The revelations from across the pond that the NSA has been listening in and monitoring computers, emails, mobile phones and landline phones has surprised many. That GCHQ have now been brought in to the picture should come as no surprise to anyone who has monitored the one-way street that is the so-called ‘special relationship.’ For a sovereign democracy we are pretty crap at being sovereign and democratic.
Glen Greenwald, a diligent and principled US journalist has this pithy summation of where we are and where we should be:-
“The way things are supposed to work is that we're supposed to know virtually everything about what they (government) do: that's why they're called public servants. They're supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that's why we're called private individuals.
This dynamic - the hallmark of a healthy and free society - has been radically reversed. Now, they know everything about what we do, and are constantly building systems to know more. Meanwhile, we know less and less about what they do, as they build walls of secrecy behind which they function. That's the imbalance that needs to come to an end. No democracy can be healthy and functional if the most consequential acts of those who wield political power are completely unknown to those to whom they are supposed to be accountable.” Glen Greenwald Guardian Online 7/6/13 (My emphasis)
How do our third-rate leaders figure in this scenario? Are they up to the task? Do you trust them?
“The UK's electronic eavesdropping and security agency, GCHQ, has been secretly gathering intelligence from the world's biggest internet companies through a covertly run operation set up by America's top spy agency, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.
The documents show that GCHQ, based in Cheltenham, has had access to the system since at least June 2010, and generated 197 intelligence reports from it last year.
The US-run programme, called Prism, would appear to allow GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required to seek personal material such as emails, photos and videos from an internet company based outside the UK.
The use of Prism raises ethical and legal issues about such direct access to potentially millions of internet users, as well as questions about which British ministers knew of the programme.
In a statement to the Guardian, GCHQ, insisted it "takes its obligations under the law very seriously".
The details of GCHQ's use of Prism are set out in documents prepared for senior analysts working at America's National Security Agency, the biggest eavesdropping organisation in the world.” Guardian Online 7/6/13
Pretty clear-cut to these eyes.
There is another extremely topical angle to this highlighted by a commentator calling themselves 'stfual' on Comment is Free, Guardian
“Watching Obama on TV describe how data collected by Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft is only used to spy on non Americans outside of the USA. Can the Guardian ask the British Government and European Administration what they plan to do about data collected by tax avoiding American companies being used to spy on British citizens?”
‘stfual‘ Comment is Free 7/6/13