The Telegraph reports that the Guardian and Washington Times have obtained a secret slide show detailing nine companies who are willing participants in a programme called PRISM - which is, literally, the ever feared 'back door' into the databases of these companies. They are: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.
It's only semi-official confirmation of what many of us have suspected, however it is nevertheless galling to see it in black and white.
Such swathes of data really can provide roadmaps - and predictive ones at that - to our lives and inner workings; the capabilities of Big Data in this respect has already been well proven in the last few years. The nature of privacy has also fundamentally changed in a way that neither the law or popular conceptions (and hence, popular narratives) have caught up with.
These applications will not be particularly useful for "fighting terrorism". It is abundantly clear that our "intelligence" services already know who the terrorists are. And the terrorists certainly aren't shy about hiding it. Some of them even get invited for regular tea and biscuits on Newsnight. No, these applications are on the contrary extremely useful for monitoring, corralling, anticipating and controlling the general population. The only major ray of hope in this regard is that our respective governments are so fucking stupid and incompetent that they will continually fuck this up and there will always be ways to run rings around them with enough determination. There's still capacity for great harm however if you fall into one of the currently designated 'social-other' groups (smokers, climate sceptics, EDL, "offensive" tweeters etc etc) - and anyone congratulating themselves on not being on that illustrative list of examples, go bang your head off the wall until you remember that it could - and probably will - be you next.
Several of the named companies are claiming ignorance, for example:
"Google said in a statement: "From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a ‘back door’ for the government to access private user data.”
I don't buy it. The problem is that no one's official statements can be trusted in this area, least of all with anything touched by the rancid dogcock finger of the "intelligence" agencies, metastasizing great brown clouds of bullshit wherever they go. And of course our respective governments can compel such companies to remain entirely silent or otherwise coerce them into making misleading statements such as the above, especially given the official rationale of the U.S. invasion of privacy is because "most electronic data passing through the US at some point and therefore accessible to PRISM's net.".
Meanwhile, in reaction to the other recent revelation that the NSA is routinely collecting phone data en masse, it appears to have rattled someone in the "intelligence" community enough to break cover. -
'it could cause "long-lasting and irreversible harm" to counter-terrorism efforts.' Oh do, just fuck off already. It's just the usual weasel worded bollocks.