The Surveillance State is in a Hobbesian state of nature, according to a fresh Bloomberg article. But should it be feared more or less once it emerges from that state?
“Aside from puncturing the aura of the NSA as an all-seeing eye, the Times story also shows that today the greatest threat to our privacy is not an organization with a monopoly of surveillance power, but rather the disaggregation of surveillance power. It is not the citizen versus the state. Rather it is a Hobbesian state of nature, a war of all against all. Today, foreign governments and private hackers can use the same tools we all feared the U.S. government would use.”
This is a most interesting piece, ascribing to total surveillance the qualities of a virus, rather than a centralized, top-down government program. With the theft of digital CIA spy tools, total surveillance is likened to a plague for which there is currently little in the way of a cure. We are the surveillance state, and we are the surveilled. We are the architects of our own Panopticon.
The recent NYT story, Security Breach and Spilled Secrets Have Shaken the NSA to Its Core, the Bloomberg piece links to paints a damning portrait of the NSA: an agency powerful enough to create extremely potent cyber weapons, but not the means to keep them safe. Once the theft occurs, the thieves then taunt the agency as it descends into culture of wide-eyed paranoia about who may be leaking.
Despite all this, I’m an optimist. I believe a shield, a vaccine, can be developed and widely distributed just as easily as the surveillance virus has been. But it pays, I think, to question the wisdom of a government agency creating powerful spy tools, without a care as to what Pandora’s Box they’re opening.