Want to be horrified? I have two articles for you. The fear quotient quadruples when you read these pieces in sequence.
The assault on privacy.
Yahoo's Tech page has a light-n-breezy piece on four ways the federal government is spying on American citizens
. Most of this article touches on matters we've already noted, including the NSA's new megacenter in Utah and Homeland Security's scrutiny of your every tweet.
Item number four may be new to you...
Your ISP may soon be required to keep files on what sites you visit.
The idea sounds pretty far out there — a law that would require your internet service provider to keep constant tabs on you, along with detailed records of what websites you visited and when. But that's exactly what the Hawaii state legislature proposed this January with H.B. 2288 and companion bill S.B. 2530. The bill, sponsored by State Rep. John Mizuno (D), "requires internet service providers... keep consumer records for no less than two years." The bill then goes on to specify that these records must include "each subscriber's information and internet destination history information."
Thankfully, the bills' sponsors withdrew the offending legislation from debate. But the reason wasn't just public outcry. Also a factor was the fact that the U.S. House of Representatives is considering a similar bill titled Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act. That bill, sponsored and written by Texas Republican Representative Lamar Smith, would mandate that commercial ISPs create logs of customers' names, bank information, and IP addresses. That information could later be used by attorneys seeking to prosecute in a criminal trial or even in civil cases and divorce trials.
I wonder how they'll handle people who use foreign VPNs and proxies?
Whenever the enemies of internet privacy start blathering about pedophiles and terrorists, get cynical. Get paranoid
And that brings us to our second article...
I direct your attention to a Newsweek profile of George Soros
, published last January. If you didn't read it then, you really ought to do so now.
I have never believed the nonsense that right-wingers say about Soros. Right now, I would prefer not to believe Soros himself.
Sitting in his 33rd-floor corner office high above Seventh Avenue in New York, preparing for his trip to Davos, he is more concerned with surviving than staying rich. “At times like these, survival is the most important thing,” he says, peering through his owlish glasses and brushing wisps of gray hair off his forehead. He doesn’t just mean it’s time to protect your assets. He means it’s time to stave off disaster. As he sees it, the world faces one of the most dangerous periods of modern history—a period of “evil.” Europe is confronting a descent into chaos and conflict. In America he predicts riots on the streets that will lead to a brutal clampdown that will dramatically curtail civil liberties. The global economic system could even collapse altogether.
“I am not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career,” Soros tells Newsweek. “We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse. The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”
As anger rises, riots on the streets of American cities are inevitable. “Yes, yes, yes,” he says, almost gleefully. The response to the unrest could be more damaging than the violence itself. “It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States.”
It would be easier to ignore Soros' bleak prophecy if the government weren't acting as if it had received the same tarot reading.
The ability to datamine all emails, texts, tweets and other communications will give the national security apparat abilities that go far beyond anything Orwell ever imagined. Uncle will be able to take the national temperature, to test the effectiveness of propaganda, to control information, to pinpoint troublemakers, to wage cyber-war on unruly citizens, to bring charges (spurious or otherwise) against potential opponents, and to stop organizers from communicating by any means other than mouth-to-ear.
Former NSA employee William Binney
has warned that "we are this far from a totalitarian state."
Don't believe any politicians who tell you that you need to give up your privacy in order to be protected against child molesters and terrorists. There's only one reason why Uncle wants to read your emails, track your tweets and trace your location 24/7: The government hopes to eradicate your right to dissent.
As I've said in the past: I despise the very thought of revolution. History tells us that revolutions usually go gruesomely wrong. Nevertheless, I also recognize that the threat of rebellion is the only thing that has ever kept any government honest. Any technology which makes rebellion impossible make tyranny inevitable.