For instance, did you know that it is a federal crime to be in possession of a lobster under a certain size? It doesn’t matter if you bought it at a grocery store, if someone else gave it to you, if it’s dead or alive, if you found it after it died of natural causes, or even if you killed it while acting in self defense. You can go to jail because of a lobster.
If the federal government had access to every email you’ve ever written and every phone call you’ve ever made, it’s almost certain that they could find something you’ve done which violates a provision in the 27,000 pages of federal statues or 10,000 administrative regulations. You probably do have something to hide, you just don’t know it yet.
I’ve mostly stayed away from the recent NSA news because it isn’t infosec per se. But here’s the thing: private businesses are collecting what are essentially our innermost thoughts (search engines, email, writing, what you read online, etc.) – never mind our physical locations and physical actions. If someone in a position of power decides to look at you they will find something. I recently had a friend threatened, very directly, merely for speaking out against something innocuous in a public forum.
I support our government and law enforcement, but I also believe in privacy and appropriate checks and balances in the system. The NSA likely hasn’t done anything illegal, but the laws themselves are the issue. These are good people doing the job we put before them, but we neglected to have the serious social discussion about the potential consequences first.
I will step down off the soapbox now.