The refrain from many, including in the media, over the NSA revelations has been that the point of all the data mining in programmes like Prism is for security: to keep us safe from terrorists. Today the Guardian has new disclosures proving that these spying programmes are not primarily driven by security; the goal is gaining an advantage.
In the latest case, it is revealed that the UK spied on its allies during the G20 summit talks in 2009. Delegates had
their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted on the instructions of their British government hosts. … Some delegates were tricked into using internet cafes which had been set up by British intelligence agencies to read their email traffic.
Those who are arguing, “Well, what did you expect? Our spies should be spying” are missing the point of these revelations. They highlight that, if the UK (and US) are doing this to their international allies at friendly summits to gain a diplomatic, economic, strategic advantage (delete as appropriate), then they are doing the same to us for similar advantages: to stop us organising and protesting, demanding reforms, campaigning for an end to corruption and power abuse.
In short, they are doing everything they can to set up secret systems that once in place will prevent us from ever being able to temper or remove such powers.
These stories are our last-chance saloon. Shrugging our shoulders in resigned indifference is absolutely the wrong response.