Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics

“Networks of choice”


I’ve commented before on the brilliant satirical sketch from the 2008 US election campaign, in which John McCain’s campaign staff discussed an ad accusing Barack Obama of proposing tax breaks for child molesters. “Did he really do that?” asks the candidate. “He proposed tax breaks for all Americans, and some Americans are child molesters” was the answer.

Last year, Home Secretary Theresa May applied this joke structure to the abuse of anti-terror laws to attack press freedom. Now the Guardian reports that the new director of GCHQ Robert Hannigan is keeping up this satiric tradition. He

has used his first public intervention since taking over at the helm of Britain’s surveillance agency to accuse US technology companies of becoming “the command and control networks of choice” for terrorists.

Fortunately, since it’s just the terrorists who prefer using Google and Apple and Facebook and Twitter they’ll be easy for the security services to target. The honest people are presumably all using the upstanding high-quality British online services. Because they have nothing to hide.

What does it mean, by the way, that the Guardian calls this a “public intervention” (rather than a speech, as other political figures are described as delivering)? It sounds ominous.

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