Due to the Snowden revelations, we now know that anything stored in the cloud stands a pretty good chance of being duplicated on an NSA server. This includes email, SkyDrive / Google Documents files, and all of your phone texts and chat transcripts. They copy everything since this makes it easier for them to search later, across all services a target might employ. If the NSA needs to tap into Google’s fiber lines to monitor one high-value target who uses Gmail, they may as well collect everything else that travels through that pipe, too, since they may need to run queries on an additional target.

Very soon, the White House is going to announce some compromises designed to appease the public outcry over this invasion of privacy. Here is what they need to effectively show U.S. citizens:

  1. The NSA does an important job fighting terrorism.
  2. These tools are only used on foreigners.
  3. You can trust the government to curb abuses, not that there have been any.
  4. All we ask of you is your continued (involuntary and passive) participation in this secret program.

In addition, the White House needs to use this moment to respond to the Snowden revelations in general, including future ones—only a small fraction of the leaked documents have been published, and more damaging headlines are on their way.

If the administration doesn’t communicate effectively in the coming weeks, the public’s mistrust in the NSA will encroach on the rest of the federal government.

Posted Thu 02 January 2014