Russia hacked the US election. Now it’s coming for western democracy | Robby Mook | Opinion | The Guardian

We have to take action now to root out Russian and other foreign influences before they become too deeply enmeshed in our political ecosystem. First and foremost, leaders in the US and Europe must stop any attempt by the Trump administration to ease sanctions on Russia. It must be abundantly clear that attacking our elections through cyberspace will prompt a tough and proportional response.

Fuente: Russia hacked the US election. Now it’s coming for western democracy | Robby Mook | Opinion | The Guardian


UK spy chief warns on ‘profound’ propaganda threat

“The connectivity that is at the heart of globalisation can be exploited by states with hostile intent to further their aims deniably,” said Mr Younger. “They do this through means as varied as cyber attacks, propaganda or subversion of democratic process.”

Fuente: UK spy chief warns on ‘profound’ propaganda threat


Edward Snowden backers beam calls for pardon on Washington news museum | US news | The Guardian

Now the most audacious display of support for Snowden is under way. Messages calling for his pardon are being beamed on to the outside wall of the Newseum, the Washington institution devoted to freedom of speech and the press that stands less than two miles from the White House.

Fuente: Edward Snowden backers beam calls for pardon on Washington news museum | US news | The Guardian


La complicada relación entre Perú y la vigilancia, y cómo solucionarla | Hiperderecho

En Perú, un mecanismo de control débil de la vigilancia hizo caer a un primer ministro. En 2015 la revista peruana, Correo Semanal, alegó que la Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional del Perú (DINI) había espiado ilegalmente a periodistas, empresarios, legisladores, políticos y miembros de las fuerzas armadas y sus familias. La DINI accedió supuestamente a información almacenada en el registro nacional de las propiedades del Perú, y almacenó esta información en expediente de cientos de personas.

Fuente: La complicada relación entre Perú y la vigilancia, y cómo solucionarla | Hiperderecho


Snowden: ‘Politics of fear’ keep Trudeau from repealing Canada anti-terror law | US news | The Guardian

Edward Snowden has waded into the simmering debate over Canada’s controversial anti-terror law, saying that Justin Trudeau was reluctant to repeal the law out of a fear of appearing soft on terror.

Fuente: Snowden: ‘Politics of fear’ keep Trudeau from repealing Canada anti-terror law | US news | The Guardian


La nueva Constitución para una democracia 2.0 – El Quinto Poder

Teniendo esto en consideración y aprovechando que hoy tenemos la oportunidad de ser participes en la construcción de una nueva Constitución que nos regirá a todos y, por lo tanto, todos debemos sumar con nuestras ideas y opiniones. Y hay que hacerlo con visión de futuro y uno de los temas a tener en cuenta son los avances tecnológicos y, principalmente, en controlar el uso que le puedan dar a la información recolectada de forma digital, la que está impulsando profundos cambios en nuestras sociedades.

Fuente: La nueva Constitución para una democracia 2.0 – El Quinto Poder


Las escuchas telefónicas ponen en jaque a la política brasileña – El Mostrador

Las escuchas telefónicas han convulsionado los cimientos de la política brasileña y han puesto contra las cuerdas a algunos de sus pupilos por la filtración de conversaciones privadas, como la que hoy derivó en la “licencia” del cargo del ministro de Planificación, Romero Jucá.

Fuente: Las escuchas telefónicas ponen en jaque a la política brasileña – El Mostrador


The Vigilante Who Hacked Hacking Team Explains How He Did It | Motherboard

Back in July of last year, the controversial government spying and hacking tool seller Hacking Team was hacked itself by an outside attacker. The breach made headlines worldwide, but no one knew much about the perpetrator or how he did it.That mystery has finally been revealed.

