Privacy: What's the big deal?

So the government is snooping on you. Federal officials apparently have phone call records for everyone in America. Why should you care?
Tom Jackson
Jun 16, 2013

Some people apparently don’t.

Responding to revelations about the National Security Agency collecting phone call records for all Verizon customers — and apparently customers for every other phone company, too — “Time” magazine senior national correspondent Michael Grunwald Tweeted: “Oh, no, the government knows I made a 74-second phone call to my mom on March 22! This is outrageous because...um...um…”

Civil libertarians argue that view is shortsighted.

“You should care about privacy because privacy isn’t secrecy,” author Cory Doctorow says. “I know what you do in the toilet, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to close the door when you go in the stall.”

Leaks to a British newspaper, the Guardian, and follow-up reports elsewhere apparently show the NSA is collecting “metadata” from U.S. phone companies such as Verizon. The data includes the length of the calls, what phone numbers were called, the time of the calls, and the location of the person who called.

Apparently,  the NSA does not routinely record domestic telephone calls, although nobody can be completely sure because information on NSA snooping is secret and NSA officials are not always candid in public. ABC News reported in 2008 that NSA employees listened in on overseas phone calls from U.S. citizens abroad who were phoning friends and family at home. In some cases, NSA employees listened to “phone sex” calls from U.S. soldiers.

Nick Worner, a spokesman for the ACLU’s Ohio chapter in Cleveland, said the collection of such data is still a major intrusion onto a person’s privacy.

“There is no doubt that the so-called metadata can tell the government and whoever has access to that data much about you,” he said.

What if the phone records show telephone calls to an addiction recovery center? Or to a suicide hotline? What if they show repeated telephone calls to a woman who isn’t your wife? What if information about those calls is leaked?

“Think of the numbers people are calling they might not want people to know about,” Worner said.

Even if the phone calls are not what they seem — you’re calling the help line on behalf of a friend, or that woman you keep calling is your sister — in the hands of the malicious or the ignorant, private information can be misused.

“If the data says you’ve done something wrong, then the person reading the data will interpret everything else you do through that light,” said Doctorow, who recommends watching a short documentary, “Naked Citizens,” available at http://boingboing.net/2013/05/27...

“Once a computer ascribes suspiciousness to someone, everything else in that person’s life becomes sinister and inexplicable,” Doctorow said.

Even if your life is so innocuous and boring you don’t mind everyone knowing everything about you, you probably know someone who has a legitimate reason for keeping part of his life private, Doctorow said. 

“You know people who can be compromised through disclosure: people who are gay and in the closet; people with terminal illnesses; people who are related to someone infamous for some awful crime,” Doctorow said. “Those people are your friends, your neighbors, maybe your kids: they deserve a life that’s as free from hassle as you are with your lucky, skeleton-free closet.”

The bedrock protection against unfair disclosure of your life is the Fourth Amendment. It’s part of the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The Fourth Amendment: “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.”

Sandusky defense attorney K. Ron Bailey, past president of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said this week he sees the disclosures about the NSA as an attack on Fourth Amendment rights.

“They’re now saying, oh, it’s OK, we can violate the Constitution because we passed a statute that says we can violate it,” Bailey said.

“You can’t change the Bill of Rights by passing a statute,” he said. “The only way you can change the Bill of Rights is have a Constitutional amendment. The people haven’t approved to amend the Constitution so that you can snoop on our emails and our cell phone conversations.”

Comments

2cents

“I know what you do in the toilet, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to close the door when you go in the stall.”

Is reality only the perception of another's determination? (2cents, June 2013)

Darkhorse

We don't have a free country anymore. There is no privacy. Big brother is constantly on surveillance. We are turning into China.

2cents

“Reminiscing the Capitalist Empire”
By (2cents 2025)
ISBN 1931859256

Doug7880

“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” a quote from Benjamin Franklin

deertracker

Well Ben is safe where he is and has all the liberty and freedom he needs.

Contango

Eliot Spitzer's dalliances with a hooker were uncovered through banking records procured by the Patriot Act.

Paula Broadwell's affair with former CIA Director David Petraeus was uncovered as a result of phone metadata.

