There is an interesting opinion piece in the Washington Post entitled Five Myths About Privacy. It was written by Daniel Solove, a law professor at George Washington University. The myths that he list are as follows:
1. The collection of phone numbers and other “metadata” isn’t much of a threat to privacy.
2. Surveillance must be secret to protect us.
3. Only people with something to hide should be concerned about their privacy.
4. National security requires major sacrifices in privacy.
5. Americans aren’t especially bothered by government intrusions into their privacy.
He discusses each point and provides what I find to be convincing arguments as to why each of these positions doesn't hold up to close scrutiny. All of these points have played a major role in the spin coming out of the National Security establishment to justify the activities of the NSA and the cloak of secrecy surrounding them. It is all laced with the fear of terrorism and the serious imminent threat of harm.
In another piece of news today we get a suggestion that perhaps the national security agenda includes a lot more than just the threat of terrorism.
Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said.We now have a glimpse of the information that the government is getting from telecommunication and internet providers. They of course are trying to claim that they were forced into cooperation by the star chamber proceedings of the FISA court. We don't at this point know much of anything about the type of information that private companies are receiving in return for their cooperation. It seems like a plausible speculation that it involves material germane to their economic interests.
Most of us are aware that technology and globalization have radically transformed almost every aspect of our lives and the institutions of our society. We are now getting a new look under the hood at some of the darker side of what this is about. We have a right and a duty to demand more information about it.