The GigaOM Show: Is Xbox One done? PRISM reflections and GigaOM is 7!

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We are broadcasting from an undisclosed location this week, so please pardon our slightly audio. But despite technical hardships, we pulled together a great show for you talking about how the Sony PS4 scored with gamers, the PRISM saga continues to unfold and we take a moment to see how the blogging game has changed over the last seven years.

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Hosts: Chris Albrecht, Tom Krazit
Guests: Janko Roettgers, Mathew Ingram, Om Malik

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I’ve just spent a week catching up on the podcast having spent two weeks off line whilst we moved house and swapped ISPs (that’s a whole story in itself, but not for here) I regularly listen to the podcast but I have been driven to comment on this one, particularly the item on PRISM. This has been big news here not least because of the activities of GCHQ and the fierce criticism of the UK Government by the German Chancellor. While your discussion of the issues was interesting I can’t help but feel that you missed the point.

Some year’s ago, as part of an e-government project I was involved in discussions about the trade off between what information citizens were prepared to give in order to receive a service which held value for them. We likened it to a store loyalty card for which we exchanged information about our shopping habits in return for points and the convenience of having relevant, quick click shopping lists when we did the weekly shop on line. Today you were having the same discussion about the information we give to Google, who knows what you want, Facebook, who knows what you like, and Amazon who knows what people like you also bought. If all of that information is out there on the web then who cares what the Government knows?

In one sense we exchange our personal information so that we might be kept safe from national security threats, so, just as with the store card we trade; in another sense and this is where you missed the point, there is a lack of transparency and where there is no transparency there is a threat to democracy. That is what made Angela Merkel so angry and that, it seems to me, is what has been lost here – democratic oversight. The UK foreign Secretary told parliament that if people have nothing to hide then they have nothing to fear and in his case I think he is willfully missing the point.

We must not lose sight of the web as a tool to empower people, in that way it underpins democracy. When we start to spy on our citizens in the name of democracy then we set out on the road to dictatorship.

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