Surveillance, encryption concerns in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory

Will U.S. government surveillance expand once Donald Trump becomes president?

At least a couple of tech companies are reportedly worried enough about it that they’re considering moving their servers out of the country in case the Trump administration orders them to turn over user data.

Trump “said he wanted aggressive vetting of Muslims,” Maciej Ceglowski, owner of bookmarking site Pinboard, told BuzzFeed. “If you are making those policies, and you are serious about pursuing them, you can force Facebook to do a lot of the work for you. You can have them detect users with languages set to Spanish or Arabic.”

And let’s not forget the nation has plenty of other spying tools already in place — for which the Democratic party is also getting criticism.

Former NSA intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, whose leaks of U.S. government documents in 2013 led to revelations of mass government spying, once warned of the tools the government uses falling into the hands of “a less scrupulous commander-in-chief,” Wired wrote last month. Snowden called it “turnkey tyranny.”

The ACLU has said that if Trump follows through on some of the things he has said about tracking Muslims in the United States, it would be against the law.

“The discriminatory profiling and surveillance of American Muslims would violate the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in July.

Some experts say they’re more concerned about how Trump would use the Department of Justice, with former National Security Agency officials and others pointing out that Trump slammed Apple for refusing to cooperate with the FBI over unlocking the iPhone of one of the killers in the San Bernardino terror attack.

“Who do they think they are?” Trump said at the time, amid the fight over the encrypted iPhone after an attack by two shooters who killed 14 people and injured 22 others. “I think security over all — we have to open it up, and we have to use our heads.”

Apple refused to create a “back door” for the FBI to access the phone because it was afraid of the precedent it would set and the possible privacy and security compromises that it would lead to. (The FBI later found another way to hack into the phone.)

“There’s a more immediate possibility for abuse at the DoJ and the FBI than at the NSA,” Susan Hennessey, former counsel for the NSA, told Forbes.

But Jay Healey, senior research scholar at Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs, told Forbes that Trump and a “friendly Congress” could undo the reforms that were made to the nation’s spying practices after the Snowden revelations, such as reining in the NSA’s bulk telephone surveillance.


Photo: A protester with the organization Code Pink wears giant glasses with the message “Stop Spying” in 2013. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)


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  • Wake Robin

    It’s hard to image how there could be more abuse of privacy than under the Bush-Cheney-Obama-Clinton sixteen-year Malignancy. Rest assured that Silicon Valley has been handsomely rewarded for their eager embrace of Governmental intrusion. Count the visits of the Tech execs and lobbyists to the White House in these past years and Obama’s visits to Silicon Valley and you’ll understand how pervasive spying on peaceful folks has been in America.

  • “The discriminatory profiling and surveillance of American Muslims would violate the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution…” says the ACLU.

    So which Constitution is that, the 1790’s version or the post-Patriot Act version?