I have very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I’m instinctively supportive of the loudest popular response, which is to say, in effect, “You looking at me? What you looking at, man?” On the other hand, there are some nasty people out there, who should be prevented from doing nasty things. On the third hand – and this may not be a completely rational attitude – I find it hard to trust anything William Hague says. Perhaps he could get in touch to assuage my concern when he reads this.
What I don’t entirely understand is why the authorities are making such a big deal of it. After all, we’ve all known it’s been happening, or has been poised to happen, for years, haven’t we? Moore’s Law has been proven for decades, so its corollary – if the capability exists, it will be used – doesn’t take much thought to deduce.
So why are NSA and GCHQ and the rest so faffed about the fact that someone’s pointed out the obvious? If it was me, I’d be shouting from the hilltops that there’s no point in you terrorists even thinking about it, because we know who you are and we’ll get you. And publishing pictures of my datacentres, outlines of the algorithms I’m using, even your email addresses and phone numbers, to prove it. Doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not – if you don’t like it, sue me. (After all, the rule of law cuts both ways.)
All this weak-kneed evasiveness and defensiveness just makes them look evasive and defensive. After all, if Moore is right and pretty soon the capability will be free and downloadable from some site in Korea, you and I will be hacking GCHQ over our aperitifs before dinner, just for a laugh.