• Greg Baker

Time for a Change

Time for a Change (reprinted from the Metro Spirit, 12-12-13)

“We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.”

      – ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com

This past week, some of the largest technology companies responded to the revelations of NSA domestic spying.  AOL, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo jointly released an open letter to Washington expressing their concern that the rights of the individual are not adequately protected.  In their letter, these companies encourage lawmakers to “make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight.”

The coalition advocates five principals that should guide rule-making on government surveillance efforts.  These principals include limitations on government’s authority, an independent and adversarial oversight process, transparency of requests and disclosures, and others.  The full statement, along with a copy of the letter, is found at ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com.

Spying Eyes – As for its part, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was promoting the deployment of its latest spy satellite.   The satellite is rumored to be the third in a series of Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) radar reconnaissance payloads (www.spaceflight101.com).  Normally an organization that likes to fly under-the-radar, the NRO raised eyebrows with this mission with its mission patch.  The mission patch features an octopus with its tentacles insidiously enveloping the world, and the tagline simply stating, “Nothing Is Beyond Our Reach.”

While the mission patch itself is enough to make one pause, the similarity with logos used in the past are just downright uncanny.  For example, take this 1938 pamphlet warning us about the spread of communism.

Should we be concerned that the greatest crime organization of all-time, the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion (SPECTRE), also used the Octopus as a logo when battling James Bond?

Not to be outdone, the evil alliance of The United Underworld, consisting of the Joker, the Penguin, the Ridder and Catwoman, also used a similar logo.

Undoubtly, the resemblance of the NRO logo with these other emblems is purely coincidental.  However, I have to agree with @csoghoian, “Advice to @ODNIgov: You may want to downplay the massive dragnet spying thing right now.  This logo isn’t helping.”  Otherwise, Obamacare isn’t going to be only program that needs a big PR campaign.

Until next time, I’m off the grid @gregory_a_baker

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