Aug 20, 2013

Post-Snowden Cluelessness

Apparently, neither the British government nor the news media understand how computers actually work.

Having read this chilling article about how British officials destroyed hard drives in the Guardian’s basement — presumably to prevent more Snowden-related info from falling into the wrong hands — I think Alan Jacobs says it best:

…their actions are utterly pointless, unable to achieve any of their desired goals. I’m reminded of how, in the 1530s, the Bishop of London gathered up copies of William Tyndale’s translation of the Bible and had them burned in public places. He thought that by so doing he had eliminated his problem, but only because he failed to understand that he was creating more sympathy for Tyndale, and that the reformer’s sympathizers would soon send much more money to Amsterdam where more and more and more copies of the English Bible would roll off the presses. The bishop was assuming that book-burning would have the same effect in the age of print that it had had in the manuscript age. He completely failed to grasp that new technologies were changing the rules; and today’s London laptop-smashers aren’t getting that message either.

It’s almost as if British officials had never heard of the Internet or “the cloud”.

Of course, as Wired’s Angry Nerd points out, it’s not just the government who are apparently clueless about how modern computer technology works. The new media reporting on the affair do a pretty dreadful (and silly) job, too.

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