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Op/Ed: Privacy And Your Red Line

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posted on Jun, 25 2006 @ 04:40 PM
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We get spied on on a daily basis, it has become a normal facet of our daily experience. Our image is recorded atleast a few times a day simply by going shopping. Since the World has adopted anti-terror legislation the state has granted itself wide ranging powers to spy on their bosses, us. This forced me to ask myself a question, what is my red line? What do I consider to be an unacceptable breach of privacy?
 


If you were to some how quantify privacy and graph it alongside technological advancements you would see it fall off exponentially as the other sky rocketed.

It seems that with every technological advancement there comes along another method of spying on each other. This is no accident, most of the technology we use was forged by goverment development. Governments are the single biggest pryers into our privacy, so the technology reflects that original objective.

Prior to 9/11, and the rash of anti-terror legislation, we accepted government surveilance as a crime fighting tool. But with one major difference. The authourity to surveil was always sought from a judge and he would demand just cause to do so. After 9/11 that oversight was deemed an impediment to prosecuting the so called War on Terror, and with the swish of a pen it was done away with.

Depending on what country you live in the progression of your government down the road to a police state varies. Britain leads the charge with surveilance. They have the most surveilance cameras of any nation on Earth and they are pointed at the general public. The terror laws there allow the government to imprison suspected terrorists in their own home, indefinately, without ever consulting with a court of law.

The United States government's surveilance programs have recently been exposed and they include seeking the phone records of every single phone call made within the United States. It also includes a system of searches through the private financial transactions of every person in the World.

Some people have no issue with this. They accept the breach of privacy because of the sense of security we are told it affords us. But what price are we willing to pay for our personal security? Would you give up all of your civil liberties if your government said it was the only way to keep you safe?

To me, personally, I do not fear terrorists. Deaths from terrorists pale into insignifance when compared to even bee stings, yet we dont sacrifice our traditional freedoms to protect us from those do we? Cars kill hundreds of thousands of people per year, as do cigarettes but our response isnt to throw down our civil liberties and ban those activities is it? Even though the death tolls are severe we accept it as a risk and get on with our lives.

Why is terrorism perceived as such a danger that most of us cower in fear and readily give up our freedoms to make it go away? Who keeps instiling this fear into our collective conscience? Have a think, who drags up the spectre of terrorism at the drop of a hat? Why its our very own politicians thats who!

So, gang, how far will you allow these politicians to go to "protect us"? Let them dictate curfews? Let them RFID tag us? Let them check papers at internal check points? Let them institute martial law? Let them implement military tribunals to try terror suspects instead of civil courts? Let them intern muslims to pre-empt a terror attack?

We have to assess what we have permitted our governments to get away with. These guys work for us, we pay their salaries and they are beholden to us. Not the other way around. My red line was passed when governments abandoned trying to hide what they were getting up to. Brazen displays of wholesale surveilance, and governments actually having the gaul to defend this activity is unacceptable to me.

How far will you let them go before you object? What is your red line? Have you even thought about it? Jail cells are pretty darn safe, after you...

Related AboveTopSecret.com Discussion Threads:
US Government Has Access To Financial Data Of Anyone On The Globe
NSA is keeping logs of phones calls in the US




posted on Jun, 25 2006 @ 09:32 PM
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I haven't quite hit my limit yet but I'm damn close. I prefer a little zest & risk in my life, keeps me on my toes. I hear people complain about the U.S. becoming a dictatorship, but I think we are more in danger of it becomming a Nanny state. People need to make mistakes to learn and the government simply cannot try to do everyones thinking for them.



posted on Jun, 25 2006 @ 09:34 PM
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As far as I'm concerned, the line was crossed long before I was even aware of the existence of the line!

My government (US) has, in my opinion, gone far beyond what I deem prudent and acceptable for the assurance of my safety.

My line has been drawn. It has been undeniably crossed; and I am taking steps to Resist, and Reclaim my right to To Be Left Alone!



posted on Jun, 26 2006 @ 02:53 AM
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I think the line was crossed in three stages. First and foremost, the proverbial line was crossed when our career politicians and civil servants decidedthat they didn't have to be answerable to the rest of us anymore. Secondly, the line was crossed when our career politicians developed a taste for increased authority. Thirdly, and most daming, the line was crossed during this Presidency when the Executive decided that it no longer needed warrants to conduct domestic surveillance. Privacy, as we know it, is dead. It died "officially" when they created the Department of Homeland Security.

The thing I sugruggle with how is, "what to do about it?" I've decided to write about it. I wrap my arguments in Fiction, but I do make my case for government oversight, and a return to something resembling 'values.' We all knowthat a certain amount of this stuff has to be done. We should not tolerate the arrogance of our leaders when they say it has to be done without oversight or legal accountability. They are not such good men and women that they will avoidthe temptation to use this power against us.



posted on Jun, 26 2006 @ 03:55 AM
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Justin
I've got a one question for you, little off topic, but i don't seem to get any americans answering this:
Why is it ok for US government to spy on Me, but not You? Is my privacy worth less, because i don't live in the USA? And would it be ok to our country to do spy on You?

