The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is trying to justify the National Security Agency’s attempts to infiltrate online anonymity tools after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden released a report to the Guardian exposing the actions.
“The intelligence community is only interested in communication related to valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes and that we operate within a strict legal framework that prohibits accessing information related to the innocent online activities of U.S. citizens,” James Clapper, director of national intelligence, said in an Oct. 4 statement on the IC on the Record blog.
The report stated NSA staged attacks to expose anonymous users of the online service Tor. The service makes its users virtually undetectable, which has made it a perfect hiding place for potential terrorists and other enemies of the state.
“The Intelligence community’s interest in online anonymity services and other online communication and networking tools is based on the undeniable fact that these are the tools our adversaries use to communicate and coordinate attacks against the United States and our allies,” Clapper said in the statement.
Supporters of the free use of anonymous services feel NSA overstepped its boundaries.
“One of the biggest issues is that the NSA uses the word anonymous as an excuse to mean foreign,” said Kurt Opsahl, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “People have the right to speak anonymously online. The idea goes all the way back to the Federalist Papers.”
Opsahl added that people in the Internet community were impressed by Tor’s ability to repel some of NSA’s intrusions. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a former sponsor of Tor.
“We don’t want to live in a future where people don’t have the right to speak anonymously,” Opsahl said.