My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about surveillance. All right, here is how I feel about surveillance:
If when you say surveillance you mean enabling the privileged to commit unchecked nepotism and corruption, choking out dissent, the overriding of Constitutional checks and balances, manufacturing threats to control the populace with fear, the five-eyed monster, that attacks innocents, aiding destruction of homes, creation of misery and poverty, yea, literally taking the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the agencies that topple third world nations and drive their peoples into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.
But, if when you say surveillance you mean the sabotage of global internet infrastructure, subversion of crypto standards, spying on human rights groups lawyers and journalists, attacks on freedom of speech, manipulation of public opinion and media polls, political blackmail, interference with domestic criminal court procedures and evidence gathering, sitting on 0days while leaving national infrasructure wide open to attack, magnification of totalitarianism, destruction of happiness and our right to be forgotten if only for a little while; if you mean the agencies whose bills rob our treasuries of untold billions of dollars, which could otherwise by used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am still very much against it.
This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.
The above was a parody of a political speech by a lawmaker from Mississippi about prohibition, originally called if-by-whiskey. But unlike the original there’s no double-speak. When I saw it I thought its a good opportunity to take a 10000 foot bird’s eye view of what has been making headlines.
With that said, I’m not sure that every IC employee was aware of the total scope of surveillance and abuses before the Snowden cache was published. The majority of NSA employees probably don’t agree with what’s happening. This sad direction is the result of the leaders who direct the efforts of well-meaning people into self-serving ways. People who are smart enough to figure out that they are being used to build the surveillance systems that are intended for their children and grandchildren, their families and friends, their neighbors and fellow citizens. All whom they wanted to serve and protect by joining the agency in the first place.
In reality, corporate surveillance poses a bigger danger than state surveillance for the average internet user. Its the former that enables the latter in large part. The fact that they are willing to dish out information about your life to anyone willing to pay their advertising networks should worry you even more than a government employee with top-secret clearance taking a peak. That’s not to say anyone is entitled to your data, thoughts or information about who you talk with. Its a choice that comes down to you choosing to change your perception about the value of yourself and refusing to use systems that betray you.