Expanding on an earlier episode, Emma and Brittany discuss how privacy affects your day to day life.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Emma: Hi Brittany.
Brittany: Hi, Emma.
Emma: Today I wanna talk about the idea of privacy. And I know that you and Connor have talked in past episodes and specifically in one episode about the Fourth Amendment, which is, you know, it’s in the Bill of Rights and it basically says that we as Americans have the right to not have our stuff searched or taken away by the government unless they have reason to believe that we’ve been breaking the law. so super, super important part of the Constitution, a really important part of our civil liberties. but I wanna talk more about how that idea kind of applies to us in a day-to-day context because most of us have never had, you know, the police serve us a warrant to search our house. That would be pretty crazy. definitely let us know if that’s ever happened to you if you feel like talking about it. But, yeah, there’s a lot of privacy, you know, stuff that affects us that maybe we don’t always think about. so, you know, when you’re an adult, a lot of your life happens digitally now and through the internet. So if you use a bank, a lot of your banking will happen online, and that can be super convenient. It makes life a lot easier. I, don’t like waiting in line at the bank. so I’m, happy that that technology exists, but also that means that, you know, there are people who may be able to access my banking information, which is really crazy to think about. And you wanna make sure that you know, that’s not falling into the wrong hands or that the government isn’t able to just get that information whenever they want to. You know, that’s something where we’ve seen even the IRS targeting people who are conservative. and when you think about the government having access to that kind of information, it’s easy to see how that could very quickly go wrong. and a lot of people, you know, use Amazon Prime. I know I’m a big fan of Amazon Prime, and when I think about it, I’m like, wow, I’ve been ordering most of my stuff from this website for, you know, the last few years since I joined Prime. Like, boy, Jeff Bezos probably knows a lot about me just by knowing what I’ve purchased before. So it could be, you know, the camping gear that I’m buying or the books that I’m buying, or even the food cuz they do groceries too. Like, same you could probably come up with a pretty good picture of, you know, who I generally am as a person. And, you know, there’s, there’s that element of it where it’s like there are these companies and these businesses that have that information and if you volunteer that information to them by doing business with them, that’s one thing. And I’m, not trying to say that there’s anything wrong with that, but the conversation that I wanna have today is more about, you know, the government’s, trying to push their way in and basically get access to that information, which is super scary. So, Brittany, I don’t know if you, if you ever shop online for stuff or how often you use to sort of this, the Amazon, that kind of thing, but, I’d be curious to hear your take on all of that.
Brittany: I mean, I only buy things online. I don’t remember the last time I went to a physical store. Yeah. Because again, I don’t drive in DC so my groceries get delivered and I use Amazon Prime gives you free Whole Foods delivery and I’m a huge Whole Foods fan. Yes. So, I get that delivered to my door. you know, my cat food, all the stuff, everything, even my home decor, like most of the stuff I have in my house I’ve ordered from Amazon Prime. Now there’s a point I wanna touch on that you brought up that I think is really important. So I turn ad blockers on, or no, sorry, off because, so ad blockers like block, people from getting your information and advertising. I actually really like the advertising and this is a personal opinion. A lot of people don’t like, you know, Facebook or Amazon or Instagram. Yeah. Having your information. For me, most of the stuff I’ve found, even new websites where I buy clothes, I found because of targeted totally ads. And so I had to make the decision. I’m like, you know what? I actually love this, but again, there’s a difference here, right? Because that’s Jeff Bezos or whoever it is, you know, targeting me. And like you said, I think this is a really important distinction to make is it’s not the government doing it now, there’s always the fear that the government can get that information. And like you said, as we learned, you know, this has happened, the NSA was, during the Edward Snowden links, who Connor and I have talked about before they were able to get our cell phone information, I think it was Verizon was the first leak, and, and we were being told that the government was forcing Verizon to give them our information. So, that can be a little scary, but that’s why, you know, that’s on the government. So that’s why it’s so important that we make sure our privacy is protected, especially online because all our information is very vulnerable online. Yeah. You know, every time we put in. in fact, I just got an email saying there was a security breach with my password on like 50 different sites. Yeah. So I had to go change my, you know, my password so people didn’t get my credit card information. So online privacy is probably one of the most important things right now. And with government specifically, we know that they’re full of corruption and we know that they can force people to give them, you know, our information. So I think they can do a lot of harm.
