Sunday, January 19, 2014

Two Hops Is Still Everyone

One of the announced changes in the NSA mass surveillance program involves scaling back the Three-Hop Rule (for telephone surveillance) to two hops. This might seem like a significant change, but in practice, it won’t make a difference. As I wrote last month, two hops already covers practically everyone who matters: registered voters, banking customers, shoppers, Skype users, and so on. The Two-Hop Rule is better than the Three-Hop Rule, but it won’t do anything to restore privacy. Real reform is probably impossible as long as mass surveillance of all personal communications media remains the government’s objective.