A BBC “Watchdog” who embraces sleeping rather than barking

Most people who follow the news know of Edward Snowden’s courageous and inspiring exposure of the US government’s vast snooping apparatus.

The BBC’s Rory Celland-Jones, responded with an article that stated

So our data is with the Americans, while the Chinese control the equipment used to connect our mobile phone calls and broadband.

Now you may or may not be happy about that. I'm of the view that life is too short to worry about whether the FBI is reading my emails, or scanning my Facebook updates, or China's Red Army is listening to my phone calls.

But most people will agree that the privacy and security of our data should be a matter of personal choice, over which we have at least a degree of control. Now it seems that we have outsourced that control to the US and China and unless you want to withdraw from the digital world there is very little you can do about it.

An exchange I had with Celland-Jones follows. His comments are in blue.


Your article advises people that they are powerless to hold powerful corporations and foreign governments to account. You also seem to suggest that embracing powerlessness will lead people to sleep better and enjoy life more. Why should taking action, as self-respecting people in a democracy should, mean they must live in fear or give up enjoying life?

Doesn’t taking action involve the opposite – renouncing fear and powerlessness?

Would you tell Syrians that they’d sleep better if they learn to just tolerate Assad?


I do no such thing – that's your interpretation.
I point out that we've outsourced our privacy to giant American corporations. It's not for me to tell you how to feel about that or what to do – just as it is not for you to tell me how to feel about my personal privacy. And I reiterate "privacy and security of our data should be a matter of personal choice, over which we have at least a degree of control."


You tell people there is nothing they can do about powerful governments and corporations violating their privacy. You say "withdrawing from the digital world" is the only way to prevent the abuse. Do you really believe that?

As Steve Biko said "The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."

Enjoy your sleep.


If you are so desperate to willfully misconstrue everything I say there is no point in continuing this discussion.


If I’ve misinterpreted Celland-Jones, then he’ll follow up with suggested actions people can take – aside from sleeping or withdrawing from the digital world – to hold the powerful to account. Or perhaps he will consider it not his place as a BBC “journalist” to suggest anything other than apathy or obedience.

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