Fuente: The Vigilante Who Hacked Hacking Team Explains How He Did It | Motherboard


A Conversation on Privacy With Edward Snowden, Noam Chomsky, and Glenn Greenwald

NSA WHISTLEBLOWER Edward Snowden joined MIT professor Noam Chomsky and The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald on Friday for a discussion on privacy rights hosted by the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The panel was moderated by Nuala O’Connor, the president of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Fuente: A Conversation on Privacy With Edward Snowden, Noam Chomsky, and Glenn Greenwald


Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Refuse to Choose Between Apple and the FBI

Both candidates tried to occupy a middle ground that doesn’t really exist – either in the war between Apple and the FBI, or when it comes to the spread of unbreakable encryption.

Fuente: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Refuse to Choose Between Apple and the FBI


Just Before Passing Surveillance Expansion, Lawmakers Partied With Pro-CISA Lobbyists

The night before Congress passed legislation to expand surveillance power, legislators attended a party with the chief lobbyists for the bill.

Fuente: Just Before Passing Surveillance Expansion, Lawmakers Partied With Pro-CISA Lobbyists


Jeb Bush Praises Obama's Expansion of NSA Surveillance – The Intercept

Jeb Bush Praises Obama’s Expansion of NSA Surveillance – The Intercept.

Featured photo - Jeb Bush Praises Obama’s Expansion of NSA Surveillance

One of the most glaring myths propagated by Washington — especially the two parties’ media loyalists — is that bipartisanship is basically impossible, that the two parties agree on so little, that they are constantly at each other’s throats over everything. As is so often the case for Washington partisan propaganda, the reality is exactly the opposite: from trade deals to Wall Street bailouts to a massive National Security and Penal State, the two parties are in full agreement on the bulk of the most significant D.C. policies (which is why the leading candidates of the two parties (fromAmerica’s two ruling royal families) will have the same funding base). But because policies that command the agreement of the two parties’ establishments are largely ignored by the D.C. press in favor of the issues where they have some disagreements, the illusion is created that they agree on nothing.

To illustrate how true this all is, consider the comments today of leading GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush. He appeared on Michael Medved’s conservative talk radio program, and was asked by the host what his favorite part of the Obama administration has been. His answer? As McClatchy’s Lesley Clark noted on Twitter, Bush hailed “Obama’s enhancement of NSA.” The audio was first posted by Ian Hanchett and is embedded below; here is the full transcript of the exchange:

Medved: If you were to look back at the last seven years, almost, what has been the best part of the Obama administration?

Jeb Bush: I would say the best part of the Obama administration would be his continuance of the protections of the homeland using the big metadata programs, the NSA being enhanced.Advancing this — even though he never defends it, even though he never openly admits it, there has been a continuation of a very important service, which is the first obligation, I think of our national government is to keep us safe. And the technologies that now can be applied to make that so, while protecting civil liberties are there. And he’s not abandoned them, even though there was some indication that he might.

It’s hardly unusual for even the most extremist right-wing Republicans to praise Obama’s foreign policy. GOP Congressman Peter King has repeatedly done just that, hailing Obama’s use of drones, assassination of a U.S. citizen with no due process, his upholding of indefinite detention powers, and the truncating of Miranda rights in terrorism cases. Just this week, GOP Senator Lindsey Graham — who has advocated bombing almost more Muslim countries in the last decade than he has fingers — said that he prefers Obama’s foreign policy over Rand Paul’s. A bipartisan coalition of Congressional outsiders tried in late 2013 to defund the NSA domestic spying program and almost succeeded, but the union of the parties’ establishments — the Obama White House, John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi — whipped just enough votes to protect the program.

The cause of NSA mass surveillance has been particularly embraced by many Democrats because it was Obama doing it (as I’ve said before, if Edward Snowden had leaked this information when a Republican was in the Oval Office, there would be a massive statue erected of him outside of the MSNBC studios, where he is now often vilified). And now, Jeb Bush (in contrast to Rand Paul, who vowed to end NSA spying “on Day One”) has declared himself fully in support of that cause, hailing Obama for expanding these capabilities.


