Skip to main content

Hasta La Vista, Privacy: Meet NSA’s Very Own Skynet Program

I know now why you spy.


In a stunningly surprising-yet-not-surprising move, The Intercept revealed that the NSA has named one of its metadata gathering programs Skynet. You know, the horrifying computer system in that one movie that tries to end humanity as we know it? The one that creates super powered cyborgs that kill humans? The thing that allowed us to create the “Governator” nickname? Yeah. That Skynet.

Joking aside, Skynet’s use as a program for gathering metadata has pretty scary implications. For starters, it’s imperfect. It recently mislabelled a prominent Al Jazeera journalist as a possible terrorist with links to Al Qaeda. It did so by gathering metadata, which involves things like suspicious phone behavior or practices, and compares them with the habits of known terrorists.

Combine that with the fact that this Skynet also tries to kill people based on that data (kind of like the evil chrome robots in the movie) with drones, and you’ve got sci-fi dystopia waiting to happen.

It’s important to note, though, that data gathering like this has already been ruled to be illegal by the Supreme Court.

Maybe someone over at the NSA just has a wicked(ly bad) sense of humor. Or is that hoping for too much?

(via Gizmodo)

—Please make note of The Mary Sue’s general comment policy.—

Do you follow The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, & Google +?

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (, and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters ( She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.