In an NBC Nightly News exclusive with Brian Williams, Edward Snowden, a man who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, but later disclosed thousands of classified U.S. documents, said regarding an iPhone Williams was using, “The NSA, the Russian Intelligence Service, the Chinese Intelligence Service — any intelligence service in the world that has significant funding and a real technological research team — can own that phone the minute it connects to their network.
“As soon as you turn it on it can be theirs. They can turn it into a microphone. They can take pictures from it. They can take the data off of it. But it’s important to understand that these things are typically done on a targeted basis.”
Snowden told Williams about a computer program that, as he put it, “Can get inside your thought process.” Snowden said, “When I think about an instance that really just struck me as, ‘Oh my God! We can do this!’ And that we can do it to anyone, was that people at ... NSA analysts, can actually watch people’s Internet communications; watch them draft correspondence and actually watch their thoughts form as they type!
“As you write a message, an analyst or any other service out there that’s using this kind of attack against people, can actually see you write sentences and then backspace over your mistakes, then change the words and kind of pause and think about what you wanted to say — then change it. It’s this extraordinary intrusion, not just into your communication, your finished messages — but your actual drafting process, into the way you think!”
Perhaps you’ve noticed how traditional surveillance cameras are quietly being replaced with a new, far more powerful generation of surveillance that is being installed to track every vehicle and person across an area the size of a small city, for several hours at a time.
While many organizations and individuals are protesting against unwarranted mass spying and the need to reform the government’s way of collecting innocent people’s information, there is an equally disturbing race to spy on terrorists and potential terrorists to discover who they are, where they are, how they work and where they may strike next.
In the meantime, spy agencies are said to be collecting users’ phone calls, emails, address books, calling records, financial documents, online video chats, browsing history, text messages and detailed calendar information. That could include yours. Supporters of mass surveillance argue that it has become a necessary evil — that the innocent have nothing to fear.
But social movements against unregulated spy surveillance by governments is rising. Jay Stanley, a privacy expert with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Washington Post, “If you turn your country into a totalitarian surveillance state, there’s always some wrongdoing you can prevent. The balance struck in our Constitution tilts toward liberty, and I think we should keep that value.”
Whether you feel our culture is being conditioned to having no privacy at all may depend on your own values. What sounds paranoid today may sound more like a nightmare tomorrow, especially for those who put faith in Bible prophecies that indicate a sudden change in the way the world will treat servants of the true God.
In addition to foretelling many of the global troubles humans are now experiencing on an unprecedented scale, Jesus Christ warned at Matthew 24:9, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” — New International Version.
If an assault on God’s people is inevitable, one has to wonder what role this spy surveillance might play. If governments can know who you are, where you are, how you think and who you’re with by turning your iPhone or computer into a camera, a listening device or a tracking device for their own use, one has to ask: Just how far can anyone rely on this technology?
How successful this foretold persecution is may depend on how much we rely on God instead of technology. The advice of Proverbs 3:5-6 is still the best advice: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” — New Living Translation.
Of course, God’s people who have nothing to hide are not afraid of any human surveillance. They have long recognized as Proverbs 15:3 says, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” — New King James Version.
The biggest difference in God's watchful eye over people and secret government surveillance is that God can read hearts and has the ability to punish evildoers without accidentally punishing the innocent. As a God of justice He will never abuse His power or violate our trust. Psalm 37:28 says, “The Lord loves justice, and he won’t ever desert his faithful people.” — Contemporary English Version.
By seeing all things, our Heavenly Father can reward the faithful and guarantee that no one, not even governments, will escape punishment. As Hebrews 3:14 says, “There is not a creation that is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of the one to whom we must give an account.” — New World Translation.
Certainly, computer technology offers us many benefits. The real question is: How far will you trust it? Surely, the One who made the ones who made computers is the only One who deserves our full and unshakable trust.