After fondly imagining that the free, open and accountable society was merely being gradually encroached on by military and commercial interests, the Guardian revelations over the last three days about the actions of the US National Security Agency seem to have shocked us awake from our dream to find that we are already living within a mature, widely embedded Orwellian nightmare.

If GCHQ has used the Prism software to spy on us at the US’s behest, let’s not accept their weasel words about operating under “legal and policy frameworks” – whose laws, whose policies? – but rather name and deal with this for what it is: institutional treachery. Secondly, if Apple, Google and their like are using the supply of their popular goods and services as a cover for spying on their customers, we should consider whether they should have a right to operate here. Thirdly, it should be a priority to investigate rigorously how far this mindset of US political paranoia has spread amongst UK national institutions – there are disturbing rumours, for example, that at lest one of our research councils have had their research programmes on security directly influenced by US security interests. Finally, the US must be challenged at a political level about the concept of extra-territoriality which supports all these deeply disturbing developments in the UK.