…another aesop fable – big, bad dog and its reflection…Posted: 2013-09-23
US firms control the internet. The likes of Google and Yahoo with their e-mail and internet search engines. The likes of Google, Microsoft and Firefox with their browsers. The likes of Facebook, Google, Twitter and LinkedIn with their social media. The likes of Verizon and ATT with access to internet connection. And the rest of the world, not a handful of folk, relying almost exclusively on the services of such dominant US companies, trusting such enterprises to respect and protect their privacy, as would their US counterparts. With such control the expectation would be the ensuring of total customer satisfaction and confidence – business is good, very good and assured; foreign competition almost negligible.
Now imagine an organisation empowered to have unfettered access to all information on the internet, innocuous or not, though most is innocuous. Imagine such an organisation with little competent oversight or oversight influenced by political or economic interests. Imagine such an organisation demanding and receiving without protest and without these enterprises informing their respective customers of drastic, even illegal ‘changes in terms of service’. And imagine that such enterprises build into their products features that automate access by an uninvited third party, a fact of which the user would remain uninformed. Given just that limited sample,
Now imagine the existence of one principled but astounded mid-level contractor working for such an agency. But do not, for a moment, imagine the hundreds of likely unprincipled and malign individuals in the agency or with official access to the database of the agency who have similar or greater access to such information.
Is there, therefore, any reason why the world at large does not owe Mr Edward Snowden an eternal debt of gratitude, and to Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian and to The Guardian for reporting and analysing Mr Snowden’s invaluable trove of information on state illegality against not only its own citizens but those of other countries – with the craven connivance of the very enterprises that do dominate world communications, and lucratively so. Clearly too much greed is insufficient for that lot.
The consequences of that ‘reflection’ are only now being played out. In the ‘backyard’ the understandably offended Brazil has embarked on its policy of avoiding the treachery of US communication enterprises, a daunting but not insurmountable challenge. Over at Angry Bear comes a reflection on, Balkanization of the Internet: Brazil’s Response to the NSA. Some key observations missed or ignored by blind greed and hubris.
To protect its population and its government, all countries may have no choice but to follow Brazil’s lead: control all points of Internet entry and exit, as well as insist that any data stored by any foreign company be under its control.
What Brazil is doing makes perfect sense. But how can Brazil protect its inter-country communications, if those communications must, of necessity, pass through NSA hands? A giant Brazilian company runs a mine in Sudbury, ONT. (Sometimes, the relationship between Canadians and Vale, the Brazilian company, are a bit…rocky. If that relationship becomes too dicey, Canada, which is very cozy with the NSA, may well take a peek at any Vale communications leaving Canada for Brazil. Or maybe a competitor with NSA connections wants to take a peak.)
The Internet was built on Trust. Internet companies told us repeatedly to trust them. Their words are increasingly hollow. And they know it. Now they are pushing the courts to allow them to speak openly. A bit late. The glimmer of coin was too strong to resist. They would have done better to stand up to Obama’s silliness. He has created an unbelievable mess.
The United States has violated everyone’s trust.
The still evolving BRICS and other countries will continue to work at solutions that will limit, if not exclude, the involvement of the US high tech companies that undermined, sabotaged their own world market dominance.
The dénouement, not only with regard to the internet and communications, may well see that big, bad dog that attacked its reflection being swept along in the fast moving current of history. Exceptional.