Ps. Justin, this is not a personal attack, i like your writing and respect you. All other US Citizen can enlighten me too

[edit on 26-6-2006 by northwolf]



posted on Jun, 26 2006 @ 04:39 AM
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As someone who has worked for many years in the Private Security sector, I can tell you that all the surveillance equipment does little to reduce risk. The vast majority of times it is used for investigation and evidential means after the event has taken place.

For example, speed cameras do not stop people speeding. They record the unwary who pass by over a preset limit but they do not prevent the act.

I personally object to having my details stored and sold by data mining companies to marketing firms so that they can establish my shopping habits, lifestyle etc. Who the hell gave them permission to do this? As if that was not bad enough, we then have all the government agencies prying into our lives, wanting to know every last little detail.
These people are elected (?) to provide stewardship over the country's affairs, not to pry into our lives and nanny us.
I have always had a deep mistrust of anyone who would make a career out of lording it over the rest of us. When members of government become accountable to us, maybe I'll change my views. Until then they are not to be trusted and I certainly have no faith in their ability to protect me from harm. I'm savvy enough to do that for myself.



posted on Jun, 26 2006 @ 04:47 AM
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Originally posted by northwolf

Why is it ok for US government to spy on Me, but not You? Is my privacy worth less, because i don't live in the USA? And would it be ok to our country to do spy on You?



As a trained political scientist and historian (click on my profile), I take no offense at the question. the fact of the matter isthat all governments spy. they've been doing it since the first government was formed. Your government spies on my government, and between them, they keep each other kinda-sorta honest.

In today's world, its very easy for any government to spy on any other government. Eavesdropping on uncoded telecommunications is virtually considered "normal." The trouble begins when a government...any government, begins to cross certain lines of traditionally accepted decency or accepted good behavior.

Things begin to go wrong when one government says publicly to another, "we are not spying on you. This makes the citizens of the offended nation ask, "are you spying on us?" Doesn't matter what the answer is, nobody likes it and relations get worse from there.

I have, on my desk right now, a multi-freqency AM/FM radio scanner. This item is illegal in certain countires. The technology in this item isn't that much different from the gear being used by a foriegn power to listen to the next cell phone call I make. Espionage is not moral, but it is fundamentally regarded as necessary to the security of the nation you live in.

It's not out of line to say that your government knows more about ME than you do. If...for example, they've decided that they don't like what I publish, they might decidethat its necessary to keep tabs on me so that YOU will be safe. that may sound paranoid as heck, but it is the way career politicians and civil serants things when they are tasked with the defense of your country...or mine.



posted on Jun, 26 2006 @ 05:46 AM
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It's quite a sad situation in the uk. Most people no longer even notice that there been watched by cameras and show disinterest when you point out to them the camera locations. Many of the cameras are remote controlled and follow me when I go past them. I'm not doing anything wrong.. this worrys me and I usualy give the camera operator a nice look at my middle finger. In cities like Lincoln there are virtualy no blind spots in the CBD. Most shops have cameras and most street corners have a bank of hi-res remote controlled cameras with infer red capabilites and microphones and speakers. I have seen other people told off for mearly messing around (running around, been loud etc.) by the camera operator.



posted on Jun, 26 2006 @ 10:06 AM
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Great responses so far, exactly the kind of discussion I hoped for


Justin, the question posed to you was why do American's seem to object to their personal privacy being breached but narry raise an eyebrow when their government breaches the privacy of Brits, Australians, Iraqis, any one else?

Governments spying on other governments is a different issue. The issue of the US government spying on the citizens of other nations is crossing many peoples red lines.



posted on Jun, 26 2006 @ 10:11 AM
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A great question Subz


I try to take every possible avenue to avoid having my privacy violated(No GPS, no Cellphone, etc...) But unfortunately there is no escaping it. I have a bank account(which the govt can look at anytime it sees fit) All our transactions are tracked(most of the time I try to pay in cash)

So where is that Red line? What is the breaking point?

For me the breaking point will be when they show up either at my door or remotely try to manipulate my computer. Those are definately two things that would cross my line. Trying to implant me with a R.F.I.D. chip is also an instant line crosser.

Its bad enough that companies buy and sell our information without our actual consent; but they dont even compensate us for it. Personally I feel that we should get a percentage of everysingle transaction that takes place in our name from this kind of marketing. Since if it were not for us doing what we do and buying what we buy.. these companies wouldnt make a cent off of us. There has got to be something in Intellectual property rights that we should be able to use to enforce this. Just imagine getting a check eveymonth for a couple hundred bucks from all the buying and trading of OUR personal information. Hell if they are going to rape our rights we might aswell get paid for it.



posted on Jun, 26 2006 @ 04:24 PM
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Originally posted by subz
Justin, the question posed to you was why do American's seem to object to their personal privacy being breached but narry raise an eyebrow when their government breaches the privacy of Brits, Australians, Iraqis, any one else?


