internet Society and the Internet Engineering Task Force – are largely responsible for administering the electronic “plumbing” of the Web.

In response to NSA spying revelations, all of these groups just told the U.S. to pound sand.  As Tech Crunch notes:

Key Internet stakeholders, including [ICANN, W3C , Internet Society, Internet Engineering Task Force and others] have released a statement condemning pervasive government surveillance and calling for an internationalization of the Internet’s underlying framework.


Post-NSA revelations, the United States has lost its standing as the Internet’s defender. Instead, it has been revealed that as a country we have systematically worked to undermine its encryption, and the inherent privacy that it grants users.

Instead of keeping the Internet safe, we have built an industry designed on its subversion. And now the Internet is ready to break up with us. From the joint statement:

[The parties] expressed strong concern over the undermining of the trust and confidence of Internet users globally due to recent revelations of pervasive monitoring and surveillance. […] They called for accelerating the globalization of ICANN and IANA functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing.

Indeed, the head of ICANN has thumbed his nose at the U.S. and expressed support for Brazil’s fight against American spying.  As Agence France-Presse reports:

Brazil, which has slammed massive US electronic spying on its territory, said on Wednesday it would host a global summit on internet governance in April.

President Dilma Rousseff made the announcement after conferring in Brasilia with Fadi Chehade, chief executive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

“We have decided that Brazil will host in April 2014 an international summit of governments, industry, civil society and academia” to discuss Brazil’s suggestions for upgrading Internet security, Rousseff said on Twitter.


Chehade heaped praise on Rousseff for using her UN General Assembly speech in September to demand measures to thwart the massive US cyber spying operation revealed by US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.


“She spoke for all of us on that day. She expressed the world’s interest to actually find out how we are going to all live together in this new digital age,” said Chehade.

“The trust in the global internet has been punctured and now it’s time to restore this trust through leadership and institutions that can make that happen.”

New Software Is Being Developed to Help Protect Against Spying

Google has just rolled out the beta version of an anonymizing proxy service, called uProxy.  I’m not sure I trust Google – a PRISM partner to the NSA – to protect me from government snoops. But there are many other proxy services which claim that they can help protect you from the prying eyes of the NSA.

SecureDrop is an open-source whistleblower submission system that media organizations can install to accept documents from anonymous sources.  It was created by privacy activist and Reddit founder Aaron Swartz, with assistance from Wired editor Kevin Poulsen and security expert James Dolan (a major security audit of SecureDrop has been conducted by security expert Bruce Schneier and a team of University of Washington researchers.)

AP notes:

From Silicon Valley to the South Pacific, counterattacks to revelations of widespread National Security Agency surveillance are taking shape, from a surge of new encrypted email programs to technology that sprinkles the Internet with red flag terms to confuse would-be snoops.


Developer Jeff Lyon in Santa Clara, Calif., said he’s delighted if it generates social awareness, and that 2,000 users have installed it to date. He said, “The goal here is to get a critical mass of people flooding the Internet with noise and make a statement of civil disobedience.”

University of Auckland associate professor Gehan Gunasekara said he’s received “overwhelming support” for his proposal to “lead the spooks in a merry dance,” visiting radical websites, setting up multiple online identities and making up hypothetical “friends.”

And “pretty soon everyone in New Zealand will have to be under surveillance,” he said.

Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Parker Higgens in San Francisco has a more direct strategy: by using encrypted email and browsers, he creates more smoke screens for the NSA. “Encryption loses its value as an indicator of possible malfeasance if everyone is using it,” he said.


This week, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University released a smartphone app called SafeSlinger they say encrypts text messages so they cannot be read by cell carriers, Internet providers, employers “or anyone else.”

Privacy companies are changing their encryption standards to try to get around the fact that NSA has been pushing compromised encryption standards as a way to break into encrypted communications.  For example, PC World reports:

The U.S. National Security Agency’s reported efforts to weaken encryption standards have prompted an encrypted communications company [Silent Circle] to move away from cryptographic algorithms sanctioned by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

New Legal and Social Norms Are Being Implemented to Rein In Spying

Germany and Brazil are pressing for the adoption of a United Nations General Resolution protecting internet privacy. Other European and Latin American countries are thinking of joining the effot.

