NSA may be targeting Linux users for increased surveillance
In today's open source roundup: The NSA considers Linux Journal an "extremist forum." Plus: Download Tor to protect your privacy, and funny NSA jokes
Linux Journal is reporting that apparently the NSA considers it an "extremist forum" and the NSA may also be targeting Linux users for increased surveillance. Linux Journal's information is based on reports issues by German media that disclosed details on who the NSA has been targeting.
According to Linux Journal:
A new story published on the German site Tagesschau and followed up by BoingBoing and DasErste.de has uncovered some shocking details about who the NSA targets for surveillance including visitors to Linux Journal itself.
While it has been revealed before that the NSA captures just about all Internet traffic for a short time, the Tagesschau story provides new details about how the NSA's XKEYSCORE program decides which traffic to keep indefinitely. XKEYSCORE uses specific selectors to flag traffic, and the article reveals that Web searches for Tor and Tails--software I've covered here in Linux Journal that helps to protect a user's anonymity and privacy on the Internet--are among the selectors that will flag you as "extremist" and targeted for further surveillance.
What a sad story to come across on the fourth of July, the day America celebrates its independence from tyranny. It makes you wonder if anybody in Washington has ever even read the Constitution, especially that pesky fourth amendment that keeps getting cited by angry citizens when the government gets caught spying on them.
Unfortunately, none of this surprises me in the least. The NSA has been out of control for a long time, and this fits right in with the rest of the stuff it's been doing for years. But you have to wonder what they were thinking when they decided to select Linux Journal, it's not exactly known as a hotbed of terrorist activity.
Of course, for all its ongoing surveillance of the Internet, the NSA utterly failed to stop the bombers in Boston from killing and maiming people during the Boston Marathon back in 2013. Hey, why stop real terrorists when you can waste taxpayer money spying on Linux Journal readers, right?
Download Tor to protect your privacy
Since the NSA doesn't seem to like it when people read about or use Tor, I thought I'd stick my finger in their eye and include some information about it in today's roundup.
According to Tor:
Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security.
Tor protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location.
Image credit: Tor
I've written about Tor a number of times, so no doubt I've already been added to one "extremist" list or another already by the NSA. Plus, I've been writing about Linux for years so that alone probably flagged me in their system ages ago.
Oh well, I live with two parrots so if the NSA wants to bug me they can listen to endless parrot squawking, beeps, whistles and clicks until their heart's content. My birds have a never-ending supply of noise to entertain, enlighten and inform the NSA about their evil and subversive avian activities.
Funny NSA jokes
Anger aside, sometimes you just have to laugh at the stupidity of the NSA and other government agencies. About.com has a list of amusing NSA-related jokes for you to peruse.
According to About.com:
"NSA leaker Edward Snowden somehow managed to get out of the U.S. with all their information. Now where is he? He's in Russia now, going to be in Ecuador or wherever. He remains at large. Now what are the odds out of 350 million Americans, the only one the government wasn't watching was him?" –Jay Leno
"President Obama said he welcomes a national debate over our surveillance policies. He said that's a debate we wouldn't have had five years ago. Five years ago? It's a debate we wouldn't have had two weeks ago if they all hadn't gotten caught." –Jay Leno
"Edward Snowden shows up in a hotel in Hong Kong and announces to the world that he's leaked confidential National Security Agency memos and documents. He's now gone. Where is this guy? Gosh, if only there was a way to keep track of people." –David Letterman
What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.
The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.