Blog - BS Data, hackery, stories

On pervasive surveillance

Yesterday, I wanted to email a friend about a project. A secret project, I mean. One that could potentially harm careers and lives quite badly. So, I opened up my email client, and started writing.

I didn't even make it to describing what my email was about. I wrote "hello x", and deleted the draft.

Then, I pondered this situation: in what world do we live in where we fear of telling our friends about things, because of the mass surveillance we are subjected to?

This is not normal. Some might say that the internet is a different place, but why should it be? Why should we be less protected online than we are IRL (In Real Life)? Some caution is always necessary, yes, and I wouldn't talk about certain things in the Tube or in the bus. But if we want to chat privately, I have no reason to consider my flat bugged.

But apparently, it's different online. Even worse, my flat can indeed be bugged through my smartphone without requiring gentlemen in rain coats and fedoras breaking into the premises while I'm off to grab a loaf of bread.

This may sound ridiculous and unnecessarily paranoid. But the recent revelations of mass interception of our online communications put the the worst of all in our mind: doubt.

It's the whole panopticon effect all over again, I know. But this simple knowledge, the tiniest assumption now makes communicating with this friend of mine impossible. So, yes, we could set up PGP or encrypted phone calls or whatever solution we fancy. And yes, I trust myself with my secret. But can I trust this friend to take all the right measures to protect me?

I'm not sure about that, and I really don't want to find out.

All that so a country that isn't mine can pretend to its citizens that it is defending them from what they consider terrorists.