Yesterday the curtain was pulled back even further on the extent of the amoral actions of the intelligence departments of the American and British governments. As The Intercept reported:
“American and British spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data.”
As political philosopher Murray Rothbard once wrote “…the State, by its very nature, must violate the generally accepted moral laws to which most people adhere.”
Perhaps we shouldn’t be shocked when agents of the only institute in society that is outside the law start acting like outlaws in large scale and novel ways. Give men God-like technological powers and it won’t be long before they start acting like Gods. The NSA and GCHQ are God incarnate. In this digital age they can go anywhere they want, do anything they want and see anything they want. The constant violation of your rights that this entails is irrelevant.
‘Stealing is unlawful and immoral except when a State spy does it’, is not an ethical principle because it obviously fails to apply to all people at all times and in all places. It defeats the object of ethics because it morally sanctions one of the two behaviours we must prohibit in order to achieve truly free and peaceful societies.
The nature of the State means that it cannot be put on trial or punished by any agency except itself. In other words society must rely entirely on the State limiting itself and regulating the behaviour of its own agents. And to think that advocates of state-less societies are the ones accused of being naive!
Who will punish the NSA and GCHQ for their crimes? The police? The president or Prime Minister? Those who share the same political ideology? Those who share the same belief in the virtue of the State? Those who are also in the lucrative employ of the State? Three Words: conflict of interest.
The truth is that agents of the NSA and GCHQ will not be punished for their crimes. They are outside the law, but they are not outlaws because the State says so. The moment Edward Snowden stopped committing crimes on behalf of government he became an ‘outlaw’ (because the State says so) whom some politicians believe deserves to be assassinated.
This is the moral black hole that is our political structure, which is perhaps starting to come into focus in many more people’s minds as a result of these government spying scandals. What need does the State have for a moral compass when it can simply declare everything it does as lawful and good (e.g. hacking and stealing), and everything it prohibits as unlawful and immoral (e.g. revealing the NSA’s criminal behaviour)? You don’t need a compass when north is wherever you say it is.
An unregulated Internet, the P2P economy, private currencies like bitcoin and other blockchain-distributed technologies have become much more important than most of us yet realise. These technologies promise to enable us to retain our dignity as human beings and to shield ourselves from the constant surveillance and invasion of our daily digital lives by the State. This rapidly crystallising encrypted and decentralised world is our only avenue of at least partial escape from omnipresent Orwellian government intelligence agencies populated by people who are paid to commit crimes against millions.
Thankfully, one of those people somehow found the strength and bravery to listen to his conscience and to turn his back on the State. He risked his life to show the world what the government had been paying him to do. We got extraordinarily lucky. Snowden is our black swan. Without him we would still be oblivious to the staggering extent of the American and British government’s criminal behaviour.
It may now be game over for cellular encryption as a result of the NSA’s and GCHQ’s actions, but no doubt a solution will emerge from the many brilliant minds producing solutions in the beautiful anarchy of the Internet, if it hasn’t already. The game is afoot and the age-old struggle in a new digital format has begun: the struggle of Man to be free of men.