Keeping Abreast of Privacy Issues

In the wake of the Edward Snowden disclosures about endemic global surveillance, the rather threadbare old argument about “if you have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” has been trotted out by many Big Brother apologists.

But it’s not about doing anything wrong, it’s about having an enshrined right to privacy – as recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights agreed in 1948.  And this was enshrined in the wake of the horrors of World War 2, and for very good reason.  If you are denied privacy to read or listen, if you are denied privacy to speak or write, and if you are denied privacy about whom you meet and see, then freedom has died and totalitarianism has begun.

Those were the lessons learned from the growth of fascism in the 1930s and 1940s.  If you lose the right to privacy, you also lose the ability to push back against dictatorships, corrupt governments, and all the attendant horrors.

How quickly we forget the lessons of history: not just the rights won over the last century, but those fought and died for over centuries. We recent generations in the West have grown too bloated on ease, too financially fat and socially complacent, to fully appreciate the freedoms we are casually throwing away.

body_armourSo what sparked this mini-rant? This article I found in my Twitter stream (thanks @LossofPrivacy). It appears that a US police department in Detroit has just sent out all the traditionally vital statistics of its female officers to the entire department – weight, height and even the bra size of individual female police officers have been shared with the staff, purely because of an email gaffe.

Well people make mistakes and hit the wrong buttons. So this may not sound like much, but apparently the women in question are not happy, and rightly so. In the still macho environment of law enforcement, one can but cringe at the “joshing” that followed.

Putting aside the obvious question of whether we want our police officers to be tooled up like Robocop, this minor debacle highlights a key point of privacy. It’s not that one needs to hide one’s breasts as a woman – they are pretty much obvious for chrissakes – but does everyone need to know the specifics, or is that personal information one step too far? And as for a woman’s weight, don’t even go there…..

So these cops in Detroit, no doubt all up-standing pillars of their communities, might have learned a valuable lesson. It is not a “them and us” situation – the “them” being “terrorists”, activists, communists, liberals, Teabaggers – whatever the theme du jour happens to be.

It is about a fundamental need for privacy as human beings, as the Duchess of Cambridge also discovered last year. This is not just about height, bra size or, god forbid, one’s weight. This is about bigger issues if not bigger boobs. We all have something we want kept private, be it bank statements, bonking, or bowel movements.

However, with endemic electronic surveillance, we have already lost our privacy in our communications and in our daily routines – in London it is estimated that we are caught on CCTV more than 300 times a day just going about our daily business.

More importantly, in this era of financial, economic and political crises, we are losing our freedom to read and watch, to speak and meet, and to protest without fear of surveillance. It is the Stasi’s wet dream, realised by those unassuming chaps (and obviously the chapesses with boobs) in law enforcement, the NSA, GCHQ et al.

But it is not just the nation state level spies we have to worry about. Even if we think that we could not possibly be important enough to be on that particular radar (although Mr Snowden has made it abundantly clear that we all are), there is a burgeoning private sector of corporate intelligence companies who are only too happy to watch, infiltrate and destabilise social, media and protest groups. “Psyops” and “astro-turfing” are terrifying words for anyone interested in human rights, activism and civil liberties. But this is the new reality.

So, what can we do? Let’s remember that most law enforcement people in the varied agencies are us – they want a stable job that feels valued, they want to provide for their families, they want to do the right thing. Reach out to them, and help those who do have the courage to speak out and expose wrongdoing, be it law enforcement professionals speaking out against the failed “war on drugs” (such as those in LEAP) or intelligence whistleblowers exposing war crimes, illegal surveillance and torture.

Thomas_PaineBut also have the courage to protest and throw the tired old argument back in the faces of the security proto-tyrants. This is what the founding fathers of the USA did: they risked being hanged as traitors by the British Crown in 1776, yet they still made a stand. Using the “seditious” writings of Tom Paine, who ended up on the run from the UK, they had the courage to speak out, meet up and fight for what they believed in, and they produced a good first attempt at a workable democracy.

Unfortunately, the USA establishment has long been corrupted and subverted by corporatist interests. And unfortunately for the rest of the world, with the current geo-political power balance, this still has an impact on most of us, and provides a clear example of how the changing political landscape can shift the goal posts of “acceptable” behaviour – one day your are an activist waving a placard, the next you are potentially deemed to be a “terrorist”.

