In the wake of Edward Snowden’s colossal NSA leaks, bullied Internet giants such as Yahoo! and Google have spoken out, confirming what the US government continues to deny: a systematic spy program encompassing even its own citizens.
Although the United States is technically prohibited from gathering intel on its own people, vague interpretations and twisted definitions have provided them a loophole. Consider, for example, email. While the NSA cannot lawfully read the actual contents of a US citizen’s emails, they can (and do) collect metadata from them. Metadata is simply brief, basic information attached to an electronic document, such as the sender, recipient and date. When harvested and organized at such a massive scale, metadata paints an eerily accurate portrayal of one’s personal life.
Consequentially, the NSA knows everyone you have contacted, how many times you have contacted them, and the frequency with which your contact takes place. At first glance, this may seem harmless. But what if you unknowingly exchange emails with someone who has dirt on their shoulders, someone the NSA has been watching? What then?
You too could become a target of greater surveillance. The fact that you contacted someone who is being investigated warrants your own investigation. Your personal life could be opened up, your emails more thoroughly scrutinized, their contents actually read, and what happens then, hopefully, will not land you in any serious trouble.
This is the NSA – they are only concerned with terrorists, right? Right. But they are not the only government agency implementing mass spying systems.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, as recently reported, has a deal with Verizon through which they receive targeted cell phone records without a warrant in exchange for payment. Basically, Verizon sold its customers’ constitutional rights for cash. Other service providers, such as Sprint and AT&T, have remained silent on the issue, and it is not yet known whether they have similar deals with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
In today’s age, it is best to watch not only what you say, but to whom you say it, less your entire life come under scrutiny. People in their teens and twenties should be especially careful. Those certain, shady friends you may or may not have who sell a little weed on the side? They may be secretly investigated one day without even knowing it, and just sending them a text could raise Big Brother’s suspicion against you as well.
*The views in this article represent the opinion of the author, and not those of CisternYard News.