Wired: How the NSA Almost Killed the Internet

Wired.com "How the NSA Almost Killed the Internet"

Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo – die Großen des Internets stehen vor einem massiven Glaubwürdigkeitsverlust. Bislang scheint sich das nicht in schwindenden Nutzerzahlen niederzuschlagen (ich scheine mit meinen Prism Break-Aktionen I II III IV in der Minderheit zu sein), aber der Vertrauensverlust ist da.

Das „Wired„-Magazin beleuchtet den NSA-Skandal in dem Mammutartikel „How the NSA Almost Killed the Internet“. Technik-Autor Steven Levy sprach dazu – und das macht den Artikel relevant – mit einigen Top-Managern, unter anderem mit Facebookchef Mark Zuckerberg. Er sprach aber auch mit US-Regierungsverantwortlichen und dem NSA-Chef Keith Alexander. Und er fand Parallelen zwischen den großen Internetunternehmen und der Geheimdienstbehörde.

Ja, nach Lektüre des (wirklich langen) Artikels kann ich alle Seiten ein bisschen besser verstehen – und verstehen, warum sie sich unverstanden fühlen.
Dennoch stehe ich nun noch überzeugter als bisher auf der Seite von Facebook, Microsoft & Co. Deren Verzweiflung darüber, dass sie vom US-Staat gezwungen werden, Sachen zu tun, die gegen ihre Firmenpolitik verstoßen, oder noch schlimmer: dass der Staat deren Server anzapft und sämtliche Verschlüsselungen umgeht, ist enorm. Sie ist wohl noch größer als meine Verzweiflung darüber, dass mein Email-Adressbuch als damaliger Gmailnutzer möglicherweise auch von der NSA gesichtet wurde. Ich kann nun immerhin Alternativen nutzen, während die Internetgiganten, die die Onlinegesellschaft mit ihren (natürlich kommerziell nutzbaren, aber trotzdem) Visionen bereichern, einfach nur neue und mehr Verschlüsselungen einsetzen können – wohl wissend, dass die NSA diese auch knacken kann.

Ich führe hier die Passagen des Artikels an, die mich am meisten beindruckt haben.
Zum ganzen Artikel geht’s hier:

