Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Goodbye Patriot Act
Not really, just the bits about recording phone data. So that's all over with, except it isn't. There's all these nice secret Presidential orders that allow pretty much the same thing. Don't worry, it's all being overseen by committees and secret courts . . . and Superman, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny.
We have nothing worry about. Never mind that it all happens in the shadows. What? It's not like we have a functioning democracy, or even a representative republic. Openness and transparency were never the hallmarks of those in power, but things have gotten out of hand. It doesn't matter which party is in office. Being at the controls of a surveillance state is too much power to willingly give up.
It doesn't make us safer, but those in power hope it makes them safer. The problem, however, is that by listening in to our whispers they know we don't like them very much. Of course, a goodly part of the reason we don't like them is that they are a bunch of creepy peeping Toms. Not much trust all around.
In the United States it's easy to see when a new law or government program is going to be bad. They give it a good sounding name. “Patriot Act.” In post 911 America who did not want to be a Patriot? Any law with the word “Freedom” in it is especially bad. That's what they want to take away. It's all so George Orwell 1984 doublespeak.
At least in Belarus they still call the KGB the KGB. I guess that's the difference between a western democracy and the last dictatorship in Europe. Dictators don't have to pretend and so they call something what it really is.
We have the classic philosophical problem of who watches the watchers. Whistle blowers? Yes, they help. How else would we know anything about what goes on? The spies know they have little to worry about from their official overseers. They are all part of the same club and no one is going to do anything to hamper “National Security.”
Now imagine there really is a group of people who could shut everything down, but are hesitant to act. Surveillance is so interwoven into our communication systems that abruptly shutting it down could also shut down the whole system -phones, the Internet, everything. They wield a blunt instrument indeed. As long as the NSA types don't actually do much damage with their information they gather, the watchers remain quiet.
Do these guys even exist? How would I know? I've only heard rumors, just as some folks in the intelligence community have heard rumors. There are some strange things going on in deep dark computer land.
Letting parts of the Patriot Act expire is a good thing. Call it a step in the right direction. The US is wasting an awful lot of treasure and talent spying on normal people to the point where its normal to not trust the government. Time to break the circle. The truth will set us all free.