Is national security so important that it is worth this violation of liberty and privacy?
Should Americans be prepared to give up some privacy in return for greater security? Or has the government already gone too far in invading our personal freedoms?

Personal Data

Thanks to the increasing digitization of every aspect of our lives, it is becoming easier and easier for companies and the government to mine our personal data. This digitization is sending us down a very slippery slope into a world in which every aspect of our being is being monitored by corporations.

“But wait,” you might be saying, “corporations can’t use my data without my permission, and I won’t give it to them!” Well, you’re correct in that corporations need your permission to use your data, but what’s terrifying is that you’re actually going to give it to them.

As more aspects of our personal lives become connected to the internet, we become more and more easy to spy on. Corporations will learn to take advantage of all this information, and they’ll also come up with ways to make us comply.

For example, the John Hancock Company has announced that they will give discounts on health insurance to customers who meet certain requirements based on their FitBit data. Of course, the company says you don’t have to participate, but you want cheap health insurance don’t you? These types of policies will only become more prevalent, and eventually corporations and even the government may require you to plug into their spy networks in exchange for access to services as essential as welfare or applying for a job. First they tell us we need to give up our rights in exchange for national security, next we’re giving up our rights for cheaper health insurance. But before we even receive any products to be used at our disposal or “free-will”, we sign over our rights and privacy without a second thought. Are you not familiar with this autonomous passive behavior? Your lack of patience and comprehension has secured your fate. I’m speaking about the infamous Terms of Service and Agreements.

Surveillance tools used to invade our privacy

Web Searches
Matt Cutts, a software engineer at Google since January 2000, used to work for the National Security Agency. Keyhole, the satellite imaging company that Google acquired in October 2004, was funded by the CIA. Since 2000, Google has recorded your search terms, the date-time of each search, the globally-unique ID in your cookie (it expires in 2038), and your IP address. This information is available to governments on request.

FBI Tool Called Carnivore
Developed by a contractor, Carnivore was a customizable packet sniffer that, in conjunction with other FBI tools, could capture email messages, and reconstruct web pages exactly as a surveillance target saw them while surfing the web.
Carnivore became a hot topic among civil liberations, some network operators and many lawmakers in 2000, when an ISP’s legal challenge brought the surveillance tool’s existence to light. One controversy revolved around the FBI’s legally-murky use of the device to obtain e-mail and other information without a wiretap warrant — an issue Congress resolved by explicitly legalizing the practice in the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act.
To be more specific, it was under section 216 of the act which states that the FBI can conduct a limited form of Internet surveillance without first visiting a judge and establishing probable cause that the target has committed a crime. In such cases the FBI is authorized to capture routing information like e-mail addresses or IP addresses.
In 2005, the FBI put their Carnivore Internet surveillance tool out to pasture, preferring instead to use commercial products to eavesdrop on network traffic.

Cell phone manufacturers tracking device
Cell-phone manufacturers are under a federal mandate to equip mobile phones with location-tracking technology. By 2005, 95 percent of all cell phones must be able to be traced with an accuracy of about 1,000 feet or better. While such phones could be lifesavers in an emergency, this order from the Federal Communications Commission has raised serious questions about invasion of privacy

Apple shares iphone fingerprint database (Touch ID) with NSA
Tim Richardson, who is the District Manager of Apple’s North America Marketing Department, admitted during an interview that Apple’s fingerprint database (Touch ID) is being shared with the NSA. During the interview he said the following, “Absolutely the databases will be merged. This whole ‘fingerprint scan’ idea originated from someone in our Government. They just didn’t expect to be outed by Snowden, you know. NSA and FBI have been compiling a special database for over a year now to use with the new Apple technology. Fingerprints from all over the nation. Cold cases. Fugitives of the law. Missing persons.” Richardson said.
When Mr. Richardson was asked for a response to an individual’s concerns about privacy, he said: “Frankly, if a person is foolish enough to allow something as specific and criminally implicit as their fingerprints to be cataloged by faceless corporations and Government officials… Well, you can’t exactly blame us for capitalizing upon it, can you? Personally, I believe this effort will support a greater good. Some of the folks they’re hoping to apprehend are quite dangerous. Besides, it’s not like this is covered in the Constitution.”

Verizon files patent for device that would watch you while you watch TV
Picture this: You’re having an argument with your partner while watching television, and suddenly an advertisement comes on for marriage counseling. Or maybe you’re doing some weightlifting while a movie plays in the background, and ads for health food pop up on the screen.

In the past, it would have been mere coincidence. But in the future, things look set to change, thanks to Verizon’s “gesture recognition technology.”

