"You had to live--did live, from habit that became instinct--in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."--George Orwell, 1984
Supposedly the National Security Administration is going to stop collecting certain internet communications that merely mention a foreign intelligence target.
Privacy advocates are hailing it as a major victory for Americans whose communications have been caught in the NSA's dragnet.
If this is a victory, it's a hollow victory.
Since its creation in 1952, the NSA has been covertly spying on Americans, listening in on their phone calls, reading their mail, and monitoring their communications.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush secretly authorized the NSA to conduct warrantless surveillance on Americans' phone calls and emails.
Nothing changed under Barack Obama. In fact, the violations worsened.
The NSA cannot be reformed.
This is an agency whose very existence--unaccountable and lacking any degree of transparency--flies in the face of the Constitution.
Even if the NSA could be reformed, however, the problem of government surveillance goes far beyond the criminal activities of this one agency.
In fact, just about every branch of the government now has its own surveillance sector authorized to spy on the American people.
Fusion and counterterrorism centers gather all of the data from the smaller government spies--the police, public health officials, transportation, etc.--and make it accessible for all those in power. And then there is the complicity of the corporate sector, which buys and sells us from cradle to grave, until we have no more data left to mine.
Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears. A byproduct of this new age in which we live, whether you're walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior.
Corporate trackers monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.