The NSA is watching you

So, the NSA is grabbing some information from millions of phone calls. Like Kevin Drum, I assumed they were still doing this but it would be nice if there was a general outcry about this. The problem is that most people don’t think this is a big deal–after all they’re not criminals and only criminals care if they’re being watched, right? Here’s why you should care:

The government, like every other organization in existence, responds to pressure and because of that, they will never voluntarily give up added security powers. This is because of the way the public reacts to security issues–if there are civil rights infringements the public doesn’t respond that loudly, but it responds very loudly indeed to security break-downs (such as the bombing in Boston). This means that the default will be to add surveillance to a person that is suspected of a crime even if there’s no real reason for this suspicion.

Think of this example: I call the number of someone who is an actual high-level criminal. The response very well might be to put me on security lists which will mean that I will start to have very real difficulties, for example if I want to fly anywhere. If I called the number by mistake (maybe I know someone who has a number similar to it), then I’m going to be very upset by all this added scrutiny (especially because it’s almost impossible to get off such lists  since they and the whole program will be secret, so I can’t prove I’m on one) but most people will assume I must have done something wrong and ignore me. On the other hand, if I really am a terrorist and end up committing some atrocity there will be a huge outcry if I wasn’t put on such a list. So, on the list I go … unless there is also a large outcry when innocents are put on the list.

I think I’m going to have to start calling numbers like 672-968-7825 and 672-382-5633.

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