Sunday, 11 August 2013

Hey You, Whitehouse, Ha Ha, Charade You Are

What are the main things we learned out of the escapades of one Edward Snowden?
I will summarize. We learned the USA is actively tapping into the Internet activities of the world entire. We learned that it is also actively tapping its own citizens (not that I care much about this slight difference). We learned many countries across the world have access to the information the USA thus gathers, Australia included. We learned countries like Australia and the UK actually provide support to these tapping activities. And we also learned commercial companies, both American and not (e.g., Telstra), have been aiding the USA by providing direct access to the data passing through them.
In short, everything anyone in the world does over the Internet, with the exception of encrypted stuff, passes under the USA's radar. And even encryption only gets you thus far: it can often be cracked, and if it's not then the NSA will store it until it has the ability to crack it; often there is no need for cracking because a lot can be learned by examining the meta data alone; and if push comes to shove, the NSA has the means to crack into pretty much every computer out there.
Almost everything Internet passes under the USA's watchful eye, and the exception is not immune either.

So far so good. My question now is, where to from here? My impression is that the only reason the USA is tapping anything and everything is because it can. The minute it acquired the technical capability it jumped on the bandwagon, sorting all sorts of legislation and secret dummy courts in order to give itself the legitimacy it needed to go ahead (but not the legitimacy that neither the rest of the world nor the USA public itself requires).
I look at it from the point of view of a science fiction fan who has just seen one of the genre's worst nightmares come true. If the USA became George Orwell's Big Brother so easily, then what is there to prevent it turning another horror sci-fi story into reality? Nothing but the next whistleblower.
What's next, then?Are we going to hear the news telling us of American robot soldiers killing people without discrimination? Oops, we already hear of such American drone attacks all the time. So, are we going to wake up one day to hear the news of some whistleblower leaking details of the USA doing some Soylent Green stuff just because it could and just because it thought it could get away with it?

Image copyright: Mad Magazine (I know I'll be buying this issue when it comes out at the end of August!)

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