George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four introduced many concepts that gave the government in Oceania unlimited powers regarding its citizens. Although it’s a work of fiction, Orwell was able to see how information could be used to keep track of everyone.
Every time you text, e-mail, tweet or call your closest friend, family member, lover or coworkers, you’re putting your thought out there – susceptible to interception by government organizations or anyone with the right know how. The question is how much access, if any, the government should have to your digital communique.
If you’re like most Americans, the answer is “none,” but the government begs to differ, and it wants to pass laws to ensure it can gain more access to this information whenever it wants – if it feels the need to do so warrants it.
The government is increasingly using different methods to track it citizens. In the past two years the percentage the Justice Department received for authorization to access e-mail and network data on individuals increased by 361 percent. At the same time, the number of court orders for pen registers, and trap and trace devices on phones, increased from 25,535 in 2009 to 37,616 in 2011, while cell phone carriers received 1.3 million demands for information about their subscribers in 2011.
The amount of request and court orders being granted to government agencies means the data is already being accumulated. Whether you’ve given service providers permission is irrelevant, because the ability to intercept the information from your device is built into the phone company’s call routing hardware.
If you are online surfing, the same tool used for analytics provides detailed information about your online activities, and it can be used against you in a criminal or other type of examination.
The U.S. Senate will be debating whether to grant police officers more authority to search through your e-mail without warrants this week, and as horrific criminal cases validating the violation of these fundamental rights are highlighted in the news, it’s only a matter of time before our namby-pamby members of congress are swayed to vote for the outcome that doesn’t take the protection of our privacy and freedom into consideration.