Is There Any More Privacy in the World? VICE Podcast 010

Is There Any More Privacy in the World? VICE Podcast 010


REIHAN SALAM: Hi, I’m Reihan
Salam with the VICE Podcast. I’m joined today by Chris
Soghoian, principal technologist at the American
Civil Liberties Union. Chris, thanks very much
for joining me. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN:
Thank you. REIHAN SALAM: Chris, I’ve known
you for a little while. And though I wouldn’t say I
know you extremely well, you’ve always struck me as
a very mild-mannered, thoughtful, polite decent guy. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN:
Thank you. REIHAN SALAM: And yet I’ve
recently learned that in 2006, the FBI broke down your
door and seized some of your property. And I’ve got a wonder, the
FBI doesn’t do that for no reason at all. Presumably they had some reason
to believe that you represented some
kind of threat. So what exactly was going on? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: In 2006,
I made a website that demonstrated the failure of the
TSA and the airlines to secure boarding passes. In essence, anyone with
Photoshop or easily available computer program could make
their own boarding pass and circumvent what was then a
fairly secretive no-fly list. So certain people were not
permitted to get on airplanes. So I made a website that
manufactured boarding passes. Anyone who visited the website
could make their own boarding pass, pick their name. The default name if you didn’t
choose another one was Osama bin Laden, sort of to
demonstrate the absurdity of it. And the issue caught the
attention of the media. And there were maybe 40,000
or 50,000 people who made boarding passes in
a couple days. And then a member
of Congress– REIHAN SALAM: 40,000,
50,000 people? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: Visited
the site and pressed the submit button. REIHAN SALAM: Got it. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: I don’t
know how many printed it out. I have no information
about that. But the issue got some press. And then Congressman Ed Markey
issued a statement. He was then on the Homeland
Security committee and issued a statement saying that
I should be arrested. And so I think that sort of
led to some phone calls. REIHAN SALAM: So I assume you
were delighted when Ed Markey was elected to the
Senate recently. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: So two
days after Markey issued a statement, he actually
backtracked and said that TSA should give me a job instead. So I don’t think he’d been fully
briefed on the issue. Markey is one of the clear
leaders on privacy and civil liberties in Congress. So I’m a big fan of his work. Obviously not super pleasant
when a member of Congress that says you should go to jail, and
so I think there were some phone calls that were made. The FBI showed up at my house
in the afternoon. They asked if they could come
in and search my computers. And of course I’d seen “Law and
Order.” So I said, do you guys have a search warrant? And they said, no. I said, you should come
back with a warrant. And they woke a judge up at 2:00
in the morning, got him to sign a warrant, and they
came back that evening. REIHAN SALAM: Wait, so
they woke a judge up. So when did they actually
arrive? You were asleep– CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: They
were there twice. REIHAN SALAM: Got it,
got it, got it. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: The first
time they were there, it was maybe 7:00 or 8:00
in the evening– REIHAN SALAM: Got it. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: –and then
they came back later that evening when I wasn’t there. REIHAN SALAM: I see,
I see, I see. So they came back. You weren’t there, and they were
just able to go inside and do as they would. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: They broke
through the door, and then they ransacked my house
and took all my stuff. REIHAN SALAM: And did you know
that they had been there once you got back home? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: When I
came home the next day, as I walked to my front door, I saw
the door had been broken. I actually called the police,
because I thought my house had been broken into. And the police made me wait. REIHAN SALAM: So they didn’t
leave you like a little note card on the table–
hey, it’s the FBI. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: I didn’t
go inside at first. And once the police arrived and
entered the house, they saw the search warrant taped
to the dining table. And then they said, sorry,
you’re on your own. REIHAN SALAM: I see, I see. Fascinating. This is a silly question, but
was it a handwritten note? It was formal warrant? It was like a typed up document
that had been taped to your door? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: It
was the search warrant. So it’s a form, and then there’s
handwritten sections. And then they had like
an inventory of the property they seized. REIHAN SALAM: Were you surprised
when the FBI came knocking or did you figure,
you know what, I’ve done this thing. It’s got some attention,
not too shocking. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN:
I mean, the entire process was a shock. I never thought that I would get
that amount of press, and that I would attract the
attention and scrutiny of law enforcement officials and
members of Congress. I should say that within three
weeks, the FBI dropped the entire investigation. I got my computers back in three
weeks, which is unheard of in the area of
computer crime. REIHAN SALAM: Did they
compensate you for breaking down your door? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN:
No, they did not. REIHAN SALAM: So boarding
passes, so you decided, why don’t why don’t we print up
these boarding passes to determine whether or not this
no- fly list is being properly enforced, determine who
is on the list, or what was the goal? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: Before I’d
made the website, senator Chuck Schumer from New York
had actually outlined the steps for this boarding pass
trick on his website. And he’d been calling on TSA to
add some authentication to the system. The underlying vulnerability was
that someone could go to the airport with a fake boarding
pass with their real name, but that they’d
manufactured for themselves. And then another ticket in
someone else’s name that was legitimate purchased, use the
fake boarding pass to get through security, with their
real driver’s license, even if they were on the no-fly list,
and then use the other boarding pass for a real ticket
in someone else’s name to get on the plane. REIHAN SALAM: I see. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: So that
was the sort of vulnerability. Schumer had outlined this
problem on his website, explained step by step how to
engage in the shenanigan. And TSA had ignored him. In many cases, you need a
demonstration before people take things seriously. And so what I sought to do was
help people to visualize how easy it was. This wasn’t something that you
needed to be an advanced hacker to do. This is something
anyone could do. And the goal, in essence, was to
emphasize the absurdity of the no-fly list. REIHAN SALAM: Did anyone
actually pull it off? Did anyone actually use the
technology as far as you know? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN:
I’m not aware of anyone who used my website. Subsequently I read about people
who modified their Southwest Airlines boarding pass
to change the group, the boarding group, so to make sure
they got to the front of the line for boarding. But the people who visited my
website didn’t leave me any notes or send me emails. REIHAN SALAM: There are some
people for whom having your door knocked down by the FBI
would be kind of exhilarating and maybe want to make
you go further. There are others who would
think, you know what, I should seek some other research
agenda. This is rather much. Perhaps I went too far. And it was kind of playful and
kind of what have you. Which side the spectrum
did you fall in? Did you find it more frightening
or did you find it more exciting? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: I mean,
it was a terrifying experience. But shortly after it happened,
I was able to get to spectacular pro-bono lawyers. And then within a few weeks
after it happened, once things calmed down, my Ph.D. adviser at
time said, hey, you should take a law class or two so that
you can learn about the law and so this doesn’t
happen again. At the time, I was doing a Ph.D.
in computer security. I was actually designing
new phishing attacks. My research was an
online fraud. So the idea was we would come up
with the tricks before the bad guys would, and then we
could defend against them. And as you might imagine,
that is a perilous area of research too. And so my adviser after this
experience said, OK, you really should take a class on
copyright law and computer crime, so that you can figure
out where the line is. And so I took a couple classes
in the law, and that ended up turning into a minor in my Ph.D.
