Category Archives: Freedom & Privacy

Legal, but not constitutional: how the government is weasel wording the public about Edward Snowden and the NSA

Homeland Security PrecrimeThe Edward Snowden/NSA/PRISM uproar continues, and in the argument over whether or not he’s a Real American Patriot or your basic criminal vigilante the whole fucking point is getting lost. In fact, that argument is precisely the one that the Obama administration and the GOP’s security-state architects want us waging because it distracts us from the actual issue we need to be discussing.

You may have noticed, in reading the various statements from government officials, the recurrence of a theme: the program that Snowden exposed is legal. Keep track of how many times you hear that word. It’s. All. LEGAL.

Yes it is. And the effectiveness of the government’s rhetoric right now is unfortunately due, in part, to the language employed by the left over the past decade, which has lambasted the Bush administration’s illegal domestic spying program. Illegal. Legal. Therein lies the problem. (I have to admit that I have been culpable in this – somehow I didn’t quite grok how that framing was inadvertently legitimizing the Patriot Act and FISA.)

The problem isn’t legality, it’s constitutionality, and there’s a huge difference. The programs that Snowden dropped the dime on are legal because they’re defined by laws passed by Congress. Period. If Congress passes a law, it is by definition legal until such time as it is either overturned by either the Supreme Court or subsequent legislative action. It sounds, from what I can gather, like the NSA program is functioning as designed (it’s hard to be certain since everything about it classified, but let’s play along for the moment). The law passed both houses of Congress, was signed into law by the president, is administered by a court and has not been turfed by SCotUS. Done and done.

The thing is, the process I just described means that if Congress passed legislation explicitly banning free speech, or establishing Catholicism as the official state religion, or banning blacks and women from voting, or granting police the right to enter your home anytime they like without a warrant, or eliminating habeas corpus, and if the president signed the law, and if the Supreme Court found nothing wrong with it, then that law would be legal in the same way that current domestic surveillance programs are legal.

So when an Obama mouthpiece or a Capitol Hill Republican screeches that the program is legal, understand that for what it is. A law can be immoral, unconstitutional, racist, sexist and oppressive in a hundred different ways while being perfectly legal.

And when you get the corrupt leaders of two parties in agreement over the need for and value of a security state, and they’re able to install five or more like-minded individuals on the nation’s highest court, they have assumed the ability to ignore the Constitution whenever they feel like it.

The NSA spying program is legal, but it is unconstitutional. I suppose you could, in the spirit of tedious technical accuracy, say that it’s constitutional if the Supreme Court says it is. But Edward Snowden, like a lot of us, believes that the Bill of Rights means what it says. A lot of people believe that when a government uses its legislative and judicial apparatus to pretend that words don’t mean what they clearly say that it has forfeited its legitimacy.

How many people believe this and what are they prepared to do about it? This is the tipping point upon which we are balanced, and only time will tell whether the citizenry will demand that its government stop hiding behind a corruption of the word legal and begin behaving in accordance with the principles unambiguously codified in the Constitution.

In the meantime, whenever you hear the words “legal” and “illegal” being used to damn Edward Snowden, understand: you are being manipulated and lied to.

Prediction: Snowden/NSA case guarantees that the 2016 campaign is going to be weird, infested with irony

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden’s status has rapidly transformed from “anonymous consultant drone” to “popular hero,” hasn’t it? In an age of cheap convenience, bread and circuses, the complete cooption of government by the corporate elite and an unprecedented culture of political Newspeak, we’re used to people talking the talk. But a zombie apocalypse seems more likely than encountering someone actually walking the walk.

“You can’t come forward against the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies and be completely free from risk, because they’re such powerful adversaries, that no one can meaningfully oppose them. If they want to get you, they’ll get you in time.”

In an article published on Sunday, Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman wrote that in his earliest communications with Snowden, the NSA contractor said he understood that he would be “made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end” — and that the threat extended to journalists investigating the story before it becomes public.