In New Video, Congressman Explains Why His Fellow Lawmakers Couldn't Be Trusted with NSA Oversight – The Intercept

In New Video, Congressman Explains Why His Fellow Lawmakers Couldn’t Be Trusted with NSA Oversight – The Intercept.

Featured photo - In New Video, Congressman Explains Why His Fellow Lawmakers Couldn’t Be Trusted with NSA Oversight

Congressmen who asked about oversight of NSA mass surveillance and domestic spying in 2013 could have “compromise[d] security” and were denied the records they sought because of concerns they lacked formal government security clearance, a former member of the House Intelligence Committee says in a newly-released video.

The footage, from an August 29, 2013 town hall meeting, sheds new light on why lawmakers were denied key rulings and reports from the secret courts overseeing the National Security Agency — even as the Obama administration and intelligence officials claimed that all NSA programs were subject to strict congressional oversight and therefore could be held accountable.

In the video, Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., then a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, discusses why Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., and Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., should not and did not receive information they sought from the committee. The committee had previously declined to explain why the information was withheld, going so far as to tell Grayson that even its discussion of his request was classified. Because the committee, like its Senate counterpart, tends to be particularly sympathetic to the intelligence community, getting information to non-committee members like Grayson and Griffith is potentially crucial to reforming U.S. spy agencies. And in late 2013, following revelations of mass surveillance by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, there were any number of reform bills pending.


Icelandic Pirate Party’s rapid rise may result in citizenship for Snowden | Ars Technica

Icelandic Pirate Party’s rapid rise may result in citizenship for Snowden | Ars Technica.

Pirate support reaches 23.9 percent in recent poll, passing conservative party.

Nearly two years after the Icelandic Pirate Party won three seats in the island nation’s parliament in 2013, a new poll shows that the young party has the highest level of support of any party in the country. According to Visir.is, an Icelandic news site, the party’s support has reached 23.9 percent.

If the Píratar can translate that level of current support into actual votes in the next election (currently scheduled for 2017), it could lead to a higher likelihood that the country would grant asylum for Edward Snowden, possibly granting him citizenship as well. The Pirates put forward such a bill (Google Translate) in parliament in 2013, but it has not advanced.

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, who founded the party in 2012, previously told an assembled crowd in Berkeley, California, that she very much wants to help the National Security Agency whistleblower. She currently holds one of the Pirate Party’s three seats in the Icelandic parliament.

The Icelandic parliament has the power to bestow citizenship on applicants by a simple majority vote—most famously this happened with chess champion Bobby Fischer in 2005. Fischer, a native-born American, had run afoul of sanctions laws when he played a match in then-Yugoslavia in 1992. Once he became an Icelander, Fischer flew from Japan, where he had been held in prison, directly to Denmark and on to Iceland. (He lived in Iceland until his death in 2008.)


New questions emerge over personal emails Clinton 'chose not to keep' | US news | The Guardian

New questions emerge over personal emails Clinton ‘chose not to keep’ | US news | The Guardian.

hillary clintonHillary Clinton addressed the controversy about her email arrangement while secretary of state but some questions remain unanswered. Photograph: Yana Paskova/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton failed to quell mounting criticism over her controversial private email account on Tuesday evening after her office suggested she had erased more than half of her emails before turning them over for release to the American public.

In a statement released after a press conference intended to end a week-long controversy, Clinton’s office said that she did not preserve 31,830 of the 62,320 emails she sent and received while serving as Barack Obama’s secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

“After her work-related emails were identified and preserved, Secretary Clinton chose not to keep her private, personal emails that were not federal records,” her office said, in a defiant nine-page explanation for the unusual arrangement that has put her under political fire.


Technology should be used to create social mobility – not to spy on citizens | Technology | The Guardian

Technology should be used to create social mobility – not to spy on citizens | Technology | The Guardian.

