Snowden Der-Spiegel Interview

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8 July 2013

Shortly before he became a household name around the world as a whistleblower, Edward Snowden answered a comprehensive list of questions. They originated from Jacob Appelbaum, 30, a developer of encryption and security software. Appelbaum provides training to international human rights groups and journalists on how to use the Internet anonymously.

Appelbaum first became more broadly known to the public after he spoke on behalf of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at a hacker conference in New York in 2010. Together with Assange and other co-authors, Appelbaum recently released a compilation of interviews in book form under the title “Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet.” [Link by Cryptome.]

Appelbaum wound up on the radar of American authorities in the course of their investigation into the WikiLeaks revelations. They have since served legal orders to Twitter, Google and Sonic to hand over information about his accounts. But Appelbaum describes his relationship with WikiLeaks as being “ambiguous,” and explains here how he was able to pose questions to Snowden.

“In mid-May, documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras contacted me,” Appelbaum said. “She told me she was in contact with a possible anonymous National Security Agency (NSA) source who had agreed to be interviewed by her.”

“She was in the process of putting questions together and thought that asking some specific technical questions was an important part of the source verification process. One of the goals was to determine whether we were really dealing with an NSA whistleblower. I had deep concerns of COINTELPRO-style entrapment. We sent our securely encrypted questions to our source. I had no knowledge of Edward Snowden’s identity before he was revealed to the world in Hong Kong. He also didn’t know who I was. I expected that when the anonymity was removed, we would find a man in his sixties.”

“The following questions are excerpted from a larger interview that covered numerous topics, many of which are highly technical in nature. Some of the questions have been reordered to provide the required context. The questions focus almost entirely on the NSA’s capabilities and activities. It is critical to understand that these questions were not asked in a context that is reactive to this week’s or even this month’s events. They were asked in a relatively quiet period, when Snowden was likely enjoying his last moments in a Hawaiian paradise — a paradise he abandoned so that every person on the planet might come to understand the current situation as he does.”

“At a later point, I also had direct contact with Edward Snowden in which I revealed my own identity. At that time, he expressed his willingness to have his feelings and observations on these topics published when I thought the time was right.”


Editor’s note: The following excerpts are taken from the original English-language version of the interview. Potential differences in language between the German and English versions can be explained by the fact that we have largely preserved the technical terms used by Snowden in this transcript. Explanations for some of the terminology used by Snowden as well as editor’s notes are provided in the form of footnotes. 

Interviewer: What is the mission of America’s National Security Agency (NSA) — and how is the job it does compatible with the rule of law?

Snowden: They’re tasked to know everything of importance that happens outside of the United States. That’s a significant challenge. When it is made to appear as though not knowing everything about everyone is an existential crisis, then you feel that bending the rules is okay. Once people hate you for bending those rules, breaking them becomes a matter of survival.

Interviewer: Are German authorities or German politicians involved in the NSA surveillance system?

Snowden: Yes, of course. We’re 1 in bed together with the Germans the same as with most other Western countries. For example, we 2 tip them off when someone we want is flying through their airports (that we for example, have learned from the cell phone of a suspected hacker’s girlfriend in a totally unrelated third country — and they hand them over to us. They 3 don’t ask to justify how we know something, and vice versa, to insulate their political leaders from the backlash of knowing how grievously they’re violating global privacy.

Interviewer: But if details about this system are now exposed, who will be charged?

Snowden: In front of US courts? I’m not sure if you’re serious. An investigation found the specific people who authorized the warrantless wiretapping of millions and millions of communications, which per count would have resulted in the longest sentences in world history, and our highest official simply demanded the investigation be halted. Who “can” be brought up on charges is immaterial when the rule of law is not respected. Laws are meant for you, not for them.

Interviewer: Does the NSA partner with other nations, like Israel?

Snowden: Yes. All the time. The NSA has a massive body responsible for this: FAD, the Foreign Affairs Directorate.

Interviewer: Did the NSA help to create Stuxnet? (Stuxnet is the computer worm that was deployed against the Iranian nuclear program.)

Snowden: NSA and Israel co-wrote it.

