Oct 2nd, 2013


Sheesh. As if the NSA wasn’t already in deep enough manure with the American public over information leaked regarding controversial homeland surveillance tactics. The New York Times is reporting that the NSA has, in fact, gone a bit further with data gathering tactics than they let on.

The agency continues to deny that they’ve ever used the location data from mobile phones to track the location of American citizens, but a draft answer written for national intelligence director James Clapper seems to suggest they’ve at least experimented with the idea.

It started in 2010, with the national security body reportedly receiving samples of data from towers to test their ability to analyze and process the format in which the data was received. It happened again in 2011. The draft then went on to ensure that the data was not used for any other purposes, including being analyzed and processed for actual purposes of intelligence gathering.

There was no mention of how many Americans’ information was subject to this secret experiment, nor do we know if the NSA still has any of the data it gathered. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon suggest there’s more to know about the whole ordeal than the government is willing to make public.

The topic of civil liberties and which ones we have reasonable expectations of have been hot in this particular area as of late. Although these smartphones are tricked out with location-tracking information (not only to help users in their day-to-day life, but for carriers to help improve their service, emergency services to better serve those in need, and more), a lot of people are of the opinion that a general expectation of privacy is to be expected under the words outlined in the fourth amendment.

Indeed, civil liberties should be respected and Americans should have the right to know what their data is being used for. To say you shouldn’t expect privacy in the digital age is to willingly give up a right that you, as an American citizen, have been entitled to.

To those people, I ask — why not give up your first amendment rights? Or second amendment? Or the rights outlined in the entirety of the Bill of Rights? Where do we stop and ask ourselves “how much is too much?”

I want a smartphone that can help me get to where I’m going, but not if it’s going to help the government track me down at will (even if I don’t have anything to hide). Let’s hope these “experiments” didn’t evolve into something much more substantial than it sounds.