Monday, June 23, 2008

there is no pain, you are receding.

Some thoughts and links on privacy sparked by Washington Monthly columnist Kevin Drum's article on the recent FISA bill:
The best bit of the piece:
"For all practical purposes, then, the decision about which U.S. citizens to spy on is being vested in a small group of technicians operating in secret and creating criteria that virtually no one else understands. The new bill requires annual review by Inspectors General of the government's compliance with targeting and minimization procedures, which is better than nothing, but stronger amendments aimed at limiting the targeting of U.S. citizens were specifically rejected."

In general conspiracy theories just put my teeth on edge. As I've told some of you before I have serious issues with the logic of most conspiracy theories. To summarize: many conspiracy theorists draw their conclusions from anomalies in the conventional narrative (they look for holes in the accepted story) but I believe that when drawing conclusions one must base one's logic on the totality of the facts, not just the outliers or unexplained ones.
When deciding how and when to believe new information I think the Buddha nailed it when he said:

"Do not go upon what has been acquired by
repeated hearing ;
nor upon tradition
nor upon rumor ;
nor upon what is in a scripture ;
nor upon surmise;
nor upon an axiom;
nor upon specious reasoning;
nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over;
nor upon another's seeming ability;
nor upon the consideration, "The monk is our teacher."
When you yourselves know:
"These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,"
enter on and abide in them."

All of that being said I think there's a pretty good case to be made by conspiracy theorists who talk about government monitoring. From all the information I have (that withstands above tests) I feel fairly comfortable saying that every electronic communication going through a major commercial or organizational servers is probably monitored and stored. I'm less certain of traffic that goes through smaller networks or servers. Last I checked phone VRPs are not up to monitoring and storing all phone conversations but they're getting there.

The funny thing is: I don't think that this is going to change. Some conspiracy theorists think that if "the truth gets out" people will change their behavior, I think most people don't care. My guess (although things may change) is that privacy will continue to become less a question of "do I care about them?" and more about "do they care about me?" People will no longer wonder; "is the government listening to me?", they will wonder "do they care enough to do something?"

No comments: