One story that seems to have broken while I was on me hols is that of Google, Amazon, Facebook and other websites getting embroiled in a controversy regarding internet snooping by the NSA and MI6. While the websites denying doing anything wrong (I’m waiting for Google to get it over and done with and change its slogan from “don’t be evil” to “we’re so evil we have a doctorate from evil medical school“), the evidence does seem to point to the fact that the NSA has been snooping on internet users via its so-called PRISM network. An organization which sounds not too far removed from the Orwellian “TSA” system proposed under G. W. Bush, that was supposed to have been killed as even house Republicans immediately after 9/11 felt it went too far.
That the NSA is spying on UK and US citizens should not exactly come as a surprise. I mean what do you think the tens of thousands of people who work for this organisation do all day? What I find surprising is the how the mainstream media are acting with shock horror to this. I think anyone with a brain could have worked out its been going on for years if not decades, for as the security services are concerned the cold war (and WW2 before it) never really ended, and never will end cos that’s them on the dole if it does!
Casing point the British media got into a tizzy over the idea that the NSA was spying on UK citizens, then passing on the info to GCHQ, thus bypassing legislation designed to stop the intelligence services doing this (at least without a warrant). In essence its a snoopers charter via the back door. but this has been going on for decades via the joint NSA, MI6 “ECHELON” spy network. This “PRISM” project merely involves doing what ECHELON have been doing for decades (such as evesdropping on telephone conversations, bank details, etc.) and brings it into the 21st century of social media.
Indeed the scary thing is the involvement of private industry in all of this. the principle whistle blower behind this story was not an employee of the CIA or NSA but of a private sub-contractor, Booz Allen & Hamilton. Also, both the CIA and MI6 operate a system where by quite a number of their “experts” are allowed to work for private industry as consultants. Now while officially they are supposed to be “consulting” to help companies enhance their security. But as you can imagine, the suspicion is that they are also helping corporations friendly to certain regimes to spy either on competitors, foreign governments or on special interest groups (e.g. environmental protesters). The idea that these officers or sub contractors will come into work and not use the vast intelligence gathering tools at their finger tips to assist in such highly lucrative corporate (and highly illegal) espionage is laughably naive.
In short governments have been asleep at the wheel on this one since the end of the cold war. Yes there are some nasty evil people whom we want to keep tabs on but that doesn’t mean turning the UK and US into a state the East German Stazi would be proud of. What this incident highlights is that there is an urgent need both sides of the Atlantic to reign in and ultimately cut down to size (we are in recession, which would you rather sack a few pervy spooks or a doctors and nurses?) these intelligence agencies.
Indeed the very fact that Edward Snowden (the whistle blower) is seeking asylum in China (a country not exactly known for a lack of government snooping), should come as a serious wakeup call to us all.
The “law abiding citizens have nothing to fear” gambit only works if we can be completely sure that those running these organisations are completely trustworthy and without bias. And as I’ve pointed out, this is highly doubtful. In short who watches the watchers?