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June 06, 2013

The NSA Info-Glomm, Land Lines, and Defining Privacy Down

OK, first GMail (which I love). Anybody who's surprised that Google uses the content of your emails to choose which ads to present to you, didn't read the terms of service and doesn't understand how Google works.

OK, Facebook (which I don't love). Anybody who's surprised that Facebook builds a profile of you and your personal network based on information you willingly give them, and then sells that information for a profit didn't read the terms of service and doesn't understand how Facebook works.

OK, Cellphones (which are really personal tracking devices that let you make phone calls). Anybody who doesn't understand that the privacy rules for cellphones are very, very different from the rules for landlines hasn't read the rules and probably isn't entitled to much umbrage over the NSA info-glomm.

I really want to get ride of my landline but the people in my life who let me in every time I come home like having a landline, for a few reasons. Among them:

  • during SuperStormSandy™ landlines worked a lot better than cellphones, because the cell tower network was down in a lot of places.
  • You can't drop a landline out of your pocket in the parking lot and render it unusable over a long weekend
  • Power outage? Landline keeps working.

  • Add to the list:The privacy rules for landlines are much more pro-individual than the privacy rules for cellphones.

I don't like the NSA info-grab at all. It's the sort of thing that America wouldn't do, then it was the sort of think America wouldn't do domestically, and now we just do it all the time, SOP. But it's not the NSA's fault - it's your Congressfolks and Senators who wrote these rules and continue to renew them.

Congress built this situation, and you keep sending people to Congress who repeat the same behavior. You agreed to these rules quite happily and rather passively when you went to the Mall and got your 6G shiny object.

If you're shocked, shocked at the current definition of legal, you haven't been paying attention.

Remember when Americans looked at railway checkpoints and roadway document checks and freedom of movement and think, Oh those Iron Curtain countries are so totalitarian?

And by the way, your snail mail via the US Postal Service enjoys a lot of the same privacy protections your landline does. And they're we're slowly shutting down the Post Office in favor of private businesses that don't offer the same rules.

2 comments:

Melvin AhChing said...

I'm one of the few who has never bought a cell phone and now I am even more happy that I never owned one. Unfortunately I use the internet a lot, and unfortunately our government is possible monitoring all of it.

Anonymous said...

It may be that not even snail mail is free from being monitored:

http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2013-07/usa-briefe-mict-ueberwachung-usps

(page may need to be translated)

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