The recent incident of a contractor from NSA (National Security Agency) of the U.S. almost defecting to Hong Kong / China throws open a very relevant and rather interesting topic: the intrusion into the privacy of citizens by “Big Brother” or the Government.
There are arguments (mostly) against and for the government oversight affecting the privacy of millions of citizens and other nation states. How can one government (though the most powerful in the world) intrude into the private lives of other countries’ citizens and most clearly, into other governments’ secrets ? Under what laws of the land are these actions being taken ? Does it mean that the U.S. is not respecting the other countries’ laws on privacy, though often claiming to be the torch bearer of freedom and democracy, often accusing other countries of trampling on their citizens’ rights ?
Many, many questions and the blogosphere and the traditional / electronic media are full of such types of questions and interviews with prominent folks from society and government.
Let us look at this matter very objectively.
First, is anyone around the world so naive that he or she can assume that nobody is watching the goings on in the society in which they live, given all the terrorist attacks around the world ? Is it not the responsibility of the government of the day and law enforcement agencies to track what is going on ? How can anyone assume that all is hunky dory in their own society ? That is rather stupid, to say the least.
Second, look at examples of how criminals and terrorists are getting caught via data crunching of emails and webcam / video camera images, without even shedding a drop of blood in some cases ? Are we not reading newspapers and the electronic media to take note of the enhanced intelligence of law enforcement agencies ?
Third, the NSA mainframes and arrays of computers don’t “see or hear” anything – they just simply analyze the petabytes of data collected from a million sources and derive nuggets of actionable information, which can then be studied and actions taken. Who is listening to your conversation, or reading your emails – think about it for a minute. If you are not a targeted individual, why would a government waste thousands of dollars of computing time and analyst time on you ? You have no name in the computer !
Fourthly, if the U.S. Congress bans domestic eavesdropping by NSA (very unlikely), then NSA and FBI would have to move to conventional means of tapping phones which would then potentially “target” anyone – even the normal guy – around. Think about it – do you wish to return to the Cold War days ? Surely not.
There are many other reasons why the NSA mechanism is a better way of analysing the “Big Data” collected from various sources than the older ways of James Bond days.
Let us not raise a hue and cry. This is what has been happening for the past 7 years by NSA and several decades before that as well. If you have nothing to worry, then you will have nothing to worry, right ?
Let the criminals and terrorists worry, right ?
15th June 2013