Why you should be concerned about America’s surveillance state, even if you aren’t committing crimes
Glenn Greenwald has talked with many people who tell him that they haven’t done anything wrong, so why should they be concerned about America’s surveillance state? Here are the reasons:
Those who wish to organize should have the right to do so away from the targets of the organization. If the government is listening in, this makes any type of activism “extremely difficult.”
It is exclusively in the private realm that creativity, dissent and challenges to orthodoxy. Only when you know that you can explore “without external judgment where you can experiment” and “create new paths.” Psychological experiments verify this need for privacy; without it, people speak more stiffly. When you assume that you are being watched, your speech will be chilled and you will be encouraged to act in a conformist way.
Third, surveillance creates a “pervasive climate of fear.” It makes people afraid to speak candidly and meaningfully to other people in their same community. Greenwald (who admits that he has 11 dogs) draw on a dog example. Even when a fence is taken down, dogs are hesitant to go into a previously fenced-off area. The most insidious part of the surveillance state is that those who are being monitored are easily convinced that their limits, their conformity, is liberty and freedom.
What can be done about this situation in the United States. There are things you can do to remove yourself from the “surveillance matrix.” Some people have limited their economic interactions to cash transactions. There are way to communicate on the Internet that maintain anonymity (e.g., The Tor Project). It is important to educate yourself and others “beyond the prying eye of the United States government. For instance, you can educate yourself as to your rights when you have direct interactions with government officials; sources include Center for Constitutional Rights, National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms and the ACLU. To this list, I would add the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Forcible radical transparency is a way to take the offensive. That is why Greenwald (and I) support Wikileaks and Anonymous. Greenwald states, “I want walls to be blown in the wall of secrecy.”