Naval coincidentally tweeted about the very topic that has now taken over my focus as we began researching and writing about information security at uni this week.

I’ve been diving deep on Snowden lately (blog link), all with the angle of – is he paranoid or simply not naiive?

So are the security agencies overstepping the mark? They gained their power in the wake of 9/11. Considering the potential for terrorism, my view is that there has been remarkably little since. Is this because of the security agencies power and abilities? If so I would happily give up ‘my data’ in many ways. But of course we will never know how direct the causality is.

So the new and very relevant word of the day is panopticon. To save you a visit to wikipedia:

“The is a type of institutional building and a system of control designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow all prisoners of an institution to be observed by a single security guard, without the inmates being able to tell whether they are being watched……..

Although it is physically impossible for the single guard to observe all the inmates’ cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that they are motivated to act as though they are being watched at all times. Thus, the inmates are effectively compelled to regulate their own behaviour.”

This is quite the definition of our modern data privacy and ethics situation. Who else feels like they are in this situation? I don’t feel here in Norway but having visited Singapore and now seeing the scenes in Hong Kong (tweet below) I am most conscious of Snowden’s point, “What if they (our society) decide to flip the switch?”

What will happen if something big changes in our current comfortable and stable societies of the west? How will our history/our data be used against us? In the wrong place at the wrong time? Demonstrated allegiance to the wrong party? Hopefully we just have to ponder the consequences, not experience them.

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