After Julian Assange and the Wikileaks controversy it is the Edgar Snowden affair that has rocked the world. Snowden was a government contractor working at the National Security Agency (NSA) in America. The NSA in order to protect the US snoops on citizens in America and abroad looking for terrorist connections. The NSA collects and analyses foreign communication and foreign signals of intelligence in order to protect the US.
My complaint is that the government does not bug my telephone, hack my computer or bug my regular haunts where I have coffee sessions with friends. I want to be heard but nobody listens. Does the government think that it is only the rich and the powerful that can provide useful information?
In an interview in Hong Kong Snowden leaked top-secret government surveillance programs that led to an international debate over national security versus individual privacy. In a recent statement to the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Snowden said: “A culture of secrecy has denied our societies the opportunity to determine the appropriate balance between the human right of privacy and the governmental interest in investigation.”
Among Snowden’s leaks was information about secret US surveillance of foreign governments including Brazil and India. The Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in protest lashed out at the US in the UN General Assembly and canceled her official visit to Washington. Critics in India not only criticized the US but berated the Indian government after disclosures that it had also like America and China snooped on citizens.
Whatever the extent of public outrage over official snooping, it will not and cannot stop. The world needs a reality check. As long as terrorism survives in the world and weapons of mass destruction can be manufactured by private citizens in a garage, surveillance is a survival imperative for governments. What is required is that such surveillance by all governments be monitored and controlled by the UN. Technology has not only enabled private citizens to manufacture weapons of mass destruction, but also to snoop on governments and citizens alike. In the foreseeable future therefore privacy cannot be guaranteed for any citizen or government. In the event is it not prudent for people to adjust to the new reality? In other words technology will render total transparency for governments and private citizens unavoidable. It will signify a game changing new culture for mankind. Should not people therefore start adjusting to this change and make their lives totally transparent? It may lead to a happier and safer world.
Indeed, there could well be advantages in being snooped upon! While many people criticize the government’s snooping policy, so do I but for different reasons. My complaint is that the government does not bug my telephone, hack my computer or bug my regular haunts where I have coffee sessions with friends. I want to be heard but nobody listens. Does the government think that it is only the rich and the powerful that can provide useful information? So can ordinary people like this writer. The government should bug ordinary people too in order to create a level playing field. Not only Neera Radia and Amar Singh are worth snooping on. People like me too have valuable ideas that would help the government. Alas! All my ideas and the pearls of wisdom exchanged with friends go waste because the government does not snoop on me. If the government were to do so would not some of that wisdom penetrate the dense minds of our rulers to improve governance and conditions in our nation?