another foot in the door

As if we don’t have enough to be concerned about already, now Apple decides it’s the perfect time to step up surveillance on everyone’s phones. 

In the past, Apple made kind of a thing about championing privacy, but they lately announced their plan to start scouring the photos on your iPhone, just checking, you know, to make sure that none of them appear to be matches for child sexual abuse images in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database.

While it sounds well-meaning enough on the surface, this, like other things afoot at the moment, is dangerous stuff. 

Once they start policing your photos for child abuse imagery, what else might they like to police? Once you have accepted this level of access and intrusion, to what else will you be asked to submit?

And please don’t bother telling me you have nothing to hide. That is, at best, astonishingly naive. 

There is a reason for encryption: we are entitled to live our lives without scrutiny. What’s unfolding here, however, is yet another step in corporate and government intrusion, monitoring, and, ultimately, control in your personal life: a dystopic loss of freedoms.

Personal privacy and sovereignty are rapidly being demolished. There has been a veritable constellation of increasingly bold violations of our personal lives and ability to make decisions. To what end? The implications should terrify everyone. It’s past time to put the brakes on.

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Stand for freedom

accountability

Of course there’s next to no press coverage of it, but a United States court of law yesterday found that the National Security Agency acted illegally in its mass surveillance of US citizens’ telephone data and lying about it. As reported by Reuters, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declared it may have been unconstitutional as well.

The government’s assertion that the warrantless surveillance program of its own citizens served to fight domestic extremism also fell flat in the courtroom as the court ruled that the records did not support such claims.

This is a WIN for the American people. This is a WIN for the American Civil Liberties Union that helped bring the suit. It is also a WIN for courageous whistleblower Edward Snowden who disclosed the crime in 2013, and who remains in exile under threat of the US government’s use of the Espionage Act against him for said truth-telling.

It is wonderful to see a victory in the category of what’s right, but, somehow, and sadly, I do not think that this will reassure Snowden that it might be safe to come home to the country for which he so bravely stood up at such great personal cost.

It’s way past time that we recognize folks like Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and Julian Assange as the heroes they are. It is despicable that the powers that be continue to malign them, hunt them down, imprison them, torture them, and more using the empowerment and funding of the people these heroes sought to protect. It is way past time that we demand that those entities serve their people legally and constitutionally, with transparency and accountability.

As usual, folks, the responsibility is ours to raise our voices and seek what’s right.