But also remember – we are all, potentially, Tom Paine. And as the endless, nebulous, and frankly largely bogus “war on terror” continues to ravage the world and our democracies, we all need to be.

In this post-PRISM world, we need to take individual responsibility to protect our privacy and ensure we have free media. At least then we can freely read, write, speak, and meet with our fellow citizens. We need this privacy to be the new resistance to the creeping totalitarianism of the global elites.

Read the seminal books of Tom Paine (while you still can), weep, and then go forth…..

With thanks to my mother for the title of this piece. It made me laugh.

The “Insider Threat”

As the old media propaganda battle inevitably heats up around the Edward Snowden case, I stumbled across this little American news gem recently. The premise being that potential whistleblowers are now deemed to be the new “insider threat”.

Well, the US spooks and their friends have already had a pretty good run through the “reds under the bed” of McCarthyism, political subversives, illegals, Muslims and “domestic extremists”, whatever the hell that really means legally.  Now they’ve hit on another threatening category to justify yet further surveillance crackdowns. What’s in a name…..

Firstly, this is old news resurrected in the wake of the Edward Snowden disclosures to scare people anew. Way back in 2008 the US government wrote a report about “insider threats” and the perceived danger of the high-tech publisher Wikileaks and, in early 2010 the report was leaked to the very same organisation.

Wikileaks1In 2008 the US government strategy was to expose a Wikileaks source so that others would be deterred from using the conduit in future. Well that didn’t happen – Wikileaks technologically outpaced the lumbering, brutish might of the US and sycophantic Western intelligence agencies.  The unfortunate Bradley Manning was exposed by an FBI snitch, Adrian Lamo, rather than from any technical failure of the Wikileaks submission system.

What did occur was a muscular display of global corporatism, with nation after nation capitulating to take down the Wikileaks site, but mirror sites survived that pointed to Switzerland (which has a strong tradition of direct democracy, self defence and free speech and which remains steadfastly independent from international diplomatic circle jerks the UN, NATO, and such like.

On top of that, all major financial channels stopped donations to Wikileaks – an act now been deemed to be manifestly illegal in some countries.

Now, in the wake of the Manning and Snowden disclosures, the US mainstream media appears, inevitably, to be trying to conflate the cases of known traitors with, you’ve guessed it, bona fide whistleblowers.

Cases such as Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, who betrayed their countries by selling secrets to an enemy power – the Soviet Union – in an era of existential threat. They were traitors to be prosecuted under the US Espionage Act (1917) – that is what it was designed for.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with the current whistleblower cases and is just so much basic neuro-linguistic programming. *Yawn*. Do people really fall for that these days?

This is a tired old tactic much used and abused in the officially secret UK, and the USA has learned well from its former colonial master – so much for 1776 and the constitution.

However, in the CBS interview mentioned above it was subtly done – at least for a US broadcast – with the commentator sounding reasonable but with the imagery telling a very different story.

In my view this conflation exposes a dark hypocrisy at the heart of the modern military-security complex. In the old days the “goodies” and “baddies” were simplistically demarcated in the minds of the public: free West good; totalitarian East bad. This followed the mainstream propaganda of the day, and those who worked for the opposition – and the Soviet Union gave the US/UK intelligence axis a good run for its money – were prosecuted as traitors.  Unless, of course, they emerged from the ruling class, when they were allowed to slip away and evade justice.

And of course many of us remember the scandal of the Russian spy ring that was exposed in 2010 – many individuals who had illegally been infiltrated into the US for decades. Yet, when they were caught and exposed, what happened?  A deal was struck between the US and Russia and they were just sent home.

No such liberality is shown to true modern-day whistleblowers. Quite the opposite, with the UK and the US willing to breach all established diplomatic protocols to hunt down their quarry. This despite the fact that the whistleblowers are liberating information about the illegality of our own governments to empower all of us to act as informed citizens, and despite the fact that they are exposing global-level crimes.

Bradley_Manning_2Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden have risked their lives to expose the fact that we are living under a global police state and that our military and intelligence agencies are running amok across the planet, with CIA kill lists, renditions, torture, wars, drone strikes and dirty tricks.

