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View Diary: Glenn Greenwald killed the internet (103 comments)

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  •  Living in the USSR also taught me: (6+ / 0-)

    While it is unlikely you are being monitored, you cannot safely assume you are not being monitored. (This is why Snowden's revelation of the enormous scale of NSA surveillance is so alarming. It does not matter that the NSA is not currently examining the substance of your communications. It could choose to do so in the future, and it would have a complete archive of your communications it could start poring over. This has a very chilling effect on free expression-- to the extant that it could be argued that once it becomes know the State can listen in, one no longer can maintain social trust or democracy).

    You may not have done anything suspicious. But you cannot know whether those with whom you've corresponded have done anything suspicious. You cannot foresee under what circumstances you could be labelled as an accomplice.

    What you have said and done may not matter to authorities today (e.g., you associated with Trotskyites in 1919). But it could develop fatal consequences farther down the road (you are accused in 1929 of associating with Trotskyites as far back as 1919). Therefore the record of what you have said and done CAN be a serious matter someday. So it is safer to have no record of having said or done ANYTHING. Remember, the nail that sticks out is going to be the nail that gets hammered down.

    Of course we will lose our democracy if people no longer feel safe to to say or do anything. But the surveillance regime doesn't need to listen in on everyone to destroy democracy; it knows it can destroy democracy simply by giving us all reason to censor ourselves. That's our conundrum.

    Today we feel free to shoot off our mouths on every issue (myself certainly included) and we don't worry that our on-line pseudonyms give us no real protection. But someday we may have reason to regret it very much. It all depends on whether we can defend our democracy and check the creeping Total Information Awareness regime.

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