PRISM is a Threat to Democracy
Many of you have now heard of PRISM, a privately designed tool of surveillance, used by the U.S Government and many others to collect massive amounts of raw information from internet communications: email, search history, IM, facebook data etc. The program indiscriminately collects data from everyone, and stores it indefinitely. To put this into a better perspective, all of your emails you have ever sent to anyone, including attachments, text, IP address and of course your location are stored on a hard drive somewhere deep underground. All of them.
This program and the general idea extends to your phone calls, mobile and landline as well. Every single phone call you make is recorded, and once again, stored in a basement. No one listens to your phone calls, you’re too boring to listen to, but if anyone would want to, he could not only listen to your present and future phone calls, he could track back years and hours worth of them and find every single detail he or she needs.
So what? Someone might ask, “I have nothing to hide, they can listen to me and read my emails for as long as they want.” And it’s easy to fall into this mindset, that if you don’t do anything wrong, if you don’t say anything alerting, if you don’t write or read anything the government thinks is dangerous, that you have nothing to worry about. So did everyone think in the Soviet Union, or Eastern Germany or Nazi Germany, Or Communist China in the 80’s. I’m not a traitor! I’m a proud Communist/National Socialist/Patriot/Republican/Democrat/Liberal/Atheist or whatever. See where this is going?
It’s not even the concern over the intrusion of your privacy, which is a whole debate in of itself. It’s that this tool provides the opportunity for McCarthy’s of the 21st century to start a new witch hunt. What if, say, once Obama leaves office, a Hardcore Republican jingoist steps into office? Or a Socialist Liberal? What do you think these ideologically fueled men would do with such a powerful system of surveillance? A system with records dating back 10 or more years of every single US citizen history of communications? Let’s take a wild guess: they’ll abuse it to their own benefit.
They’ll hunt down ideologically different parties, men and organizations. They will find every single piece of dirt on every single member of their opposition and blackmail them into submission. This tool is the single most dangerous thing to a democracy, to the United States Constitution that has ever existed since the founding of this nation. It is powerful enough to destroy parties, ideologies and opposition, powerful enough to install any autocrat or despot in power. Just imagine if such system was installed in Syria? Or Egypt? Do you think the same level of protest and civil opposition would have happened if every phone call and email were to be recorded and scrutinized?
We cannot allow this system to exist, no court, or general or secretary or president can stop the abuse and the following reckoning this total surveillance can produce. We cannot trust anyone, under any circumstance (be it fight on terrorism or otherwise) this power. No human, no authority can properly and lawfully use such power, and definitely not for good.
We live in times where anyone is presumed guilty, until proven innocent. Indiscriminate violence of Islamist Extremists has created a world of fear and fear mongering, circular system of destruction without an end. PRISM is just a part, an evolution of this mindset, constantly alert and in fear, and it’s definitely not the end.