Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety, unless they’re scared of terrorists, and then it’s okay—Benjamin Franklin
So the latest revelation, which will shock many but which was well predicted by percipient curmudgeons, including (ahem) Yours Truly, is that our beneficent government, which loves us and only wishes to care for us, scoops up all you do on line. All as in all.
His first leak was that Leviathan grabbed and cherished all our phone “meta” data, news which was dismissed by many as “Not interesting”, these folks not having a clue what “meta” meant. Well it meant the precise time, locations (for people move about when making calls), and the tos-and-froms of the calls. Yes, even the calls you wish you didn’t make and later regretted. Rich information, that.
Minions jumped at microphones to reassure us this behavior was benign: “Sure, we keep all that meta data—which isn’t real data after all—but we don’t listen in on calls.” This was probably a lawyer’s truth, which is a statement which is true if viewed in the correct way (“It all depends on what the meaning of is is”), but which is really false.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, except when it can be done easily by keystroke, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
That is to say, Leviathan is surely grabbing some to all phone calls but actual human persons are not physically putting ear to speaker for each and every one of them. Thus a minion can say “We don’t listen to phone calls”, by which he means “We listen to some but not all,” and feel he is telling the truth.
Next came the news that Leviathan—in a project code-named Panopticon—was vacuuming up all the bits and bytes of your emails. But hey: they did this to protect you. Yes, this included all those emails that you wish you hadn’t sent, or which can be misconstrued, or which are damaging or damning (but of which, we pray, you have repented), or which your political enemies will gleefully read and use to expose you to the IRS.
More minions were dispatched to Sunday-morning coffee shows with the talking point “Poo-poo.” They said, “We’re not reading these emails,” by which they meant they personally were not reading them, but that computer algorithms were. The minions also let it be known that the algorithms were able to nab 31.4 terrorists—well, it’s what the algorithm claimed—so why worry?
The poo-pooing worked. People said, “They have our phone meta data, and maybe a few calls here and there, and also our emails, but think about the children! At least they don’t have our browsing history. That might prove embarrassing.”
The latest—but not, we predict, the last—revelation is that, yes indeedy, Leviathan scoops up not just your browsing history, but everything else you do online, including chats, Facebook activity, searches, and (this part is a guess on my part) probably purchases. See this link for more.
Since this busted wide open just last night, the minions have not yet spoken. But we can guess their words: “We only use this data to catch terrorists. Don’t you want to be safe? There are safeguards, just like at the IRS. We would never misuse this data. The Constitution? Our program is legal and NSA is just following orders.”
Want some good news? Most of us have more than one online persona, more than one email, use more than one browser, make calls from all kinds of sources, and do all this at multiple locations. This is, at present, too much data, so much that Leviathan has to toss some out. It thus will be difficult, and even in some cases impossible, for the government to tie all sources together to paint one cohesive picture of You. But don’t be too happy. Leviathan has intimidation and infinite resources on its side, so if they want to get you, they will.
And did you see that NSA chief General Keith Alexander is using the oldest trick in the book to silence domestic critics? He’s throwing money at them. Thing is: the trick is old because it works.
Guess on next revelation: admission that content of phone calls is captured.