This week – in fact ever since I arrived in America – I have been violated.

Every phone call I’ve made, email I’ve sent and internet search I’ve carried out has been monitored unlawfully by Uncle Sam.

And if it wasn’t for Edward Snowden – the whistleblower turned fugitive – I, like millions of Americans, would never have known.

Whichever side of the fence you sit on, the 29-year-old is either a traitor or a hero but, much to the annoyance of the government, there is no denying his courage for he told the US public exactly as it was.

He put into layman’s terms what the Senate had not wanted their voters to hear – that their National Security Agency is recording everything everyone does. Nothing is off limits to the NSA.

Chat sessions, financial transactions, web searches, phone calls and emails are all on their radar.

The agency can then use the information to target any individual, requesting a warrant to dig further into their business.

It’s a little like playing Cluedo but unbeknown to everyone else someone has had a good luck at the solution cards and still plays on.

It was the point Snowden was quick to highlight.

From his Hong Kong bolthole he said: “Even if you’re not doing anything wrong you’re being watched and recorded.

“And the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude to where it’s getting to the point where you don’t have to have done anything wrong.

“You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody even by a wrong call.

“And then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinise every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with.”

Taken at his word Snowden spoke passionately about what he sees as a massively invasive data-collection by the government.

Though he fled to the Far East, he could have defected to any hostile government with a list of every NSA officer in the world if he meant to harm America.

However, and in my mind quite commendably, he threw in his £120,000-a-year job, left a stunning girlfriend and loving family because he was determined to prompt a debate.

Of course, the great irony of the spying controversy is that even America’s state-of-the-art agency could not keep secret the fact that it might be spying on our secrets.

It leaves you thinking what hope have any of us got if even the spies can’t keep their secrets safe no matter how clever we think our jedi_knight password is?

So it seems the true cost of both 9/11 and Osama bin Laden’s legacy is emerging – a full blown attack day-in day-out on our own civil liberties.

But unlike British-raised solider Bradley Manning, who leaked highly classified military information arguably putting American safety at risk, I fail to see how the shrill of Snowden’s whistle would cause loss of life.

Undoubtedly the NSA-run program is a useful weapon in the war on terror but the US government has been embarrassed after being found out so publicly.

They have committed a clear breach of their Fourth Amendment which guards citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Equally there is no question Snowden is in a world of trouble. He broke the law by disclosing classified information and will face punishment for it, for how long is now the question.

If he is to be believed, the NSA is clearly overstepping the mark as to what is acceptable in terms of snooping.

It was his aim that law abiding Americans should not be subjected to such scrutiny without their knowledge and to that aim he may have at least helped rein in the NSA.

Perhaps one day Americans may even thank Edward Snowden.

Many moons ago when I was a cub reporter I remember being asked by a local police inspector what I thought was the crime people hated most.

It was back in the days when bobbies were allowed to talk to the press without fear they were going to end up in the dock themselves for speaking out of turn.

Sat in his office I reeled of a list of crimes including burglary, car theft and robbery all of which were met with a shake of the head.

After five minutes I gave up.

Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden
 

It was only when the inspector threw his Kit-Kat wrapper at me did the penny drop – litter.

And to this day it is a crime – yes a crime – that still ranks as the top cause for complaint and nowhere more so than in Chicago.

But if councillors in the Windy City get their way offenders won’t only be throwing their rubbish away, it will be their cars too.

Residents in Chicago are so sick and tired of the problem local politicians are now taking drastic action.

They have proposed that anyone over the age of 16 guilty of littering will be hit with an automatic £1,000 fine and the seizure of their car.

Who knows one day Chicago’s winds of change may blow so strong their policies may end up on UK shores.

Ladies listen up. Gentleman take heart, for the days of being dragged round the stores shopping for hours on end are set to be over.

Retailers in the States have had enough of “showrooming” and are now charging potential customers £20 just to try on clothes.

The practice, which sees shoppers research items in-store and buy them cheaper online, is said to be having a devastating effect on high street stores leading them to come up with new sales strategies.

Some wedding shops are even charging up to £300 to try on a dress with the fee taken off if they go ahead and buy one. If the bride goes elsewhere the money stays in the till.

Mrs Slocombe would turn in her grave.

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