The Truth: Brought to you by Edward Snowden
- A leaked court order revealed that the government secretly ordered Verizon to turn over meta-data for all it's customers from April 25th to June 19th. Meta-data is the phone number of someone making a call, the phone number of the person they call, what time they called, how long they talked for, and the general location of the people talking. Other cell phone carriers may be under similar orders.
- This has probably been going on for seven years or so.
- Meta-data can be used to identify people, even if no names are attached to phone numbers.
- All this is generally interpreted by the government to be legal, though not everyone in the government agrees.
- I am not sure where this data is held, how long it is held for, or how secure it is from people other than the government that holds it.
- The government also seems to be tapped into the large tech and internet companies. This program is called PRISM.
- President Obama has said that he is "eager to have a debate about this," now that the general public is aware of these spying policies which were only uncovered by a whistleblower.
- And indeed many people think it is time for us to seriously consider what privacy is and what it is worth to us. Some people think that it is OK to give up privacy to prevent terror, even though it seems that there are a lot of other things which kill many more people than terrorists.
- That whistleblower is Edward Snowden. Who actually didn't work for the government, but worked for a a company hired by the government to outsource it's spying.
People can believe whatever they want to about if he is a hero or a traitor (I think he did a valuable thing). The fact is, he proved that we live in a country where the government has been spying to an extent on it's citizens without their knowledge or consent. We expected a level of privacy that was not there.
Is that acceptable? Should there be any limits to how much a government can conduct surveillance on it's own citizens? I imagine people will have different answers to these questions. What really interests me is the question of what privacy is, and I'll have more on that later.