Keen On… The NSA: Can We Trust Silicon Valley With Our Secrets?

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Best-selling author James Bamford is one of the world’s leading authorities on the NSA. At Disrupt SF 2013, he spoke on a great panel about online security, and afterwards I had the good fortune to interview him. So can we trust Silicon Valley with our secrets, I asked Bamford. Given the NSA’s seemingly infinite appetite to watch and read everything we do online, can we trust the big technology companies to stand up to the snoops?

His response wasn’t particularly reassuring. Once we can develop quantum cryptology, he said, then perhaps our secrets will be safe online. But that technology lies in the future, and so Bamford feels that the best way to control the NSA is through politics rather than technology. “The political will” to manage the NSA is now greater than it’s been in the last 30 years, he said. So, for Bamford at least, the real battles over online privacy will be fought in Washington, D.C., rather than in Silicon Valley.

And what about Edward Snowden, I asked Bamford. Traitor or hero?