Inevitable problem ?
Wasn't there a certain inevitability about all this? I'm not excusing any cover up but we all knew from the very beginning that an increasingly digitally connected world would mean more and more of our holiday snaps, emails, rants and other digital missives would remain where we put them, on internet facing servers etc. Further to that we all seem happy with increasing amounts of our 'personal' data being trawled / shared by all manner of commercial establishments etc. Therefore I am not very surprised myself to find that security agencies want to take a peek at it all as well. We, perhaps blindly, make the choice to entangle our lives digitally, therefore that's now the best place to find out who we are and what we are up to. Because things in the real world can happen so fast, aided by light-speed communication, I can't see that relying on steaming open letters and hear-say would be a very good information channel when tracking down potential criminals or terrorists etc. Both the good guys and the bad guys increasingly rely on and use the internet and other accepted forms of digital communication.
The real shame is the lack of clarity and truth on the part of governments that this is indeed the case. Over the years there has been no end of sound advice aimed at children to keep themselves and their personal information safe from miscreants, so did we somehow feel that being adult meant that it was all right for us to ignore similar advice. Not really, perhaps, but it gets in the way when you which to digitally connect to the big wide world.
Inevitably I suspect that those security agencies involved will no doubt have realised that at some point details of their underhand peeking would come out and I have no doubt that they will have planned for this. In such a 'connected' world it would be difficult to image that any such activity, especially if it entailed employing out-sourced personnel, would remain secret for long. More so, perhaps, with the growing number of people prepared to blow whistles who are making the headlines.
Are not these revelations then a good thing, to be welcomed, and do they not mean that at last we are starting to talk about our connected, digital, lives and what they mean to us all as individuals, security agencies, groups and miscreants. We therefore also have to accept that the lack of inherent security in all things digital will mean that others can gain access to our little bits of data as they fly down the wires and across the disk platters.
Many I suspect would boil down what I have said above into the phrase 'If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear', and that is kind of where I am going, but, I remain convinced that the most important thing to come out of this is the chance to discuss where we go from here. What forms of oversight, control and independent analysis do we want to see governing this kind of surveillance, because it's not going to go away very soon is it.
The internet is a reflection of all things good and bad about being human, but, it also has the potential to break down cultural barriers that have kept us apart, as a unit, for millennia. I welcome that 'sharing' of experience and knowledge, even if it comes at a somewhat detrimental price to our overall digital liberty.
We may certainly argue that we need to wrest back control of our personal devices and stop-up the back doors of data flow that track all most everything we use those devices for, but, whilst we continue to use digital data traffic the ease with which that traffic can be monitored must be accepted.
So let's see if we can find an acceptable solution to this inevitable problem shall we, after all, the speed of such digital communication also enhances the speed with which whistles can be blown.