Never have so many charged so much to keep tabs on so few: what is the "real" cost of PRISM

I recently read a New York Times article on how the US drug enforcement surveillance database supposedly dwarfs that of the NSA. It does not, however, say how much they paid. This led me into pondering how much is paid by whom and to whom for access to the data on our browsing habits and social networking activities that we signed away in the small print of internet service provider or mobile phone contracts, let alone that now being collected via “apps”. And that is before we begin to consider all those botnets run by “criminals”, i.e. those unwillling to pay for “legitimate” access. I suspect the proportion data actually used is similar to the proportion of CCTV footage viewed by human eyes of genuine value: usually worthless but occasionally priceless.

That raises the question of how much is worth the cost.

I have just found two articles that indicate what that cost might be.

The first suggests that the current controversies might cause US Cloud earnings to shrink by 25% . The second suggests that Google and other members of the Internet Engineering Task Force are so concerned over the impact on their revenues that they may seek to undertake the long overdue re-engineering of Internet Security  that is necessary to prevent such surveillance.

I particularly commend the second because it raises the question of who paid for the basic infrastructure of the Internet and why – an infrastructure designed to attract all the worlds communications to pass through a handful of peering centres where the NSA, GCHQ (and their allies) could monitor it.

Today everything you do is also being monitored by their Russian and Chinese equivalents and by your telcos (fixed or mobile) and internet service providers (including social networking, search engine and webmail providers) for sale to those who wish to target you for …. ???

I like the irony of Google seeking to introduce more secure encryption between its hubs at a time when services like scrambls are spreading to protect our personal traffic, including over services like Facebook and Twitter, from being monitored by them and their peers. 

I suspect that we have seen the zenith of the US dominated Internet and that recent events will expedite the next stage of evolution into a world of IPV6, Ubiquitous Computing and Communications, the Internet of Things, “the fundamental interconnectedness of everything” and “no overall control“.  

I am reminded that “May you live in interesting times.” is said to be the first of three curses of increasing severity. The second is “May you come to the attention of those in authority”. 

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