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.
… and nothing much will change.
There is only one group of people that the NSA is spying on that matters to most Americans. And that is other Americans. So what will happen is even more of that particular function… spying on Americans… will be outsourced to the British GCHQ, which already effectively acts an arms length subsidiary of the NSA, bought and payed for with US taxpayers money.
But the rules will be re-written to make it theoretically harder for the NSA to engage in mass surveillance of Americans, at least the ones in America. This will mollify enough of US public opinion to take away the pressure for any actual reduction in budget and capabilities. Indeed capabilities will continue to be expanded now that the NSA has been seen to be ‘brought under control’. Not that it was ever actually out of control.
And if you are not an American, you will just have to get used to the idea that the USA will be logging your mobile phone and internet meta-data… at least until enough of the internet gets fragmented into national enclaves which are capable of keeping the data secure from the Americans (at the baleful expense of making it easier for one’s own national government to control things).
And even people who were previously well disposed towards America will start see the institutions of the USA’s government as a threat rather than an ally. Reflexive anti-Americans will beat that drum long and hard and sadly it will be impossible to refute them, because for once they will be quite correct.
This will of course materially change the internet, and indeed the world, for the worse.
But most Americans will not give a damn as the net will still seem to work just fine in the USA and who cares if the US government is logging who calls who in Germany and Brazil?
But the upside, which is already happening, is new methods and approaches to security will appear and that is actually a ‘long war’ that the NSA and GCHQ cannot possibly win. I suspect Edward Snowdon’s lasting legacy will be simply making far more people aware that they were in a different battle for security than the one they thought they were in, and that means there are some rather interesting market opportunities for many different kinds of security.
But whatever ‘reforms’ for the NSA that get trotted out over the next few months and years, I would be very surprised indeed if anything really changes. The deck will get shuffled but the game and the stakes will remain the same.
There is an article on the Grauniad site called ‘Men – if you’re not a feminist, it’s fine, just move on’ which was rather amusing.
My position is no one, male or female, should have any statutory right to maternity or paternity leave, and indeed an employee should not expect it unless they negotiated for that with their employer.
So it seems that as I favour equality in maternity and paternity leave, I am a feminist according to some commenters! Who knew?
Bill Gates took a huge slice of pie, but he didn’t take it from me. By starting Microsoft, he baked millions of new pies. He made the rest of the world richer, too. Entrepreneurs create things.
Over the past few decades, the difference in wealth between the rich and poor has grown. This makes people uncomfortable. But why is it a problem if the poor didn’t get poorer?
- John Stossel
Here is a splendid explanation of why you really do not want to trust any government with wide un-targeted surveillance powers.
I mean, who knows where that might lead eh?
Sometimes it is worth pointing out the obvious…
Rand Paul, the Great White Hope of people who want things to be Less-Statist-Than-Now, is a career politician. As a result, he may be preferable to authoritarians like McCain or Obama or just about any of the mainstream politicos in the US right now… but it is still a career politician.
So… when it was suggested to me that if Edward Snowden were really one of the good guys, he should have taken his revelations to that tireless fighter for liberty, Rand Paul, rather than getting said revelations published in The Guardian, the assumption seems to have been that Paul was going to be a better custodian of these secrets than the dismal pinkos at the Guardian. Moreover Snowden would not have had to go on the run to avoid prion to whatever country dislikes the USA enough to not extradite him as Rand Paul would have made sure we would be safe.
Senator Paul thinks Edward Snowden deserves a ‘light sentence‘ of a few years in jail, which rather suggests to me that he would rather not have had these revelations made at all, but as they are out there, he might as well make some political hay out of it. I mean one does not suggest prison for someone doing something vital to the cause of liberty, but rather one argues for that person’s vindication.
So on one hand Paul chastises the NSA for its vast programmes of indiscriminate spying based on the Snowden revelations… and on the other, he wants the person to actually told the world about it so that people like him can do something about it… to go to jail for having done so.
More than ever I am convinced Snowden did the only thing he could do rather than place his trust in some career politician. And that includes a career politician called Rand Paul.
Port soaked duck sausages, maple syrup coated bacon, duck eggs, orange tomatoes grilled with olive oil and fresh basil, baked beans with cracked pepper.
I am sure there is a libertarian angle to all that somewhere.
Professor Turney’s expedition was supposed to repeat scientific investigations made by Douglas Mawson a century ago and to compare then and now. Not unreasonably, it has been pointed out Mawson’s ship was never icebound. Sea ice has been steadily increasing, despite the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s gloomy forecasts. Had the expedition found the slightest evidence to confirm its expectation of melting ice caps and thin ice, a major new scare about the plight of the planet would have followed. As they are transferred to sanctuary aboard the icebreaker Aurora Australis, Professor Turney and his fellow evacuees must accept the embarrassing failure of their mission shows how uncertain the science of climate change really is. They cannot reasonably do otherwise.
- The Australian
Oh yes, I have put my house in London on the market too! I live close to a large French language school and there are many shops near there aimed at French clientele, so when I read the latest news from France, I increased the asking price by about ten percent. I am sure that splashing sound in the distance is the waves of wealthy French businessmen swimming across the Channel, clutching their chequebooks in their teeth and feverishly looking to spend their dosh while they still can.
- heard at Samizdata HQ in London, pertaining to this.
People in Shaoshan in China, the birthplace of Chairman Mao, are making good money selling keepsakes of history’s most prolific mass murderer. I find it odd that the BBC reporter doing a little video on that somehow neglected to ask “why are you selling souvenirs of a man responsible for murdering tens of millions of your fellow Chinese people?”
Actually I think we all know why that question never got asked.
Clearly Braunau am Inn in Austria is missing a trick.
My personal point of view is that if you hire a backwoods redneck fundamentalist Christian to star in your reality show, you should expect him to say the sort of things a backwoods redneck fundamentalist Christian might say – about gays, ducks, and other subjects.
Likewise, nobody should expect Snooki to start talking like she’s been possessed by Kate Middleton.
- Amy Alkon