Yesterday evening, an absolutely huge collection of Snowden classified data was published on the German website Der Spiegel. Among the horribly designed slides, filled with terrible clip art and font choices (seriously guys, get it together), much of this new information fills in what we already know. NSA, GCHQ, and other spy agencies have many, many ways to track and collect almost anything they want.
They also think it's pretty damn funny.
When not busy trying to make passive data collection "sexy for generation cyber" or quipping about seeing how bad you are at Angry Birds with leaky mobile apps and a program called BADASS, they're doing things like this:
That's a description of fourth party collection, which Der Spiegel describes as a means to track attacks against the U.S. and, in turn, attack them right back, such as listening to China's future hacking plans. It's like drinking their spy-infested milkshake! Dangerous international espionage that could cost billions! Hilarious! Definitely an appropriate time to make a cultural reference to 2007's There Will Be Blood.
But all joking aside, other leaked documents are not filled with nearly as much hilarity. There is one breakdown of how the GCHQ was able to track individuals with Unique Device Identifiers in iPhones, which Apple has since change its policies toward, or how the NSA can cripple energy grids if needed of targets outside of the Five Eyes alliance (U.S., Australia, UK, Canada, and New Zealand). So on and so on.
All these documents come to one conclusion—we're undeniably in the middle of a digital weapons arms race. As Der Spiegel explains:
During the 20th century, scientists developed so-called ABC weapons — atomic, biological and chemical. It took decades before their deployment could be regulated and, at least partly, outlawed. New digital weapons have now been developed for the war on the Internet. But there are almost no international conventions or supervisory authorities for these D weapons, and the only law that applies is the survival of the fittest.
Not exactly what I would call a laughing matter.