Keep Calm and Bust out the Tinfoil HatBy Mike Rothman
Dennis Fisher writes what many of us have been feeling for a while in The Sky is Not Falling–It’s Fallen. He argues that the fundamental underpinnings of security are being whittled away – slowly but surely. And the fact that it’s a cynical view doesn’t make it wrong.
…the steady accumulation of evidence over the last three months makes it difficult to come to any conclusion other than this: nothing can be trusted.
Security folks have talked about trusting no one – basically since the beginning of time. But really trusting nothing appears to present a mental barrier that many people are either unable or unwilling to jump.
So we’ve come to the point now where the most paranoid and conspiracy minded among us are the reasonable ones. Now the crazy ones are the people saying that it’s not as bad as you think, calm down, the sky isn’t falling. In one sense, they’re right. The sky isn’t falling. It’s already fallen.
I am no government apologist, and I think some activities definitely cross the line – including using the specter of terrorism to do whatever they want. We have evidence that the “powers that be” have manipulated the truth, painted dissenters as traitors, and continue to hide behind layers and layers of national security rhetoric and fear of terrorism to obfuscate the truth.
But I wonder whether all this is really new. If I remember correctly, McCarthy used many of the same tactics to squelch dissent about clear violations of the rights of good, upstanding citizens, and to wage a witch hunt. Now they have automated tools to search for witches, and we’re surprised they are using them? We have worried about foreign governments (regardless of which particular governments you are most concerned about) putting back doors in imported products for a long time. Why would anyone assume our own government wouldn’t be doing the same?
I guess the outrage comes from the realization that the emperor hasn’t changed his clothes since the 1950’s. I suppose it’s much more comfortable to go through life blissfully unaware of what’s really happening. I can’t really say that my life is better now that I know for a fact what I always suspected. Actually, now that I think about it, my life is the same. Am I going to do things differently because someone is watching? Nope.
That doesn’t mean we should accept a surveillance society. But at the end of the day I am a realist, and perhaps a crazy one, because even if it’s “as bad as you think,” I am pretty sure life will go on. It will be different, but change is inevitable – the increasing pace of communications and automation continue to disrupt how we do things, in security and everywhere else.
The question we each need to ask is: how much will we let this stuff impact our daily lives? Will you start wearing a tinfoil hat and embrace your own personal paranoia to the point of distraction? Or will you move forward, knowing the world is different, society has overcome lots of bad behavior in the past, and will do so in the future. That is a decision each of us needs to make, and we all need to live with the consequences of our decisions. For better and worse.
And somewhere along the line I have become a borderline optimist. I guess it’s time to leave security.