“Spying” does not make people safer

September 16, 2015

According to secret documents leaked by US National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden and reported by media worldwide, spying is a reality that each of one us has to live with.In one way or the other, there is someone out there who knows about you more than perhaps you’d expect.Spying is widespread in different sectors from economic, political, social among others.In a recent chat with a retired hacker who once worked for security agencies in his home country, understanding how and why espionage remains inevitable in the 21st century and in the era where democracy is thriving remains a puzzle few people can address.Generally, spying has been going on for thousands of years according to historical records, Alexander the Great built an empire in the fourth century BC with innovations in military tactics and strategy that in their bare form continue to be used to this date.In history, it is an open secret that Alexander the Great used stealth and reconnaissance against enemies at war.All governments across the world now conducts surveillance and military counterintelligence operations not just on foreign countries but also on law-abiding citizens.

Rather than advancing freedom and equality, inescapable surveillance enforces a form of authoritarianism that undermines both. It degrades the ability of members of society to challenge and organise against government and corporate injustices. The loss of cultural freedom stifles individual creativity and the unfettered community interaction necessary to keep power in check and to advance as an evolving society. After the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, American public was galvanised in anger toward the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other government intelligence agencies that were spying on domestic dissidents and ordinary citizens.It is well known that Cold War fears under former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover spawned counterintelligence programs to disrupt domestic peace groups and to discredit and neutralise public figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and leaders of political movements such as the Puerto Rican Independence Party.We all know Associated Press were spied by US government intelligence agencies.In 2006 while visiting Uncle Sam I vividly recall ABC News reported how FBI had confirmed it was tracking the incoming and outgoing phone calls of journalists in leak investigations, without their knowledge, to determine the identities of confidential sources.

I wonder who can lay claim to the fact that he’s never been spied on?But that aside, my intention is to inform whoever reads this its not just governments that spy on us.There are so many corporations that lure children into online worlds or amusement parks where personal information is collected in exchange for special rewards.Such big corporations are categorised as normalising cultural obedience through surveillance. I know all too well that “Normalisation” is the process by which people accept and take for granted ideas and actions that previously may have been considered shocking. 20th century experts long ago said modern control over society can be accomplished by watching its members, and maintaining information about them and their routines. While democracy places sovereignty in the hands of the people like we saw on Saturday with election of Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of Labour party in United Kingdom, espionage puts power into the hands of the military or other institutions.Without shadow of doubt, spying on democracy at home is connected to military intelligence and intervention abroad and a classic example is the Australian government plans to intervene in Syria in a joint efforts with its allies.

Weapons of war used for national defence abroad are now being deployed against people at home with Syria, Iraq being good examples.Military hardware such as drones, originally intended for tracking and killing enemy combatants in the battlefields, are now used locally to spy on celebrities,business competitors to mention but a few.In our own current adaptation, it is symbolised by the location-tracking cell Tablets, Laptops, phones among other gadgets that we willingly carry in our pockets.Think of the microchip-embedded clothes we wear on our bodies as well or shoes we wear with micro chips or the wearable devices like Apple Watch that can give a full map of where we’ve been.Instead of countries creating national safety by means of mass surveillance, the constant monitoring of people while they shop, ride in elevators, tour parks, stand in line at banks, use ATMs or merely walk down street has the opposite effect.Research has shown that surveillance does not make people safer.Resisting by declaring allegiance to all who dare to defend their rights and freedoms by exercising them are the custodians of democracy.Follow my advise here to minimise chances of being spied on by none state actors.

Contador Harrison