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Marina Kim

Marina Kim: I feel violated at the prospect of my e-mails being snooped on

Marina Kim is a journalist working in London. Her website is www.marinakim.co.uk and she is on Twitter as @MarinaKim_

Orwell would be turning in his grave

Screen shot 2013-07-01 at 07.15.33Bread and circuses throughout history, human needs have been fundamentally simple. Wise leaders know they can do whatever they want (within the norms of a particular society) if they provide these two basics of human satisfaction. A comfortable life makes us lazy and indifferent. So lazy and indifferent that we are eager to accept that even our right to privacy the only valuable leftover of a democracy is being taken away.

Shock! Horror! Spy agencies spying! political commentators flooded twitter with jokes, demonstrating a worrying acceptance of the perverted reality, following the Snowden revelations. It was a shocking reaction to what was a seismic shift in the relationship between the individual and the State. It isnt spying on suspects: it is spying on everyone. The Guardian was the only voice of reason, not least because they had a scoop and needed to milk it as much as they could

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, one of the very few who made an official complaint, said: "The law governing state surveillance has never been fit for purpose but advances in technology and capacity mean it needs urgent updating."

It is a natural reaction from a civil rights group. But what about the general public? Thats what worries me most. My friends casually say, as they rush from work to be on time for yet another party, that it doesnt bother them, and they are happy for anyone who is prepared to sit through their telephone calls, read their texts or scan their Internet photos for clues to do so. In their view if looking through a million innocent people's stuff leads to finding one bad egg then it's worth it. All in the name of fighting terrorism.

Would you be happy for someone going through your diary? Even if it is someone who wishes you no harm, like your Mum? As much as I adore my mother, I would die from embarrassment if she read my diary. Perhaps that is why I dont even keep one! I hope it isnt too old-fashioned or naïve to want to keep your private life private. I dont walk around naked for all to see. In the same manner I only share my "naked" thoughts and views with a selected few. I feel violated, mentally raped that there is even a small chance of my correspondence being read I tried to protest against it by continuing to write in the free manner but couldnt help noticing that certain people changed their email behaviour, following the surveillance revelations.

They will tell you that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. If you accept this principle today, tomorrow it may become a thought crime. Or it may be even worse. It may become a business. I wouldnt be surprised if we accept it that tomorrow our data might be sold off to big business for a profit. Collecting our shopping preferences via google or facebook, is already very valuable for advertisers. Imagine how much profit the government could make by selling off our data to big businesses? 

Something major happened. But where is the outrage? Has anybody written to his or her MP with a complaint? How many non-politically active people signed online petitions? What else has to happen to shake off this political lethargy and indifference? How soon is the law going to be amended? Will the trust between the State and the individual ever be restored?

Chakrabarti says: "The latest revelations reveal the authorities' contempt for basic privacy, legality and democracy itself. When combined with other recent scandals of intrusive surveillance its not difficult to see how blanket harvesting of personal sensitive data will be abused in years to come. We need urgent law reform and the intelligence community to be brought back under control. If that doesnt happen, we could find ourselves living in a very different country."  

A new social divide

It is a worrying sign when a Liberal Democrat appears more Conservative than a Conservative, and a Conservative seems way too liberal with things that need a very careful approach. But thats what happened with Nick Clegg's and David Camerons different stances on GM food.

In a recent radio interview, the Deputy Prime Minister said he did not knowingly give his children GM food, and favoured a precautionary approach. Post-election Cameron, however, gave his blessing to the environment secretary Owen Paterson going ahead with promoting this controversial policy. Pre-election Cameron was far more cautious

As Paterson enthusiastically pressed for a relaxation of strict EU rules on the cultivation of GM crops, it made me think that sometimes the EU is not such a bad thing after all  A worrying thought!

We have a controversial agricultural revolution imposed on us, while being given very little say in it. Paterson should listen to the farmers who complain about bad weather affecting crops, but first and foremost he should listen to us, the ultimate consumers of his policies. It should not all be about money and business. An overwhelming proportion of public does not want GMO. If the Government thinks the public is too stupid or archaic in its approach, then they should at least respect that as a sign of having to take things slowly, before bowing to big business. 

Even if the go ahead is given, we dont need to rush into growing GMO crops on a grand scale straight away. Better to continue small, and see the effect it has. Surely, that would be a far more conservative approach? Perhaps the problem is that there are too many men in politics with thick skin and subdued parental instincts. But as a future mother (well, hopefully) I feel strongly against what could potentially affect the lives of my children.

Clegg wont feed GM food to his kids, while Downing Street refuses to answer whether the PM would eat or let his family eat GMO.   Why not admit it if the PM is confident about it?  It all stinks of hypocrisy. The height of such hypocrisy is that Parliament has even banned GMO from its own restaurants! The rich and powerful will continue eating organic, just like they do now.

No doubt, GMO will be much cheaper than traditional food. Thus, it is those for whom the price tag matters, the poorest not the poorest of the world but in this very country who will involuntarily become guinea pigs for Mr. Paterson. What is it, if not yet another handmade social divide?

Magic in the air

Derren Brown a British illusionist, mentalist, trickster, hypnotist, painter, writer, and sceptic raised important social issues in his latest show Infamous. It was a case of the public coming for easy entertainment but getting educated on quite a few issues instead.

He started the show with how it felt for him coming out as gay. I certainly didnt expect a magic show to start like that. But it obviously mattered a lot to him, so we listened. The revelation made me look at the performance a bit differently. And involuntarily I couldnt help thinking he picked a very handsome young man out of the audience as a central figure for his tricks and took him on stage for a good hour or so, because. he fancied him. That was probably a mental trick and a challenge to us in its own right. 

Then, he played another trick to prove that we were all greedy (a valuable lesson to deprive us of self-righteousness). He picked a child in the audience and asked him to choose one of two envelopes: purple or yellow. One of them contained £50, and it would be his if he guessed it correctly. The child went for the yellow envelope, and he was right: £50 was his. How wonderful! Until the child learned that the purple envelope had…£300! The child, who had only just been jumping up and down with joy, fell on his seat on the brink of tears.

Edutainment at its best!


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