Over the last eight months, journalists have dug deep into documents made available by Edward Snowden to reveal that the world of NSA mass surveillance involves close partnerships with a series of companies most of us have never heard of that design or probe the software we all take for granted to help keep our digital lives humming along.
Plea bargaining or persuading criminals to snitch on their associates—a tactic frowned upon by international legal experts—is widely used in the U.S. police and legal system. Over the last year or so, however, a trickle of information about the other secret program has come to light, and it opens an astonishing new window into the privatization of U.S. intelligence.
Inside your mobile phone and hidden behind your web browser are little known software products marketed by contractors to the government that can follow you around anywhere. No longer the wide-eyed fantasies of conspiracy theorists, these technologies are routinely installed in all of our data devices by companies that sell them to Washington for a profit.