NSA & the Privacy Prism

Times like this show the great value, to society as a whole, of widely available cryptography and open-source software. Even people with nothing to hide shouldn’t tolerate or permit overreaching government spying.

It's hard to know what to do about this NSA situation. It's the difference between convenience, and privacy. It's really convenient to put all of my stuff in Dropbox, and have it accessible on any device. But it would also nice to have privacy, and not be concerned with the government having access to all of my stuff (even if they aren't accessing it at this very moment doesn't mean they won't later). It's disconcerting to say the least.

In the natural world, there are protections in the U.S. Constitution for American's stuff to be safe from unreasonable searches and seizures. Because the digital world moves so fast, many of us didn't have time to think - let alone implement - the same protections for our digital lives, many of just assumed that our digital stuff was already protected under the Constitution.

At this point, the government has been getting so much information for so long that I think (as a non-lawyer) it would be difficult to argue to a court that the Constitution protects digital possession because precedence says that the government already can access it under the current Constitution. I think if things continue to get out of hand, the chances of amending the Constitution to speak directly to the issue of digital privacy becomes more, and more of a possibility.

In general, people don't have a problem using the government to do stuff to other people. Whether it's raising someone else's taxes, or reforming broken pensions. However, as soon as the government affects them in an adverse way, people move rather quickly to protect themselves. Digital privacy protections could quickly become broadly popular across party lines.

Reagan Knopp