With the recent revelation of Prism, people appear to be momentarily concerned about their privacy. It MIGHT just be a problem to have all of one’s data funneling through a handful of companies. It MIGHT be an issue that the government has access to that data, and can use and spin it how it likes. It MIGHT be an issue that we are supposed to simply trust the government will use all of this data that it took the initiative to obtain without asking any other branch about it, or notifying the American people of such practices.
From the standpoint of stopping terrorism, I get it. Nobody wants to be riding on a bus that gets blown up by some jackass who has a religious axe to grind or is otherwise making a political statement about his “dislike of some United States policy”. Likewise, if someone is intending on doing something drastic—say ramming a plane into the Pentagon—this is something that MIGHT be important to know about so that it can be prevented. Nobody, I suspect, is going to complain about systems implemented to prevent these sorts of events from happening.
On the other hand, when such information as at the disposal of an entity with immense power, it is far too easy to take actions that are politically motivated and more in keeping with a police-state. Take for example the recent arrest of a Kentucky fellow who identified himself as being linked to Anonymous. He apparently partook in some “vigilante justice” concerning someone who had been gang raped. The response of the government to this action was to apparently send in a swat team to arrest him. Perhaps they have other reasons for the arrest, but to me it looks like they decided to go after someone who tried to do something about an injustice—which is far more than the court systems attempt to do in most cases.
I’m not sure that identity theft is a good way to go about attempting to bring justice—but I can certainly understand the motivation and frustration. The reason that groups like Anonymous exist is because things like justice are regularly stomped on and overlooked. The reason that the government finds this to be threatening is because it does not like to have another entity with a lot of power looking over its shoulder. That’s an important point, because it basically means the government doesn’t want any “citizen” institution to have the ability to assert an actual “check and balance” on the system, which was originally what the United States government was supposed to be before everyone stood around television sets having their thinking done for them and drooling like lobotomized monkeys.
Really, that’s the problem. Our government nowadays thinks and acts as though it has the ability to be the sole determiner of reality. When combined with a few news agencies, it is basically right. Too many people are far too disconnected from what is happening, and from the governmental standpoint it is intentional. They do not realize the level of manipulation to which they are being subjected both psychologically and otherwise. They “don’t care” about matters like privacy, because they are too busy trying to get to work on time and pay their taxes. For those in other income brackets, other activities become possible—such as caring about politics. Those people typically go into politics, because they can.
Hence, those with “leisure” have the time to frame things as they like and by extension get involved in matters like politics. The two sorts of people that have “leisure” are the very rich, and the very poor. Which do you suppose has a voice that is more readily heard?
It benefits those that are rich and have the “power” to demolish privacy. It benefits them because it allows them to have access and control and monetize information. Everyone else who might have an issue with it is either involved to the point they are being paid large sums enough they prefer to keep their mouth closed, or intimidated into keeping quiet. Few are the people who will stand up for the rights of privacy on the merits of it being an essential right. Fewer yet are those who are in a certain income bracket who care enough to speak about privacy or attempt to do something about it.
In life before the internet, if one wanted to steal information or eavesdrop, one at least had to institute a phone tap. If one wanted to get information on someone’s spending habits, they had to be willing to go dive through mounds of paperwork that may or may not still exist. These things are less the case in the age of the internet, and it seems to me that the level of abuse this data is subject to sits at an unprecedentedly high rate. When you can sit in your office in Washington, D.C. and find out all about someone without ever boarding a plane, it’s just too much information with too little responsibility or oversight. The more people are encouraged to “feed information into the internet” the more the system becomes mandatory and the more it becomes something used as a tool of oppression.
The only way I see this system being balanced again is for the internet to go back to its roots and become decentralized without any central authority such as DNS servers. This would be the so-called darknet, and the reason it is called that is because it doesn’t exist unless you know where to look. The danger with such a setup is that people can purchase all manner of objectionable things—from drugs to child sex slaves—however the difference is that when these things happen you at least KNOW about them. Under the system we have now, any abuses by higher institutions such as the government we will never, ever know about unless some extremely brave whistle blowers are willing to come forth—and they have a habit of disappearing as we have recently seen. Once they are gone, the new story is how they betrayed the government and told secrets. Of course, if it is true that the government has been betrayed, and the American people are the ones who have been told something, does that not mean that the government is in a position that is “against” its citizenry? It sure seems that way to me. Unless the government starts becoming more transparent about why it is taking certain actions, I’m going to use the most logical explanation that suggests to me it is abusing its power and take steps to ensure my own privacy is “reasonably well” safeguarded. I believe it is the duty of every other citizen to do the same.