Knowledge of PRISM

We recently received a lengthy diatribe from an obvious troll that expounded upon the
opinion that I (CygonX) was a criminal. No shit? Really? I won’t go into detail about the
many factual inaccuracies, or failings of grammar, and literacy displayed. He did however
make one point I feel that I should address: if I knew about the NSA PRISM program, why
didn’t I say anything about it?

The short answer is: I didn’t know until Snowden disclosed what he did in 2013, and I have
never said otherwise. What I did say was that everyone in telecom knew something was going
on, even if we didn’t know the name of the NSA’s clandestine and illegal program. And we
certainly didn’t know the scale of the wholesale violation of American Civil Liberties.

Remember, the AT&T whistleblower (Klein) said much of the same thing years earlier, he just
didn’t have the documents or credentials to support such an extreme claim. He did go on
a UK TV show, and got some traction online, but he just didn’t have the support Snowden
did. Snowden, with the help of Glen Greenwald and others, did it just perfectly. And yet,
Americans have collectively accepted the fact that they have no privacy, and moved on in
pursuit of bread and circuses. Well in this case it’s football and reality television.

Either way, had I known about PRISM in detail, I had no way to safely disclose the
information without immediate and severe repercussions. I’m no hero. I had a wife, three
kids, and three mortgages. I was living the illusion of the American Dream with all the
fleeting rewards of success and wealth. Why would I have risked all that only to invite
the full force of the American Government in the name of freedom? Don’t church it up
people. The only reason I have done all I have in the last few years is because I have
absolutely nothing left to lose.

Now, if I had it all to do over again, maybe I would have done things differently. Maybe
the American Dream and the silly suburbs wouldn’t seem so important after the dose of cold
reality I have endured in the last 7 years. I certainly wouldn’t have risked everything
I did for the wife, and I certainly would have done much more to secure a better future
for my children. But for America? They say that the people get the government they deserve.
Although I don’t believe that’s intrinsically true, there is some truth to it. I’m no
martyr. I didn’t sign up to die for American Civil Liberties that they themselves are
collectively giving up left and right.

But that’s the past, and debating alternate histories is best left to writers of fiction.
My role now is to simply write about all the technical atrocities in a way that can be
understood by the widest possible audience. What you choose to do with the information,
and I’m talking to you America, is entirely up to you.

Meanwhile, I am trapped in America’s failed criminal justice system, and enduring the full
trauma of mass incarceration. I am sure there are many people that think I should spend
the rest of my life in prison for “conning” AT&T and Verizon out of millions, even though
that isn’t at all what happened. There are probably also people that think life sentences
for marijuana possession is a good idea too. In fact, I am sure someone out there thinks
we should stone, hang, or electrocute every criminal we can get our hands on. The problem
is that the land of laws has got a little carried away with itself. Sadly, law makers have
nothing to do but make laws, and there is seemingly a lot of reluctance to change the old
one, in spite of mountains of data that show they are ineffectively, or producing the exact
opposite of their intended results. Why is it that the government can use Big Data to spy
on its populace, but can’t use Big Data to develop evidence based approaches to America’s
greatest issues? And that is a question that American’s need to be asking their leaders,
not me.

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