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Bigger than privacy


Thelma Grimes is correct that our expectation of privacy should be a thing of the past in a world of Facebook and markets for our personal preferences and shopping histories.

The most dangerous invasions of privacy though come from the National Security Agency, using everything else Thelma mentioned quite rightly because of how techno dependent we are, but the NSA is part of the framework in government that can make that data count.

The NSA trawls all of America’s phone and email meta-data and stores it for five years. The pictures built from these data are not about what brand of cereal we are buying, but to potentially aid in terrorist or other criminal prosecutions. The potential for abuse in that period, perhaps spanning into other administrations, is great. Watergate?

Recent news is that the DEA has been receiving “tips” from the NSA and other agencies, which have led to convictions, but details would not dare be admitted in court unless they have a convincing “parallel construction” on how they were arrived at and exactly what sparked that investigation.

Simply stating, “there is no privacy” is missing the bigger more important argument. Expectations of surveillance put a chill on vigorous democracy. Today the meta-data and email are used to build networks of what we are told are ruthless America-haters, tomorrow, unchecked in secret, where will these powers be applied next?

A common refrain is “I have nothing to hide”. Correct, and now you never will.


David Hymers,