and really pushed me down this path where I am now
at the intersection of technology, law and policy. Very few computer scientists can
speak about what they do in English to policymakers, or journalists, or the lay public. And I really credit those
classes that I took and some of the other things I
did in helping me to acquire those skills. REIHAN SALAM: Did the computer
security interest come from the fact that you were a
bit of a troublemaker? Where you are interested in
exploring vulnerabilities when you were growing up
in your first encounters with computers? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN:
I mean, I’ve always taken things apart. I would take blocks apart, and
usually not a simple them back together again. I would take computers apart. I’ve always been interested
in how things work. And so I think that maybe
that influenced things. I mean, I’ve never really been
that good with respecting the rules or authority. And I think activism has given
me a healthy outlook for that. REIHAN SALAM: One thing I find
striking is that we’ve had a variety of scandals relating to
surveillance and abuses of our civil liberties, yet
the public seems pretty consistently disinterested
and disengaged. We also a little bit of a market
test in the sense of cloud computing, the fact that
so many of us now rely on technologies through which we’re
actually surrendering a lot of control over our data and
our personal information. And people seem to be amazingly casual about doing it. When you think about the
passwords people create for themselves– my password is password. My password is– CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: Is
that confession now? REIHAN SALAM: It’s not. It’s not. But it seems that people
are kind of enormously casual about it. And if anything, they just kind
of want more ease of use. They just want convenience. So if there’s something that
actually makes the process a little more frictiony, people
will tend to skip that. So as someone who cares very
deeply about privacy, what do you do about that? Do you think this is a
failure of education? Or does it mean that your
concerns are idiosyncratic and other people really
don’t care? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: I think
people are entirely rational. And I think the problem here
is that the harms that they come from either choosing a bad
password or giving your data to a company that keeps
it in an unencrypted format in the cloud. Those harms are not immediately
perceivable when you engage in that action. These are harms that come
weeks or months later. In some cases, when something
bad happens to you down the road, you don’t realize the
actual source of that harm. You don’t realize that when you
checked your email over an unencrypted connection at
Starbucks, and then two months later someone breaks into your
account and steals you identity, you don’t
see the connection between those two events. And so the feedback loop
that would otherwise be present is broken. Companies don’t compete
on privacy. Companies don’t compete on that
feature of their products in the same way that they do
on price, or storage, or features, or the social
networking aspect of their stuff. And so the market is
broken as a result. If privacy isn’t a salient
feature, companies are not going to compete on
it and the market won’t function correctly. Cloud computing by itself isn’t inherently an evil thing. In many ways, it can be
a more secure thing. Most consumers and most small
businesses don’t have the resources to hire a $200,000
a year information security expert to work for
them full time. If you put your data in Google
servers, Google has 350 engineers doing nothing
but security. They have a team of like a dozen
people focusing solely on state-sponsored attacks. No news organization has a dozen
people defending their information from the
Chinese government. And so if you put your data in
Google’s Cloud or give it to Amazon or one of these other
large companies, you can sort of piggyback off of their
security team. The problem is that in many
cases, the products as designed or as least given to
consumers with the initial default settings, are not
secure out of the box. Does that make sense? REIHAN SALAM: I think it does. So what you’re saying is
that kind of theory, this could be something. These could be institutions
that are serving as our shields, as our protectors, from
criminals, from foreign governments, perhaps, or any
other exotic threat. Yet the problem is that these
companies have to operate under the laws of the
US government. And it seems as though in many
cases it is the US government that is leaning on a lot
of private providers. And that is to some degree
limiting their room for maneuver and to the extent to
which they can say, well, no, we’re actually not going to
give you access to this information. Is that your sense as well? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: So if you
work in the privacy space, which I do, after a while
everyone in my field eventually gets a favorite
Erid Schmidt quote. Eric Schmidt was the CEO of
Google, now the president of Google, or the chairman,
rather. My favorite Eric Schmidt quote
is one in which he was asked by Rachel Maddow why the company
doesn’t do more to push back on government
requests. And he says, there’s a problem
with expecting us to do that. And that is that the
government has guns, and we don’t. And actually the fundamental
problem here isn’t that Google is in bed with the government or
Facebook is in bed with the government. Because they’re not. The problem is that it’s the
business model that many of these Silicon Valley companies
have adopted. Consumers don’t pay for email. Consumers don’t pay
for search. They don’t pay for social
networking. They don’t pay for Twitter. They don’t pay for many of the
online services they use. But in comparison, people
pay for postage stamps. They pay for FedEx. They pay for their home internet
connections, their cellphone bills. What that means then is that
these Silicon Valley firms, to whom we entrust so much private
information, have an incentive to keep
our information. The business model they’d
adopted actually is one where we give them all of our private
information and then they mine it and try and
figure out what we’re interested in and then deliver
advertisements to us. They could design products
that are more privacy-preserving, that are
more resistant to government search and seizure. Google could build a product
where if the government came and said, hey, tell me
everything that Chris searched for last year, they would have
to say, sorry, we don’t know. But that conflicts with their
current business model, which is advertising supported
services. And as long as consumers are
using services that are free, then these companies
have this conflict. Where the companies can
push back, they will. Where they can push back in
the courts, where they can publish transparency reports,
and try and let the public know about their role, they
will generally do so. But on the tough issues– how much data we keep? Do we keep the data
in encrypted form? Or do we keep the data in a
form that we can readily access, but which the
government can readily access too? The companies tend to make the
wrong choices for privacy, because those are the ones to
allow them to make money. REIHAN SALAM: One thing that I
think people don’t understand very well is this idea of
the third-party rule. So I think that to be a citizen
in a kind of modern, urban society, there are
certain prerequisites. For example, it’s very helpful
to have a credit card. It’s very helpful to
have a cell phone. These are all things that entail
your entering into a relationship with some
private company. But my understanding is that
kind of under American jurisprudence, that entails not
just sharing some of your information with your bank,
your credit card provider, your cell phone provider,
it involves implicitly surrendering control over
your information to the government as well? Can you explain a little
bit about that? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: So there’s
this loophole to the Fourth Amendment, in essence. And it’s called the third-party
doctrine. It comes from a Supreme Court
case, actually a couple Supreme Court cases. And the gist is this– when
you give your private information to a third party,
whether it’s a bank, or email provider, or some other company,
the government has argued successfully before the
court that you don’t have a reasonable expectation of
privacy in that information anymore, which means that the
government can come and ask for it later. And that information
won’t be protected by the Fourth Amendment. So you can still have statutory
protections, so if Congress passes a law that says
that the government needs a warrant to get your email,
that could be an additional level of protection. But the baseline constitutional
protections for your private communications go
out the window when you give it to a third party. Those cases, they’re
decades old. REIHAN SALAM: How far
does that go? So does that mean that, for
