The new head of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael Rogers, told a crowd gathered at a Bloomberg event Tuesday that anonymity is the price we pay for technology, and his agency is caught in the middle.
“In the world we’re living in, increasingly by choice and by chance, we are forfeiting privacy at levels that as individuals I don’t think we truly understand,” Rogers said according to The Hill. “I’m the first to admit, the idea that you can be totally anonymous in the digital age is increasingly difficult to [execute].”
Given private companies’ and government’s ability to collect, analyze and utilize information about broad groups of people down to specific individuals, being just a face in the crowd is quickly becoming a thing of the past, according to Rogers.
During the cybersecurity forum hosted by Bloomberg Government, the new chief of the signals intelligence agency and the U.S.’s cyber offensive unit echoed his promise to increase NSA transparency and grow the public’s trust in the agency, as well as address the shift in cultural priorities in the most sensitive way the agency can.
Rogers also indicated his determination not to let the bulk surveillance revelations by former agency contractor Edward Snowden permanently characterize the NSA.
“One of the things that I try to tell the workforce out there is: this is not what is going to define us,” Rogers said in a Guardian report. “We cannot go into this hunched-down crunch. We have an important mission.”
Rogers, who described himself as a “direct” person, said he would welcome a “broad dialogue of what we’re doing and why [it] is a good thing for us as a nation,” and indicated he was open to having a public debate about the agency’s legal surveillance authorities.
“There are groups and individuals out there who if they had their way, we would no longer exist as a nation,” Rogers said.
“Now, I’m not one who’s going to sit here and overhype the threat [or say] that in the name of this threat we have to make dramatic changes and curtail our rights, because if we go down that road, in the end, they’ve won. If we change who we are and what we believe and what we represent in the name of security, they have won. I have always believed that.”