Snowden, Gboogeymen, and the NSA, What Now?

Tags: NSA, Edward Snowden, Surveillance, PRISM, Pinwheel, George Bush, 9/11, Matt Simon

Matt Simon by Matt Simon

As Edward Snowden jukes around South America looking for long-term safe haven, the US is metabolizing the NSA revelations he left in his wake. Conspiracy theorists on the left and right have converged against the goverment’s massive and shadowy data collection system that has everyday americans caught in the netting of anti-terrorism efforts.

So now we know that it’s all true Your iPad can be serruptiously taken over. Your laptop mirrored without your knowledge. Every phone call, email, text and note run through your phone recorded. It’s time to start getting comfy with words like Nucleon that stores your voice, Pinwale that stores videos like this one, Mainway for call records and Marina for internet records. 

Many assert shock at these revelations. 

But the only real shock is that anyone with an ounce of common sense and a rudimentary grasp of recent history should be shocked. Where did you think we would be today,  if over ten years ago President W. Bush and company were caught illegally kanoodling with most of our country’s telecoms?

So now,  it’s all out in the open and it’s happening with the explicit and willing participation of tech giants like Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple.

Numerous law enforcement officials who have nothing to gain from their position, assert they feel this kind of blanket surveillance is not only necessary but welcomed. That the population only hears of a small percentage thwarted terrorist attempts this mined data helped prevent. 

Others who stand differently in the realm of civil liberties want mass resignations or to cut off the flow of information. The progressive revelation that is the  international spying cooperative sanctioned by governments isn’t close to being resolved. 

So to me, the big question is...

What Now? 

Unlike in Egypt, there’s no military-backed timetable for Obama’s resignation. No mass marches commencing, or even planned, on Washington demanding our privacy back. I’ve not heard of any mass defections from Facebook, or Google, in response to their complicity in these campaigns. 

I’ve not witnessed one soul chuck their Galaxy 4 into the river and the internet’s still atwitter, with just the rumor of an Apple iWatch. Which, given the recent revelations, is a pretty ironic name, don’t you think?

To be clear, I’m not fomenting insurrection, but rather, wondering why things are so quiet.  Pandora’s box has been opened and people are still going to work What does that mean? I don’t know. Are we too lazy and addicted to DirecTV and sugar to get our lazy butts off the couch and march, or are we more nuanced than we give ourselves, and our neighbors, credit for?

Perhaps it’s something else. Maybe I’m just an eternal optimist, but it seems that no matter where you land on the side of privacy and the invasion thereof by, we the people’s, National Security Agency, our knowing of their transgressions is better than our just suspecting.

As a child we fear the darkness. It’s infinite and therefor has the potential to be infinitely scary. But flip on a light, you realize you’re in a room, with dimensions you can manage and... fear melts away. 

I’m not suggesting that with the Snowden revelations, the boogeyman has disintegrated, but at least  we can make out it’s size. See it has some teeth. 

Now we know. And we the people know that they know, we know. 

Since 9/11, we’re more afraid than ever. From top ranking NSA officials, to the congressman caught in two year election cycles, to the senators threatened by super pacs, back to the NSA afraid of being found out they’re breaking the law. Our world is awash in a torrent of fear. 

And no matter where you land on the Snowden leaks, we’re a little less afraid now,  because we know a little more. Not so ironically the NSA believes it benefits from as much information as possible. 

LIke it or hate it, that’s up to you.  But  

at least you understand the comfort of having more information.

So what now? Who knows? It’s complex. It’s untrodden ground.  But  we make the path by walking it, and I think we’re finally ready to take a walk and have a good conversation.

I’m Matt Simon and this is the Cross Section.

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