PRISM, NSA and the illusion of privacy

eavesdropping-danger-290x290The NSA “PRISM” outcry that is threatening to take over the Internet is pretty funny, considering the NSA exists for the sole purpose of listening to everything, and that is exactly what it has done for the past 60 years.

I guess no one cared in the past because it was only their telephone calls, telegrams, telexes and radio broadcasts being scanned. Now that it’s important shit like your Tweets, well, that’s not okay!

I first became aware of the NSA the way a lot of people did, through the early 80s book The Puzzle Palace. That’s where I learned that if you say certain words during a long distance phone call, a transcript of that phone call may end up on someone’s desk the next day.

Now at first, that really freaked me out. But then I considered the volume of information they were scanning and came to the conclusion; who gives a shit.

Because even pre-Internet it was just too much information. I don’t care how many people you employ or how many computers you throw at the data, picking out a single person to harass over something stupid would be impossible. You would have to be doing something really, really bad (or really, really stupid) to even show up on their radar. Not because computers or people are inefficient, but because bureaucracy is.


I stopped fearing government agencies when I was 18 years old and sent in my blank draft registration form along with a long letter explaining why I wasn’t about to fight in any of their stinking wars (yeah, I know, I had the world all figured out).

The only thing they sent back to me was a letter that said, in a nutshell, “Well, you know, you really better fill out the registration form or you can be fined and go to prison for a long, long time.” I still refused to fill out the form, and guess what? Nothing ever happened to me. There were a couple more letters, but I didn’t even bother responding, I just threw them away.

And now more recently, one of my jobs included dealing with the FBI from time to time, and once even a couple of agents over from Scotland Yard (as well as some meetings I’m not supposed to talk about until I’m dead or something). That kind of interaction with all kinds of law enforcement agencies is not uncommon in the web site hosting business. But I can tell you that every one of those agents were next to clueless about virtually every form of Internet technology.

When I say “clueless,” I mean your grandmother probably knows more about how something like email works than these scary government agents did. That shit you see on TV, with some government agency rolling into town in blacked out Escalades with brutal, choreographed efficiency while using hyper-advanced technology as casually as you’d butter your toast? I really laugh whenever I see that.

I know the NSA is listening. And I know the 3,000 cameras that I pass by every day are recording my every nose pick. And I know that the Governor of California can probably find out what’s on my DVR.


I don’t care.

Privacy is a myth and an illusion. As someone who, shall we say, dabbled in the dark underbelly of telephone technology back in the day, I can assure you that there is no privacy. If an idiot like me can figure out how to tap in to the telephone system, anyone can.

The same goes for the Internet. Most hackers are not geniuses. They are just curious people who are willing to waste a lot of time.

Hmm, I suppose you could say the same thing about government agencies, couldn’t you. Maybe I’d better rethink this whole thing…

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