This has been quite an exciting year, hasn't it?
Nothing quite like it has come down the pike in quite a long time, and how all the various elements fit together, providing they do, is yet to be seen.
The highest profile "news" story was of course the Summer Splash of the Snowden Thing. Pssst: The NSA is spying on you..." Yes, it is. Well, maybe not on you personally, but then again, maybe yes, on you. Personally.
We already knew that practically anything we did on the Internet was an open book to spooks and marketers, we've known it for years. Sometimes we've even made use of that knowledge to freak out both the spooks and the marketeers, sometimes with hilarious results. So it was passing strange, in my book, that the Summer Story of the Century became such a cause célèbre throughout the latter half of the year. Of course, the drama of it all, the cat-and-mouse, the jajaja, the personalities of the players, and the government response all made for an excellent narrative, and that's what media sells these days, so it will probably continue for quite a little while to come.
The entry of "Pierre" Omidyar into the fray, by setting up a high profile media shop specifically for Greenwald's continued... erm... pleasure ... added a whole other layer to the frolic and frenzy. (I should note that I use "Pierre" in air quotes because of a wonderful interview (the interview has been reclassified "unlisted," so sharing is discouraged) Alexa O'Brien did with Stanley Cohen regarding the PayPal 14, who plead out on really nasty charges brought by "Pierre's" PayPal against them for interfering with their work product. Or something. Cohen uses air quotes throughout when mentioning "Pierre" and given the fact that the man himself doesn't have much of a public persona or profile, it seems appropriate to follow in the tradition...)
This media firestorm (which I indelicately called a "Summer Shark and Missing White Boy Story" throughout its summertime incarnation) led to a rather remarkable Study Group and Report by insiders commissioned by the White House and released the day after the President invited the highest ranks of the Silicon Valley nobility to meet with him and reason together on what should be done now with regard to the Surveillance/Security State under which we are all privileged to live. Praise Be and Bow Down.
After reading the Report, I came to the conclusion that much of it had been pre-prepared and that the upshot of it all is to move the discomforting aspects of mass surveillance out of the purview of the NSA and put them into other cubby-holes where they can be better monitored or at least left to fester. Or something .
Whatever the case, there is no indication whatsoever that any of the powers usurped by the Surveillance/Security State will be curtailed let alone abolished.
Now it should be noted that in all the firestorm and frenzy over the Snowden Thing, there has never been even a hint of interest by the principals, Snowden, Greenwald, Poitras, et al, of loosening the grip of the Surveillance/Security State on the masses. Hardly. All they EVER wanted, they have said over and over, was an "informed debate" over the issue of mass surveillance, and having now had that debate, Snowden now asserts his goal has been accomplished.
All righty then.
That was quick and efficient, wasn't it? Don't you feel better? I sure do. /s
"One Nation, Under Surveillance...." ♫That's America to Meeeeeee....♬
Surveillance of the whole population is not going away, no matter what; who controls it and what is done with the data will be adjusted to better comport with the interests and desires of the SV nobility. You -- and I -- will have nothing substantive to say about it. Have a nice day. Terms and conditions apply.☺
Assuming for the moment that I am correct and the Surveillance/Security State will not be compromised or go away in our lifetimes, but that it will be reconfigured for the comfort and convenience of Our Betters -- as all things always are -- how would one prefer to be surveilled? Would you prefer surveillance conducted by and for the government or by and for corporate interests?
That's the choice, the only real choice, we're being offered.
Myself, I don't much care for either alternative, but as in the case of elections, we don't really have an option, and unlike elections, we can't really opt out -- without completely altering one's lifestyle and location, and essentially disappearing. Well, that may be the option many choose in the not too distant future, but so far, we're not quite there yet.
The upshot of the Snowden Thing, it seems to me, is that in the near-term surveillance of the Rabble will be undertaken by and on behalf of corporate interests (and let's not forget that "Pierre's" eBay and PayPal are huge and global players in this endeavor) with ever greater restrictions put in place on government access to this data. Basically, the idea will be that the private sector will track and compile data on everyone (as they do now) and that only when the private sector interests suspect evildoing by an individual will their data be turned over to government for pursuit and prosecution. This is pretty much the current eBay/PayPal model as it is, though according to Mark Ames, eBay/PayPal is quite amenable to turning over user data when governments suspect the evildoing by users. It's all very merry. And according to some eBay/PayPal users, part of the business model for these outfits is routine closure of accounts and theft of assets. Oh my! Could it be? Apparently it is, but my accounts with PayPal have long been empty, so I wouldn't exactly know.
Now I say that "no surveillance" is the correct approach, at least as an interim measure, but my Betters tell me that is not on the table for consideration. The only thing we get to choose from is whether the dominant party in the Surveillance/Security State shall be the "government" or corporate interests. With the intent of diminishing "government" participation to the extent possible, to be involved only at the beck and occasional call of the corporate sector.
As handmaidens to corporations, we already know how useless to the People our governments have become. There is no sign at all that this will change, and there is no sign at all that either Snowden, Greenwald, or "Pierre" have any interest in changing it. If anything, the signs are they wish to ensure the continued diminution of "government" in the face of corporate power.
So.... what do we do about it?
That question will have to wait for the New Year for deeper consideration...