In what I believe is Bruce Schneier’s finest moment he has put voice to the underlying threat to liberty that US citizens face thanks to the NSA+Phone Company collusion.
Schneier does not even mention the hot topics of ATT funneling traffic to the NSA for analysis or the illegal wiretaps, or the phone records turned over en masse to the NSA by most telecom providers. (Not Quest though! Thank you Mr. Nacchio !) He focuses on countering the naïve argument that “if you have done nothing wrong then you have nothing to hide”. I particularly like the quip from Cardinal Richelieu that he quotes in his Wired column. And this bit:
How many of us have paused during conversation in the past four-and-a-half years, suddenly aware that we might be eavesdropped on? Probably it was a phone conversation, although maybe it was an e-mail or instant-message exchange or a conversation in a public place. Maybe the topic was terrorism, or politics, or Islam. We stop suddenly, momentarily afraid that our words might be taken out of context, then we laugh at our paranoia and go on. But our demeanor has changed, and our words are subtly altered.
I was stuck in a motel room in Palo Alto this week as I divided my time between San Jose, where I joined a group of Wall Street Analysts on a bus tour of Bay Area security companies, and San Francisco where I dropped by JavaOne. ( I wanted to attend the Gartner Symposium which was relegated to Mascone West by the much larger JavaOne conference but for some reason was refused entry. JavaOne issued me press credentials which was very nice of them.) The Verizon reception was horrible in that motel room so I had to take a call with a journalist on the land line. The topic was going to be Direct Revenue so I knew I would probably be using terms like “Ebola” and “Anthrax” and I experienced exactly what Schneier decribes when I got the “Thank you for using ATT” message after punching in my credit card for a long disctance call.
It also occurred to me that a suitable punishment for ATT for so abusing our privacy would be if from now on that message said: “Thank you for using ATT, this call may be monitored for purposes of National Security”.
What do you think?