Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Emperor Has No Privacy

By Ed Duffy

It had long been rumored that the United States and other governments around the world had been monitoring electronic communications of just about everyone. Over the past few weeks those rumors have been confirmed and it's actually more extensive than most people ever imagined. And now that Pandora's box has been opened, there's no closing it.

The United States government collects and stores data on phone calls, emails, social page posts, Internet chats and more. Presumably, they would only use such information to protect innocent people from bad guys. However, the IRS scandal demonstrates that actual human beings don't always follow policy.

Even if you have faith that our own government officials and politicians would never misuse information to their own benefit or for the advancement of an agenda, the fact is, the U.S. has now set the new standard for data privacy: There isn't any.

If the leader of the "free" world is within its rights to monitor the behavior, conversation, thoughts, location of all its citizens, all the time, what would be off limits for the governments and intelligence agencies of China? Iran? Russia? Pakistan? India? We didn't just cede the moral high ground, we excavated and leveled it.

I suppose it may be a good thing to have taken the fiction of benevolent authority off the table. With the awareness that everything you say/do/write can and will be held against you, perhaps people will choose their words and ponder their actions more carefully. Politicians must know as well, that if they can use data to attack their rivals, their rivals can do the same to them, and we the common folk, have access to quite a bit of data ourselves. Maybe everybody being watched by everybody isn't all bad. It seems to work for the casino business. Let's see how it plays out on a global scale.

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