Yet the West is not officially at war, nor is it facing an existential threat as it did during the Second World War or the so-called Cold War.  Despite this, the US has used the Espionage Act (1917) more times in the last 5 years than over the preceding century. Is it suddenly infested with spies?

Well, no.  But it is suddenly full of a new digital generation, which has grown up with the assumption that the internet is free, and which wants to guarantee that it will remain free without Big Brother watching over their shoulders.  Talented individuals who end up working for the spy agencies will inevitably be perturbed by programmes such as PRISM and TEMPORA. Lawyers, activists and geeks have been warning about this for the last two decades.

By 1911 the UK had already put in place not only the proto-MI5, but also then added the first Official Secrets Act (OSA) to prosecute real traitors ahead of the First World War. The UK updated the OSA in 1989 specifically to suppress whistleblowing. The US has learned these legal suppression lessons well, not least by shredding its constitution with the Patriot Act.

However, it has neglected to update its law against whistleblowers, falling back instead onto the hoary old 1917 Espionage Act – as I said before, more times in the past five years than over the last century.

This is indeed a war on whistleblowers and truth-tellers, nothing more, nothing less.

What are they so afraid of? Idealists who believe in the old democratic constitutions? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other such fuddy-duddy concepts?

Or could the real enemy be the beneficiaries of the whistleblowers? When the US government says that Manning or Snowden have aided the enemy, do they, could they, mean we the people?

The answer to that would logically be a resounding “yes”. Which leads to another question: what about the nation states – China, Russia, Iran – that we have been told repeatedly over the last few years are hacking and spying on us?

The phrase “pot and kettle” springs to mind. There are no goodies and baddies any more. Indeed, all that remains is outright and shocking hypocrisy.

Snowden has laid bare the fact that the US and its vassals are the most flagrant protagonists in this cyberwar, even as our governments tell us that we must give up basic human rights such as privacy, to protect us from the global threat of terrorism (while at the same time arming and funding our so-called terrorist enemies).

Yet whistleblowers who bravely step up and tell us our governments are committing war crimes, that we are being spied on, that we live under Orwellian surveillance, are now the people being prosecuted for espionage, not the “real” spies and certainly not the war criminals.

In the CBS interview, former US General Michael Hayden, ex-head of the CIA and NSA asked: “what kind of moral judgement does it take for someone to think that their view trumps that of two presidents, the Congress and Senate, the court system and 35,000 co-workers at the NSA?”

Er, perhaps someone who does not want to collude in the most stark examples of global war crimes and illegal surveillance? And perhaps someone who believes that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was set up for a reason after the horrors of the Second World War?

When the rule of law breaks down, who is the real criminal?

What we are witnessing is a generational clash, not a clash of ideologies. The oldsters still be believe in the Cold War narrative (or even “cowboys and Indians”?) of goodies, baddies and existential threats. The digital generations have grown up in the wake of 9/11 and all the associated governmental over-reaction – war crimes go unreported and untried, real civil liberties are an historic artefact, and the global population lives under Big Brother surveillance. Why on earth is anyone, really, surprised when young people of honour and idealism try to take a stand and make a difference?

We should be more worried about our future if the whistleblowers were to stop coming forward.

Edward Snowden – the Globalisation of Whistleblowing

I have held back from writing about the Edward Snowden NSA whistleblowing case for the last week – partly because I was immersed in the resulting media interviews and talks, and partly because I wanted to watch how the story developed, both politically and in the old media. The reaction of both can tell you a lot.

That does not mean that I did not have a very positive response to what Snowden has done. Far from it. The same night the story broke about who was behind the leaks, I discussed the implications on an RT interview and called what he did Whistleblowing 2.0.

Why did I say that? Well, it appeared from his initial video interview with The Guardian that he had learned from previous whistleblowing cases: he had watched the media and carefully chosen a journalist, Glenn Greenwald, with a good track record on the relevant issues who would probably fight his corner fearlessly; his information clearly demonstrated that the intelligence agencies were spinning out of control and building surveillance states; he carefully chose a jurisdiction to flee to that might have the clout to protect him legally against the wrath of an over-mighty USA; and he has used his internet and media savvy to gain as much exposure and protection as quickly as possible.

edward_snowdenPlus, he has been incredibly brave, considering the draconian war on whistleblowers that is currently being waged by the American administration. There have been three other NSA whistleblowers in recent years, all also talking about endemic surveillance. All have paid a high personal price, all displayed great bravery in the face of adversity yet, sadly, none has achieved the same level of international impact. Were we just deaf to their warnings, or has Snowden played this better?

