Snowden recently released info showing Microsoft is working with the government, granting backdoor access to monitor private citizens for terrorist activity. If this is possible, and the government really can take control of our digital devices, why are they not using this system to monitor the banks?
They use Outlook, Excel and Access, along with SQL servers. They destroyed our economy. If the government is so interested in bringing criminals to justice, why have they not gone after any major financial or insurance conglomerates that ruined the American way of life? If digital monitoring is done for the protection of the people, why are the people the only ones being monitored?
I'm an honest, hardworking American. I enjoy living in this country, if for no other reason than because enough people speak my language and all my stuff is here. Why am I monitored when I never committed a crime yet Bank of America, Chase, and all the Wall Street scum is able to commit highway robbery in front of the entire world and get away with it?
I want to see justice brought to these financial institutions. We need to hold them accountable for the egregious crimes that devastated our country more than the WTC attacks... so what's the problem?
Every financial institution uses a different system. Large banks that bought up smaller banks often don't integrate all systems until much later. The financial sector has no respect for the tech sector, so very little attention is paid to software solutions. This leaves our regulators in a very precarious position: It's not easy to train people on 12 different software systems, much less teach them all the financial intricacies necessary to catch a discrepancy in back-end processing.
It's not that what the banks do is always necessarily illegal. They just don't have as many laws as everyone else, because nobody understands finance except other financial institutions. No matter how many laws we enact, our regulators will never be able to keep on top of the banks enough to truly enforce anything. But that's assuming our regulators are even bothering to look.
When I worked at Countrywide and Bank of America, I helped with tours, audits, and "surprise" visits. Let me assure you that regulators aren't looking as hard as you'd think. They're spoon-fed only the information the banks want them to see and nothing more. For every hundred vital reports the banks have and utilize, they show one to a regulator, and even that one report can be easily doctored. Maybe the banks are getting a free pass from PRISM because our government is too stupid to know what they were looking at even if they did look.
Game of Thrones
I understand that we don't live in some fantasy land in which everyone smiles and hugs and kisses and loves each other, so I completely get the realistic fact that some secrets are temporarily necessary. Even in the most honest relationships, special occasions (keeping holiday plans a secret, for example) call for a bit of deviousness. I'm not faulting the U.S. for wanting to keep things hidden from other nations in the name of operational security. The problem I have is the government hid their monitoring efforts from their own people.
I don't like the idea of someone other than myself having control over my personal level of privacy. I don't appreciate having to be practically raped to fly on an airplane while I'm not even allowed to see where my tax money is spent. The level of privacy afforded the US government far exceeds that afforded to the average citizen, and as an average citizen, I'm outraged.
I'm Mad As Hell... And I'm Not Gonna Take It Anymore
I don't know what it is we can do about any of this government monitoring. I just know that it's not ok, and we shouldn't be accepting it. Hardcore Droid is flipping around the idea of a boycott. Lifehack and MainStreet are ok with me getting a little controversial. I think it's about time we started to take a stand. We need to find ways of showing the powers that be that we're not numbers and commodities -- we're human beings. I have a soul, and it's mine to choose what to do with.
For now, keep your eyes on Snowden, Manning, and Assange. Our fate rests in the fates of these men. What happens to them will one day happen to us. I don't know about you, but I have a shaky feeling about this...
Brian Penny is a former business analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower and freelance writer. He's a frequent contributor to Mainstreet, Lifehack, and HardcoreDroid and an affiliate of Manduka and Tazo. He documents his experiences working with Anonymous, practicing yoga, and fighting the banks on his blog.