There’s been a lot of talk lately about the issue of privacy.
Namely, the whole NSA thing has many people anxious about their privacy, both online, and on the phone. Many people have been vocal about their expectation that what they communicate online and via phone remains private, and that the government should not have access to their private conversations.
I’m respectfully disagree with that notion.
a) If you have facebook, instagram, gmail, twitter, etc., you cannot reasonably expect any of the information you put on there to remain “private” (outside of the realm of what the government can access). Not only is it reasonable for the government to scan through this information, this information is mined by each company for the sake of advertising. [Companies like Epsilon collect data online from various sources, and sell the data for the sake of advertising or research.] Does it really make you feel violated to have the government scan through this information, when private companies have been doing this for years, with the sole purpose of advertising more specifically?
b) Since 20o1, we have had the attitude of “whatever it takes” towards thwarting terrorist attacks. In April, when news agencies reported that the FBI had been tracking at least one of the bombers, there was general confusion about why the FBI didn’t act on the information they had. There were no questions as to how that information was obtained: there was an implicit understanding that the government could gather information on suspected terrorists in any way possible. Why was it okay when we thought that the government was gathering data on foreign nationals, but when we found out it was more widespread, we became outraged? Being American or non-American is no better indicator of one’s criminal proclivities than race or gender.
c) What is in your internet/phone records that could be of interest to the federal government? Keeping in mind that there are 316 million people in the US, and at least 90% of Americans have access to the internet, there’s a massive glut of information to sift through to find suspected terrorists. Even if the NSA wanted to read each and every one of your e-mails, it would be physically impossible to go through everything. Instead, (I assume) they scan data for certain key words and phrases. Therefore, even though the government theoretically has access to everything you and I put online, for public consumption or otherwise, they are not actually reading your stuff. [Unless you write e-mails like a terrorist.]
Let’s hear your thoughts. Keep in mind: I understand that the idea of someone having access to everything you do online may be disconcerting, but I think that the general reaction to the NSA “scandal” has been overblown. Realistically, there’s no reason to believe that everything you do is of interest to the federal government– your 30th e-mail from Target about the latest sale is really just that.