Friday, October 7, 2016

‘The Government Took my Email’

If the National Security Agency was reading emails between my wife and I this week, this is what they got to see:

Although, as I read further about Yahoo cooperating with the NSA on this spooky email reading, chances that they saw this photo, or really anything of mine, appear beyond slim.

The Reuters story kinda fails to put the fear in me.

Yahoo Inc last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers' incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company complied with a classified U.S. government demand, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said three former employees and a fourth person apprised of the events. 

Some surveillance experts said this represents the first case to surface of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to an intelligence agency's request by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time.

And, yes, I’ve seen the movie:

So clearly, this is the time for all of us Yahoo email users to make the following demands:

1.      Winnebago. Burgundy interior.
2.      Phone number of the girl with the Uzi.
3.      Europe. And Tahiti.
4.      Peace on Earth. Good Will Toward Men.
5.      Clear up my record. Get out of my life.
6.      Declaration that “I’m fine.”

And I get it. I should be completely freaked out that the sinister NSA is reading my email. Looking for an undisclosed string of characters either in an email or an attachment. Believe me, I’ve seen that movie too.
I know the civil libertarian in me should be outraged. But when I open up the Vault O’ Outrage, all I get is the comically scurrying spider, running away from an empty room.

Facebook and Google and other tech companies are standing ready at their fainting couches, beating their breasts that if it had been THEM, THEY would not have complied with the NSA’s order for surveillance. They’re too busy of course, mining our every breath and syllable online in order to make money off of us to even bother giving the government a chance to listen in as well. That’s the American Way.

And I know the big argument: Where do we draw the line? If we lay back and let the government Snoops get into our email now when they won’t even tell us what they’re looking for, what’s to stop them from digging deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper into what we’re doing and saying and thinking and buying and eating and defecating?

Who says they ain’t doing that stuff right now?


Hope I didn’t scare you.

I’m not even all that worried about the recent Yahoo data breach.

I’ve changed my passwords. And hackers can just as easily download the mammoth/glasses photo from this post as they can from my email.

And maybe I’ll be a little more worried about the NSA surveillance when I have to scurry out of the sewers like a rat. But if we ever get to the point I’m being arrested and stuffed into a smelly sewer for sending (or receiving) a photo of a stuffed wooly mammoth wearing owl glasses, I guarantee you the world will have slipped so far into absurdity no amount of outrage then or now will matter.

Ah, but the slippery slope, the slippery slope! I’ll slip and fall on the slippery soap, you say.


In a movie.

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