When Personal Privacy Is Increasingly Scant, Should Governments Expect More?

The Post-Cablegate Era Updated December 11, 2010, 02:15 PM

Ron Deibert is director of the Canada Center for Global Security Studies and the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.

The venomous furor surrounding WikiLeaks, including charges of “terrorism” and calls for the assassination of Julian Assange, has to rank as one of the biggest temper tantrums in recent years. Granted, it must be frustrating for U.S. government officials and others to see thousands of secret cables splashed across the globe. But stamping feet and lashing out at Assange is simply misdirected anger.
When Assange said that from now on geopolitics would be divided into pre- and post-Cablegate eras, he hit upon something important, but missed the bull’s-eye by overestimating his own organization’s impact on history.
We have indeed entered a new era, but not because of WikiLeaks, which is only a symptom of a much larger trend.As we discovered in ourTracking Ghostnet andShadows in the Clouds reports, the means to engage in cyber espionage have expanded dramatically because of the shift to networked infrastructures and social networking habits.
With Ghostnet, the confidential information of dozens of ministries of foreign affairs, embassies, international organizations and private firms was pilfered by the use of a free (and open source) Trojan horse. In the Shadows in the Clouds case, a likely single attacker vacuumed minutes of the Indian National Security Council secretariat as efficiently as making photocopies during the meeting itself. Cyberspace has brought us the world of do-it-yourself signals intelligence.

Many lament the loss of individual privacy as we leave digital traces that are then harvested and collated by large organizations with ever-increasing precision. But if individuals are subject to this new ecosystem, what would make anyone think governments or organizations are immune? Blaming WikiLeaks for this state of affairs is like blaming a tremor for tectonic plate shifts. (emphasis – carlos)

From NYT…


About carlos

I'm a curious person, of reasonable intellect, "on the beach" (retired) and enjoying my interest in anthropology, language, civil rights, and a few other areas. I've been a hippie/student/aerospace tech writer in the '60s, a witness to the Portuguese revolution in the ‘70s, a defense test engineer and witness to the Guatemalan genocide in the '80s, and a network engineer for an ISP in the '90s. Now I’m a student and commentator until my time is up. I've spent time under the spell of the Mesoamerican pyramids and the sweet sound of the Portuguese language. I've lived in Europe, traveled in Brazil, Central America, Iceland, New Zealand, and other places. My preferred mode of travel is with a backpack and I eat (almost) anything local. Somehow, many of the countries I have been to have had civil unrest (for which I was not responsible). I'm open to correspond with anyone who might share my liberal, humanist interests. I live in San Buenaventura, California.
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