I rarely comment on news items, but here’s a quote from a NY Times article.

Questionns Raised for Phone Giants in Spy Data Furor NY Times John Markoff May 13, 2006 . . . Reaction around the country also appeared to be divided.

Cathy Reed, 45, a wealth manager from Austin, Tex., who was visiting Boston, said she did not see a problem with the government’s reviewing call logs. “I really don’t think it matters,” she said. “I bet every credit card company already has them.”

Others responded critically. Pat Randall, 63, a receptionist at an Atlanta high-rise, said, “Our phone conversations are just personal, and to me, the phone companies that cooperated, I think we should move our phone services to the company that did not cooperate.”

Three things disturb me: 1. Cathy’s apathy about the government or any other organization collecting massive amounts of data about her.

2. Cathy’s statement about credit card companies. She uses her ignorance to justify her apathy.

3. Pat’s comment is thoughtless. She’s equating personal with private, and private with secret. A government does have a right to protect its citizens. With their consent!

For those who say “it doesn’t matter”, I wonder if they would hand over their phone bills for the last few years to the NSA directly with no questions asked and, apparently, no legal justification other than “the president said it’s okay.”

Some say “I have nothing to hide.” They forget that people aren’t reasonable when it comes to looking for enemies. They’ve forgotten the hunt for Communists by Senator McCarthy and his kind. Many people who “had nothing to hide” had their lives ruined through suspicion and outright fabrication.

There’s a fourth thing that disturbs me. My own ignorance of what’s being done with data about me, and my own apathy about that fact.