Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In GOD, Government, Google, Gates, and Grownups We Trust

My barber tells me that the revelation on the Surveillance Programs of the National Security Agency (NSA) also generated some debates in the barbershop.   He wonders what my take is.   
Should the government gather private information from social and communications networks for security purposes?  Should privacy be sacrificed to secure us from terrorists and criminals?
The so-called leaks provided by Edward Snowden to The Guardian and the Washington Post should not really surprise anybody especially in this digital age.   The fact that NSA would like to access data from Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon and the like in order to check any abnormal, extra-ordinary, illegal, criminal or possibly terroristic activity is expected.   It is allowed for public safety or national security but subject to due process provided by law.
Snowden, for his revelations, has been described as a “whistleblower” by some media or news outlets.  This is probably because they were assuming that Snowden exposed some illegal activity of the government.   The documents that he leaked are supposed to be classified and top secret.
A “whistleblower” refers to an employee reporting about alleged dishonest or illegal activities occurring in a government agency, a public or private organization, or a company.
Are the NSA surveillance programs dishonest or illegal?  They appear to be authorized because they were being implemented with Congressional oversight and judicial approval.  In short, the three branches of the government are involved in accordance with the Patriot’s Act.
The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) is suing so it disagrees to a certain extent.  But many do not consider Snowden a whistleblower.  In fact, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said, “Edward Snowden is a "traitor" who has "committed an act of war against the United States," in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.

“The self-confessed leaker of top-secret documents detailing the National Security Agency's phone- and Internet-surveillance programs is a ‘deceitful and dishonest man’ who violated oaths he undertook to keep secret classified information about a program approved by all three branches of the government to protect Americans”, Bolton added.
Former CIA Director James Woolsey also commented on what Snowden did:  “Well, he's done two things. He's decided to ignore President Obama's I think very clear statement a couple days ago that you can't have both 100-percent privacy and 100-percent security, you've got to strike some kind of balance. Snowden decided no, you go for only privacy and don't consider security.
“The second thing he decided was that even though the president and the Congress and the courts, working very hard on a new system that they've set up in order to regulate these activities, that they are all three to be ignored and that he, Snowden, should be the decision-maker for the American people and a lot of other people as well as to where the line between security and privacy is drawn. And I think it is an extraordinarily terrible thing for him to have done.”
We, the people are the Governed who entrusted representatives in the Government to protect us, make laws, interpret the laws, and execute them for us.   For these tasks, we compensate them and give them our trust.  Of course, if they abuse the powers granted them, we have processes to stop the abuse – even to punish the abusers.
An employee of Booz Allen, a trusted government contractor, Snowden was given the necessary security clearances to access confidential information with the corresponding oath not to leak them.   Booz Allen already fired him for violating company policy and their trust.  For legal violations, due process will be followed which means extradition (he is currently in Hong Kong), investigation, and court trial.  He will get a fair trial.
Privacy is very important to us.  But we also know that absolute or complete privacy is impossible to have in a civilized and now digital world.  In order to enjoy national safety and security, we are expected to give up some privacy.  To obtain a cure for or prevent illness, we have to provide information to our doctor or the hospital.  To get the best legal defense, the defendant will have to provide his attorney all the information he needs.   Video cameras are installed in strategic places to monitor movements in department stores and other locations.
While we enjoy our freedom of speech, we expect listeners or readers not just to absorb them but they may share them with others as well.  If we join and /or use Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, Bing, Yahoo, Google, and other social media outlets, we voluntarily give information.   These are private entities that we trust to store data about our lives, what we say about others, and ourselves and about issues.  Verizon and other cable and communications network have to monitor our use of their facilities to bill us correctly.
Of course, we already provide so much information to the government.  We trust it more because the public officials hold positions of Public Trust.  For benefits received, we provide them with tax, social security, credit, and various types of required and/or voluntary information.
To be able to use efficient and effective search capabilities, we use Google, Bing, Yahoo and other engines.  In exchange, we give back data about our searchable selves.   GPS helps us provide directions or find locations but we have to provide information.  As we seek to find, we also expect to be found.
Government, Google, GPS, Grownups, Girl (Groom)
Obtaining the maximum benefits of Good Governance; utilizing effectively and efficiently Google, GPS, GoodReader and the like; expecting wise advice and counsel from Grownups such as Grandpas and Godfathers; and hoping to find the right Girl or Groom, you have to give and take data and information.   The amount of love that you give to an entity is always commensurate to the amount of information that you have on and take from that entity.
GOD, Golden Rule
Stretching it further even to the religious, you know that, in this material world, there is an Infinite Power monitoring your daily activities.  In some cases you feel targeted and challenged to face obstacles and crosses to carry.  By your actions, you will be judged.
To be safe and secure, you follow the Golden Rule:  Do Good and Avoid Evil.
This should be true as we suspect and expect some form of monitoring by the Government, Google, GPS and the like, and the Grownups.  Just “Do Good” by obeying the laws and “Avoid Evil” by not violating them.


  1. @ Benjamin Maynigo You should have added "Grandkids" (or "Grandchildren" with their child-like innocence -- as contra-distinguished from the childish attitude sometimes of some of our elected or appointed adult leaders. Because in real life, grandchildren often teach their grandparents how to operate computers, smart phones & even new electronic gadgets. Not too many senior citizens are as computer-savvy as you are, Benjamin Maynigo, or your barber. Best wishes & more power to your column, Bobby M. Reyes

    1. You are right Lolo Bobby. Grandkids and Geeks with their Gadgets and currently described as Digital Natives certainly play a more effective Grownup game in the acquisition and dissemination of data and information. - Ben

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