Emma: Yeah. You’re so right. And it’s, crazy too to think about all of the ways that we don’t even know the government is keeping track of us. Yeah. And it sounds kind of crazy. It sounds like, oh man, like a conspiracy theorist. But this is actually something that has gone to the courts before. Apple is very famous for being very protective of its user’s privacy, you know, props to them. That’s why I’m okay with having an iPhone. I’m okay with Apple knowing some of my information. I try to, you know, keep it to a minimum, but I’m all right with trusting my information with them because I have seen them say to the government, you know, the, this local police force tried to come in and basically force Apple to unlock this iPhone for someone that they suspected of committing a serious crime. And Apple said, no, we’re not going to do that for you. Like, you need, you need to prove that you actually know this person did it. Or go another way or figure it out. Like, you guys are smart. You can find a way to convict this person. We are not as the company who has a separate agreement with this person that’s legally binding to keep their information private. We’re not just going to give that to you. And something that you talked about Britney, that I really liked is there’s the thing that makes it so wrong when your privacy is violated by the government is that you have no choice in the matter. Yep. And that’s something that we talk about all the time is choice and free will and how, you know, maybe in certain cases you’re volunteering your information, you’re saying, all right, Amazon, I’m going to sign up. I’m going to g give you my address and tell you where I live and tell you what I like to do with my free time and whatever, my favorite shows and my groceries. But you are actually opting in and you’re signing up for it, and it’s voluntary. That’s what makes it fine. But when the government comes in and says, Hey, Amazon, we would like to also know what Emma is ordering on Amazon and where, you know, where she’s getting her groceries shipped to and what she likes to eat and what shows she’s streaming. Like, I never consented to give that information to the government. So if the government finds a way to get that and forces the company to give it up and forces me to give them my information, that’s really wrong. And we’ve talked about Edward Snowden on this show a lot, but I’m, I’m gonna bring him up again. When he came forward, he was talking about how our phones, our computers, like all of our technology that we rely so much on, were being basically tapped without our consent. And the government was listening to everyone, and this is called Dragnet policing. And you can imagine throwing out a huge net, you know, across this giant body of water and just kind of like pulling it in. And it’s like you’re scanning everything to see what you can find, rather than going in and looking for what you know, Hey, we think this person committed a crime, we’re going to get a warrant and we’re going to prove that there’s reasonable suspicion like the Constitution says, and you know, go, go talk to them or go make sure that they’re not doing anything wrong. Like that’s what the Constitution sets up the law to do in, to keep us safe and to enforce our laws. But when they are assuming that everyone is guilty and basically spying on everyone, just trying to see what they can find, that’s what makes it so wrong. So there’s a difference between like, like assuming that everyone is guilty and that everyone needs to be, you know, watched all the time. We need to be looking at all of their stuff to make sure, oh, make sure that we’re safe. There’s a huge difference between that and actually like trying to get to the bottom of a crime or finding out that someone, you know, there’s reasonable suspicion, you get a warrant, you go through the proper process, and then you find a way to convict them of the crime. Those are two very different processes and unfortunately, our government is leaning a lot right now towards, you know, just assuming that everyone’s guilty, which is really scary.
Brittany: Well, and it was, it seems to me right after 9-11, and Connor and I have talked a lot about how nine 9-11 ushered in a whole new, you know, security state. That was happening a lot. I mean, just the color of your skin would’ve gotten you, or your religion would’ve gotten you on a list. I remember back in the day there was something called the Myack Report, and this was a report put out by some sort of watchdog group, and it was a government group in Missouri, and they put that people with Ron Paul bumper stickers and don’t tread on me bumper stickers should be looked at as domestic terrorists. So there was a point in time, and Connor by talked about this because we were part of that group, but this is back in 2008. And we were very scared because it was like, wait a second, this government document just said, I’m a, you know, domestic terrorist. So, people get targeted and treated unfairly by the government all the time. And you know, there’s that, that old saying, if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t be scared. And it’s like, no, that is not what the fourth amendment said. That is not what our country was founded on. It is that everyone is considered innocent, you know until proven guilty and you can’t even be proven guilty unless somebody has a warrant saying exactly what they’re gonna search for and where they’re gonna search it. It has to be very specific and, you know, privacy, it’s just eroded over the past few years. It’s the Snowden leak was in 2013. And what’s crazy to me is I remember people like Con and I were, had been talking about the problems with the NSA since 2010, and people were like, oh, you guys are conspiracy theorists. Oh yeah. And so there was a part of 2013 where we felt validated. It was almost like, who’s the conspiracy theorist now? Like we weren’t happy about it, but these are things, you know, a lot of people knew, but people couldn’t fathom the idea that their own government was doing that. And one of the reasons Snowden is such a hero is he sacrificed everything to say, yes, your government is doing this.
Emma: Totally. Yeah, exactly. It’s, he came forward and he said, all right, a lot of you have suspected this is going on. I can prove it. You like, you’re well founded, you’re not crazy. And you know, like you said, Brittany, a lot of people say this thing like, oh, I, have nothing to hide. I’m not worried about it. You know, I’m a law-abiding citizen. I have, nothing to worry about. Fine, look at my stuff. But you just talked about people being unfairly targeted by, the corrupt government, that that’s seeking out certain religious groups or people that you know, or a certain ethnicity. And that can happen so quickly. And if we have set up a system where, and allowed a system to grow where our privacy is just something that we don’t care about at all, all it takes is one little change in the tides at the government level and all of a sudden you could be a person who is suspect. And I, that sounds kind of crazy to say, but it’s true. Like over the pandemic going to church in certain states became illegal. Yeah. Overnight for a lot of people. And maybe, you know, these are folks who they have absolutely nothing to hide. They don’t break the law like they’re normal people, whatever. And overnight, all of a sudden, if they are going to church, they’re a criminal. And if they were texting with, you know, their neighbor or their mom or someone talking about going to church, let’s say they decided to go, even though their state told them that they couldn’t, you know, civil disobedience to observe their first amendment rights to freedom of religion, freedom of assembly. Like if they were to do that and they were talking about it on their phone, we know that there are systems in place that would allow the government to have access to that information illegally. So it’s not so much about, oh, I have something to hide. I don’t have something to hide. It’s a matter of, you know, okay, let’s say that the government did target you for something. Maybe they’re targeting something that you believe or who you are or what you look like. that’s a big problem if they just have, you know, whatever access they want to your information. So at the end of the day, you don’t have to be doing something illegal or embarrassing to care about privacy and to want privacy. We all have a right to our privacy. America’s founders we’re very clear about that, that was really important to them. And we should not need to justify that to the government or to anyone else.
Brittany: I think you’re absolutely right. I don’t have anything to add to that. I think you hit it right on the head.
Emma: Awesome. Well, I have a little video that I want to link to you guys in the show notes. it’s actually Edward Snowden talking about how our phones, basically allow the government to spy on us. It’s a really crazy video. So, gonna link to that if you’re interested in hearing more directly from him. He’s someone who again, worked with the government and had actual access to these programs to see how they work. So, thanks for listening guys. We are gonna wrap it up. And Brittany, thank you so much for talking.
Brittany: Talk to you later.