I think a bit of both.  He’s a geek, a young geek, he will have seen what happened to other whistleblowers and appears to have taken steps to avoid the same pitfalls. He has gone public to protect his family and prevent harm to his former colleagues in any ensuing witch-hunt. And he has fled the country in order to remain at liberty to argue his case, which is key to keeping the story alive for more than a week in the gadfly minds of the old media. I know, I’ve been involved in the same process.

He has blown the whistle to protect an American way of life he thinks “worth dying for”. Yet he has broadened out the issues internationally – what happens in America impacts the rest of the world. This, in my view, is crucial.  I have been writing for years that the US is increasingly claiming global legal hegemony over the entire internet, as well as the right to kidnap, torture and murder foreigners at will.

The Patriot Act has not only shredded the US constitution, it also now apparently has global reach for as long as our craven governments allow it to. Now we know that this is not some abstract concept, theory or speculation – we are all potentially being watched

Edward Snowden argued his case very effectively in a live chat on The Guardian newspaper website. It became clear that he is indeed a new generation of whisteblower. This is not someone who witnessed one crime and immediately felt he had to speak out. This is a technical expert who watched, over time and with dismay, the encroaching Big Brother surveillance state that is taking over the world via the NSA and its clones.

He is young, he had faith that a new government would mean change, but in the end felt compelled to take considered action when he witnessed the unaccountable mission creep, the limited and ineffectual oversight, and the neutered politicians who rush to reassure us that everything is legal and proportionate when they really have no idea what the spy agencies get up to.

In both the US and the UK the spies repeatedly get away with lying to the notional oversight bodies about mistakes made, rules bent, and illegal operations. Former senior CIA analyst, Ray McGovern, has catalogued the US lies, and here are a few home-brewed British examples. The internet companies have also been wriggling on the hook over the last week.

Snowden appears to be very aware not only of potential state level surveillance but also the global corporatist aspect of the subversion of the basic companies most people use to access the internet – Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, Skype et al. A few pioneers have been discussing the need to protect oneself from such corporatist oversight for years, and such pioneers have largely been ignored by the mainstream: they’re “just geeks” they are “paranoid”, “tin foil hat” etc.

Edward Snowden has laid bare the truth of this globalised, corporatist Big Brother state. From his public statements so far, he seems very alive to the international aspects of what he is revealing. This is not just about Americans being snooped on, this affects everybody. We are all subject to the brutal hegemony that US securocrats and corporations are trying to impose on us, with no rights, no redress under the law.

Big_Brother_posterWe have already seen this with the illegal US state take-down of Kim Dotcom’s secure cloud service, Megaupload, with the global persecution of Wikileaks, with Obama’s war on whistleblowers, with the NDAA, with the asymmetric extradition cases, with the drone wars across the Middle East and Central Asia…..  where to stop?

Snowden, through his incredible act of bravery, has confirmed our worst fears. It is not just corporations that have gone global – surveillance has too. And now, thankfully, so too are whistleblowers.

What troubles me somewhat is the way that the old media is responding – even The Guardian, which broke the story. Glenn Greenwald is an excellent, campaigning journalist and I have no doubt whatsoever that he will fight to the wire for his source.

However, the newspaper as an entity seems to be holding back the free flow of information. Charitably, one could assume that this is to maximise the impact of Snowden’s disclosures. Less charitably, one could also see it as a way to eke out the stories to maximise the newspaper’s profits and glory. Again, it’s probably a bit of both.

However, I do not think this will ultimately work in the best interests of the whistleblower, who needs to get the information out there now, and get the whole debate going now.

Plus, today it was reported that a D-Notice had been issued against the UK media last week. I have written before about this invidious self-censorship with which the British media collaborates: senior editors and senior military personnel and spooks meet to agree whether or not stories may act against “national security” (still a legally undefined phrase), and ban publications accordingly. And this is “voluntary” – what does that say about our press holding power to account, when they willingly collude in the suppression of information?

