Who’s Afraid of NSA?

What with the news and controversy surrounding Edward Snowden and Wikileaks an average American might think his privacy no longer exists. Everything we do on-line or by phone is closely monitored by people who work deed deep in the federal government’s deep state.

Have I got good news for libertarians. On the way to the airport this morning I learned thanks to the Federalist Radio Hour that the reason the Affordable Care Act rolled out so poorly was that feds could not verify personal incomes of people signing up for the new health care plan. Enrollees entered their digits and the government had to go through too many layers of records, and even then could not tell how much someone made.

Imagine that. NSA and Homeland Security and the Defense Intelligence Agency may know your caloric intake thanks to the Fitbit you are wearing, but they can’t even tell how much you make.

Is this a great country, or what?

6 thoughts on “Who’s Afraid of NSA?

  1. It’s “security by obscurity” — in this case, our personal information is secure because there is too much of it to be processed efficiently.

    The same is true with gun law enforcement. By law, the records are kept in paper form in various state-level offices. Searches take weeks.

    But that can’t really last, and most of the incentives are in the direction of optimization.


  2. Letme – Yes, I agree. To quote the late, great Thomas “Fats” Waller, “One never knows, do one?” Don’t assume too much about what is or what is not being scrutinized.
    One a slightly different note (but related), “what is truly private and what is not?,” has become an even greater concern. It appears that nowadays that nothing, absolutely nothing that one says or writes may be considered “private” communication anymore. Take the Romney campaign a few years ago: Why was the session where he made the remark that only a certain fraction of the population paid no taxes, yet were able to vote (therefore un-convincable to his campaign’s rhetoric)? That took place in a “private” setting, yet was leaked to the media somehow. To cite a popular admonition of citizens in the late Soviet Union, “Trust No One.”


  3. Sean,

    It’s patchy right now. But the momentum is definitely in favor of the seekers, not the hiders.


  4. Here’s how to verify a citizen’s income. Turn them over to “the intelligence community”:

    In the last three months of the Obama presidency, significant personal information from and about the Trump transition was collected and widely disseminated at intelligence agencies, according to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes.

    Dozens of intelligence reports provided to Nunes by an unnamed whistleblower were floating around during the sensitive transition period following the election, he said. The information collection itself may have technically been legal, but the failure to properly mask the information “alarmed” the California congressman, who notified the White House of the surveillance and dissemination of information on Wednesday afternoon.


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