Friday 7 June 2013

US Surveilance of Citizens and the Antiquities Market

Over the past couple of days there has been belated discussion in the US media about the electronic surveillance the US government has been applying to citizens' use of the media. I find this really difficult to  understand since the information about it has been out there for quite a while now. It was even mentioned on this blog last year that there were traces of data of some kind being gathered from it by computers physically based in the UK but officially acknowledged to be part of a broader system of data-mining. As Umair Haque says: "That it takes the London @Guardian to break the biggest American story of the year says all you need to know about American media". In fairness, the Washington Post also carried a story about the same time (Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras, 'U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program', June 6th 2013).

Now we can just sit back and wait for the tinfoil helmet folk gathered around the Ancient Coin Collectors' Guild to put two-and-two together and work out that PRISM is "in fact" a conspiracy against them personally, and the acronym means Prioritising Restitution and Investigation of Smuggled Material.  But then any of them involved in making foreign money transfers that end up in the hands of those suspected of involvement in illicit or criminal activity may well already be in the System and on a watch list (Ashlee Vance and Brad Stone, 'Palantir, the War on Terror's Secret Weapon', Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine November 22, 2011).

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