GCHQPrivate eyes are watching you: the British government communications headquarters (GCHQ) is monitoring the communications of millions of people. Photograph: GCHQ / British Ministry of Defence/EPA

Why spy? That’s the several-million pound question, in the wake of the Snowden revelations. Why would the US continue to wiretap its entire population, given that the only “terrorism” they caught with it was a single attempt to send a small amount of money to Al Shabab?

One obvious answer is: because they can. Spying is cheap, and cheaper every day. Many people have compared NSA/GCHQ mass spying to the surveillance programme of East Germany’s notorious Stasi, but the differences between the NSA and the Stasi are more interesting than the similarities.

The most important difference is size. The Stasi employed one snitch for every 50 or 60 people it watched. We can’t be sure of the size of the entire Five Eyes global surveillance workforce, but there are only about 1.4 million Americans with Top Secret clearance, and many of them don’t work at or for the NSA, which means that the number is smaller than that (the other Five Eyes states have much smaller workforces than the US). This million-ish person workforce keeps six or seven billion people under surveillance – a ratio approaching 1:10,000. What’s more, the US has only (“only”!) quadrupled its surveillance budget since the end of the Cold War: tooling up to give the spies their toys wasn’t all that expensive, compared to the number of lives that gear lets them pry into.

IT has been responsible for a 2-3 order of magnitude productivity gain in surveillance efficiency. The Stasi used an army to surveil a nation; the NSA uses a battalion to surveil a planet.

Spying, especially domestic spying, is an aspect of what the Santa Fe Institute economist Samuel Bowles calls guard labour: work that is done to stabilise property relationships, especially the property belonging to the rich.

The amount a state needs to expend on guard labour is a function of how much legitimacy the state holds in its population’s reckoning. A state whose population mainly views the system as fair needs to do less coercion to attain stability. People who believe that they are well-served by the status quo will not work to upset it. States whose populations view the system as illegitimate need to spend more on guard labour.


Clinton usó solo su correo privado en su puesto como secretaria de Estado | Internacional | EL PAÍS

Clinton usó solo su correo privado en su puesto como secretaria de Estado | Internacional | EL PAÍS.

La exsenadora demócrata se habría expuesto a los piratas informáticos además de violar leyes federales que obligan a guardar ese material para los archivos

 

 

 

Hillary Clinton, en una foto de 2011. / KEVIN LAMARQUE (REUTERS)

 

La campaña presidencial de Hillary Clinton es un futurible sin concretar y sin embargo la eventual candidata a la Casa Blanca ya sufre reveses. Según reveló en la noche del lunes el diario The New York Times, Clinton usó exclusivamente su correo electrónico privado durante los cuatro años que estuvo al frente del Departamento de Estado, lo que podría suponer una violación de la ley federal que requiere que se entreguen todas las comunicaciones de los altos cargos para que queden en los archivos.

 

Pero más allá de violar leyes, los expertos apuntan que lo que hizo la exsecretaria de Estado con su actitud fue ser una presa fácil para los hackers y violar las expectativas de los ciudadanos respecto a como deberían de comportarse los altos cargos públicos.

 

Clinton no tuvo un correo electrónico del Departamento de Estado y sus ayudantes y colaboradores no corrigieron este error así como tampoco guardaron las comunicaciones electrónicas de la secretaria de Estado. Fue hace dos meses, cuando se requirió al departamento de Estado ciertos correos dentro de la investigación del atentado de Bengasi, cuando los asesores de la exsecretaria de Estado revisaron decenas de miles de páginas de la cuenta de su correo personal y decidieron cuáles entregar. En total, se dieron 55.000 páginas de correos electrónicos.

 

Lo sucedido daña la imagen de la exsenadora y exprimera dama porque refuerza la crítica que se hace tanto a ella como a su marido, Bill Clinton, de no ser precisamente amantes de la transparencia. Además, lo revelado llega días después de que se diera a conocer en varios medios la ingente cantidad de dinero acumulada por el matrimonio Clinton en su fundación procedente de Gobiernos extranjeros y particulares que podría representar un conflicto de intereses.


