Selling Out to Big Brother
The most sacred principle of American life, honored in our Constitution and throughout our history, is that of privacy—or as Larry Flynt puts it, “the right to be left alone.” But thanks to the information revolution, the government’s assault on privacy is now more pervasive, though largely invisible, than ever under any preexisting totalitarian government.
The tools of intrusion are so varied—beginning with Google searches and Facebook “likes” and extending to cellphone-position locators—that a full accounting of the post-wiretap-era intrusion is not possible. But recent data on just one of the snooping techniques involving cellphones mocks the relatively minuscule power of any previous fascist or communist government to spy on its citizens.
Unbounded by the strict restraints that used to govern telephone wiretaps of old, today’s high-tech telecommunication companies are required by law to cooperate with all federal and state surveillance requests. We know just how pervasive that snooping through cellphone data is thanks to Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts), co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, who released the government’s report to the New York Times.
“In the first public accounting of its kind,” the Times stated, “cellphone carriers reported that they responded to a startling 1.3 million demands for subscriber information last year  from law-enforcement agencies seeking text messages, caller locations and other information in the course of investigations.”