Bloomberg Receipts 2014: “WE SHOULD HOPE” THE NSA IS “READING EVERY EMAIL”

Duane Townsend

The Intercept - February 14, 2020

"During Bloomberg’s mayoral tenure, the NYPD used undercover informants to spy on a number of activist groups, includingOccupy Wall Street.Most infamously, the NYPD ran a yearslong surveillance program of Muslims in the greater NYC area that involved undercover informants and other types of surveillance. APulitzer prize-winning seriesby theAssociated Pressrevealed that the NYPD’s Intelligence Division not only monitored numerous mosques, it also had a “Demographics Unit” that mapped “ancestries of interest.”

IN OCTOBER 2014, on a stage in San Francisco in front of a live audience, Katie Couric asked Mike Bloomberg whether he had ever “sexted on Snapchat.” The former New York City mayor, speaking alongside Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit, joked that he “couldn’t answer the question.” But the question prompted Bloomberg to describe his views on data collection, and a personal “Richard Nixon lesson” about record-keeping.

What followed was a lighthearted discussion of digital privacy, in which Bloomberg, now a candidate in the Democratic presidential race, praised the National Security Agency and said he doesn’t have a problem with apps selling users’ personal data, as long as consumers understand what is happening.

“Look, if you don’t want it to be in the public domain, don’t take that picture, don’t write it down. In this day and age, you’ve got to be pretty naive to believe that the NSA isn’t listening to everything and reading every email,” Bloomberg said. “And incidentally, given how dangerous the world is, we should hope they are, because this is really serious, what’s going on in the world.”

Bloomberg’s comments in 2014 came more than a year after the first disclosures of documents by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, but before a federal appeals court ruled that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records was illegal. Bloomberg did not describe any specific NSA program or form of data collection in detail, but the lighthearted conversation contains insights into his views on digital privacy.

Bloomberg mentioned Snowden by name, saying that because hackers or whistleblowers can obtain and leak records, he joked that he has a rule against keeping records. “And when you write something, you take a picture and somebody leaks it,” Bloomberg said. “How many times does that have to happen before you realize it’s gonna happen again and it could happen to you? And so whether it’s Snowden or some hacker or something, it’s what I call the Richard Nixon lesson: Don’t record it.”

“I think we are trading our privacy and personal freedoms for convenience and pleasure,” Bloomberg continued, “We always worry about the NSA — I hate to come back to them — knowing what we’re doing. Everything you’re doing with every app is recorded, and those companies try to sell that information and profit from it, and then they say ‘Oh, isn’t it terrible that the NSA has been looking at you.’ Come on. They’re doing the same thing themselves. The NSA at least can say, ‘We’re doing it to try to save everybody’s lives.’ The other, they’re doing it because they want to make money. I don’t have a problem with it, but I think you should understand what’s happening.” ...
Read full report at The Intercept

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