example, Gmail is going to be serving ads against the
content of my email. And yet they’ve assured me
that they are by no means actively reading the contents of
my email or what have you. But does this mean that the
government can theoretically have access to the contents
of my email? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: So email
is something that didn’t exist when the Supreme Court created
this third-party doctrine. There are appellate courts that
have separately decided that email deserves
special protection under the Fourth Amendment. But the metadata record, the
information on who you communicate with, have not yet
received these protections from appellate courts. This is an area where we’re
going to see a lot of litigation in the
next few years. Justice Sotomayor wrote a
spectacular concurring opinion in “US v. Jones”, which is sort
of a GPS tracking case years ago, where she said, maybe
it’s time to reexamine the third-party doctrine. That entire regime, this
entire system where the government can just come and ask
for information from these third parties, that’s from
decades ago where consumers had very little information
that was shared with third parties. REIHAN SALAM: This is another
issue, a few months ago, there was a minor scandal when people
understood that if you take a look at your iPhone, sort
of buried deep within it, is a very impressive record
of everywhere that phone has been. Which in many cases, for a
modern urban type, is going to be everywhere you as an
individual have been. Now am I correct in assuming
that the government has access to that kind of detailed
GPS data about where your phone has been? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: So the
iPhone location scandal a couple of years ago, essentially
what was happening was that the cell towers or
Wi-Fi hotspots that your phone saw nearby, that information
was retained on your phone, which meant that if you were
later stopped and the police searched your phone, they
could download that information. There are in fact companies
that provide off the shelf forensics tools, surveillance
tools, to law enforcement agencies. And unfortunately, courts around
the country have in many places ruled that the
government can in fact seize your phone and search
it for unrelated things if you’re arrested. REIHAN SALAM: What is the state
of the law with regard to I haven’t seized a person’s
phone, but I want to get a sense of her location at any
given time, given that theoretically, I assume that
your telecom provider is able to get that data? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN:
So I should make clear, I’m not a lawyer. I’m a computer scientist who
just spends so much time with lawyers that I understand more
about the law than most. But this is not legal advice. It’s a complex question, because
the word “location” doesn’t appear in our
privacy laws. The laws in the space with
regard to when the government can get your information
date back to 1986. However, as interpreted by the
courts and per the Department of Justice’s policy, if the
government wishes to get real time information on where you
are in this moment or in the future, they need a warrant,
if it’s derived from like a GPS chip or multiple towers. However, if the government wants
to find out where you were last week, or in fact where
you were for the last six months, they can get that
with a lesser court order, one where they have to go to a
judge, but they only have to say the information is relevant
and material to an investigation. So you don’t even have to be a
suspect, they just have to say the information is relevant. And there are a huge amount
of these orders. The phone companies are
inundated with requests for location data. They’re crushed by these
numbers of requests. And so they’ve had to sort
of set up these automated processes to let the police
have self-service access, because the phone company
employees just cannot deal with the scale of the requests
they’re receiving. REIHAN SALAM: Do you have any
sense of what the volume of these requests is? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: We don’t
have really good data. Last year, Ed Markey, the member
of Congress, wrote letters to all– REIHAN SALAM: Your old friend. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN:
My old friend. Wrote letters to all the phone
companies and said, hey, so how many surveillance requests
do you get a year from law enforcement agencies? Of the big four carriers, three
replied with numbers. T-Mobile basically told
him to get lost. Of the big three, AT&T, Verizon,
and Sprint, the companies collectively
get about 1.3 million requests here. Surveillance has gotten
really easy. The police don’t have to
tell you any more. They don’t have to sit outside
your house in an unmarked van. The police don’t climb telephone
poles to tap phone lines anymore. Most surveillance happens from
an air conditioned building. And the police get the
stuff from the telecommunications companies. REIHAN SALAM: A lot of people
react, well, look. I mean, we have serious
security concerns. There’s a terrorist threat. And there are also various other
sophisticated criminal organizations that
are at work. And I imagine folks in the
government are going to say, we need this authority. This authority greatly
facilitates our ability to protect the broader public. And no one who is not engaged
in illicit activity has anything to fear from this
kind of data collection. How would you respond to that? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: We have
two sort of separate sets of legal rules, depending on
whether the police are investigating a crime or whether
the intelligence community’s investigating
terrorism. So the terrorist issue should
be taken off the table, because our aging privacy laws,
our aging surveillance laws, don’t even apply to the
intelligence services. So the law that allows the
police to obtain your location data, your historical location
data, with a mere relevancy standard, that doesn’t involve
terrorism at all. That doesn’t involve foreign
spies or cyberhacking by foreign governments. All that goes out the window. We’re talking about vanilla
law enforcement. My view isn’t that this
information should be off limits to the police. I just think they should
have to go to judge and get a warrant. I mean, at the founding of this
country, at a time of the founding, our founding fathers
were concerned about the abuse of these authorities
by the state. Now in those days, there weren’t
phone companies. And the government just simply
didn’t have access to the kinds of data that it did now. But even they were worried about
these British troops going door to door with
general warrants. They were worried then And the
solution then was a warrant with particularized
information. We should have that today. If the government wants to
find out your email, they should have to get a warrant. If they want to get your
location information, they should have to get a warrant. If they want to find out what
you search for or who you talk to, they should have to
get a warrant too. REIHAN SALAM: What do you see
as the worst case scenario, given that you just have this
very low relevancy standard? What might abuses of this law
enforcement power look like? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: The abuses
you’re going to see at the federal level are going to
be different than the abuses you’re going to see at the state
and local level, simply because the feds generally
have better resources. They have inspectors general,
and they have some kind of oversight, where the local folks
really don’t have that. At the local level, you’ll see
police looking up information about their ex-wives or
ex-husbands, or the son who’s dating their daughter. You’ll still see petty stuff. We don’t have a huge amount of
data about that, but then we don’t have a huge amount of
information about how these surveillance powers
are being used. This information is so invasive
and provides such a detailed picture to the
government that it also may chill protected First Amendment
activities. If you know that your
information is going to end up in a government database, you
may be less likely to go to that gay bookstore or to
go to that AA meeting. People will modify their
behavior if they’re fearful of the government’s gaze, whether
or not the government actually looks at the data they collect
in the first place. REIHAN SALAM: One of the reasons
why there’s been a lot of attention on civil liberties
and privacy recently is because of recent revelations
from a Booz Allen Hamilton contractor,
a gentleman called Edward Snowden. I assume that many of our
viewers will be aware of him, and that his revelations
concerning the extent of something called the PRISM
program, and also the collection of domestic
metadata. Could you elaborate a
little bit on both? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: Sure. So the Snowden releases, these
documents that he provided to journalists, have provided us
for the first time a real glimpse at the scale and depth
