A phrase made famous by George Orwell in his book ‘1984’, which predicted the dangers of communism just as the war between communism and democracy was beginning. The dangers of communism, wasn’t it? Not the dangers of democracy? Are you sure about that? Because I am starting to feel, in light of recent developments, that the big brother is not the KGB or China, it’s the National Security Agency. The world’s largest surveillance agency – set up at the beginning of the Cold War to gather and analyze telecommunications of foreign nations. But they seem to have expanded their operations to include gathering of telecommunication, online interactions, account details, stored data, file transfers, etc. of not only foreign nations, but foreign citizens, and US citizens. They access, and collect everything from everyone.
The ultra-secrecy of the NSA means we never knew of the ‘Prism’ project – until now – after the trial of Bradley Manning, which inspired NSA agent Edward Snowden to blow the whistle from his secret location in Hong Kong. You can catch one of us but not all of us, he says with reference to Manning’s arrest. The revelation is shocking, but the truth is that big brother has existed ever since the creation of intelligence agencies like CIA, NSA, KGB, and the beginning of spy wars – but the extent to which it has filtered into the lives of the common citizens is still surprising. On special request, they can give anyone they want any details of your life – they know everything about you. How – because they have access to servers of Google, Facebook, AOL, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, YouTube and Skype, through the Prism program, access to phone calls and messages through the Einstein program, and they always know where you are.
The justification is the “war on terror” – and that has been the drive behind this explosion of intrusive practice. But, out of 7 billion people, how many do you think are terrorists – 1 million, 2 million? Is it really necessary to violate the privacy of all 7 billion to find/fight the few terrorists?
Photo Credits: Image: Wired Magazine