Pat Vickers, Expert in Help Desk Management

Snooping is Creepy, Especially When the Government is Doing it

As an IT manager, making sure employees don’t abuse their access rights and snoop in HR files is always a concern. I think most of my employees had too much integrity and too much of a life to consider it but not all. The fact is, almost everyone in IT knows people who read files they had no right to. The ones I knew were as greasy and creepy as you might imagine.

The Spies Who Love Too Much

It was those creepy guys I thought of when I read that NSA employees were caught accessing the files of love interests. Yep. Twelve NSA employees were caught going through the files of wives and girlfriends, ex-wives and ex-girlfriends and, of course, women they wish were girlfriends.

The Government says, even though they are storing all of our emails and calls, they can’t actually read them or listen to them without a warrant, but that’s not really true. They’re not supposed to read or listen to them without a warrant but they can do it anytime they want and there are 12 creeps, in addition to Edward Snowden, who prove that.

What’s Good for Google is Good for America

I know what people say. Google, Facebook and Verizon already have that information and use it daily, so what difference does it make. There is a difference, a big one. To Paraphrase Stephen Colbert, Google cannot draft me and send me to war. Facebook cannot arrest me and try me for crimes. Verizon cannot send me to prison for life and none of them can strap me to a chair and pump a syringe full of deadly poison in my arm, all of which the US government can do. The reason for the fourth amendment is to protect individuals from an all powerful government. Allowing Google to show me diet ads should be a forfeiture of that protection.

But I should have nothing to worry about if I don’t do anything wrong, right? I mean, our court system would not let the government convict me without evidence. If you really believe that look up the case against the late Alaska Senator, Ted Stevens. You know the guy. “The Internet is a series of tubes.” He was convicted of corruption, in 2008. Less than a year later it was discovered federal prosecutors deliberately withheld exculpatory evidence that proved his innocence. This is a very powerful wealthy guy, a really high official and a member of the party in power at the time. Yet he was tried and convicted of a crime they knew he didn’t commit.

In the end, corruption was defeated , sort of. The exculpatory evidence was discovered. Senator Stevens did not go to jail. He just lost his senate seat and spent hundreds of thousands on his defense. More to the point, the two federal prosecutors who withheld the evidence were punished. One got a 15 day suspension and the other got 40 days, proving the system works and we can trust the government.

The fact is we are not supposed to trust our government. Our forefathers didn’t. They knew to err is human but it takes a government to really screw you over. That’s why they put checks and balances in place and gave us a bill of rights. Trusting the NSA not to violate our fourth amendment rights because they promise not to look at the files they have complete access to is like not having passwords on the HR system and just trusting the employees not to read each others files. Maybe you can trust them all but do you want to bet your job on it, let alone your life.

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4 replies
  1. mastermindnev
    mastermindnev says:

    Pat said, “They’re not supposed to read or listen to them without a warrant but they can do it anytime they want and there are 12 creeps, in addition to Edward Snowden, who prove that.”

    Seriously Pat, you categorize a Whistle Blower in with a bunch of ‘creeps.’ Just thought you’d slip that personal opinion in while you discussed a practice that has been going on for the ’30 years’ you’ve done tech support? Readers would be better served by an intelligent article that discusses the responsibility of tech to BLOW the WHISTLE on illegal spying, which is what Snowden did. You hook us with NSA and then vilify the person who brought about the truth caused worldwide conversation on the subject. Your words are not worthy of print.

    • Pat Vickers
      Pat Vickers says:

      I did not intend to Categorize Snowden as one of the creeps. I said in addition to. He clearly had access to everything and took it without a warrant. In addition to Snowden there are at least 12 creeps who went through the files on the women in their life. I actually think Snowden is whistle blower and not a creep and I’m sorry if I was unclear about that.

  2. Jeff Davis
    Jeff Davis says:

    MastermindNev, I think you’re overreacting. I don’t think it’s the responsibility of “tech” to blow the whistle on anything. “Mr.” Snowden could have blown his little whistle and made his points about excessive spying without endangering the lives of men and women working under cover overseas. In my opinion, Snowden is not only a creep, he’s a criminal with delusions of grandeur.

    Pat, I love your posts and hope you won’t let the occasional negative feedback slow you down from saying whatever is on your mind.

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