Interviewer: What are some of the big surveillance programs that are active today and how do international partners aid the NSA?

Snowden: In some cases, the so-called Five Eye Partners 4 go beyond what NSA itself does. For instance, the UK’s General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has a system called TEMPORA. TEMPORA is the signals intelligen
ce community’s first “full-take” Internet buffer that doesn’t care about content type and pays only marginal attention to the Human Rights Act. It snarfs everything, in a rolling buffer to allow retroactive investigation without missing a single bit. Right now the buffer can hold three days of traffic, but that’s being improved. Three days may not sound like much, but remember that that’s not metadata. “Full-take” means it doesn’t miss anything, and ingests the entirety of each circuit’s capacity. If you send a single ICMP packet and it routes through the UK, we get it. If you download something and the CDN (Content Delivery Network) happens to serve from the UK, we get it. If your sick daughter’s medical records get processed at a London call center … well, you get the idea.

Interviewer: Is there a way of circumventing that?

Snowden: As a general rule, so long as you have any choice at all, you should never route through or peer with the UK under any circumstances. Their fibers are radioactive, and even the Queen’s selfies to the pool boy get logged.

Interviewer: Do the NSA and its partners across the globe do full dragnet data collection for telephone calls, text and data?

Snowden: Yes, but how much they get depends on the capabilities of the individual collection sites — i.e., some circuits have fat pipes but tiny collection systems, so they have to be selective. This is more of a problem for overseas collection sites than domestic 6 ones, which is what makes domestic collection so terrifying. NSA isn’t limited by power, space and cooling PSC constraints.

Interviewer: The NSA is building a massive new data center in Utah. What is its purpose?

Snowden: The massive data repositories.

Interviewer: How long is the collected data being stored for?

Snowden: As of right now, full-take collection ages off quickly ( a few days) due to its size unless an analyst has “tasked” 7 a target or communication, in which the tasked communications get stored “forever and ever,” regardless of policy, because you can always get a waiver. The metadata 8 also ages off, though less quickly. The NSA wants to be at the point where at least all of the metadata is permanently stored. In most cases, content isn’t as valuable as metadata because you can either re-fetch content based on the metadata or, if not, simply task all future communications of interest for permanent collection since the metadata tells you what out of their data stream you actually want.

Interviewer: Do private companies help the NSA?

Snowden: Yes. Definitive proof of this is the hard part because the NSA considers the identities of telecom collaborators to be the jewels in their crown of omniscience. As a general rule, US-based multinationals should not be trusted until they prove otherwise. This is sad, because they have the capability to provide the best and most trusted services in the world if they actually desire to do so. To facilitate this, civil liberties organizations should use this disclosure to push them to update their contracts to include enforceable clauses indicating they aren’t spying on you, and they need to implement technical changes. If they can get even one company to play ball, it will change the security of global communications forever. If they won’t, consider starting that company.

Interviewer: Are there companies that refuse to cooperate with the NSA?

Snowden: Also yes, but I’m not aware of any list. This category will get a lot larger if the collaborators are punished by consumers in the market, which should be considered Priority One for anyone who believes in freedom of thought.

Interviewer: What websites should a person avoid if they don’t want to get targeted by the NSA?

Snowden: Normally you’d be specifically selected for targeting based on, for example, your Facebook or webmail content. The only one I personally know of that might get you hit untargeted are jihadi forums.

Interviewer: What happens after the NSA targets a user?

Snowden: They’re just owned. An analyst will get a daily (or scheduled based on exfiltration summary) report on what changed on the system, PCAPS 9 of leftover data that wasn’t understood by the automated dissectors, and so forth. It’s up to the analyst to do whatever they want at that point — the target’s machine doesn’t belong to them anymore, it belongs to the US government.


1 “We’re” refers to the NSA.

2 “We” refers to the US intelligence service apparatus

3 “They” refers to the other authorities.

The “Five Eye Partners” is a reference to the intelligence services of United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

5 “ICMP” is a reference to Internet Control Message Protocol. The answer provided here by Snowden was highly technical, but it was clear that he was referring to all data packets sent to or from Britain.

