It is not the fact of surveillance but its sheer scale which shocks most in the Prism affair

Few who follow the ongoing, often vociferous international debate about the proper balance between protecting society and guarding civil rights and personal privacy will have been totally surprised last week to learn that the US government’s secretive National Security Agency (NSA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regularly access internet and phone records.

But the sheer scale of the internet surveillance program called Prism, allegedly involving some involvement by nine of the biggest US internet companies running popular social media and services, and of a secret US court order that has allowed covert organisations to sift data from millions of US phone calls for seven years, truly shocks.


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