We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

So in the next 18 months the US intelligence community will have cleaned up its act. Britain, almost alone in the West, has been remarkably complacent about the astonishing way that the NSA has, with GCHQ assistance, used an extremely loose interpretation of the law to go on a fishing expedition through the phone, internet and e-mail records of its own and allied citizens. Even if we accept that it is tolerable for British citizens to have a much poorer standard of privacy than Americans, the economic consequences of our complacency are likely to prove unpalatable at very least.

Distrust is on the rise. E-mail companies are already setting up in countries with strong privacy protection, such as Germany, to take advantage of the loss of credibility of US companies. The internet makes up about 12 per cent of Britain’s economy. If we do not act to make our intelligence-gathering systems as focused and accountable as the Americans have, the shadow of distrust could shift from them to us. That means that fewer IT-based companies will come here, and some will migrate abroad.

British industry and the British economy have benefited hugely from our country’s reputation for trust and integrity. It would be a terrible paradox if our intelligence communities’ well-intentioned efforts to protect our physical security ended up undermining our economic security.

- David Davis

…even if I am sceptical, to say the least, that the NSA will have ‘cleaned up its act’ in any meaningful way whatsoever.

20 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Regional

    London is one of the three main bases for Islamic Terrorism which is fine by me as they only kill big city folk and the big city folk say we’ve got to find out what we’re doing that makes them angry and stop doing it. The Meeja in Boganstan is running a campaign that the rise in street violence in Sinny is a consequence of the Second Iraq War where an authoritarian government was ousted and refugees sort safe haven in Boganstan and the Meeja conducted a campaign for unrestricted entry for persons claiming refugee status and the very generous benefits.

  • jim holden

    London is one of the three main bases for Islamic Terrorism which is fine by me as they only kill big city folk and the big city folk say…

    oh and know what “big city folk say” do you, hayseed? all eight million of them? you’re a fucking idiot, that’s what this big city folk says.

  • Regional

    Jim Holden,
    Thank you for confirming my post, I suggest you read Londonistan by Melanie Phillips among others, ICP. But like I said I don’t care how many Islamic Freedom Fighters supporters the Islamic Freedom kill in Londonistan, ICP.

  • So let me get this straight Regional… all us “Big City Folks” in London think… what exactly? I think I am leaning towards Jim on this one.

  • Fraser Orr

    You will know that the NSA has cleaned up its act to some degree when someone senior is actually charged and prosecuted for their criminal behavior. Which is to say, never. For example, it is plainly documented public record the James Clapper committed very serious perjuries. Lewis “Scooter” Libby who was convicted for the supposedly perjurious crime of forgetting something. Unlike Libby, Clapper was never even charged, and continues to hold a very senior role in the United States intelligence community.

    The only person likely to do jail time is the person who let us know just how much the terrorists had won — since they have robbed us of the very essence of who we are, that is to say our liberty.

    The real problem is that the American people are so inured to these gross violations that there was barely a blip of outrage. In polite company it is even acceptable to defend the NSA’s actions, and common to vilify Snowden.

  • Regional

    Perry,
    Pretty much so, but don’t feel special big cities the world over are the same.

  • Simon Jester

    The weird thing is, “Regional” seems to have the same grasp of punctuation as people edumacated in the big city…

  • Eric Tavenner

    … make our intelligence-gathering systems as focused and accountable as the Americans have,…

    David, what are you smoking and where can I get some? It has to be some powerful shit.

  • Regional

    Simon,
    Gee thanks, a put down from some body with a big city mindset, Benjamin Franklin noted this while living in New York.

  • Tedd

    I’m in the middle of implementing a cloud-based data management system for a Swiss company. The whole project was very nearly derailed by the NSA scandal because the data would be stored in the U.S. and the company very much did not want that. It only went ahead because, as of this moment, only this one company is offering this particular service. If a non-U.S. company had been offering a similar service the contract would have gone to them, no doubt about it.

    Kudos to American ingenuity for the innovation. But this innovative company probably has half or less of the potential market for their service because of the NSA. Very soon, non-U.S. companies will be offering a similar service and few non-U.S. companies will buy it from an American company once that happens.

    By the way, I’m not convinced that there’s actually a data security advantage to buying such a service from a non-U.S. company. But if the attitude of the owners of this Swiss company is typical — and I suspect it is — there would have to be some significant cost or service advantages before they would consider an American company.

  • Mr Ed

    I’m droppng my Gmail for a Norwegian compant, Runbox, I pay for the service but get almost no spam and no adverts. The main motivation is that I prefer to pay for what I use but the approaches of both the Gmail provider and the NSA do annoy me.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    London is one of the three main bases for Islamic Terrorism which is fine by me as they only kill big city folk and the big city folk say we’ve got to find out what we’re doing that makes them angry and stop doing it. Says Regional.

    A remarkably lame attempt to be amusing. Fail.

  • bobby b

    In defense of Regional:

    Looking to my own country (USA) only, I see that our main population centers – the Metropolitan Statistical Areas – contain the bulk of the political support for policies which I would characterize as fostering the acceptance of Islamist hegemony.

    It is in our largest cities where we find governmental power enforcing top-down directives to ignore the push for sharia from Islamics. It is in our largest cities where the concept of treating Islamics in airports with some degree of heightened caution is considered anathema. It is in our largest cities where the call goes out that “jihad” means an intellectual struggle to improve our own minds.

