Internet Privacy and You…What’s Up With That?


privacy (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

“People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither, and will lose both.”

I made a mistake and watched the news last night…I also received an e-mail.  As usual with life, it seems, these two events collided leaving me in some strange, uncharted territory.

First off, I saw a story on a brand-name cable news network about two previously secret government operations, one called PRISM, and the other BLARNEY.  PRISM, it seems, is an operation set up by the U.S. government to collect images and documents posted on internet sites such as Google, Yahoo, and FaceBook, to name the most popular.  BLARNEY does the same thing with the written word, such as e-mails.  I don’t watch news much any more, so I was surprised that the interviewee felt he was in for a bit of persecution, outing these two previously covert operations.  Would this be considered an illegal search under the U.S. Constitution and its amendments?

Second off, I received an e-mail from my friend in Pakistan telling me that she had been sending me two e-mails a day for two days, but FaceBook was not delivering them.  My friend said she had taken out any mention of religion (she’s a Muslim), drone strikes, and politics…that self-censored e-mail I got.  I know she is not guarenteed anything by the U.S. Constitution, but I am, and it seems I’ve read somewhere I had the right to privacy.  I was wrong, and I’m not just being snide…there is no specific right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution.

Constitution of the United States of America

Constitution of the United States of America (Photo credit: The U.S. National Archives)

The fourth right, in whole, reads – “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the places to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Like all our “rights” in such old documents, they don’t translate well to the current world.  The right to bear arms in conjunction with an organized militia being the one that gets kicked around the most.  These vague and outdated “rights” need a serious bit of updating.  But, the U.S. Supreme Court is supposed to take care of that, and such interpretations have been proferred.  Pertaining to this presumed right to privacy, Justice Antonin Scalia‘s dissenting school of thought has been that searches must be “reasonable” and the warrant requirement has been overly emphasized.  Those italics are mine, the watering down of any rights, pure conservative blather, an asterisk followed by an invisible – “…unless we feel like it.”

Does the U.S. government and that most powerful of intelligence agencies, FaceBook, really need to protect me from a young women using Ishaa-Allah, god willing, following her hopes for sales of her new book of poetry?  I know she’s a Muslim.  Does the U.S. government need to censor the fact that drone strikes happen near where she lives?  I know they do…and probably more often than we are made aware of.  Do I need to be protected from the fact that politics is a dirty business where she lives?  It doesn’t seem so, since only a dolt wouldn’t know it’s a down and dirty business everywhere.

On my guitar I have a bumper sticker that says, “Ignore your rights, and they’ll go away.”  How true.  I really am not some sort of militia weirdo hiding out in the woods of Michigan or Idaho or Montana or Hoboken, New Jersey.  In fact, I think I’m in pretty good company in contemplating what rights I truly have, and how they’re being coerced.  A pretty famous guy who most Americans admire – if for no other reason his mug is on the $100 bill – is reported to have made similar statements when trying to rectify past infringements on rights he thought should not be infringed upon.  I’ve always seen one of his more famous quotes listed as –

“People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.”

Benjamin Franklin

As with many oft-quoted persons, this was not exactly how it was originally said.  Franklin was preparing some notes for the Pennsylvania Assembly, shortly before February 17, 1775, and wrote –

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

This was published in Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Benjamin Franklin, published in 1818.  But wait…as is often the case, he was probably doing a bit of word “libertion” since he, being a publisher, had occasion to produce a book – An Historical Review of the Constitution of and Government of Pennsylvania – by an author named Richard Jackson in 1759.  On the title page that same warning appears, with the word “purchase” instead of the “obtain” found in Franklin’s quote.  I do love the liberation of words !  But, no fear, Franklin lovers and respectors…seems that a few years before that, in 1738, the following appeard in Honest Ben’s Poor Richar’s Almanack

“Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor liberty to purchase power.” 

I know…in the writing and publishing games everything gets murky if you dig long and far enough.  The word “murky” seems stuck in my mind since the collision of the news that my government is obtaining information from and about me through what I mistakenly think are private correspondences.  I’m not that naive, really…I’m not.  I never expected privacy, but outright censorship of my private correspondence, and the covert skullduggery from a government that claims to be the bastion of freedom and individual liberty and rights?

I’m sure this little bit of dangerous writing will garner me some more un-warrented attention, unless your name is Antonin Scalia, you front the Fear Factor Gang, and consider warrants “overly emphasized.”  So, if you’re reading this, you’ve joined me on some kind of list that some clerk – whose salary we pay – is compiling in some Virginia basement – which we also pay for.

