Friday, June 21, 2013

From PRISM to Prison: How America's surveillance state can land you in jail

As the PRISM scandal continues to unravel with new pieces of information being leaked, it is clear that there is a surveillance issue in America today. We’re led to believe that the prying into the lives of Americans is all in the name of national security—a noble and just cause. Yet, with inadequate and possibly negligent oversight by the FISA court, according to The Guardian, who is to say the program is under control?

Its defenders say that only metadata is being collected while the implicated Internet companies are denying involvement with sly words and an ounce of consumer trust.

Regardless of what information the government is collecting on its citizens, the idea that one’s privacy can so easily be breeched is haunting. It is warrantless, with no oversight other than a rampant executive branch. PRISM alone can be quite unsettling; there are other avenues the government can use to prosecute anyone they want.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

We are living in a surveillance state

From the Verizon scandal a few days ago to new reports stating of massive Internet surveillance by the US government, can American’s be assured that any shreds of remaining privacy be salvaged?

In a program called PRISM, the NSA reportedly has access to the servers of sites like, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and Apple (all of which are currently denying any knowledge or involvement with the PRISM program. In a presentation, which can be seen here, PRISM is said to give the NSA access to email, video and voice chat, photos, secure data, file transfers and more.

NBC News (via The Verge) is adding to the conversation with a report saying the NSA has been extensively collecting the phone calls of every American for the last seven years.

From the trends on Twitter, this will not go away quietly.

This, of course, brings us to a junction in American politics. There are many questions that need asked and the need for many more answers. We cannot let this injustice and invasion of privacy go unchallenged today.  Regardless of the answers given by the government about the success of the surveillance program, without proper transparency and explanation, the American people will continue to distrust Washington.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

NSA is collecting your phone calls

As it shouldn’t be any surprise to anyone, The Guardian from across the pond has revealed the NSA collecting phone records of millions of Americans. Of course, no thanks to The New York Times.

While the information collected does not contain the contents of the call, location data, phone numbers, and other telephone metadata are being collected and stored.

It’s not clear if this is limited to Verizon, or if other mobile carriers in the US have been subjected to such intrusions in personal privacy—something the courts continue to erode away.

This will reignite the conversation on governmental intrusion on privacy in America. Without warrant, the government continues to collect and store information about its citizens for reasons shielded by blanket terms of tyranny. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ Banned!

“Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it.”
― Mark Twain


I came across an article on The Friendly Atheist about Glen Ellyn School District 41 and its ban on The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

A handful of parents have raised concerns that the material covered in the book to be too mature for 8th grade students. Thinking that homosexuality, rape, and sex are absent themes from teenagers is myopic--parents cannot continue to live in a fantasy land.

Parenting and being a parent are not one in the same. To think that a book that covers unconventional topics be eliminated from the hands of those who need it because a parent finds the material distasteful is by no means a logical reason for its removal.

What's most discerning is that there is still a push to ban books that a handful find obscene or distasteful. In today's age of instant gratification of any bit of media one desires, to think a book tackling issues teens deal with on a daily base is in the crosshairs shows how far we still have to go before speech is truly free.

“History proves there is no better advertisement for a book than to condemn it for obscenity.” ― Holbrook Jackson

I hope this happens with the students of Glen Ellyn School District 41.