of the NSA’s surveillance, both domestic and foreign. The two big programs
that he revealed. One targets the contents of
communications, where at least one end is a foreign
communication. So it could be someone in
Afghanistan talking to someone else in Afghanistan. Or it could be someone
in Yemen talking to someone in Brooklyn. The government is supposed to
target the foreign end, but they can of course get the
full communication. REIHAN SALAM: Could it be
someone in Las Vegas talking to someone in Paris? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: Yes. But the government wouldn’t
be targeting the person in Las Vegas. They’d be targeting the
person in Paris. But then of course, both ends
of the phone call end up in this database. So we have this program where
the government is collecting the contents of communications
about foreign communications, even though there may be
Americans in that database. And then separately, the
government has been collecting what’s called a metadata
database. This is information about who
you talk to, not what you say, both telephone calls and
apparently emails, we just learned in the last
week or so. And they obtain this information
for every American in the country. All the phone companies have
either provided information or the government’s been able
to get it in other ways. And so NSA has this database
of every phone call made in the country. Everyone who’s called an
abortion clinic, or their psychiatrist, or an AA meeting,
or a phone sex hotline at 2:00 in the morning,
that information is sitting in an NSA database. And what they’ve told us since
is well, don’t worry. There’s only 22 NSA employees
who are allowed to search through this data. But it’s all sitting there. REIHAN SALAM: Now were you
surprised by either revelation? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: The PRISM
program as unpleasant as it is, and I think perhaps even
we at the [? ACLU ?] will argue that this violates the
Fourth Amendment, but it is outlined in the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act and later the FISA Amendments
Act, which was passed in 2008. It sort of outlined
the PRISM program. The folks at NSA went to
Congress and say, hey, look, we want to get these
communications where these are foreigners who are using
American communication services like Gmail. We should be able to easily
get these things. And Congress authorized that. We can have a debate about
whether that law should have been passed and whether that law
is in fact constitutional, but it wasn’t a surprise. REIHAN SALAM: To be clear,
when you’re talking about someone on the other end, the
foreign side, of this conversation, are they limiting
this to kind of a small number of designated
targets? Or does PRISM appear to be kind
of much broader in scope? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN:
We don’t know. We only have a few leaks
from these documents that Snowden released. We don’t have a full picture. We don’t know which countries
they’ve targeted. We know, for example, that
they’ve targeted Afghanistan, all communications coming in
and out of Afghanistan. REIHAN SALAM: Regardless, so
whether or not the Afghan in question was a civilian who
runs a tea shop, that communication is being
monitored. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: If it’s an
American talking to someone in Afghanistan, a cousin about
the football scores, that will be collected. And so that’s the
PRISM program. Although I should note, PRISM is
the sort of the web browser interface that they use to
search the database. The underlying collection
is named something else. It has some classified
code name. PRISM just sounds sexy, so
everyone’s been using it. The other program of this
metadata program, the domestic collection of information about
every American’s phone calls, that was actually
really surprising. Even though I’ve been studying
surveillance for more than six years, that blew my mind. And in fact, just a
few years ago– REIHAN SALAM: What blew
your mind about it? Was it the brazenness of it? What was so surprising
about it? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: You read
the statute and you don’t come away with the impression that
that’s what it authorizes. The PRISM program is authorized
by that statute. It may still be
unconstitutional, but it’s authorized by statute. Whereas the metadata program,
you read the statute, you have no idea that that’s what
they could even do. REIHAN SALAM: Yet the federal
government claims that they have the legal authority to. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: So a few
years ago, a few senators started warning the public. These are senators who are on
the intelligence committee, so they had to sort of give
coded warnings. And said that there was a secret
reinterpretation of the Patriot Act by the Department
of Justice. They couldn’t tell the
public what it was. But the public would be shocked
when they found out how it was being used and
the scale at which the government– REIHAN SALAM: That sounds
kind of frustrating. It sounds like a little
bit of a tease. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN:
It’s a big tease. REIHAN SALAM: –you’re supposed
to like guess what the abuse was. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: So Ron
Wyden was one of the Senators who was issuing these
warnings. And he said, look. This secret interpretation of
the law will blow your mind. It’s shocking how the
government’s twisted the law. The denials from the Director
of National Intelligence and others in the community, others
in the intelligence community, have been, we are
not collecting location information under this program,
always “under this program.” And so there are other
programs that they’ve not yet revealed. We still don’t know the true
extent of the NSA’s domestic surveillance activities. I would bet money that they’re
collecting credit card information. And one of the documents that
Snowden provided to Glen Greenwald at “The Guardian”
strongly hints at at least city-wide location data
acquisition by the government. The text in this document
suggests the NSA gets information revealing at least
which city every American cell phone is in, whether you’re in
New York, or San Francisco, that kind of thing. REIHAN SALAM: So with regard
to the domestic metadata program, so they claim there are
22 employees who have the ability to search this. And I assume that they have some
procedure of governing whether or not they’re
able to access it. They can’t just access
it willy-nilly. What has the government
disclosed about the procedures for accessing this domestic
metadata? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: We’ve
been told that they only search through this database for
terrorist-related queries, so they’re not using it to
look for other things. I mean, to be honest, the track
record of intelligence officials over the last month
when describing this program and their activities in general
has been so deceptive that I don’t take their word
at face value anymore. They have very carefully worded
all of their statements that say one thing and mean
something very different, that when they say they’re not
collecting location data, I don’t believe them. When they say that they are
using this only for terrorist-related
investigations, I don’t believe them. But what they’re saying is
they’re only looking through the domestic telephone metadata
for terrorist cases. REIHAN SALAM: So is there
anything in particular that’s led you to be distrustful
of them? Like is there any kind
of particular lie? Is there any particular illusion
that struck you? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: So the one
that’s been on TV has been the director of national
intelligence, James Copper, being asked by Senator Wyden
whether NSA is collecting information on millions of
Americans and them him saying, no, not at all. And then later acknowledging
when these Snowden documents were revealed, acknowledging
that it was the least untruthful answer that he could
give to the committee, that is, of course, the best
example, the one where you have actually someone in essence
lying to Congress. REIHAN SALAM: What I find
interesting about the landscape that you’re describing
is that it’s not the government itself. It is rather the government in
collaboration with a lot of private enterprises that we
rely on in our daily life. And I wonder if you have any
thoughts about that, the fact that there seems to be this is
kind of strange merger of authority, all of these kinds
of consumer brands that we trust in our daily lives being
the vehicles of what some see as an invasion of
their privacy. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: There are
not enough FBI agents to conduct the surveillance that
the government does if they had to do it themselves. If the FBI had to follow you
around in a vehicle, if they had to show up outside your
house and attach an alligator clip to your phone line, they
couldn’t collect the information on the
scale they do. By partnering with or, in many