“Domestic” is a reference to the United States.

7 In this context, “tasked” refers to the full collection and storage of metadata and content for any matched identifiers by the NSA or its partners.

8 “Metadata” can include telephone numbers, IP addresses and connection times, among other things. Wired Magazine offers a so
lid primer onmetadata.

9 “PCAPS” is an abbreviation of the term “packet capture”.


Cryptome/A English translation of Der Spiegel Magazine article, July 7, 2013:

Just before Edward Snowden became a world famous whistleblower, he answered an extensive catalog of questions. These came from, amongst others, Jacob Appelbaum, 30, a developer of encryption and security software. Appelbaum educates international human rights groups and journalists on how to work with the Internet in safe and anonymous way.

He became more publicly know in 2010, when he represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaking at a hacker conference in New York. Along with Assange and other co-authors he has recently published the interview recording “Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet.” [Link by Cryptome.]

In the course of investigations into the WikiLeaks disclosures, Appelbaum came to the attention of American authorities, who demanded companies such as Twitter and Google to divulge his accounts. He himself describes his attitude to WikiLeaks as “ambivalent” – and describes below how it came about that he was able to ask Snowden these questions.

In mid-May I was contacted by the documentary-maker Laura Poitras. She told me, that at this time she was in contact with an anonymous NSA source, which had consented to be interviewed by her.

She put together questions and asked me to contribute questions. This was, among other reasons, to determine whether she was really dealing with a NSA whistleblower. We sent our questions via encrypted e-mails. I did not know that the interlocutor was Edward Snowden until he revealed himself as such in public in Hong Kong. He did not know who I was. I had expected that he was someone in his sixties.

The following is an excerpt from a extensive interview which dealt with further points, many of them technical in nature. Some of the questions now appear in a different order to understand the context.

The discussion focused almost exclusively on the activities of the National Security Agency. It is important to know that these questions were not asked as relating to the events of the past week or the last month. They were entirely asked without any unrest, since, at that point, Snowden was still in Hawaii.

At a later stage I was again in direct contact with Snowden, at which time I also revealed my own my identity. He told me then that he gave consent to publish his statements.


Question: What is the mission of the National Security Agency (NSA) – and how is their job in accordance with the law?

Snowden: It is the mission of the NSA, to be aware of anything of importance going on outside of the United States. This is a considerable task, and the people there are convinced that not knowing everything about everyone could lead to some existential crisis. So, at some point, you believe it’s all right to bend the rules a little. Then, if people hate it that you can bend the rules, it suddenly becomes vital even to break them.

Question: Are German authorities or politicians involved in the monitoring system ?

Snowden: Yes of course. They (the NSA people — ed.) are in cahoots with the Germans, as well as with the most other Western countries. We (in the U.S. intelligence apparatus — ed.) warn the others, when someone we want to catch, uses one of their airports – and they then deliver them to us. The information on this, we can for example pull off of the monitored mobile phone of a suspected hacker’s girlfriend — who used it in an entirely different country which has nothing to do with the case. The other authorities do not ask us where we got the leads, and we do not ask them anything either. That way, they can protect their political staff from any backlash if it came out how massive the global violation of people’s privacy is.

Question: But now as details of this system are revealed, who will be brought before a court over this?

Snowden: Before U.S. courts? You’re not serious, are you? When the last large wiretapping scandal was investigated – the interception without a court order, which concerned millions of communications – that should really have led to the longest prison sentences in world history. However, then our highest representatives simply stopped the investigation. The question, who is to be accused, is theoretical, if the laws themselves are not respected. Laws are meant for people like you or me – but not for them.

Question: Does the NSA cooperate with other states like Israel?

Snowden: Yes, all the time. The NSA has a large section for that, called the FAD – Foreign Affairs Directorate.

Question: Did the NSA help to write the Stuxnet program? (the malicious program used against the Iranian nuclear facilities — ed.)

Snowden: The NSA and Israel wrote Stuxnet together.

Question: What are the major monitoring programs active today, and how do international partners help the NSA?

