Friday 29 November 2013

Public Complacency??

People Don’t Care That Government Is Spying

According to researches, most people don’t worry that the authorities are collecting their personal information, even after Edward Snowden’s revelations exposed a terrifying level of the surveillance.

The observers point out that there is very little public disquiet about government surveillance. The recent poll revealed that 42% of respondents believe the security services have balanced powers to spy on ordinary people, and a further 22% said they didn’t have enough powers. When asked whether Snowden’s leaks were a good or a bad thing, 43% of respondents believed they were bad and only 35% thought they were good.

Perhaps, the level of public complacency about the shocking leaks was a reflection simply of ignorance. After all, most Internet users have no idea about how the web works and so may be very naive about the implications of the authorities being able to read everyone’s email metadata and call logs.

The alarming fact is how relaxed many of the professional peers seem to be about it. To them, the recent leaks only confirm what they had suspected. For some reason, the discovery that our societies have managed to achieve Orwellian levels of surveillance only makes them smile wryly or shrug. This level of passive acceptance can be found quite scary.

Even the journalists seem to have succumbed either to a weird kind of spiteful envy, or to a desire to behave as the unpaid stenographers to the security services and their political masters. This could be seen before in the visceral hatred directed towards WikiLeaks and Julian Assange by the mainstream media in Britain and the United States.

Just a few days ago a welcome sign could be seen in the US, where some people in journalism have woken up to the existential threat posed by the National Security Agency to their profession – and, by implication, to political freedom. A group of researchers from Columbia Journalism School and the MIT Center for Civic Media have recently submitted a paper on “the effects of mass surveillance on the practice of journalism”, where they
argued that what the agency was doing was incompatible with the existing law protecting the confidentiality of journalist-source communications. They also claimed that the climate of secrecy around mass surveillance was harming journalism, because their sources couldn’t know exactly when they are monitored, or how intercepted data might be used against them. The NSA should supposedly defend freedom, but it seems all the wrong way...

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