Surveillance & Censorship: They monitor our feelings and then stop us expressing them

At the Spiegel website, it is reported that GCHQ uses doctored websites (including those from the business network LinkedIn) to secretly install surveillance software on the computers of unwitting target companies and individuals it wants to spy on. It seems we have whistle-blower Edward Snowden to thank for this information.

I’m not remotely surprised by any of this: if anything, I feel vindicated after years of protesting that networking sites and ISPs work hand in glove with the security services on a daily basis to record everything said, written or heard by those internet users in whom they have a morbid interest.

The invasion of our privacy over the last ten years is up there with D-Day for sheer scale and aspiration. But as well as monitoring (and when they think fit, censoring) the agencies doing it can be a double-edged sword for those anal politicians who wish to wield the dangerous blade. Sir Richard Dearlove provided intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). His largely accurate report was taken over by Alistair Campbell and ‘sexed up’ to persuade the gullible (including me at the time) that Saddam could hit a washing line in Balham with clinical accuracy from his poison gas-wielding underground missile site in Iraq. Chemical Ali took Dearlove’s dossier and turned it into a fantasy without any foundation whatsoever.

The bad news for Blair and Campbell is that Sir Richard has spent the last year writing a detailed account of events leading up to the war. And that very same Sir Richard has revealed to The Mail on Sunday that he may well go public if he sees the Chilcot Inquiry findings as a whitewash. Chilcot had tried to rubbish Dearlove’s MI6 by publicly doubting the accuracy of intelligence provided by his agents inside Iraq. But this was a line engineered by Tony and Ali to ensure that any Dearlove criticisms would be dismissed as sour grapes. Water has passed under the bridge since then, and now they must wait with some trepidation to see what the former MI6 man has to say on the subject of their duplicity.

Thus, the leaks of Snowden and the memoirs of Dearlove show us how cover-ups and bollocks tend to be revealed as such in the end. The same is true of EU national statistical offices who have been shown up as serial fraudsters in recent months. First we had Greek stats falsely boffing on about levels of debt and rates of recovery. Then last month we learned that the Italian economic numbers were also bent.

Now we have yet another under-reported story from last week. This involved an implicit announcement by the official statistical agency of the European Union – Eurostat – that Spanish budget (and who knows what other) data is now just one big lie. Last Tuesday Bloomberg reported: “European Union officials made an extraordinary visit to Spain in September that signals escalating concern about the reliability of the country’s budget data. EU statisticians ordered a so-called ad-hoc visit, a procedure reserved for urgent issues, to assess whether regional officials are complying with recommendations after failing to report all the unpaid bills they had accumulated in 2011, Tim Allen, a Luxembourg-based press officer for the statistics agency Eurostat, said in an e-mail. Eurostat raised concerns about Spanish data in April following at least two “upstream dialogue visits,” the second of four levels of checks the agency has on member states’ statistical reporting.”

Local and regional administrations in Spain need to make “substantial improvements to public accounting and statistical reporting,” Eurostat said in its April 30 report. “Eurostat notes the lack of initiative and preparedness to follow up the recommendations”.

But then it became clear to the Sprouts that Eurostat’s report was being used by smart analysts to ridicule the eurozone “recovery” drivel. And it transpires that a 404 not found error page comes up when one tries to access the data.

We now know why: Eurostat withdrew a report criticizing Spain’s processes for reporting budget data after consultations with the country’s government, Eurostat spokesman Tim Allen says by e- mail. “Further exchanges with the Spanish authorities have shown that a few statements in the report were too general,” Allen says. “The report has been temporarily withdrawn for amendment.”

You see, we simply can’t have something casting doubt on the Spanish “miracle recovery”. Any more than people should catch on to the mythical Greek recovery in 2014, or the woefully under-reported depth of Italy’s debt and depression. ‘Amendment’ is the Orwellian English now for ‘doctoring’.

Things move on. Five years ago, citizens couldn’t believe that their innermost thoughts and feelings were being overseen 24/7. Now the situation is worse: they can’t believe anything that the Sovereign’s information resources tell them.

Either way, the result is the same complementary system. Listening in tells the Government who the troublemakers are, and censoring what they say thereafter stops the infection from spreading. Welcome to the EU relaunch of the DDR’s Stasi. Our best hope is that enough of the buggers fall victim to their double-edged swords in the end.

Earlier at The Slog: Ze Germans are now runnink ze asylum