I’m not very good at keeping up with politics and current affairs in general at present, and one treat I always allow myself on holiday is the shedding of even the limited news-reading and Today-programme-listening that I normally do.
And so the Snowden affair, which started while I was away, largely passed me by: when I got back they were discussing intricacies of conspiracy theories and extradition orders and it was a bit like trying to pick up a TV mini-series by starting on the third or fourth episode. I’ll save learning about it for when the movie version comes out.
But I did think John Lanchester’s article in yesterday’s Guardian was a pretty sane discussion of the issues, even for those of us who missed the opening chapters.
I call this the “knowing you’re gay” test. Most of us know someone who has plucked up the courage to reveal their homosexuality, only to be cheerfully told by friends and family, “oh, we’ve known that for years”.
Now, though, search engines know facts about people’s thoughts and fantasies long before anyone else does. To put it crudely, Google doesn’t just know you’re gay before you tell your mum; it knows you’re gay before you do. And now GCHQ does too.