Recently we have read a good deal about a former CIA employee – now holed up in Hong Kong – who brought us the revelations of mass surveillance by his Government via the NSA [The National Security Agency]. It lead to further revelations of spying by a number of countries on their own citizens.
We are fully aware that such overview of suspects in the terrorism game have been carried out for a number of years, but the quite widespread use of the mass surveillance was not common knowledge. And the question arises whether we should care if we have nothing to hide.
Well, perhaps we should care.
Why would anyone spy on your emails, phone calls, your computer use and communications by sundry devices if you haven’t been accused of doing something unlawful. We are supposed to be regarded as innocent until proven guilty, so by spying we are presumed guilty before legal process.
Mass surveillance also gets around our right to control our personal data, what and to whom we choose to communicate and by what method and time. We close our curtains, seal our letters, not to hide anything, but because we chose how to share content. GCSB or any other security setup should not without legally warranted reason be able to perform such surveillance that we now learn is more commonplace than previously thought.
It seems clear that in at least Russia and the USA as well as in the UK the Governments have far-reaching capabilities to snoop on everybody and every thing and here lies a great danger because the power to govern can only too easily be transferred to the Security apparatus. Travelling overseas you may recall the need at the airport to remove your shoes at security. All because a single incident of a shoe bomber [unsuccessful] occurred in the US some 12 years ago. The kind of power to still enforce such a ruling seems excessive and could also lead to corruption.
Recently we also had the hacking scandals in the UK when Robert Murdoch’s newspapers [and others] illegally hacked into a large number of cell phones of celebrities and politicians which shows how easy it is to do. And if you remember even the Metropolitan police was complicit in some of the hacking, another abuse of power.
So should we care?
Yes we should, we should be aware of the possibilities and take normal, sensible precautions against loss of our data, our private emails, texts, pictures, and be aware that what is said on the phone may be recorded with or without your permission.
The problem with these spying programmes around the world is that it is not a matter of having nothing to hide, but that we have everything to lose.
If you would like to know more about how you can protect your computer or tablet from unwanted intrusion, why not have a word with KAPITI SeniorNet or come along to next Q&A with you questions.