La entrega de la exjefa de la policía secreta sacude a Colombia | Internacional | EL PAÍS

La entrega de la exjefa de la policía secreta sacude a Colombia | Internacional | EL PAÍS.


María del Pilar Hurtado está vinculada a las escuchas ilegales durante el Gobierno del expresidente Álvaro Uribe

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La exjefa del DAS de Colombia, María del Pilar Hurtado. / MAURICIO DUEÑAS CASTAÑEDA (EFE)

Han tenido que pasar casi cuatro años para que la exdirectora del organismo de inteligencia de Colombia, María del Pilar Hurtado, dejara de huir de la justicia. La entrega a las autoridades de su país se produjo este sábado, pocas horas después de que la Interpol expidiera una circular roja en su contra, lo que ha sacudido la política en Colombia. Hurtado, quien fue directora del Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad (DAS), entre agosto de 2007 y octubre de 2008, es acusada de estar vinculada al escándalo de escuchas ilegales a magistrados, políticos opositores al Gobierno del expresidente Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010), periodistas y defensores de derechos humanos, que estalló en 2008.


Los seis intermediarios y el terrorismo – El Mostrador

Los seis intermediarios y el terrorismo – El Mostrador.

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Periodista y Asesor comunicacional @nicolaswarde

La semana pasada se formalizó a tres responsables de ocasionar los atentados de Los Dominicos y Metro Escuela Militar. Un golpe a la cátedra. Pero este procedimiento no soluciona el problema que viene ocurriendo hace ya un tiempo en Santiago y que podría seguir agravándose si es que las autoridades no toman acciones concretas y efectivas para combatir estos actos.

 

 

El sentido común indica que hoy lo primordial va de la mano con el análisis y seguimiento del posible vínculo de células terroristas de nuestro país con organizaciones internacionales. Tal como planteó un político hace pocos días, los nexos pueden establecerse sin la presencia física. Y ahí las redes sociales operan como arma de doble filo.

 

Actualmente existe una serie de plataformas que permiten la segmentación de publicaciones y, por ende, situar un mensaje en un contexto negativo. Como ejemplo de esta arma de “doble filo”, se puede mencionar a Google Plus, red social que permite la orientación de mensajes de diversa especie, ya sea en comunidades virtuales en las que se puede hablar de política, economía, noticias o tecnología. Acceder a estos espacios es muy simple y ahí surge el problema: con mucha facilidad, es posible gestionar y crear comunidades para hablar y promover diferentes tipos de activismo. Aquí, el terrorismo tiene terreno fértil. Además, se sabe de antemano, que ser parte de una red social para cometer una serie de ilícitos está a un solo clic.


Chomsky/ Edward Snowden, el criminal más buscado | SurySur

Chomsky/ Edward Snowden, el criminal más buscado | SurySur.

jun22014

Chomsky/ Edward Snowden, el criminal más buscado

eeuu snowden en nbc

En meses pasados hemos recibido lecciones instructivas sobre la naturaleza del poder del Estado y las fuerzas que impulsan su política. Y sobre un asunto íntimamente relacionado: el sutil y diferenciado concepto de la transparencia.

La fuente de la instrucción, por supuesto, es el conjunto de documentos relativos al sistema de vigilancia de la Agencia Nacional de Seguridad (NSA, por sus siglas en inglés) dados a conocer por el valeroso luchador por la libertad Edward J. Snowden, resumidos de manera experta y analizados por su colaborador Glenn Greenwald en su nuevo libro No place to hide (Sin lugar para esconderse).

Los documentos revelan un notable proyecto destinado a exponer al escrutinio estatal información vital acerca de toda persona que cae en las garras del coloso: en principio, de toda persona vinculada con la moderna sociedad electrónica.

Nada tan ambicioso fue jamás imaginado por los profetas distópicos que describieron sombríos mundos totalitarios. No es de poca importancia que el proyecto sea ejecutado en uno de los países más libres del planeta y en radical violación de la Carta de Derechos de la Constitución de Estados Unidos, que protege a los ciudadanos de “persecuciones y capturas sin motivo” y garantiza la privacidad de sus “personas, domicilios, documentos y pertenencias”.

