We spent a day at the National Security Agency (NSA) conversing with the employees about their work.
In the daily standup meeting, the manager asks, “Okay, anything new today?” “There were shootings in New Orleans — 5 people died, ” an informed employee adds. “Wasn’t that yesterday?” the manager questions. “No, that was Atlanta, ” she follows.
Answering my inquiry about their vast datasets, an engineer responded, “At NSA, we make sure our databases are comprehensive and accurate. We have partnered with the generous people at Facebook and Google.”
Concerned with a pressing matter, I asked, “So, do you spy on people?” “We keep all your information secure. What do you think we have thousands of employees for?” responds the manager. I further inquried, “Right. But do they access our data?” “Protecting people is our duty, ” he concludes.
The engineers have their own qualms. “Yes, there are bugs in our software. But you get used to the bugs, ” expressed Zoey, lead engineer. “It’s incredible — our efforts to stop terrorism go unnoticed. That’s how good our software is, ” adds her colleague, Zia.
“Dude, can you stop reading his emails? He is more personal on his Messenger,” advises an investigator to his colleague. “Dude, he really needs to update his OS. His shit is so slow, ” complains an engineer.
The lead ethicist at NSA comments, “Okay, yea, privacy is important. But so is national security. We keep people safe — from terrorists; and trolls.”
“Just because we have access to people’s devices doesn’t mean we spy on them. We have programs for that, ” says the lead developer.
“Look at this kid’s history. It’s all 4chan, hentai, and gun sites.” an investigator comments about his assignment to the database admin. “Hm okay, flag him and put him in the incel DB, ” the admin resolves.
“Hey, is that JLo? Let me get in on that, ” I overhear from an excited employee.