Of all the excuses ladled out for the Obama administration’s shredding of the Fourth Amendment while assaulting press freedom and prosecuting “national security” whistleblowers, none is more pernicious than the claim that technology is responsible.
At first glance, the explanation might seem to make sense. After all, the capacities of digital tech have become truly awesome. It’s easy to finger “technology” as the driver of government policies, as if the president at the wheel has little choice but to follow the technological routes that have opened up for Big Brother.
Now comes New York Times reporter Charlie Savage, telling listeners and viewers of a Democracy Now interview that the surveillance state is largely a matter of technology: “It’s just the way it is in the 21st century.”
That’s a great way to depoliticize a crucial subject — downplaying the major dynamics of the political economy, anti-democratic power and top-down choices — letting leaders off the hook, as if sophistication calls for understanding that government is to be regulated by high-tech forces rather than the other way around.… Read the rest