Increased online surveillance carries threat of no expectation of privacy
’O’Brien’ moves closer to our daily lives
Merdies Hayes Editor In Chief | 9/7/2018, midnight
Because information can be hacked or used, this may demonstrate that surveillance can be untrustworthy and although you may not be a criminal, your private information may be exploited for nefarious purposes ranging from anything from cyber hacking of our most trusted financial or business institutions, down to identifying petty theft among the individual citizenry.
‘It’s Orwellian...it’s spying!’
Shouts from civil libertarians say “It’s Orwellian, this Internet spying!” Those charged with protecting our security each day may ask: “What about terrorists and pedophiles?” While the opposition camp is not composed of people who admire terrorists or pedophiles, those that argue that since governments have a history of misusing power and because that oversight and scrutiny never really does a decent job of limiting possible overreach, they may point to the fact that surveillance only increases and that once government obtains a powerful capability, they rarely discontinue it. Further, many people suspect that if the government forces companies to collect more data on the individual, it will invariably interest hackers and others of ill intent.
While law enforcement doesn’t want to read innocent e-mails, they would prefer doing the job people are asking of them, particularly in the days of terrorist attacks at home and abroad. Privacy groups, of course, don’t want to assist terrorists and they know that eternal vigilance is necessary to keep us safe but they are increasingly concerned that the proliferation intrusive spying may place all of our private lives in the cross-hairs of a surveillance state.
The National Security Agency (NSA) has been accused of subverting the Internet at every level to make it a vast, multi-layered surveillance platform, effectively undermining the basic social contract of free and unfettered communication between private citizens. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has gone as far to suggest the agency is deliberately orchestrating a campaign of unlawful encryption that is “making the Internet less secure” and exposing Web users to “criminal hacking, foreign espionage and unlawful surveillance.”
ACLU vs. NSA
While the ACLU’s claims against the NSA suggests that the Internet should be immune from any form of government surveillance, their legal argument is similar to what was once said about the telephone many years ago, especially when organized crime started using it to conduct its “business.” Much like the terrorist threats of today, the ACLU contends that this provision allowed by the Justice Department to deny the average citizen a portion of their reasonable expectation of privacy to be able to track the Mafia with wiretaps.
In most parts of the world—democratic or not—the communications infrastructure is mostly government owned or operated, similar to how the U.S. Postal Service operates. Also, in most of the developed world, there is “content surveillance” and monitoring of Internet traffic by one or more government intelligence or law enforcement agencies usually done with no threshold showing or any requirement for probable cause or reasonable belief to look at the substance of the communication. A prime example of this scenario would be to check into any European hotel where you must present your passport (or for locals a required identity card such as a driver’s license) and your personal data is immediately sent to the national police or internal security service for whatever inquiries they have have about you. The most extreme extreme examples of government online surveillance may take place in China where all Internet activity is constantly monitored because all dissent is considered a threat to the regime in power.