Monday, January 27, 2014

The panopticon isn't about terrorism

When politicians defend mass-spying by intelligence agencies, they pretend its all about fighting terrorism. According to them, the panopticon allows us to track down "bad guys" and keeps us safe.


The National Security Agency is involved in industrial espionage and will take intelligence regardless of its value to national security, the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has told a German television network.

In text released ahead of a lengthy interview to be broadcast on Sunday, the public broadcaster ARD TV quoted Snowden saying the NSA does not limit its espionage to issues of national security and citing the German engineering firm Siemens as one target.

“If there's information at Siemens that's beneficial to US national interests – even if it doesn't have anything to do with national security – then they'll take that information nevertheless,” Snowden said, according to ARD, which recorded the interview in Russia, where Snowden has claimed asylum.

So they're spying on everyone in order to help select, chosen businesses unfairly compete with their rivals. Not only is this grossly intrusive, it is also inherently corrupt, an exercise of political patronage to assist some market actors but not others. The interesting question is whether political donations flow the other way in exchange...

This is the society the US and UK have built: one where we are all spied on for the benefit of a tiny handful of uber-rich. This isn't in our interests, and its time we use dour votes to force our politicians to shut the entire corrupt, intrusive machine down.