Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why I Don't Want the Government to Have My Data

Many people on the internet these days are terrified that the Government will go all Big Brother on us and start adding words to the language, stereotyping us based on our phone records, or forcing us to join patriotic Facebook games. And for some reason, the Government's repeated assurances that it only wants information so that it can infiltrate anti-Government brotherhoods has done little to calm these 1984-inspired fears.

But I would like to say today: I am not really afraid of what the Government will do with my data.

I am worried about what someone else will do with my data once some random government employee leaks it out.

Consider the following nightmare scenarios:

1) A secret court authorizes the Government to monitor our credit cards so that they can see who's buying ingredients for explosives. A week later, all your money has been spent on porn ordered to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, dwelling place of one Mr. Julian Assange.

2) The government starts collecting data from grocery store loyalty cards. Communist gorillas track you down to reclaim all your bananas for the primate-ariat.  

3) A recent hire for a government contractor leaks your phone metadata to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and suddenly your mother is armed to the teeth with proof that you really never do call her anymore.


  1. Call your mother.

    On another topic, I'm finally reading your book. Wowzer, James. It is wonderful. I spent about 6 minutes trying to think of a way to tell you how great I think it is and nothing quite portrays the message as articulately as I'd like. I guess because I'm now a scientific writer. I don't read much "for fun" any more (too much work reading has sucked the fun out of reading for me), but your book may get me back into it. Thank you for writing it.

    1. I know exactly what you could say:

      "Dear James,

      I like your book so much it makes up for what a pain you could be as my English student all those years ago."

      That would be high praise indeed. ;)

      If you're willing to review it on Amazon (preferably without reference to my days as a sophomoric sophomore), that would also be great. Because I need three more reviews there to make it onto a certain promotional list next time I do a giveaway.

  2. James, I'm the person that won the book giveaway in December. My husband and I loved it and I gave the second copy to my sister-in-law as a Christmas present. Thanks to these comments, I finally repented and posted an Amazon review of the book like I promised to do. Hope that gets you closer to the number you need.

    1. It does! Just two more to go. Many thanks.

  3. James, that is so funny because what you wrote is EXACTLY how I feel! It does make up for it!I'm proud of you.

    Review on Amazon done (I'm spedprof). Sorry I didn't think to do that before you suggested it.


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