PRISM: Big Brother is Watching You
I have not commented on the PRISM scandal, as first revealed in The Guardian (which certainly has been living up to its name in the last couple of years). It’s yet another chapter in the continuing sad chronicle of the disintegration of public democracy. Perhaps long-time readers of the former Dark Age Blog and now The Chrysalis might be surprised that I haven’t commented on whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaks to the paper until now.
My surprise is that anyone should be surprised by the scale and scope of the reported surveillance of private and public life. It is what the world has been coming to at least since Jacques Ellul warned about The Technological Society (1964) and Propaganda, since US constitutional expert Arthur Selwyn Miller wrote about The Modern Corporate State (1976) and The Techno-Corporate State, and Bertram Gross warned about Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America (1980). The trend of political and social developments has been pretty clear since — the advancing technologies of social and political control.
Boundless Informant is only a continuation of the Total Information Awareness (TIA) programme begun under the Bush Administration, which was ostensibly abandoned due to public outcry. It wasn’t abandoned. It just became more… occult. James Bamford has written extensively on the NSA and the wider problem of mass surveillance, most recently in Wired just a hair over one year ago.
Naive souls will insist that you have nothing to fear from total surveillance if you have done nothing wrong. You hear that excuse pretty often. But it gives the right answer to a wrong question. It’s not what you do, it’s what they do with that data that should be the issue. To trust that the full details of your public and private life are in the hands of good men and women who are publicly accountable and responsible is naive in the extreme.
Democracy: it’s out of your hands now (and perhaps quite a few will find that a relief). This is the shock accompanying Snowden’s revelation. What we have presently is what Ellul, Miller, and Gross all anticipated earlier — the Techno-Corporate State and it is securely in place. It has been in place for some time. Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and Daniel Ellsberg earlier merely threw back the curtain to expose it at work, Wizard of Oz like. It is your true Emperor.