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G.R. Boynton
Works at University of Iowa
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G.R. Boynton

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Reframing the argument -- how many nations would you like to have following your every electronic communication?

The current way to trivialize our current state is to say -- well, everybody is doing it. We spy on the French, but the French spy on us. We spy on Russia, but the Russians spy on us, ETC. The legalistic version of the argument is there is no 'law' against spying on another nation. It is legal. Only sometimes the implicit assumption, therefore it is okay. Sometimes it is okay is the stated conclusion.

But these arguments never take the next step. NSA-GCHQ collect every electronic transaction they can get their hands on. We know it is not limited to phones and email. NSA has invaded the banking system. Your drivers license is available. Cities are beginning to track your movements, and you can be confident NSA-GCHG will get that, too. And we do not know what other electronic communications they have at their beck and call. Well, if it is alright for NSA to do that to French citizens is it then alright for the French government to do the same thing to you? If we spy on the Russians is it alright with you that the Russians are tracking your every electronic communication? What about China? What about Israel? What about Saudi Arabia? What about every sordid excuse for a government? Do you really want to be followed by the government of every country in the world because every nation does it?

The next saving move is -- well, why would they want to track my communication? For the same reason NSA-GCHQ want to track the communication of their citizens. You can speculate about what leads NSA-GCHQ to do it, but they do. And the secondary reason is this is the next arms race. If the US can do it then China is going to be impelled to do it as well. And Russia. And Israel. And . . . probably not Iraq and Syria for now. They are too busy killing each other to bother with us.

The second saving move is -- they can't do it. The resources are too costly. That conveniently ignores Moore's law. Computing capability doubles every year. And that has been going on long enough that there are now gigantic jumps from one year to the next. Data storage costs fall even faster. In 5 to 10 years many nations will be able to track every electronic communication they can access in real time. They can build a huge 'dossier' on every person along with their network connections. And they will be able to write a set of productions that go if . . . then for every action you can imagine.

So, the real question is not does every nation spy on every other nation. That refuses to face what is coming next. The real question is how many nations do you want building a panopticon with you in it?

The final saving move -- oh, this is too extreme; it will not happen. But it can happen. And the logic is very clear. If it can happen it will short of our deciding that we do not want it to happen and joining with others who do not want it to happen. Climate change is coming because we cannot bring ourselves to act. This too is coming if we cannot bring ourselves to act.
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Honestly the lines are blurred in our modern day and age. Idealistically i would be against any kind of communication but how can you counter argument when the NSA claims its for national security and after 911 and the Boston marathon bombings one could hardly argue with them. Nevertheless its unethical at best.
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G.R. Boynton

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Does anyone have experience with Datameer to share? I need something like this on the desktop, and they say they can do it. I just do not know how well they do it.
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Have him in circles
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    professor new media and politics, present
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Professor of new media and politics at the University of Iowa
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I am a professor of new media and politics at the University of Iowa. I do a twitterfact more or less every day -- it is counts of twitter messages about politics.

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