What do I consider private? In short, metadata and content that is associated with me that I do not publish. Content is easy to define and understand. What you are reading is content. Metadata, on the otherhand, has a more nebulous and confusing definiton.  Metadata is data that gives specificity to other data. Say, for instance, you place a phone call to someone. The audio of that phone call is the content. The length and GPS location of the call, the identities of those engaged in the call, the IMEI and SIM identification numbers of the phones connected to the call… THAT is metadata. The government wants us to believe that it’s dragnet, mass surveillance is only collecting metadata. ‘It’s only metadata’, senator Diane Feinstein and president Barack Obama said last year. Assuming that is true (it’s not, there is evidence that proves that the government is collecting much more than just metadata), that is tremendously scary. Metadata can be tremendously revealing if analyzed. There are so many reasons to have a problem with this, more than I can list in just a few paragraphs.

Whenever I engage in conversations with people about the government’s mass collection of our data, the stock response is ‘but I don’t have anything to hide’. So? That doesn’t mean anything. Whether or not you have anything to hide is entirely irrelevant. It’s whether or not the government thinks you have something to hide, and with the Executive’s overly broad interpretation of section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, everyone is a suspect in the War on Terror. Everyone. You, me, grandma. Whether or not you have anything to hide, you are suspect, and that is a tremendously dangerous interpretation of the law. Of course, the government also collects the data that Facebook and Twitter collect. Problem with that is, when I post something or log into Facebook, I am giving Facebook consent to use that information. Not the government. Not the companies that Facebook then sells that data to.

We are on a slippery slope. Our data is not safe. Not from the government. Not from private corporations. Encryption won’t help. Not at all. Our data is collected, stored, and sold on the daily, and I don’t think there is anything that we can do to slow or stop it.