Technology & Democracy in the Internet Age
The Guardian, the British news organisation that first reported existence of the U.S. snooping program on Thursday, noted in an editorial that its report appeared on June 6, the anniversary of D-Day in 1944 — the beginning of the end of Hitler’s police state.  “The young Americans who fought their way up the Normandy beaches rightly believed they were helping free the world from a tyranny,” the Guardian wrote. “They did not think that they were making it safe for their own rulers to take such sweeping powers as these over their descendants.” Google, Facebook, Apple and other companies cited in news reports of the U.S. surveillance program, known as Prism, denied on Friday that they were providing the National Security Agency continuous backdoor access to their subscribers data. Instead, the companies said they had disclosed user data to the U.S. government only when legally required to do so.  


The initial Guardian newspaper article, including a US NSA slide presentation also referred to (on blog sites) as  "BOUNDLESS INFORMANT" can be viewed here.  A Der Spiegel international expose entitled "Data surveillance with implications for the world" can be accessed here.  An interesting article on the "right of privacy – the right to be left alone", as US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once defined it – explaining that this fundamental right is not mentioned in the US Constitution, can be accessed here.  
The author of the Prism leak - Edward Snowden , has since fled to Hong Kong to evade possible prosecution for treason. 

A recent article by Juilan Assange (of Wikileaks "fame") published in the New York Times, attacks the technology vision of Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen (of Google "fame" ) as espoused in their book "The New Digital Age"  Julian states "The authors offer an expertly banalised version of tomorrow’s world: the gadgetry of decades hence is predicted to be much like what we have right now — only cooler. “Progress” is driven by the inexorable spread of American consumer technology over the surface of the earth. Already, every day, another million or so Google-run mobile devices are activated. Google will interpose itself, and hence the United States government, between the communications of every human being not in China (naughty China). Commodities just become more marvellous; young, urban professionals sleep, work and shop with greater ease and comfort; democracy is insidiously subverted by technologies of surveillance, and control is enthusiastically rebranded as “participation”; and our present world order of systematised domination, intimidation and oppression continues, unmentioned, unafflicted or only faintly perturbed".  

He concludes "This book is a balefully seminal work in which neither author has the language to see, much less to express, the titanic centralizing evil they are constructing. “What Lockheed Martin was to the 20th century,” they tell us, “technology and cybersecurity companies will be to the 21st.” Without even understanding how, they have updated and seamlessly implemented George Orwell’s prophecy. If you want a vision of the future, imagine Washington-backed Google Glasses strapped onto vacant human faces — forever. Zealots of the cult of consumer technology will find little to inspire them here, not that they ever seem to need it. But this is essential reading for anyone caught up in the struggle for the future, in view of one simple imperative: Know your enemy." The full NYT article can be accessed here.

A more objective review by the Guardian newspaper of the Schmidt and Cohen book states " Where the book gets interesting is where it ponders what connectivity might mean for states and their citizens, and for conflict. Cyberspace will not "overtake or overhaul" the existing world order, but it will make everything much more complicated. States, for example, will find that they will need domestic policies to deal with both the physical and virtual worlds, and also two foreign policies – one for "normal" international relations, and one for cyberspace. And the policies will be different in each case. Connected citizens will find themselves empowered to some extent in novel ways – which in turn implies different kinds of interactions with the state; but this empowerment will come with serious downsides – for example in the erosion (or perhaps elimination) of privacy. And so on. The message is always the same: technology giveth; and technology taketh away". However the Guardian is not adverse to criticism  -  "The idea that the offer of an iPhone might turn an armed thug who has just been raping and pillaging into a (disarmed) peaceful surfer makes one wonder what Schmidt and Cohen had been smoking when they signed off the draft" This Guardian article can be accessed here.