Friday, June 14, 2013

Why I Don't Care About the NSA Revelations, But Hate Edward Snowden

I never actually owned the cell phone system.  That's why.

I own the cell phone, the little transmitter-receiver the company sold to me when I signed up for service.  If I walk away from the contract now, I keep the little two-way radio.  No problem there.  Sweetie and Sons #1 and #2 get to keep theirs.  But the cell phone system, that's another matter.

The way I understand it, most of what is going on is that the NSA is monitoring who is calling whom.  That's nothing to get excited over.  Ever since communication between individuals advanced beyond the level of one person speaking directly to another, there has been the existence of a middle man, and the security of your message was entrusted to that middle man.

Now let's consider this: "entrusted."  There are levels of trust.  We presume, for good reason, that our messages will not be read by someone other than the parties for whom they are intended.  Again I have to rely on my limited understanding here, but it appears to me that the NSA is not actually listening in on conversations.  Just peeking at what call came from where, to go where else.  That's it.  Establishing an understanding of relationships.  This is significant knowledge, but nothing to get really excited about.

Before there were telephones, there was the Postal Service, and you were totally okay with writing the address on the envelope.  You also were totally okay with having a return address on it, which meant all manner of middle men could see that there was some kind of communication going on between these two individuals: look, see - it's written right there on the envelope.

Even now with electronic communications, you have to give up a lot of privacy with your phone calls.  There are computer records of there having been a call completed from this number to that number, and nobody has been upset about it.  Even knowing that such records are retained and could be brought forth as evidence in a court of law, nobody ever raised a fuss.

But now that one possible traitor, whoops, make that potential hero, no that isn't right either, let's try dubious character has pointed out how certain government intelligence gathering entities have relatively unfettered access to a large portion of communication records, we're upset?  Why?

If you're not doing anything wrong, what do you care?  Shoot, even if you're carrying on a vigorous affair with the underage babysitter, you don't raise above the level of noise for these guys.  That's not on their radar.

My take: Snowden is a thief.  He was trusted with confidences and betrayed them.  Come back to the US and face the music, you crook.  I wasn't concerned about the NSA before and am still not concerned now, but it galls me that a US citizen would take a job with the National Security Agency, and then betray the trust that agency put in him.  Clearly he never deserved that trust, but there's never any way to determine in advance what some people will do.  That's how we wind up with things like airliners flying into buildings and prison guards forcing the prisoners to do humiliating things.  There's plenty of shame to go around, and Snowden just earned his.

Not a hero.

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