Privacy / Security

Big data is watching you

Three years ago the satirical news service The Onion announced that the CIA was shutting down many of its surveillance operations due to the runaway success of the state-controlled social media service, Facebook. After years of running costly spying operations, the website joked that the CIA was surprised and delighted at how much detailed information Facebook users were willing to hand over voluntarily. Now, thanks to Edward Snowden’s revelations, we know that the US agency tapping Facebook’s magic mountain of user data is not the CIA but the NSA.

In the latest revelation on Wednesday, we learned how the NSA’s “Quantumhand” programme attempted to redirect targets to a fake Facebook page, where the agency could plant surveillance software on target computers. The NSA denies acting illegally and Facebook says it has found no evidence of such activity on its network. But founder Mark Zuckerberg called US president Barack Obama on Thursday to complain. On his Facebook page, he wrote that “the US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat”.

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