The NSA, everybody’s favourite opaque US government agency, would very much like for a leak like Edward Snowden’s to never happen again, so it’s firing all of the whistleblower’s old colleagues. Well, almost all.
NSA chief Keith Alexander told a cybersecurity conference on Thursday that the agency was cutting 90 per cent of its 1000 or so system administrators in order to limit the number of people with access to top secret data. Snowden, of course, was once one of these sysadmins with access, and boy did he throw everybody for a loop when he took advantage of it, leaking all kinds of information about the NSA’s inner workings to the press.
So to keep this from happening again, the agency is just going to replace this class of would-be whistleblowers with non-whistleblowing computers. “[In the past] what we’ve done is we’ve put people in the loop of transferring data, securing networks and doing things that machines are probably better at doing,” said Alexander, who didn’t mention Snowden by name.
Regardless of how you feel about these latest leaks, you have to admit: This is not a bad idea. Data security is one thing, but automating processes with the help of machines is something that all government agencies should be doing. And while Snowden used his access to shed light on a secretive program, another less high-minded contractor could use it for far more nefarious purposes.
As Alexander himself explained, the change would not only make the “more defensible and more secure,” it would also make them faster and more efficient. Sure, it gets rid of some jobs, but eventually we’re all going to be replaced by robots anyway. Why delay the inevitable? [Reuters]