You should know that I am not particularly a believer in Big Brother conspiracy theories; not someone who generally worries about the U.S. becoming Hitler’s Germany. Accepting that, you should now remember, if you are old enough, what it was like to live in a country whose citizens were truly free and could feel secure in the knowledge that their country’s laws were created (and enforced) to protect their privacy from the prying eyes of their own government.
When we use our phones to share personal, intimate information with a close friend or family member, we certainly don’t expect to have to think about who might be listening. But our world, our country, has changed. Just the fact that any of a vast number of government employees sitting at their desks, could be listening in to every word you share, in confidence, with someone you trust, is unnerving at the very least.
Our government, whose job it is to keep us safe from prying eyes (and ears), has eroded the trust I personally had in our right to privacy! Now, everything we write in emails is also subject to the government’s, or at least its employee’s, prying eyes. Those who are trained to be able to carry out this spying on private citizens are paid extremely well. Apparently our government believes that enough money will keep mouths shut.
Have you ever gone to a website, out of curiosity, that you would never normally visit? Thinking, of course, that no one will ever know? – Only now someone can. Not just the marketers who want to sell you stuff, but our own government. Though, as I said, I am not a conspiracy theorist, at this point I do hold, in the back of my mind, the frightening knowledge that ignoring what is happening (perhaps because this IS the U.S., and, if we haven’t done anything wrong, we believe we don’t need to worry) is exactly what allows a government (or maybe some government of our future) to use seemingly benign means to gain control of its citizens.
Last week a journalist overheard government (yes, U.S. government) intelligence officers stating that the whistleblower who risked everything to expose this information to the American people AND the journalist with whom he spoke should be “disappeared.” Now there is a frightening statement. I have to wonder if there is risk in the average citizen sharing opinions against this practice, on say, Facebook for instance, in an email, or on a website (like this one). Ignoring this violation says to our children that this is normal, business as usual.
I have personally experienced someone listening to my phone calls. When you discover that your privacy has been so violated, the feeling in the pit of your stomach is indescribably awful. I have personally witnessed a phone company employee tapping into his ex-wife’s phone, listening to her private conversations, in hopes of hearing something he could use against her in their divorce hearing.
This tapping-in by phone company employees occurs more frequently than one would believe. The company refers to it as “monitoring” and it is, of course, against the rules. But it is just too easy and tempting to many average people to use the ability that has been granted to them.
We probably don’t need to worry about becoming the next Russia, or China, or North Korea, but, at the very least, giving the knowledge and ability to violate our private lives to the average person, regardless of admonishments against it, creates the possibility that someone could use that knowledge & ability for harm.
And, at the very worst, our own government, given this collection of private information, can to listen in to anything and everything average citizens have to say. Will this lead to repercussions against those who criticize? Even the government of the United States of America is not infallible. It is made up of average people, many of whom also happen to be rich and powerful.
Billions (perhaps trillions) of our dollars have been spent, without our knowledge or approval, to build this spying system and the gigantic complex which houses it. And yet, how many of us are suffering because of the downsizing of our “overextended” government? Our heroic whistleblower has said that his biggest fear is that (now that he has exposed this violation of our right to privacy)…………..nothing will change.