Our New Year’s resolutions tend to be well-meaning and hard to keep. That’s because we resolve to change our lives in fundamental ways – get fit, etc. But inertia and habit are the enemy of change, and we usually fall back into old patterns. It’s human nature.
Despite all that, I’ve made a resolution for 2014. It is to do whatever I can to reverse my country’s trajectory toward being a surveillance state, and to push as hard as possible for a truly open internet.
I realize I can’t do much on my own, and hope many others, especially journalists, will join in. This year may be pivotal; if we don’t make progress, or worse, lose ground, it may be too late.
Thanks to whistleblowers, especially Edward Snowden, and the journalists who’ve reported on what they’ve been shown, the citizens of many countries have a far better idea than before about the extent to which security and law enforcement services have invaded their lives. We’ve learned about the stunning capabilities of the National Security Agency and others to create a real-life Panopticon, spying on and recording everything we say and do. We’ve learned that they abuse their powers – because that is also human nature – and lie incessantly, even to the people who are supposed to keep them in check. And we’ve learned that the technology industry is, if not in bed with the surveillance state, its chief arms dealer.