The citizens of ANY country think its okay for THEIR government to spy on anyone else. Period. that's just human nature. When it's YOUR government that is doing the spying, it's not quite so bad.

Americans are no different inthat respect. The real question you may be trying to ask is, "why are Americans so arrogant about the right-ness of their own government's spying?"

Answer: You can chalk that up to the U.S. media that pushes so hard to make the population farful of real and imaginary threats. The average American really does feel like they are at war. to that extent, they feel morally justified in seeing their government spy.

How's that?



posted on Jun, 26 2006 @ 04:33 PM
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Originally posted by Justin Oldham
The citizens of ANY country think its okay for THEIR government to spy on anyone else. Period. that's just human nature. When it's YOUR government that is doing the spying, it's not quite so bad.

Americans are no different inthat respect. The real question you may be trying to ask is, "why are Americans so arrogant about the right-ness of their own government's spying?"

Answer: You can chalk that up to the U.S. media that pushes so hard to make the population farful of real and imaginary threats. The average American really does feel like they are at war. to that extent, they feel morally justified in seeing their government spy.

How's that?

Thanks for the reply. I cant speak for any one else but I wouldnt find it acceptable if my government was spying on Americans. If they thought an American citizen should be investigated they would contact the United States government and let them know whats what. However, if that American citizen was within Australia it would be slightly different. Then they could be surveiled, and the American government informed as a courtesy.



posted on Jun, 26 2006 @ 05:40 PM
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Thanks for the reply. I cant speak for any one else but I wouldnt find it acceptable if my government was spying on Americans. If they thought an American citizen should be investigated they would contact the United States government and let them know whats what. However, if that American citizen was within Australia it would be slightly different. Then they could be surveiled, and the American government informed as a courtesy.


As a political scientist, I can appreciate your point. Trouble is, you can't just assume that your neighbors and allies have pure motives.

Consider this idealistic scenario:

Your government has reason to believe that somebody from a known terror group is in the U.S. Trouble is, the Americans swear that he's just not in the country. What do you do? YOUR evidence says that he's there, and getting ready to come to Australia. The yanks can't find him, so they can't help you. Do you act on what you know, or, do you sit back and wait? If you did NOT spy in the first place, you wouldn't have this leeway. That terroist bad guy wouldn't snuck up on you. As much as you trust your neighbors and allies, you've got to plan for the days when they miss things that you don't.

The good spies don't get caught. Your 'real' allies share as much of what they know as they can, without compromising their own situation. They spy on you and you spy on them for mutual benefit. That's how it's "supposed" to work in a more perfect world.



posted on Jun, 27 2006 @ 12:19 AM
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I read on some website... i think msnbc or something, that the next generation satelite imagery will be a system of shots updated every hour. The system will be free. Now, image what you will get if you pay ten bucks per month.

Sorry, i do not have a reference.

[edit on 6.27.06 by ProveIt]



posted on Jun, 27 2006 @ 12:24 AM
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I can understand why people in a first world country are concerned about maintaining freedoms that they have and they are certainly worth fighting for. But some of the same people also become dead silent when the topic of Cuba or China or Russia is mentioned regarding freedom.

I also find it interesting that people that will favour immigration become concerned when people introduced into a country act in a very anti-social manner and allow for lawmakers to REMOVE freedoms from its citizens. You have to have consistent views or complaints will not lead to improvements.



posted on Jun, 27 2006 @ 05:11 AM
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I agree with the others that the line was crossed a long time ago. But there was a painful reminder in the news a couple of weeks ago when the Supreme Court endorsed the "No-Knock" policy of the police. That means that police do not have to announce who they are when they come to the door. They can just simply burst in.

With that simply said, if the Supreme Court rules on cases such as this one and gives more leeway (even despite the "legal tests") to authorities, our rights will be effectively be dwindled away without our knowing.

And unless people care about this, there is possible more that this administration has gotten away with that we don't know.

Now that thought is frightening.



posted on Jun, 27 2006 @ 04:00 PM
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"Stuff" always comes out after an administration leaves office. In this case, we need to be concenred with what the next president will do that builds on what has already happened. THAT has been the focus of my political writings, and I gotta tell ya, it's not lookin' good.



posted on Jun, 28 2006 @ 07:58 AM
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Amen Justin!

No matter what the government indorsed political parties may say, both halves of 'the machine' use the groundwork layed by the other to further the agenda of both: power.

If you stop to think about how much the official attitudes have changed in the US regarding privacy, civil rights and executive powers, then follow through to the logical conclusions of where this is all leading....well, all I can say is I'm scared of what my once beloved country is turning into and I can't figure out any realistic way of stopping it.


To answer the original question:

My line was crossed on the day the Patriot act was passed and again on every day since that the (not our) government admits to another form of spying on us and says 'It's perfectly legal and besides, it's for your own good/to protect you from (insert latest terrorist boogeyman here)'.




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