The U.S. intelligence community, Snowden wrote to Gellman, “will most certainly kill you if they think you are the single point of failure that could stop this disclosure and make them the sole owner of this information.”

But he further stated that he wanted to pursue the leak despite what had happened to whistleblowers in the past, “to embolden others to step forward,” to show that “they can win.”

Snowden is hiding out in Honk Kong and is rumored to be shopping about for a country in which he can seek political asylum. He abandoned his career. He walked away from his girlfriend. He accepted that he might well spend the rest of his life in prison if he’s returned to the land of the free and the home of the brave, the country where at least we know we’re free. He has acknowledge that he could be rendered. He is open to the idea that the CIA might kill him.

Whether or not these things happen, whether or not they’re true, we can’t really tell him he’s wrong to consider the possibility. Given what we know about our government, there’s no piece of this that seems implausible.

I commented yesterday that had this story broken a year ago we might currently be venting our outrage at President Romney. But it didn’t, and we aren’t. The target of our anger is the hopey-changey guy, who back in 2007 promised to out an end to the Bush era warrantless security state.

This has the feel of an issue with legs. On its own, it’s compelling and very dramatically gets to the heart of our nation’s obsession with freedom (which is as sadly ill-informed as it is passionate). This NSA PRISM thing doesn’t fit the preferred ideological narrative and is likely to energize a lot of people who up until now probably thought NSA stood for National Softball Association or something.

Second, it’s an issue that constituencies on both sides of the political divide can agree on. Progressives have been screaming about this since the words “Patriot” and “Act” were first used together. Conservatives who played along blindly for a decade are now paying attention because it’s all of a sudden on Obama.

Third, it seems unlikely that the government is going to let this one go quietly, so every time a story about their pursuit of Snowden hits the news we’re all going to be reminded of the controversy. (See also: Manning, Bradley; Assange, Julian; Anonymous; WikiLeaks.)

Taken together, we might expect government spying to be an issue that a politician can make some hay with come Campaign 2016 (which, trust me, is already under way).

Here’s where things get ironic. Since the story broke on Obama’s watch (well, this time, anyway – but Americans have short memories), that means that evil government snooping is going to be a Republican issue. You remember the Republicans – they’re the ones who started it all. Post-9/11 it was Bush and the GOP who led the charge that gave us the Patriot Act, the Ministry of Homeland Security, and all that has emerged from them.

The things is, the “left” played along, collaborating and enabling like good Vichy Democrats, and in doing so abandoned the moral high ground. Worse, Mr. Obama not only hasn’t dismantled the Republican Big Brother apparatus, he’s doubled down on it. The government officials voicing all this outrage over Snowden’s unconscionable, traitorous actions? Yep – they’re Obama’s people.

It’s hard to win an election when the stick that your opponents are using against you is one that’s expressly ideological and perfectly suited for soundbiting. And whoever lands the Democratic nomination in 2016 is going to inherit all of Obama’s baggage.

It’s hellishly difficult reminding folks that it was actually that other guy’s baggage, that Bush fella. Remember him? Patriot Act! Republicans! It’s especially tricky when the folks you’re running against can easily trot out the roll call where you voted for the damned thing. (Paging Clinton. Paging Hillary Rodham Clinton.) Now, it may seem like I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth. If you can hang it around Hil’s neck, why can’t we assume that voters can be reminded that it was a GOP initiative? You’d think so, but the conservative half of the country can be counted on to exercise selective memory and the half that’s supposed to be on your side has been pissed as hell about your betrayal of the Constitution for 12 years now. There are ways you can play the spin game that may work, but it’s not as easy as it would be if you hadn’t had your nose so far up Bush’s ass you could smell his tonsils.

Just saying.

So many what-ifs. What if the Dems hadn’t worked so hard to help the GOP destroy every vestige of critical thinking from our education system? A more informed electorate might come in handy in 2016. What if they’d voted against the Patriot Act and FISA? What if they’d raised mortal hell every day since passage and reminded the public who it was, exactly, that was surveilling them? What if they had proposed as many bills to kill the PA, FISA and Homeland Security as the GOP has to overturn Obamacare?

Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda. Didn’t. And now who’s the biggest pro-freedom hero on Capitol Hill? Rand Fucking Paul. Is there no end to the spinelessness and self-defeating stupidity of the modern Democratic Party? Give them a decade and they could turn George Wallace, Lester Maddox, Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond into the Rainbow Coalition.

Earlier this morning I took to Facebook to pose a question re: Edward Snowden: What would America look like if our elected officials exhibited this kind of courage and commitment to the principles we like to think we all believe in? Fun thought experiment, I suppose, but there’s no chance that we’ll ever find out in real life, is there?

Mr. Obama, meet Benjamin Franklin

Homeland Security PrecrimePresident Obama: 

President Barack Obama on Friday staunchly defended the sweeping U.S. government surveillance of Americans’ phone and internet activity, calling it a modest encroachment on privacy that was necessary to defend the United States from attack.

Obama said the programs were “trade-offs” designed to strike a balance between privacy concerns and keeping Americans safe from terrorist attacks.

Benjamin Franklin:

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Just saying.

Boston Marathon bombing investigation reveals security state’s hypocrisy toward photographers (shooters, know your rights)

Ministry of Homeland SecurityIt’s become a little too common a story:

  1. police thugs beating the hell out of a citizen (who may or may not have done anything)
  2. citizen with camera takes pictures or video of police abuse
  3. police arrest photographer
  4. because apparently it’s illegal to record police brutality

The new trend is to make photographing the police illegal, although they will also arrest you for “obstructing law enforcement” – something you can apparently do from a distance. The Ministry of Homeland Security even wants us to view public displays of photography as potential terrorist activity.

But in Boston last week, the authorities were singing a very different tune, begging citizens to review their stills and video from the site of the Marathon bombings for clues to the identity of the attackers. How convenient. And utterly hypocritical. Carlos Miller over at PhotographyIsNotACrime is dead on the money.

After more than a decade of profiling citizens with cameras as potential terrorists, law enforcement officials are now hoping these same citizens with cameras will help them nab the culprits behind the Boston Marathon terrorist explosions.

Adding to the hypocrisy is that these same authorities will most likely start clamping down on citizens with cameras more than ever once the smoke clears and we once again become a nation of paranoids willing to give up our freedoms in exchange for some type of perceived security.

After all, that is exactly how it played out in the years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks where it became impossible to photograph buildings, trains or airplanes without drawing the suspicion of authorities as potential terrorists.

In fact, the Department of Homeland Security along with the FBI routinely advises that photography in public must be treated as suspicious activity – even after a federal lawsuit forced DHS to acknowledge there is nothing illegal about photographing federal buildings.

CATEGORY: PhotographyI have friends who have been hassled by the police and private security for engaging in perfectly legal activity, and I even had a rent-a-cop try to chase me away from a parking deck once even though it wasn’t the subject of my shooting. Since the authorities are unacquainted with the Constitution and the law, it’s up to us to help them.

So, if you’re a shooter, read this from the ACLU. In fact, print out a copy and stick it in your camera bag. While we’re at it, here’s a nicely constructed one-pager called The Photographer’s Right from Bert Krages, a nationally recognized attorney and photographers’ advocate. If you’re confronted by police or security, be polite, but feel free to assert your basic Constitutional rights.

Thanks to Lisa Wright for pointing me at this story and to Stuart O’Steen for the Photographer’s Right link.

Marathon Monday investigation rolls on: the irony of being a privacy advocate in an NCIS world

Ah, yes. The advantages of living in a security state.

Authorities have clear video images of two separate suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings carrying black bags at each explosion site and are planning to release the images today in an appeal for the public’s help in identifying the men, according to an official briefed on the case.

The official said that the two suspects were seen separately on videotape — one at each of the two bombing sites, which are located about a block apart.

