Sure – social media is making it easier than ever before for terrorists to recruit new henchmen. But what about enlisting public help in locating terrorists? Why shouldn't social media help that as well?
Perhaps intelligence agencies need to change the public opinion on them from 'evil big brother' to 'your helping hand'. I mean, more people have good intentions than evil intentions. So why not take advantage of that to enlist the general public help the law enforcement system do what it was originally concepted to do, namely making sure that we have a safe, harmonious and enjoyable place to live in?
Social media and the digital world works both ways – play nice, and you will gain support. Play evil, and you will lose support. Play smart, and you will be able to achieve goals beyond mere popularity contests. And when your real enemy has learned how to play smart, it's time that you do, too. I'd expect that a digital world where privacy is respected, but sufficient trust is there between law enforcement and citizens in order to allow effective terrorist tracking on targeted individuals to take place, is something very possible by purposing, and respecting purposed data – in a manner that closely parallels how we track down terrorists in real life.
Originally shared by +David Amerland
Give Us ALL Your Data Already
In The Social Media Mind (http://goo.gl/vdKwxV) I defined social media as “The empowerment of the individual over the State”. I said social media is changing everything because it is a catalyst that forces upon us the need to rethink the way we connect, the reasons we do so, what we want to achieve and how.
It’s no secret that National Intelligence Agencies want to spy on us all on the understanding that then they will be able to ‘protect’ us better from ‘undesirables’. The terrorist threat is a real one. Globally we have more disgruntled, capable, empowered, trained people who have an axe to grind and an ideology to drive, than ever before. These people have the same access to technology as we each do and however misguided they may seem from our point of view, they nevertheless believe as fervently in their beliefs as we in ours.
To have the serving head of an intelligence service to talk to the public in a public radio broadcast as the MI5’s (British Secret Intelligence Agency) Andrew Parker, has done is unprecedented. But let’s note that his coming out of the ‘shadows’ to enlist the public’s understanding and provide some transparency is out of necessity (because we no longer are willing to be led by the nose “for our own good”) rather than choice.
In his radio interview he covered five things which are worth digging into deeper:
1. Current terror threat to the UK is unprecedented in Andrew Parker's 32-year career – true as that may be there is also a direct connection between the action of western Governments (the UK’s included) in destabilizing areas like Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and resulting in the largest humanitarian crisis of our century so far with refugees, flooding into Europe. The days when we could allow governments to act blindly on our ‘behalf’ without us having a say in it, or them being accountable have come to an end. While it may be too late to reverse the past we can still make sure that the way we move forward into the future begins to put in place lasting solutions as opposed to stop-gap measures. And, yeah, we now all have to step up and make sure that we create a world that is more equitable, fairer, more transparent and less likely to lead to the kind of extremism we are seeing right now.
2. Social Media is changing everything – Parker suggests that social media is making it easy to find and indoctrinate disenfranchised youths willing to join the ranks of extremists. As the Baader Meinhof (https://goo.gl/cLsmcb) shows this has always been the case. The best defense against that is a better world, better education, better communication and better relationships – actually more of the stuff that makes us human and less of the things that make us pawns. Numbers in someone else’s game.
3. Encryption is making the job of security agencies harder – yeah, I really feel for Parker here. Snark, aside, I totally get the frustration that must come with hitting operational brick walls because we, as citizens regard our privacy … well, private. Traditionally, intelligence work meant exactly that: intelligent analysis, the ability to win hearts and minds (and create informants and defectors), the ability to have in place the kind of real-life network and connections that make it hard for anyone doing something bad to actually do it without tripping off alarms.
4. MI5 wants to grab ALL your data at will – Well, Parker really tells us nothing new there. Every intelligence agency worldwide is singing from the same hymn sheet citing encryption as the evil to be defeated, giving us the “you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide” spiel which, as an argument, historically (given the level of abuse we’ve seen by intelligence agencies has seen comic books banned (http://goo.gl/FcYL0X) – they must have been truly evil) holds about the same amount of water as a sieve. Parker trots out the classic (and I suspect required by his job) line of “our efforts are focused on people who mean us harm” kinda forgetting that McCarthy thought there was a commie under every bed in the US (https://goo.gl/hGmdhQ) and ruined countless people’s lives on that whim.
5. No transparency – this interview not withstanding Parker actually does say that obviously there can be no transparency in the work security agencies do but… as we saw with the CIA use of torture (https://goo.gl/rLK0sL) that approach creates opportunities for abuse without delivering effective results, which however don’t matter as there is no transparency and no accountability and it kinda doesn’t matter as long as we think we do what’s right, even if it ain’t. The really difficult thing to do here is develop practices and processes that work and are seen to work and there is oversight so that no abuse happens while at the same time operational effectiveness is maintained. Does that sound easy to do? No. It requires trust – both ways, from us to intelligence agencies and then from them to us. Trust that currently does not exist and has to be earned the hard way.
To his credit Andrew Parker is on the record, on public radio (which is why this post is possible at all). So, instead of making him the whipping boy for all our frustrations let’s think that this, at least, is a conversation starter that is pointing in the right direction. Catch the interview here: http://goo.gl/jPw8ve