Who rattled Zuckerberg’s cage? Surely not the US government?

Guy Daniels
By Guy Daniels

Mar 14, 2014

Mark Zuckerberg is not a happy man. Perhaps he’s still a bit cranky that his MWC keynote address, where he called for mobile operators to help him realise his dream of connecting the world via Internet.org – by carrying Facebook and other OTT services for free – didn’t go down too well with the Establishment…

Or, more likely, he’s a bit pissed off at allegations that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been disguising itself as a fake Facebook server in order to infect targeted computers with spyware.

Whatever the reason, the young billionaire decided to post his gripes on Facebook (well, if you own the company, why not?).

“I've called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future,” he wrote in his post. “Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.”

Unfortunately, he wasn’t very clear about what specific damage the US government is causing. He says “trust in the internet is more important today than ever” and that “to keep the internet strong, we need to keep it secure”.

He argues that Facebook spends a lot of energy making its services “and the whole internet”, no less, safer and more secure. It encrypts communications, it uses secure protocols for traffic, and it encourages people to use multiple factors for authentication.

“This is why I've been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behaviour of the US government,” he added. “When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government. The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they're doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.”

The reports he alludes to come from the seemingly never-ending supply of damaging revelations from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Earlier this week, reports emerged on The Intercept website describing how the NSA disguised itself as a fake Facebook server in order to infect targeted computers with malware. Through this hack, the NSA was reportedly able to “siphon out data from foreign Internet and phone networks.”

On Thursday, the NSA issued a statement denying the allegations, saying: “Recent media reports that allege NSA has infected millions of computers around the world with malware, and that NSA is impersonating US social media or other websites, are inaccurate. Reports of indiscriminate computer exploitation operations are simply false.”

Is this the start of a major stand-off between Facebook and the NSA? On the face of it, completely different entities. But dig deeper, and you’ll find that both have become world experts in Big Data and global data mining.

There’s definitely something strange in the neighbourhood, but who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters? The President? Doesn’t really mater though, as chances are someone else is already listening in, and already knows more about you than do your family and closest friends.

Welcome to the open society.

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