Twitter wasn't always Marc Andreessen's jam. His recent bout of 140 character logorrhea came after a lengthy 983 day silent period. But the venture capitalist is back with a vengeance and recently launched a diatribe dismissing people who question the NSA as naive and possibly illiterate.
I am saying that I have yet to see one Snowden revelation that wasn't obvious to people who had read existing books + articles + history.
— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) January 15, 2014
Andreessen has been dabbling in sports metaphors and a little historical fiction. But things got serious today after this New York Times story about what the NSA demurely refers to as "active defense" against cyber-attacks:
While most of the software is inserted by gaining access to computer networks, the N.S.A. has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet . . .
As you can see from the Storify compiled by Business Insider (below), it really set him off. It's impossible to tell if BI's headline—"Finally! Someone In Silicon Valley Has The Guts To Defend The NSA"—is sarcastic because, who even knows with those guys, and because Andreessen is an investor in Business Insider. For definitive hero worship, check out this Forbes contributor love letter from a former BI employee.
In any case, some of Andreessen's defense of spying is reasonable, even if he has to invent straw men to make his point. Yes, other countries are spying on us. Yes, we want to stop the bad guys. Yes, citizens both want to be protected and still have privacy. Yes, the U.S. allocates a lot of funding to U.S. intelligence agencies. No, even intelligent people don't know how exactly the money was being spent. Yes, this has been happening for awhile. No, no one expects the NSA to be polite.
Here is how a major financier of the technology you use everyday thinks about the biggest national security story of our time—tactics judges have called unconstitutional and elected officials claimed they didn't know about. There is a difference between real talk about complicated issues like terrorism and the level of sneering disdain for consumers who did not know what they signed up for by utilizing Silicon Valley's products. They didn't know this because the information was not made transparent or clear.
Take a look at Andreessen Horowitz's portfolio, because this worldview about privacy has gotta trickle down to their terms of service at some point.
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