...But of these sophisms and elenchs of merchandise I skill not...
Milton, Areopagitica

Except he had found the
standing sea-rock that even this last
Temptation breaks on; quieter than death but lovelier; peace
that quiets the desire even of praising it.

Jeffers, Meditation On Saviors



 History makes clear, however, that information gathered for any purpose may be misused:

And the effect of these extensive retention periods is magnified exponentially by both the technological ability and the legal mandate to share the information with other federal agencies, state and local law enforcement departments, foreign governments, and private entities.
To address these problems, this report recommends the following reforms:
  1. Ensure that policies governing the sharing and retention of information about Americans are accessible and transparent.
  2. Prohibit the retention and sharing of domestically-gathered data about Americans for law enforcement or intelligence purposes in the absence of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, and impose further limitations on the dissemination of personally identifiable information reflecting First Amendment-protected activity.
  3. Reform the outdated Privacy Act of 1974, which has fallen far short of its goal of protecting the privacy of Americans’ personal information, through statutory amendments and establishment of an independent oversight board.
  4. Increase public oversight over the National Counterterrorism Center, a massive federal data repository that increasingly is engaged in large-scale aggregation, retention, and analysis of non-terrorism information about Americans.
  5. Require regular and robust audits of federal agencies’ retention and sharing of non-criminal information about Americans.
Rachel Levinson-Waldman
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law

                                                              Chilling Effect
 NSA Surveillance Drives U.S. Writers to Self-Censor:
The initial survey results show that writers are significantly more likely than the general public to disapprove of “the government’s collection of telephone and Internet data as part of anti-terrorism efforts”— 66% of writers vs. 44% of the general public. Only 12% of writers approve, compared with 50% of the general public.
Freedom of expression is under threat and, as a result, freedom of information is imperiled as well.
Fully 85% of writers responding to PEN’s survey are worried about government surveillance of Americans,
and 73% of writers have never been as worried about privacy rights and freedom of the press as they are
PenAmerica (pdf)
Above links via Dave Eggers: US writers must take a stand on NSA surveillance GuardianUK
One explanation for the discrepancy in mistrust and apprehension (between writers and the general public) about govt. surveillance may be the parallel discrepancy in religious belief, especially the belief in an all-seeing anthropomorphic judgmental deity with very specific demands on behavior, and the punishment/reward protocols laid out by that deity in His Holy Book.
"God is already watching me, and I know what He wants, so why should I care if some hired-gun dweeb in a cubicle at the NSA is also watching me?"

Me personally, I've been the target of surveillance, intense and constant, governmental as well as private, since I was in my teens. Four Five decades.
I'm certain, though of course without any substantive proof, that for quite a while if not most all of that time, say between the late 60's and the mid 00's, I was being used as an in situ guinea pig, as the technologies and techniques were evolving.
The damage done to people who trusted me, who were as a consequence of that surveillance infected by it, and to the few people who inhabited that cage of attention with me, is as yet uncalculated.
It's interesting now, tracking my emotional response as everybody else catches up with that, or at least with the broad general fact of that.
Being watched, not by God, but by clueless worthless untrustworthy delusional assholes with guns, constantly evolving bugs, and a mandate that is morally and ethically without foundation.

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