Saturday, 8 June 2013


I'm late to the game again. But just to recap in case you missed the biggest story in the history of data entry or something, the US government has been spying on us.

As far as I can tell, they have real time access to everyone's phone calls, digital communications and require no warrant. And I'm not even exaggerating or re-living some teenage paranoid fantasy. Take it as gospel that everything you or I have ever done online is being snooped on by some spotty wannabe drone pilot in suburban Idaho. Or will be at some secret organisation's discretion. But that's not even very shocking.

What's really shocking is the lack of outrage. The hip thing to do is make a joke about calling the government to find your lost keys, shrug your virtual shoulders and say, "Yeah, I already knew they have our data. Hell, I give it away for free to Google, Apple and Amazon everyday, I've got nothing to hide."

Well, bully for you. May Our Man gently recommend reading Why privacy matters even if you have nothing to hide which might debunk you of some heavy bunk. It did for me. Basically, should you trust the state to keep your best interests at heart? (no) Keep your data secure, even if its intentions are pure? (no) Accurately interpret what the data means without accidentally assuming you were a dangerous lunatic and launching a drone strike on your bedroom because you bought a copy of George Bush's Decision Points and Tony Blair's A Journey on the same day? (no. Actually, I have no problem with this assessment.) I could go on, but just read the goddamned article and leave me in peace to catch my train of thought.

Oh yeah, the biggest threat.

The biggest threat is that the saner ones among us (use your imagination here) realise this whole social media internet connection thing actually is a thinly veiled Orwell-meets-Kafka bureaucratic big brother trap and they drop out, go offline and disappear or are so scared to behave in anyway that would mark them as abnormal to our higher ups that they lead a freakish fake public life that has no bearing on their true allegiances. Like a blog, er, for instance. Hmmm. Secret state wins.

You know what beats secrecy? Openness. So the state has a secret treasure trove of titbits it can use against the individual, lose or fuck up. Maybe setting up an open record of our identities that can be independently accessed is the only defence. Pervert my data, misuse my identity, set me up, but know this: everyone can see what you're doing because you don't control the only record.

Works for me. My name's Patrick Sherriff, but you already knew that.

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