Friday, June 7, 2013

Privacy and the Public Safety

With the breaking PRISM and Verizon stories coming at us the past couple of days I wanted to take a minute to respond to this issue of internet and private citizen privacy.

I think a lot of people look at this with outrage, it is very black and white.  As I look a little deeper though there are these puddles of gray everywhere.  In the new age of technology such an intertwined part of everyone's lives, the major means of communication, privacy takes a new meaning according to our current Government.  Privacy is gone in their eyes.  They want look at every single scrap of data from every single person if possible.

These officials are telling us that the information that they have taken resulted in thwarting terrorist schemes and prevented them from happening on our soil.  That's all well and good.  Thank you.  My issue is that instead of keeping it all a secret, mining the data from our lives without warrant and consent, without cause, we let the People know when such things have occurred.

The People, on the other hand, more generally feel that privacy are the things we keep for ourselves.  We publicly post blogs, tweets, some Facebook posts, YouTube videos and a myriad of other bits of information about our lives.  Those you can have.  We even consent most times to share the data taken from the apps we use on our phones.  But the things we don't share, our browser history, our private phone conversations, emails to...well anyone.  These are not for the public, they are not for the government.

Unfortunately, I think we don't have much choice anymore, especially with those in power now, our privacy is as much their property as it is ours, you know, for the national good and safety of the Country.  Fine, whatever.  I will take that into consideration from now.

Actually I won't.  I am not a threat to this Country in any shape or form.  So you can listen, look, read, and whatever else you want to do.  I don't have anything to hide. Just don't let it interfere with how I am currently living my life when I am keeping it legal.  My data is pretty much useless to you.

What I want to see are the agencies that are out there thwarting terrorism plots here and there to let us know when it happens!  Let us know our data that you are snooping through is actually useful to some measure.  If I give an investment firm some money to invest, tell me how it is performing, be accountable to my money.  If you are using it, make it useful and please tell me when you are making it extra useful.  Hey, Caleb, we made a million dollars with your money. Thanks for providing it to us.  We also made you some money with your money. Fear not.

I know this isn't what a lot of people want to hear.  Just leave them be?  How can that be an answer?  It isn't a great answer, I know.  I don't have an answer that will solve everyone's problems.  I feel that the very least that can be done is reassuring us that when this data saves American lives that we are informed and thanked.  It will at the very least make me feel better about the fact that it is happening.

Our other course of action is to pull back on everything, not monitor anything.  If there aren't any terrorist attacks...well maybe there isn't a reason to be doing it after all.  Do you want to take that chance?


parkermoffat said...

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, 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."

I think the 4th Amendment is the trump card here.

Caleb Reeve said...

Obviously not, Parker, since apparently there are secret courts approving all the actions taken. The courts have seemed to ere on the side of national security over privacy again and again. I don't really agree with it, but I honestly don't know how to stop it without axing the whole thing.

parkermoffat said...

I'm not one to argue that the government hasn't seen fit to take great license with its protective duties. However, that doesn't make it right, and a little reminder from an informed populace is always a good thing.

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