Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Vacation Footprint

ith revelations on National Security Agency snooping into our everyday lives hitting as we were on vacation, I pause to wonder, for a moment, how we did in not leaving a trail for the ordinary citizen and the US government to follow as we completed a near-3,000 mile voyage through three states (Idaho, Montana, Washington) and two Canadian provinces (British Columbia and Alberta).

I confess to two Facebook breaches: I made one comment mentioning our presence in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, just a day into our vacation, followed up a week later with a more vague yet telling mention that we were waiting at a Blackball Ferry loading dock in Washington state.
I also made one post concerning my ongoing ability to attract crazy homeless ladies, though I did not mention the city in which that occurred (Vancouver, BC).
So I could call my indiscretions minor, but enough for the casual thief to surmise that I was not home at the moment, leaving our house ripe for the plucking.
As far as the US government goes, we gave them a lot more information – right down to a PDF of our planned itinerary, which my wife emailed to me at work. Whether or not any of it was read is likely not in question, though the potential certainly was there, given the NSA-related revelations of earlier this week.
Who officially knew we were gone?
Three people in our immediate neighborhood, whom I told.
Our automobile insurance company. I called them to ask whether we needed any special insurance while traveling in Canada.
Our credit union. We let them know where we’d be going in vague terms so when charges started showing up on our credit card, we wouldn’t be flagged as having a stolen card.
Various relatives, some of whom tended our dog while we were gone, and who stayed at our house for a time, and one other who came over to ensure things got watered properly.
Two full classes of students at Brigham Young University-Idaho. I teach them. I let them know we’d be on the road so they wouldn’t try to call me at work.
So, yeah, the whole world had to know our business.
But let’s not forget the electronic footprint, which is enormous.
Credit card receipts and bank transactions will be the most telling for any NSA folks looking in to what we did. We also crossed the US/Canadian border, though at this point I’m not sure if any electronic records were taken – or if indeed any records were taken at all; in neither case did the border agents have our paperwork long enough to do any recording, though I’m sure there’s video evidence, complete with our license plate number, recorded for posterity.
We also sent emails. Me, mostly to my students. My wife, to her relatives keeping an eye on the place. Were any of them read? Don’t know. (That’s the worst part of this NSA thing; we can only trust that they’re not reading things. Yet.)
A few cell phone calls – we’re not big callers, but there were some made. And across an international border. Surely they were recorded.
We came home to find all well here. But we came home not really knowing who knew we’d left.

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