Simon Jenkins writes: The Brazilian president cancels a state visit to Washington. The German justice minister talks of “a Hollywood nightmare“. His chancellor, Angela Merkel, ponders offering Edward Snowden asylum. The EU may even end the “safe harbour” directive which would force US-based computer servers to relocate to European regulation. Russians and Chinese, so often accused of cyber-espionage, hop with glee.
In response, an embarrassed Barack Obama pleads for debate and a review of the Patriot Acts. Al Gore refers to the Snowden revelations as “obscenely outrageous“. The rightwing John McCain declares a review “entirely appropriate“. The Senate holds public hearings and summons security chiefs, who squirm like mafia bosses on the run. America’s once dominant internet giants, with 80% of the globe under their sway, now face “Balkanised” regulation round the world as nation states seek to repatriate digital sovereignty.
And in Britain? Nothing. From parliament, the courts, and most of the media, nothing. Snowden, the most significant whistleblower of modern times, briefly amused London when he turned scarlet pimpernel in the summer; then the capital was intrigued when David Miranda was seized by Heathrow police on bogus “terrorism” charges. But the British establishment cannot get excited. It hates whistleblowers, regarding them as not proper chaps. [Continue reading…]