    Of course we all understand that political philosophy within an MSA is never monolithic, and that many MSA citizens are as insightful and open-minded and conservative as we are ourselves.

    But the fact is that the democratic process leads to the philosophies of those citizens being suppressed and ignored in favor of the “winning” philosophy, and it is that “winning” philosophy that goes out to do battle with common sense and empirical reasoning across the rest of the country.

    I admit there are times when I am sick to death of trying to reason with adherents of today’s big-city liberalism, of trying to remind them of why Islam is targeting us, of how larger and more effective attacks are undoubtedly in our future, all to no avail.

    And I console myself, unfairly, that it is our largest centers of such “liberal” thought which will feel the pain of those attacks that they themselves fostered.

    I, in my middle-of-the-country semi-serious suburban area, will feel the pain of wounded national pride – a metaphysical outrage that “my” country has been violated – but no bomb will destroy my loved ones, no airplane will crash into my workplace, no human scum will decapitate anyone on my street.

    So, if “they”, in their big-city sophistication, feel so strongly about surrounding themselves with murderous cretins devoted to a bloodthirsty gawd who hates all of us nondevotees, well . . . let them. Just don’t let them come to expect a say in how we run our lives out here in the rest of the country.

    As I said, it’s unfair to think of a city as a single monolithically-unthinking entity. Certainly I can find people in any city philosophically attuned to my own beliefs. But, at some unknown point in time, when the conflict so clearly becomes “big-city” versus “the rest of us”, one remembers that, when Germany was prosecuting a war of conquest against most of the rest of the world, there certainly were German citizens opposed to that war.

    But the German military spoke for all Germans as they murdered their way across Europe. There was no respite for their victims in the fact that some Germans opposed their murder. Similarly, our big-city politicians carry the total power of their constituency with them as they work to impose their sharia-friendly views on the rest of us, and the fact that many in their city disagree with them does nothing to lessen the wrong they do.

    So, anyway, about expressions of outrage over what Regional said – neh.

  • Bobby, this blog is owned and run by people living in the very Big City about which Regional was specifically spouting his rather unsophisticated version of your point. In addition to having been plain rude, it was also plain stupid.

    Also, I suggest that you and he may want to read this. I’m sure London has more than 50.

  • But, at some unknown point in time, when the conflict so clearly becomes “big-city” versus “the rest of us”

    In Britain, about 80% of the population is urban, and unlike the USA, with its sprawling suburbs, more of Britain’s population are at true urban densities rather than trailing off into a sub-urban periphery… so to characterise “Big City Folk” as having some definable set of political opinions is actually pretty damn inane. Big City Folks are “The rest of us”. Odds are some Islamic wacko blowing themselves up in London will not be killing some Guardian reader but rather some Sun or Daily Mail reader.

  • bobby b

    Of course it’s inane. I’d never argue otherwise. Honestly, it didn’t occur to me that it was going to appear that I was.

    I wasn’t advocating for the merits of a point of view. I was trying to convey the sort of weary and semi-bitter “mood” (if you will) that can allow any of us to fall into our own comforting fallacies. They’re sort of “code-funny”, but only when shared amongst people who are in on the joke, and who know with certainty that it is a joke. As Alisa points out, this is the wrong crowd.

    So (in order to be explicit in case I’ve again been opaque), really, honestly, Regional wasn’t expressing an actual hope that youze guyz get it, or get it first, or get it hard, or whatever, and the only way this could reasonably offend someone would be if they assumed that he did mean, in some large or small way, exactly that, and I think such an assumption on this board would be unwarranted. If you’re going to hang around reading a “blog for people with a critically rational individualist perspective”, you ought to be given at least that much of the benefit of the doubt, at least initially.

    (P.S. By the 2010 US Census, USA is approx. 81% urban.)

  • (P.S. By the 2010 US Census, USA is approx. 81% urban.)

    I know. Most US cities are really quite different to UK cities however. And Regional was taking about London and I think the acute sense of humour failure by several people here was rather justified.

  • bobby b

    “Justified”, I’ll buy. It allows for the difference between “we can be offended” and “we should be offended.”

  • bobby b

    And I really need to add:

    Our cities differ to a smaller degree than (I think) you think.

    Sure, the iconic sprawling, multi-acre-yarded, meandering-roaded leafy vale that seems to be evoked by “American suburb” began to exist, started to exist, back in the late 60′s and early 70′s, but by the 90′s they were mostly a memory.

    Urban planners have been wreaking their particular havoc amongst us since the 70′s, and their One True Vision does not include population patterns resembling bell curves centered mid-city, but rather much narrower stark-sided columns with Appropriate Human Density maintained evenly right out to well-defined Development Boundaries, outside of which they simply label “here there be no services, ever.”

    My impression following a hasty and brief trip through and out of London was that you may have more multi-family residential further out, but not THAT much more, and our Metro Areas end more abruptly and markedly than do yours (with the exception, of course, of a couple of areas on our east coast where two or more cities that were “major” in and of themselves have attracted such huge followings that they have all grown around each other and merged into one huge supervolcano of humanity. I guess we call them “corridors” now, and I don’t know that you have any such “corridors”.)

    (All quite superfluous to the central issue, of course, but give a pedant a keyboard and bandwidth, and this is what happens.)

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Australia beats you there- we had urban sprawl in the fifties and sixties, and we still have it! Not only because of planning, but also because Aussies think there’s so much of Australia, that we shouldn’t be cooped up in high-rises and towers.