If whistleblowers don’t dare reveal crimes and lies, we lose the last shred of effective control over our government and institutions. That’s why surveillance that enables the state to find out who has talked with a reporter is too much surveillance—too much for democracy to endure.
To have privacy, you must not throw it away: the first one who has to protect your privacy is you.
If we don’t want a total surveillance society, we must consider surveillance a kind of social pollution, and limit the surveillance impact of each new digital system just as we limit the environmental impact of physical construction.
Most data collection comes from people’s own digital activities. Usually the data is collected first by companies. But when it comes to the threat to privacy and democracy, it makes no difference whether surveillance is done directly by the state or farmed out to a business, because the data that the companies collect is systematically available to the state.
For the state to find criminals, it needs to be able to investigate specific crimes, or specific suspected planned crimes, under a court order. With the Internet, the power to tap phone conversations would naturally extend to the power to tap Internet connections. This power is easy to abuse for political reasons, but it is also necessary. Fortunately, this won’t make it possible to find whistleblowers after the fact, if (as I recommend) we prevent digital systems from accumulating massive dossiers before the fact.
Digital technology has brought about a tremendous increase in the level of surveillance of our movements, actions, and communications. … Unless we believe that our free countries previously suffered from a grave surveillance deficit, and ought to be surveilled more than the Soviet Union and East Germany were, we must reverse this increase.