Snowden’s revelations have been floating around for a while now. I’ve been thinking about them sporadically and trying to decide how I feel about all of this. Especially in light of the fact that At Wit’s End, the book I’m currently writing, deals with the issue of internet security and privacy and the lack thereof.
I have read many books, watched many movies and television shows, that have characters in them able to go into databases and find out every nugget of information about a person. Tax rolls, employment, real estate; these appear to be child’s play. And generally we are cheering these characters on because they are the good guys. Criminal Minds, NCIS, etc, come to mind right off the bat.
“But these are fiction,” you tell me. Are they?
When I buy new software, I register it. There are Terms Of Service I must accept. This puts me into a searchable database.
When I join a new site on the internet, I create a personalized user name, the very least information on most sites, and sign off on their Terms of Service. This puts me into a searchable database.
Modern life dictates when we need information we can’t go down to City Hall and stand in line for it. Being put on hold for fifteen minutes while a clerk looks for a file is going to make us late for coffee at Starbucks. Our local governments have digitized our property information. Searchable database.
These are just a small percentage of the ways we can be investigated.
There’s already a risk of someone with moderate skills being able to steal our online information. It happens every day. We know this. We still agree to this potential by going online and merrily using our credit cards and online accounts.
If we’re willing to accept the possibility of strangers viewing our information for Evil, why not give the side of Good the same opportunity? The information is out there, someone has to use it.
What I do on the internet is likely to be the most boring stuff in the world as far as the government is concerned (though I hope you all find it entertaining). Same thing with my phone and text messages. When I use my phone in public, either talk or text, I assume no privacy as anyone can look over my shoulder or listen to my voice.
And perhaps I’m in a small minority. I don’t know. The opinions I’ve read and heard are all over the map. Still unsure of where I stand or how I feel officially, I throw up my hands, shrug my shoulders and go right ahead and put something else onto a searchable database by publishing this post.