Posted by: Michael Miller | 2014/01/17

I Spy

Note: This is meant to be more of a solicitation of opinions rather than me just spouting off mine. Understanding what others think often goes a long way into forming my own thoughts on a topic so I certainly welcome everyone’s view.

The news today is all about President Obama and his announcement changing how the government does its anti-terror snooping. All in all, the gist seems to be that President Obama wants there to be more limits and regulations on what information the NSA can (and cannot) collect.

Text message

Should I be worried about my text messages?

In some ways, I think the President is absolutely correct: there should be limits and perhaps some added disclosure on what our government is doing in terms of reading our emails, monitoring our text messages, collecting voice mail data, etc.

I, for one, have long been frustrated at how our individual liberties and rights have been slowly, and systematically, taken away over the years under the guise of safety; a process that seems to have accelerated immediately following 9/11.

So to pull the proverbial reigns back on that, even just a bit, seems like a step in the right direction.

However, it’s certainly reasonable to expect that the government should protect its people and to do so sometimes requires actions that the people shouldn’t know about nor should want to know about. This could include covert military actions, intelligence gathering, and general spying (both domestic and abroad).

I read that the NSA collects over 200 million text messages – from both foreigners and Americans – every day. Does this bother me? It absolutely should. Yet, it really doesn’t.

Maybe I’m naive enough to think that the government doesn’t really care what train I took home today or that a friend and I are planning to see “Lone Survivor” this weekend.

Maybe I’m just too dimwitted to understand how knowing that my son passed a sight-word test at school could be used against me or could play any role in protecting our borders.

The government more-than-likely looks at my five daily text messages and moves right along to the remaining 1,999,995.

Again, I’m torn on this. I can’t stand the fact that we’re constantly being watched and monitored by our own government. Yet at the same time, I’m too boring to really cause anyone any concern.

Though as I’m thinking about it now, I doubt much will change as a result of President Obama’s speech today. In this case, the government simply got caught and is backpedaling. It’s a dog and pony show to appease the masses.

Oh sure, it’ll generate some great back-and-forth sound bites among the political parties in Washington. There’ll certainly be some show boating on both sides as the GOP will say the Democrats are too soft on security while the Democrats beat their chests that they’re protecting individual freedoms.

Yet behind closed doors, the status quo will remain the same and both political parties will actually agree that more needs to be done – to be sure they don’t get caught with their pants down again.

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  1. I have NO problem with our government checking out nearly every electronically generated message. Great way to ferret out the terrorist infidels bent on destruction of the USA so look all you want spy people but pass on the mundane stuff.

    I DO have a problem when the same system of data gathering is used to monitor, intimidate or in any other way spy on fellow Americans for political advantage.

    The IRS scandal is a perfect example of how government bureaucrats and those with political clout can abuse the power entrusted to them. SEVERE penalties should be handed out to those proven guilty of ABUSE OF POWER. Lois Lerner for example appears to be getting off without even a slap on the hands for her ABUSE OF POWER. Common sense suggests Lerner did not act alone and I would hope Congress pursues the IRS scandal though the IRS has enough on everybody to keep even the most honest of people in fear of IRS intimidation.


    • If finding that one text message or email in 200 million stops an attack – I can’t see how that’s a bad thing. Right or wrong, people should know that their privacy is virtually a thing of the past now. Wireless communication, the internet, and so many other technologies we all covet so much made sure of that.


  2. I mostly agree with you Mike. I feel I am boring also.

    That said it is not the info they gather that bothers Me it is where else that email goes & how other agencies could use that info.

    Case in point, and you referred to the twins. What if that email was between you & your wife, or prehaps any doctor or therapist, that I would call privileged , could it be used in an effort or sold to say an insurance company to alter your premiums?
    I know that this may sound far fetched but it is what they do with the data that concerns me more than the collection.


    • I wouldn’t say that’s far fetched but I also highly doubt the NSA would do that. I’d be more worried that Facebook or YAHOO! would do that. As a matter of fact, Facebook has already been accused.


  3. The fourth amendment and the right to privacy has been corrupted by the NSA, racially profiling of Blacks, Hispanics, and Muslims and “wonderfully crafted phraseology” of such acts as the Patriot Act which allows unconstitutional non-patriotic invasion of privacy. The big question is do we go against who we are, liberty, equality, justice for all because of our fears and to maintain stability and security or do we believe in our system of government enough to figure out a way to be secure without destroying I our basic beliefs.

    My thoughts. Freedom is more important than security. That’s what we go to war for, isn’t it


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