The company has filed a patent, in 2012, for a system designed to be used in the home to target advertisements at people. Using a combination of image and audio sensors, it would detect actions in your living room while you were watching TV. These sensors, deploying facial and profile recognition, would pick up “physical attributes” like skin color, facial features, and even hair length, and also detect “voice attributes” to help determine the tone of your voice, your accent, and the language you speak. Inanimate objects aren’t off-limits—the technology could also spot beer cans and wall art.

Combined, this would mean that your TV would effectively be watching and listening to you while you snuggle up on the couch with your partner to watch the latest episode of Homeland or whatever you watch. If the cuddling went a bit further, the chances are the technology would pick up the noises and start playing ads for “a commercial for a contraceptive” or “a commercial for flowers,” as outlined in the patent.

Domain Awareness System
In 2013 the NYPD says it launched an all-seeing “Domain Awareness System” that combines several streams of information to track both criminals and potential terrorists. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly says the city developed the software with Microsoft. The program combines city-wide video surveillance with law enforcement databases, according to Kelly.

The Domain Awareness System will include technology deployed in public spaces as part of the counterterrorism program of the NYPD counterterrorism bureau, including: NYPD-owned closed circuit television cameras, license plate readers, and other undisclosed domain awareness devices.

Kelly said the system will be officially unveiled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg sometime this week. Commissioner Kelly announced the program before an audience at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colo. over the weekend.

The NYPD has been heavily criticized for using surveillance in Muslim communities and partnering with the Central Intelligence Agency to track potential terror suspects. Muslim groups have protested and sued to stop the NYPD programs.

The Domain Awareness System is a counterterrorism tool designed to:
• Facilitate the observation of pre-operational activity by terrorist organizations or their agents
• Aid in the detection of preparations to conduct terrorist attacks
• Deter terrorist attacks
• Provide a degree of common domain awareness for all Stakeholders
• Reduce incident response times
• Create a common technological infrastructure to support the integration of new security technology

Government Surveillance Data Retention By the Numbers
5 years: How long the National Security Agency keeps “metadata” about all Americans’ domestic and international phone calls without suspicion of wrongdoing

5 years: How long the National Counterterrorism Center can keep and search databases of non-terrorism information about Americans

5 to 20 years: Retention periods for databases that store at least some information from border searches of Americans’ laptops, phones, hard drives, and more

6 years: Time period, beginning with the start of surveillance, that the NSA can keep Americans’ incidentally gathered communications

20 to 30 years: Amount of time the FBI keeps information collected via assessments and National Security Letters, even when it is irrelevant to a current investigation

30 years: Time period that Suspicious Activity Reports with no nexus to terrorism are kept by the FBI

1 Billion and growing: Records in the FBI’s Investigative Data Warehouse

1,000,000 sq. ft.: Size of National Security Agency’s data center (opening in 2014)

41 billion: Communications records stored by NSA’s XKEYSCORE system every 30 days


1 – Snapchat filters are really building a facial recognition database.

2 – All Alexa and Google devices are constantly listening and sending all the audio to databases for Government monitoring. How would the Government store all that data? At the Utah Data Center. Also known as the Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center, is a data storage facility for the United States Intelligence Community that is designed to store data. The completed facility requires 65 megawatts of electricity, costing about $40 million per year. The facility uses 1.7 million gallons of water per day. An article by Forbes estimates the storage capacity as between 3 and 12 exabytes in the near term, based on analysis of unclassified blueprints. 1 exabytes is one quintillion bytes, or 1 Billion Gigabytes. So that Facility has around 3 – 12 billion gigabytes.

3 – Facebook was created by the Government to track everyone.
The Pentagon was developing a project that they called Life Log. Life Log aimed to gather in a single place just about everything an individual says, sees or does, such as phone calls made, the tv shows they watched, the magazines they read, the plane tickets they bought, the emails sent and received, etc. On Feb 4th, 2004 the Pentagon decided to cancel the Life log project.
Guess what was created and founded that same day on Feb 4th, 2004? Facebook.

4 – Fappening was because of a NSA contractor leaking the nudes and the Government told the media to run with the story of the iCloud being hacked.

5 – Government is far more advanced in technological advances and that they have Remote mind control surveillance technology.

Is Privacy and Freedom more important than Security?

In many cases, surveillance laws are passed during a time of panic, often right after a terrorist attack the citizens are scared and desperate for anything to make them feel secure again. The government is aware of this and uses it as leverage to pass such laws. For example, just after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the US government passed the Patriot Act.The hysteria caused by terrorist attacks is largely caused by a cognitive bias rampant in the human race known as the availability heuristic. The availability heuristic causes people to consider something more dangerous when they can easily bring it to mind and imagine it. It’s why people are often more afraid of terrorist attacks than cancer even though Americans are over 6,500 times more likely to die from cancer. It is almost always because of these types of exaggerated risks that our governments take away our freedoms in exchange for security. But if we recognize that the risks are over-blown we realize that giving up our rights isn’t worth it.