What is government censorship and surveillance really all about?
The justification that all governments give for their increasingly draconian efforts to censor and monitor the average Joe is always the same: to fight terrorism. Apart from physical terrorists, they offer us the ‘information terrorists’: Anonymous, Wikileaks, Bradley Manning, The Pirate Bay and their ilk. Well, here are four quotes that are worth considering.
The first is from Christopher Doyon (Commander X) currently believed to be in Canada on the run from the FBI:
Information terrorist” – what a funny concept. That you could terrorize someone with information. But who’s terrorized? Is it the common people reading the newspaper and learning what their government is doing in their name? They’re not terrorized – they’re perfectly satisfied with that situation. It’s the people trying to hide these secrets, who are trying to hide these crimes. The funny thing is every email database that I’ve ever been a part of stealing, from President. Assad to Stratfor security, every email database, every single one has had crimes in it. Not one time that I’ve broken into a corporation or a government, and found their emails and thought, “Oh my God, these people are perfectly innocent people, I made a mistake.”
The second is from Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the Pirate Party:
It is universally agreed that Albert Einstein was a genius, and he defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and over again expecting different results.” So why, exactly, does the UK Government and David Cameron expect the results to be any different when heading down this path than that of North Korea, who censors everything?
The third is from the last remaining freedom fighter in the House of Commons, David Davis, speaking about Cameron’s proposed ‘Communications Bill’:
I took advice from experts. I asked them a simple question: “If you were a terrorist, how would you avoid this scrutiny?” I stopped them when they got to the fifth method. It is pretty straightforward: for terrorists, everything from proxy servers to one-off mobile phones means that such scrutiny is easy to avoid. For criminals, it is also easy and quite cheap to avoid. However, for ordinary citizens, that scrutiny is not easy and cheap to avoid. We will therefore create something, which some Ministers said will cost £2 billion—the London School of Economics suggests that it will cost £12 billion—that will not be effective against terrorism, but constitutes general-purpose surveillance of the entire nation.
The last flashed by me on Twitter. Sadly I didn’t record it, but it has stayed in my mind. It was in one of the Anonymous accounts. It was words to the effect:
You should always remember two things about censorship. 1. You can always get round it. 2. We will show you how.
It’s a strange, sad and worrying state of affairs. Governments cannot succeed in their stated aim: to use surveillance and censorship to fight the real terrorists. All they will do is turn the average Joe who values his freedom and liberty into an information terrorist – which is a misnomer. But I haven’t answered my own initial question: why are they doing this? When you examine what motivates a politician, it always comes down to the same thing: power. Politicians want the power to enforce their own opinions. They believe they are right and everybody else is wrong and we need to be made to do what they think is best for us, for them, for their paymasters – whoever. Government is, by its nature, a refuge for megalomania. Power is exerted and maintained by control. Information is the enemy of control. It has to be curtailed: they have no choice, it is in their DNA. And we have no choice but to fight it. It should be in our DNA.