Be careful what you wish for

Do you want your security transparent & accountable? Or would you prefer not to know what the government does in your name to keep you and me safe?

It’s a question that really needs an answer from a whole heap more folk than Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, the editor of the Guardian and a few others who have made their views most clear.

There has to be a majority view that is clear as to what we want our guardians to do. And, in some cases, even how we want them to do it.

I’ve just finished reading Gordon Corera’s intriguing book about MI6’s history after 1949. The BBC security correspondent’s story underlines just how important that question really is.

For 25 years various factions of the IRA sought to terrorise London as part of a political campaign for a united Ireland. I think it is safe to assume that without a number of ethically questionable policies and acts established, maintained and committed by police and security services in the UK, many more bombs would have detonated and many more people would have been killed and injured.

The game has moved on. International terrorism, and international security, are now global industries. The former uses modern digital communication to organise its various violent activities. Exactly the same modern digital communications we use.

Should we care that our mundane messages and txts are scanned for keywords by computers in Cheltenham and Langley? Or should we be grateful by default, pretend it’s not happening, and carry on buying our groceries as normal?

The article about Squidgygate on Wikipedia indicates that the issue of bugged communications is a rich seam of news stories. Some are interesting, some are true, most will run and run. All are of interest to conspiracy theorists.

Right now I’m more bothered about the fact that Vodafone appears to have fleeced UK taxpayers whilst staying entirely within the law. You can read about that here in this first-class Guardian piece. It’ll be lack of public money that will do for us in the end, not the lack of privacy. That chapter was closed in 1971 when the first email was sent.