Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Oh. About the Telephony Metadata and all that...

I know I tend not to get very autobiographical about myself, being pseudomynous and a little sketchy anyways, but I've been an online presence in some form or another for like, going on two decades, and have generally always assumed, among other things, that I'm only semi-anonymous, that it isn't only at work that my emails are likely to be read, that it's very probable that the phone companies that can generate reports of my calls ('member when this was a regular feature of your phone bill?) can also provide them to others and that just like my credit report can be pulled, somewhere there resides a way for some interested party to get at exactly what sorts of stores I frequent, etc. by my choice of non-cash payment. Mostly I get this vague notion of privacy-permeation from the sorts of fiction I gravitate to (police procedurals, spy novels) and from having a mild tendency towards conspiracy theory/survivalism fascination--which isn't to say that I am nestled in the tin foil as we speak, but that I am no stranger to Reynold's Chilly Metallic embrace.  There is a wealth of information about removing oneself from the grid out there, of which pretty much all of it is impractical in the long run, from books I am certainly not purchasing from Amazon, if you know what I mean.  (I'm just gassing. Truth is, I once took stock of my fanfic and some of my online research into biowarfare, improvised explosives, and actual purchases of books regarding same, and realized if there was a Big Brother, I either was on the radar or wasn't. Let me state that again--I either was or I wasn't.)

The thing that tickles my non-paranoia is that the idea of Total Information Awareness is impossible. The best thing that could be accomplished by massive sweeps of records, and hoovering up of gross data is--mostly acquiring a catalog of trivia. The information exists, and until someone actually goes on a directed search based on some trigger (credible or biased--depending upon the honesty of the "searcher"), the data itself isn't necessarily harmful. A bad government, a biased journalist, a bitter enemy, can use info in a negative fashion--if they get hold of anything useful. But there isn't a whole lot of utility in the government actually listening to every exchange between, say, Aunt Gladys and her neighbor comparing notes on their gall bladder operations, or searching the tedentious emails of fanboys debating which facts regarding fictional characters are canon, vs inventive fanon that doesn't ultimately color the essential nous of a given fanverse denizen. The actual actionable stuff that would interest someone--well, that's what intelligence work would be about.

This isn't to fall back on the tired idea that "if you haven't done anything wrong, you shouldn't worry about the long arm of government overreach and all its uncomfortable digits". Rather, it's to cheer one that this has been going on for a great long while, and that if rifling through your private electronic notions is technologically possible, why, you should consider that a guarantee that it's probable. And also, no government wouldn't see a reason to make some degree of access totally legal (just in case!). But on the bright side you are most likely too boring for anyone to care. It's a peep show for myopic toenail fetishists. And they are mostly concerned with the dirt underneath.

One may as well just carry on, as carry on about it.

It should be taken as a given that I consider that the point of democracy is determining just what sort of people should have acccess to any information, because of how it would end up being used--or not used, as the case would, preferrably, be.  Nor should it be assumed that I like it in all its implications.  I've just sort of looked at being potentially "peeped" as always being possible. It's not like Obama killed Santa Claus with a drone last week or whatever.  All governments suspect their citizens "because people."

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