Snowden: The partners in the “Five Eyes” (behind which are hidden the secret services of the Americans, the British, the Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians — ed.) sometimes go even further than the NSA people themselves. Take the Tempora program of the British intelligence GCHQ for instance. Tempora is the first “I save everything” approach (“Full take”) in the intelligence world. It sucks in all data, no matter what it is, and which rights are violated by it
. This buffered storage allows for subsequent monitoring; not a single bit escapes. Right now, the system is capable of saving three days’ worth of traffic, but that will be optimized. Three days may perhaps not sound like a lot, but it’s not just about connection metadata. “Full take” means that the system saves everything. If you send a data packet and if makes its way through the UK, we will get it. If you download anything, and the server is in the UK, then we get it. And if the data about your sick daughter is processed through a London call center, then … Oh, I think you have understood.

Question: Can anyone escape?

Snowden: Well, if you had the choice, you should never send information over British lines or British servers. Even the Queen’s selfies with her lifeguards would be recorded, if they existed.

Question: Do the NSA and its partners apply some kind of wide dragnet method to intercept phone calls, texts and data?

Snowden: Yes, but how much they can record, depends on the capabilities of the respective taps. Some data is held to be more worthwhile, and can therefore be recorded more frequently. But all this is rather a problem with foreign tapping nodes, less with those of the U.S. This makes the monitoring in their own territory so terrifying. The NSA’s options are practically limitless – in terms of computing power, space or cooling capacity for the computers.

Question: The NSA is building a new data center in Utah. What is it for?

Snowden: These are the new mass data storage facilities.

Question: For how long will the information there be stored?

Snowden: Right now it is still so, that the full text of collected material ages very quickly, within a few days, especially given its enormous amount. Unless an analyst marked a target or a particular communication. In that case the communication is saved for all eternity, one always get an authorization for that anyway. The metadata ages less quickly. The NSA at least wants all metadata to be stored forever. Often the metadata is more valuable than the contents of the communication, because in most cases, one can retrieve the content, if there is metadata. And if not, you mark all future communications that fits this metadata and is of interest, so that henceforth it will be recorded completely. The metadata tells you what you actually want from the broader stream.

Question: Do private companies help the NSA?

Snowden: Yes. But it’s hard to prove that. The names of the cooperating telecom companies are the crown jewels of the NSA… Generally you can say that multinationals with headquarters in the USA should not be trusted until they prove otherwise. This is unfortunate, because these companies have the ability to deliver the world’s best and most reliable services – if they wanted to. To facilitate this, civil rights movements should now use these revelations as a driving force. The companies should write enforceable clauses into their terms, guaranteeing their clients that they are not being spied on. And they should include technical guarantees. If you could move even a single company to do such a thing, it would improve the security of global communications. And when this appears to not be feasible, you should consider starting one such company yourself.

Question: Are there companies that refuse to to cooperate with the NSA?

Snowden: Yes, but I know nothing of a corresponding list that would prove this. However, there would surely be fewer companies of this type if the companies working with the NSA would be punished by the customer. That should be the highest priority of all computer users who believe in the freedom of thoughts.

Question: What are the sites you should beware, if you do not want to become targeted by the NSA?

Snowden: Normally one is marked as a target because of a Facebook profile or because of your emails. The only place which I personally know where you can become a target without this specific labeling, are jihadist forums.

Question: What happens if the NSA has a user in its sights?

Snowden: The target person is completely monitored. An analyst will get a daily report about what has changed in the computer system of the targeted person. There will also be… packages with certain data which the automatic analysis systems have not understood, and so on. The analyst can then decide what he wants to do – the computer of the target person does not belong to them anymore, it then more or less belongs to the U.S. government.


Scan of original German version:

Kurz bevor Edward Snowden zum weltweit bekannten Whistleblower wurde, beantwortete er einen umfangreichen Katalog von Fragen. Sie stammten unter anderem von Jacob Appelbaum, 30, einem Entwickler von Verschlüsselungs- und Sicherheitssoftware. Appelbaum unterweist internationale Menschenrechtsgruppen und Journalisten im sicheren und anonymen Umgang mit dem Internet.

