Stop trying to break the internet

We all sat bug-eyed and engrossed as our overseas “Big Brother” wrangled with Edward Snowden; the NSA whistle-blower. The US couldn’t decide whether or not they’d like to treat him to a complementary firing squad or hide him in a box as media interest worldwide snowballed. As it became clear that the US would never have this chap in custody due his globe-trotting antics, media interest increased like Edward Snowden’s air miles. To some he was a superhero; oblivious fourteen year old boys everywhere grabbed their Anonymous masks from their Spiderman bedspread and took to the web. “We are Anonymous! We are Legion! We do not forgive! We do not forget!” Their plagiarised chants echoed pointlessly throughout the internet as Snowden faces 30 years in jail for his actions. It wasn’t long before the farce of this story subsided to leave the mass audience to speculate on the morality of the NSA.

What the people don’t know can’t hurt them, but now they knew and they were calling it an invasion of privacy, and the freedom loving Americans had no place for the NSA. All of the while us Brits sat by in our la-Z-y boy recliners taking the occasional sip from a mega gulp, pondering upon the American predicament, curious as to how their state came to be. As we folded away our paranoid western ideals and kissed our bloated nuclear weapons program good night the UK was shocked back into consciousness with four letters: GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters). We’d been at it too, such surprise, the UK had its own homage to the NSA called the GCHQ.

Why is it so necessary for friendly spying in this day an age, and what is it about my internet history at 1am that is of such national importance. The NSA and GCHQ have potentially destroyed the internet’s ability to maintain opacity when needed. A lot of online security hinges upon encryption, whereby stored data is changed into nonsense, with its true meaning only revealed after the correct key is used. These keys can be hundreds of digits long and to work through the millions of combinations would take a very clever computer, a very long time. Nevertheless, when you are a government funded organisation with limitless money being thrown in big sweaty fistfuls you can afford to make computers very, very, very clever. It is also rumoured that some companies leave the metaphorical backdoor wide open on sites for the government to exploit. And hey presto online privacy is over. It was nice while it lasted.

I can’t be the only one who believes that no good can come from this type of invasion. Yet again am I even the one at risk of privacy invasion here? Like I say, literally no good could ever come to the government by spying on my browsing habits. However, there is a morsel remaining in this buffet of food for thought; just by flaunting the ability of circumnavigating security protocols is more than enough to undermine them. This allows for decreased confidence in internet usage; banking, shopping, who truly knows what is secure any more? Panic, sheer gut wrenching panic, what is real, are the walls melting yet? No? Even if you can accept that the government has these methods at hand, your trust lies solidly with them using it for everyone’s best interest. Who says someone else wont abuse them? Having a backdoor into secure sites is like having a backdoor on a submarine.

When you open the floodgates you will have little choice on what external jamboree comes flip-flopping in. It has long been understood that the government doesn’t have access to the best and brightest, and it wont be long before the general public outperform the ol’ prez and prime minster’s soiree in hacking on an equally grand scale. Imagine, ten years from now the angry fourteen year old of the past, his Spiderman bedspread long gone like his trust in the government, as he engages his hover bike he swipes his thumb over a glowing tablet device. Instantly he has access to David Cameron’s Facebook page and bank account. As his bike hums into the sunset a general sense of catharsis is felt nationwide.