In these days of instant gratification, communication is no different. We seek to know instantly what is happening in the world around us and have no end of tools to enable us to do so.
We carry cell phones so that we are never out of touch, we skype because mere voices are not sufficient, and we are twitterpated with twitter.
Our homes, especially if they have younger people, are filled with gadgets and gizmos aplenty.
From smart tvs to laptops, and from tablets to video game console which follows your movement while you are playing, and allows you to video chat, many of these items come complete with cameras that allow us a view on the world outside our home.
But, these tools that are gratifying our needs are capable of being used as weapons against us.
Just this week we learned of allegations that Verizon wireless has been ordered to turn over the phone records of millions of customers to the National Security Agency via a court order by the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
While the Obama administration has not explicitly confirmed or denied the report, they have expressed support for such actions. We have heard instances where the government has seized private phone records from media – but now it is asking for those of its private citizens? Just last month, the IRS was alleged to have stolen the medical records of millions of California’s citizens, and the Department of Revenue for the state of Missouri turned over turned over the private documents of those applying for a conceal carry permit law abiding citizens to the Department of Homeland Security.
If you use google’s search engine, your browsing history is saved, even if you wipe it from your drive.
This data mining by google is supposedly done to “further your internet experience” but how does anyone know that google, facebook and services like these are not already secretly forwarding your search history onto Big Brother? In short, we don’t.
Records collection is just a piece of the privacy invasion puzzle. Another piece comes in form of a little black box that connects us to the internet via cable or dsl modems. These always-on pieces of equipment could eventually be used to utilize clever little programs and nifty little pieces of hardware out there that would allow hackers, and government alike, to gain access to your home network, read your hard drives and see what your camera sees, at will, and all without virtue of a single search warrant.
If you have a microphone, even better, you could be heard also – and you have paid to allow it into your home. While some will tell you that it is already being used to spy on private citizens in their home, I remain skeptical of such – believing instead that we are being familiarized with having eyes and ears in our homes, with our children being indoctrinated to accept it.
Some would argue, that if, like most Americans, I have nothing to hide, I also have nothing to fear from these collections. However, like many others, I happen to consider these seizures a violation of my fourth amendment rights.
The fourth amendment speaks of probable cause before a seizure can occur. What probable cause does the administration have in seizing the phone, medical and/or email of ordinary citizens? There is none.
Any infringement on any constitutional right is an attack on my freedom. The blanket argument of “national security” does not ring true given the fact that the FBI was alerted to the potential dangers of the Boston Marathon bombers and yet still managed to drop the ball.
In fact, I would say that adding billions upon billions of records to sift through is unlikely to yield much more than another epic failure and waste of vast resources.
Besides that, now that potential terrorists are aware of the moves of NSA I doubt they would waste their time getting a contracted pay phone when the throw away would better protect their privacy. But, hey, that’s just me thinking out loud.
In our home there is an awareness of the invasions that are taking place in the world around us. I remind my kids to make sure they know how to write legibly because, until the government can figure out how monitor their thoughts, a simple piece of paper and a pencil may one day be their best hope for privacy, thoughts of reform and truly private conversations.
In the meantime, on occasions of serious political discussion in our home, sometimes my oldest will remark, “Mom, I think the x-box (kinect sensor bar) just moved”. We laugh, but I know suspect it’s only a matter of time.