Weird World…truly Weird World.


21 thoughts on “Internet Privacy and You…What’s Up With That?

  1. Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.
    — John Maynard Keynes

    I like that quote because it can be applied to so many other aspects of our modern world. Facebook, for example. Censorship, spying and collecting data for government agencies, sadly none of these are new accusations, and yet the ‘petite bourgeoisie’ (pardon my French, I meant those who actively, intentionally and purposefully assist in keeping Chairman Zuckerberg insanely rich by using his services) can’t seem to stop using Facebook, knowing full well it is trouble, mainly because it appears convenient. Perhaps this is why the revolution won’t be on-line. As they say, abusive relationships die hard. When you put your trust in a global corporation that has repetitively demonstrated it can’t be trusted at what point does personal responsibility enter into this to get out while you can?

    • coyotero2112 says:

      You see any of the denial-filled responses that pooh-poohed my sense of this being a potential threat not only to privacy, but liberty? It’s like dope…hard to kick, and the discomfort of a lost lifestyle…and all roads lead back.

      • Yes, but at least you had the Velvet Underground making heroin chic attractive. I have a hard time seeing any bands penning “Facebook Sold My Info To The CIA and I’m So Blue” or whatever governmental agency spends our tax dollars to get copies of the 1.5 billion tweets sent out every day by 14 year olds.

  2. jannatwrites says:

    I wonder if your friend’s emails were being censored by Facebook, or her government, or even Costa Rica’s government. Our rights under the US constitution mean nothing elsewhere.

    It does seem like privacy should be a right, not a privilege.

    • coyotero2112 says:

      So true. Doubt if Pakistan cares if she writes Insha-Allah, or talks about drone strikes or politics, and I know Costa Rica doesn’t…this country has the most free and uncensored press of any country I’ve lived in since Denmark…but FaceBook seems to have become a tool for the forces of Big Brother. I’m mystefied…live and learn.

  3. mrs fringe says:

    It’s become a terrifying world to me, when I think about these things. I remember the outrage I felt learning about the blacklists of the McCarthy era and subsequent blacklists–and the subsequent smugness of youth.

    I am shocked and saddened by what has become of our liberties. Or, at least, our illusions of liberty. Clearly they never truly existed, and it all makes me want to cry.

  4. jerwayne2013 says:

    It is getting very scary indeed to find out that our cell phones, emails, FB & who knows what else is at jeopardy of privacy. About the only privacy still available is person to person talking & that sometimes is questionable. Good read

  5. kelihasablog says:

    I figure I’m already on the list so it’s fine for me to “like” the article. I agree completely!

    • coyotero2112 says:

      Welcome to a unique club. Kind of strange having three new followers with no posts on their sites. WordPress is a Google instrument, so I guess I had to expect that. Good to be in agreement.

  6. desertrose says:

    Truthfully the way things have been going with the DHS all sorts of people from all walks of life are being watched and not just due to this scandal (that people all of a sudden are shocked to discover now). Just look at the long list of potential domestic terrorists and it will give you an inkling of an idea of how many of us have been on those lists for a very long time

    As I recall when the Patriot Act was made law there were many who claimed that it was necessary and anyone who had nothing to hide had nothing to fear. I wonder how many of those same individuals are now scandalized? Ironic isn’t it ?

    Nice post thank you for sharing your thoughts 🙂

    • coyotero2112 says:

      Glad to share this, and thanks for reading and understanding the importance to all of us. My poor writer friend Michael Patrick McDonald is always detained at airports…so many IRA members with that name…from the 70s and 80s.

  7. Seriously – intercepting your Muslim poet’s emails to you in Costa Rica. I find that suspicious and Kipling-esque and overwhelmingly murky. Where is the U.S Constitution when you need it?

    • coyotero2112 says:

      I’m in awe of the idiocy. A poet and a scribbler talking writing. Got to be a code in there somewhere. The Constitution…being interpreted by sociopathic idiots until there is no meaning, I’m thinking. Does need an update…would anyone go to a doctor that considered leeches the best remedy for headaches?

  8. . . . and the rabbit hole is soooooo much deeper. PEACE-

    • coyotero2112 says:

      Some days a decent rabbit hole would be comforting. Thanks for joining me on my “watch list.” Always need entertaining people in lock-up.

  9. monosolo says:

    This has the look of one of those “like” at your own risk posts.

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