“NSA Prism: Why I’m boycotting US cloud tech – and you should too”

It is with great sadness that I have to agree with this article.

When I was growing up, we were taught that the US was the greatest nation on Earth. There was even some evidence that objectively supported it — the Manhattan project (and the fact that we were so collectively horrified at the fates of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that we had never again used atomic weapons on that scale)… the race to the Moon in the sixties… the semiconductor revolution in Silicon Valley, which was just getting underway as I reached my teen years.

There was also evidence that all was not well in the Republic. The Watergate scandal, the Kennedy assassination, the Iran-Contra affair, and God only knows what else. This, of course, was all played down whenever someone had the temerity to mention any of it.

All through the nineties I lived and worked a stone’s throw from Washington DC. I read a number of articles from both of the local papers (conservative and liberal), and I saw politics play out in a way that few people outside that area ever see. And what I saw emerging was ever-more-ruthless politicians bent on gathering ever-more power to themselves. Even people elected with the best of intentions got sucked into the trap and corrupted.

Since the turn of the century, I’ve seen privacy abuses by everyone from the governments to small companies. Honesty and integrity? If it’s the US government (or at least some parties in other countries’ governments), you might as well label every reassurance they offer as a convenient lie. Ditto any publicly-held corporation — even if they’re telling you the truth now, they will change their tune the moment it’s more profitable to do so (because publicly-owned corporations are evil by definition). Privately-held companies and individuals might tell you the truth, and have the integrity to stick to it, but you have to be suspicious there too, unless they explicitly provide proof.

The law? George Bush Junior ignored it whenever it was inconvenient, and Barack Obama has picked up that idea and enthusiastically run with it. Both should have been impeached before the end of their first terms. In a long life of being disgusted by politicians, I have never been as disgusted as I am now.

I wish this week’s NSA “PRISM” leaks were as shocking as they are appalling, but to anyone who has paid the slightest attention in the last few years, the only shocking thing about them is that some brave individuals had the cojones to leak them. The rumors I’m hearing about the government wanting to prosecute the news organizations that dared to publicize the information only reinforces my opinion that the US is headed down the easy path toward totalitarianism.

If you’re a US citizen, I urge you to fight this political corruption — voting out any politician who dares to publicly endorse the PRISM system is a good start. If you’re not, read the article and consider boycotting any tech company with access to your data that is subject to US law, and be sure to tell them why. If major companies stop giving campaign contributions to politicians who trample peoples’ privacy, those politicians will sit up and take notice. They certainly won’t pay attention to anything else.

3 Comments

  1. My representative, Nydia Velazquez, has voted against the PATRIOT Act, and both FISA bills. She is very unusual in that regard though, I think out of the hundreds of congressmen and senators, less than half a dozen voted against PATRIOT, for example.

    • A friend was telling me about a Daily Show that I’d missed a few months ago, where Australian politicians were asked what their job was, and replied something like “to make the country a better place.” US politicians were asked the same question, but gave a very different answer: “to get re-elected.”

      Right there you see the crux of the problem in US politics.

  2. As an interesting aside, you may have noticed that Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and many others are now begging the government to let them tell the world more about the FISA orders they’ve answered. They obviously know that their business models are at risk from the leaks. Unfortunately for many of them, the leaks also show just how carefully they’ve misled the public on surveillance for the last decade.

    And nothing is going to convince companies and people outside the US to trust them with data ever again. How can they? Google is as subject to US law as Huawei is to Chinese law, and we saw how US companies essentailly boycotted Huawei earlier this year, over nothing but suspicions that they might act in the Chinese government’s favor at some point in the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *