Is my novel Privacy Wars real, or is it fiction?
My novel Privacy Wars came out at the time when Snowden was running for his life, stuck in the Moscow airport, unable to leave. It got three National Awards.
In every media interview I was asked the same thing, “Do you think Snowden was a hero or a traitor for leaking what the government was doing?” My answer was always the same. “I don’t know the man personally. I have no idea of his motives, but I’m glad he did it.”
Now, over three years later, Congress and the Federal Courts agree. And again, this topic is coming up in all my media interviews.
I think this is a good thing, perhaps hopeful for America. One of the few issues that the left and the right may be able to agree upon is the need to protect both personal privacy and our First Amendment rights.
America is losing the Cyber Wars and everyone who is competent and paying attention knows it. Privacy Wars is back and is as current as today’s headlines. Three things, all of them huge, have changed since it was published:
- “Big Brother” went too far. Government intrusion took a smack-down.
- The world knows we no longer can protect our data. Our current bureaucracies have become so incompetent that all our systems and databases are being hacked by criminals and foreign governments.
- Our enemies have better cyber security than we do. At the same time that our own corrupt, crony bureaucracies have failed to protect America’s own national defense and commercial databases, enemies and terrorists have gained secure encryption that our government cannot break.
America’s “Total Surveillance State” had a major setback. After a contentious fight, the Patriot Act was stripped of Section 215 which allowed for bulk collection of all telephone records. This is a level of intrusion that our Constitution forbids, but one that would make the Gestapo or KGB envious.
The old law was sufficiently vague that Obama argued such collection was allowed. As a policy, he collected and archived our private records without oversight. Now this is explicitly illegal.
The new law sets a bright red line. We still don’t know — and likely never will — how the government was using illegal cyber intrusion to target law abiding citizens, perhaps (like the IRS scandal) for blatant partisan political purposes. The law now says this must stop.
The Obama Administration has not stopped. The new law says it must in a few months. Obama has not agreed to comply. It might be a good time to go back and re-read books like Privacy Wars and 1984.
The bad news: There are other watchers. Enemies who are excellent hackers.
Despite our own government’s aspirations for Orwellian surveillance of citizens, it is becoming clear that we’ve lost our edge, our advanced technology superiority. This is the same government that suffered embarrassment and wasted large sums to demonstrate it could NOT build a basic website to process ObamaCare enrollment.
Washington now lives in an Age of Cronyism with bloated, corrupt, dysfunctional, and unaccountable bureaucracies. The Federal Government’s records were hacked again. They were compromised in early 2014, but, as with Benghazi, Team Obama managed to keep the lid on for some time.
The political hack who presided over this, Katherine Archuleta, was the former national political director of Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. She was not fired, charged, or held accountable, but she did just resign.
China is suspected this time, with Reuters first saying some 4 million records were involved. This was later corrected to a true figure of at least 21.5 million records, including 5.1 million fingerprints of those with the most sensitive clearances. The massive breach compromised personnel data, including security clearances, not just for the military, but also for anyone holding a DOD security clearance including state and local law enforcement, civilians, Border Patrol, State Department, FBI, CIA, etc.
We’ve suffered a “Sputnik moment,” an act of Cyber War that shows us vulnerable to attack. The media and Congress are not saying much about this, but the truth is that this was a disaster of epic magnitude. One source called it “Noah’s Flood.” Another likened it to the Soviet theft of our Atomic Bomb secrets back in the 1950s, the act that led to the Cold War that caused two generations to live in fear of a nuclear holocaust.
Consider: Benghazi got four brave Americans killed. How many might die if this targeting information was leaked (perhaps through a 3rd party state like Iran) to jihadist groups like ISIS who have active cells in American?
All Americans touched by this data breach have had their privacy compromised including pictures, addresses, fingerprints, SSNs, bank accounts, friends, etc. All of our operatives now have targets painted on their backs. This is potentially a death sentence for our covert agents whose fingerprints have been hacked.
All ISIS has to do to self-recruit lone wolves is to publish the addresses of those defending us and to say, “Kill them for Allah.” The head of the FBI has warned us publicly that because the terrorists now have secure encryption he can’t stop them. Current Administration policies and the lack of oversight by Congress put our citizens at extreme risk.
In addition to this HUGE data breach, we also have the Hillary Clinton server scandal, where over 2,000 classified documents [some well over TOP SECRET] were compromised. The FBI is on her heels, but she is still being allowed to run for President. It seems unlikely that Obama will allow her to be charged and prosecuted.
“I can tell you this is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.”
— Barrack Obama, October 2015
“I continue to believe that she [Hillary] has not jeopardized America’s national security.”
— Barrack Obama, April 2016
Note: Obama can ‘tell” or “believe” what he wishes, but the fact is that even “gross negligence” in handing classified information is enough for criminal liability. Any normal person would be facing 20 years or more in prison for less than what Hillary has done.
In addition, while our own data is compromised, Islamic terrorist groups like ISIS now have secure communications that NSA can’t break.
Reference: The Coder Who Encrypted Your Texts. “Moxie Marlinspike has spooked the FBI by creating a tool that the police can’t crack.” Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2015, pg. B1. [The genius coder in my novel, Privacy Wars, William Giles, has similar skills, but superior morality and ethics.]
Months later, the November 2015 attacks in Paris saw classified testimony to Congress that ISIS was using unbreakable end-to-end encryption to avoid detection in France, Syria, etc. Well, Duh!! And STILL NO MENTION of their doing this in America to facilitate the “lone wolf” attacks we’ve been suffering (Roseburg, Chattanooga, etc.) here.
