In the final analysis, when you really boil this issue down to its essence, what we as citizens are facing is a situation wherein a corporate-government alliance has set up a total information awareness surveillance police state.
That is its main purpose: to protect the interests of a now-rapidly entrenching corporate state, and it does that by suppressing opposition to its hegemonic control. National security, including anti-terrorism surveillance activities are secondary purposes.
As such, all illegal and unconstitutional activities being conducted by the NSA and Homeland Security need to stop at once. That includes all warrantless data collection on American citizens. Also, all information about each citizen that has already been collected in massive databases needs to be destroyed/erased. This process needs to be monitored by highly qualified experts.
All information being collected by private companies/corporations shall only be used specifically as it related to business-customer transactions, marketing, sales, customer support, and must never be shared with any government agency, unless there is probable cause of a crime and a proper warrant has been obtained.
All technology used to gain unfettered access to computer networks, and online services (Facebook, Yahoo, Gmail) must be fully exposed, and if need be, the entire internet infrastructure should be revamped in order not to allow any government anywhere to have these types of capabilities.
I'm not naive... I'm fully cognizant that many may see these prescriptions as totally unrealistic, or in fact, impossible. But I argue that if that is the case, if we have been conditioned to accept the inevitability of a fully entrenched corporate-government total information awareness surveillance state, then by definition we no longer live in a free and democratic society. We would have accepted the proposition that we now live in a totalitarian surveillance state.
In an article titled "Freedom Cannot Exist Alongside a Massive Surveillance Industrial Complex: They Are Incompatible," published by truthout, Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, argues that once a massive spying apparatus purportedly designed for national security is in place, that it could easily be "used for domestic and political and economic agendas in the name of combating terrorism."
This book ["Spying on Democracy"] documents the way relentless surveillance makes people in the United States less free. As government agencies shift from investigating criminal activity to preempting it, they have forged close relationships with corporations honing surveillance and intelligence-gathering techniques for use against Americans. By claiming that anyone who questions authority or engages in undesired political speech is a potential terrorist threat, this government-corporate partnership makes a mockery of civil liberties. The examples in these pages show how a free press, our legal system, activists, and other pillars of a democratic society—and even children—suffer as a consequence. As the assault by an alignment of consumer marketing and militarized policing grows, each single act of individual expression or resistance assumes greater importance. As individuals and communities, we need to dismantle this system if we are to restore and protect our civil liberties.The emphasis is mine
She further argues that the citizenry has been conditioned to accept the government's argument "that mass surveillance makes us safer."
This convergence of government and business intelligence operations has created all the elements of an Orwellian mass surveillance network: a trusting and fearful public, a shift to preemptive policing justified by opportunistic citing of a nebulous enemy threat, domestic use of military equipment, and communications devices that provide direct portals into private transactions. Each component element is formidable. Together, they are a nightmare for democracy.The emphasis is mine
Once the citizens accept the corporate-government arguments about the need to maintain a total information awareness surveillance system, then a proposition that may have seen outrageous in the past, become normalized:
Normalization is the process by which we accept and take for granted ideas and actions that previously may have been considered shocking or taboo. Michel Foucault wrote that modern control over society may be accomplished by watching its members, and maintaining routine information about them. Foucault emphasized that Jeremy Bentham’s eighteenth-century panopticon, a continuous surveillance model for prisoners who could not tell if they were being watched, exemplified an institution capable of producing what he called “docile bodies.”The emphasis is mine
The fundamental problem with this situation is the confluence of interests between government and corporations, whereas protecting the profit-seeking interests of the corporation(s) is one of the key objectives.
Constant surveillance influences how we live, connect, and learn. It impacts how we exercise freedom and contribute to democracy. As the state and big businesses increasingly monitor our lives, challenges to their authority are increasingly portrayed as a gateway activity to more ominous and intolerable threats. Political resistance, whistle-blowing, investigative journalism, and social and environmental advocacy of all kinds, by their very nature, question and challenge authority. They can now attract resources and responses associated with counterterrorism operations, as seen with the coordinated national repression of the nonviolent Occupy movement. An increasingly militaristic national climate, and the symbiotic corporate culture that profits enormously from it, are now virtually uncontested fixtures in the American experience.The emphasis is mine
The bottom line for me is that I believe that the actors behind this massive surveillance police state are not benevolent; that they are in fact malevolent, and as such represent one of the gravest threats to freedom and democracy we've ever face as a nation.
One thing that concerns me is that as I read multiple articles, and opinion pieces about the massive, illegal, and unconstitutional actions of the NSA, I don't see anybody mentioning the proverbial "elephant in the room": "As individuals, as communities, and as a society, we must dismantle the surveillance system if we are to protect and advance the basic conditions required to live our lives in real freedom," as pointed out by Ms. Boghosian.
Unfortunately, this necessary dismantling of the surveillance state is not going to happened voluntarily, and is not going to initiate with our members of Congress, many of whom may actually be compromised given the massive amount of information these security agencies have at their disposal (information that could be used against people in government).
It will have to come from us, the people. We will have to demand it, and do so urgently. Otherwise we will have to accept being "docile bodies" living in an increasingly oppressive totalitarian system.
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