Back in June 2013, the Guardian (UK) published information about the US National Security Agency’s global electronic surveillance. Many publishers covered the 10th anniversary of that event with publications summing up certain results of the event that followed it which prompted us to speculate on some kind of ‘democratic espionage’.
The information disclosed by former NSA employee Edward Snowden at first looked more like fiction than the actual reality. Many were then stunned at the scope of the U.S. intelligence services’ operations. Even many experts at that time could not imagine that the United States not only were able to gain access to a private call or email in a certain country but was purposefully collecting and accumulating data from all resources and communication channels available to them. They admitted that it was technically possible but few believed that such kind of surveillance could be implemented. The Americans needed to deploy a data collection and processing system across the globe, force private companies both at home and abroad to install spy hardware and software and create a data center with a colossal capacity. U.S. intelligence agencies managed to implement all that.
The largest IT companies such as Microsoft, Skype, Hotmail, Facebook, Apple, Google, YouTube, Yahoo, PalTalk, AOL, became partners of U.S. intelligence services and their capabilities are used to steal data. A huge data center was created in Utah to store intercepted information for the benefit of the U.S. intelligence community capable of processing all types of communications, including emails, mobile phone calls, Internet searches and all types of personal data: parking receipts, itineraries, receipts for things purchased using digital technologies.
By making PRISM program documents available to journalists, Snowden not only detonated an information bomb, once again showing the world the aggressive essence of the U.S. policy but also initiated a kind of a sovereignty and independence test for foreign rulers.
Many foreign politicians were surprised to find that Washington not only did not consider them as allies or partners but, on the contrary, treated them only as vassals who needed thorough watch.
Spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, German officials and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff caused the greatest outcry. A search of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane in violation of diplomatic immunity on the suspicion of Snowden being on board was an act of utmost disgrace on the part of the Americans. It has come to light over the past decade that the United States has spied on South Korea, Canada and even Israel. And interestingly, all of them ate the dust and allowed the situation to fade away quietly.
Washington was bound to realize that the deployment of a global electronic surveillance system would not go unnoticed and the information would leak to the press sooner or later. It is obvious that the American elite was so confident in its exclusivity and ability to clamp down on not only its own population but also any country of the world that it completely neglected reputational risks.
Despite the constant scandals caused by the revelation of new facts of American cyber espionage around the world, Washington does not even think about curtailing its electronic surveillance programs abroad or ceasing cooperation with IT behemoths. In this respect, it is a sincere surprise to see countries consciously preferring reckless cooperation with U.S. companies, turning, in fact, into digital colonies of the United States.