One of the many remarkable things revealed by the NSA spying revelations is how remote from the subject of their surveillance spies have become. Programmes with enigmatic names like XKeyscore or PRISM scan mainframe computers in far away bunkers, collecting and sifting through reams of emails and searches, which disconcertingly reveal to faceless bureaucrats our most intimate thoughts and intended actions.
Edward Snowden gave away state secrets because he believed the public should know what the American government does in its name. Due to the privatisation of intelligence services, there are many more people out there with sensitive data who could be persuaded to part with it by nothing more than a smile from a pretty face or one too many pints of beer.
Following the awful murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich last week, the political securocrats who claim to represent the interests of the British intelligence services have swung into action, demanding yet further surveillance powers for MI5 and MI6 "in order to prevent future Woolwich-style attacks".
In the same way that President Obama signed the invidious NDAA on 31 December last year, despite his previous protestations about using his veto, it appears the US government has sneaked/snuck through (please delete as appropriate, depending on how you pronounce 'tomato') yet another draconian law during the festive season, which apparently further erodes the US constitution and the civil rights of all Americans.
I have written over the years about the encroaching surveillance state, the spread of CCTV and the increasing use of drones in our skies. When the North East of England introduced talking CCTV cameras that could bark orders at passing pedestrians in 2008, I thought that we were fast approaching the reductio ad absurdum point - and indeed this subject has raised a wry laugh from audiences around the world ever since.