In his new book, Dark Mirror, the investigative journalist Barton Gellman reveals the frightening extent of the electronic surveillance program of the NSA, much more intrusive than you could imagine.
Gellman was revealed in the Washington Post, in 2013, the existence of a program of telephone surveillance of the United States of the National Security Agency, as its mandate prohibited. His source was Edward Snowden, an employee disappointed and dissatisfied with the agency, which had provided thousands of secret documents. In his book, Gellman shows how the monitoring program “Mainway”, has enabled the NSA to store billions of telephone recording PER DAY for years, to integrate a huge database. Thanks to the concept of “cross-contact”, this database was merged with the digital data that the NSA collects from everything that individuals put online: email, social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc). So all the digital information available about a person, often generated by itself or its loved ones.
From these thousands of billions of information, “Mainway”, has the ability to generate a schema specific, constantly updated, 24/24, 7/7, of the personal and professional life of an individual, including his psychological profile, to build a social portrait including all sorts of secrets to social, medical, political, or professional.
Though the NSA insists on the fact that the database is only used to investigate the terrorists, Gellman is concerned about the ease with which it could be used for other purposes. The problem, with governments, as he writes, is that: “The rules can be circumvented or re-enacted, with or without notice, with or without malicious intent, a few degrees at a time or several.”
According to Gellman, “Mainway” was the implementation of the programme “Stellarwind” designated CIS, “information exceptionally controlled”, classification extreme of State secrets in american. Only 22 senior officials are authorized to order the creation of a chain of contacts “Mainway” and have access to it.
The lawyer Paul Ohm, cited by Gellman, said: “Almost anyone in the developed world can be linked to at least one fact in a computer database that an adversary could use for blackmail, discrimination, harassment, the theft of money or identity.” Revelations found on-line about “past conduct, health, or shame of the family”, for example, could cost a person his marriage, his career, his legal residence, or physical security.
In October 1994, I pulled out a scoop in the News of the SRC, on the communications security establishment (CSE), the electronic surveillance of the canadian government. I revealed that the body ultra-secret was consisting of thousands of records on canadian citizens, including several politicians in quebec. I had received information according to which a database of the CSE, DND/P-PU-040, contained personal information on René Lévesque, Jacques Parizeau and Louise Beaudoin.
Lucien Bouchard, then leader of the Bloc québécois and of the official opposition in the Commons, had called for a commission of inquiry into the activities of CSE. The Chrétien government had managed to create a position of commissioner of the CSE to ensure that the CSE did not operate beyond its mandate. At the time, the lack of means sufficient it resources, the CST had no doubt not the possibility of conducting operations in massive interception of communications canadian domestic.
Today, with the “Mainway”, this is no longer the case. Besides, its upgrades that integrate the artificial intelligence will increase its power.
From time to time, we also learn that CSE spies on “inadvertently” to canadian citizens or violates the laws on the protection of privacy. Closely linked to the NOS within the network of electronic surveillance in the global “Five Eyes”, so it is unlikely that the CST does not have the ability to go deeper into the lives of ALL Canadians with a program of type “Mainway” if ever “national security” demanded it.