Plus, some of the key journalists at The Guardian who were involved in the Wikileaks stitch-up are also now pecking away at the Snowden story. The old media are still continuing to act as a bottleneck of the free flow of information from whistleblowers to the public domain. In the post-Wikileaks era, this is a retrograde step. It is not for them to assess what the public needs to know, nor is it down to them to analyse and second-guess why any whistleblower is doing what they are doing.

As Edward Snowden stated: “The consent of the governed is not consent if it is not informed“.

Club of Amsterdam

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Club of Amsterdam.  The topic under discussion was “The future of digital identity”.  Many thanks to Felix and the team. A lively evening.

Annie Machon at the Club of Amsterdam from Annie Machon on Vimeo.
First published in my newsletter last week, amongst much else. Do sign up!

The FISA/Echelon Panopticon

A recent interview with James Corbett of the Corbett Report on Global Research TV discussing issues such as FISA, Echelon, and our cultural “grooming” by the burgeoning surveillance state:

The End of Privacy and Freedom of Thought?

I saw this chilling report in my Twitter feed today (thanks @Asher_Wolf): Telstra is implementing deep packet inspection technology to throttle peer to peer sharing over the internet.

Despite being a classicist not a geek by training, this sounds like I know what I’m talking about, right?  Well somewhat to my own surprise, I do, after years of exposure to the “hacktivist” ethos and a growing awareness that geeks may our last line of defence against the corporatists.  In fact, I recently did an interview on The Keiser Report about the “war on the internet”.

Officially, Telstra is implementing this capability to protect those fragile business flowers (surely “broken business models” – Ed) within the entertainment and copyright industries – you know, the companies who pimp out creative artists, pay most of them a pittance while keeping the bulk of the loot for themselves, and then whine about how P2P file sharing and the circulation and enjoyment of the artists’ work is theft?

But who, seriously, thinks that such technology, once developed, will not be used and abused by all and sundry, down to and including our burgeoning police state apparatus? If the security forces can use any tool, no matter how sordid, they will do so, as has been recently reported with the UK undercover cops assuming the identities of dead children in order to infiltrate peaceful protest groups.

Writer and activist, Cory Doctorow, summed this problem up best in an excellent talk at the CCC hackerfest in Berlin in 2011:

The shredding of any notion of privacy will also have a chilling effect not only on the privacy of our communications, but will also result in our beginning to self-censor the information we ingest for fear of surveillance (Nazi book burnings are so 20th Century).  It will, inevitably, also lead us to self-censor what we say and what we write, which will slide us into an Orwellian dystopia faster than we could say “Aaron Swartz“.

As Columbian Professor of Law, Eben Moglen, said so eloquently last year at another event in Berlin – “freedom of thought requires free media”:

Two of my favourite talks, still freely available on the internet. Enjoy.

Echelon Redux

Just a quickie, as this is some sort of holiday season apparently.  However, this did annoy me.   In the same way that President Obama signed the invidious NDAA on 31st December last year, despite his protestations about vetoing etc, it appears the US government has sneaked/snuck through (please delete as appropriate, depending on how you pronounce “tomato”) yet another draconian law during the festive season, which apparently further erodes the US constitution and the civil rights of all Americans.

Yet another problem for our benighted cousins across the pond, you might think.  But as so often happens these days, bonkers American laws can affect us all.

Yesterday the Senate approved an expansion of the terms of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).  This allows the US intelligence services to hoover up, if you’ll pardon the mild intelligence joke, the emails of god-fearing, law-abiding Americans if they are exchanging emails with pesky foreigners.

Well of course the whole world now knows, post 9/11, that all foreigners are potential terrorists and are now being watched/snatched/extraordinarily rendered/tortured/assassinated with impunity.  In Europe we have had many people suffer this way and some have managed to achieve recognition and restitution.  That appears to do little to stop the drone wars and blood-letting that the USA has unleashed across the Middle East.

But the NDAA and the extended FISA should at least rouse the ire of Americans themselves: US citizens on US soil can now potentially be targeted.  This is new, this is dangerous, right?

Well, no, not quite, as least as far as the interception of communications goes.

