In the Guardian, Dan Gillmor ghost-writes a speech for any presidential candidate who wants to enter the 2016 race on a freedom and transparency ticket. It's a stirring air and is an outstanding piece of design fiction that implies a specification for a new American politics of freedom and transparency set against the corrupt cesspit of total surveillance and lies. In Gillmor's upcoming race, it's Freedom versus the unholy trinity of Orwell, Kafka and Huxley.
Surveillance of everyone, all the time, may – may – lessen the risk of one kind of disaster. But it guarantees another kind. We know from all kinds of research that pervasive surveillance is bad for society. It fuels distrust. It chills free speech, the foundation of liberty. Massive surveillance isn't just un-American as a civic matter. By turning people who would be innovators into timid conformists, it is economically damaging as well.
When people say, "You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide," ask them if it's fine to install cameras in their homes, not just in the living room but the bedroom and bathroom. Ask them if they'd mind wearing a microphone and video camera every day, so others can check on what they've said and done.
You are guilty of something. I guarantee it. Lawmakers have created countless new crimes and punishments, and allowed law enforcement to extend old laws in dangerous ways. Have you ever told anything short of the absolute truth when filling out an online form to use some service? We can charge you with a felony for that. And, by the way, we don't need to convict you at trial. If you are a target, we can ruin you financially if you try to defend yourself. This is what we expect in banana republics and police states, not here. And as the surveillance state expands, it will create more targets among people like you.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.