We should be able to expect privacy
July 17, 2013
This entire concept that our Internet and cell phone communications — email, voice calls, texting, et al — must be exempt from any expectation of privacy needs to be challenged, parsed and rejected.
Just because we've grown accustomed to having our privacy violated does not mean we can or must continue to accept this abuse.
There's also the issue of who we expect to be the source of the threat versus who is actually doing the violating.
We expect telephone and cellphone carriers to collect and maintain some information about calls made by their customers specifically for billing purposes, including the date, time and duration of the calls.
No one expects those carriers to listen to their customers' calls or record their calls to access at a later date — not ever.
Now that cellular carriers offer packages with unlimited voice, text and data, those consumers pay for unlimited access per month, so there is absolutely no reason for those carriers to maintain any information about the voice, data or text usage of those consumers — none.
Before broadband Internet in the era of dial-up modems, we expected Internet service providers to collect and maintain some information about connections made only to the ISP, including date, time and duration, again for billing purposes.
No one expected those ISPs to monitor their communications or record them to peruse at a later date — not ever.
In the era of broadband Internet access, many consumers now pay for unlimited access per month, so there is no reason for ISPs to maintain any information about the consumers' Internet usage — none.
With regard to cell phone and Internet communications, when people say "we have no expectation of privacy," it means we are aware that hackers exist, they are a very real threat and that all forms of communication may be vulnerable to malevolent eavesdropping by these intelligent miscreants.
It means we acknowledge the possibility our sensitive data may be stolen and exploited by criminals — but not by our own government!
Why does everyone automatically accept that we must have "no expectation of privacy"?
Just because difficult obstacles exist to providing secure communications is no reason to lie down and passively accept the abuse!
Beef up all communications security and indict all those who violate people's privacy, including all hackers, as well as those responsible at the carriers and in government agencies.
Businesses want people to use these forms of communication. Voice and data carriers want consumers to pay for their services. They know their consumers expect high performance and reliability.
Consumers must now demand privacy and security, including privacy and security from our prying governments.
Let the markets respond, and since Congress is so fond of making new regulations, let them pass one guaranteeing all citizens' right to privacy!
Although this one is so obvious it should be safe to assume, sadly, our right to privacy must be reasserted in no uncertain terms.
Most of us also understand that government is charged with an obligation to protect and defend us, and the Patriot Act was created with that intent.
However, we are not the people our police agencies should be watching. The Patriot Act was intended to monitor foreign threats and monitor their specific domestic contacts, but only with a court order.
It was never intended to grant government agencies such as the NSA unfettered authority to cast a secret data dragnet across millions of American citizens.
One instance of such a violation by one small agency or department warrants condemnation and correction, but recent revelations among the largest and most powerful government agencies indicate these problems are pervasive, the perpetrators are unrepentant and they have no intention to cease and desist.
To these people, the Constitution clearly does not matter, our entire government appears to be infested by a culture of corruption, and, as the adage goes, a fish rots from the head down.
We don't know how long this has been going on or when it began, but the silence from our current head of state is deafening.
Perhaps the president is as unaware of the NSA spying on Americans as he was unaware of the "fast and furious" gun-running debacle resulting in more than 200 deaths, unaware of Benghazi whistle-blower intimidation and unaware of IRS targeting of conservative groups, as he is unaware the Constitution is in fact not a "charter of negative rights" but of proscriptions on government power intended to restrain the government from ever committing such atrocities.
Any constitutional scholar should know that government has no "rights." Our government has limited and explicitly enumerated powers, the abuse of which are par for the course in this administration.
Despite the known perpetrator's protestations to the contrary, this domestic spying on American citizens by their own government is yet another blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution. The violators are criminals and must be treated as such, lest we the people surrender ourselves to become subjects of an ever-expanding police state.
Please reread Orwell's "1984" from a different perspective, one where the totalitarian dystopia is about 30 years late.
Buddy Shipley is an Edwards resident.
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