Por mucho que lo intenten los legistas del gobierno, no hay forma de reconciliar estos principios con el asalto a la población que revelan los documentos de Snowden.


Merkel urged to press Obama on NSA scandal ahead of Washington talks | World news | The Guardian

Merkel urged to press Obama on NSA scandal ahead of Washington talks | World news | The Guardian.

German chancellor in first meeting with president since revelation that US intelligence services tapped her mobile phone
German chancellor Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel’s office has been eager to lower expectations ahead of her meeting with Barack Obama in Washington. Photograph: Imago/Barcroft Media

Angela Merkel should ask Barack Obama to destroy her NSA file when she meets the American president in Washington this week, a leading German opposition politician has told the Guardian.

The Greens warn that failure to address the intelligence monitor scandal would risk undermining the credibility of the western alliance during the Ukraine crisis.

“Close co-operation between western allies requires joint values – also in relation to the activities of our intelligence services,” said Omid Nouripour, the Green party’s foreign policy spokesperson.

“Trying to sit out the NSA scandal won’t work: we can’t afford to let the remaining open questions strain relations during on the current crisis,” he said, suggesting that a symbolic act, such as the destruction of Merkel’s NSA file, could help to mend US-German relations.

The German chancellor travels to the US on Thursday and will meet Obama on Friday.

So far, the US government has refused to allow Merkel access to her NSA file or answer formal questions about its surveillance activities, a recent query to the German Bundestag has shown. According to a report in German magazine Der Spiegel, the NSA kept more than 300 reports on Merkel in a special heads of state databank.

Merkel’s office has been eager to lower expectations ahead of the first meeting between the two leaders since it emerged in October that US intelligence services had tapped Merkel’s mobile phone.


Labour to overhaul spy agency controls in response to Snowden files | UK news | The Guardian

Labour to overhaul spy agency controls in response to Snowden files | UK news | The Guardian.

Yvette Cooper says debate over privacy, civil liberties and the role of the intelligence agencies has barely started in Britain

 

 

YVETTE COOPER

Cooper will argue it is damaging to trust in the agencies if ministers continue to hide their heads in the sand. Photograph: David Gadd/Allstar/Sportsphoto Ltd.

 

Labour will on Monday propose substantial changes to the oversight of the British intelligence agencies, including the legal framework under which they operate, in response to the revelations emerging from files leaked by Edward Snowden.

The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, is preparing to argue that the current arrangements are unsustainable for the government, and that it is damaging to trust in the agencies if ministers continue to hide their heads in the sand.

In a speech that represents Labour’s most serious intervention since the controversy about the scale of state surveillance broke last summer, she will say: “The oversight and legal frameworks are now out of date. In particular that means we need major reforms to oversight and a thorough review of the legal framework to keep up with changing technology.”


US intelligence chief: NSA should have been more open about data collection | World news | theguardian.com

US intelligence chief: NSA should have been more open about data collection | World news | theguardian.com.

James Clapper tells interviewer the spy agency could have avoided controversy by being up front with American citizens

James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence.
James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, giving testimony to Congress. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

The US director of national intelligence has conceded that the US government ought to have told American citizens that the National Security Agency collects their phone data in bulk.

James Clapper, whose misleading testimony to the Senate about the mass surveillance now overshadows his nearly four years atop the US intelligence agencies, continued to defend the bulk domestic phone, fax and other “telephony” data collection, as well as his honesty.

But in an interview released late Monday with the Daily Beast’s Eli Lake, Clapper said that crucial moment was the first revelations from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on 5 June last year, when the Guardian revealed the bulk phone records collection, which claims legal authority under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. “What did us in here, what worked against us was this shocking revelation,” Clapper said.

