Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Privacy? What privacy...

By now, I'm sure you've all seen the leaked NSA order to Verizon, to provide them with 3 months of phone records, on ALL of their subscribers. I know I've seen it at least a dozen times, and, I'm tired of it. Why? Do I not care about privacy? Hardly, I value my privacy very very much. But in this case, there's really nothing I can do, and honestly, there's no expectation of privacy - that is what this world is coming to, and, here's why.

First off, this court order is issued to Verizon. It doesn't mean that other carriers didn't get court orders themselves, each one would be different and require its own approval. So who is to say that T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, et al, didn't get their own versions of this? Just because they haven't been leaked doesn't mean they don't exist, nor that they do for that matter, but I prefer to err on the side of caution, and am assuming that Verizon was not the only lucky recipient.

Verizon can not refuse a court order from the US Government, signed by a judge. It's unlawful to do so. So this isn't their fault. A mass exodus from Verizon makes little sense for this reason (especially when you can't guarantee the company you're running to doesn't have the same court order in place). I liken this to you boycotting Ford because your wife was run over by a drunk driver who happened to be in a Focus. Go after the driver - in this specific issue, it's the US Government.

Lastly, why I'm not overly upset about this, is because I don't have any EXPECTATION of privacy, and I honestly think anybody who does, needs a lesson in personal responsibility. When I place a phone call, data is being logged. What data, exactly, varies by provider but is mostly the same - my phone number, my account number, the cell tower I'm using, the routing information, the number I'm dialing, the trunking on how my call connects to their number, etc. If I don't like that data being logged, I have two choices:

  1. Don't generate it in the first place, by using alternative means of communications, or,
  2. Set up and run my own phone network. 

Most people can't do number 2, and number 1 is inconvenient (at least until you get used to it). So what does this mean, really? It means that I have the expectation that the carrier I use (whoever that may be) is recording this information, and can and will do whatever they wish with it. But, what about the expectation of privacy?

There is none. When I have a secret, I don't tell it to people. Or, I tell it only to people whom I trust. The more people I trust, the higher the risk that somebody will betray that trust. How many of you can honestly, truly say that you trust your carrier? Not I, not once, and I've been with all 4 major carriers over the past 15 years. I don't trust my bank. I don't trust my internet service provider. I don't trust any of these large corporations, because they would gladly stab me in the back for profit every single time. I'm a single customer to them, they care more about lining their pockets, because the truth is, my $60 a month is peanut crumbs to these multi-billion dollar corporations. Additionally, they're involved in racketeering - every single one of them behaves the same way, even though they supposedly "compete" with each other. When all parties are similarly untrustworthy, and there are no alternatives (even the smaller MVNOs are still piggybacking on the national carriers, and so they're untrustworthy by proxy), you have zero expectation of not being stabbed in the back. So don't give them any secrets you care about in the first place. To me, that's just common sense.

We, as Americans, are far too tolerant of the domestic spying the government is instituting. Sadly, until we take on the root cause, nothing will be done. Today, Verizon. People will likely switch services because of it, but what then? It'll happen again, next time to AT&T perhaps. Will there be a mass exodus from AT&T then? Or will we finally wrap our heads around the fact that it isn't AT&T's fault then, any more than it's Verizon's now. We need to send a unified message that the government has no right to spy on its citizens who are not suspected or accused of wrongdoing. Simple as that. And until that happens, Verizongate will happen over, and over, and over...