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The NSA’s PRISM program, which collects and mines metadata on anybody the NSA has “51% confidence” is a foreign national. Despite a federal judge ruling that the practice was unconstitutional, the question remains … will anything change?
The Political Problem
Find a politician railing against NSA surveillance, then see where they voted on the Patriot Act, the law that made all this NSA spying possible in the first place. You’ll find a lot of people who happily voted for the act and its renewal are suddenly very disturbed about the consequences of the law they passed.
A huge part of the problem is that while government organizations are spying on US citizens, anything they incidentally collect while doing so is something they can keep. That means if you’re on your phone within a three-block radius of a suspected terrorist, whoever’s listening can record and file your conversation… and use it at a later date, for whatever purpose, if they so desire.
The Social Problem
The second problem is that there is no law on the books keeping the government from looking at your Facebook. Which they’re probably doing, right now.
The reality of the situation is that we place information online about our lives that we would never discuss in public. Amazing, but true. Today you can read information about friends, family, coworkers, even strangers, that would rarely, if ever, be exposed to someone else.
Things we wouldn’t know about someone, even ten years ago, from music tastes to breakups, is now easily accessible public knowledge. Even if your profile is private, it’s still easy to paint a portrait of you in “negative space”, and besides, making your profile private doesn’t mean social media companies won’t sell your information to anyone who wants it, and that includes the government.
Much of PRISM, it turns out, is just buying private databases, and making it impossible for the government to do it won’t mean anything if they can just buy it from companies doing it with our consent.
The time has come … we need to have a cultural discussion about privacy: What it is, what’s private and what isn’t, and where the line needs to be drawn. It would be nice, for example, if Facebook, Twitter, Google, and others, were forced to be more transparent about what it retains and who it sells what to; it would also be nice if private corporations had to abide by the same rules as the federal government for data collection.
Until both these things happen, it’s you need to assume that there’s more known about you than you think. And that we, as a country, need to define privacy, or have it defined for us.
Data Source: http://uproxx.it/2m5lVG9
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