Editorial: Watch what you're saying ...

Sep. 30, 2013 @ 11:43 PM

For years people have criticized, laughed at and mocked those who don't trust the establishment.

So-called "conspiracy theorists" are often ignored and labeled nuts or kooks. 

But with the recent leaks of what goes on in secret government-run offices around the world, those that question the establishment are beginning to look more and more credible.

On Sunday it was revealed by the New York Times that the National Security Agency mined the Facebook accounts of some American users to build sophisticated graphs on their connections.

"Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information," Times reporters James Risen and Laura Poitras wrote.

The pair went on to report that the agency began allowing analysis of phone call and email logs in November 2010  "to examine Americans’ networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after NSA officials lifted restrictions on the practice."

Further, the NSA can "augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data."

It's just another thread in the unraveling tapestry of American citizens' right to privacy.

The government long ago began snooping on its own citizens — J. Edgar Hoover had gobs of information on almost everyone of consequence during the Cold War — but until recently most common people thought their reletive obscurity served as a potective barrier from intrusion.

In a digital age, we're not so lucky. Data on everyone is available with just a click, and the way that data can be mapped out and connected is scary.

During WWII and the Cold War, Americans often saw phrases like "Loose lips sink ships" or "Silence means security." Who'd have ever thought that years later it would be our own government we'd have to worry about?