I understand the need to spy. But on citizens? And now we are so far gone there seems no way back. But aren’t there any possible adantages to govt surveilance of EVERYONE? Surely it can’t just be bad. We are safer aren’ we?

Our answer:

I don’t think anyone would doubt that being a step ahead of an enemy is a good thing. If you could get advance knowledge of the enemy’s plans, you’d be that much safer. And the only way to achieve that is through spying. But what about “potential enemy”?

Now, here there’s a very thin line between likely enemy and an unlikely one. It is this blurry distinction which is at the root of NSA’s (and other agencies’) justification for spying on EVERYONE. And the fact that there also happen to be certain fringe benefits from all this spying (e.g. commercial or industrial secrets, potential ammunition against politicians who don’t tow the line, potential “gotchas” for any citizen, etc) makes this a fantastic tool for anyone in power.

The population, on the other hand, is divided into those who are outraged by this invasion of privacy and undue power grab (the growing minority), and those who ever-so-innocently proclaim that since they do nothing wrong, they have nothing to fear from this Big Brother surveilance.

  1. The infamous “I don’t do anything wrong, so surveilance doesn’t bother me” argument is flawed on ALL fronts. Not only on moral and constitutional grounds – and even on current legal grounds in just about every country in the world – but also on practical grounds. There are upwards of 5,000,000 laws on the books in the US alone (see the “How Many Laws Are There” post on Simplify123) and NOBODY knows them all. YOU are breaking 200+ of those laws each year without knowing about it. Should you run afoul of any of them – even with something as innocent as a parking ticket – if you kick up too much fuss about it, your “file” can be accessed and you CAN be charged on completely unrelated grounds. Sadly, this is no longer a paranoid speculation, but an increasingly pervasive reality!
  2. It’s one thing for someone (e.g. the government) to spy on you, but it’s another thing to ASK them to do that. By allowing them to do this, you are, in fact, INVITING them to do so. By believing that it doesn’t affect you since you have nothing to hide, you’re thus deliberately sending them against your neighbors, but fail to realize that it’s just a matter of time before they get to YOU.
  3. The concept of privacy has NOT gone out the window with the Internet, as some would have you believe. They claim that by posting your profile or pictures on Facebook, for example, you’ve already implicitly agreed to be scrutinized by “everyone”. This argument is so fallacious that it always boggles my mind how people don’t oppose it – if nothing else, on logical grounds. This argument posits that anyone who is in public space “bares it all” to the world by merely being on the street. I may wear pink on the street and thus let everyone know that I like pink, but I’m not telling them what I have underneath. The “there’s no more privacy” argument implies that I MUST tell everyone about the color I wear underneath.

Defining the ENTIRE population as a “potential enemy” is more than illegal and sick. It is, de facto, the essence of a totalitarian state. If unopposed, from this point on, it will only get worse. The fact that the government CAN use the data you freely made available to SPECIFIC people YOU selected, does NOT mean that it should or is allowed to, no matter how trivial. Not without your EXPLICIT authorization in any case. So, are there any PROS in this wanton surveilance? YES. We become aware that WE hold the future to our and our children’s happiness in OUR hands and we must ACT to stop this abuse NOW.

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