Modern technology makes it easier than ever for governments and corporations to spy on large numbers of people. So easy, in fact, that sometimes they even do it by accident (they say). And now Wikileaks has launched The Spy Files, which aims to raise awareness of the extent to which citizens’ emails and phones are capable of being monitored 24/7.
There’s nothing especially new in these ‘spy files’. They’re interesting primarily because of the way that they gather together masses of information that was already known, and present it rather bluntly. But if you didn’t already realise that your mobile phone or email system could be intercepted by governments of corporations, you must be hopelessly naive.
Some people see this kind of thing as unimportant. They argue that the only people who should worry are people who have something to hide. But that’s not the point. Who, after all, decides what needs to be hidden? The only reason not to worry about this kind of thing is if you have total confidence in the judgement of all elected officials and the millions of employees in the public and private sector who have access to these systems. You do? Good for you. Back to sleep now.
The surveillance state is a huge, multi-billion dollar industry. In other words, people are making money out of developing systems that can access your personal data. Then again, if you’re sharing it online, how ‘personal’ is it? At the very least, the ‘spy files’ raise interesting questions about how we treat our data and how we expect others to treat it.