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The NSA’s Philosopher

Aug 12

An anonymous reader writes: In 2012, the NSA decided it needed an in-house ethicist to write about the philosophy of surveillance. They searched within the organization for a candidate, finally giving the job to an analyst who had abandoned a writing career that hadn’t worked out. The Intercept got its hands on some of his work: “The columns answer a sociological curiosity: How does working at an intelligence agency turn a privacy hawk into a prophet of eavesdropping?” At one point, the analyst wrote, “We probably all have something we know a lot about that is being handled at a higher level in a manner we’re not entirely happy about. This can cause great cognitive dissonance for us, because we may feel our work is being used to help the government follow a policy we feel is bad.” The article analyzes this man in detail, including his life history and his personal blog — it’s a strange coupling of invasiveness and anonymization, for they take steps to avoid revealing his identity. The article’s author correctly notes (while the NSA does not) that surveilling somebody doesn’t mean you really know them.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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