Technology with attitude

The United States of Surveillance?

7

Back in 1999, I went on a seminary sponsored trip to Hong Kong and mainland China. We spent two weeks in Hong Kong and a week in Yunan Province in Western China. The purpose of the trip was to worship with Christians in small villages not far from the provincial capital of Kunming. It was interesting that we were escorted by government officials when we went to the villages. They said they were there to “protect us”, but we all knew they were watching us and the villagers as well. The professor who was with us was usually asked to preach (he spoke fluent Mandarin), but he had to make sure that he actually wasn’t preaching but teaching, since the government forbade outsiders from preaching.

It was my first experience with a society where surviellance was part of the fabric.

Upon hearing the news today that the National Security Agency has a huge database of domestic phone calls I thought about my experience in China. No, equating the two. But there is something unsettleing in knowing that my calls were probably monitored. Even though my local phone company, Qwest, chose to bow out of this program, I did have wireless and cable phone from some of the other big names involved.

Listen, I understand we need to be watchful of terrorist cells, but do we really need to collect data on every phone call made stateside? And where does this all stop?

America is a society of laws and civil protections. I’m all for security, but it should not be at the expense of my freedom.

The goal of terror is to basically scare the bejeezsus out of a society and make them paranoid. More and more I think that this administration is acting out of fear instead of using their head. They think that the can just give a little bit of our freedoms in order to save America. But in the end, they are weaking on nation because they are fearful.

National security is important, but it has to based on sound facts, not on fear.