The Secret Partnership Between Silicon Valley and the NSA

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

computer security surveillance lock data (Copyright: Maksim Kabakou/Shutterstock)

Frontline’s Martin Smith explores the secret relationship between Silicon Valley and the National Security Agency, looking into how the government and tech companies are working together to gather and warehouse your data and investigating what they’re doing with it. Frontline’s two-part documentary “United States of Secrets” tells the inside story of how the government came to spy on millions of Americans—from September 11, 2001, to the present. Part 2 airs May 20 on PBS.



Martin Smith

Comments [7]


With NSA surveillance programs, the US Government now has the power to arbitrarily track, target, and go after any one of us -- our friends, family, the journalists and activists we depend on -- because they don't like our ideas. In a world without privacy, anything you've written, done, or seen can be used against you, making your life a nightmare. Spying IS censorship. Now that we know, WE decide what happens next.
Americans Right to Privacy has solutions and I am anxious to share them with you. We offer secure, encrypted email that , a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which secures your computer's internet connection and changes your IP address every 10 minutes to guarantee that all of the data you're sending and receiving is encrypted and secured from prying eyes. Also a "Swiss Bank Account for your Data" Digital Safe! Switzerland, a country known for its strict data privacy laws, has no back door access to encryption for any government agency, not even Switzerland itself!
Today, regaining your online privacy means going abroad....

May. 27 2014 05:37 AM
Will from Madison, WI

Great show. Just a point of fact here, regarding an allusion by Martin Smith around 30:40 that quantum computers can “break any kind of encryption that exists”:

Quantum computers cannot break any kind of encryption that exists. That is an overstatement of the fact that Peter Shor, a professor at MIT, invented a quantum algorithm that breaks the most commonly used cryptosystem, RSA (Shor's algorithm is for finding the prime factors of a large integer, the math problem whose difficulty gives RSA its strength; there is no known efficient algorithm that doesn't require a quantum computer).

On the contrary, there are cryptosystems for which no quantum algorithm has yet been found, such as one called NTRU, invented by four mathematicians at Brown University. If NTRU were used to encrypt data, not even a quantum computer could break it, as far as we currently know.

Of course, it's always possible that someone might invent a quantum algorithm that breaks NTRU in the way that Shor's algorithm breaks RSA. But, number theorists will likely continue to invent even more resilient, sophisticated cryptosystems, and the cycle will continue.

The advent of quantum computers does not spell the end for encryption in general—only for the vast majority of the encryption we use now.

May. 20 2014 10:19 PM
Gary from Port Washington, NY

I loved the end of the program and am now motivated to add to Leonard's page that he is the first winner of the Nobel Prize for Wit and Humor (a just announced prize - I saw it on the internet). As always, his quick wit only adds spice to his intelligent and civil conversation - there isn't any better person on radio (although some of his Public Radio Colleague come close).

May. 20 2014 01:01 PM
jf from dystopia

The Government and corporations are the bad guys. They mass murder millions and enslave millions with the war, private prison industry, the military industry, poison millions with the FDA, and swat team cherry tree growers for mentioning the health effects of cherries. swat team organic food growers. Monsanto complete infiltration , pay off from big pharma, viox, oil cartels, hurricanes , floods, drought, wildfires,bpa, fire retardants, diesel and smog causes lung cancer, The bad guys are in control! you know it they know it everyone knows it! They call pacifists who try to save the forests and animals from all of the plethora of holocausts all governments and businesses are perpetrating. Destroying the ocean. killing all life on earth. making everyone poor. making people kill them selves. This is a dystopian government of pure evil. They try to tax the sun! Every cause of death is corporate! think about it!

May. 20 2014 12:50 PM
J from NYC

Those of us that come across all those recent nuke articles in Time Magazine, Bloomberg, the Washington Post, other newspapers and understand the true risk of nuclear terrorism are often happy to hear the government is surveilling people to help reduce the chances of a terrorist disaster. Apparently there's a 28% chance in ten years that terrorists use a nuclear bomb to destroy a city, according to Professor Bunn from Harvard who did a long study/analysis of the chances. Separately a giant survey of 300 terrorism experts across the globe (diplomats, professors, analysts) conducted by Senator Lugar / the US Senate coincidentally had a mean likelihood of 29% that terrorists use a nuke to destroy a city in ten years. NYC is considered to be the primary target. Time Magazine (March 26, 2014) cites a higher chance: "Experts have recently estimated the probability of such an [nuclear] attack in the near future at between 30% and 50%." Gawker (March 27, 2014) puts the chances higher at 68%. Chance of a dirty/radiological bomb was greater than 50%. And the Cambridge University Center for Existential Risk said in 2013 that this risk is currently increasing over time not decreasing. Obama also recently said publically that is number one security concern is a terrorist detonating a nuke in Manhattan.

May. 20 2014 12:40 PM

The CEO of Cisco recently asked the NSA to stop opening packages of equipment they were shipping to customers because it undermines the company's credibility. Is there nothing to which they will not stoop?

May. 20 2014 12:28 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Actually, Google's motto is "Don't be evil." I don't think they're living up to it very well lately (which is why I've started using DuckDuckGo).

May. 20 2014 12:17 PM

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