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Spies Like Us

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James Comey may be the new head of the FBI but we're all living in Hoover's wet dream. Science non-fiction is now and most of us are Warhol images trapped inside Orwell's crystal ball. Allow me to explain.

Prior to learning that Big Brother was watching our peep show through a two way mirror, we've been quite compliant exposing ourselves to voyeurs. PRISM versus the people is a dispute over the terms and conditions of national security. America is trapped inside multiple patriotic conundrums. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were written by men who were ex-patriots themselves. Now today's citizens are forced to internalize the 4th Amendment by either opening their door or their curtain while helplessly shrugging their shoulders.

It's strange how transparency is tinting our point of view. My email signature is the welcome mat to my social media real estate. No need to question where I'm going since I check-in with Foursquare. Now that you see where I'm @, I give you permission to follow me. You know my friends and family from Facebook, my working relationships and resume from Linkedin. I pin my interest and give my opinions on Tumblr. If you need a visual, there's Instagram and motion pictures on Vine. The people in the background may not want to be recorded or tagged, but so what?

The cell phone has become a working limb, as well as a voluntary tracking device for the laziest stalker. Outer space owls, EZ passes and other eyes in the sky fill the voids in our timeline. Whether iRobot or Android, we must choose the machine they want us to become.

Let's be honest, Langley is getting lapped by Silicon Valley. Get Smart gadgets, stakeouts, garbage sifting, wiretaps and other traditional watchdog methods trail our real time confessional megaphones. Our heads are in the "clouds" as we practically send burglars postcards with our passwords.

Our right to privacy is about our right to have secrets. Some which are guilty pleasures and others that are innocuous peccadilloes. Good or bad, you should be the sole proprietor of your business.

Unfortunately, in order to protect this comfort zone, we want our government to prevent attacks. In order to stop the crime before it happens, they must be proactive in espionage. These truths presents itself to be self-evident, but our collective actions and reactions are contradictory.

Here's the dilemma; every one of us would want to know if the person watching after our kids also watches kiddie porn. What if that nanny, babysitter or teacher has no red flag record of child molestation? You would probably give an organ to anyone who forewarned you. Let's take this scenario a step further. What if your "info-hero" was only able you expose that predator because they were spying on you?

We must handle our whistle-blowers with extreme care. They're usually sacrificing their career and life for a greater good and often know more than they can say. It's their insurance card and we have to trust it to be a smoking gun. Our corporate form of witness protection does not properly treat their moral hernia. When they take on industries such as Big Tobacco, Big Government, they sit in a fishbowl hoping and fearing a call from 60 Minutes.

Pundits chuckle at the irony of Edward Snowden choosing to flee to China, but they shouldn't dismiss the logic of someone who worked inside the beast he is trying to tame. Since the information on Snowden's intentional infiltration is still coming in, I won't call him friend or foe, but I will compare him to a little brother we despise for running to the neighbor's house to air our dirty laundry. The act displays too much hubris and self-righteousness for our American family values. Not to mention the smugness of our foreign comrades acting like they're a protective child service letting us peek through an iron curtain to see that he's alright. I'm not defending Snowden's actions but I share his fear that nothing will change.

The USA Patriot Act is an acronym for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism." While it appears the combination of Section 215 and PRISM is a deceptive move that expands the control of big government, perhaps Snowden sees something else is brewing. Maybe, Big Brother is protecting us from the special interest of his evil twin "inc." who wants to take over as puppet master. If corporations legally spend millions lobbying, should we assume they are on such high moral ground to be above, under the table payments to Snowden's former co-workers?

"Essentially, corporations and the wealthiest .01 percent are paying politicians hundreds of thousands of dollars to pass legislation that benefits them at the expense of everyone else." Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry's (Source: Metro 6/25/13)

These are the invisible hands we should fear. Just like an unregulated Wall Street doesn't focus on making money, they focus on manipulating it. Soon, corporations that feel over-policed by the government might use their corrupted access to apply derivatives to our personal information. Any wolf of the week could get a crop report without the hassle Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy went through in Trading Places. Healthcare organizations could figure out a way to prescribe us before we are diagnosed. Political strategist might become Super PAC mercenaries who arm rebels and rig elections with false blackmail through Photoshop and tape manipulation. Think about that. We are taught not to believe everything we hear, only what we see. If seeing is believing, what happens when mirages get verified as real? Ghost maestros will have enough voice, video, profile and penis pics to make whoever, do whatever, even if it was never said or done.

The individual is in jeopardy as any given life can become a Truman Show. Freedom of press is in jeopardy as journalists fear one umbrella media blacklisting (or an "accident") from those who defend that same 1st Amendment. Manufacturers and advertisers are promoting a new wave of televisions with cameras so they can record our reactions to their ads (these perverts need to stick to focus groups). Government would naturally extend their FISA jurisdiction and have an eye in every room that has a television. Are Snowden, Assange, and Anonymous, all tailors exposing the emperors without clothes while using the invisible cloaks for themselves?

This is not a movie review for Paranoia. The motives of these real characters and factions are too complex for the average citizen to trust. That's why the penalties for accessing and sharing our "arbitrary" information must be nothing short of tar and feather.

When I was working at a bank during the 2008 presidential election, hundreds of employees accessed one of the candidate's records. Subsequently, there was a mass firing. What if one of those bankers wasn't just curious, but ill-willed or compromised through bribery?

Today, access to personal data transcends our mother's maiden name. It's a security clearance to our plans, habits, desires, opinions, strengths and weaknesses. The invasion of this privacy mixed with other injustices is intentional oppression. Civil unrest is inevitable so "they" have to figure out ways to control you. What better way to do so than distracting you with self-obsession?

Fifteen minutes of fame is now the birthright of millennials. Peanut galleries have multiple museums with selfies on display. The idiot box is the forefather of smarter screens that suggest what you like. Suggestions will evolve into a command which creates a network of peer pressures for you to obey.

Make no mistake; the climate change of integrated surveillance is a violation of our human rights and is a power that rivals controlling the weather. This power is at your fingertips, but the power is not yours.