NSA surveillance: Who thought we had privacy to begin with?

June 18, 2013

What I find most surprising about this whole NSA data mining operation is not that the government is doing it, because I expected that all along. What surprises me is that anyone had any delusions that privacy existed at all any more. Individual privacy disappeared years ago.

I worked for an Internet startup when the World Wide Web was just starting and "Internet" meant CompuServe and the many similar BBSs (bulletin board systems). I sat at a terminal monitoring the traffic through our server, which consisted of everyone's private chats, emails and pictures, and I came to two conclusions: Everyone with a computer was using it to cheat on their spouse, and everyone is secretly bisexual. We never did anything with all that data (which is probably why we went out of business), but there certainly was nothing stopping us from doing it. And with every single Internet business sharing all of your personal information every day, who would possibly assume that the government isn't sharing it too?

Actually, it strikes me as all rather naive.

William Smith, Baltimore

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