The American Political Ruling Class uses Intel to destroy it's enemies.

"We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends."

- Barack Obama, Oct. 25, 2010

"They'll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices."

- Pres. Obama, May 5, 2013

"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."

- "The Wizard of OZ"

The Big Dog's back

Repeat.

JudgeMeNot

The age of privacy has ended. Get over it. Big data has ended privacy as we know it.

Contango

I just 'happened' to catch a story on RT and discovered that there was a protest in DC over NSA spying.

NOWHERE in the U.S. news media did I see or read about this.

The Big Dog's back

Repeat.

Contango

^^^ "Repeat." :-7

Centauri

"NOWHERE in the U.S. news media did I see or read about this"

I have to go to foreign sources to get the truthful news. American people have the internet. They should use it instead of Facebook and other social networking.

Some time ago, I asked the readers what happened to all of the ammunition. I have been watching the supply and there still is a shortage.

http://www.natchezss.com/ammo.cf...

DHS denied that they were buying up all of the ammo. DHS is now saying the opposite.

http://beforeitsnews.com/alterna...
"DHS Changes Story On 1.6 Billion Round Ammo Buy"

http://www.globalresearch.ca/1-6...
"1.6 Billion Rounds of Ammunition: Homeland Security under Investigation for Massive Ammo Purchase"

"DHS officials have repeatedly denied stockpiling ammunition, but AP reports claim that the agency plans to buy more than 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition over the next four or five years, and has already bought 360,000 rounds of hollow point bullets and 1.5 billion rounds in 2012.

DHS claims that it is buying ammo in bulk to save money, but experts have pointed out that hollow point bullets cost nearly twice as much as full metal jacket rounds. They also explode on impact for maximum damage, which has caused some Americans to wonder what purpose they would serve the DHS domestically. Purchasing 1.6 billion rounds of ammo would also give DHS the means to fight the equivalent of a 24-year Iraq War. Members of Congress say the DHS has repeatedly refused to tell them the purpose of procuring such large amounts of ammo."

Hollow point bullets for target practice? Hollow points do a LOT of damage to the human body. Why is the Department of Homeland Security refusing to give information to Congress? Who is in charge of the USA?

SamAdams

The point is not now, nor has it ever been, whether or not you have anything to hide. Most of us don't have anything criminal to hide; almost all of us have something embarrassing we'd prefer to keep secret. But that, too, is immaterial.

K. Ron Bailey is right. This is a clear and egregious violation of the Fourth Amendment, and neither statutes nor executive orders can legally change that. In fact, fear can't change that, either. Nor SHOULD it!

Look around, both in history and in the present day. Is anybody out there prepared to say that no government official has EVER misused data? Is anybody out there willing to agree that no corporate bigwig has EVER used such data for borderline or outright illegal purposes? And don't even TRY to tell me, "Well, yes, but that can't happen here..." It IS happening here, and it's happening right now.

For those of you too lazy to google Martin Niemoller, here's a handy dandy link for you: http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/arti...

Doesn't affect you? Okay. You therefore don't care? Bad, BAD mistake...

The Big Dog's back

9/11/2001. The day right wing wing world went nuts. They are afraid of their own shadow. They gave the reins to GWB and the Cons to do whatever they wanted. Guess what? they did. Now the right wing is crying because these things are coming back on them, not just those "dark skinned" guys.

Contango

Re: "Now the right wing is crying,"

Like the "right wing" ACLU and a whole host of Congressional Democrats???

"Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed this week that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed 'simply based on an analyst deciding that.'"

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_...

The Big Dog's back

What's your point?

Contango

Re: "...'dark skinned' guys."

“Spoken by a true racist.” - The Big Dog's back, 5/24/13 :-7

grandmasgirl

I hope that you aren't bringing "race" (dark skinned guys) into this subject. Sounds like it to me.

The Big Dog's back

When do you think this whole thing started?

meowmix

Big Dog--you're absolutely correct. Thank god GWB had our backs when the Patriot Act was created, but now that that feared socialist, commie, muslim took office we really must run to K-mart and buy we'uns another weapon in which to protect ourselves with when they's come to take our women folk and chilren's.

