Oh, the NSA. My most hated government agency, always tied right with the DEA and TSA. Ever since Edward Snowden leaked their documents last year, I’ve felt pretty justified in my hatred. While they’ve still had their defenders, I feel like lately they’ve taken a page from OCT and worked hard to alienate everyone who could agree with them.
Now the Washington Post has published the results of a 4 month investigation into the NSA. Absolutely nothing in it is shocking; everything in it is disgusting. “But wait!” you say. “The NSA protects us from terrorists! And if you don’t have anything to hide, why do you care?” Well, here are some highlights.
Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam or striking risque poses in shorts and bikini tops.
That means pictures of your children. Pictures of your lake days. That picture you took alone in your room for your significant other. Pictures targeted for certain people, not for the world. We cry out when our children’s photos are taken in public by strangers, parents champion not having pictures of their kids on social media — so why not care that everyone is seeing your toddler in the bathtub? Oh, but what’s that? You’re an American, so this doesn’t apply to you?
If a target entered an online chat room, the NSA collected the words and identities of every person who posted there, regardless of subject, as well as every person who simply “lurked,” reading passively what other people wrote.
Oh. Well. That sucks. Damn globalization.
So…why are we not more upset by this? I’m sitting here watching the news (CNN and Fox!) and no one is talking about it. The NSA is, really, a bunch of criminals. Your right to privacy is your most important right – it goes beyond what your state says, beyond a country’s constitution. No one would feel like they were really living if they spent their entire life being monitored and watched.
Do you think the people who are responsible for passing the legislation allowing this are comfortable being spied on? They aren’t. Glenn Greenwald covers this in his (amazing) book, No Place to Hide:
When the Senate Intelligence Committee’s chair, Dianne Feinstein, insisted that the NSA’s collection of metadata does not constitute surveillance…online protesters demanded that she back up her assertion with action: Would the senator, each month, publish a full list of people she emailed and called, including the length of time they spoke and their physical locations when the call was made?
SPOILER ALERT: The answer was no.
The way I talk in front of a group of strangers is different from the way I talk in front of a group of close friends, which is different from the way I talk when I’m with just my little sister. I’m sure you are all the same way. The best thing you can do to demonstrate how incredibly uncomfortable people can get when they lose their privacy is to walk around recording people. Why do you think we’re so uncomfortable with the idea of Google Glass?
At the point, it’s almost comical. Is there anyone left to defend the NSA? Probably not, but if you think they’re swell, I’d love to hear why.
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