Baby Steps

Obama's NSA speech: half-hearted at best

This past week brought a storm of news regarding “internet security” (sort of any oxymoron in today’s day and age), NSA spying (at this point, we all know they do it) and the vast extent to which our government infringes on our lives.

“Those who are troubled by our existing programs are not interested in a repeat of 9-11,” said President Obama last week, “and those who defend these programs are not dismissive of civil liberties. The challenge is getting the details right, and that’s not simple.”

The president recommended changes to the NSA’s citizen spy program, but said it as if he were doing us all a favor. While I commend the president in addressing these activities, this still raises the question, why? What does the government need to know about you or I that they should legally be allowed to tap our phones without cause? We have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights that are slowly disintegrating, and we should not be treated as criminals in the name of “national security.”

Nothing that Obama mentioned should be a shock to people in the current age of electronic media, social networking and ever-changing “privacy” policies. We live in an age when our lives are becoming entrenched in electronic media. Although internet services are convenient, we should pause a moment to survey just how much of our lives we have willingly put online. Credit cards, banking, bills, emails, family photos . . .

We volunteer this without hesitation to the internet ether. I love my Facebook as much as anyone, but even I am reevaluating how much information I want to keep floating around for others to grab. It may be time to get back to conversations in person, visiting people in person and writing letters with good old-fashioned paper and pens. (I’d say, pick up the phone and call a friend but, you know, the NSA . . .)

In other words, if you want to say something securely and privately, the best way to do it is with your mouths, in person and behind closed doors—preferably your own. For now.

Bianca May is a graduate of Sonoma State University and self-described feather-ruffler living in Rohnert Park.

Open Mic is a weekly op/ed feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write [email protected].