Between the reports this week about that the U.S. National Security Agency has been mining personal user data from some of the world’s biggest Internet players through a project called ‘PRISM’, to the government’s defense of wide scale data collection for security reasons, and finally the outright denials from the web companies named in the leaked documents that they had ever even heard of PRISM let alone cooperated with it, there’s a lot of information out there — and it’s hard to know what’s right and what’s wrong.
So we were pleased today to have the chance to speak with Eugene H. Spafford, aka “Spaf,” a computer science professor at Purdue University and a noted expert in computer security and ethics whose C.V. includes time serving on the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee, to help elucidate what’s going on here — and perhaps point us in the direction of the truth here.
It was a wide-ranging conversation, and Spaf is a very thoughtful and knowledgeable source on this, so I’d encourage you to watch the whole thing. But I wanted to pull out one bit of what Dr. Spafford said regarding the timing of this whole situation, starting at about minute 10:18:
“I think there are several things here that are interesting about this. The first is, in the last three days we’ve seen three highly classified bits of information that were at the center of stories broken by the Guardian in England, all involving highly classified U.S. documents. That indicates that there is potentially some very significant leak of someone who is violating their oath, who is disclosing information that is protected by law, and is undoubtedly going to be raising the ire of law enforcement, intelligence, government agents throughout the U.S. because they don’t now what else may be leaked. This is a major problem, it is likely to provoke a significant backlash. It raises some questions about the veracity of the information.
I find the timing interesting that all of this is being released on the days that the president is meeting with the Chinese premier and the major topic of discussion was supposed to be the us complaining about surveillance and cyber attacks by the Chinese.
One of the things in security is that there are no coincidences. So one can’t help but wonder if there isn’t some political motive, and who’s really behind this, if in fact there is a real story.”
There’s so much more where that came from, and you can see it all in the video embedded above.