Our minds are still private

Organised crime has found cyberspace to be a lucrative opportunity. Exploiting vulnerabilities in computer systems allows criminals to compromise and remotely control computers by recording key strokes, monitoring screen displays and manipulating the computer user into divulging sensitive data.

Recently we have seen governments joining the ranks of criminals. The NSA has sent German Chancellor Angela Merkel into a rage. NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden has confirmed that cyber-spying is going on – as an offspring of terrorist warfare. Or maybe it’s been going on all along.

We thought that data production would accelerate beyond belief and by volume alone would give protection against spies and peepers, and that at least our personal data would remain private.  Not so.

We initially underestimated how rapidly information technology would develop, but now we’ve reached a point when nothing would surprise us anymore: from governments deliberately recruiting techies with Asperger’s Syndrome to even the central premise of ‘The Terminator’.

Snowden and others have shown us that we are under surveillance at all hours. And we do not notice. We can sweep the room for hidden microphones, but whatever we say will at any given time go into space and be exposed for cyber surveillance. It is a fight we cannot win. 

Even the most sophisticated coding will eventually be decoded as computers outgrow our imaginations. And it is a tool that will become available to everybody: states, corporations and even individuals.

The Danish prime minister has stated that there are currently no indications that her government’s data traffic is being monitored. It sounds a bit naïve, or maybe it’s realistic because of our international insignificance. But if it is not, the fact remains that it could be.

If our mobile phone and internet traffic is being or will be monitored, there is little we can do about it. The bad guys and their huge machines will have a head-start and we cannot win by legislation.

But we can turn the surveillance into a blessing by making it all public. It would be a future in which governments cannot lie, dictators are found out, and corporations and even banks become transparent. Thank you, Mr. Snowden.
Do not use the f-word in cyberspace if you do not want anyone to find out. But you can still think it.