As the larger part of American culture seems ready to surrender its claim to privacy without question, organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation are riding like Paul Revere through the digital Massachusetts night.
Technical advancements and plunging costs for digital storage mean that government surveillance programs no longer have to be selective about the data they store. And with the average person leaving a trail of Web browsing, emails, text messages and more, there’s plenty of information that can be filed away on individuals.
The U.S. Congress—one of the branches intended by America’s founders to balance the president’s power—is showing just as much and in some cases more interest in preserving a growing culture of secrecy as its executive counterpart, says Steven Aftergood, secrecy researcher at the Federation of American Scientists.
By Peter Maass and Megha Rajagopalan, ProPublica —
A handful of media stories, blog posts and academic studies have been skeptical about such attention-getting figures. But that has not stopped an array of government officials and politicians from continuing to cite them as authoritative. Now, ProPublica has found new grounds to question the data and methods used to generate them.
When my daughter was little and I read to her regularly, one illustrated book was a favorite of ours. In a series of scenes, a frustrated young girl booms out: “that makes me mad!” For our present national security moment, however, I might amend the book’s punch line slightly.
This week in surveillance: The New York Times revealed that the NSA has been spying on the e-mails of millions of Americans, including ex-President Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, China has backed down from installing mandatory security software, while Iran tries to clamp down on communications, and Britain plans to track every phone call, e-mail and text message in Britain. Yikes!