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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

the surveillance state « Previous | |Next »
June 22, 2013

The ongoing disclosures about the secret surveillance programs on the citizens of western democracies indicate that the surveillance programs are far more extensive than was first realized. The Australian government has been building a state-of-the art, secret data storage facility just outside Canberra to enable intelligence agencies to deal with a ''data deluge'' siphoned from the internet and global telecommunications networks.

BellSsurveillance.jpg Steve Bell

We now learn, courtesy of the documents shown to The Guardian by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that the spy agencies of the Five Eyes electronic eavesdropping alliance, comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, have secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world's phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information.

The plan is codenamed MTI, or Mastering the Internet – and it aims to collect a significant amount of the world's communications.

This access to the internet is codenamed Tempora, and it is different from Prism in which the spy agencies secured access to the internal systems of global companies that service the internet. Henry Porter points out that:

It is an alarming fact that over the last two weeks, as details of Prism and the covert acquisition of phone records have been laid bare, politician after politician, on both sides of the Atlantic and from both sides of the left-right divide, has argued that the loss of a little liberty is a small sacrifice to make for security. Most appreciate that no such transaction exists in the real world, for the very reason that those making the argument stand to gain so much from public acquiescence. This is about the unscrutinised power of a deep state and its burgeoning influence on society.

The fear created around the national security state's terrorism agenda has been used to elaborate a huge system of espionage and domestic surveillance. The justification is that citizens can afford to lose a little liberty to make the world safer.

The other line is that the innocent have nothing to fear from disclosure, Cory Doctorow, in response , says that we should care about privacy because:

if the data says you've done something wrong, then the person reading the data will interpret everything else you do through that light....Once a computer ascribes suspiciousness to someone, everything else in that person's life becomes sinister and inexplicable.

What we are witnessing is the the metamorphosis of our democracies into national security states in which the prerogatives of security authorities trump every other consideration and in which critical or sceptical appraisal of them is ruled out of court.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:12 PM | | Comments (15)


Remarkable and excellent summary- thanks, GST.

Can you imagine how appalled the average Australian would be if this was being played out in Russia or Iran? Why, it would be a sickening intrusion into the lives of innocent people!

Thank goodness OUR governments can be trusted!!!!

Our democracies in the US, UK and Australia have reached a pivotal point.The internet has been "captured" by both giant corporations and by governments. The latter are now eavesdroping on all of our online activities

GCHQ in the UK appears to have intercepts placed on most of the fibre-optic communications cables in and out of the country. This seems to involve some degree of co-operation – voluntary or otherwise – from companies operating either the cables or the stations at which they come into the country.

The surveillance in the US, UK and Australia sounds like a Hollywood nightmare.

Orwell's novel 1984, which envisioned a futuristic security state where "Big Brother" spied on the intimate details of people's lives, is now an everyday reality in the western democracies.

The national security state holds that the state should be able to access any information about any person at any time, but not vice versa. If a citizen messes with the state's surveillance program then the security apparatus will come after them.

"If you've done nothing wrong..."

That is such a vague and deceptive argument. Yet it is also the most popular.

Imagine... What is the South African government had comparable capability to intercept communications between the anti-apartheid movements of the 70's?

what if the Egyptian authorities could monitor the messages of all the people in Tahrir Square?

what if the illegal unionist at the Gdańsk Shipyards were unable to communicate with each other?

what if Australia's sodomy laws could have been easily and effectively enforced in to 50's 60's and 70's?

what if those against the Franklin River dam were unable to organise their protests?

what if Gillard was to use these surveillance programs to undermine and discredit the Liberal opposition?

The pervasive eavesdropping we are seeing today means than any and all dissent (or whistle blowing) can easily be suppressed by the powers that be.

"It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong." Voltaire knew the score over 200 years ago. Sadly, we have chosen to forget it.

Time to get those foil hats into production again.
Big money to be made!!

No doubt there's money to be made, Les.

You'd make a fortune selling that shit to the government. Seems they're to ones imagining enemies of the state around every corner. They're the folks who want to keep their activities in the shadows...

Good thinking. I'll make them black.

We are now dealing with a vast intelligence-industrial complex that is largely unaccountable to its citizens. Its surveillance has expanded and intensified since ntensified since 9/11

Er... Of course they can be trusted!!! They wouldn't use communications intercepts to advance their own dodgy agenda, would they?

Oh, wait... it seems that they would!!!!

the Australian media, seemingly unable to comprehend the scale of the surveillance, has more or less ignored the story and its implications for Australians.

With the Brazilian government splashing $15 billion of taxpayer money on World Cup contracts, and tens of thousands of protesters vigorously objecting... some good inside information would be useful.

Get with it Gerry...the bad guys are in boats.