Tuesday, August 27, 2013

So tell me about the Surveillance State

You don't have anything to worry about if you don't have anything to hide.  Right?

Wrong.  Windy Wilson leaves a very on-point comment to (ahem) a very on-point post here:
Katerina Witt, the East German Olympic Gold Medalist figure skater had two perceptive things to say about the NSA spying in an article in August 17th New York Daily News.

1. Young people today give up a lot of privacy voluntarily with facebook and other programs.

2. She saw her Stasi file, and disagrees with the argument the argument that "'state surveillance shouldn't alarm law-abiding people,' she says 'people are naïve if they don't think storage of their email, telephone and other electronic records doesn't make them vulnerable.'

"You start to worry when it goes into the wrong hands and is used for the wrong reasons," she says, pointing out that some of the intelligence reports about her were totally inaccurate.
The Surveillance State empowers the gosips.  The Surveillance State empowers the busybodies. The Surveillance State empowers the petty who have a grudge.  Just look at the "if you support limited government, you're a Domestic Terrorist" nonsense that we hear.  That's not a one-off, it seems to be the New Normal.

So what this does, in effect, is to empower any Leftie to subject any non-Leftie to his will.  Ooooh kaaaay.  Anyone who says this is crazy talk, please explain Katerina Witt's comments to me.  And please, no "that was the Stasi" excuses.  We have our own Stasi:
Last weekend the words “United Stasi of America” were projected onto the side of the US embassy in Berlin alongside the face of Kim Dotcom. Police are now investigating whether a crime has been committed.
What's the over/under that they're investigating the real crime?


R.K. Brumbelow said...

Everyone should read Three Felonies a Day by Harvey A Silvergate, Watch Dont Talk to Police and then realize that if the TLAs can read the information, little stops them from modifying the information. With little physical record keeping, creating false documents is trivial, if someone wanted to prove you were the legitimate child of Hitler and Stalin, creating a birth certificate and your parents wedding certificate is a few keystrokes away. How would you prove them false? At least we still have Jury Nullification, if you can afford to go to trial.

lelnet said...

Honestly, if anyone pulls that "...if you have nothing to hide" line on me, I'm pulling out a variant of my caliber-wars response ("Oh, you think my gun is too wimpy? Are you volunteering to stand downrange while I shoot you with it? Hmm...thought not.")

But in this case, it'd be more like "so...you won't mind if I rifle through your wallet and copy down a few 16-digit numbers off some of the bits of plastic you've got in there, right?".

A person who genuinely has _nothing_ to hide does not, in my opinion, qualify as an adult.

I, for one, have _hundreds_ of things to hide. Exposing some of them improperly would cost me money I can't afford (see ref: those handy little 16-digit numbers embossed on plastic...or the pair of 9-digit numbers printed in special ink on the bottom of checks...). Some of them wouldn't harm me directly, but negligently failing to protect them would put me in breach of duties of care, and get me fired and/or sued.

With some of the things I've been responsible for hiding in the past, an unauthorized person with sufficient domain knowledge and a bit of creativity could have:

1. Disabled or crippled a meaningful fraction of the internet traffic in and through the United States

2. Undermined public confidence in one or more major international currencies, likely triggering a global depression

3. Introduced (and prevented the discovery of) covert manufacturing flaws into supplies being sent to American soldiers fighting overseas, likely leading to deaths from otherwise-preventable accidents

These are, I admit, fairly extreme examples...but the fact remains that all of us "have something to hide". We have _lots_ of things to hide. It's part of being a trusted member of modern society.

How about this: "Just because you're hiding things, doesn't make you a terrorist".