cases coercing, communications companies into providing this
assistance, the government is able to achieve surveillance
in a scale that would never before have been able to
do at a very low cost. And some of the companies
begrudgingly go along with it. Others enthusiastically
participate. So the phone companies where
they have flexibility in the law generally tend to
go pro-government. And the internet companies where
there’s some flexibility in the law generally tend
to go pro-user. And the phone companies have
been providing wiretapping assistance for more
than 100 years. REIHAN SALAM: Why do
you think that is? Is it because the phone
companies have physical assets, and they’re more
concerned about regulatory authority, and they feel more
vulnerable for that reason? Or I mean, why would there be
that divergence between the telecommunications companies
and the internet companies? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: I think
it’s three things. The first is that the phone
companies have been around for more than 100 years. The first wiretaps were in
the 1890s in New York. The phone companies sort of as
institutions are comfortable with surveillance,
with this role. REIHAN SALAM: They’ve been
working with law enforcement for a very long time. They’re accustomed to it. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: So
that’s the first thing. The second thing
is regulation. The telephone industry and the
telecommunications industry is a heavily regulated industry. If you are a wireless carrier,
you’re relying on the FCC for spectrum. If you’re running undersea
cables between countries, you need permission of every country
that the cable sort of comes on shore. If you are operating satellite
networks, you need permission to build a satellite
landing station. And the government can withhold
that permission if you don’t play by the rules. REIHAN SALAM: So a company
with a reputation for obstreperousness might endanger
its viability, its ability to kind of get these
contracts, and what have you, sort of get access
to spectrum. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: I mean,
there have been instances. The best example is of a
satellite phone company. They launched like a series
of satellites. They were going to do
satellite to earth communications. They had the satellites
in space. The interest is due
every month. The banks are requiring
payment. And the FCC was holding them
back from offering service in the US to consumers because they
wouldn’t put a downlink station where the signals would
come back to earth in the United States. This is Iridium. They wanted to put their
groundlink station in Canada. And that meant the
FBI wouldn’t have easy access to it. REIHAN SALAM: Was that part
of their decision? They wanted to put it
in Canada so as to– CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN:
They just wanted to put it in Canada. The FBI and the FCC in
collaboration slowed down their approval until they
agreed to also put a station in the US. We see this for fiber optic
cables going under the ocean all the time. If you want to get permission
from the FCC, you have to play by their rules. You have to have US employees
with security clearances. You have to allow DOJ to do
visits with 30 minutes notice. You have to retain data a
certain number of months. I mean, they use the licensing
approval process as a way to extract concessions that
are favorable to US law enforcement. REIHAN SALAM: Just to be cynical
for a moment, so you said that these companies
have to hire people with security clearance. So could you posit that there’s
a culture of people who work in national security
and intelligence who to some degree are looking out for
other people who work in national security and
intelligence? Or is that too cynical of me? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN:
This isn’t cronyism. They just want someone they can
trust, when they deliver the secret FISA order to isn’t
going to go and blab it to someone else. Once you have a security
clearance, you protect that, because that is your
livelihood. If you lose your clearance,
you no longer get the clear jobs. There’s enough problems in this
space that I don’t need to find conspiracies. REIHAN SALAM: Right. And you mentioned, so those
were two things. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: Those are
two, and then the third thing is really the
business model. The internet companies because
they depend on behavioral advertising, they don’t want to
give their users any reason to distrust them. They depend on the massive data collection that they have. They depend on users trusting
them with their data. They don’t want users to have
any additional reason to not want to give them their
information. And so that sort of I
think hints at why they fight so publicly. They could fight quietly behind
the scenes, but when Google just a couple weeks ago
filed this order with the FISA court, asking to be able to
publish aggregate statistics about FISA requests, they
provided a copy of that court application to journalists
around the country. They wanted press showing
Google fights secret government surveillance. That’s good for their brand,
particularly after a month of just nonstop brand damage. REIHAN SALAM: One issue,
however, is that if you have a slew of consumer internet
companies that are competing with each other, if they are
all required to make these disclosures, then presumably
that doesn’t create a competitive disadvantage
for any one company relative to another. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: No, but it
still makes them look bad. Google, of course, is in
competition with Microsoft, and Yahoo, and Facebook. But they’re also in competition
with maybe like non-cloud-based services. Right, you can upload your
documents to Dropbox, or you can keep them on an external
hard drive. You don’t need to put your
information in the cloud. And so I think these companies
don’t want to give consumers any reason to not trust
their services. It’s also important to
understand that in the context of the sort of global concern
about privacy right now after PRISM, there are European
governments and European activists who for years have
been saying that it’s crazy to put their citizens’ data
in the US cloud computing company servers. And now all of their futures
have turned out to be true. We’re seeing French and German
IT company saying, hey, you should be putting your data into
our servers instead of sending it to the
United States. So there’s a bit competition
in that one. REIHAN SALAM: This
is fascinating. So kind of when you’re talking
about companies like Google, and Yahoo, and what have you,
they have very substantial international operations. And so what you’re suggesting
is that the federal government’s surveillance
policies could actually damage these companies. Because people in foreign
countries might believe that this really is an arm of the
American government in effect, because they’re being coerced
in these various ways. So if I’m in China, for example,
and I’m concerned about the proliferation of the
US internet companies, is that a fair characterization? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: I think
you’re generally right. China is a really interesting
example, because for years, the Chinese government has sort
of pushed their own users towards Chinese native
services. So there’s– REIHAN SALAM: For similar
reasons, I assume, because they have more leverage
over their domestic internet companies. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: It may
have been for filtering, because what they wanted is to
monitor their own citizens. But one either unintended or
intended side effect of the Chinese usage of domestic
Chinese services is that the US government isn’t unable to
readily surveille Chinese internet users by calling up
Google or calling up Yahoo. REIHAN SALAM: They become a
harder target than they would be otherwise. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: A German
citizen who uses Twitter, Gmail, and Facebook, their
communications can be readily obtained by the US government. REIHAN SALAM: They may as
well be an American. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: Well,
actually it’s worse, because they have fewer protections
under US law. But a Chinese user who’s using
a Chinese search engine, a Chinese social networking site,
the US can’t just call up one of the Chinese companies
and ask for information. They’re going to say no. This Chinese approach to heavily
promoting and in some cases blocking access to Western
companies has had the consequence of locking out
the NSA and others. That doesn’t mean the
NSA goes dark. It means they hack into people’s
computers instead of just calling up AT&T
or Google. REIHAN SALAM: This is
fascinating, because I think that generally speaking when
you see reporting in the business press about China
supports by Baidu over Google or what have you. It tends to be seen through
the lens of free trade. The Chinese kind of
are restricting. But it’s interesting. So there’s this whole other
national security dimension to it, which from the Chinese