The official, who spoke this morning on the condition of anonymity, said the best video has come from surveillance cameras on the same side of Boylston Street as the explosions. The official said the widely reported Lord and Taylor surveillance camera, and snapshots from individual cellphone camera users, have not provided the clearest images.

Big Brother is watching. Also, Lord & Taylor, the bodega on the corner, the liquor store, the dry cleaner, the douchenozzle at the next table with the funny glasses

This is all pretty high-tech, NCIS stuff.

If investigators in Boston can find a facial image of sufficient quality from the videos, it could provide a powerful lead. The F.B.I. has been working for several years to create a facial recognition program, and the video of a suspect or suspects could be matched against the bureau’s database of mug shots of about 12 million people who have been arrested, officials said.

If there is no match, investigators can hunt for the suspects’ images in the voluminous videos and photographs from the bombing site that were submitted by members of the public in response to an F.B.I. appeal. That is still a technically difficult task, because the software is most accurate with head-on facial images and can be thrown off even by a smile, specialists said on Wednesday.

Still, “it’s vastly superior to just watching the video,” said Al Shipp, chief executive of 3VR Inc., a company that sells video analytics software. “You can sort through years of video in seconds. That’s the game changer.”

By piecing together more images of suspects and their movements, the F.B.I. might be able to come up with a name. Even without a name, Mr. Shipp said, investigators could program multiple cameras at airports and elsewhere with the suspects’ images so the cameras would send an alert to them if someone resembling a suspect passed by.

CATEGORY: PrivacyIf only everyone had been wearing Google Glass, huh?

[sigh]

It’s no secret that I care a lot about things like freedom and privacy. I’ve written any number of times about the encroachments of advanced electronic technology (heck, I’ve even gone all Minority Report over things like the shopping cart of the future).

At the same time, I think we understand the allure of surveillance technology. They never solved the bombing of Canadian Pacific Airlines Flight 21, did they? Or the 1933 United Airlines Boeing 247 crash. Who robbed the Denver Mint? Who was the Batman rapist? Whatever happened to Maud Crawford? And we never found out the identity of the Boy in the Box.

There are lots of mysterious unsolved crimes across our history – some famous, some obscure. The thing is, if you took the time to map out and examine each and every one of them, you’d probably notice a pattern: thanks to modern investigation techniques enabled by advanced forensics technology, it’s getting harder and harder to get away with anything. It isn’t impossible, of course. But Jack the Ripper didn’t have to worry about Abby Sciuto.

You might hate the idea that your every movement is being recorded as you wander around your local Target. You’re uneasy about the knowledge that every time you buy something online, every time you use a credit card, every time you save a few pennies with that supermarket loyalty card, Big Data knows a little more about you. Maybe a little too much. Maybe more than you even know yourself. If you’re really plugged in, you have to be a little unsettled by the certainty that if this information isn’t automatically being shared with the NSA, it will be instantly upon request. Without a warrant. Wait – did you recently buy some fertilizer? Nails? Ball bearings? A pressure cooker?

Hold on a second – somebody’s knocking at the door.

But if somebody breaks into your car while you’re shopping in Target, the fact that the cameras in the parking lot captured the perp means you might get your stuff back. If one of your family members was injured on what they’re now calling “Marathon Monday,” you’ll probably forgive all that nosy surveillance technology at least a little bit when it brings the terrorists to justice – as it inevitably will.

We live in an increasingly complex society. Our lives are confusing, our values conflicted, and every day seemingly presents us with another challenge to the kind of social, ethical and moral stability that might afford us a measure of inner peace. The world moves beneath our feet, no matter where we stand, no matter how tightly we cling to the sacred icons of our once-unshakeable institutions and ideologies.

I can’t tell you that I have it all figured out, but I will say this: in my experience, there’s no substitute for a highly developed sense of irony.

Prediction: Supreme Court will strike down gay marriage bans, and it won’t be close

CATEGORY: LGBTGay marriage will finally get its day before the Supreme Court. The issues are legally and culturally complex and the outcome uncertain in the eyes of many observers. I’m no Constitutional scholar, but I think I know what might happen here.

