Privacy SOS

ZOMG heinous internet crimes require that we kill internet freedom! And look! Iran does bad stuff!

What's that saying? If you squeeze something you love too hard you might kill it?

Apparently the former director of the UK equivalent of the NSA, the GCHQ, is a tad hysterical about internet communications. He's squeezing too hard.

It's good to know that we aren't alone in the world. Our friendly neighbors across the pond are as twisted up and flummoxed about the Internet as is our Congress, which is currently debating CISPA, a bill that would put a stamp of Congressional approval on programs the NSA arguably already operates, which amount to attaching a hose to the internet and sucking up everything inside it. You know, for safe keeping. (Or blackmail. Whatever.)

Sir David Ormand, formerly of the GCHQ, takes a dim view of internet freedom. What's the word for this kind of fanatical obsession with Total Information Awareness?

Terrorist and criminals [sic] elements use social websites like Facebook and Twitter to achieve their heinous objectives, according to Ormand.
 
He said that the responsible authorities should keep the suspects under constant surveillance.
 
The former intelligence officer was of the view that individual accounts should be hacked if necessary, but added this should only be done under special circumstances.
His comments come in the wake of debate over proposed rules that would allow even freer government access to private internet communications in the UK, demolishing the few restrictions that still exist to protect individual privacy and liberty online. Ormand says that it is vital that the expanded monitoring be legally authorized so that the program has "democratic legitimacy":
Democratic legitimacy demands that, where new methods of intelligence gathering and use are to be introduced, they should be on a firm legal basis and rest on parliamentary and public understanding of what is involved, even if the operational details of the sources and methods used must sometimes remain secret. 
In other words, we won't tell you what we are really doing, but we will ask you to approve of it. (Could it be that, like the NSA did back in the early 2000s, the GCHQ is asking for authorization of a program it is already running? What's that saying? Act now, apologize later?)
 
Attacking internet freedom and privacy online under the mantle of "ZOMG TERRORISTS AND SECURITY AHHHH!" seems to be a global trend. Meanwhile President Obama is sanctioning Iran and China for their deployment of internet surveillance operations very much like those the Commander in Chief oversees at the NSA. (What's that other saying? Do as I do and not as I say?)
 
Here's to hoping that we in the US and our friends in the UK reject those elements among our government that seek to obliterate our privacy online, and that we evict these bills and the internet killers that shall inevitably come after them.
 
Let's not give the NSA and DHS the "democratic legitimacy" they seek to read our emails, look at our weird/NSFW pictures and track our credit card data without warrants.
 
The NSA might already be doing all that, but it's pretty important that we don't let Congress vote to say that we the people are cool with it, because we aren't. So let's defeat CISPA.
 
And let's stay vigilant, because these data obsessed, power hungry, creepily invasive government plans for Internet killing aren't going away any time soon. We need to be ready to whack the next mole as soon as it rears its ugly head. Counting down…

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.