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Surveil You Later? — How the N.S.A. ruined the Information Age

November 14, 2013 Leave a comment


The National Security Agency (N.S.A.) headquarters at Ft. Meade, Maryland.

picture source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/National_Security_Agency_headquarters,_Fort_Meade,_Maryland.jpg

The N.S.A. ruined the Information Age.
Who wants to shop online with somebody looking over your
shoulder? President Obama, you know what it’s like to be
followed while shopping. Why do it to us, in our homes, at
our offices, or wherever we may be connected to the world
wide web?

Maybe somebody was on his cellphone at the park and wanted to
check the score of the football game he just bet on. It’s
none of the government’s business if two consenting adults
make a gentleman’s wager on the outcome of the Giants vs.
Vikings game. Mitt Romney can make $10,000 bets all day, and
it’s none of the government’s business if Rick Perry takes
him up on it or not!

Video: Mitt Romney saying “Rick, I’ll tell you what, 10,000
bucks? $10,000 bet?”

Oh, Mitt!

Now, since Edward Snowden revealed the surveillance-software
suite at the disposal of U.S. government workers, we also
know that the N.S.A. can see our emails, internet search
activity, online bank accounts, and everything we do in the
digital world. So if that’s where we are in present-day
American society, let’s just admit we live in an age of
diminishing privacy. Sure, you can refrain from using the
internet, and give up calling and emailing people. But how
many people are going to stop using their iPhones and
Androids and other so-called smartphones? Once you get ‘em
hooked, you can’t just take away the candy. At least not
without a claim ticket.

That’s why we should use a cellphone check-in
service. In the name of bringing back conversation to
civilized society. Just listen to these two humans talk to
each other when there are no cellphones to interrupt their
natural state.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Two men in the audience waiting for a live
show to begin.

AUDIENCE MEMBER #1:
God, this is boring!

AUDIENCE MEMBER #2:
Totally.

AUDIENCE MEMBER #1:
And we can’t even get online.

AUDIENCE MEMBER #2:
Hey, by the way, what do you think
about the N.S.A.?

AUDIENCE MEMBER #1:
Seriously?

AUDIENCE MEMBER #2:
They can’t track us now.

AUDIENCE MEMBER #1:
Well, I think it’s bad that there’s
no oversight.

Two men in suits suddenly appear.

SUIT #1:
Sir, would you please come with us?

Audience Member #1 gets up to leave with Suit#1.

SUIT #2 (TO AUDIENCE MEMBER #2):
And what do you think about the
N.S.A.?

Audience Member #2 smiles and give two thumbs up.

Suit #2 nods and harrumphs before exiting.

Audience Member #2 slouches down in his seat, stealthily
looks over both shoulders, and turns around with a nervous
head twitch.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Let’s not let it get to this, People. Secret courts for
surveillance programs on American citizens is not what the
framers of the Constitution had in mind. Just in case, the
American Public demanded the first 10 Amendments.
The very first Amendment is Freedom of Religion, Freedom of
the Press, Freedom of Peaceful Assembly to protest the
government, and Freedom of Speech.

Speech is not free when you have somebody looking over your
shoulder the whole time. Just ask Edward Snowden.

Edward Snowden during interview in Hong Kong hotel with UK Guardian reporter, Glenn Greenwald, and Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker, Laura Poitras.

Picture source: http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2013/06/Edward-Snowden.jpg

The rest of Europe wants to give him an award, but he’s in
Vladimir Putin’s Russia now. And Snowden thought the N.S.A. was
bad? If he did any whistleblowing on Putin, he’d be in
Russian jail faster than you can say Pussy Riot.

In 2012, band members of Pussy Riot wearing their trademark balaclavas while performing “Punk Prayer” at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. Two of the women in the band are serving out two-year prison sentences for singing their political-protest song in church.

Picture source: http://rt.com/files/news/pussy-riot-court-hearing-355/if499a049ff6dce2e1c1bd012dd9466b2_1.jpg

We live in an age where the whistleblowers of secret U.S.
government surveillance have to hide out with our competitor
countries? How is that Freedom of Speech protection for
Snowden when he has to flee to China’s Hong Kong?

Map of Hong Kong as part of China.

