UK news outlet The Guardian reported last week on Internet snooping in the USA. They claimed that a source had revealed that the US administration were snooping on Internet activity and phone conversations, as and when they liked. Western governments maintain that every attempt is made to protect the privacy of citizens and that if, and when, records of such data need to be accessed all legal channels are used.. The reports showed a careless and wanton disregard for the rules if they were true.
Early this week the source outed himself as Edward Snowden who had worked in the industry involved in the spying. He had first hand experience of what was going on.
As governments rapidly tried to cover their backsides they spun various plausible tales. Some fell for their words hook line and sinker, believing they were acting accordingly in light of the 21st Century threat of global terrorism. Others were not no sure. It has been proved time and time again that a car accident is more likely to cause you death and injury than terrorist activity. According to one Washington Blog death via a brain eating parasite or due to alcoholism has shorter odds. Britain was no stranger to terrorism when the Northern Ireland Troubles were in full swing, supported by many in the USA, but most people were not directly affected. Of course you may think that you are only safe now because of our governments' ongoing fight against terrorism but remember there is big money in weapons and war.
Whatever you believe it is likely that you value your privacy and freedom of speech. In the UK we are so often reminded that freedom is one reason we fought two world wars for. The USA prides itself on its constitution which protects many of the rights its citizens treasure. However, last week's revelations blew the lid of those naive assumptions and gave a glimpse of what may be going on behind the closed doors of government.
Edward Snowden the man behind the Guardian leaks has now left the Hong Kong Hotel where he spoke to the world and revealed his identity. He wanted to be named, adding credence to his claims of the US government snooping on citizens. Authorities in the USA are "gunning" for Mr Snowden and it is any person's guess what happens next.
The USA may try to paint Snowden as working for a foreign group or even terrorists. Mr Snowden could face an untimely death or exrtradition to the USA. He could be thrown in a US jail with the key thrown away after him. The USA operates Gitmo without trial and legal recourse so as we say anything is possible. He is a man on the run but Tuesday there are reports that Russia is considering offering Norton asylum. Well we could offer a guess what the US response will be to that one - Snowden was a Russian spy?
In the UK Prismgate has had an affect. PRISM is the US system which can "snoop". Officially it is a "clandestine national security operation used to identify terrorists. Foreign Secretary William Hague has tried to ease people's concerns with a damage limitations exercise in Parliament. The trouble is few people believe him. The Tory government is known for breaking promises and spouting lies. They have been caught out time and time again. Lobbygate is an on going problem for Prime Minister Cameron, as Brits begin to realise few politicians can be trusted. Lobbygate reports of wild promises by MP's in exchange for huge undeclared cash amounts clearly stinks.
As Hague prepared to address parliament Monday Russia Today reported:
Following media reports that since June 2010, GCHQ has had access to PRISM, which grants the NSA a direct line to data stored on the servers of Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo and five other tech giants. GCHQ generated 197 intelligence reports from data obtained via the program last year, allegedly allowing the agency to bypass the legal checks normally required to obtain such information.
Reassured? Does that make you feel better? No, me neither.
We have already been told that sensitive information which may damage British companies if revealed is involved. The latest news is that Germany is the most spied on country by the USA in the EU.
Julian Assange, another man allegedly wanted by the USA for revealing the truth, has declared Snowden a hero. No surprise there. Assange claims to have been in indirect contact with Snowden and according to Russia Today:
“What [Snowden] has revealed is what I have been speaking about for years, that the [US] National Security Agency and its allies have been involved in a mass interception program of Google, Facebook, the various telecommunications data…,”Assange stated in an interview with Australian news program Lateline on ABC. Snowden, 29, is behind one of the biggest leaks in US political history. He revealed to The Guardian top-secret documents including those about the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) massive spy tool, the PRISM. It gave US intelligence agencies access to data servers maintained by some of the country’s biggest internet companies – and therefore an ability to spy on Americans’ emails, video chats, search history, and so on.
Well this Brit would hope that people in the UK are also outraged. It is not where such snooping begins but where it may end that is a cause for concern. Once basic freedoms are gaily relinquished more attacks will follow.
Politicians seem to think that if they mention the "T word", Terrorism, they will receive our blessing on doing anything. We need to remind them that they will not. Tory ministers in the UK are trying to resurrect the Communication Data Bill, following the murder of Lee Rigby. Many people, including deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, oppose the bill as it allows too much snooping on British citizens.
Now it seems that we are being spied upon already but by our buddies; you know who, those people in that country that we hold such a special relationship with, the USA. Yes we hold such a special relationship that they feel able to treat us as criminals and insult our intelligence with spin and lies.