What PRISM really means


Over the weekend, I heard a lot of people trying to defend PRISM, the NSA’s domestic internet spying program (they also claim it’s only ever incidentally domestic… whatever), saying that they only collect metadata on my phone calls and look for patterns in my internet communications. But today I get an email from my cable company trying to talk me into their Intelligent Home wherein I can run my security system/climate control via the internet. Not in God’s green earth! Not with the NSA looking over my shoulder all the dang time. Tracking who I call for how long and how often is intrusive enough, I’m not going to let the government know my comings and goings at my house.

Also annoying, George Will. On This Week with George Stephanopoulos, George Will started to get huffy about all this invasion of privacy, not because he thought it was a bad idea generally (he actually said it might be useful with a government that you could trust) but because we have all this recent evidence with the IRS targeting conservative groups that we don’t have a government like that. Well, welcome to the light side, George, but where the hell have you been for the past 7 years? And, might I point out, this was exactly the argument I made 7 years ago to the conservatives who were defending Bush’s domestic spying, i.e. “Sure you trust this guy, but what about the next time a Democrat get’s elected? Do you want that person to have this kind of power?” I. Told. You. So.

And while I’m on the subject, some of the commentary I’ve seen out on the internet likened this kind of surveillance to police patrolling. It’s perfectly legal and appropriate for the police to be out and about patrolling the neighborhood and this is just like that they said. Well, no, it’s not just like that. If we each had a police escort patrolling us to work and home etc., that would be just like these electronic surveillance measures. I think if we each had a police shadow taking notes on everyone we talked to, that would not be acceptable, even if they did promise to file the notes away and only look at them if I ever did something scary. No.

Now is the time for coordinated political action. Protests at every federal building we can find. Candidates for every federal office up for election next year. Where’s that Occupy movement when we need them? Heck, draft the Tea Party too. Enough is enough.

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