who are surprised is what I find surprising and worrying. The general level of
understanding of technology that has become so integral to our lives is
shockingly low. Texts, tweets, Facebook, LinkedIn, and many more forms of social
media have become the way we communicate. 43 million texts are sent every day
here in the UK. Add in tweets, social media posts and every other form of
electronic contact and the number pushes 100 million. That is just the UK and
just in a single day. Monitoring the whole of Europe and that number is a
billion plus. Yet the vast majority of people send these and receive these
blissfully ignorant of the fact that they are public.
Nothing that you do online is private, confidential or secret.
Let me emphasis this. NOTHING you do online is private unless you take steps to
make it so. If you go out into the street and shout “David Cameron is a liar and
cannot be trusted” in front of a thousand people then a thousand people will
hear you and they can tell their friends and by the end of the day ten thousand
people may know you said it.
Post the same thing on Facebook and that message can pass through hundreds
of hubs, servers, routers and data sorters most of whom will cache it for a short
time until it reaches your page where it can be seen by the entire world.
You are literally shouting in front of tens of millions of potential listeners.
The vast majority of users don’t listen because they don’t visit your page or
But what you must understand is that the Internet is a huge
structure that is transparent to anyone with the knowledge, technology or
permission. If you want privacy you and only you are responsible for having it.
Encryption, passwords, IP checks. When people complain these are a nuisance and
want to stop using them the alternative is what we see now.
To address the topic of the spies.
It is the job of the security services to seek enemies.
This is what they do. After the death of Drummer Rigby at the hands of a mad
dog the media was queuing up to demand to know why the security services
had not known about this beforehand. After the Boston bomb when so many
people were crippled or killed by the work of yet more savages the media and
public were demanding to know why the security services had not found
out about it before hand. On the one hand we have a clear need to identify and
stop the barbarians who seek to maim and kill in the name of some philosophy or
another. On the other hand we have the desire for a bit of privacy in what we
The line between tyranny and freedom moves to and fro hour by
hour. It is the job of the security services to walk that line and as the line moves
they often find themselves on the wrong side of it. Zealous spooks and spies
often walk on the side of tyranny deliberately because it is here that they can be
more effective. This is their job; it is what they are employed to do.
When people look at this situation and complain they are being
spied upon, when the governments of Europe complain that they are being spied
upon everyone points the finger at the spies. The blame for this must be placed
squarely at the feet of those for whom the spies work. It is not the job of a
spy to decide where that thin line is to be found, that is a job for their
It is the government that sets the limits, or in this case fails
to do so. That this has been happening for years clearly shows that this
government and the last one have been too busy to maintain proper oversight for
a long time.
What sort of excuse is that anyway? Sorry I was too busy to
attend to national security this year or last year or the year before
Or perhaps there are some in the political system who have turned
a blind eye because this level of electronic monitoring suits their
If you object to this it is not the spies who are to blame. How many
of you have spoken to your local MP about this? How many MPs have raised
this matter in parliament? How many MPs are investigating this matter? How many
people in government have acted to restrict this level of monitoring?
The answer to all of these questions is, I suspect, not enough.