The Echelon system, exposed in 1988 by British journalist Duncan Campbell and reinvestigated in 1999, put in place just such a (legally dubious) mechanism for watching domestic citizens.  The surveillance state was already in place, even if through a back door, as you can see from this article I wrote 4 years ago, which included the following paragraph:

ECHELON was an agreement between the NSA and its British equivalent GCHQ (as well as the agencies of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) whereby they shared information they gathered on each others’ citizens. GCHQ could legally eavesdrop on people outside the UK without a warrant, so they could target US citizens of interest, then pass the product over to the NSA. The NSA then did the same for GCHQ. Thus both agencies could evade any democratic oversight and accountability, and still get the intelligence they wanted.

The only difference now is that FISA has come blasting through the front door, and yet people remain quiescent.

Talking about totalitarianism at ETH-0, January 2010

ETH-0_PosterIn January I had the pleasure of speaking in The Netherlands at the excellent geekfest known as ETH-0.  Rather than just banging on about the spooks, I thought it was time to take a step back and examine what exactly we mean when we talk about totalitarianism, police states, and how far down the road our countries have gone.

I also wanted to drive home to an audience, many of whom are too young to remember the Cold War, what exactly it would be like to live under a police state with its endemic surveillance. 

And here’s the talk:

US Intelligence targets Wikileaks

WikileaksThe US government has apparently been getting its knickers in a twist about the excellent Wikileaks website.  A report written in 2008 by US army counter-intelligence analysing the threat posed by this haven for whistleblowers has been leaked to, you’ve guessed it, the very subject of the report.

Wikileaks was set up three years ago to provide a secure space for principled whistleblowers around the world to expose corruption and crimes committed by our governments, intelligence agencies and mega-corporations.  The site takes great care to verify the information it publishes, adheres to the principle of exposing information very much in the public interest, and vigorously protects the identify of its sources.

By doing so, Wikileaks plays a vital part in informing citizens of what is being done (often illegally) in their name.  This free flow of information is vital in a democracy.

Well, no government likes a clued-up and critical citizenry, nor does it like to have transparency and accountability imposed on it.  Which led to the report in question.

As I have written before ad nauseam, whistleblowers provide an essential function to the healthy working of a democracy.  The simplistic approach would be to say that if governments, spies and big corporations obeyed the law, there would be no need for whistleblowers.  However, back in the real, post-9/11 world, with its endless, nebulous “war on terror”, illegal wars, torture, extraordinary rendition and Big Brother surveillance, we have never had greater need of them.

Rather than ensuring the highest standards of legality and probity in public life, it is far simpler for the powers that be to demonise the whistleblower – a figure who is now (according to the Executive Summary of the report) apparently seen as the “insider threat”.  We are looking at a nascent McCarthyism here.  It echoes the increasing use by our governments of the term “domestic extremists” when they are talking about activists and protesters.

There are laws to protect whistleblowers in most areas of work now.  In the UK we have the Public Interest Disclosure Act (1998).  However, government, military, and especially intelligence professionals are denied this protection, despite the fact that they are most often the very people to witness the most heinous state abuses, crimes and corruption.  If they try to do something about this, they are also the people most likely to be prosecuted and persecuted for following their consciences, as I described in a talk at the CCC in Berlin a couple of years ago.

Ideally, such whistleblowers need a protected legal channel through which to report crimes, with the confidence that these will be properly investigated and the perpetrators held to account.  Failing that, sites like Wikileaks offer an invaluable resource.  As I said last summer at the Hacking at Random festival in NL, when I had the pleasure of sharing a stage with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, I just wish that the organisation had existed a decade earlier to help with my own whistleblowing exploits.

The Official Secrets Act (1989) in the UK, is drafted to stifle whistleblowers rather than protect real secrets.  Such laws are routinely used to cover up the mistakes, embarrassment and crimes of spies and governments, rather than to protect national security.  After all, even the spooks acknowledge that there are only three categories of intelligence that absolutely require protection: sensitive operational techniques, agent identities and ongoing operations.

This US counter-intelligence report is already 2 years old, and its strategy for discrediting Wikileaks (by exposing one of their sources pour encourager les autres) has, to date, manifestly failed. Credit is due to the Wikileaks team in out-thinking and technologically outpacing the intelligence community, and is a ringing endorsement for the whole open source philosophy.

I’ve said this before, and I shall say it again: as our countries evolve ever more into surveillance societies, with big brother databases, CCTV, biometric data, police drones, voting computers et al, geeks may be our best (and last?) defence against emerging Big Brother states.