In part of a series published by the internal newsletter SIDToday, an NSA employee in Ankara shares his perspective on Turkish traffic, food, and culture: see the Intercept article 328 NSA Documents Reveal “Vast Network” of Iranian Agents, Details of a Key Intelligence Coup, and a Fervor for Voice-Matching Technology, 15 August 2015.
This 2005 post from the NSA’s internal newsletter SIDToday describes the agency’s ongoing surveillance of a, “outwardly legitimate” European activist group, the Anti-Imperialist Camp: see the Intercept article NSA Used Porn to “Break Down Detainees” in Iraq — and Other Revelations From 297 Snowden Documents, 1 March 2018.
This 13 September 2010 presentation from the NSA’s OTP VPN Exploitation Team explains the work of the division: see the Der Spiegel story Prying Eyes: Inside the NSA’s War on Internet Security, 28 December 2014.
This NSA presentation from 2011 gives an overview of anonymising technologies, including Tor: see the Der Spiegel story Prying Eyes: Inside the NSA’s War on Internet Security, 28 December 2014.
This undated presentation from NSA’s Network Analysis Center describes agency techniques for overcoming Virtual Private Networks (VPNs): see the Der Spiegel story Prying Eyes: Inside the NSA’s War on Internet Security, 28 December 2014.
Read to the Internet Ungovernance Forum in Istanbul, 5 September 2014
Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today. I apologize for not being able to speak to you by video conference. Last-minute technical problems have made that method of communication impossible.
I’d like to take this opportunity, before an audience of activists, academics and journalists in Istanbul to discuss the relationship between censorship and surveillance, which are in many ways two sides of the same coin. The Turkish people are subject to both of these technically assisted forms of state manipulation, although the former has received far more attention than the latter.
When governments censor their citizens’ access the Internet, they not only trample on basic human rights, but they also make it much easier for foreign governments to gain access to those domestic communications. For censorship equipment to be able to function, domestic traffic must flow through it. This equipment is a natural target for nation-state intelligence agencies. If they can hack into and compromise the censorship equipment, they get access to all of the communications that flow through it. It only takes one security flaw or an intentionally placed backdoor in a censorship device to transform it from a tool of domestic oppression to a trojan horse for foreign government surveillance.
In the past few years, several governments have started to openly question their reliance on foreign-made communications technology, whether 4G telephone network equipment made by Huawei, or Internet switches made by Cisco. The national security arguments against foreign-made networking technology apply equally to foreign-made censorship technology. When governments install censorship equipment at the core of their national communications networks, how can they be sure that they’re not also inviting in a foreign intelligence service?
In an ideal world, governments would respect the free speech rights of their citizens enough to not filter their Internet communications. Sadly, we do not yet live in that world. Perhaps in time, governments will realize that the serious cybersecurity and foreign-surveillance threats posed by censorship equipment outweigh whatever supposed benefits of national stability and control that they bring.
To all of those present who struggled in Gezi Park, to those who struggle at the Ungovernance Forum today, thank you for your support and your solidarity. You have my support and solidarity.
This GCHQ document from 2009 sets out surveillance priorities from a meeting of the G20’s Finance Ministers, which include the personal surveillance of the then Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek, who also holds UK and Turkish dual citizenship: see the Intercept article How the NSA Helped Turkey Kill Kurdish Rebels, 31 August 2014.
This post dated 20 December 2005, taken from the NSA’s internal newslatter Foreign Affairs Digest, describes the assistance rendered to Turkey against Kurdish nationalists, particularly the PKK, and describes the difficulties of reconciling this with US strategic interests in Iraq: see the Intercept article How the NSA Helped Turkey Kill Kurdish Rebels, 31 August 2014.
This October 2005 article, taken from the internal NSA newsletter Foreign Affairs Digest, provides a brief history of the agency’s past and current relationship with its Turkish counterparts, which includes a staff of 40 NSA employees stationed in Ankara: see the Intercept article How the NSA Helped Turkey Kill Kurdish Rebels, 31 August 2014.