Saturday, September 28, 2013

Trust Everyone?

Sir David Omand writes in today's Guardian (link) about secret government spying: "we all need to have confidence that in the hands of our authorities these powerful tools of interception are not being abused. We have to have trust..."

Sir David is no doubt an honourable person. He worked many years for GCHQ (a branch of the British secret police) and as a well-connected senior government official is familiar with this topic. But he misses the point.

Abuse of authority & public trust includes not keeping intelligence data completely secure. Clearly the secret police have failed. Information leaks to private companies, to foreign interests, and to the public. Many key people involved should lose their jobs for such foolishness.

This intelligence gathering will continue to fail. Because some of the information they collect is incendiary, disquieting and valuable, outsiders are eager to tap into the details.

We can increase the guard over the periphery, and automate many processes, but the project is inherently unstable and unsustainable.

We can trust that some people will always seek shortcuts to wealth & power.