Restless1

Leave your house for a half hour and try to guess on how many cameras your walk or ride was recorded on. Add to that license plate readers on our roads, electronic gizmos you carry, tweets you send all over the place, etc. You might as well leave that bathroom door open.

nonconformist

Publicly putting out your own business on social media sites and understanding that everything you do once you leave the PRIVACY of your own home is extremely different than government intrusion and a clear violation of the 4th. If you don't understand that, you really should educate yourself a bit more.

Minuteman

Why are we tasked with educating adults in this country on their rights and freedom? Has the public school system been compromised that badly? I was taught about these things in 5th and 6th grade. You would think with the mindset in this country concerning civil rights, that this would cause a march on Washington D.C. I'll bet many of these folks who don't mind the snooping are only approving because it fits the political stance they have been led into, like sheep. Next you'll be told how many kids you "should" have.

The Big Dog's back

"Next you'll be told how many kids you "should" have." That ship has already sailed with the religious right wing trying to ban abortions.

KnuckleDragger

You should want it banned too since it is nothing more than black genocide. Do some light reading and then come back and tell me a little bit about the background of Margaret Sanger and the Negro project. Do you really think she cared about womens rights?

deertracker

Black genocide? Your posts get more ridiculous with each one. The topic is PRIVACY!!!!!!!!!!

Nemesis

You should research what he says before being so dismissive.

Truth or Dare

Try to catch Fox Sunday News and the interview with Dick Cheney. It's airing as we "blog". See, I like to hear from the horse, what comes out of their mouth, not the mainstream media's spin of what's said. He seems to have no problem with our govt. and LE going house to house w/o any kind of warrant! Not too surprised there! He probably just loves the whole Drone project! He had the audacity to use the word "trust", stating we must trust our Government. Don't know about anyone else here, but as they shred our Constitution to pieces, thinking no one is really paying attention or is capable of realizing how far reaching the NSA program and others like it are, my trust lies with no man/woman, no principality/government, be they Republican or Democrat. They both outright lie and mislead through their smooth talking lips, and we wonder why as a country we're broke, getting broker? Please! Costs a lot of taxpayer $$$$'s to support govt. programs within programs, agencies within agencies, oh, and war in other countries.

Is anyone really all that surprised there was no coverage of protests of the NSA in D.C.? Remember, "when you own the news, you can bend it all you want", or just withhold it altogether. Until of course someone has an attack of conscience and chooses to leak it!

SamAdams

You bring up a really valid point. The power-hungry of BOTH parties are perfectly okay with this kind of thing.

Those who mention that 9/11 started this whole mess are both right and wrong. 9/11 didn't start anything. It accelerated the heck out of it, though! Most of the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act were a long-standing federal "wish list." They just couldn't get away with the blatantly unconstitutional provisions of the Act until 9/11 gave them the perfect excuse.

At the time, I'm sure many of you remember that people from the ACLU to librarians to much of the liberal left screamed bloody murder. I did, too. And we were all RIGHT! But now that the Obama administration has ratcheted up the surveillance and expanded it, too many of those on the left seem to think it's all okay. Thankfully, the widespread phone records scandal finally has attracted the ACLU's attention!

The facts are unchanged: Broad government surveillance and the suspension of civil liberties under the Bush administration were WRONG, no matter the reasons behind them. I maintain that they're STILL wrong. So. Where are those of you who criticized John Ashcroft and George W. Bush now? Probably too busy defending Eric Holder and Barack Obama! Hypocrites.

"May your chains rest lightly upon you, and may history forget you were ever our countrymen..."

nonconformist

Some people apparently don't care? Of course not. It's called the dumbing down of America. As long as they have their reality TV shows and they feel safe and secure they could give a rat's *ss. It is pathetic that some people don't even know the first thing about or understand the constitution and what it means when government slowly breaks it down by these very tactics in this whole privacy thing - check out the video link. People are ignorant. The government isn't ruining it for the rest of us. Stupid Americans are! Please educate yourselves people.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t...

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