The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald revealed the widespread nature of internet spying by U.S. and British intelligence agencies:
The National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have broadly compromised the guarantees that internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications, online banking and medical records would be indecipherable to criminals or governments.
The agencies, the documents reveal, have adopted a battery of methods in their systematic and ongoing assault on what they see as one of the biggest threats to their ability to access huge swathes of internet traffic – "the use of ubiquitous encryption across the internet".
Those methods include covert measures to ensure NSA control over setting of international encryption standards, the use of supercomputers to break encryption with "brute force", and – the most closely guarded secret of all – collaboration with technology companies and internet service providers themselves.
Through these covert partnerships, the agencies have inserted secret vulnerabilities – known as backdoors or trapdoors – into commercial encryption software.
Tyrants need to control their subjects. Knowing what they think is critical.
Update 9-27-13: Senator Ron Wyden said in a Senate committee hearing on NSA spying, "the leadership of NSA built an intelligence collection system that repeatedly deceived the American people." Actually NSA leaders repeatedly deceived the elected representatives of the American people. NSA leaders, like Wall Street titans, face zero consequences for any illegal incursions.