It was a unique encounter in the long and uneasy relationship between the press and the intelligence agencies, and a highly unusual, very physical, compromise between the demands of national security and free expression.
Why, exactly, did British spies insist on physically mangling the devices on which the data was stored, despite the utter uselessness of such an act? Border explains:
The same two senior officials ... expressed fears that foreign governments, in particular Russia or China, could hack into the Guardian's IT network. But the Guardian explained the security surrounding the documents, which were held in isolation and not stored on any Guardian system.
However, in a subsequent meeting, an intelligence agency expert argued that the material was still vulnerable. He said by way of example that if there was a plastic cup in the room where the work was being carried out foreign agents could train a laser on it to pick up the vibrations of what was being said. Vibrations on windows could similarly be monitored remotely by laser.
Because that's surely what Chinese and Russian spies are doing: Carefully measuring the vibrations of the windows and coffee cups in the hopes that reporters are reading verbatim from these secret slides, instead of simply waiting a few days for the Guardian to publish its next story online.
Miranda lack of rights
The Guardian made these reports public after British authorities detained Brazilian citizen David Miranda in Heathrow Airport for 9 hours. Miranda is the spouse of Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald and was most likely carrying more files obtained by Edward Snowden. But not any more — U.K. officials confiscated his laptop, phone, digital camera, thumb drives, DVDs, and game consoles he was carrying.
The Brits deployed part of the U.K. Terrorism Act 2000 to hold Miranda, a law meant to allow authorities to detain people who might be traveling with a bomb in their boxers or intending to fly a plane into a building.
Meet the new definition of terrorist: Boyfriend of journalist writing stories critical of the national surveillance state.
Meanwhile, in other news, the Wall Street Journal reports that the NSA has the ability to spy on 75 percent of U.S. Internet traffic. Exactly who they choose to spy on and why? I'd tell you, but then I'd have to strap you down to a table in my secret underground lair and threaten you with a laser torch while monologuing.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.