We just had a story based on the Intercept breaking the fact that the CIA holds an annual hackathon (the CIA calls it a “Jamboree”) to come up with new ways to hack secure systems, inviting in various contractors and government agencies. Much of the work is focused on hacking Apple’s security, inserting backdoors and generally degrading security and encryption for everyone.
The CIA refused to comment on the Intercept’s original story, but the reporters got former FTC official Steven Bellovin to sum it up as:
“Spies gonna spy,” says Steven Bellovin, a former chief technologist for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and current professor at Columbia University. “I’m never surprised by what intelligence agencies do to get information. They’re going to go where the info is, and as it moves, they’ll adjust their tactics. Their attitude is basically amoral: whatever works is OK.”
Now, “unnamed” anonymous CIA officials seem to be picking up where that shrugging comment left off. Talking to CNBC reporters, the CIA folks give similarly “meh” kinds of responses:
“That’s what we do,” the official said. “CIA collects information overseas, and this is focused on our adversaries, whether they be terrorists or other adversaries.”
Except, of course, they don’t just spy overseas. The CIA has done domestic spying as well, and the descriptions of the projects don’t just impact people overseas. And then there’s this one:
“There’s a whole world of devices out there, and that’s what we’re going to do,” the official said. “It is what it is.”
It is what it is. That’s someone who clearly doesn’t care one bit about the negative consequences of attacking security and inserting backdoors that can harm everyone, just so long as they can also spy on people they don’t like. You know, like the US Senate.