I expect that the Court’s left-leaning justices will vote to strike down gay marriage bans (the Defense of Marriage Act, Prop 8, etc.) for obvious reasons: these measures represent an unwarranted denial of civil rights to large swaths of the population, which is anathema to the progressive mind.

I also expect these justices to be joined by Roberts and Alito, at the least. These men were marked out as servants of the nation’s corporate will when they were nominated and they have done little since taking the bench to change anyone’s mind. So, if I might be cynical for a moment, the question becomes “what outcome in this case best serves corporate America?”

I wrote back in February that the gay marriage war is all but over. A string of prominent Republicans have now endorsed marriage equality and a list of 278 employers, organizations and municipalities filed a friend of the court brief with the SCotUS opposing DOMA. That list of businesses includes some serious heavyweights, like:

  • Adobe Systems Inc.
  • Aetna Inc.
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Alcoa Inc.
  • Amazon.com, Inc.
  • American International Group, Inc. (AIG)
  • Apple Inc.
  • Bain & Company, Inc.
  • The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (BNY Mellon)
  • Bankers Trust Co.
  • Biogen Idec, Inc.
  • BlackRock, Inc.
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Inc.
  • Boston Scientific Corporation
  • Broadcom Corporation
  • Car Toys, Inc.
  • CBS Corporation
  • Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Citigroup Inc.
  • Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC
  • Deutsche Bank AG
  • eBay Inc.
  • Electronic Arts Inc.
  • EMC Corporation
  • Ernst & Young LLP
  • Facebook, Inc.
  • The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
  • Google Inc.
  • Intel Corporation
  • Intuit Inc.
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Liberty Mutual Group Inc.
  • Marriott International, Inc.
  • Mars, Incorporated
  • The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
  • Microsoft Corporation
  • Moody’s Corporation
  • Morgan Stanley
  • New York Life Insurance Company
  • NIKE, Inc.
  • Orbitz Worldwide
  • Partners HealthCare System, Inc.
  • Pfizer Inc.
  • Qualcomm Incorporated
  • Salesforce.com, Inc.
  • Starbucks Corporation
  • Sun Life Financial (U.S.) Services Company, Inc.
  • Thomson Reuters
  • Twitter, Inc.
  • UBS AG
  • Viacom Inc.
  • Walt Disney Company
  • Xerox Corporation

It’s certain that not all American businesses think gay marriage is a good idea, but this list would seem to represent a pretty impressive cross-section of the corporate landscape. In other words, the consensus of the US business community is that marriage equality is, well, good for business. This means that corporate HR groups must have strong reason to believe that treating everyone the same benefits things like worker morale and productivity, factors which serve the bottom line.

Who the hell knows how the “strict constructionist” Scalia and the hateful, unreconstructed asshole Thomas will vote. In the end, I doubt it will matter. I’m betting on a 7-2 vote to strike down Prop 8 and DOMA.

Time will tell.

Dumb jock? Hardly: Scott Fujita absolutely nails it on gay marriage (and civil rights generally)

If you only read one thing today, make it this. Scott Fujita of the Cleveland Browns reflects on what it means in a society when some people are regarded as “less than” others. A snip:

I support marriage equality for so many reasons: my father’s experience in an internment camp and the racial intolerance his family experienced during and after the war, the gay friends I have who are really not all that different from me, and also because of a story I read a few years back about a woman who was denied the right to visit her partner of 15 years when she was stuck in a hospital bed.

My belief is rooted in a childhood nurtured by a Christian message of love, compassion and acceptance. It’s grounded in the fact that I was adopted and know there are thousands of children institutionalized in various foster programs, in desperate need of permanent, safe and loving homes, but living in states that refuse to allow unmarried couples, including gays and lesbians, to adopt because they consider them not fit to be parents.

In articulating all my feelings about marriage equality, I almost don’t know where to begin. And perhaps that’s part of the problem. Why do we have to explain ourselves when it comes to issues of fairness and equality? Why is common sense not enough?

