Taking Another Look at the NSA Surveillance

As others have pointed out, it seems a bit silly for Americans to be outraged at the data the NSA has been collecting on them while we willingly give every detail of our lives to corporations. Commentors have responded that the distinction is important, because the government can censor us, while Facebook can merely prevent us from expressing ourselves on Facebook. And how important is that, really?

We already know Facebook’s news feed isn’t a complete picture - there’s just too much information (and too much of it is particularly uninteresting) for the news feed to be a simple most-recent-first list of things your friends post. We don’t know exactly how Facebook decides what to feature; should we?

A recurring theme in cautionary fiction has always been warnings about censorship. In V for Vendetta, a personal favorite, the fascist government attempts to use its control over the media to convince its citizens to discredit and forget about V. And consider this - if some lone man promised to expose governmental corruption and bring down the system, with your help, how hesitant would you be to join him if you found nothing supporting him on Facebook, the Twitterverse was silent on the matter, and your Google searches found nothing positive?

A democracy will fail without informed voters. Voters can only be fully informed if others have the freedom to report their circumstances and opinions. And we cannot have freedom of speech without anonymity, which is exactly what pervasive recording like that done by Facebook, Google, and, yes, the NSA, strives against.

It’s true that we unwittingly give over hordes of information to corporations every day. But the similarities between this data collection and what the NSA does should not be used to excuse the NSA - they should be a sign that our outrage should be extended to privacy-lax corporations and, most importantly, ourselves.