perspective sounds deeply sensible. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: And look,
just last fall, October or November of last year, there
was a congressional hearing in which the House
Intelligence Committee was freaking out about the
prospect of Chinese electronics companies
selling networking equipment to US companies. Huawei and CTE are these
two big companies. And they’re saying, we don’t
want these companies selling equipment in the US. It’s got back doors. It will allow the Chinese
government to have secret access to our communications. You know, the Chinese can make
those same claims about Google, and Facebook,
and Microsoft. It doesn’t actually matter
whether Google server is in Mountain View, California, or
Dublin, or Zurich, or some European capital, the engineers
in California have access to the data everywhere in
the world, and every Google data center, or every Facebook
data center. And they can be compelled to
reach out and bring the data back to the US. REIHAN SALAM: This is a slightly
different question. But I wonder when you’re
looking at governments collecting data, like
this domestic metadata that you’ve described. One concern might be that
governments haven’t always done a spectacularly good
job of protecting this information, even
for themselves. Some years ago you had a minor
scandal in which the National Health Service in Britain
compromised its data. Data that I think that its users
had assumed would be private was released. The Chinese seem to have done an
excellent job of acquiring state secrets concerning
defense programs and what have you. So I mean, does government
collection of this data actually create a vulnerability
to foreign governments? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: So I think
what you’re hinting at, and you’re definitely going the
right direction, is that there’s a conflict between
cybersecurity and surveillance. Surveillance basically is the
insertion of a back door. If the government is going to
be able to wiretap phones, that means the phone company
needs to have access to your phone calls. And that’s an ability that
someone else could access by breaking into the system. There’s solid examples of
surveillance systems placed there at the government’s
request being compromised by other governments
or other actors. The two best examples, during
the Olympics in 2004 in Greece, an unknown entity,
suspected to be NSA, hacked into the network of Vodafone
Greece and secretly wiretapped the Greek prime minister and
members of his cabinet, using the surveillance features
purchased by the phone company. They had been purchased
for the Greek government’s benefit. Someone else broke in and
secretly used them. And then just a few months ago,
we learned that in 2010, when Google was hacked
by the Chinese– Google has revealed since
they were hacked– in fact, the Chinese gained
access to Google’s FISA, Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act, database letting the Chinese know which
people the US government was monitoring, which Chinese agents
the US government was monitoring. REIHAN SALAM: That’s
not funny. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: It’s very
difficult to protect a system when you have to allow
the government to access those communications at will. And there is a big debate going
on right now, both in Washington and amongst
technologists, about whether you prioritize cybersecurity
or whether you prioritize surveillance. Most policymakers, most folks in
Congress, don’t yet realize that a system that is easy to
[? surveille ?] is also a system that is easy
to break into. But given the weight of the
cybersecurity issue in Washington, given the fear of
China, folks are going to have to start to wake up to the fact
that if we want to defend our systems, we need to accept
that that’s going to law enforcement’s ability to access
those systems and those communications too. A system that protects you from
the Chinese, a system that protects your emails and
your data from Chinese hackers, also protects your
data from the FBI. The government has wanted
to get its cake and to eat it too. They’ve wanted to have easy
access for the FBI but also not wanting to have hackers
getting information. That’s a fiction. There’s no way to design
a system to do both of those things. My hope is that the changing
climate around cybersecurity will force folks to realize this
and to in fact prioritize cybersecurity. We can do more as a country
to protect our systems, to encourage the adoption of good
practices, in if encouragement doesn’t work, to punish
companies that don’t protect their customers’ information. But folks need to wake up to the
fact that that is going to have an impact on
law enforcement. REIHAN SALAM: This is a
speculative question, but if the public doesn’t get engaged
with these issues, if there isn’t any push back, technology
is advancing. Moore’s law is still at work. The ability to engage in
surveillance is presumably going to increase over time. So what do you see as some of
the worst case scenarios, if there isn’t pushback, if the
national security state keeps rumbling along and gathering
as much data as it can? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: So I think
what’s going to happen first is the contracts that the
cloud computing companies have been trying to pursue in
Europe are going to dry up. And the only way that Amazon,
Google, and these are the cloud companies, the only chance
they have of protecting their markets there in Europe,
and Asia, and these other countries, is to roll out
products that are secure out of the box, that not only deny
the US government access to that information, but all
governments’ access to that information. There are technologies that
could be rolled out today that allow you to upload your data
to the cloud and not allow even the cloud computing
company to see it. I mean, it sounds like magic. But there really are
these technologies. Companies haven’t rolled them
out up until now because there hasn’t really been a business
need, because consumers haven’t been clamoring for it. I think we’re going to see
European governments and European businesses
demanding these. Otherwise, Google, and Facebook,
and other companies are going to lose access
to those markets. And I think once consumers in
Europe get those tools, I think it’s only going to be
natural that consumers in the US are going to get them too. When the Europeans passed strict
environmental controls, American consumers get to
piggyback off of those. Because companies don’t want to
make one product for their European market, and one product
for the US market. I think we’re going to see
more and more secure technologies being rolled out. The phone companies are clearly
not interested in providing secure communications
tools. REIHAN SALAM: That sounds not
like a worst case scenario but rather as though American
consumers are going to be rescued by the Europeans, by
European governments that are concerned about the US
government surveillance. So does that mean that
we should relax? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN:
We shouldn’t relax. The worst case scenario is we
don’t get protections until someone else does it. The best case scenario is we
get them here because our political leaders realize this
is an important issue. I guess there’s a true worst
case scenario, which is that we end up living in a horrible
surveillance state and the government installs a camera
in every bedroom, or rather the government just takes
advantage of the camera that’s built into every smartphone. Those dystopian futures, while
they may be real and maybe coming, I try not to think
about them too much. I would like to sleep
well at night. Look, the sort of big trends
that are coming, I do think what happens in Europe and
Asia with regard to their concerns about their security is
going to have a big impact down the road. I think the other big huge
trend that’s coming is a coming awareness of the fact
that US law enforcement agencies are hacking
into computers of their own citizens. This cyber war isn’t just about
the US breaking into Iran’s computers and China
breaking into US Defense contractors’. Law enforcement agencies are
developing and acquiring commercial malware that they
use to break into the computers of targets when they
cannot access communication or data on those computers
through other means. So just a few months ago, we
had a judge in Texas who received an application from
the FBI to hack into the computer of a target, secretly
enable a webcam, steal emails, search engine queries, web
browsing information from the computer without any knowledge
of the target. And this didn’t involve a
request to Google or a request to Facebook. This was malware. These are hacking tools that
are being acquired or developed by law enforcement
agencies in the US and in countries around the world. I think we’re going to start
to see hacking as just yet another tool in the surveillance
arsenal of governments. I don’t think folks
aren’t quite ready to accept that yet. When we think about governments
