Sunday, 30 June 2013


So many things to say about the surveillance state, but I couldn’t put it better than Scahill and Greenwald, so I’ll leave it to them. I can’t recommend the vid above highly enough if you have any interest in hearing from two true American patriots and are not frightened of the word socialism.

But enough about them, let’s talk about me.

Ambassador Roos or his underlings haven’t seen fit to reply to my question I asked him last week about whether the country he represents is recording all my digital communications with the world. But perhaps he didn’t see any need to answer because almost certainly the US government (and Blighty, let’s not forget) are spying on me. I know this because they are almost certainly spying on you too. Everyone, in fact. They’ve got the whole digital world in their hands. There has been no denial of spying. There has been no denial of the secret government agreements to have backdoor access to every Microsoft, Google and Apple product that we have ever used since 2007.

And while I’m not so conceited to believe the US government gives two figs what I’m up to--I mean, why should they?--I also appreciate that they are going to treat me as they do every other foreigner (and American citizen) as a potential threat/problem/number. In other words, all my email conversations, twitter rants, facebook photos, Skype chats and Google searches for scantily clad women are being kept forever in a vault in some buttfuck desert town where they are glad of the jobs ever since Wal-Mart drove out all the local businesses before closing down.

Yours are too.

Like Snowden, like Greenwald, like Scahill, like any sane person who has thought about the issues at stake for more than a soundbite, this is not the world I want to live in or want my children to live in.

So, what can I do? I don’t really know. But here are some starting points that resonate with me.

  1. I will not play their game.
  2. I will speak my mind.
  3. I will not be scared.
  4. I will stand up for those who are standing up for me.
  5. I will not back down.
As a first symbolic act, I have disabled my Sitemeter hit counter on this blog. From now on I will not be secretly tracking which mad fuckers are still reading this blog. I can hardly rail against the state for collecting metadata from folk if I am too, can I?

I’m not playing their game anymore.


Dan Ryan said...

This is excellent. No fear, no self-censorship, no bullshit. It's the only free way.

Ἀντισθένης said...

In addition, to the extent that you can, avoid/boycott America. For starters, I have not gone for over a decade, and won't, and my Toronto home is not exactly far from it.

Jan Moren said...

I have a lot of unformed thoughts about all of this.

One idea that comes up all the time, though, is that we need more surveillance, not less. That is, done by us against corporations and states; as a counterweight to their surveillance against us.

When laws are enacted against drones, for instance, it's our use of drones that is made illegal, while companies and states are free to continue to use them. The same kind of effect seems to happen with almost any other privacy regulation.

Not sure how to combat that.

Scott said...

As an American on his 6th year in Japan I'm a bit torn. I really feel sick about the fact that my government treats all its suspects I mean citizens as potential criminals. Snowden blew this open. The reason I'm torn is that Japan doesn't do all that much better for non Japanese. I want my son to go to a western school where he won't be beaten mentally into submission by the JH/hs system here. But that's years off... Man stuff is getting way too complicated for me.

Aerliss said...

Jan Moren; I read an interesting article about surveillance of the government by the people when Google Glass arrived. Let me see if I can find it...

Nope, not happening. There are way too many articles on this subject to search through >_<

Essentially it said; the government IS going to spy on us. We can't stop them; the genie is out of the bottle. To combat it we need more surveillance, not less. Let everything, everywhere be watched all of the time by everyone. Democratisation of surveillance.

Would it work? Is it possible? Do we stop playing their game or play it by our own rule sheet? If we all know we are being watched do we win because we are watching the government or do we lose because even if we know what the government is doing we can't stop them.

The problem is power balance; they have it all. Even if we're watching them, they still have all the power.

I don't know. I'm still chewing this one. What can we do that will work that doesn't require a bloody revolution that will, by necessity, leave half of the world in ruins?

Definitely with Our Man on points 2, 3, 4 and 5 though. Even if 4 and 5 are only my own small little way in my tiny part of the world and internet.

Some guy who is definitely not in cahoots with Snowden, no matter what the Japan Times says said...

I might also recommend taking your site off of Blogger and hosting it yourself somewhere. The "share this on social network X, Y, and Z" buttons at the bottom of the post also look out of place after you get through its content . . .

Patrick Sherriff said...

Dan, yep. Morally there is no other way, but morals don’t pay the rent.

Greek dude, you can’t avoid the US. No one in the world can. They have just proven that.

Jan, indeed. But I don’t think my Sitemeter is much of a defence against the NSA. My budget doesn’t stretch to drones.

Scott, it’s gone beyond nationalism, it’s not even about the US spooks, they are just better at it (or were) -- this is a global problem, the solution has to be of an equally grand scale. Maybe.

Aerliss, hey great to get a comment from you. My only response is: if the only defence against the surveillance state is to be more snoopy and wear Google Glasses at all times then we are no better than the state; we’ve torn down the edifice to build a new edifice all by ourselves. Great. But, maybe there’s something in it.

Some dude with dubious friends, yeah. But where is safe for privacy? And since when did Our Man care about appearances? Also, a) it is way too late for me anyway and b) fuck ’em, I ain’t running, I’ve done nothing wrong. Also, c) I have not thought this through at all.