Technology is mans friend and foe depending on its uses a friend when it is used to make life easier, a foe when it is used to spy on your life especially by the state. Indeed, the government has virtually admitted to spying on its citizens in the name of national security and law enforcement!
Forms of Government Spying
The federal government certainly has the resources including the manpower, money and technology, not to mention the powerful motivation, to spy on its citizens. Said spying activities are not your amateur efforts either because virtually all levels of government are involved in one way or another on the act.
- E-mail spying
The National Security Agency has reportedly built a massive data center that will enable its agents to read every single email transmitted. But thats not all. The center can also tap into cell phone communications, credit card transactions, and private information online, among others, thanks or no thanks to its ability to filter through yottabytes of data.
- Detailed files
The Federal Bureau of Investigation knows its job well and, to the frustration of citizens who value their privacy, does it well. The agency maintains detailed files for public, semi-public and even private individuals who have the slightest chance of being a security threat (i.e., a person of interest). You can even submit a request for your own personal file, if youre on the list.
- Social media spying
Homeland Security seems bent on spying on its citizens via social media like Twitter and Facebook, as evidenced by its adverts for contractors to build hardware and software capable of reading status updates and identifying possible threats. The government is a stalker that you will not want on your friends list!
- Phone records
President Obama himself defended the federal governments monitoring of phone records among American citizens. He called it a necessary tool against terrorism while emphasizing that the citizens privacy was intact because intelligence agents are not listening to the telephone calls but are instead looking at the phone numbers and the call duration; peoples names and content are not looked into.
But who knows for sure especially in the climate of paranoia? For example, the FBI has been intercepting data from cell phones except for voice content for the past 2 decades even without a warrant.
Forms of Citizen Protection
Suffice it to say that the government may or may not have violated the rights of its citizens with its spying activities but citizens like you should take the necessary measures to protect yourself. In doing so, you can maintain your privacy while still being a law-abiding citizen of the United States.
- Make secure cell phone calls your main priority especially when you have sensitive information traded over the communications medium. Ask a security expert about these calls and then install the necessary hardware/software components as soon as possible.
- Avoid giving out your personal information especially via phone, email and other online means. While you are required to provide information to concerned government agencies, you are not obligated to do so with others. Beware of giving information to impersonators over the phone, too.
- Safely dispose of your personal information on gadgets like laptops, tablets and smartphones, among others.
- Encrypt your data. This is just as important as making secure cell phone calls because information can be sent via the Internet, too, even when you adopted all standard security measures. Use encryption software. Look for the lock icon and click on it before sending any information online.
- Keep your gadgets secure, too. Install anti-spyware, anti-virus and firewalls on your personal computers. Install security patches on your software programs including your operating system. Avoid opening spam and phishing emails (Tip: When you dont recognize the senders email address, dont open the email)
Indeed, you must take full responsibility for keeping government spying as minimal as possible and you can start by making secure cell phone calls!