Clapper said that the controversy would not have occurred had the security apparatus been more open before. “I probably shouldn’t say this, but I will. Had we been transparent about this from the outset right after 9/11 – which is the genesis of the 215 program – and said both to the American people and to their elected representatives, we need to cover this gap, we need to make sure this never happens to us again, so here is what we are going to set up, here is how it’s going to work, and why we have to do it, and here are the safeguards … We wouldn’t have had the problem we had.”

His admission contradicts months of warnings, from his office and from elsewhere in the administration, that disclosure of the bulk data collection jeopardized US national security.

“Terrorists and other adversaries of this country are going to school on US intelligence sources, methods and trade craft and the insights that they are gaining are making our job much, much harder,” Clapper told the Senate intelligence committee last month – during which he implied that the journalists working off the Snowden documents were “accomplices” to the former contractor’s alleged crimes.

But Clapper’s admission also reflects a fight to preserve, in a modified form, the NSA’s authorities to collect phone data in bulk at a time of great flux.


Here's how data thieves have captured our lives on the internet | John Naughton | Comment is free | The Observer

Here’s how data thieves have captured our lives on the internet | John Naughton | Comment is free | The Observer.

It’s not just governments. Companies such as Google and Facebook spy on us too. We have clicked through to their ‘free’ digital services at the cost of sacrificing our privacy. So how do we get out?
shopping icon computer screen

Internet surveillance. Everything we do online is tracked. Photograph: Alamy

Whatever else 2013 will be remembered for, it will be known as the year in which a courageous whistleblower brought home to us the extent to which the most liberating communications technology since printing has been captured.

Although Edward Snowden‘s revelations initially seemed only to document the extent to which the state had exploited internet technology to create a surveillance system of unimaginable comprehensiveness, as the leaks flowed it gradually dawned on us that our naive lust for “free” stuff online had also enabled commercial interests effectively to capture the internet for their own purposes.

And, as if that realisation wasn’t traumatic enough, Snowden’s revelations demonstrated the extent to which the corporate sector – the Googles, Facebooks, Yahoos and Microsofts of this world – have been, knowingly or unknowingly, complicit in spying on us.

What it boils down to is this: we now know for sure that nothing that you do online is immune to surveillance, and the only people who retain any hope of secure communications are geeks who understand cryptography and use open-source software.

In The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, his magisterial history of the main communications technologies of the 20th century – telephone, radio, movies and television – the legal scholar Timothy Wu discerned a pattern.

Each technology started out as magnificently open, chaotic, collaborative, creative, exuberant and experimental, but in the end all were “captured” by charismatic entrepreneurs who went on to build huge industrial empires on the back of this capture. This is what has become known as the Wu cycle – “a typical progression of information technologies: from somebody’s hobby to somebody’s industry; from jury-rigged contraption to slick production marvel; from a freely accessible channel to one strictly controlled by a single corporation or cartel – from open to closed system”.

The big question, Wu asked, was whether the internet would be any different? Ten years ago, I would have answered: “Yes.” Having digested Snowden’s revelations, I am less sure, because one of the things he has demonstrated is the extent to which the NSA has suborned the internet companies which have captured the online activities of billions of internet users. It has done this via demands authorised by the secret foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court, but kept secret from the companies’ users; and by tapping into the communications that flow between the companies’ server farms across the world.

The reason this made sense is because so much of our communications and data are now entrusted to these internet giants. Tapping into them must have seemed a no-brainer to the NSA. After all, Google and Facebook are essentially in the same business as the agency. Its mission – comprehensive surveillance – also happens to be their business model.

The only difference is that whereas the spooks have to jump through some modest legal hoops to inspect our content, the companies get to read it neat. And the great irony is that this has been made possible because of our gullibility. The internet companies offered us shiny new “free” services in return for our acceptance of click-wrap “agreements” which allow them to do anything they damn well please with our data and content. And we fell for it. We built the padded cells in which we now gambol and which the NSA bugs at its leisure.