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Information highway or spy-way?

[ 2013-06-19 10:32] 来源:中国日报网     字号 [] [] []  
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The creeping intrusions of Google, Facebook and other Silicon Valley giants, whose businessmodel is predicated on reading people's e-mails and scanning the intimate lives of others inorder to mine metadata for profit, has long been a concern to many. But the extent to which theUS government has infiltrated Silicon Valley is only beginning to become clear.

US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations about thebreathtaking scale of US government spying and the murky but documented collusion betweenintelligence agencies and the Silicon Valley signal a paradigm shift in public awareness. Thespying and snooping is not just about ad clicks and crass commercialism, it's a politicalonslaught, an assault on civil liberties and an affront on human rights around the globe.

The National Security Agency has an insatiable appetite for other people's data, especiallyforeigners. Why else would former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton sully her diplomaticefforts with a crusade to make the world safe for Facebook? Why else did US supremacists andtheir fellow travelers and useful fools in the tech industry cry for Google when it stumbled inChina? It was a fool's errand and it failed. China was, and remains, fully within its rights as asovereign nation to say, "Get out, Google, take a walk, Facebook, we don't want any Trojanhorses here."

When it comes to spying on US citizens, the NSA, offers a tiny fig-leaf of legal protection calledthe Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, although it still collects their private informationanyway, for future reference. But the NSA doesn't even pretend to care about the privacy rightsof the other 95 percent of the world's population. It's open season on all non-US citizens all thetime.

The democratic ideals of the US' founding fathers are something to be proud of, but there'snothing to be proud of in this brave new world of spying, secrecy and skullduggery.

US President Barack Obama, who is proving to be an enabler of an out-of-control securitystate, has done nothing in his five years as president to restrict or reign in the spyingjuggernaut. If anything, he has done the opposite and accelerated the erosion of privacy rightsand civil liberties.

Remember how US contractors bugged China's presidential jet in 2002? It seems so redundantand low-tech compared to the panopticon snooping capabilities of the present. Still, it would behard to blame Chinese customs inspectors should they want to carefully examine the souvenirpine bench bestowed upon the Chinese president by his American counterpart at Sunnylandsjust in case there are any unusual "knots" in it.

The US government's pretension to the moral high ground has been obliterated by thedynamite revelation that the US is running the biggest spy operation in the history of the worldwithout adequate safeguards, accountability or any respect for privacy and civil rights.

What kind of human rights-minded government thinks it's okay to submit its people and othersto the unblinking X-ray gaze of computer-enhanced espionage around the clock? What kind ofdemocratic government colludes with big business to collects as much data as it can on itscitizens, and the citizens of other countries, and then use and abuse that data under a cloak ofsecrecy?

The US and China are hurtling down the information highway at breakneck speed. New rules ofthe road need to be established for the protection of all. World peace and prosperity dependon it. That's why both sides need to work on a new narrative, not only one that accords equalrespect to both parties, but one that accords profound respect to their respective citizens. Bothcountries have formidable security systems and advanced computer resources. It is theresponsibility of both countries to balance freedom and security in a way that keeps the peacewhile protecting citizens' rights and human dignity.

The author is a visiting research fellow at Cornell University, New York.

By Philip J. Cunningham ( China Daily)

















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(作者Philip J. Cunningham为康奈尔大学的一名访问学者)