Ever feel like you can't keep up with all the doom and gloom echoing around the internet? Motherboard's here to help. With GIFs. Welcome to THIS WEEK IN HELL, a feature that brings you hard-hitting animated coverage of the week's most apocalyptic events, straight from the digital pen of Jay Spahr.
Another week, another slew of embarrassing revelations about all the organizations the NSA is spying on. It's getting hard to keep up with the growing list, so we created the handy GIF guide above. (Yes, we might as well assume the whole world has been tapped.)
The biggest bombshell this week came from the Washington Post, which revealed that the NSA had tapped into Google and Yahoo! data centers in order to skim off data from users whenever the agency wanted. Of particular note was the fact that the NSA used a hand-drawn diagram (complete with smiley face) in its own PowerPoint describing the program. As the Post wrote, "Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing." As our Meghan Neal explained, the system offered a glimpse into how an agency like the NSA can hack the backbone of the internet. Naturally, Google is "outraged."
But that's not all! An Italian magazine alleged that the NSA had tapped none other than the Vatican. That the Vatican is a political juggernaut shouldn't come as a surprise, and governments have tried to spy on its inner workings just as they try to spy on anyone else. Still, allegations of tapping into the Pope's phone isn't exactly helping the NSA's tarnished image.
Speaking of governments spying on each other, the NSA does that too. That the agency had tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel is old news at this point, and now Spain also says it has concerns about American spying. Add to that an order from President Obama earlier this week to stop spying on the UN—which would appear to be an implicit admission that the NSA was spying on the UN—and you've got pretty much every country in the world involved. (I suppose we've not yet got proof that the NSA is spying on Western Sahara.)
Perhaps the worst revelation, at least as far as the US's standing in the world is concerned, is the admission that the White House approved spying on allies. According to the LA Times's story, that means that not only are allied governments steamed at the White House, but also that the American intelligence community is angry with President Obama for trying to plead ignorance.
All the blowback is producing results. Aside from the ban on spying on UN headquarters, the White House also announced a ban on spying on the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which no one even knew was being spied on in the first place. At this point, how could you not expect that? Add in the new accusations that Russia gave out spyware-laden swag at the G20 summit, and it's like the whole world has turned into a Robert Ludlum novel.