Einer breiteren Öffentlichkeit wurde er 2010 bekannt, als er den WikiLeaks-Gründer Julian Assange als Redner bei einer Hacker-Konferenz in New York vertrat. Zusammen mit Assange und weiteren Co-Autoren veröffentlichte er unlängst den Gesprächsband „Cypherpunks: Unsere Freiheit und die Zukunft des Internets“.

Im Zuge der Ermittlungen rund um die WikiLeaks-Enthüllungen ist Appelbaum ins Visier amerikanischer Behörden geraten, die Unternehmen wie Twitter und Google aufgefordert haben, seine Konten preiszugeben. Er selbst bezeichnet seine Haltung zu WikiLeaks als „ambivalent“ – und beschreibt im Folgenden, wie er dazu kam, Fragen an Snowden stellen zu können:

Mitte Mai hat mich die Dokumentarfilmerin Laura Poitras kontaktiert. Sie sagte mir zu diesem Zeitpunkt, sie sei in Kontakt mit einer anonymen NSA-Quell
e, die eingewilligt habe, von ihr interviewt zu werden. Sie stellte dafür gerade Fragen zusammen und bot mir an, selbst Fragen beizusteuern.

Es ging unter anderem darum festzustellen, ob es sich wirklich um einen NSA-Whistleblower handelt. Wir schickten unsere Fragen über verschlüsselte E-Mails. Ich wusste nicht, dass der Gesprächspartner Edward Snowden war – bis er sich in Hongkong der Öffentlichkeit offenbarte. Er wusste auch nicht, wer ich war. Ich hatte damit gerechnet, dass es sich um jemanden in den Sechzigern handeln würde.

Das Folgende ist ein Auszug aus einem umfangreicheren Interview, das noch weitere Punkte behandelte, viele davon sind technischer Natur. Einige der Fragen erscheinen jetzt in anderer Reihenfolge, damit sie im Zusammenhang verständlich sind.

Bei dem Gespräch ging es fast ausschließlich um die Aktivitäten der National Security Agency und um ihre Fahig – keiten. Es ist wichtig zu wissen, dass diese Fragen nicht im Zusammenhang mit den Ereignissen der vergangenen Woche oder des vergangenen Monats gestellt wurden. Sie wurden in einer Zeit totaler Ruhe gestellt, als Snowden noch auf Hawaii war.

Ich hatte zu einem spateren Zeitpunkt noch einmal direkten Kontakt mit Snowden, an dem ich auch meine eigene Identitat offenbarte. Er hat mir damals die Einwilligung gegeben, seine Aussagen zu veroffentlichen.


Frage: Was ist die Aufgabe der National Security Agency (NSA) . und wie ist deren Job mit den Gesetzen in Ubereinstimmung zu bringen?

Snowden: Aufgabe der NSA ist es, von allem Wichtigen zu wissen, das auserhalb der Vereinigten Staaten passiert. Das ist eine betrachtliche Aufgabe, und den Leuten dort wird vermittelt, dass es eine existentielle Krise bedeuten kann, nicht alles uber jeden zu wissen. Und dann glaubt man irgendwann, dass es schon in Ordnung ist, sich die Regeln etwas hinzubiegen. Und wenn die Menschen einen dann dafur hassen, dass man die Regeln verbiegt, wird es auf einmal uberlebenswichtig, sie sogar zu brechen.

Frage: Sind deutsche Behorden oder deutsche Politiker in das Uberwachungssystem verwickelt?

Snowden: Ja naturlich. Die (NSALeute .Red.) stecken unter einer Decke mit den Deutschen, genauso wie mit den meisten anderen westlichen Staaten. Wir (im US-Geheimdienstapparat .Red.) warnen die anderen, wenn jemand, den wir packen wollen, einen ihrer Flughafen benutzt. und die liefern ihn uns dann aus. Die Informationen dafur konnen wir zum Beispiel aus dem uberwachten Handy der Freundin eines verdachtigen Hackers gezogen haben, die es in einem ganz anderen Land benutzt hat, das mit der Sache nichts zu tun hat. Die anderen Behorden fragen uns nicht, woher wir die Hinweise haben, und wir fragen sie nach nichts. So konnen sie ihr politisches Fuhrungspersonal vor dem Backlash (deutsch etwa: Ruckschlag .Red.) schutzen, falls herauskommen sollte, wie massiv weltweit die Privatsphare von Menschen missachtet wird.

