This week there has been much discussion about the recent revelation by Edward Snowden that our government has been doing significant, widespread, secret surveillance of telephone and Internet transactions in this country.
I am particularly concerned about their delving into email content and tracking Internet searches. My concern isn’t because I have something to hide. Rather, it is because the collection of “facts” can be both misleading and potentially ruinous to an innocent person’s reputation and freedom.
One of the drawbacks of email is that there is no tone of voice. Words that are written in jest, irony, or sarcasm to a knowledgeable recipient are harmless. But those same words, read cold by an agent looking for evidence, can be damning.
The author of that email, in an attempt to keep himself informed as a patriotic citizen, may also have visited websites that the government deems questionable.
If those two types of transactions are linked together and the person becomes a suspect of terrorism, it would be very difficult to prove a negative — that his intentions were honorable.
This is a troubling development.
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