SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Obama administration have spent the last 11 days wiping egg from their faces after a federal contractor, Edward Snowden, brought to light a series of covert data mining operations orchestrated by the U.S. government against everyday Americans, without their knowledge or consent. Because the NSA targeted telecommunications and Internet service providers, which contractually assure users that their private communications are protected under the service agreements, the outrage has been widespread. But despite the backlash over these intrusive and legally questionable violations, the NSA has made a conciliatory gesture by offering its vast repository of personal intelligence as a free cloud storage and emergency backup service, competing directly with companies such as Google and Dropbox.
On June 5, Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald published the leaked contents of a classified order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that directed Verizon to remit, on a "daily basis," the phone records of essentially every American citizen. The text in question read: "All call detail records or 'telephony metadata' created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls."
Immediately after, the Guardian and The Washington Post revealed the existence of a similar Internet monitoring program by the NSA called PRISM, which allows intelligence officials to gather data "directly from the servers" of online companies such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook.
Privacy advocates, concerned citizens groups, elected officials and members of Congress have demanded a comprehensive explanation of these secret surveillance programs, along with their cessation. Yet intelligence agencies and the president refuse to budge, telling concerned Americans that the intrusions are legal and necessary to the preservation of national security.
"Look, these programs are vital to your safety," said James Clapper, director of national intelligence. "We're trying to help; we're not monsters. And to help staunch the bleeding here, and show that these data collection efforts are benign, we're extending the American public a pretty big olive branch."
That largess, Clapper vowed, will come in the form of the country's most extensive cloud storage system -- completely free of charge.
"Next week, we plan to unveil a new digital service to taxpayers called Backup Online User Goods Storage (BOGUS)," Clapper announced. "We understand that hard drives crash, phones get wiped and that digital data can be destroyed. And a lot of people don't back up their information. They also don't want to use a service that requires payment or forces them to endure tons of ads. Well, BOGUS eliminates all those hassles, and there's nothing to upload. Chances are, we already have your records and will update them daily."
The NSA plans to use the BOGUS platform to compete with cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Skydrive, Amazon Cloud Drive, Apple's iCloud, Box and others.
Unlike the popular services on the market today, BOGUS has unlimited storage space, no fees, no advertising and requires no uploads or maintenance by users.
"Any American citizen who uses a phone of any kind or has Internet access is already enrolled in the service," Clapper said.
2013. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. See disclaimers.