From Year Zero to Vault 7

 

By: Marta A.

In this article I will be outlining the events that have occurred these last few days in regard to the information exposed by WikiLeaks on the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) technical capabilities. I will be explaining, to the best of my ability, what the leaks entail as well as to why they are important. I must admit that I am a little biased (but who isn’t?) when it comes to these leaks, as I fully believe government agencies with the incredible amount of power that the CIA has must be kept in check, even if it means leaks like these ones.

What information was leaked?

On Tuesday March 7th 2017, WikiLeaks released “Year Zero,” which is the first part of what WikiLeaks says is the “largest ever publication of confidential documents”[1] on the CIA and they have code-named it Vault 7. “Year Zero” is a total of 8761 documents and files from the Center for Cyber Intelligence in Virginia. They reveal the extent of CIA’s hacking capabilities as the agency uses programs such as “weeping angel” to listen in to conversations through Samsung TVs. These documents also exposed the fact that the CIA could hack a vehicle, which is very dangerous not only because they can use it, but if it ever got out of hand, the whole situation could exacerbate. As journalists continue to analyze all the documents we will certainly be hearing more about the details revealed in these documents.

Who leaked it?

According to WikiLeaks, “the archive appears to have been circulated among former US government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.”[2] This is what we know as of now about who leaked the information and I have as many questions as you do. Does this mean we have a new Snowden? Will they reveal their identity? Is there going to be a manhunt?

What is the big issue with this?

We are private citizens, so in theory, the government should know little to nothing about us. On the other hand, the people in power are public officials so we should know about what they are doing with taxpayer money as well as if they are abusing power. Currently, there is a big issue as we know little about the government and they know a lot about us; this is very dangerous. We cannot allow the government to control us so we need people like Snowden, Chelsea Manning and this new source that exposed the NSA. We also need organizations like WikiLeaks, journalists like Glenn Greenwald and filmmakers like Laura Poitras to get the story of the NSA and CIA out there. Furthermore, the money that goes to these government agencies could really save lives if it was invested in healthcare or in education for example and not on spying on our own citizens.

Why is the ‘I have nothing to hide’ attitude dangerous?

The ‘I have nothing to hide’ attitude is not only dangerous in my opinion, but to a certain extent, it is false, as if you really had nothing to hide, I would encourage you to hand out a list of all your passwords and usernames so we can see every message you have ever written, every picture you have ever sent and so on. Furthermore, you might not need to hide something from the government right now, but who knows who you will be in the future? What if you become a journalist? What if the next president does not like you for some reason? What if you are associated with somebody in a position of power? In these three examples we see that the CIA as well as the NSA could look into all your private records and twist a story to charge you with some crime. We have seen this in the David Miranda incident in the UK Heathrow airport. David Miranda was stopped under schedule 7 (a terrorism act) at Heathrow for nine hours and forced to give up passwords and documents as he was going back home from Berlin after staying with Laura Poitras, the filmmaker of Citizenfour, which is a documentary on the Snowden leaks. Furthermore, David Miranda is the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, who is the journalist Snowden handed the archive with the NSA files in the Mira Hotel in Hong Kong back in 2013. Clearly, David Miranda is not a terrorist and the UK government was attempting to gain access to the Snowden leaks and/or also intimidate Greenwald into not publishing more material, as he also has files on UK intelligence agency GCHQ.

In conclusion, these programs are completely out of hand. Even if we have nothing to hide, the money to support these unlawful programs could go to saving lives instead of consolidated power under a false pretext of fighting terrorism. We are private citizens who need to know what people in power our doing with our taxpayer money and in the name of the citizens. Remember the government works for us and we do not work for them. To finish this article, I would like to end with a quote from the first article of the Italian constitution “La sovranita` appartiene al popolo” (The sovereignty belongs to the people).

 

[1]. “Submit documents to WikiLeaks,” Vault7 – Home, March 07, 2017, accessed March 07, 2017, https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/.

[2]. Ibid.

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