European lawmakers on Monday voted to approve new data protections aimed at shielding citizens’ private communications from the NSA. The new law will target companies that pass on personal details of Europeans to U.S. law enforcement and intelligence without proper legal documentation showing that the NSA needs the information on national security grounds.

The EU is considering pulling out of the SWIFT financial transfer system.

Foreign companies are using their non-American status as a competitive advantage in competing for cloud storage customers and web users. And see this.

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12 Responses to Powerful Nations and Companies Fight Back Against NSA Spying

  1. Big Dan says:

    So NSA spying has hurt the U.S. goodwill and hurt us economically and caused worldwide mistrust of the U.S.

    • John Christian Lønningdal says:

      I am sure NSA did it to protect its trade and security interests, while it surely proves to have the opposite effect. It’s like: “Its ok to spy on your neighbor as long as he doesn’t know about it.” – I can’t believe the US spend so much of your tax dollars (and creating immense debt) to go on with this silly spy game. How about playing a fair game and treating other nations as equals?

      • CoweringCoward says:

        Realize the power a global BLACKMAIL database on every man woman and child on earth represents. Imagine EVERYTHING you ever said or bought or place you ever visited, all logged, available and searchable. Ever say something “they” don’t like, BAM straight to the Gulag! The average American commits something like 5 felonies a day (with all the dumbass “laws” the elites are slamming onto the books daily). Did you know that to just throw away a cell phone battery could get you YEARS in fed prison? This database is all about CONTROL, it’s not about terror or national security or any of that hogwash!
        The NSA has already been “sharing” it’s treasure with other agencies and instructing them to form “parallel investigations” to hide where the initial whiff of “wrong doing” even came from! That’s the STASSI!

      • Alex says:

        “fair game”? “treat nations as equal”?
        so funny

  2. Anonymous says:

    I know of one defense contractor who communicates among locations, particularly internationally, exclusively by fax. And has for some time. Technology is moving backwards to protect against the spying.

  3. simpleman56 says:

    If the NSA contractors had their privacy put up on for all to see, how would they feel? I bet over 75% would have a big box of things they would not be proud of. The rest of the world should be pissed & so should all Americans for how billions go to these gov insiders who would spy on their mother for money!
    This goes way back in time, when a government no longer fears the people we see the results, being sold at Birth when the babies foot print is taken, what happens? You are a tax slave to the federal reserve, can’t remember how much that birth cert is worth, but the answers are at http://www.usavsus.info. Many roll their eyes & turn up their noses when the truth is put forth, now this seems fit that the NSA is not about terrorism, but economic terror on the people of the USA & the world! Tell the damn truth & change back to the real Constitution.
    The private fed has made up 4 trillion $ & put that as debt on the US public, why can’t the NSA tell that? Anyone want to dare answer that one? Or how about the ESF, PPT & their function?
    I could keep on writing, but for what? Until those that set & spy on their friends & love ones finally find out they are nothing but puppets, being used do the work of a group banking elites who want the whole world in their control…
    North Dakota is the only State who has a State bank who is the black & unemployment is the lowest, if each State followed their path, there be no need for a private banking cartel that is no different than the Drug Cartel, both enslave the people, one on drugs & the other on DEBT!!!
    Last question, if you walk down the street, then ask the question, what is the FED? How many would know the answer? 1 out of 10? Try it & see for yourselves. When you do this for 45 days, please write your results share them with all of us. If your in NYC, I wish you luck, even on wall st you will need it!
    The NSA has its work cut out for them, the money they use is losing buying power, but I forgot they can get insider trading at click of a mouse! Remember one thing, the FRN you use is only worth what faith the people put in it, because it’s only backed by DEBT, a shit load of it!

  4. Consuelo says:

    And to think that we actually called ourselves ‘The land of the free’…

  5. anotherview2 says:

    Protecting the national security of the United States of America few will doubt the necessity and the legitimacy of.

    But we’ve learned from recent news reports that the US has snooped on foreign leadership in order to gain political knowledge evidently having nothing whatsoever to do with US national security. The US has overstepped itself here.

    Let us hope the rebellion against this pervasive, unwanted US snooping succeeds, bringing back privacy in communications. Sign me up.

  6. anotherview2 says:

    Protecting the national security of the United States of America few will doubt the necessity and the legitimacy of.

