NPR Plays NSA for a Week


As long as I’ve been using the Internet, I’ve just assumed that anything I do there can be discovered by anyone with enough determination. When I started using WiFi, I assumed the same applied to whatever was on my personal computer as well. And then I added a SmartPhone… well, a couple, actually. And yes, I now assume that just about everything I do, anyone can monitor – or take – if they care to.

Sean Gallagher’s article on ars|technica pretty much confirms that assumption.

I felt a really bizarre sense of satisfaction reading the article. I used to get really uptight contemplating this situation, wondering what I could do about it. Once I realized there was nothing I could do about it (or at least, that I was not interested enough to take action), and that besides, if anyone thinks what I do is harmful, they would have snatched me a long time ago… I relaxed. I mean, it’s not like I’m Tony Stark announcing my home address to the Mandarin in Iron Man 3.

I could launch into an explanation of how being watched can also mean being protected, but I’ll restrain myself for now. Please let me know if you’d like to read about that, and I’ll gladly share.






  1. I think most of my “security” comes from “their” disorganisation plus the sheer volume of data and activity. If they ever really get their act together we could really be in more danger/trouble.Taking into account the effect of karma and reviewing what I observe I am as likely to be the victim of “friendly fire” or wrong identification as a planned action to silence or harm me. Besides:

  2. That link even included the UTM google analytics tracking codes!!!! 😀

    What you’ve expressed is pretty much my position on the whole thing, Leslee. Actually I’m honored anyone would care to pay attention to anything I’m doing. 🙂 The positive effects of tracking is that things are improved based on studying use patterns. It can also be used to show you things you’re interested in, rather than just a list of “crap”, which saves you time in finding things you want to find. These are important details that are often left out of the discussion.

    The downside to tracking is when it’s done to the extent that it’s illegal – when you have an expectation of privacy that does not in fact exist. We should not compromise our rights to use devices or be a part of our society – those rights should be inherently built in to everything we do. Ideally something should not be a part of that society that does not meet that standard. This is the role of organizations like the FCC and the FDA – but of course corporate interest has severely limited their effectiveness in American society. In the interests of profit, act now and ask forgiveness later.

    I shouldn’t have to become a “mountain man” and cut myself off from society to protect those rights. But some do. 🙂 My position is that I’m grateful for these devices, but I’ll use them as an informed consumer.

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