Once you’ve finished reading, share this with your friends (especially if they haven’t quite figured this whole “equal rights” thing out yet)…

Ten years ago this week the Dixie Chicks controversy erupted: I’m still not ready to back down

CATEGORY: FreeSpeech

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. ― Theodore Roosevelt

On March 10, 2003, at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire theatre in London, Natalie Maines stepped to the microphone and said this:

Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.

As our old friend Greg Mitchell notes, “It was a little more than a week before their fellow Texan launched a war based on lies.”

When word of Maines’s comment made it back to the US, what ensued was…well, what ensued was an infuriating look at the festering soul of Bush-era America and an illustration of the good, bad and ugly of how free speech works. Predictably, the hillbilly right closed ranks around the president and his WMDs-are-real cronies. Country & Western stations purged their playlists of Dixie Chicks music, records were burned, fatwas were issued, and the Chicks’ career Mark 1 was effectively destroyed. The message – for the Dixie Chicks and anybody else out there with a brain and a conscience – was more than clear: if you value your career, shut up and sing.

In some respects, the controversy was really useful. For instance, the president responded by saying:

The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They can say what they want to say.… they shouldn’t have their feelings hurt just because some people don’t want to buy their records when they speak out.… Freedom is a two-way street ….

The remarkable thing about this is that Bush, a man renowned for being wrong on just about everything, was actually right for once. Free speech does not imply a freedom from backlash, and if you’re an entertainer people who disagree with you are perfectly within their rights to boycott. What’s good for Hank Williams, Jr. and Mel Gibson is good for The Dixie Chicks.

Granted, you also have the right to be hateful and ignorant, and it’s certainly true that the Dixie Chicks backlash had more to do with the gleeful exercise of these rights than it did any informed understanding of how free speech was intended to work by the Framers. But that’s another argument for another day.

Now, how you feel about President Obama?

In April, 2009, S&R honored The Dixie Chicks as the 25th addition to our masthead hall of fame. I wrote, at the time (and while I was extremely angry):

History will validate, with a minimum of controversy, the sentiments Natalie Maines expressed at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire theatre on March 10, 2003. Hopefully the record will point to our present moment and note that already the momentum had shifted and that within a generation people would have an impossible time imagining how such an affront to freedom was ever possible. Hopefully.

For the time being, “mad as hell” doesn’t begin to describe the indignation that those of us working to move this culture forward by promoting genuinely intelligent and pro-human values ought to feel, even now. I won’t tell you how to think and act, of course – you have a conscience and a brain, and you can be trusted to take in the information and perspectives around you and form an opinion that you can live by.

But for my part, I have a message for the “shut up and sing” crowd: I’m not ready to back down and I never will be. Your values are at odds with the principles upon which this nation was founded and true liberty cannot survive if your brand of flag-waving ignorance is allowed to thrive. You will not be allowed to use the freedoms that our founders fought for as weapons to stifle freedom for others.

You have declared a culture war, so here’s where the lines are drawn: I’m on the side of enlightenment, free and informed expression and the power of pro-humanist pursuits to produce a better society where we all enjoy the fruits of our shared accomplishments.

What side are you on?

Natalie and her bandmates lost tons of money over the past decade, but they’ll get by. In the end, it seems like they got a pretty good deal. In exchange for all those millions, they earned the right to a special place in the American soul. Justice matters. Facts matter. Humanity and compassion and freedom matter. Integrity matters more than money.

Looking back, I think the lesson to take away is a simple one. Our freedoms are important, but they’re empty and sterile and prone to corruption in the absence of an enlightened, intelligent embrace of the responsibilities that come with living in a democracy.

In the words of another of our musical heroes, George Clinton, “Think. It ain’t illegal yet.”