and cybersecurity, we think of governments in this
role of wanting to make cybersecurity better. REIHAN SALAM: So how should we
as citizens and consumers engage with these companies to
whom we hand over substantial amounts of data? Because we tend to be talking
about what the federal government is up to
and what have you. But should recent revelations
lead us to rethink the information we’re willing to
hand over to our credit card providers, cellphone providers,
et cetera? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: There
isn’t really much competition between the credit
card companies. It’s not like Amex is more
privacy preserving than Visa. It’s all the phone companies
suck equally when it comes to government– REIHAN SALAM: Should we all
start using Bitcoin? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: So what I
will say is that this model of getting services for
free needs to go. We need to start paying
for email. We need to start paying
for search. We need to start paying
for social networking. And I’m not saying you need to
pay thousands of dollars a year for gold plated email. But $5 a year for social
networking or $20 a year for email would at least change the
relationship we have with these companies. Right now Google doesn’t
see you as a customer. They see you as a resource
to be mined. And I think if we want them to
make the hard choices where they keep less data, where they
encrypt the information they have, they need to have
another viable revenue stream. I was on a panel a couple years
ago with Vint Cerf who’s like the father of the web, or
father of the internet, and a Google executive. And asked him, why doesn’t
Google encrypt the user data they have? If they encrypted it, the
government couldn’t get it. And he said that it was
incompatible with their business model. If Google cannot see your data,
they cannot deliver advertising off of your data. And so we need to wean Google
and Facebook off of ads and onto money, our money. REIHAN SALAM: Are there any
startups that are moving this direction, that are trying to
convince people to pay for email and another services? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: So there
are backup companies. So Dropbox is a free
backup company that can see your data. SpiderOak is a clone
of Dropbox, except they secure your data. And they don’t have ready
access to it. There are services that you
can use that let you send encrypted text messages or
encrypted voice calls. I use a service called Silent
Circle that lets me make encrypted telephone calls. I sort of feel like a secret
agent when I’m using it. And I still don’t actually
discuss anything sensitive over the phone. REIHAN SALAM: We should have
a sensitive conversation on Silent Circle. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: We
should have a sensitive conversation in a parking
lot like the Watergate whistleblowers. The place to have sensitive
conversations is in person. It’s never over a communication
medium. Because even if the call’s
encrypted, the government can hack into your device. And in fact, we’ve seen that
in countries where the government has wanted to
target Skype calls. But I do think that consumers
need to start paying for services, otherwise we’re going
to be stuck this world where these companies cannot
put privacy first. REIHAN SALAM: Though privacy
concerns aren’t super pervasive in the American
consuming public, they’re big enough that there’s been
a tremendous amount of enthusiasm about Bitcoin, a
virtual crypto currency that has as one of its many features
the fact that it’s very, very difficult to track. And so it’s been used
for illicit purposes, among other things. I wonder, do you have any
thoughts about Bitcoin, and whether Bitcoin can be a defense
for the privacy of individuals? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: What I
think is fascinating about Bitcoin is that it is one of a
series of technologies that came out of the movement
called the cypherpunks. And this was a movement in the
mid-’90s of socially motivated activists, computer hackers. These were researchers who
wanted to live in this crypto-utopian state where the
government couldn’t read their email or monitor their financial
transactions and things like Tor, which is this
technology that lets you browse the web anonymously, came
out of that movement too. And they were sort
of dismissed as crazy people for years. And it’s taken while for their
technologies to percolate. But now we’re seeing mass
adoption of these technologies that came from that community. I think after the recent NSA
revelations, I think we’re going to see another round of
technologies coming out of a new cypherpunks movement. In the mid-’90s to work on these
technologies, you had to be paranoid. Today to believe that the
government is monitoring your phone calls isn’t the thought of
a paranoid person, when you read the newspaper, you come
away with that idea. And so I do think we’re going to
see many more technologists and researchers working on
anonymous communications technology, anonymous payments,
anonymous voting, all kinds of cool technologies
that really are created by technologists who want
to change our world. I do think there’s some beauty
in the idea that technology can circumvent poor policy. Where the laws don’t protect
privacy, technology can. Bitcoin is an example of, I
think, technologists looking for an outlet where the
law has not given them what they want. But Tor is another example. Email encryption, voice
communications encryption are other examples. If the law will not provide
strong protections for your phone conversations, well then
let technology do it until the law catches up. REIHAN SALAM: It seems as though
these technologies could be exploited. So in one great advantage that
we have in fighting terrorism is that terrorists tend to
be incredibly sloppy and unsophisticated in terms of how
they deploy technology. And I wonder what if you had a
generation of terrorists who were not foolish, who were a
lot more sophisticated, and who might be able to take
advantage of some of these technologies? CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: I mean,
if you’re a smart terrorist right now, you don’t
use a telephone. You don’t use the internet. You talk in person. You work in small groups. And you always meet in person. If you are using technologies,
there are enough secure communications technologies that
are out there that the government cannot regulate. So I think that there are always
going to be people who have skills that can outwit
the intelligence services, either because they have
fantastic tools or just because they don’t use any
modern technology. What you’re describing is this
like theoretical threat. Right now terrorists, or many
of these terrorists, are absolutely jackasses, and
they’ve been caught because of their inept techniques. But the government has pretty
bad security too. And so there have been CIA
agents in Lebanon who are located by Hezbollah
because of their poor operational security. The CIA snapshot of an Italian
clerk a decade ago, they were located because of their poor
operational security and their calling patterns. I mean, everyone is sloppy with
their communications. REIHAN SALAM: So what you’re
saying in a way is that you have utopianism of the
cypherphunks, but then you also the utopianism of the
advocates of the surveillance state, because they seem to
believe that technology can keep us safe, when in fact we
ought to be more humble about what these technologies,
what these surveillance technologies, can realistically
do. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN: About 2
and 1/2 years ago, Valerie Caproni, who was then the
general counsel for the FBI, was testifying before
Congress. And she was actually advocating
for increased surveillance powers. And she said basically that
terrorists are lazy. Criminals are lazy. And they’re going to use the
tools that are readily available to them. And in fact, it’s
entirely true. Terrorists are like everyone. We all use the tools that
are readily available. If you buy a laptop and it
doesn’t include encryption, you’re not going to
add it after. We use the web browsers with
the default settings. We use Facebook with its
default settings. That leaves us vulnerable to
government surveillance. It leaves us vulnerable
to hacking. It leaves us to foreign state
surveillance too. And I think what we’re going to
see in the next few years is a push towards greater
security. It may not be motivated by
a desire to stop the NSA. It may be motivated by a desire
to make identity theft more difficult or to stop
foreign state actors from stealing our secrets. But I do think we’re
going to see a push towards greater security. And that will benefit the
government, at least in its defensive posture. It will benefit consumers. It will benefit anyone who is
worried about the government but doesn’t know how to
protect themselves. REIHAN SALAM: Well, Chris,
this is enormously interesting. Thank you so much
for your time. I really appreciate it. CHRISTOPHER SOGHOIAN:
Thank you.

