Looking through the prism

14 comments on Looking through the prism
1 minute

I am appalled and outraged that our government is collecting data about the telephone calls and Internet usage of American citizens.

Appalled. Outraged.

And powerless. I feel powerless.

I feel like all the things my parents taught me and all the things I learned in school about the freedoms we enjoy in the United States are a lie.

I always believed that, as long as I was not doing something illegal, my activities were nobody’s business and would not be monitored or tracked.

We are a nation that needs a boogeyman. I remember when it was communism, but I’m not old enough to remember McCarthyism. Thank goodness we came to our senses as a nation and turned Joe McCarthy out on his ear.

Now our boogeyman is terrorism. Will we come to our senses this time?


14 responses to “Looking through the prism”

  1. kiwiskan Avatar

    To put this in some sort of context – just think about all the information gathering commercial companies do on the net. If you go on-line a fair bit you can just about guarantee they have surveyed all your searches, and can quite happily target you with advertisements. And if you Google yourself you’d be surprised at the information you will find. Not saying it’s right – just saying it’s there.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I don’t like that either. But a commercial company can’t decide I’m doing something wrong and use that data to put me in prison.

      1. Dani Avatar


  2. Jennifer S Avatar

    My dad’s a research scientist at a university, and back in the 70s he’d briefly corresponded with a distant cousin who was a Soviet scientist. We all believed this meant the U.S. government had a file on my dad. (Who had no security clearance and works on a very common human enzyme.) So while this NSA disclosure is just as unnerving… I can’t say I was surprised.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I visited Germany in 1984. Thanks to a snafu, when we landed in Dusseldorf there was nobody in customs and so my passport went unstamped. Then we visited East Germany and my passport was filled with stamps from the communist country. I was sure that when I handed in that passport so I could renew it, that I’d have a file created on me because of that.

      I was a little uncomfortable with that thought, but I sort of understood it as it sort of made sense to me that our government would want to have some idea who the commies might be. But today, I’m doing nothing that could be construed as remotely connected to terrorism. There’s no reason at all that the government should have a file on me.

  3. pesoto74 Avatar

    It does amaze me that people aren’t more upset about this. For all our talk about being a freedom loving nation a lot of us seem to be willing to give up freedom for what they think is more security. My guess is that if there is another attack we might find that it wasn’t seen because the watchers were drowning in too much data.

    I remember thinking when the Cold War ended that the military would have to find another enemy to keep the money rolling in. Terrorism seems like a perfect one because how do you tell when it is over?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      A lot of my geek friends, who work in tech like I do, are plenty ticked. I think that’s in part because we understand the technologies necessary to pull this off and how enormous and coordinated the effort would have to be to make it happen.

      You’re right — terrorism can be used forever as our new boogeyman.

  4. Kiph Avatar

    Is this really the fist time you’re hearing of this? Didn’t you follow the controversies of the warrantless wire taps of the previous administration? This has been an issue for a decade. Only people who are predisposed to criticize the President about everything seem to be raising the issue now. That’s ironic, because a lot of conservatives defend the President on this one.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I was vaguely aware of those wiretaps but yes, this is the first I’ve known of this comprehensive program to store data about everyone’s phone and Internet usage.

      1. kiph Avatar

        Well, I can totally relate then. I felt that same way many years ago. I know it doesn’t sound inspiring to say that I merely made my peace with it. Reading your post reminds me of how I felt when I thought that another pleasure, using my own library card, could be a point of intrusion. I once saw a sign outside a church that said “He who angers you, controls you.” By extension, he who scares you frightens you. I merely try to live like I am free whether that can be compromised or not. I take comfort in knowing that the founding fathers had to demand freedom as a basic human right, knowing that merely doing so was treason.

        1. Kiph Avatar

          Sorry, I meant to say: by extension, he who scares you controls you.

  5. rjbuxton Avatar

    I share your disquiet. I’m in the UK, and yes I am aware that our peculiar take on Immigration control has, according to all our press (which obviously makes it 100% true), given us a problem with radicalised and disaffected minorities living among us. On this basis – I think this was the reason given – it turns out that the US has been storing our records too. Democratically elected governments and related organisations do not have a mandate to spy on their citizens or friends, nor to store records of their conversations and correspondence. That would mean either a) that the democracy and freedom of speech that all of our forefathers struggled and fought to bequeath us was worth less than the proverbial hill o’beans, or b) that we have been sucker-punched into complacency by a clever propaganda which had us believing that such a thing as ‘freedom’ existed. To say that this is all the price we pay for freedom is another part of that old big lie, for this surely demonstrates that we in fact have no freedom. And to blame terrorism for what is blatantly opportunism is an insult to the intelligence of the electorate. And to do that to our friends is a pretty sure way of ending up lonely.
    I too have spent many years on the IT scene. I sleep at night by considering a few things. This data will eventually use up all the memory ever available to mankind. Someone will leave it all on a train. No government IT project has ever worked – too many chiefs/egos etc. What appears to be slick technology often has a man desperately working some metaphorical strings in the background. And crime fighting resolutely remains dependent on informants and people snitching on their friends. What does the phrase ‘crime detection’ mean anyway?.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Your comment gives me some comfort. I remember a time when I helped build software on a government contract. Holy frijoles, what a red-tape nightmare that was.

  6. Dhunt Avatar

    “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” B. Franklin
    Thank Bush for making it “legal” and Obama for abusing it. It was never Constitutional!

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