When IT Meets Politics

Mar 8 2014   9:41AM GMT

What is the difference between John Wicks (expenses database) and Edward Snowden?

Philip Virgo Profile: Philip Virgo

Tags:
BDUK
Broadband
BT
censorship
Edward Snowden
Fabian
guardian
Ofcom
Orwell
Sky
Surveillance

I have just been asked the difference between John Wicks (the former anti-terrorism team leader who leaked the MPs expenses database to the Daily Telegraph)   and Edward Snowden (who leaked the NSA/GCHQ surveillance processes to the Guardian) – apart from twenty years and active military service.

My answer was “hmmmmm”.

Are we moving towards an on-line democracy where everything is potentially knowable to everyone or towards “the dictatorship of the sysadmins” with the masters of big data (such as Google) providing rather more comprehensive (and privatised) surveillance and censorship operations for the J Edgar Hoovers and Francis Walsinghams of today.

In that context we need to take a cool look at the developing roles of BDUK and Ofcom and their crablike progress towards the creation of a Fabian (alias Orwellian) world of “co-ordination”, planning and regulation in which they work together to protect national “champions” (like BT and the BBC)  against both global players (like Liberty, Sky and Vodafone) and local enterprise (Commercial, Community or Municipal).

The politics of broadband, broadcasting, censorship, competition, net neutrality, surveillance and subsidy have under-currents that may well be taking us in directions that are very different to the public claims of the various players. Those who believe in freedom of choice, competition and open government may well have an even harder road ahead than they think.  

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