Time For Internet Engineers To Fight Back Against The “Surveillance Internet”

David Talbot | MIT Technology Review | November 6, 2013

Amid torrent of revelations that the NSA finds mass surveillance easy, the IETF ponders how to harden the Internet.

Will the usually obscure Internet Engineering Task Force – that open-to-anyone group of engineers who design and keep the ‘net functioning – step up and fight back against mass surveillance? That possibility is now in the air, following a talk in Vancouver today by cryptographer Bruce Schneier (see “Bruce Schneier: NSA Spying is Making us Less Safe”). He laid partial responsibility of the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance on the IETF’s doorstep.

“Fundamentally, surveillance is a business model of the Internet. The NSA didn’t wake up and say: ‘Let’s just spy on everybody, it said: ‘Wow, corporations are spying on everybody, let’s get ourselves a copy,’ ” he said, referring to the cloud computing providers and others who warehouse data. The NSA found the Internet quite easy to tap in various places; as a result, “The NSA has turned the Internet into a giant surveillance platform” that is robust both politically, legally, and technologically, he added.