Game of the Generals

Spying. Surveillance. Privacy. These terms have been hugging the headlines for a couple of weeks now. The coming out of Edward Snowden. The talks on PRISM. The implication of internet companies. The lines of US President Obama that all nations spy on each other.


These developments have somehow brought an uproar specially to freedom-loving Europe where we hear of related protests, and where even French President Hollande has warned the US of interrupted trade talks among others if the bugging isn’t corrected.

What do we see here?

•   Spying is expected, therefore, normal in every nation just as President Obama said. However, this is to protect against terrorism; but not to invade privacy or use private data for trade, business or so-called “military” purposes.

In war or military operations, isn’t there a rule not to harm civilians in any way? See, then why spy on ordinary people? Terrorism is also a kind of war, though a tougher one to discern. Yet if one indeed belongs to “intelligence” then he should be intelligent enough to determine the suspects without just “barging into people’s houses.”

•   If phones are tapped or internet interactions are monitored or private conversations are heard, would people still be willing to share? Could they still be who they are? Wouldn’t all engagements just be fallacious?

Heard of Rupert Murdoch’s hacking case? Or other cases where businesses use private data for profit? Even celebrities and public figures get upset when it’s too much – how much more for private citizens? Now, do you think the market would truly trust a product if they found out that its company is spying?

Trying to gain the upperhand is the Game of the Generals, whether in business or government. And just like the board game, success starts with positioning. Train your men to be good actual spies or excellent market researchers – then you would prove to be a great General.

What’s your take?