Most of you by now have heard that a “whistleblower” by the name of Edward Snowden has leaked a variety of documents detailing that the NSA has direct access to information held by companies like AT&T and Verizon regarding citizen’s phone records, as well as the electronic data held by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, etc. To read a detailed account of the most recent development you can check out NSA Leak Catch-Up: The Latest on the Edward Snowden Fallout.
This isn’t really a surprise to most of the folks that opposed the Patriot Act years ago. In fact, if anything it’s a confirmation that we are not all tin foil hat wearing loonies that think the government is out to get us. Think it was crazy to think Big Brother was watching? Guess what? He was! Anyway, the responses to this information leaking have ranged from outrage, to disinterest, to outright defending the government taking steps to keep us safe. The most stomach turning thing about this whole matter is watching Democrats that would have attacked Bush years ago come to Obama’s defense, and Republican’s that DID defend Bush years ago go on the attack.
Now, ignoring this political theater that everyone loves to watch unfold, and most of the bullshit spouted by both sides in this debate is political theater, I really am crossing my fingers that we don’t lose sight of what’s important here. Libertarian activist Julie Borowski spoke up on the issue recently, and while I agree with most of what she’s saying, I think she’s missing the larger importance of the overall issue.
This isn’t just about information that they are mining now. I’ve heard Liberals defend the NSA and Obama by saying, “LOOOL, you already have all your information on Facebook. Anyone has access to all your information”. They would be correct. I am a very open person, and I oftentimes waive my right to privacy. I’m not outraged for just MY right to privacy, I am outraged for everyone’s right to privacy. My father doesn’t have a Facebook account, but he emails a lot. He also Facetimes his grandchildren. All this is information that the government has free reign with. It’s also information they have no right to.
In addition, once Google Glass goes on sale to the general public everyone’s privacy will be a BIG concern. Penny Arcade touched on this after one of their creators was invited by Google to test drive the new product.
Anytime you see someone wearing a pair there is the potential that they are taking photographs of you, recording video, and/or uploading them to a Google network at the same time. There was recently a big uproar in the tech community over Google Glass being able to use facial recognition apps, and thankfully Google agreed to to bar the apps for now.
So that said, with the new Glass product Google will potentially be able to identify you with facial recognition software, and log your location, all without you even using their product. If you actually wear the Glass, well, they’ll know much more about what route you take to work, where you’ve stopped to eat, who you’ve met with. Right now that requires an internet hotspot for the Glass, but I’ve read that with Bluetooth and cellphone technology being what it is, we’ll likely not have long before we don’t need an wifi point.
Anyway, what I’m saying here is not only will Google have this information, but the government will have access to this information as well. Please tell me I’m not the only person concerned about this? There is a reason the 4th Amendment exists! It prevents any number of abuses by people in power, like, say maybe targeting a specific ethnic or political group. I hear a lot of people object, and say, “But the government would never do that, they’re just trying to ensure our safety”. Oh really?
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 17, 2013
I’d prefer it just the same if we didn’t just trust them on this one.