Picture source: https://fandecande.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/14194-china-map-w-hong-kong200.jpeg

And then to Putin’s Russia?

Map of Russia, bordering Europe and Asia.  

Let’s get it all out in the open. Our government spies on
everybody, including its own citizens.

People using N.S.A.-tracked devices.

Picture source: http://www.redorbit.com/media/uploads/2013/09/smartphones-everywhere_TS_80404212_091613-617×416.jpg

If you reveal the secret surveillance, the government will
revoke your passport and you will be in No Man’s Land. All
you can do is throw up your hands and try to make calls for
help, much like being a Verizon Wireless customer near the
beach in L.A.

No, Technology does not always work. And when it does work,
we have no privacy. But our cellphones and our computers
provide those sugary snacks for the mind that we crave day
and night. We don’t really care who watches us, as long as
they let us have our candy.

Edward Snowden just pulled back the curtain on the Wizard of
Oz.

Wizard of Oz behind the curtain when Dorothy reveals him
in the classic film (in color).

But this Oz is very powerful. It’s going to take a lot of
Heart, Brains and Courage to overcome the all-powerful
National Security Agency. But, like I said, give people the
candy they want and they don’t really care what you do behind
the curtain. Especially if you tell them that it has
something to do with stopping terrorists. (Joe Q Public
voice.) “Of course you need everybody’s emails to stop
terrorists. I’m not a terrorist, go ahead.”

We’ll sing “God Bless America” at the 7th inning stretch and
you can track everybody in and out of the stadium.

Aerial view of Dodger Stadium.

Picture source: http://www.examiner.com/images/blog/EXID426/images/dodger-stadium-pic.jpg

Unless, we start doing cellphone check-ins at the ballpark, and
at the movies, and at every public venue! We could take back
our Freedom of Speech if, and only if, we willingly give up
our cellphones for moments during the day.
If we can have coat-check rooms, then we can have cellphone check-in
rooms. Or you can leave your cellphone at home or in
your car. Civilization is what we make of it. The
communication network provided by cellphones and the
internet, that’s the N.S.A.’s domain. But everything else, the
rest of the world, that’s ours. All of ours. Unless you’re
Edward Snowden.

Edward Snowden in Russia.

Picture source: http://img.welt.de/img/ausland/crop121424053/2238725298-ci3x2l-w620/title.jpg

He’s the hero, and yet he’s the one who has to hide. Think
about that the next time the N.S.A. tracks you online while
consuming your internet content.

It’s not so bad now, but just think of what somebody could do
if they wanted to take advantage of our private information:
our business contracts and financial investments, our
professional and personal relationships. This is not the place where government should be. We all have the right to our privacy! Unless you’re a terrorist!

Well, I guess that settles it: the N.S.A. can do whatever it
wants in the name of fighting terrorists and we should use
cellphone check-in rooms to get away from the N.S.A. at certain
points during the day.

Ah, America! The only country that
cares enough to monitor its citizens’ communications 24/7
just to make sure everything is O.K. Like an overbearing
parent!

“It’s for your own good,” they’ll say, as they store
everything we text and type in a super-huge server facility
in Utah, where you can’t even buy a beer on Sunday!


Frosty glass mug of beer.

Picture source: http://www.slate.com/content/dam/slate/articles/life/drink/2012/02/120224_DRINK_frostedBeerMug.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-large.jpg

What’s next? No tacos on Tuesdays?!

Taco, a happy-hour treat on Tuesdays.

Picture source: http://i.cdn.turner.com/dr/teg/tsg/release/sites/default/files/assets/meattaco.jpg

We have to draw the line somewhere, or the government will
continue to encroach on our privacy and our civil liberties.
I say beer on Sunday and tacos on Tuesdays, and cellphone check-in
rooms, and real regulation on the N.S.A. surveillance. No
secret courts. Let’s have our regulation in a regular court.
And let’s have our daily slice of Americana with our First
Amendment rights intact.

Map of the United States in the
middle of North America.

picture source: http://www.kidcyber.com.au/IMAGES/usa-politcal-map.jpg

Freedom of Speech makes America the best country in
the world. Without Freedom of Speech you might as well be living in Russia.
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