Home > Uncategorized > Surprise: they are monitoring my calls and yours too.

Surprise: they are monitoring my calls and yours too.

I assumed my phone calls and emails were being monitored well before this latest scandal. About a year ago I found my old friend Ernesto in Cuba through the miracle of the internet. We had been best friends for years but lost touch 50 years ago—it was my doing. I was delighted that we were able to reconnect and felt great pride when I learned he was an economics professor at Havana University. Who knew what we would become when I left Cuba at nineteen.
After exchanging a few emails he asked me to look over a PowerPoint presentation he was readying for his graduate students. After getting over the surprise that PowerPoint was being used in Cuba—don’t we have an embargo?—I tried to read the slides. But they were filled with economics jargon and three letters acronyms, all in Spanish, of course. [My Spanish isn’t what it used to be but then, nothing is what it used to be]
In my next email I asked him to explain some of the terms, one of which was IEDs. I couldn’t resist mentioning that around here, an IED stands for Improvised Explosive Device, or bomb. The moment I typed IED I realized the NSA would pick up the word. Why wouldn’t they? A mention of IEDs in an email to Cuba should register somewhere. But, I pressed the send button anyway. I should continue to live as a free man and they should continue to do their job. [Ernesto’s IED acronym stands for some sort of international monetary exchange unit.]
As far as my phone calls, I doubt anyone is listening in. When I was a teen playing with short wave radios, back when I lived in Venezuela, almost 60 years ago, my friends and I once stumbled on a long distance conversation. We listened and giggled, briefly, and then switched the dial. It was boring. I suspect any outsider would find my conversations even more boring. Besides, with a US population of 330 million, each constantly and obsessively using the phone, I doubt any government could hire enough people to listen to all the inane messages filling the airwaves. And if they store one billion calls a day, the figure I heard quoted, they must only be storing a small fraction of all the calls and texts.
But, there is a bright side. This new ‘scandal’ gives congress something to do—hold hearings to investigate the appropriateness of the law they passed. Otherwise congress would be left with only the AP snooping and the IRS targeting organizations claiming tax exempt status [if only I could claim exempt status] before having to fall back on old reliable Benghazi or whether the Washington Redskins should change their name or repealing Obamacare yet again. Think of it, with no scandals to investigate, congress may have to start passing laws.

  1. banana99
    June 14, 2013 at 8:33 am

    I have a few problems with NSA spying on the Internet. It seems like that money could be spent on more useful policies, like education and gun control. I worry, too, that it could have a chilling effect on political discourses that the state fears. (Most social movements are organizing online now. Finally, even though I doubt that the NSA can make much sense of all this data now, the program sets up the framework for a police state. That might seem alarmist, but who knows what the future will bring?

    • June 14, 2013 at 9:42 am

      …many other things. I suppose that I am merely expressing resignation. We will live with the status quo. I do want to be protected from terrorists. And the NSA et al seem to be doing a good job. Only 37 terror deaths have taken place since 9/11 but at what cost? No one knows. Meanwhile 10,000 times as many deaths (about 375,000) have taken place at the hands of guns in the same period of time and no one seems overly concerned. If you add to the cost of Homeland Security the cost in hours of the extra time spent in airport lines, the real costs go through the roof. And if we talk about loss of rights, we do give up 4th amendment search and seizure rights at the airport, none of which seem to bother people, not when compared to any hint of 2nd amendment right loses. So yes, I’m sorry to say that I am merely expressing resignation with the status quo.

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