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Privacy rights don’t exist in US anymore

Published time: August 23, 2013 11:48

Reuters/Bobby Yip

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NSA has been collecting every e-mail since at least 1997, so it doesn’t have anything to do with security, Chris Kitze, founder of Unsene, an encrypted internet server, told RT, adding that now they are crossing a line and violating the constitution.

RT: President Obama says that some privacy can be breached in order to provide security. Where's the situation with observing privacy rights heading to in the US, in your opinion?

Chris Kitze: I don’t think they exist anymore in the US. That is what I hear from our customers.  This has been going on for a long time and a company that I had that went public in 1998, in 1997 we went on a tour of the colocation facility. That is the place we hold all the servers. The person who was giving the tour said ‘that is the NSA room’. I asked ‘what do they do in here?’ and he said ‘they collect every e-mail and website visit that comes through here’.

That has been going on since 1997 so it doesn’t really have anything to do with security. They are trying to make it pretend like it does, but they have just been doing this forever. May be there are some security reasons. I don’t know the whole picture, I don’t have access to that information and I am sure there are good people in those agencies, who think they are doing something that is right, but they are crossing a line now and what they are doing is they are violating the constitution. A lot of people I know who are lawyers and business people are up in arms about this privately. They haven’t come out and said ‘we are going to something strong about this’ but they are not happy with it. 

AFP Photo/DPA/Peter Stefen

Big companies like Google had no choice 

RT: It was revealed that major internet giants like Google and Apple provided the NSA with access to users' data. But what about the small alternative companies like yours?

CK: We haven’t been contacted by anyone and I assume for most small companies it doesn’t really matter because if you want to gather information you can put your switches in the central colocation and central offices that are run by the giant ISPs like At&T, people like that. They can gather up all the e-mails that go through the central service. The largest services have actually integrated some of their things, so that they have instant access in real time to the data.
The big companies, to be fair with them, they didn’t have a choice in that matter. They basically were ‘it’s either our way or the highway’ and that is it. They had to hand it over to the NSA and the spies.

Then effectively what happens, the spies turned the companies like Apple and Google into spies themselves.
If you think about it, spying is actually one of the lower level jobs there is in the world. Some think that it is lower than prostitution or being a butcher who kills animals, because spies basically lie for a living and it is what they’ve done. I think it is actually really a shame; it is actually not a good thing.

RT: You're saying that the US is turning into an electronic prison. Could you explain your point?

CK: I don’t know what the government wants to do. There are good people in the government, too. I don’t want to say a bad thing about the government. It is a small part of the government that is doing this, so let’s be clear about it. The question is how far will they go? They all have assassination squads who do their work and kill people for spying. That is as far I have heard people go. I mean, what happened to Andrew Breitbart?   Was he murdered? I don’t know. The person who was the coroner ended up dying of poisoning a few months later, when he was going to turn in his report.  Hard to know. 

AFP Photo/John Macdougall

NSA spying makes people move their assets off-shore

RT: We've heard the story of Lavabit which was used by Edward Snowden. The website's owner was approached by the government officials and he closed it down. Are you expecting anything like this to happen to you?

Ladar Levison, the owner of the now-shuttered encrypted email service Lavabit told RT that he plans to fight for a strong precedent via the court system so that US internet providers can refuse to hand over customers’ personal info and communications.

Ladar Levison abruptly shut down his company, Lavabit LLC, on August 8 to avoid being forced to hand over customers’ personal information and communications.   

CK: The person form Lavabit, who shut down the service, he is a good person and he is protecting her customers. My understanding is that he received a letter that said ‘hand over everything’, and he just refused. It is one thing to protect from criminals, people who are breaking the law, who are doing child pornography or committing acts of violence or property theft, or destruction. That is one thing. When you get the fishing net that comes out and looking for everybody, you are going to catch every fish in the ocean, that is when people have to start asking some questions.  

If everyone is watching what you do and you don’t know where this information is going there is no recourse in terms of what happens with the information, there is no recourse in terms of how you can remedy things. For example, the no fly list. You don’t know if you are on it until you go to the airport and they say you can’t fly. There is no way to get yourself off of it and you don’t know what got you on it in the first place. That is just for flying, now we start talking about electronic surveillance. It is becoming a serious problem for a lot of people. A lot of people are starting to realize that the terrorists are not the people they are after; it’s just ordinary people paying taxes and doing their jobs.

RT: What's your attitude to Edward Snowden's leaks about the NSA's global surveillance activities?

CK: I do think that Edward Snowden is a legitimate whistleblower. I don’t think that what he leaked to anyone who was paying attention for the last five years was really earthshaking or new. Most people understood that there is data collection going on in colocation facilities through the largest companies. The fact that Apple joined, that happened after Steve Jobs died. I am sure Steve said “no, we are not going to do it,” but the new regime there has changed their mind, apparently. At the rate things are going, they are going to be spying on your PlayStation 2, the video camera inside your TV set. They can turn all that stuff on remotely. Your personal property doesn’t matter anymore. 

RT: We know you are considering moving your business out of the country.  Why is that?

CK: Our customers are asking for it. They are demanding us to move out of the country, they don’t trust things in the US anymore.

RT: What if an encrypted email service is used by criminals or terrorists? Isn't the government justified in its efforts to protect national security?

CK: I think the whole NSA spying had a seriously negative impact on the trust and faith people have in the political legal system in the United States at this point. I think that people are looking to moving themselves, their assets off shore.

Comments (13)

 

Cheyanne Cody 24.08.2013 16:46

Looks like George Orwell's "1984" is our government's operating manual. Who would have thought?

 

mijj 24.08.2013 13:53

> 'Privacy rights don’t exist in US anymore'

I beg to differ. You try getting the name, address tel number of the *person* who's demanding your info. You'll find they have the right to privacy, even though you don't.

Ie. there is a right to privacy for the powerful and the servants acting on their behalf.

 

SABU 24.08.2013 00:53

why would the u.s military industrial complex invent the internet and then give you privacy. it makes no sense. if they spend that much money on a project, they will spy, and spread propaganda, otherwise they wouldnt have invented it at all. theres no way they will invent something just for your entertainment.

View all comments (13)
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