    But we’ve learned from recent news reports that the US has snooped on foreign leadership in order to gain political knowledge evidently having nothing whatsoever to do with US national security. The US has overstepped itself here.

    Let us hope the rebellion against this pervasive, unwanted US snooping succeeds, bringing back privacy in communications. Sign me up.

    • jesse says:

      An activist in New Zealand has the best idea – everyone with access to email should circulate a message to all their friends with target words to confound the NSA spies: “My friend Ahmed from Yemen is having a dinner party. He’s under a lot of pressure cooking for such a large group. I hope his efforts don’t bomb, but with any luck they should have a blast.” Pass it on again and again! Screw the system!

      • Tom Czerniawski says:

        That sort of thing has been around since the Echelon days.

        The warheads arrive in December. The infidels shall have a merry Christmas.

  7. MMArtist141 MMA66 says:

    So America shouldn’t use targeted surveillance on foreigners it has evidence are connected to terrorist groups or foreign powers?https://fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fisa/faa-fact.pdf
    “As described in more detail below, Section 702 permits the government to target for surveillance foreign persons located outside the United States for the purpose of acquiring foreign intelligence information (with the compelled assistance of electronic communication service providers) while also providing a comprehensive oversight regime by all three branches of government to protect the constitutional and privacy interests of any U.S.
    person whose information may be incidentally acquired during the collection activity. Generally, Section 702 permits the Attorney General (AG) and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to authorize the IC to target foreign persons reasonably believed to be located outside the U.S. for the purpose of acquiring foreign intelligence information. This acquisition is conducted pursuant to a FISC order approving a certification and accompanying targeting and minimization procedures. As described in further detail below, these documents regulate the government’s use of Section 702 and provide protections for U.S. persons. The IC acquires this foreign intelligence information with the compelled assistance of electronic communication service providers, as directed by the AG and the DNI. Instead of issuing individual court orders, the FISC approves annual certifications submitted by the AG and the DNI that specify categories of foreign intelligence information, as defined by FISA, that the government
    is authorized to acquire pursuant to Section 702. The Office of the DNI (ODNI) has publicly released a sample of a certification, with required supporting documents, on its website IC on the Record.

    The AG and the DNI must also certify that IC elements will follow targeting procedures and
    minimization procedures that are approved by the FISC as part of the annual package.

    1) The targeting procedures are designed to ensure that only foreign persons located outside the U.S. are targeted for foreign intelligence collection purposes.

    2) The minimization procedures are intended to protect any U.S. person information that is
    incidentally acquired in the course of Section 702 collection. Like all other forms of legal authority that permit the government to target someone for foreign intelligence collection, Section 702
    authorizes collection of communications sent or received by the target—in other words, the collection will generally include information sent to the target from other communicants and vice
    versa. As Congress understood when it passed the FAA, and as is true with any form of surveillance, a foreign person who has been targeted for collection under FISA Section 702 may communicate
    with, or discuss information concerning, a U.S. person. This is considered “incidental” acquisition of the information concerning the U.S. person, as the U.S. person was not the target of collection.
    Protection of this incidentally acquired U.S. person information is the reason why Congress requires minimization procedures for Section 702 collection. FISC approved minimization procedures regulate the retention and dissemination of information concerning U.S. Persons, including who may receive such information and how it is handled. Recently approved minimization procedures are available on IC on the Record…

    Once the FISC approves the certifications, including the targeting and minimization procedures, the AG and the DNI can compel electronic communications service providers to assist in IC elements’ collection against authorized Section 702 targets. A recent FISC opinion, dated November 2015, approving Section 702 certifications is available on IC on the Record.”

    *Legal and constitutional:*
    “Congress recognized the constitutionality of Section 702 when it reauthorized the FAA in 2012. Further, federal courts have consistently upheld the constitutionality of Section 702. For example, in United *_States v. Mohamud_*, (9th Cir. Dec. 5, 2016), the court unanimously held that no warrant is required for a search targeted at a foreign person abroad, who lacks Fourth Amendment rights, even though some U.S. person communications were incidentally acquired in that collection. The court found that Section 702 collection was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment’s reasonableness balancing test, and that the targeting and minimization procedures sufficiently protected the defendant’s privacy interests.”

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