Snowden's 'Biggest Victim': 'Star Wars' Cyberdefense

NSA head Gen. Keith B. Alexander has been pushing plan

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 13, 2013 7:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – It looks like Russia-US relations may not be the biggest casualty left in Edward Snowden's wake. The New York Times today reports on what one senior intelligence official calls "Snowden’s biggest single victim": a planned "Star Wars" cyberdefense. Sources tell the paper that NSA head Gen. Keith B. Alexander has been a major proponent of the plan, which would likely require congressional approval and is all but doomed in the face of current privacy concerns, reports the Times.

Though "the plan was always a little vague," per the official, it would ostensibly have the NSA (or ISPs working under its orders) reviewing far, far more than the 1.6% of Internet traffic it on Friday admitted to "touching." The Times explains the mechanics of the proposal:

  • "The government would latch into the giant 'data pipes' that feed the largest Internet service providers in the United States." The huge volume of traffic that runs through those pipes, particularly emails, would be scanned ... other 'metadata' would be inspected for evidence of malicious software."
But Snowden is not the first wrench in the NSA's cyberattack defense plan. The domestic defense of the Internet falls under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security, and it has argued that Alexander's approach would militarize our cyberdefense, when it is in fact Americans who should first be tasked with safeguarding their systems.

This June 9, 2013, photo provided by the Guardian newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden.
This June 9, 2013, photo provided by the Guardian newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden.   (AP Photo/The Guardian, File)
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