The FBI says we have active ISIS cells in all 50 states, and Obama plans to import thousands of unvetted Muslim “refugees.” This is Hijrah.
Update on the OPM breach: Recent Senate testimony has more than doubled the number of patriotic American’s “outed.” The number is now 21 million, and still climbing. Here is what the military is saying internally:
Anxiety is spreading among defense officials and the military community that the recent theft of federal government data linked to China may affect hundreds of thousands of service members.
Compounding those concerns is the limited information made public by the Office of Personnel Management.
Some military officials believe the recent hack targeting the civilian-run OPM seized information from tens of thousands of Standard Form 86s, which are required for all service members and civilians seeking a security clearance. That includes service members of all ranks, officers and enlisted, in a wide range of job specialties and assignments.
“They got everyone’s SF-86,” one Pentagon official familiar with the investigation told Military Times.
The SF-86, a 127-page document, asks government employees to disclose information about family members, friends and past employment as well as details on alcohol and drug use, mental illness, credit ratings, bankruptcies, arrest records and court actions.
Given the scale of the breach as publicly disclosed by the Obama administration and OPM, it’s likely that the hackers obtained the SF-86 data of every military member who filled out the form on a computer, something that has been standard practice in Defense Department for well over a decade, said a retired senior intelligence community official who writes a blog under the pen name Victor Socotra.
The services began to make the digital SF-86 form mandatory in 2007, but service members used the digital form for years before that.
“They had access on everyone who has applied for a security clearance: families, residences and job assignments, bank records,” Socotra said. “If that’s not an absolute calamity, I don’t know what is.” Read more: Link. Link.
If all this makes you uncomfortable about the “ObamaCare core,” the shared data base run by the IRS with all your health, tax, and financial records, you are starting to catch on. Link.
And do enjoy Privacy Wars. It’s gotten excellent reviews. Hopefully it will both entertain and inform. Thank you for reading.
Read my July 4th 2000 note about American’s privacy being targeted: Link.
Here is my post about Privacy Wars, from when it first came out. Link. And my more recent one, alluding to Obama’s legacy plans for an Orwellian-named “Strong Cities” UN peacekeeper force in America, just as in my novel. Link.
This report about Dinesh D’Souza was chilling. Orwell showed us — as did the old Soviet Empire, and Hitler — that Big Brother does more than watch. First the watching and tangle of laws, and then it gets darker for those who are deemed to be “Enemies of the State.”
It reminds me of the old USSR – putting dissidents and those who challenged the government in mental hospitals.
Dinesh D’Souza, with his compelling and popular documentary movies and books, has been a respected and effective critic of the Obama Administration. Has he now become an Enemy of the State in the view of one leftist judge? Will other critics of Obama be deemed to be mentally ill?
Dinesh D’Souza: “What do I have to do to convince progressives I am perfectly sane: stop being a conservative & have a sex change operation?”
The persecution of Dinesh D’Souza is Orwellian. Obama’s culture war is claiming victims.
“To hear the professional left’s “culture commandos” tell it, revered conservative author, commentator, and documentary filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza is a criminal – and stark, raving mad.”
It has started. Jihadists are here in the U.S. — stalking, intimidating, and targeting military families. With the hacked data from OPM, this is easy to do. Here is a media report.
DENVER (CBS4) – An alert has been issued by the FBI to all law enforcement agencies in Colorado and Wyoming involving U.S. military families and concerns about who may be watching them. The alert says Middle Eastern men are approaching families of U.S. military members at their homes in Colorado and Wyoming. It mentions Greeley, Colorado, and Cheyenne, Wyoming, as the specific areas.
In one case last May the wife of a military member was approached in front of her home by two Middle Eastern males. The men stated that she was the wife of a U.S. interrogator. When she denied their claims the men laughed.
The two men left the area in a dark-colored, four-door sedan with two other Middle Eastern males in the vehicle. “The woman had observed the vehicle in the neighborhood on previous occasions,” the alert states. Similar incidents in Wyoming have been reported to the FBI throughout June 2015.
http://denver.cbslocal.com/2015/08/04/fbi-middle-eastern-men-intimidating-u-s-military-families-in-colorado-wyoming/ – See more at: https://blog.johntrudel.com/?p=2384#sthash.UZ3GlcK5.dpuf
Be careful with Windows 10. It’s wonderful, but it watches everything you do. See the link.
There has been much concern about Apple’s policy to resist the government’s demand to build a backdoor into its operating systems. My short comment is that I agree with Apple. I’d be happy to discuss WHY when doing interviews or signings for my novel Privacy Wars.
The full text of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s open letter on the court ruling in the San Bernardino case.
A Message to Our Customers
The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.
This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.
The Need for Encryption
Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.
All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply committed to safeguarding their data.
Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.
For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.
The San Bernardino Case
We were shocked and outraged by the deadly act of terrorism in San Bernardino last December. We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected. The FBI asked us for help in the days following the attack, and we have worked hard to support the government’s efforts to solve this horrible crime. We have no sympathy for terrorists.
When the FBI has requested data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we’ve offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal.
We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.
Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.
The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.
The Threat to Data Security
Some would argue that building a backdoor for just one iPhone is a simple, clean-cut solution. But it ignores both the basics of digital security and the significance of what the government is demanding in this case.
In today’s digital world, the “key” to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.
The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.
The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.
We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data. Criminals and bad actors will still encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them.
A Dangerous Precedent
Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.
The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by “brute force,” trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.
The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.
Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government.
We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.
While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.
— Tim Cook