XMission's Ashdown Talks About NSA Snooping Hardware, Gag Orders
As we noted recently
, independent Utah ISP Xmission and its founder Pete Ashdown have been getting a lot of press lately for doing something that most ISPs can't be bothered to do: stand up for consumer privacy and against over-the-top NSA snooping. Now Buzzfeed
has another interesting story, with Ashdown himself explaining about a specific time he couldn't fend off the NSA and had to install snooping gear on his company's network.
As Ashdown explains, the gear the NSA installed had no real limits to data collection, and he wasn't (and perhaps still isn't) technically allowed to talk about it with anyone:
I'm not sure it had any access to the internet, so they could manage it remotely, but if they requested that, we would have facilitated them. I’m sure it was just capturing the entire stream to hard disk for later analysis. After the initial install, they didn't come in again until it was removed. It was open ended. I called six months into it and said, "How long is this going to go on?" and they said, "I don’t know." It went on for nine months. If it were still there, I would have probably smashed it by now. There have been no [related] arrests that I have heard of.
Ashdown also again discusses the need for at least some transparency in this kind of snooping:
These programs that violate the Bill of Rights can continue because people can’t go out and say, "This is my experience, this is what happened to me, and I don’t think it is right." There is absolutely [a] need for secrecy when you are dealing with a criminal investigation. You don’t want to tip off criminals being monitored. But you can’t say, "You can never talk about this ever, for the rest of your life." The FISA court should be a public court, and documents should be sealed for a set period of time, [to] let people audit the actions later.
Other than perhaps Sonic.net and Nicholas Merrill's war on NSL gags
, nobody in this industry is putting up much of a fight against the government's aggressive attempts to spy on everyone, all the time. Surely Ashdown has a lovely audit waiting for him down the line as a reward.