Frage: Aber wenn jetzt Details dieses Systems enthullt werden, wer wird dafur vor Gericht gestellt werden?

Snowden: Vor US-Gerichte? Das meinen Sie doch nicht ernst, oder? Als der letzte grose Abhorskandal untersucht wurde . das Abhoren ohne richterlichen Beschluss, das Abermillionen von Kommunikationsvorgangen betraf . hatte das eigentlich zu den langsten Haftstrafen der Weltgeschichte fuhren mussen. Aber dann haben unsere hochsten Vertreter die Untersuchung einfach gestoppt. Die Frage, wer theoretisch angeklagt werden konnte, ist hinfallig, wenn die Gesetze nicht respektiert werden. Gesetze sind gedacht fur Leute wie Sie oder mich . nicht aber fur die.

Frage: Kooperiert die NSA mit anderen Staaten wie Israel?

Snowden: Ja, die ganze Zeit. Die NSA hat eine grose Abteilung dafur, sie heist FAD . Foreign Affairs Directorate.

Frage: Hat die NSA geholfen, Stuxnet zu programmieren? (Jenes Schadprogramm, das gegen iranische Atomanlagen eingesetzt wurde .Red.)

Snowden: Die NSA und Israel haben Stuxnet zusammen geschrieben.

Frage:Welche grosen Uberwachungsprogramme sind heute aktiv, und wie helfen internationale Partner der NSA?

Snowden: Die Partner bei den “Five Eyes” (dahinter verbergen sich die Geheimdienste der Amerikaner, der Briten, der Australier, der Neuseelander und der Kanadier .Red.) gehen manchmal weiter als die NSA-Leute selbst. Nehmen wir das Tempora-Programm des britischen Geheimdienstes GCHQ. Tempora ist der erste .Ich speichere allesg-Ansatz (.Full takeg) in der Geheimdienstwelt. Es saugt alle Daten auf, egal worum es geht und welche Rechte dadurch verletzt werden. Dieser Zwischenspeicher macht nachtragliche Uberwachung moglich, ihm entgeht kein einziges Bit. Jetzt im Moment kann er den Datenverkehr von drei Tagen speichern, aber das wird noch optimiert. Drei Tage, das mag vielleicht nicht nach viel klingen, aber es geht eben nicht nur um Verbindungsdaten. .Full takeg heist, dass der Speicher alles aufnimmt. Wenn Sie ein Datenpaket verschicken und wenn das seinen Weg durch Grosbritannien nimmt, werden wir es kriegen. Wenn Sie irgendetwas herunterladen, und der Server steht in Grosbritannien, dann werden wir es kriegen. Und wenn die Daten Ihrer kranken Tochter in einem Londoner Call Center verarbeitet werden, dann c Ach, ich glaube, Sie haben verstanden.

Frage: Kann man dem entgehen?

Snowden: Na ja, wenn man die Wahl hat, sollte man niemals Informationen durch britische Leitungen oder uber britische Server schicken. Sogar Selfies (meist mit dem Handy fotografierte Selbstportrats .Red.) der Konigin fur ihre Bademeister wurden mitgeschnitten, wenn es sie gabe.

Frage: Arbeiten die NSA und ihre Partner mit einer Art Schleppnetz-Methode, um Telefonate, Texte und Daten abzufangen?

Snowden: Ja, aber wie viel sie mitschneiden konnen, hangt von den Moglichkeiten der jeweiligen Anzapfstellen ab. Es gibt Daten, die fur ergiebiger gehalten werden und deshalb haufiger mitgeschnitten werden konnen. Aber all das ist eher ein Problem bei auslandischen Anzapf-Knotenpunk
ten, weniger bei US-amerikanischen. Das macht die Uberwachung auf eigenem Gebiet so erschreckend. Die Moglichkeiten der NSA sind praktisch grenzenlos . was die Rechenleistung angeht, was den Platz oder die Kuhlkapazitaten fur die Computer angeht.

