I knew the United States government was lying to me. I didn’t need Edward Snowden to tell me that.
I just thought the lies were going to be about the existence of Area 51 or the promise of Social Security when I retire. I certainly didn’t expect that the lies the government is feeding me and the rest of America to concern the espionage of its own citizens.
At first I didn’t care that the government was tracking my phone calls, reading my emails and keeping track of what websites I visited. My first thought was, “Well I’m not doing anything wrong and I have nothing to hide.”
While I’m not happy with the U.S. government most days, I don’t plan on trying to overthrow it, nor do I want anyone else to. I don’t engage in illegal activities either. I don’t deal drugs or sell firearms or steal from people. My business is in full compliance as well. I pay all my taxes, don’t sell anything illicit, and have all the correct documents and licenses in place to run my company.
So I thought, “Let them look through my emails, my web history and my phone records. I’m not who they are looking for.” But then I heard that the U.S. government was tracking and spying on Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a.k.a. the Boston Bomber, before he decided to commit a terrorist attack against America. The U.S. government had files on him and they were mining his data. They recorded his phone calls, but didn’t analyze them. They had him on a list of known terrorists that was supposed to prevent him from getting on a plane in the U.S. Well then can someone explain to me how he flew to Chechnya in the year before the Boston bombing? What is all this data mining and espionage good for if it doesn’t prevent acts of terrorism?
In essence the government has all this information about us, but they aren’t doing anything with it. They are just storing it. In the wake of the Boston bombing the FBI and CIA were able to say that they did have files on Tamerlan, they had checked him out. A lot of good that did us. If the government is going to violate the constitution and my rights in the name of protecting American citizens against acts of terrorism, then it better actually start preventing them.
Plus now I worry about all of this data that the government has on me and you. Can it be compromised? I mean we hear from time to time about the Chinese government and other rogue groups who hack into company’s databases and steal information or disrupt their service. Could someone break into the governments databases and steal my information? I bet they could. And since I don’t know the full extent of the information the government keeps on me and everyone else I can’t say I feel confident that the information couldn’t be used against me one day. It seems to me that a record of where I’ve been, who I’ve talked to, what internet searches I’ve made and emails I’ve sent could be of high value to some company. It’s nothing but a liability to me.
In addition to worrying about my information being hacked I also worry about what the government will do with it in the future. Right now they are just storing it. President Obama says don’t worry that we’re tracking your calls and internet habits because we only check it out if there are other factors that warrant an investigation. Beside the fact that President Obama is a known liar, I have to wonder if even he knows how my behaviors can be used against me.
Like I said before I’m not doing anything wrong so I shouldn’t worry right? I’m not so sure anymore. Do you know how many federal statutes that exist? Don’t worry if you don’t know, the government doesn’t either. They freely admit they can’t even tell us how many federal laws there are on the books. Literally there are too many to count. One telling fact is they require roughly 27,000 pages to detail all the federal laws that exist. And those are just the ones on the federal level! Not to mention the tens of thousands of business regulations that are in place and all the state and local laws that are on the books.
Jeez! Suddenly I’m not so sure I’m not breaking any laws. If the federal government can’t even count how many laws are on the books then how can the average citizen be sure they aren’t violating one of them? Ask any lawyer and they’ll tell you that not being aware of a law is not a worthy defense against a crime.
Combine this with the fact that the government has access to every email you’ve ever sent, every phone call you’ve ever made, every site you’ve ever visited, every online purchase you’ve ever made and you can be certain that they could find something you’ve done which violated one of the laws in those 27,000 pages. Are you so sure you have nothing to hide anymore? I’m not.
Government officials will continue to tell us that in order for them to keep us safe they’ll need to violate our privacies in order to do so; they’ll tell us that it’s important to find a balance between the two sides. Fine I’m willing to take my shoes off when I go through security at the airport. What I’m not okay with is Big Government keeping track of my every move and every communication to one day use against me if they want.
Citizens in the Middle East and other nations are afraid to speak out against their government because they are afraid of retribution. They don’t even discuss their personal feelings with their neighbors, co-workers or people outside their family. They are worried everyone is a government spy. People who speak out against the government there frequently receive retribution.
I don’t want that to become the culture in America. Here we feel free to speak out against laws we don’t agree with and things our government does that we don’t like. This ability is a major cornerstone of what makes America so desirable. Could this nation of free thinkers and speakers change if we start worrying that the government is spying on us and recording us?
After learning that Big Government has all of this information on me, and that they have the power to do anything they want with it… I don’t see the upside to the argument that I have nothing to hide so I don’t care if the government is spying on me. If you have nothing to hide, you also have nothing to gain by being spied on and recorded.
Food for thought.