Super interesting conversation on Twitter between Edward Snowden and The Wire’s creator David Simon, Storifyed. Simon has been (to simplify his position) pro-surveillance.
I’m with Snowden, obviously, but Simon is a challenging opponent. He sees the need for surveillance to unmask social ills like organised crime. They get deep into the nitty gritty but also zoom out to the big philosophical questions of surveillance and privacy:
I thought this was actually a really interesting point by Simon. We tend to think of spying as destabilising, a sort of low-intensity warfare with constant attacks being made. The fact is, though, that espionage can be thought of as stabilising, meaning that the intentions, goals and movements of all agents in the political field are known to all the other players. Nobody misunderstands, nobody gets it wrong. Everyone knows more or less what everyone else is doing at all times. This is a good thing. Think of the shrouded, miscommunicated motives of the summer of 1914 and how that helped usher in the historical disaster in the trenches.