You have no idea.
Bush has supposedly authorized thirty or so warrantless wiretaps against al Qaeda correspondents. [Is that what we should call NYT reporters? --ed.]
Meanwhile Britain continues with its plans to watch every single car in realtime travelling along its motorways. Your British car spies on you and quietly sends a notice of all of your speeding to the authorities. No muss no fuss. You receive the ticket in the mail. Persistent surveillance on every car in Britain. The German government is launching a sophisticated satellite (TerraSAR-X) whose primary purpose is to check speeds on the autobahns. Watches all the cars. In realtime. Works day and night, through clouds.
Ah, but what about our friends right here at home? Log in here to see what Google knows about you. If you're like me, it remembers all sorts of things about you that you forgot already yourself. Think Google can't pinpoint you? A quick perusal of the results should convince you otherwise. We're all spewing digital information right and left these days and every credit card company, your operating system provider, your record company, your search engines, every retail store you shop at, are spying on you and collecting the information. Analyzing it. Tracking it long after you've forgotten about it. Oh, and don't forget that your cell phone company is tracking your location all the time.
Think this is all innocuous? Nowadays we hear almost daily of another breakin occurring in which all the data on students or customers is released to...? Nobody knows. It could be a teenager, it could be the Russian Mafia (said to be heavily involved in such cases), it could be al Qaeda, it could be the Chinese government. And what about all the breakins we didn't hear about? Ever heard of key-logging progrsms? They're set up on public machines to snatch your username and password when you log into a secure site. They're on the increase. Think you're safe? I have it on good authority that a local public library right here in Colorado has installed them. Has yours? Or, since lots of folks don't insist on encryption when they log in (do you??), passwords can be pulled right off the Internet by any number of free programs. Or how about clothes or shoes that phone home and allow you to be tracked all the time? Has your DNA been forcibly collected yet? Works in Canada, Germany, and the UK. Are third parties collecting it surreptitiously? Nobody knows.
Privacy has gone the way of the Dodo. We're all digitally naked, it's pretty disturbing, and it's getting worse. Those who fear Big Brother Bush are missing the real issue here. The elephant in this particular living room is that we're surrounded by Big Brothers of all sorts, many of whom do not have our best interests at heart and are not subject to Constitutional restraints at all, but the consequences are potentially so horrific and the situation is so new that the mind simply balks. Far better to fret the known and controllable mouse than the really scary mammoth whose name must not be uttered.
Evelyn Waugh and The Sword of Honor
7 minutes ago