Exploration Insights is a web-based subscription service that serves an international family of investors and speculators (approximately 40% US and 40% Canadian, with the remainder based in ~20 countries scattered across the globe). In addition to communications with our clientele, my research necessitates that I routinely email, Skype, and phone Canada, Serbia, Turkey, Indonesia, Australia, Philippines, Argentina, Colombia, West Africa, Nicaragua, etc. My work requires that I travel extensively outside the US; I have visited about 70 countries during my career, many undoubtedly on the “unfriendly” list. I also regularly visit sites like this for political insights and use these guys as one of my primary news sources.
Am I on a National Security Agency (NSA) list somewhere? Probably. Does the NSA care about me? Probably not. Should you and I care? Hell yes!
Why the concern if it’s for the greater good?
Besides the Big Brother/Thought Police implications and almost limitless reach the gathering of these bits and bytes offers data collectors wishing to target political and/or policy opponents, there is also the very real potential for those with access to exploit the data for financial gain or personal vendetta. The list of suspects gets bigger, eh!
The NSA data mining includes cell phone communications, web browsing, site content, email, banking, online accounting, investments, and social media. The data is provided directly by PRISM and through Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Paltalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL, Apple (Dropbox is next), etc., as well as via direct collection of communication data through the backbone of the internet: UpStream. In addition to the NSA, the FBI, the CIA, and its contractors having access to all of your digital video, audio, photo, and keyboard data, most, if not all, Certificate Authorities and SSL-based trusted communications should be considered wide open and therefore compromised as well. An SSL certificate is a type of digital certificate that provides authentication for websites and enables encrypted connections. If you work for a small business and have ever wondered ‘do you need ssl certificate?’ click the link to find out more. We cannot hide; our every move and action can be tracked via a cell phone, credit card and, increasingly, street cams; and coming to a location near you, drones.
The truly intimidating part is that this knowledge is power, and is therefore extremely valuable to those in power or seeking power. Think about it: unlimited access to insider business information, grassroots or religious organizations’ activities, anti-government protestors, left, right, or middle-leaning groups, bank accounts, political foes or allies, our friends and enemies. Those who possess the data, or the ability to buy it, have a nearly limitless capacity to direct public policy via blackmail and coercion.
It’s pathetically ironic that, as those in power know more and more about our daily lives we know less and less about what they know. These top secret organizations are outside public scrutiny. The doublespeak programs, the Protect America Act and the Patriot Act legally bind our elected officials to remain silent once briefed of these activities. Yet around 70% of this dirty work, the electronic collation of everything you do, has been outsourced to private corporations that, no doubt, have strong political ties and lobbyists vying for a massive budget the details of which, now get this, are classified. There are currently somewhere in the order of four million highly privileged people with top security clearance, many without the integrity of Edward Snowden, who apparently have nearly unlimited access to all of our personal data, regardless of where we reside. There is no oversight– that is how it was designed.
The underlying motive for essentially everything the founders of the USA put in the constitution was to protect citizens from their government and its pursuit of power. This is the foundation and beauty of the US democratic system, a binding principle that has been an inspiration to the rest of the world and attracted millions of immigrants.
Who owns your information: you, or the state? The Fourth Amendment seems pretty clear:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
If the citizens of the USA continue to roll over and piddle themselves between episodes ofDancing with the Stars, relinquishing their rights at any real or contrived threat, who actually wins the philosophical war, Osama bin Laden or US?
If the populace continues to allow the NSA and their ilk unfettered access to everything they do, you can kiss what’s left of our Fourth Amendment and constitution goodbye and say hello to this: