Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Driving People Insane

Trey Smith

In an angry speech before the United Nations General Assembly, a democratically-elected president had this to say.
In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy. In the absence of the respect for sovereignty, there is no basis for the relationship among nations.
In year's past, if you were to guess that these words were spoken by the sitting US President, no one would fault you. US Presidents are known to say lots of noble things. But these words were spoken by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and they were directed AT the United States! Her words were targeting the massive surveillance of world citizens by the NSA.

What she said should be a no-brainer: A lack of privacy is the hallmark of an authoritarian regime. Dictators, despots and demagogs do not want their citizens to think for themselves. No, they want the unwashed masses uncritically to toe the party line. They want people always to be looking over their shoulder and to be too frightened to utter any degree of dissent.

In a manner of speaking, mass surveillance is a form of terrorism. It is not the kind of terrorism that directly can end life in a split second -- though, at times, it can lead to death -- but it IS the kind of terrorism that can lead to indiscriminate intimidation, imprisonment and torture. Mass surveillance terrorizes people from writing, saying or even thinking things that the government does not approve of. It is so terrorizing that real democracy becomes near too impossible.

Not only is mass surveillance a form of terrorism, but it also leads to wide scale mental health problems. If you know that you are always being watched, you are more apt to become paranoid. You may start to have delusions that may or may not be all that delusional. It would not be uncommon for people to develop trust issues and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

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