The US Senate rejected Wednesday a bill that would empower the FBI to get warrantless access to people’s metadata, including internet browsing histories. It had been proposed after the shooting at a gay club in Orlando. However, another vote on the bill – is expected to come soon. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell switched his vote to ‘no’ at the end of the voting in a move that will allow him to bring the legislation up for consideration again.
RT: How dangerous might this amendment be to privacy, if the FBI could so easily and legally gather metadata information? What are the potential repercussions?
John McAfee: The concept is horrific. Using metadata alone – you can find out a lot about a person. But to look at the browsing history – for heaven’s sake that is got to be among the most private of all things. There are people who might visit unsavory sites – that is their business, not my business. What has happened in the American government is our government has lost sight of the meaning of privacy.
Privacy is not just if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear – that is nonsense. Privacy is exercised by every individual in this country hundreds of times per day. With every relationship that you have, you choose a different level of privacy. Buying something at the store from a clerk you do not know, you might talk about at most the weather or the price of clothes. When you talk to a casual acquaintance – she might divulge more. To a good friend – you might divulge a lot. To your spouse – you might divulge everything. But even then you might choose to withhold certain things…
RT: Isn’t it up to a citizen how much to disclose?
JM: Yes, absolutely… If everyone knew everything about everyone else, we would have chaos. When the government begins to remove those barriers that we purposely put in place to keep society functioning smoothly then we’re talking away a foundation of the same society. Please see this – this is insane.
RT: Proponents of expanding the Patriot Act argue that allowing extending the powers for the FBI and other intelligence agencies could have prevented the Orlando attack. Are they right, or are they just exploiting the fears of American?
JM: They are totally wrong. Look at the powers that they already have that have done nothing. The FBI is supposed to be one of the most technologically advanced parts of our country. Yet, during the iPhone incident with Apple they couldn’t even get into a phone which I know 10,000 hackers could easily get into this.
The FBI specifically is using situations like terrorism to try to gain an entry into the private lives of the American public – first by going to Apple saying “give as a master key!” Had they succeeded? They then had gone to Google, which owns 92 percent of the market and said: “You give us a master key!” Now they are asking Congress to in the name of protecting society to let us invade the rights of society. You can’t do that. There is no way to protect us by invading us.
RT: Donald Trump earlier said that Americans don’t know what was in Clinton’s deleted e-mails, while US “enemies probably know every single one of them.” Given your role as a technologist, how true is all of that? Do you think somebody accessed her e-mails and can they permanently be deleted?
JM: Ok, I’d like to first say that I very seldom agree with Trump. However, in this case he is absolutely correct. We have records, public statements her server has been hacked. They shut it down a couple of times because a hack was in process. Now, what does that mean – a hacking process – if you noticed it, your data is gone. They had taken the security controls off her server, because many people were not getting her e-mails. Her server was hacked – we know this. I am well-connected with the dark web; I have to be, because I am in the security business. And if you don’t know what the bad people are doing, then you can’t build a good product…
The government is completely clueless when it comes to security. Or if they are not clueless then they are deliberately deceiving the American public. I don’t want to believe that.