Privacy, Shmrivacy

For those who slept in or don’t have internet access: You may have missed the media fire-storm surrounding Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former NSA contractor, most recently employed by Booz Allen Hamilton, who shared hacked liberated divulged details on the agency’s call tracking program and another program called PRISM, which gathers Internet data on foreign citizens suspected of terror links.

Traitor or Patriot? The debate rages on.


How a 29-year old high school dropout who started as a security guard, worked his way up to earning $200,000 per year, and somehow gained unfettered access to top secret documents that compromise the U.S. National Security State, is anyone’s guess. Via Jonathan Easley of The Hill:

Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter who broke the story about the National Security Agency’s phone and internet surveillance programs, on Monday disputed claims that the leaks threatened national security.

“In every single case over the past four to five decades, when there are revelations of wrongdoing that is done in secret, what the strategy of the U.S. government is is to try and come out and scare the American public into saying, ‘these people have jeopardized you, there’s going to be a terrorist attack,’ ” Greenwald said Monday on NBC’s “Today.” “There’s not a single revelation that we’ve provided to the world that even remotely jeopardizes national security.”


 Scott Greenfield hits the proverbial nail on the head:

At stake was our core privacy. We knew, did we not, that in order to enjoy and appreciate the great glory and convenience the digital word brought, first to our door and now to our pocket, we were putting our entire lives in the hand of the technology gods? We know that our world existed on somebody else’s server, free for the taking by anyone with the right password, backdoor key or paper demanding compliance. We knew all this.

And yet we gave it all up freely, happily, to enjoy the newest shiny thing.

But somewhere in the back of our fuzzy heads, we believed that our privacy would remain intact, or at least somewhat intact, because we wanted to believe that our government realized that the American people wanted them to keep their nose our of our affairs. While Katz said our “reasonable expectation of privacy” was the line in the sand, technology made any expectation of privacy unreasonable.

It should by now be clear to every American capable of thought beyond that of a brick that the old model of law, the interpretation of our constitutional right to be free from governmental intrusion into our personal lives that confronts the laws of physics, no longer suffice. Unless this changes, there can be no privacy.

Paul Bernal has a different angle:

It is interesting to me how much people are now worried about governments getting access to their private ‘stuff’ – when they were (and to an extent still are) far less concerned about businesses having similar access. People seem to trust Facebook, Apple, Google etc with their most intimate details but be deeply upset if the NSA or GCHQ might see it – and yet, for most people, the potential for harm is in many ways greater from businesses than from the authorities. Not only would businesses share their information with the authorities anyway – but they’ll also share it with advertisers, with credit agencies, with insurance companies and others who can have a very direct impact on our lives. They’ll also build up behavioural profiles of us that can be used by the authorities and all of those other groups – profiles that might well end up being sold or even given to those groups.

What does this mean? That we shouldn’t worry about PRISM etc? Precisely the opposite – that we should also worry much more about business gathering and use of data, about businesses tracking us and so forth. We need protection from both governments and business.

The devil is in the details and the fine print is embossed in disappearing ink.

National security will always trump privacy.

The State fears freedom. The State breeds insecurity. Freedom is fear of a Security State.

While you were sleeping and lulled into a false sense of security with SOPA lying dormant, and Google becoming the proxy of the US Department of Justice, surely you must have seen this coming? The myth of  privacy may yet be renditioned. In the meantime, the following etymology for the word “private” is submitted without comment:

Online Etymology Dictionary

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