the police state, continued

Journalists spied on like terrorists

Telecom company works with government to spy on … journalist.

The nation’s leading Internet and telecommunications companies have said they are committed to the sanctity of their customers’ privacy.

I have some very personal reasons to doubt those assurances.

The lines between journalist and terrorist are blurry indeed.

NSA doesn’t assassinate people, trust us

Ex-NSA chief jokes about assassinating Snowden. Then claims that the NSA only does “targeted killings,” not assassinations.

I don’t know if the ex-spy chief is aware that a targeted killing is an assassination or not, though one would presume he’s aware of linguistic hair-splitting.

Surveillance state fallout on private economy and trust of American tech

The French national police are switching thousands of desktop PCs from MS Windows to Linux, apparently for cost reasons. Though one wonders if the real concern is NSA spyware.

The rise of the British police state

Saving the best for last, an excellent editorial on the GCHQ (UK’s NSA) and what it means for rights and privacy. Moderate and balanced. Basically, the UK is turning into a security state. Maybe that’s okay with everyone, but they should know what they’re getting into, be okay with it, vote on it, and accept it if that’s what they really want… since very soon it will be too late to roll it back.

The writer acknowledges the good and proper things that the GCHQ does, but points to risks “at the margins.” In other words, the writer suggests that only a small percentage of what the intelligence services are doing in his country are improper. But he adds that we are at a tipping point, at the precipice of a “new thing in human history.”

He makes an odd analogy that I’ll quote in full:

Add to this the fact that a lot of this electronic potential gives access not just to external real-world data – our locations, our conversations, our contacts books – but to the inside of our heads. I call this the “knowing you’re gay” test. Most of us know someone who has plucked up the courage to reveal their homosexuality, only to be cheerfully told by friends and family, “oh, we’ve known that for years”.

Now, though, search engines know facts about people’s thoughts and fantasies long before anyone else does. To put it crudely, Google doesn’t just know you’re gay before you tell your mum; it knows you’re gay before you do. And now GCHQ does too.

That certainly brings it home, even for those of us who aren’t gay. He puts it bluntly:

We are right on the verge of being an entirely new kind of human society, one involving an unprecedented penetration by the state into areas which have always been regarded as private. Do we agree to that? If we don’t, this is the last chance to stop it happening.

Laudably, he doesn’t just lay the cards on the table, he gives his prescription as well, which is this:  privacy advocates within intelligence agencies, advocating public privacy concerns, as well as a digital bill of rights. (I don’t think he goes far enough, but the suggestions are reasonable.)

He ends the article with this:

As the second most senior judge in the country, Lord Hoffmann, said in 2004 about a previous version of our anti-terrorism laws: “The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws like these. That is the true measure of what terrorism may achieve.”

I agree. In regards to anti-terror laws, we should all feel a certain degree of terror.

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