Friday, June 07, 2013

USA Spying on ALL Citizens

I have heard and read the various official and unofficial apologies and explanations for the recently confirmed spying on electronic communications activities by our government. What surprises me is how sanguine are most accounts. It is as if a simple explanation and declaration that it is all about keeping us safe from our enemies is all that is required.

Now, many of us have believed for years that this sort of stuff has been going on, that government will do whatever it can to keep tabs on and to control its citizens, but the recent revelations have confirmed that belief, and fleshed the program out. Apparently Orwell shortchanged the breathtaking chutzpah of our minders in "1984," plus he failed to foresee the technologies that would be brought to bear.

What we know:
The government's intelligence agencies have, for some time, been collecting intelligence on each and every one of us. They have every phone call you have made, the content of all emails, and your browsing history. They even collect your credit card transactions. While we have been assured that this is all about terrorism, the facts are that they have the ability to assemble a pretty detailed dossier on each American. Consider the algorithms available to marketing companies, and figure that the government will have none of that squeamishness about anonymizing and aggregating the data. They have:

Telephone calls and location of phone when made.
Internet surfing activity
Content of all email communications
Social network interactions
Credit card transactions

A detailed dossier on each person, including who you know, what you do, and, perhaps most importantly, how you feel about THEM. They not only have a general profile on you, they have the ability to search your whereabouts at any point in time. James Clapper, director of DNI, claims that they restrain themselves from abusing this power.

All this without a warrant, any suspicion whatsoever, or any evidence of any kind that you were doing anything wrong. They collect everything on everyone. All they need to see the most detailed analysis of your life and activities, in this new redefinition of the government's power over us, is a bit of curiosity about you. Maybe you wrote a nasty email or blog post that some anonymous government employee took notice of, or you surfed over to a government website to look something up. (they have admitted that they place cookies on the computers of all visitors)

You must realize that the effort required to do the looking is trivial. The cost is in the collection and storage of the data. That cost is borne by the black budgets and appropriations already made for our protection.

But, is this for our protection, or theirs? Do we have any protection from them? Any 4th or 5th amendment protections at all? Or do we just have to trust that presidents like Bush and Obama will be all the protection from the government we need?

Today, in a news conference, president Obama said: 
If people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress, and don’t trust federal judges, to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.

-Update 2-

Two whistleblowers in amazing interview on Fox News today.
“Aggregated metadata can be more revealing than content. It’s very important to realize that when an entity collects information about you that includes locations, bank transactions, credit card transactions, travel plans, EZPass on and off tollways; all of that that can be time-lined. To track you day to day to the point where people can get insight into your intentions and what you’re going to do next. It is difficult to get that from content unless you exploit every piece, and even then a lot of content is worthless,”