News reports recently have focused on the angry reactions of the leaders of Brazil, Mexico, France, and Germany to reports that the NSA was eavesdropping on even their communications with their close confidantes and cabinet ministers and, in the case of the German chancellor, even her cell phone.
Defenders of the NSA sometimes dismiss these protestations as pro forma, done hypocritically for domestic political purposes, since it is asserted that all countries spy on each other and know this. It is the usual defense put out by supporters of the national security state, president Obama, or whichever government happens to be in power, by saying that this is nothing new or that everyone does this or this is business as usual.
But I am not so sure about this. It is one thing to be aware that nations may spy on one another in targeted and specific ways but it is quite another to think that someone is monitoring and storing all your communications. And at least among leaders who are ostensibly allies, they may expect to receive some privacy even if they are willing to sacrifice the privacy of some of their citizens.
No one should be comfortable with the idea that every conversation they have is being listened to and recorded. Apart from the sheer creepiness of it, it opens up the very real the possibility of blackmail. We have enough examples of politicians involved in scandals to realize that a lot of them engage in things that they would not like to become public, even if they are not illegal or dangerous.
As a result of the Snowden revelations, we know that very low-level people have access to all this information and that some of them have used it to spy on their lovers. From there it is a short step to someone selling information for use in divorce cases and to gain an advantage in other private feuds, and it is only a matter of time before we hear of blackmail scandals involving the use of this data, with politicians likely some of the targets.
The group Stop Watching Us has put out an ad to garner support for the rally on Saturday, October 26 in Washington DC.