Merkel’s Needle in Obama’s Haystack

PEN International’s Larry Siems makes a strong case describing the problems with ubiquitous surveillance on the so-called Dissident Blog. Talking about the proverbial needle in the haystack, Siems shows that with complete surveillance every straw may be a needle at one point or other.

This can be read in context with the unfolding controversy over NSA’s alleged eaves-dropping on German chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone calls, which led her to call Obama directly demanding an explanation (Netopia’s sources did not reveal whether the NSA also listened in on that conversation or not).

This demonstrates that techological imperatives – what can be done must be done – will lead to very problematic consequences, be it government monitoring, private data-mining or peer-to-peer file-sharing – the solution is the same, it must be the norms and conventions of society that decide how technology applies, not the other way around.