Updates on US spying

Snowden’s leak of top secret US documents has been described as the most serious breach in US history. And it’s constantly brought up that it’s made the US more vulnerable to attack. It’s not often brought up, at least by the US, that their actions made everyone else more vulnerable or why US interests outweigh those of the rest of the world. While one could at least understand the risk of terrorist attacks (although to hear grown ups talking seriously about enemies does seem a bit like what you’d expect on a junior school playground) it’s a lot harder to take seriously the need to spy on allies.

One can’t help notice that the need for such espionage would disappear if countries were more open with each other. Are the benefits of hiding your secrets and spending huge amounts of time and money on protecting them and stealing others really worth just being open? You certainly wouldn’t have the fallout of having the extent of your lies and duplicity revealed. Luckily there seems to be a growing unease with all the spying and perhaps we can start moving away from such a poisonous climate.

If the US isn’t going to do the right thing on its own there will at least be significant international pressure to bring it back into line. Germany is particularly upset over revelations of US spying, for example tracking Angel Merkel’s phone since 2002. We should note that tracking her phone should be just as alarming as tracking the average Joe’s phone. While she may, in some ways, be more important than the average Joe, she has no greater right to privacy. They are trying to get a no-spying deal with the US, though maybe it won’t be a full agreement.

For the rest of us, we have to look to both Brazil and Germany. Along with Germany, Brazil has been a particularly vocal opponent of the US spy programme. Not only have they announced a summit to discuss improving internet security but the Brazilian president has explicitly said:

We consider that privacy on the internet is part of human rights, and its defence must receive priority treatment in UN discussions.

The quote is certainly not just talk. Germany and Brazil have jointly proposed a resolution to the UN that privacy laws must be extended to the internet and electronic communication. I haven’t heard much more since but hopefully the resolution will be passed and we can move to a more private and secure internet.

6 thoughts on “Updates on US spying

  1. I certainly agree. There is just one issue which bugs me. If secrecy was so important why do international players not divide the internet into such a vehicle that everyone in one country would use a domestic system under umbrella, cordoned just for domestic traffic. Then you could have an International platform which to use for that type of action,,,like WWC for China. Why do all the servers and the complete internet system have to be in the hands of AT&T in the USA? Why do Countries not install their own systems? This will protect not only the citizens from abuse in spying, but also stop the Americans from having a say who does what on the net. For Example: Dotcom should not have been confronted by the US. He should have faced the laws in his own country and if there was no legislation in place in Australia, he should not have been confronted at all. I’m sick and tired to hear that the US by virtue of it’s SEC rules the international security and exchanges. Who the hell are they to impose themselves on the rest of the world. Its a disgrace. Hopefully the new front gate positioned by the East will see this light and shift the balance.

  2. While country specific versions of the internet may help with privacy concerns I think they would be worse than the current system. Not everything is in the US but most of the major players in the, English language, internet are American. The internet is meant to connect the world (and don’t travellers). Losing that would be terrible. Many poorer countries would no doubt suffer the most. Germany could easily have its own internet but that system would severely restrict someone living in Nigeria or even South Africa. A global internet also has more opportunities for oversight, like Brazil and Germany standing up to the US, privacy would be even more restricted if there were no one outside of a country that could protect people’s rights. China already restricts a huge number of sites and I believe it was the Iranian government that wanted to create a local internet purely because then they could have total control over what their citizens could see.

  3. Everything said is true. The following threads shows how little privacy we really have.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/18/private-firms-mass-surveillance-technologies
    http://www.htxt.co.za/2013/11/19/sa-government-questioned-over-r3-5m-investment-in-spy-firm/

    With reference to Gaddafi, yes he should not have a local server, neither should he have had surveillance equipment. But he did and the interfering CIA supplied him with it. What does this mean for the conformists who believe in a patriotic system, where everything is controlled? It means that challengers of systems and its masters, like myself, are the frontier where design makers now take notice. I as a natural challenger I do not just believe that every “Do not enter” sign means everybody should not enter, so I enter anyway because the sign was not directed at me.
    As an example, from my previous mail about unjust policing, globally.
    The patent laws of the world are regulated by some of the Countries who own the most patents. These patents have a life of thirty years as is, unless modified. Extension is only allowed/granted in very rare cases. (I have patents of which some expired)
    The music industry (writings, music, and works of art ) in contrast, has a lifetime of 95 years, if you apply after 28years first cycle usage, and everybody does this, or their publishing company does. When the Author dies, those who inherit can continue to receive, including those who share in the interest, like publishing companies. This method is unjust in my view.
    http://inventors.about.com/od/copyrights/a/expiration.htm
    Are these laws ever challenged? Hardly, because the industry they support have billions to support opposing arguments. Does the fact that the law is in place justify its existence? It depends from which view, conformist or challenger, you are looking. I believe these time periods were illegally imposed by a roster of judges and enough money to prevent opposition from interested parties and that those times should be shorter.
    Now ask yourself how many challengers there are?
    In the last ten years the West has taken most of its technical patents to the East, to fabricate at lessor cost levels. And then found that the over runs on production of all items were offered to the global markets at reduced rates. Then the companies who found this method compelling, took their technology back to the West and found that their own patents were vandalized and revamped to secure market share from copying masters. (Example Company: Cutler-Hammer)
    So, now you have a new law to contend with. China, Korea, Japan, Philippines, India and Russia are now leaders on the stage of challengers and there is nothing the West can do about it. This is soon to be followed by the music industry. The amount of copied music material reaching every conceivable market out of reach of Western lawmakers, are a zillion times more than the virgin material which they wish to prosecute Dotcom for. The law is being re-written by forced emancipation of global challengers. Is this not Bureaucratic? Is the present spy saga, globally, not going to get you into a re-think mode about the use of the internet and the daily use of your cellphone. Whatever you say could be held by the right person, to be used against you, like many found out when they were fired by a boss who was eavesdropping. Example:
    If you are a severe critic of the CIA on various Websites, and you apply for a visa to visit America, do you think they will allow you to enter? Should they have had access to material which is challenging only and not provoking in terrorist terms, to make such an unwarranted decision?
    So much for out-dated legislation.
    My Viewpoint may differ from yours because I’m a challenger. I do not conform, ever.
    HJS

  4. Pingback: A step closer to internet right to privacy | Evidence & Reason

  5. Pingback: Spying leftovers | Evidence & Reason

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