The Daily Gamecock

Limited privacy grave threat to American dream

IRS, PRISM government scandals spells unnecessary trouble for citizens

The illusion has been shattered that anything we do on a computer is personal or hidden. Although, with the vast sharing of personal information we’ve come to naturally do every day, it’s not so far-fetched to think someone aside from our friends and credit card companies was gleaning it for their own use. It seems like sharing things electronically has become enticing and convenient enough that it can lead almost anyone to give up their personal information. No laws from the government, no snooping or over-bearing thought police to make it happen. Just Facebook, e-mail and online shopping could do the trick.

The program name PRISM has been bouncing around the news cycle recently. A secret government program that can collect direct information from the servers of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. According to the Post and the Guardian “Data from the PRISM program appeared in 1,477 articles in President Obama’s daily brief in 2012.” It’s also been revealed that the main qualification to search a document is whether the target appears 51% foreign.

A map from Privacy International shows that in democratic countries around the world the U.S’s privacy protection is the second worst, following the UK. So while the American dream of freedom and free will from the interference of other countries may still be half accurate, luckily the theft of our online personas isn’t.

Privacy matters aside, none of this government intrusion seems to be working. According to sociologist Keiran Healy, since the 60’s, America remains at least two deaths per 100k capita above any other country; its highest point is 8 more deaths per 100k capita. This graph runs through 2010, and we’ve seen even more violent crimes since then. After most mass shootings we find that there were many clues of mental instability on the killer’s part. Or like the Boston bombing, that the suspects were foreign with some kind of terrorist intention.

So have we somehow unknowingly handed this power to our government without any benefit on our part? As debates raged this year over gun control and other safety measures, there seemed to be a general desire from the American people: Protection. So the government supersedes all democratic floors and sends their covert in to catch new criminals before they can act with tools like 51% foreign filters and any information they deem necessary.

There is no more Red Scare, no Japanese work camps, or blatant animosity towards “race” within America. It’s 2013, where we just may have finally learned tolerance, and successfully blended into the melting pot of our ancestor’s dreams. But looking through the government’s PRISM, it would seem the melting pot just means suspicion can be had anywhere. Everyone is a risk, so everyone must be watched, whether they approve it or not.