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

The Big Dog's back

Still rootin' for that traitor ehhh pooh?

Contango

Re: "no conversations were listened to!"

How in the h*ll do you think that they caught CIA Director Petraeus and Eliot Spitzer in their dalliances?

And politicians and bureaucrats NEVER lie do they? Talk about naive.

A good rule of thumb in business in dealing with unknown people:

It's not that I don't trust you, I just wanna keep you honest.

The Big Dog's back

I'm just an average man
with an average life
I work from nine to five,
hey, hell, I pay the price
All I want is to be left alone
in my average home
But why do I always feel like
I'm in the twilight zone and

I always feel like somebody's watching me
And I have no privacy
I always feel like somebody's watching me
Tell me is it just a dream?

When I come home at night
I bolt the door real tight
People call me on the phone,
I'm trying to avoid
But can the people on TV see me
or am I just paranoid

When I'm in the shower
I'm afraid to wash my hair
Cause I might open my eyes
and find someone standing there
People say I'm crazy,
just a little touched
But maybe showers remind me
of Psycho too much
That's why...

I always feel like somebody's watching me
And I have no privacy
I always feel like somebody's watching me
Who's playing tricks on me?

Michael Jackson from 1984. Who was President?

Contango

meowmix writes:

"Thank god GWB had our backs when the Patriot Act,"

Didn't like it THEN, like it even less NOW.

KURTje

That was Rockwell (British)

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