December 9, 2013
As evident by the recent revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) and the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have been conducting surveillance of online games and virtual fantasy "worlds" such as World of Warcraft and Second Life, their desire to cast as wide a net as possible in order to trawl for information knows no bounds.
According to documents disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden, these efforts also include a keen interest in Americans online dating habits. A stack of powerpoint slides suggests that the NSA has infiltrated and is siphoning all user data and activities from at least JDate, Tinder and, most comprehensively, Grindr.
While both GCHQ and the NSA declined to comment for this article, a person close to the program, codenamed BACKDOOR, spoke with us on the condition of anonymity. "When you think about it, it just makes sense," the analyst said. "What better place to hide and be able to communicate with other subversives, to plot and scheme terrorist acts than on Grindr?"
Grindr, according to Wikipedia, "is a geosocial networking application geared towards gay, bisexual, and bi-curious men." The argument, according to the documents, is "as brilliant as it is obvious", if only in hindsight (our source giggled: "hindsight - get it?"): since the lifestyle promoted by the application is not expected to be supported by the terrorist profile the NSA deploys, there would not be any terrorist found on these networks. Logically, they argue, this is precisely where they would hide.
Objections about illegally monitoring innocent Americans do not appear to apply. "By being on these networks, you are obviously guilty of something," the analyst argues. "In the words of Eric Schmidt: 'If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.'"
This mindset is reflected on the closing slides about BACKDOOR, citing James R. Clapper's well-known slogan, coincidentally also found on General Keith B. Alexander's own Grindr profile: "If the NSA does it, that means that it is not illegal."
December 9, 2013