According to a recent Chapman University survey, it’s not ghosts and goblins that Americans are most afraid of this Halloween; it’s the government, the corruption of which ranks as the number one fear in a list of 88 options. (Whooping cough and zombies rank as the bottom two in case you’re curious.)
In the video below, Cindy Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains that we have good reason to be afraid. The National Security Agency is engaging in wide scale collection of our telephone and internet records.
Ronald Sievert of Texas A&M counters that the government only reviews a small fraction of all internet correspondence, but Cohn explains that this is misleading because 90 percent of email traffic is spam. The government isn’t telling us how much of our relevant communications is being collected.
Before we can have an honest debate about the trade-offs between security and liberty, we must have an accurate understanding of the scale of government surveillance and whether it’s abusing its authority in doing so. Until then, we’ll just have to hope the government polices itself. Spooky!