Privacy is obsolete- What you can do about it

You’re being watched.

As much as it might sound like paranoid fantasy or conjecture, you’re being watched and there’s not much being done to stop it.

This past summer Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee and NSA contractor, leaked information that the NSA had taken to spying on private citizens within the United States, using a data-mining program called “PRISM,” according to The Guardian.

For his efforts, Snowden was branded a traitor and a dissident. He went into hiding, first to Hong Kong, then Russia.

PRISM is responsible for monitoring internet and telephone communications. Foreign governments and persons with relatives in other countries have been spied on. More shocking is that it collects data from Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and other such companies, according to the Washington Post.

It would appear that your statuses and vacation pictures are being seen by someone other than your friends.

That’s not all. The NSA is also listening in on your phone conversations, with companies like AT&T and Verizon raking a profit by allowing the NSA to listen in; a Forbes article shows hundreds of millions of dollars paid out from the NSA to AT&T and Verizon.

When taken to task on the unconstitutionality of warrantless wiretapping, the NSA said it was all perfectly legal. According to CNN, the NSA just couldn’t tell you why it was legal, because that decision was made by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – and their decisions are above your security clearance, citizen.

To recap: You might not be guilty of a crime or even accused of one, but the NSA has a window to your life they can peek into any time they want. Plus, you’re not allowed to know what sort of information they’re gathering about you or what they plan to do with it.

Outraged yet?

This hasn’t just affected things in the domestic sector, either. Accusations have come out accusing the United States of spying on allies including Germany, Spain, Mexico and more. 

The Huffington Post obtained a report showing that over 60 million phone calls in Spain may have been listened to – in a single month.

The NSA’s defense is that it’s trying to stop terrorism. They still have not explained how exactly a Spanish citizen’s phone call to his friends is of any national security interest.

This isn’t a Tom Clancy novel. It’s happening. Between the shutdown and spying, the United States has severely weakened its relationship with other countries.

It’s more than just an embarrassment. It’s an affront to the privacy rights of the entire planet, and it’s all being done without our consent.

There is some hope left, though. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rand Paul (R-KY) and two others are introducing legislation to overhaul secret courts and make surveillance agencies more accountable for their actions, according to an Ars Technica article.

If you thought the shutdown was the result of too much power at the hands of too few people, imagine a clandestine group who knows every dirty secret on the planet.

All the while, nobody’s allowed to know what they’re doing with the information. 

This issue is big enough to get Democrats and Republicans working together for a change.

You can get involved, too. Write your representatives and tell them to support the bill. Tell them you might just forgive them for the shutdown. When the elections come around, make sure you support candidates who stand against domestic spying.

 If you want to do something about it immediately, just call anyone you know and tell them about it.

Odds are, your message will reach more than just the person you called. 


The staff editorial is written weekly by members of The Oakland Post’s editorial board.