Originally published on Tripwire, July 25, 2017
In my previous article, I discussed the clash of systems we currently are in. Super quick recap: in one corner, we have the Westphalian nation-state system that’s been around since 1648 and is built on the principles of sovereignty, legal equality and a policy of non-interventionism; in the other corner, we have the Internet, which has no established sovereignty, is marred by legal blurring, and by virtue is interventionist and disruptive in nature.
Ultimately, what we have is a system clash where our original intent – free flow of information but with positive control of the Internet in our lives – has been flipped on its head, where the Internet effectively controls our lives.
I closed the article by stating that national interests will continue to take precedence over any other interest for the foreseeable future. I will now try to illustrate to you that that’s the case in this article. I begin from two nuanced comments, which are both related to Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act that then FBI Director James Comey made during his May 3, 2017, testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The first comment, in response to a question from Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT):
“We need this to protect the country. This should be an easy conversation to have, but often people get confused about the details and mix it up with other things. So it’s our job to make sure we explain it clearly.”
And the second comment, in response to a question from Senator John Cornyn (R-TX):
“Thank you, Senator. The — every time I talk about this publicly I wince a little bit because I don’t want bad people around the world to focus on this too much. But really bad people around the world, because of the genius of American innovation, use our products and infrastructure for their emails, for their communications.”
These two comments may come across as fairly benign, straightforward and even expected. But in their simplicity, they say one thing: my interest first. And just as important is what Comey did not say. Anybody that understands operational security 101 knows not to talk about methods unless circumstances explicitly require you to do so.
Why not? Because of the need to protect the national interest, that’s why.