You’re familiar with “Big Brother,” the God-like entity from Nineteen Eighty-Four. In some ways, we’ve moved far beyond Orwell’s dystopian vision.
Big Bro has pulled out the stops. His tracking is now relentless and nearly universal. Governments and corporations have combined their efforts and invade the privacy of at least a billion people. Even in your own home, privacy is mostly a relic of the past.
In addition to tracking and storing your phone call data, emails and Internet use, government snoops know all about your large bank deposits, your credit use, your travel and employment history and your communications with medical care providers.
(Visit this link for a comprehensive look at government eavesdropping programs.)
Is It Legal? Probably Not
In mid-December 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that America’s eavesdropping program is an “indiscriminate” and “arbitrary invasion.” He called the systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen an “almost-Orwellian” technology …
“Records that once would have revealed a few scattered tiles of information about a person now reveal an entire mosaic – a vibrant constantly updating picture of a person’s life. … No court has ever recognized a special need sufficient to justify continuous, daily searches of virtually every American citizen without any particularized suspicion. The Government urges me to be the first non-FISC judge to sanction such a dragnet. …
“The Government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack … Because of the utter lack of evidence that a terrorist act has ever been prevented because searching the NSA database was faster than other investigative tactics – I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program.” ( Richard Leon.)
(The U.S. government recently made cosmetic adjustments to its eavesdropping program. But nothing has really changed. Most electronic messages are highly compromised and will remain vulnerable.)
(For an excellent update on the many ways we’re monitored, read Privacy in the Age of Big Data by Theresa Payton, Lanham MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014. You’ll also enjoy They Know Everything About You by Robert Scheer, New York: Nation Boos, 2015.)
(Continue reading about the mass surveillance scene here.)