The revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden of the (previously) top secret PRISM programme, run by the National Security Agency in the USA, gathering and analysing massive amounts of data gathered about everyone on the planet (except for US citizens) including the contents of phone calls, emails, Facebook activities, web searches (using all the major search engines including Google, Microsoft Bing and Yahoo!), and their collaboration with “national security” centres like GCHQ in Britain is unsurprisingly causing a huge storm amongst people concerned about civil liberties.
[And yes, the companies involved have denied knowledge of PRISM, saying they only cooperate with law enforcement/security services when there are court orders, so I perhaps should qualify the above with “allegedly”, but there has been a lot of circumstantial evidence in my life that a high level of surveillance (to model the world to a high degree of accuracy, predict what is likely to happen, and interfere in subtle and not so subtle ways to try to ensure events go their way) has been going on for over a decade, and that the PRISM software is far more sophisticated than checking for keywords but uses artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to understand our communications. And I’m an AI expert by profession, who has developed an AI/simulation language called SDML capable in a much more limited way of doing the same sort of modelling, so I should know roughly what’s possible.]
The usual excuse is that if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to fear. The capitalist ruling class tries to justify programmes like PRISM as the most effective way of stopping terrorism (but of course attacks on civil liberties like PRISM and Guantánamo Bay are a cause of anger amongst potential terrorists).
So what should we be worried about? Unfortunately, most commentators on civil liberties make general points without mentioning the fact that programmes like PRISM can be used to try to stop a genuine democratic socialist society (probably in one country at first, quickly spreading around the world, rather than simultaneously) from taking place. This is not wild speculation – PRISM (and possibly less sophisticated predecessors) has been used to try to thwart me in my revolutionary activities.