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The Myth Of Privacy In A Google Age

The press is clutching their pearls over the revelation that the Obama administration subpoenaed phone records of AP reporters, but how much privacy can any of us expect nowadays?

It's incredibly ironic that after years of the Patriot Act, and actually sitting on information that the Bush administration had been monitoring millions of Americans' communications without warrants that the media is now up in arms and wailing "First Amendment!" when they find out that the Obama administration got a subpoena to check the phone records of AP journalists in an attempt to find a national security leak.

For what it's worth, I'm not sure that this is the case that the collective media wants to hang their "chilling whistleblowers" hats on. In the case of sensitive counterterrorism (and especially, as in this case, a turned operative), I think maybe it's a good thing that whoever had those loose lips feels chilled from leaking information to the media. This isn't a case where a crusading whistleblower exposes malfeasance. This could have potentially hurt future counterterrorism targets. However, because ultimately, this is about them feeling violated, they ignore the legal subpoena and groundwork they didn't report on when it was established and just clutch their pearls.

In any event, it's time to dispel the laughable notion that any of us has any privacy any more any way. From grocery store buyers cards to Facebook, Americans have essentially waived their privacy away. The amount of information available on any and all of us is astounding, and much of it is freely given away by us. I've logged into my Facebook account only to find friends "checking in" from gyms, restaurants and even holidays (nice to let the world know you're not at home for potential burglers). Amazon crafts special deals based on my browsing history. Tweet about Wegman's Deli and watch Whole Foods send you a tweet about their superior deli department, as happened to a friend of mine.

And yes, the government is listening as well. The Patriot Act has been strengthened, not weakened in the intervening years. To the best of my knowledge, Room 614A in the SBC Building in San Francisco is still operational.

Privacy in the Google age is a myth. The sooner the media catches up to the reality that affects all of us, the sooner we can start discussing the real issues surrounding our privacy and rights.

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