Sunday, 8 September 2013

Edward Snowden – the penny drops 2

While beautiful people dance, beautifully dressed, through the lush pastures and wild flowers singing beautifully, they are stalked all the while by the Gestapo, the Geheime Staatspolizei, the sinister secret state police ...

The Sound of Music? It's a parable of our time, dontcha know.

No it isn't. But you'd never guess that from the way some people have reacted.

Who do you think wrote this in the Guardian?
Government and industry have betrayed the internet, and us.

By subverting the internet at every level to make it a vast, multi-layered and robust surveillance platform, the NSA has undermined a fundamental social contract. The companies that build and manage our internet infrastructure, the companies that create and sell us our hardware and software, or the companies that host our data: we can no longer trust them to be ethical internet stewards.

This is not the internet the world needs, or the internet its creators envisioned. We need to take it back.
Only Bruce Schneier. That's who.

For anyone who doesn't know, Mr Schneier is a wise and expert practitioner and commentator on security whose blog is required reading for level-headed analysis and comprehensive coverage of current security affairs.

Writing like Private Eye's Dave Spart is the last thing you would ever expect of him but there it is in black and white, "government and industry have betrayed us ... undermined a fundamental social contract ... ethical internet stewards ... we need to take it back". Normal service will no doubt resume once he has got over the shock of the latest Edward Snowden revelations.

Is there any way for the ordinary punter to keep their data secure on the internet?

In another Guardian article, NSA surveillance: A guide to staying secure, Mr Schneier tentatively offers a five-point plan and recommends some tools to use:
Since I started working with Snowden's documents, I have been using GPG, Silent Circle, Tails, OTR, TrueCrypt, BleachBit, and a few other things I'm not going to write about. There's an undocumented encryption feature in my Password Safe program from the command line); I've been using that as well ...

I understand that most of this is impossible for the typical internet user. Even I don't use all these tools for most everything I am working on.
So no. There isn't. Not even for Mr Schneier.

It will be said that we are all over-reacting. All of us including Mr Schneier. Things aren't as bad as they look, securitywise, on the internet.

In fact, it's already been said: "Phew :-)  Back to: so what was it we were *right* to be paranoid about? ... hoax ... indeed. We're all delighted".

Too late for that: "it's a hoax ... but that gives no info about whether true ;-)".

The damage is done: "Not cool. Wonder what effect that first Tweet will have on some market capitalisations".

The trust has gone.

There was never any basis for it in the first place.

The internet never was Julie Andrews and a troupe of good-looking children singing in picture postcard-beautiful mountains. Google and Amazon and Facebook and Apple and eBay/PayPal are in it for the money. Martin Sorrell told us so. So did Mydex's very own William Heath:
It’s no more helpful to obsess about identity than to obsess about privacy ... The area to focus on is data logistics ... the compelling reason to pursue better data logistics with user-driven services is saving money.
Not just the money. The power, as well. Which Douglas Carswell should have realised. That's where the NSA and GCHQ come into it. And ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken's Government Digital Service and their friends.

Edward Snowden has done us a favour. The penny has dropped and the Hollywood movie rose-tinted spectacles are off.

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