It is very difficult to interrogate the legality of a programme of surveillance, when the people having done it, refuse to acknowledge it happened. The UK programme, called 'TEMPORA' has been a bone of contention since the start of these proceedings. GCHQ refuses to acknowledge that it exists, despite tacitly acknowledging it exists, by defending the legal basis for its existence.
Last week the Home Secretary once again advanced the argument for granting the intelligence services new powers, reigniting the debate over the proper limits of state surveillance. It's a familiar contest made more important by the legacy of the Snowdon intelligence leaks, and more urgent by recent events Iraq.
On this anniversary, I want to salute the bravery of Edward Snowden. His conscious courage has given us all a fighting chance against a corporate-industrial-intelligence complex that is running amok across the world. I hope that we can all find within us an answering courage to do what is right and indeed take back our rights. His bravery and sacrifice must not be in vain.
Just as Ayn Rand's Roark subversively demolishes the Corlandt building after promises are broken and his designs changed, these artists are undermining a society that no longer functions for the benefit of the common people. Their art not only brings home the reality of today's surveillance state, but asks, do we have to live this this?
This is an important issue, which we need to examine, and which affects the lives of almost everyone in the country. Are we comfortable with the way in which our personal data is collected, and who has access to it? How much does our right to privacy matter, in an age where we share photos and personal details online with so much abandon? What is the balance that needs to be struck between security and liberty?
Angela Merkel's call yesterday for a European network "so that one shouldn't have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic" is hardly surprising given the revelations of how German and other European citizens have had their data indiscriminately collected as they use web services based overseas.
Some of the most memorable headlines of 2013 involved personal privacy, data security and intelligence gathering issues from all corners of the globe - from the US to Brazil, from Australia to India. But what has bothered me about the conversation to date is the way it has been framed by some defenders of mass surveillance programmes. We must choose, they say, between security or privacy, protection or liberties.