Where’s Our Edward Snowden?

Where’s Our Edward Snowden?

Written: November 12, 2015

Edward Snowden

Laura Poitras / Praxis Films [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 have sent echoes throughout the world that are still resonating. He bravely revealed documents showing how overreaching the NSA has become. The NSA engaged in unlawful surveillance of the US citizens, and the citizens, and even heads, of allied countries, and others.

The documents confirmed many fears in the Information Security community, and revealed more that were thought to be impossible. They also sparked privacy concerns among the ordinary people, and gave privacy advocates a shock.

That was the US. And while there are discussions and articles in the international newspapers from time about other countries, especially European, there seems to be zero information, or even interest in the Israeli surveillance business.

This lack of information, and lack of informants, creates uncertainty. Moreover, there is no public discussion, or even thought, about the issue. How can wrongdoers be held accountable if there’s no information? And how can the people feel safe and trusting if their government isn’t transparent with them?

I have no doubt that Israel has an approaching capabilities, if not similar or exceeding, to that of the NSA. It has been already revealed that the NSA freely exchanges raw collected data with Unit 8200, the Israeli Intelligence Corps unit responsible for SIGINT. And it has been already revealed that the data was not used for American security purposes, but rather Israeli political agendas against Palestinians and Arabs (of whom many are American citizens).

And with the developments in the recent two years, and the rise of tensions and violence, the state (specifically, the Police, and Army) has been very clear that it’s monitoring and intercepting Arab and Palestinian communications. Such has been the case of many teenagers and young adults that were detained or charged based on posts or status updates on Facebook, in a period of time that makes it impossible for the paperwork to have gone through the proper judicial and legal channels.

Of course, the majority doesn’t talk about it, and isn’t even aware. And even if they were, they wouldn’t think on it for long. Those are things not directed towards the ‘us’, it’s against ‘them’, the Arabs, the Palestinians. That’s national security. That’s ‘our’ safety.

The various intelligence units, in the Army, and in the Intelligence Services, have produced many Information Security startups. In fact, Israel currently ranks the second nation in the world in terms of startups. Unit 8200 veterans are especially sought after in the tech world. All of this points towards a sophisticated, and advanced, surveillance apparatus.

The fact that those capabilities are there, coupled with the very secretive nature of it all, should alarm people. It should especially alarm people in the Holy Land. Sadly, Palestinians can’t do much about it. They’re occupied. They depend on the Israeli infrastructure in almost every aspect. The fact is, there isn’t much to be done beyond advocacy and raising awareness. And without hard evidence, like that of Snowden’s, that’s going to be very difficult.

Israel isn’t an internet hub like the US. However, the Asians cables pass not far from its shores, through Egypt; in fact, a close ally in recent years. And Israel has the most powerful ally, the United States, who freely exchange information and give access to them. This despite Israel’s secrecy about what it wants or does with that information and data.

In a supposed democracy, there isn’t much transparency, or even questioning of the massive military and surveillance operation that consumes large sums of the country’s budget and thought. The irony is lost on the public when Arabs living in Israel are paying taxes that fund their oppression. It’s unthinkable for the public to ask question that are ‘unpatriotic’, such as how much is the state spying on its citizens, including Arabs? What type of information do they collect, and for how long? What is it used for?

How protected and safe is the public in reality? Are their basic rights protected? Are they immune to unlawful seizure and inspection?

A smart and capable enemy is a very dangerous enemy.

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