Turkey’s ambitions in surveillance

Turkey’s ambitions in surveillance

From the very first day that nations were founded, surveillance has always been an integral part of governance. The people in power always wanted to spy on other countries or their own citizens. The only thing that changed throughout centuries is the technology with which the spying is done. The need for surveillance goes hand in hand with the might of the country. The greater the country the greater the need for surveillance felt by those in charge. In order to be a country with influence, you need to have a steady flow of information about almost everything. 

Turkey’s ambitions in surveillance equals that of great nations such as the United States, Germany, Israel and Russia. As such, the national drone project was very important. Turkey had to have its own drones. It has only been a few months that we have had drones and they are already proving their worth with the intelligence they provide. However, we are still way behind major powers when it comes to the number of drones as last week, the Israeli army announced that they have more drone pilots in the air force than regular war plane pilots.

Aside from drones, Turkey is lagging behind in cyber security measures as well. There is no clear indicator if Turkey is doing something about it. However, last week we learned from the resignation mail of a cyber security firm coder that Turkey is investing 6 million dollars in software that would capture its own citizens’ passwords. 

“I do not wish to spend the rest of my life with regret, so I’m out,” said a company-wide email on April 4 from Kriss Andsten, a senior technical engineer for Fremont, California-based Procera Networks. The email landed with a thud and marked the beginning of an internal revolt that has rattled the telecom technology provider. Andsten went on to explain his grievance: the sale of Procera’s deep packet inspection product for alleged surveillance by a totalitarian regime. “We are … heading down the rabbit hole where we’re not using it for good anymore, in the name of chasing the next buck. A recent request from Turkey… seals the deal for me. The Cliffs Notes version is that we’re selling a solution for extracting usernames and passwords from unencrypted traffic.” After nine years at the company’s offices in Malmö, Sweden, he resigned.

If these claims are true, the government could hack into emails and other personal information at will once they retrieve passwords. No one would want their personal emails to be read by government officials. 

I did not like the news but I find it very normal for a government to want that power. Unfortunately, I believe that none of the governments in the world would say no to such a powerful tool. We have read how Germany spied on all its allies just a few months back. So what is the solution? How can we ensure governments do not want this power? Is this possible? Are there any technological tools that we can use if we want to stay anonymous? I will write about these in the coming weeks.