The Ottumwa Courier

Columns

June 17, 2013

Feeling a little paranoid

NSA has been spying on me, and on you too!

OTTUMWA — So, I found out the government has been spying on me. Just when you think you could trust a spy agency, they pull something like this.

You know you’re paranoid when you’re watching a football game and you think they’re talking about you in the huddle.

Maybe you are. But, you should be a little paranoid. The government’s creep into every facet of your life never seems to end.

These days, there’s a security camera every 4 inches monitoring you.  Iowa Hawkeye tailgates and sports bars are surrounded by growing dragnets. The Internet collects all kinds of data on your every click and soon ... surveillance drones are going to be flying over your house.

They say if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about! There’s also another saying: Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Oh yeah.

Now it was discovered that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting phone records from millions of Americans for years. It was revealed a day later the NSA has also been collecting online records from major tech firms like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL and more.

No one would have known any of this if not for a low-level “whistleblower” who somehow had high-level access to this information. If he can get to it, you wonder who else could.

Incidentally, the whistleblower is now in Hong Kong. That’s what I would do if I leaked information that jeopardized U.S. national security and the government  was looking to charge me with treason under the Espionage Act. I’d go to China and let things cool off for a while.

Then it was revealed the NSA has mistakenly intercepted emails and phone calls of innocent Americans.

Hey, I’m an innocent American! I’m just an innocent primate, doing what I do, the way I’ve always done it. Nothing to see here! Now, if a phone number of a potential terrorist is entered into the system one digit off, and it matches a phone number in your phone, the government could think you’re Jack the Ripper. That’s already been reported to have happened.

In fact, by following my data, the government knows me more intimately than anyone I know. It knows my daily and weekly routines by studying my data patterns, which experts say are just as valuable as listening into your conversations.

The next time someone says, “So tell me about yourself,” I’m just going to have the NSA send them a report. Takes less time!

In fact, if I go on a date, I’m just going to have the NSA send my profile. I won’t have to waste time explaining myself to her.

The NSA could also ghostwrite my autobiography and pen the foreward. Finally, they could write my obituary and eulogy. I’m sure it’ll be informative ... maybe even touching.

The NSA is building a data center that could hold yottabytes of data. A yottabyte? Yes, a yottabyte! I know what you’re thinking. “Matt, please tell me what a yottabyte is.” OK, a yottabyte is equal to 1,000,000,000,000,000 Gigabytes. To put that in perspective, it’s a lot information. I mean a lot! It has to hold a lot, because the NSA is collecting three billion phone calls a day. It will be keeping them forever and using data-mining formulas from supercomputers to make sure you’re behaving. It’s reported it will be stored in Utah.

Great, my deepest, most embarrassing secrets are going to be stored in Utah. So, if you want to blackmail someone, go to Utah and steal some information. Shouldn’t be that hard. That whistleblower was able to get to the information without much expertise.

All the fears of those old science fiction movies and books like George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” on the tyranny of Big Brother are starting to come true.  Remember the Thought  Police would spy on suspected thought-criminals with  telescreens in every area of society with hidden microphones and cameras? Sounding familiar? Privacy? Those days are over.

Snap back to today. Years and years of your information will be stored in Utah: who you talked to, how often, the locations, for how long, maybe some mistakenly intercepted emails. What could go wrong?

And it’s really none of their business. I mean so what if I have a spiritual adviser in Las Vegas! What did you think it was, a bookie? You can’t prove anything! I just happen to need a lot of spiritual healing during football season.

So what if I spend time during Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I do a lot of work for an orphanage down there. Offshore betting? How’d that number get in there? I thought that was a Red Cross number. Candi? Oh, that’s my ... that’s my maid. Are you satisfied now, Mr. Nosy?

In fact, NSA, most of the information you’ve intercepted and stored on me can easily be explained. You see, I do a lot of charity work. I’m also writing a book called “Avoiding trouble.” But, to write the book,  I have to do research on some of the crazier, fun sides of society so I can warn people what’s out there.

So there, NSA. You’re only spying on an innocent American. So, you might as well take me off your list.

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