Show of Force – Symbolic

The physical pulverization of several hard discs in the basement of The Guardian’s King’s Cross offices by a senior editor and a computer specialist last month, closely supervised and monitored by agents of the Government Communication (sic) Headquarters (GCHQ), the British equivalent of NSA, was a bizarre show of force by government authorities David Cameron who wanted to send a strong message: there is no freedom of press anymore. The symbolic and irrelevant destruction of things signals: we can do this differently. The unlawful detention of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner in the transit area of Heathrow airport last week was just consequent. But what next?

President Obama tries hard to lull the American people claiming that “there is no spying on you.” Recently, probably on personal order by the President, the NSA had published a rather strange “white paper” with the pacifying message that only 1.6% of the data circulating on the internet  are “touched” by NSA and only 0.025% of these data are selected for review. “[T]hat’s less than one part in a million. Put another way, if a standard basketball court represented by an area smaller than a dime on that basketball court.” The calculation contains an error. If one believes the numbers, it would be six or seven coins.

And facts tell a different story. According to the Wall Street Journal, the NSA surveillance network has a capacity to reach about 75% of all U.S. internet traffic “in the hunt for foreign intelligence.” This doesn’t go away. Intimidation may be a means of dictatorships but is ignoble for leading democracies such as the United States and the UK. What will sooner or later vanish is Obama and Cameron. The sooner the better.

22 August 2013 @ 11:32 am.

Last modified August 22, 2013.

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