Fighting Back

Break Up the NSA!

by Noah Shachtman, Wired

When Google called in the National Security Agency to help secure its networks, it made a lot of us queasy. Sure, the NSA has some of the world’s most sophisticated cyber defenders. But the agency’s intelligence arm has a long and ugly history of mass surveillance on American citizens. So when Google teams up with the Puzzle Palace, everyone watching sees it as a package deal. The company wants geeks; the rest of us worry about the spies rummaging through our Gmail.

Fortunately, there’s a relatively straightforward solution: We should break up the NSA.

As I explain in this month’s Wired magazine, the NSA really is two agencies under one roof. There’s the signals-intelligence directorate, the Big Brothers who, it is said, can tap into any electronic communication. And there’s the information-assurance directorate, the cybersecurity nerds who make sure our government’s computers and telecommunications systems are hacker- and eavesdropper-free. In other words, there’s a locked-down spy division and a relatively open geek division. The problem is, their goals are often in opposition. One team wants to exploit software holes; the other wants to repair them. It doesn’t make sense to have both of them on the same playing field.

We need a top-flight cyber security agency that can give companies like Google a hand. But we’ve got to be able to trust that agency, too. That won’t happen until we separate the sysadmins from the spooks. Time to split the NSA.

Read the rest at this link.

Hat Tip: Gadget42