NSA scandal: agents snoop on their exes, make mistakes (and we called it)


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nsa scandalThe latest NSA scandal news is that government analysts used surveillance tools to spy on their exes, violated privacy rules, and made literally thousands of data-related mistakes each year.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone. People aren’t perfect, and when you tempt them with enormous amounts of personal data, some of them will dip into it. In fact, we already made this point more than a month ago in our blog post, “Can you trust the little people running big surveillance?

Quite simply, no. You can’t trust them because you don’t even know what they’re doing. There’s a fundamental disconnect there, when an agency we’re supposed to trust with our well-being and civil rights and safety doesn’t want us to know they exist, and then the only news coming out about them is negative.

And even if the NSA’s high-level goals are worthy, it doesn’t solve the problem we brought up a month ago: what about the millions of employees faced with the temptation of these treasure troves of data? Whether for mischief or profit, unauthorized access to big data is an alluring temptation. The problem isn’t just big companies and government agencies with top-level access to information; it’s their millions of employees with lower level access to it, too.

In the NSA love interest violations, code-named LOVEINT, NSA officers harnessed the power of their surveillance systems to spy on spouses, partners, or exes. Some were fired, but others only received an “administrative action,” whatever that means.

The more data that everyone collects, the greater potential for abuses like these. All it takes is one bad actor inside an organization.

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