100 thoughts on “Is There Any More Privacy in the World? VICE Podcast 010

  1. being part of the younger generation i am shocked that america is so neglectful of these problems even with most of the population…

  2. I'm not sure why RonPaulSwede's comment is being downvoted. It's one of the must true statements I've seen made on youtube.
    I hoped I was not the one to burst your bubble, but if you read the history of al-Qaeda you will see that not only does the Bush family and Bin-Laden family for a long time been doing business. Also when the most prominent son of Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was porposed a deal by the CIA to help train fellow muslims fight back the Soviets in Afghanistan, he accepted.

  3. I know that we gave tons of aid to the Taliban in the Soviet-Afghanistan war. However, it's pretty ridiculous how they turned on us.

  4. Very excellent interview and discussion I thought. Touched on many aspects and many points of view. Good interviewer and guest. I like how Obama called for a national debate then all media went instead to a witchhunt of Edward Snowden.

    Kudos to VICE for having an intelligent discussion about the relevant policies, politics, and possible implications of the broad issues recently revealed.

  5. Fuck, paying for email? damn, that is going to be hard … are you sure there is no other way?

  6. best point, around 48 minutes in ?t=48m
    I would be willing to pay for "private" email and other services that I use now for free… The govn't snooping through my stuff is like the creepy old neighbor peeping Tom.

  7. I didn't see anything except for the guy laughing!! I want to see what 39 people found so cool!!! Tell me, please?? 🙁

  8. I just printed out my Osama bin Laden boarding pass lets see the TSA & NSA keep me on the No Fly List now! Just remember to never forget the NSA CIA FBI ATF FDA FED & MI5 know just when and where you got your Thunder Cats T-Shirt as well as just how many times you washed it! Big Brother is watching you and so is your washing machine! Sleep tight and don't forget the fabric softener because it's all going on your permanent record!

  9. GR8 ONE VICE. and from all the interruptions from the interviewer it seems it could easily be 4x as long; and I'd certainly watch it, there's so much to be said about these issues, and I'm sure the interviewee has a lot more interesting stuff he'd want to share.
    If there's a longer (un)edited version it'd be gr8 to upload that so we could see it all.

  10. If after watching this the only comment(s) you feel the urge to post are one(s) regarding their appearances, thank you for the reminder of how way too many people perceive life in the most shallow ways fathomable.. 🙂 ..and of course, thank you for the laugh.

  11. The guy being interviewed (Christopher Soghoian) looks like Robert Downey Jr., if Robert Downey Jr. was obese and played WoW every waking moment.

    The guy even sounds like Robert too lol.

  12. i think you were referring to your mother who is obese! this guy it probably a little over weight but nothing serious at all.

  13. Good (but unfortunate) point that people may have to start paying for the currently free web services to have them be secure. I have always been fascinated with the demands and complaints put upon free services…where the people are (often unknowingly) the product.

    Best quote: "Hahahahaha….that's not funny."

  14. Ahh the Internet! The wankers next pot of gold. Carbon credits worked out so well why do they need more? Oh control and money now that's something to charge for. Viva la global warming!!

  15. Very good piece of information… even tho I am tempted to throttle the fool who is interviewing a very serious subject… NOT FUNNY DUDE.

  16. This man is a corperatist plant, do not listen lest you wish to muck out thy registry of the Anti-vira AV in safe mode with networking. I see no malware, from government… several a day from Revsci, Google, & paid anti-virus false positives.

  17. I read your comment and just had to reply – sorry… by "paying" for a so -called "Private & secure" system will get you nowhere. All that will happen, is one of the multinationals will buy them out, take the data and pass it on ANYWAY.. Think of it…if YOU owned a company that could Prevent the Government from getting access to your customers data, they would put pressure on you themselves, or possibly Corporate threats FORCE you to sell your business to those that WILL hand it all over.

  18. The ONLY really SECURE servers to store your private data on is via a Wiki-leaks Server. NO Government can get into them not even the US!
    They cant do it legally, they cant even HACK their way in!. Hmmmnn…
    I wonder if Wiki leaks would offer such a service for a small fee.?…now THAT would be worth investing in!

  19. It MIGHT just help Julian, & Bradley & possibly Edward out it with some financial support as well as providing an " alternative" way to restore our collective Privacy. & in case someone is reading this? – I hope this DOES happen… then those doing the "watching" will be FUCKED!

  20. its called a VPN service. there are many. i dont use them normally but i do when im travelling overseas or being forced to use open WIFI services. basically an encrypted tunnel that will mask your IP address and encrypt everything from point A to B before you go to point C. like a man in the middle you can trust.

  21. Yea no shit huh give this guy a long term journalist job in north korea with no return ticket please or have him interview mike tyson either one would get rid of him fast thanks!!

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