So Rupert Murdoch has been caught (and secretly recorded) bitching to his employees about the corruption and phone hacking inquiry which he has been the target of.  To recap, News Corp is being investigated because the journalists working there were found to be hacking into people’s phones for story scoops, as well as paying off public officials.  But Murdoch is very upset that the cops have been going after his reporters.  After all, bribing officials is something that has been “going on a hundred years,” according to him.  Ah, News Corp…always holding up the highest standard of ethics.  It has gotten so bad, Rupie fumes, that “they’re going to put all newspapers out of business.”

Normally I’m sad about the impending death of newspapers, but in this case I’ll make an exception.  Here I thought that the hard copy newspaper was going out of business due to online competition and our shortening attention spans.  If Rupert Murdoch is trying to tell us that the newspaper companies are actually going kaput because they’re full of dishonest slimebags who give bribes, hey, good riddance.  But I have the feeling that it’s just this particular company, because, well…Rupert Murdoch.

Interesting, by the way, how I never heard the kind of uproar on right wing radio about this phone hacking scandal that I have about the recent NSA one.  Wasn’t this just as much of an invasion of privacy?  Clearly, this kind of thing is VERY BAD when the government does it, but only meh when a giant corporation does it.  Or is it just that Rupert doesn’t have an African last name?  For the record, I’m angered by both hacking scandals, but it’s always fascinating to see the talking heads apply their double standards.  If only Obama had been involved somehow….

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As we continue to grapple with the dilemma of Prism and the NSA observing our lives (or perhaps not–I haven’t heard too much discussion of this lately), the problem of privacy vs. security continues world-wide.  Great Britain has now announced that it will opt out of over a hundred EU regulations, at least for the time being.  One of those new laws has to do with creating a single European DNA database.  On the surface, this sounds good–it will make chasing after criminals across the borders of EU countries easier.  On the other hand, here is yet more opportunity for possible abuse of power, and a single institution having access to a lot of information about its citizens.  Also–and this is what Britain is balking at–it means additional chipping away at the sovereignty of individual countries within the EU.  Especially in connection with something called the European Arrest Warrant, which would allow any EU country to demand the deportation of an accused criminal from a different member country.

Britain says it wants to consider its options before agreeing to these regulations, and I’m thinking it is probably wise to do so.

Once again I have to do a little Oregon bragging about my Senator Ron Wyden.  He’s been concerned about the shadier side of our War on Terror–including drone strikes and intelligence collection–for a long time now.  You could say he was into this stuff before it was hip to do so.

Well, Sen. Wyden is not backing down, and he has now teamed up with Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado to write a letter to the NSA, accusing the agency of presenting information on its website–information about the extent of surveillance on Americans–which is “inaccurate”.  Among other things, the letter states:

“We were disappointed to see that this factsheet contains an inaccurate statement about how the section 702 authority has been interpreted by the US government…In our judgment, this inaccuracy is significant, as it portrays protections for Americans’ privacy as being significantly stronger than they actually are.”

The Senators do not specify exactly which part of the website factsheet is inaccurate, as this is classified information, but they do add a classified attachment to the letter for review by the NSA. 

Sen. Wyden, who is on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been dropping hints about his worries for a while now, even while he could not publically discuss the problems with the NSA.  It’s nice to watch him continue fighting, but it’s sad to say that the tide in Congress is very much against him.

Okay, I think I’m starting to put together some rules for how to conduct myself in the new world we inhabit.  I’m naturally an introverted and private person, so these will be a little hard for me to get used to, but I think it’s best if I get started on adapting to them now.  Here are a few basic ones:

*Don’t do anything in your home that you wouldn’t want a drone to photograph.  Yeah, I used to think of it as the “privacy” of my own home, but that turns out to be a silly delusion.  Be on your best behavior, even in your bedroom.  I’m guessing sex is still acceptable as long as it takes place under the covers.

*Don’t communicate anything on the Internet–this includes “private” e-mails–unless you would be prepared to share it with the Department of Homeland Security.  Or the Chinese military.

*Don’t take a photograph unless you are okay with it being used in online advertising later on down the road.  (Or just be completely asocial like me and don’t share your pictures with your friends).

*Don’t wear embarrassing underwear–you never know when it might get displayed on a body scanner.

I’m guessing there’s more that I’m missing here.  As far as I know, my conversations aren’t being bugged and my thoughts can’t be read yet.  I remember hearing that the Age of Aquarius was going to bring all of humanity much closer together.  Is it wrong of me to feel that we are getting a little too close?  I like to be able to keep some things to myself.

Paper notebooking, that is.

I’ve always been partial to pen and paper, probably because I grew up without computers.  I still write all of the first drafts of my short stories in a notebook, and only then transfer them into Word.  Over the past few years, I’ve been under the sad impression that I’m one of those hopeless dinosaurs, clinging to the ways of the past.  Sort of like my fiction writing college professor who insisted on typing all of her novels on an old typewriter.

But now here comes Julian Assange to rock my world, as always.  Use a condom, Julian!  Heh…sorry about that.  It turns out (and it comes as no big surprise) that our iPhone conversations are being intercepted, our Web surfing is under surveillance.  Leading me to the scary question…especially as an Internet addict…what if one day I am forced to disconnect?

I’ve been fortunate to grow up with parents who participated in a computer-free protest movement back in Poland.  These are the techniques which an American resistance may have to use in some bleak future world.  Illicit pamphlets on illegal printing presses.  Scattering paper leaflets.  Manifestoes on walls.  Good old word of mouth.

Yes, all these are far less quick and efficient methods of communication than my posting this blog right now to a theoretically unlimited audience.  We’ve all seen the social networking potential of the Arab Spring.  But what happens when the online system is controlled by the government we oppose?  What if we can’t use it to resist, precisely because the system is used to monitor our resistance?

If nothing else, I can envision a time when I will once again have to confine my thoughts and opinions to the pages of my private notebook, where they can’t be read, instead of putting them here on my blog.   I hope that day never comes.  But I’m keeping a blank page of paper at my bedside, just in case.