US government spends $11 billion to help crack encrypted emails


Your text messages and emails are no longer safe, but we’re guessing you already knew that. According to a report from the Washington Post, the US federal government is working on an $11 billion and 35,000-employee program devoted to cracking encoded (encrypted) messages such as emails and text. This information was leaked by former-NSA-employee-gone-rogue, Edward Snowden.

This large amount of taxpayer dollars is part of an unprecedented $52 billion black budget that the government is throwing at surveillance and other means of gaining intelligence. That’s a lot of money spent just to read emails and collect personal data that might or might not be of much use in the end.

According to James Clapper, director of national intelligence, the idea (the justification) behind this massive encryption cracking initiative is to be able to crack encrypted messages from “high priority targets, including foreign leadership targets” and to “to defeat adversarial cryptography and exploit Internet traffic”:

“We are bolstering our support for clandestine SIGINT capabilities to collect against high priority targets, including foreign leadership targets. Also, we are investing in groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities to defeat adversarial cryptography and exploit Internet traffic.”

Sounds to use like Clapper is trying to justify this as saying “it will be for foreigners only”, but it is easy to see the potential for abuse of basic rights. Plus, why is everything automatically OK as long as it is done to people outside the United States?!

Furthermore, the leaked document went on the state how $14.7 billion was given to the CIA alone, which is more than the $10.8 billion given to the NSA. In addition, various US intelligence programs hire more than 107,000 employees, and 64 percent of all American military personnel that work for federal intelligence agencies work for the NSA.

It is clear the U.S. is embarking on a massive cyber offensive, as the war against so-called America’s enemies is no longer a battle found exclusively on the battlefield. However, this move is cause for concern when Americans are funding a spy program that may ultimately turns around on spy on them. Let us know in the comments below how you feel about this.

[via Washington Post, image via New Tech Observer]

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  • Tom

    Each week I exchange at least one encrypted email with my friend in Pakistan. Only to amuse ourselves, that encrypted email includes a small encrypted text file (so that is doubly encrypted).

    So we are causing thousands of dollars to be wasted decrypting local weather forecasts and sports scores… hahahaha NSAsuckers.

  • Despite the potential, and frankly the likelihood, that this will be used against the American Public, I have to think this is a good thing. My personal opinion is that we need more protections under the law against abuse, but that our side does need the technology to protect us as well.

    Our military is the most technologically advanced one in the world, which makes it the most effective. Cyber-warfare is the next level and we can’t afford to fall behind there.