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#1  Postby Alan B » Apr 24, 2017 9:40 am

The Guardian
We Know All About You by Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones review – the dangers of our surveillance society

A readable history of snooping in Britain and US argues that private spying organisations have done as much harm as the state

hen the US government contractor Edward Snowden disclosed the extent of the global eavesdropping operation being run by the National Security Agency, GCHQ and their partners in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, many people spoke, aghast, of the way in which the 21st century appeared to have ushered in a new age of surveillance.

Yet spying on a mass scale has of course been with us for as long as governments have been skittish about foreign powers or uncertain about the loyalties of their own citizens. When Oliver Cromwell established the Post Office as a state monopoly in 1657, he did so not because he wished to improve England’s communications, but because the opening of mail was considered to be “the best means to discover and prevent any dangerous and wicked designs against the Commonwealth”.

In 1703, a year into Queen Anne’s reign, an Oxford don, Edward Willes, was appointed head of the new Post Office “deciphering branch”, which not only opened letters but also broke correspondents’ codes. One of the few people who twigged was Jonathan Swift, who wrote in Gulliver’s Travels of a government department that opens letters so that it “can discover a close-stool” – a toilet – “to signify a privy-council; a flock of geese, a senate; a lame dog, an invader”.

The rest of the country was kept in the dark for more than 140 years. By the time the existence of the deciphering branch was made public by some hyper-vigilant Italian revolutionaries living in exile in London, the Willes family had turned the opening of letters, cracking of codes and unmasking of supposed plots into a dynastic enterprise: the department was being run by Willes’s grandson, Francis.

One of the key points made in Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones’s book is that surveillance in the UK and US is frequently a private enterprise rather than a state operation, and that in terms of the subsequent harm done to individuals, private surveillance routinely outperforms its public counterpart.

Longish article. Disturbing reading - and yet it is obvious that it goes on, we just turn a 'blind eye' to it. If we didn't, we could be, er, targeted. :think: :shifty:
I have NO BELIEF in the existence of a God or gods. I do not have to offer evidence nor do I have to determine absence of evidence because I do not ASSERT that a God does or does not or gods do or do not exist.
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Alan B
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