I just don’t get the uproar with NSA spying on internet traffic and websites. Most of what NSA is doing is data mining which is inherently anonymous, I can’t see how any of this has anything to do with privacy or freedom for that matter. Sure, it creates possibilities for abuse, like blackmailing somebody that doesn’t want to come out of the closet or is having an affair. But wouldn’t strict laws with strict penalties, and strict procedures prevent such abuse?
For example, police need a court order to wire tap a phone. Couldn’t we just treat the results from data mining as we would a phone? The program would provide a list of potential suspects. FBI could check the suspects vs. public records and such, and then go to a judge for a court order to open up the details of the data mining done. Furthermore, if we have strict laws that prevent the CIA from using this digital spying for blackmail or other shady dealings, other nations wouldn’t have much to bitch about.
Given that we’re in an age of social media where a lot of what we do on the Internet is public knowledge, what’s all the pew pew about? Google et. al. are already doing this anonymous data mining to provide highly targeted ads. Why is it more acceptable for Google to do this, than for the NSA to search for crazies that want to fly planes into buildings, bomb marathons or shoot up a school? For myself, so much of what I do is in the public what do I care if some data mining program is parsing and analyzing my emails? I also don’t think we’re giving up on freedoms to make ourselves safer.
We must trust in our institutions that they are either benevolent or that there are appropriate checks and balances in place to prevent abuses. If these checks and balances are missing, its time to legislate them into existence. I think there is a happy medium where we can make ourselves safer and put the adequate safeguards in place to prevent a total Orwellian society.