R.K.: You have a chapter in Journalism where you discuss this, could you talk a little bit about how this effecting journalism in particular?
H.B.: Well especially under the Obama administration we've seen really a move towards greater secrecy in terms of information sharing and so we've seen various journalists being threatened with even charges of conspiracy or violation of the espionage act when they refuse to give information about confidential sources and we've heard that Associated Press reporters have been spied on even a Fox News reporter, Al Jazeera has been monitored, I mean, I'm sure many other news outlets have, but the danger of course is that the free press was designed to serve as a watchdog against an overreaching in government and when we have so much power right now in the executive branch and we have this perpetual war of terror, that corporations are sustaining and profiting from.
I think it's even more important that members of the press not be intimidated by the threat of harsh punishment for reporting on issues that involve national security. So what the government is doing is making everything secret and then when journalists report on it they're facing a kind of punishment that in many cases could put someone in prison for many years and then we see the trend of more people coming forward like Edward Snowden, Barret Brown, the journalist who is imprisoned in Texas facing over a hundred years in prison for essentially uploading a computer link and then Chelsea Manning who came forward and provided documents as all of these individuals have done because they felt the public had a right to know and this goes to the cornerstone of democracy; the free press and the exchange of free information and a transparent government.
R.K.: The other thing that you mention in that chapter that's really important is the way that reporters are having their confidentiality with their sources being taken away from them and how that's really making it much more difficult to get people to talk.
H.B.: Exactly and that again we owe so many debts of gratitude to brave individuals, you know be it Deep Throat, two other people over the decades in this country who have worked closely with reporters in strict confidence to protect them, their identities and that's how we bring news to the forefront and I think that the more important the news is of course, the more jealously government officials guard it.
They're saying and this is another important point I think the one that we have to give up our civil liberties, this is all being done in the name of preserving national security and making us safer but a government that operates with impunity and in many cases with many of these spy programs unlawfully is not a government that is necessarily making us safer.
In fact, by spying on allied nations for example we run the risk that it will imperil our relationships and make more people even think of us more as, you know, a state that is above the law and that endangers us ultimately.
R.K.: Okay, so I have a couple of questions I have been really looking forward to asking you, I want to make sure I get them in before we continue talking about the book. One, young people, the millenials in particular, they don't care about privacy. They don't care that their phone are being recorded and all their messages are being recorded and accessed. What answer do you give to them? Why they should be concerned?
H.B.: I would say that certainly we have been enticed by the convenience and the expediency of personal electronic devices that allow us to text and show photos and share and communicate on a level that is new and exciting and along with the internet is ultimately designed in many ways is to open our society in a positive way but all technology also has insidious uses and even though people, especially those younger people who have been brought up, you know with a keyboard from the minute they could type, need to start at least being aware of the fact that when they go on a social network site or when they buy something online or give over their own information, nothing that you get is gotten for free.
You're giving up the most valuable thing you have, your personal information. You know, your date of birth, where you live, all of that information that you just can't anticipate right now how it can be used against you in the future and you know sometimes that comes with age and experience, but I think that it needs to be built in to ones interaction with technology that your life is maybe easier on one level but ultimately when you give up privacy, even if you say you have nothing to hide, the more power we give to a government, the more chances that they will abuse that power and historically it's happened with every government.
So I would just say read up a bit on how this has happened in the past and realize that once you've given away that information it's very hard to regain your privacy in case you want to.
And also, things that may seem benign to you can be pieced together, aggregated from different sources to create a more complete profile that you may not want to give away so if you go to a health center or you buy a book on cancer, you may not want others to know that you have a form of cancer and it's not that you're hiding it but it's just something you may not choose to share. But that can be pieced together from your actions and I think you need to look at your life as a jigsaw puzzle and if you give too many of the pieces away you may not like how it's used.
R.K.: So let me do a station ID, this is the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show WNJC 1360 AM, sponsored by Opednews.com. My guest is Heidi Boghosian, author of Spying on Democracy; Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance. Heidi, I have got to tell you I'm not satisfied with that answer. It's not something I can say to my twenty three year old or his friends when they say to me, I don't have anything to hide. It's not just them, there are a lot of other Americans who say I don't have anything to hide, I don't mind if the government spies on me to protect us and make us safer.
Can you give me something, some, you mentioned in the final chapter of your book about the four minute message that was used to argue for the war, World War One, do yo u have a brief message that you can give to people when they say, "I'm not worried about my privacy because I don't do anything wrong. Let them spy on me."
H.B.: I would say that we're living in a society where corporations are running our lives. Young people may not remember but baseball fields, movie theaters, used to be named after real people: coaches, heroes, now they're named after corporations and what's happened is that in conjunction with the government, those very powerful entities want to dictate how we live our lives so that you may think you have choices but in fact you've been molded in to a kind of willing consumer who gives over personal data to marketers and in exchange you're essentially told how to live your life.
You may not be aware of it but if you come across something, say a family member is hurt by a certain kind of government injustice or corporate policy, and your life is changed because of it, and you decide that you want to go out to the street and protest, well all of the sudden that act of protest is illegal and you can't do it.