June 2, 2014
By: Kelly Diamond, Publisher
This past week, Edward Snowden did his first American MSM interview with NBC’s Brian Williams. Admittedly, I found it rather lackluster. That Williams had the opportunity to ask far more probing questions regarding programs like PRISM or the extent to which the NSA can and HAS invited itself into the lives of average individuals, and simply didn’t, is disappointing to say the least.
One individual I work with said he thought Snowden came off as arrogant, like the whole thing was all about him. I didn’t get that impression. It seemed he was simply defending his own credibility against the government’s attempt to dismiss him out of hand as some “low level” official.
My disappointment with Snowden is in his defense of American government despite all that they’ve done to betray him and the American people.
That Edward Snowden is back in the media spotlight is a good thing though, because it carries with it his revelations, keeping government spying at the forefront.
When it comes to the government, I find “spying” and “data mining” to be rather interchangeable. The net, however, is cast so wide that it is getting tangled up with all the other nets being cast to drag the country for information about individual citizens. The net is cast so wide, that merely trying not to trip over it is rather shifty in the eyes of our national spies.
Edward Snowden exposed the National Security Agency’s activities. More importantly, and more specifically, in his recent interview, he exposed the extremely misguided conclusions at which the “intelligence community” within the government have arrived. He pointed out how someone from the government can literally watch your thought patterns by monitoring how someone types up their communications.
For example, while I’m drafting this blog here, I’ve typed out several sentences, revised them, deleted them, and taken pauses to think about how to phrase my next thought. Based on that, and of course the nature of what I’m writing, all sorts of conclusions can be drawn, the majority of which are wildly incorrect. They might conclude my writings are not very “patriotic”. They might then jump to the conclusion that I am somehow advocating violence, when that is totally untrue. I don’t know if it was the way in which the interview was edited or if this is really what Snowden was getting at, but it really seemed as if the NSA takes the “if you’re not with us, you are plotting violence against us” approach to data-mining.
The bigger question that I am hoping Snowden gets people to ask is: WHY? Why do they need this information about you or me? There are some who say, “It’s really just not that important. What I’m writing is really not that important. If they want to bother to investigate my horoscope and recipe subscriptions, then go ahead.” I know people like that. They might think government spying on citizens is pointless or wrong, but they have bigger things to worry about and don’t care enough to get indignant about it much less seek ways in which to protect their privacy.
But for folks like me, and perhaps yourself, it’s just plain creepy. Let’s say I was gardening. Just taking care of my little flowers outside my house. Then someone came along and stood right at the edge of my property line and decided to just stare at me while I’m gardening. I don’t have anything to hide, in fact, I’m gardening in front of all my neighbors… but it’s not unreasonable to call the person who’s staring at me creepy for doing it!
It saddens me that I even have to explain it to some people because it demonstrates how far gone our society is in terms of its complacency.
So in the wake of the recent Snowden interview, yet ANOTHER data mining program is brought to light: a joint National Mortgage Database Program. Ever apply for a mortgage? The application alone makes War and Peace look like a trifold. All that information housed in one clump. It is bad enough you have to give all that over to a bank… but imagine if the he Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) also got a copy and stored that in their database. Who are these agencies and why the tap-dancing hell do they need to STORE this information?
They are agencies within the federal government that believe they have an obligation under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 to report our information to Congress. What kind of information?
“The database will also encompass a mortgage holder’s entire credit history, including delinquent payments, late payments, minimum payments, high account balances and credit scores, according to the notice.
“The two agencies will also assemble ‘household demographic data,’ including racial and ethnic data, gender, marital status, religion, education, employment history, military status, household composition, the number of wage earners and a family’s total wealth and assets.” (Source: Washington Examiner)
And in case you’re wondering if there are any real limits on this in terms of whether they should be doing this or when it will stop:
“The mortgage database is unprecedented and would collect personal mortgage information on every single-family residential first lien loan issued since 1998. Federal officials will continue updating the database into the indefinite future.”
“’Congress did not explicitly require (or even explicitly authorize) the FHFA to build anything resembling the NMD,’ the Chamber told Watt in its May 16 letter.”
At least with all the technological capabilities our government has to spy on us, they can totally keep all that information safe right?
“A December report from the Government Accountability Office on breaches containing personally identifiable information from federal databases shows unlawful data breaches have doubled, from 15,140 reported incidents in 2009 to 22,156 in 2012.”
If you thought it was bad that businesses trolled you for the purposes of bombarding you will a deluge of junk mail offers, imagine how put out you will be when we finally figure out what this information is going to be used for, and by whom!
Surely there couldn’t be a crony angle to all this too, right?
“[CFPB Director Richard] Cordray confirmed in his January testimony that CoreLogic had been retained for the national mortgage database.
“The credit giant Experian is also involved in the mortgage database project, according to an FHFA official who requested anonymity.”
Who’s CoreLogic? Just a “friend” who happens to have access to mortgage databases of over 227 million loans.
So let me get this straight: ALL my personal information housed in a government database that is totally vulnerable with absolutely no idea why they even need it in the first place so that two of their cronies can somehow benefit? Is this really what they are selling?
It used to be that I could count on one government agency not talking to another. But for as antiquated as some government functions can be, spying is proving itself to be far more cutting edge than some are willing to give it credit for. Perhaps it’s just a bunch of cynicism, but ever notice how the government is slow and bloated when it comes to performing functions FOR its people, but ruthlessly efficient when it comes to performing functions AGAINST its people?