“The fact is, the government can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” says Face­book’s global communications head, Michael Buckley. “We can put out any statement or statistics, but in the wake of what feels like weekly disclosures of other government activity, the question is, will anyone believe us?”
[…] The Snowden leaks called into question the Internet’s role as a symbol of free speech and empowerment. If the net were seen as a means of widespread surveillance, the resulting paranoia might affect the way people used it. Nations outraged at US intelligence-gathering practices used the disclosures to justify a push to require data generated in their countries to remain there, where it could not easily be hoovered by American spies. Implementing such a scheme could balkanize the web, destroying its open essence and dramatically raising the cost of doing business.
[…] Yahoo waged a secret battle in the FISA court to resist turning over user data. But it was for naught. An August 22, 2008, order determined that the government’s interest in national security, along with safeguards in the program, outweighed privacy concerns in a manner consistent with the law. A subsequent appeal went nowhere.
[…] There appear to be smaller ways to resist, though. “The government can request the information, but they can’t compel how the information is given,” says Twitter’s general counsel, Vijaya Gadde. “You can make it easy or you can make it hard.” Google also says it pushes back when a request is “overly broad.” Pocket­book issues present a subtler means of resistance. FISA requires the government to reimburse companies for the cost of retrieving information. Google says it doesn’t bother to charge the govern­ment. But one company says it uses that clause, hoping to limit the extent of the requests. “At first, we thought we shouldn’t charge for it,” says an executive of that company. “Then we realized, it’s good—it forces them to stop and think.”
In the end, though, there is a greater financial motive to cooperate. “Large com­panies do a lot of business with the government,” one top technology executive points out. “It’s hard to look at the government officers and say, “‘We’re fighting you on this—oh, and can I have that $400 million contract?’”
[…] Still, news of the government raid on data-center traffic hit the industry with the visceral shock of having one’s home robbed. The betrayal was most strikingly illustrated in a PowerPoint slide that showed how the NSA had bypassed Google’s encryption, inserting a probe as data moved from its servers across the open Internet. Between two big clouds—one representing the public Internet, the other labeled “Google Cloud”—there was a little hand-drawn smiley face, a blithe emoji gotcha never meant to be seen by its victim. Google’s Drummond wrote an indig­nant statement to the Post, describing the company as “outraged.” Yahoo’s direc­tor of security, Ramses Martinez, endorses the sentiment. “It was news to us,” he says of Muscular. “We put a lot of work into securing our data.”
[…] “At first we were in an arms race with sophisticated criminals,” says Eric Grosse, Google’s head of security. “Then we found ourselves in an arms race with certain nation-state actors [with a reputation for cyberattacks]. And now we’re in an arms race with the best nation-state actors.” Primarily, the US government.
[…] „Fuck these guys. I’ve spent the last ten years of my life trying to keep Google’s users safe and secure from the many diverse threats Google faces. I’ve seen armies of machines DOS-ing Google. I’ve seen worms DOS’ing Google to find vulnerabilities in other people’s software. I’ve seen criminal gangs figure out malware. I’ve seen spyware masquerading as toolbars so thick it breaks computers because it interferes with the other spyware. I’ve even seen oppressive govern­ments use state-sponsored hacking to target dissidents … But after spending all that time helping in my tiny way to protect Google—one of the greatest things to arise from the internet—seeing this, well, it’s just a little like coming home from War with Sauron, destroying the One Ring, only to discover the NSA is on the front porch of the Shire chopping down the Party Tree and outsourcing all the hobbit farmers with half-orcs and whips.“
[…] Though the major companies have not yet reported losing large amounts of business, they do acknowledge that their overseas customers are worried. Forrester Research estimates that as much as $180 billion could be lost due in large part to overseas companies choosing not to patronize the American-based cloud.
[…] “The Internet was built without reference to international borders, and that has allowed for huge innovation,” Yahoo’s Mawakana says. “But how does it function when countries try to pin the cloud to the ground? What if Indonesia pins, Brussels pins, and Brazil pins? Will companies invest equally across the world?”
[…] “This isn’t the companies’ fault. They were compelled to do it. As a nation, we have a responsibility to stand up for the companies, both domestically and internation­ally. That is our nation’s best interest. We don’t want our companies to lose their economic capability and advantage. It’s for the future of our country.”
Those words could have come from a policy spokesperson for Google, Facebook, Microsoft, or Yahoo. Or one of the legislators criticizing the NSA’s tactics. Or even a civil liberties group opposing the NSA. But the source is US Army general Keith Alexander, director of the NSA. Still, even as he acknowledges that tech companies have been forced into a tough position, he insists that his programs are legal, necessary, and respectful of privacy.
[…] “Gmail is the most popular terrorist mail service in the world,” one official says. “Second place is Yahoo. It’s not because Google and Yahoo are evil, it’s because they offer a great service.”
[…] They understand that journalism conferences routinely host sessions on protecting information from government snoops, as if we were living in some Soviet society. And they are aware that multiple security specialists in the nation’s top tech corporations now consider the US government their prime adversary.
But they do not see any of those points as a reason to stop gathering data. They chalk all of that negativity up to monumental misunderstandings triggered by a lone leaker and a hostile press.
[…] A lot of people became inured to worries about Little Brother—private companies—knowing what we bought, where we were, what we were saying, and what we were searching for. Now it turns out that Big Brother can access that data too. It could not have been otherwise. The wealth of data we share on our computers, phones, and tablets is irresistible to a government determined to prevent the next disaster, even if the effort stretches laws beyond the comprehension of those who voted for them. And even if it turns the US into the number one adversary of American tech companies and their privacy-seeking customers.