Frage: Die NSA baut ein neues Datenzentrum in Utah. Wozu dient es?

Snowden: Das sind die neuen Massendatenspeicher.

Frage: Für wie lange werden die gesammelten Daten aufbewahrt?

Snowden: Jetzt im Moment ist es noch so, dass im Volltext gesammeltes Material sehr schnell altert, innerhalb von ein paar Tagen, vor allem durch seine gewaltige Masse. Es sei denn, ein Analytiker markiert ein Ziel oder eine bestimmte Kommunikation. In dem Fall wird die Kommunikation bis in alle Ewigkeit gespeichert, eine Berechtigung dafür bekommt man immer. Die Metadaten (also Verbindungsdaten, die verraten, wer wann mit wem kommuniziert hat –Red.) altern weniger schnell. Die NSA will, dass wenigstens alle Metadaten für immer gespeichert werden können. Meistens sind die Metadaten wertvoller als der Inhalt der Kommunikation. Denn in den meisten Fällen kann man den Inhalt wiederbesorgen, wenn man die Metadaten hat. Und falls nicht, kann man alle künftige Kommunikation, die zu diesen Metadaten passt und einen interessiert, so markieren, dass sie komplett aufgezeichnet wird. Die Metadaten sagen einem, was man vom breiten Datenstrom tatsächlich haben will.

Frage: Helfen Privatunternehmen der NSA?

Snowden: Ja. Aber es ist schwer, das nachzuweisen. Die Namen der kooperie – renden Telekom-Firmen sind die Kronjuwelen der NSA … Generell kann man sagen, dass man multinationalen Konzernen mit Sitz in den USA nicht trauen sollte, bis sie das Gegenteil bewiesen haben. Das ist bedauerlich, denn diese Unternehmen hätten die Fähigkeiten, den weltweit besten und zuverlässigsten Service zu liefern – wenn sie es denn wollten. Um das zu erleichtern, sollten Bürgerrechtsbewegungen diese Enthüllungen jetzt nutzen, um sie anzutreiben. Die Unternehmen sollten einklagbare Klauseln in ihre Nutzungsbedingungen schreiben, die ihren Kunden garantieren, dass sie nicht ausspioniert werden. Und sie müssen technische Sicherungen einbauen. Wenn man auch nur eine einzige Firma zu so etwas bewegen könnte, würde das die Sicherheit der weltweiten Kommunikation verbessern. Und wenn das nicht zu schaffen ist, sollte man sich überlegen, selbst eine solche Firma zu gründen.

Frage: Gibt es Unternehmen, die sich weigern, mit der NSA zu kooperieren?

Snowden: Ja, aber ich weiß nichts von einer entsprechenden Liste. Es würde jedoch sicher mehr Firmen dieser Art geben, wenn die kollaborierenden Konzerne von den Kunden abgestraft würden. Das sollte höchste Priorität aller Computernutzer sein, die an die Freiheit der Gedanken glauben.

Frage: Vor welchen Websites sollte man sich hüten, wenn man nicht ins Visier der NSA geraten will?

Snowden: Normalerweise wird man aufgrund etwa des Facebook-Profils oder der eigenen E-Mails als Zielobjekt markiert. Der einzige Ort, von dem ich persönlich weiß, dass man ohne diese spezifische Markierung zum Ziel wer – den kann, sind die Foren von Dschihadisten.

Frage: Was passiert, wenn die NSA einen Nutzer im Visier hat?

Snowden: Die Zielperson wird komplett überwacht. Ein Analytiker wird täglich einen Report über das bekommen, was sich im Computersystem der Zielperson geändert hat. Es wird auch … Pakete jener Daten geben, die die automatischen Analysesysteme nicht verstanden haben, und so weiter. Der Analytiker kann entscheiden, was er tun will – der Computer der Zielperson gehört nicht mehr ihr, er gehört dann quasi der USRegierung.

Jacob Appelbaum,


Laura Poitras

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