SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- In 2013, The Washington Post obtained documents indicating that the National Security Agency (NSA) gathers nearly five billion records each day that track the locations of users around the world. The data was provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. On December 21, a massive breach of Yahoo’s servers revealed more clandestine scanning of user emails at the behest of U.S. intelligence agencies, who anticipate loosening recently enforced privacy protections in a Trump administration. But the NSA wants Americans to know that data-mining expeditions serve a greater, more benevolent goal. So as a special holiday treat, new National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said the NSA will send Santa Claus the Christmas lists of every child whose records have been intercepted by government systems.
They See You When You’re Sleeping, They Know When You’re AwakeAccording to Reuters, Yahoo’s secret scanning of customer emails is part of a “growing push by officials to loosen constitutional protections Americans have against arbitrary governmental searches, according to legal documents and people briefed on closed court hearings.”
The order on Yahoo from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) last year resulted from the government's drive to change decades of interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment right of people to be secure against “unreasonable searches and seizures,” intelligence officials and others familiar with the strategy told Reuters.
Flynn’s Christmas project is not the first attempt the NSA has made to appease an increasingly outraged public. In June 2013, amid backlash over its intrusive and legally questionable violations, the NSA 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. The offering, as then Director of National Intelligence James Clapper explained, would be available to all Internet subscribers as the Backup Online User Goods Storage (BOGUS) service.
“We’re trying to help; we’re not monsters, we’re not Scrooges,” Flynn explained to reporters in Austria, where he was attending a goodwill meeting with that country’s radical party of Nazi sympathizers. “And to staunch the bleeding here, and show that these data collection efforts are benign, we’re extending the American public a pretty big olive branch through our holiday program.”
But as privacy advocates renewed their pleas for Congress to enact legislation to restrict NSA data-gathering programs, Flynn emphasized the boons produced by those efforts.
“Soon, we’ll be able to offer our own social network, rivaling Facebook and Twitter,” Flynn said. “And users will never have to log on and update their statuses or post new pictures again -- our systems already have that information and can automate the entire process. This is tremendous news. For today, though, we’re incredibly pleased to present our special Christmas service… for the children. We must always think of the children.”
Christmas List Automated Uploaded Service (CLAUS)The electronic wishlist delivery program, which transmits children’s gift requests to North Pole servers, is being branded by Flynn as the Christmas List Automated Uploaded Service (CLAUS). And the best part? “You’re already using it. It’s already happening,” he boasted in a jubilant tone rarely heard unless he’s threatening people of the Muslim faith. “Surprise, kids! Santa has your list. And he’s had it since fall.”
Flynn described CLAUS as an automated process that promotes immediacy, assured delivery and overcomes challenges with illegible letters, improper postage or incorrect addressing that “often occur when silly liberal children are allowed to correspond with the North Pole directly.”
Still, criticism persists. Flynn believes that competitors such as Facebook, Google, AT&T and even the U.S. Postal Service are jealous. He also dismissed concerns over privacy and security while addressing the questions of reporters in attendance:
First off, it’s clear that lesser organizations are upset about our solution, which is far superior and considerably less cost prohibitive. Why pay outrageous fees for stamps, parcel delivery services, or even the taxes squandered to maintain archaic revenue-suckers like the USPS?
Second, CLAUS is not compromising the protections accorded to private citizens. They were already planning on sending their requests to Santa through unsecured, easily intercepted letters that we’re certain terrorists would have gotten their grubby, sand-caked, brown hands on and laced with ricin or anthrax.
And third, if nobody gives two craps about NORAD tracking Santa -- a joint military defense and stealth surveillance task force capable of shooting down invading threats to our airspace, with the spirit-crushing potential to mistake a flying sleigh for enemy aircraft -- why the hell is everyone up-in-arms over the NSA expediting the delivery of Christmas lists to Santa from our nation’s precious youth? Bah humbug, indeed.
(c) 2016. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. All articles are works of satire. See disclaimers.