Doug Johnson, Blue Skunk Blog, has pooh-poohed discussions about Google and Privacy. My sense of his points is simply that he confuses the violations of our freedoms as Americans--the NSA spying on all email--and the natural reaction to shy away from anything that enables the NSA's efforts with loathing of Google, GoogleApps, etc. While many are making the choice to not use Google, Google is only one of many U.S. companies caught up in the NSA web of deception, containment and data-collection. Let's review Doug's points.
In reading Blue Skunk Blog's assertions about Google and Privacy, I have to ask, what DOES it mean for individuals who use Google's services? It simply means that the NSA should not have this right, found to be objectionable in Revolutionary times:
general warrants, whereby any officer or messenger may be commanded to search suspected places without evidence of a fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, or whose offense is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are grievous and oppressive and ought not to be granted (Wikipedia)When Google reads my email while granting me a service, I have a choice. When the Government reads my gmail, I get more than what I bargained for and this constitutes a general warrant that is grievous and oppressive.
The Government isn't reading my gmail because it is out to do me good, but rather, to do me ill. And, if I seek to protect my information, which I may judge confidential to my family, friends, associates, and I, then the Government goes out of its way to crack my communications. By what right does it do so?
Every subject has a right to be secure from all unreasonable searches, and seizures of his person, his houses, his papers, and all his possessions.My information is my possession, I have an expectation of privacy when I encrypt data and send it to others via the Internet. I don't fear other citizens, but rather, the Government when it sets out to "crack" my encryption. This is wrong.
It is so, not because Google reads what I choose to share, but because the United States of America, a country which I have been a citizen in since birth and embrace as my home, has decided that it is allowable to break the law, fly in the face of the 4th Amendment. As powerful as Google is, who is it to say "No" to a Government that has slipped its chain, menacing its owner like a dog that bites the hand that feeds it? Is this democracy?
If Google didn't say "No" to China, why should it say "No" to the U.S.' spy agency, the NSA?
Doug makes some points in his blog entry; allow me to review them:
- No message or data that uses the Internet as a carrier or is stored on a networked server is 100% secure - but then what in life is?
- Google Apps for Education and personal Google Accounts have different levels of privacy associated with them.
- Students and employees using school technology resources have always had a "limited right to privacy."
- Privacy just may be a thing of the past, with e-mail security the least of our problems.
- Everyone eventually gets caught.
Here are my responses:
- I do not seek 100% security, but the NSA's efforts assure Americans, children of war veterans who have died for the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, that we have 0% assurance of privacy and security. Simply, I have the right to choose what I share, and the Government has removed that choice.
- GoogleApps for Education - There is NO assurance of privacy with this product that is available at no cost for schools and raising it only suggests that Doug's real aim may be to excuse K-12 institutions from the guilt of exposing children and staff to Google products in such a way as to ensure their continued usage at a later date (for students, when they are older and for adults to use what they are most comfortable with). Even so, there is no assurance of privacy since this is for WORK purposes and is irrelevant to personal use.
- This point that Doug makes, the limited assurance of privacy, is irrelevant. Google and Privacy discussions are centered around the fact that free Americans are being spied upon by the U.S. Government and that such activity is aided by companies. Of course, the Government has laws that aid it in this oppression of business, and the only recourse is to fight these laws as an American democracy must--peacefully, through civil disobedience if necessary, and, sigh, legislatively and in the courts.
- Privacy is NOT a thing of the past. It remains a choice that we make. To knuckle under Big Brother's hand is not in the best interests of our children, or, grandchildren who are too young to resist their indoctrination.
- Eventually everyone gets caught. This argument implies that users of encryption are engaged in illegal activity. But how far have we fallen that unreasonable search and seizure is no longer seen as oppressive and grievous that Americans like Doug defend it?
To review, GoogleApps for Education is used because it is free and there is no expectation of privacy because it is WORK related. However, we must teach our children to be critical thinkers so they don't fall under the influence of a particular vendor or product--whether it's Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc.
For personal uses of Gmail, GoogleDocs, etc., cloud computing, we are facing a slippery slope that will leave America no different than China in its persecution of individuals. Much of what the NSA has been allowed to do makes a mockery out of the 4th Amendment, out of our boasts to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
This is a scandal that supersedes all other objections. It strikes at the core of what it is to be American.
Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable²and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace²but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
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