Perhaps the most entertaining part about spy movies is when you are left wondering whether there is any truth to them. Now it seems that a major operation has been uncovered after nearly 7 decades of it being in place.
According to an expose by the Washington Post, the CIA and BND (German Secret Service) have been silently running a company that offers encryption communication services. Since World War II, the Swiss company Crypto AG has been offering encryption services to over 120 different countries.
Secret Operations in Our Midst
As the hidden third-party operator of Crypto AG, the United States and Germany have had access to all of these communications while remaining unknown to their customers. Apparently this surveillance has helped uncover private data related to the 1979 Iran Hostage situation and the Falklands War.
The idea of setting up a “neutral” party and running tons of communications through it is brilliant, but definitely leads to the question of how far is too far? Allegedly, the operation was first titled “Thesaurus”, but was later renamed “Rubicon”, and was only shut down in 2018 when technological advancements made it obsolete.
Privacy is a core tenet of the blockchain technology world, and is becoming increasingly important as more scandals come to light. Edward Snowden was just the beginning, and it seems like there will be many more similar news stories over the next few years as more people wake up to the government’s actions
The cryptocurrency world is largely a reflection of the failings of the way current institutions are functioning, and privacy is a significant part of that. Ethereum and Bitcoin are working to improve their privacy features, but there are also privacy coins like Monero and Zcash which are solely focused around this idea.
The Privacy Quandary
What very few people seem to remember is that privacy is truly a double-edged sword. It’s great if you have it, but what if your enemy has it as well? Is it better to give up privacy for increased safety of the world? These are important moral questions that will need to be answered over the years.
And not just answered by governments. We have hit a point where many companies are offering services that allow their users to completely avoid the interference of the government. It is easy to circumnavigate surveillance, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. These companies will undoubtedly be party to illicit activity over the years, and even though this isn’t by design, it will raise the question of whether they should even be allowed to exist.