Google Glass: Welcome to the end of privacy

CATEGORY: PrivacyIf you haven’t yet seen Mark Hurst’s piece on Google Glass over at Creative Good, you need to. You really, really need to. A lot of times cool new gadget and service roll-outs mainly just affect the manufacturers and the people with the cash to buy them. Sure, there can be collateral damage – World of Warcraft widows, for instance – but usually the downside isn’t as direct as it is with this latest idea from the Don’t Be Evil crowd. A snip from Hurst’s analysis:

The key experiential question of Google Glass isn’t what it’s like to wear them, it’s what it’s like to be around someone else who’s wearing them. I’ll give an easy example. Your one-on-one conversation with someone wearing Google Glass is likely to be annoying, because you’ll suspect that you don’t have their undivided attention. And you can’t comfortably ask them to take the glasses off (especially when, inevitably, the device is integrated into prescription lenses). Finally – here’s where the problems really start – you don’t know if they’re taking a video of you.

Now pretend you don’t know a single person who wears Google Glass… and take a walk outside. Anywhere you go in public – any store, any sidewalk, any bus or subway – you’re liable to be recorded: audio and video. Fifty people on the bus might be Glassless, but if a single person wearing Glass gets on, you – and all 49 other passengers – could be recorded. Not just for a temporary throwaway video buffer, like a security camera, but recorded, stored permanently, and shared to the world.

Ummmkay, that’s a little creepy. But we’ll adjust, right? Not so fast.

Now, I know the response: “I’m recorded by security cameras all day, it doesn’t bother me, what’s the difference?” Hear me out – I’m not done. What makes Glass so unique is that it’s a Google project. And Google has the capacity to combine Glass with other technologies it owns.

First, take the video feeds from every Google Glass headset, worn by users worldwide. Regardless of whether video is only recorded temporarily, as in the first version of Glass, or always-on, as is certainly possible in future versions, the video all streams into Google’s own cloud of servers. Now add in facial recognition and the identity database that Google is building within Google Plus (with an emphasis on people’s accurate, real-world names): Google’s servers can process video files, at their leisure, to attempt identification on every person appearing in every video. And if Google Plus doesn’t sound like much, note that Mark Zuckerberg has already pledged that Facebook will develop apps for Glass.

Wait – so now it’s not only taking video of me, it’s linking that video to my name and identity? Yes. Try not to think, for a moment, about all the data that exists on you already – you know, consumer profiles and the like. You don’t surf porn, do you?

Finally, consider the speech-to-text software that Google already employs, both in its servers and on the Glass devices themselves. Any audio in a video could, technically speaking, be converted to text, tagged to the individual who spoke it, and made fully searchable within Google’s search index.

Nervous yet? Keep reading.

Let’s return to the bus ride. It’s not a stretch to imagine that you could immediately be identified by that Google Glass user who gets on the bus and turns the camera toward you. Anything you say within earshot could be recorded, associated with the text, and tagged to your online identity. And stored in Google’s search index. Permanently.

I’m still not done.

The really interesting aspect is that all of the indexing, tagging, and storage could happen without the Google Glass user even requesting it. Any video taken by any Google Glass, anywhere, is likely to be stored on Google servers, where any post-processing (facial recognition, speech-to-text, etc.) could happen at the later request of Google, or any other corporate or governmental body, at any point in the future.

Remember when people were kind of creeped out by that car Google drove around to take pictures of your house? Most people got over it, because they got a nice StreetView feature in Google Maps as a result.

Google Glass is like one camera car for each of the thousands, possibly millions, of people who will wear the device – every single day, everywhere they go – on sidewalks, into restaurants, up elevators, around your office, into your home. From now on, starting today, anywhere you go within range of a Google Glass device, everything you do could be recorded and uploaded to Google’s cloud, and stored there for the rest of your life. You won’t know if you’re being recorded or not; and even if you do, you’ll have no way to stop it.

So, say in five years you’re applying for a job with, I don’t know, Google. You might not remember calling Sergey Brin a fascist motherfucker on May 3, 2013, while having coffee with your best friend and discussing this article. But Google’s HR group remembers. They have the audio (and maybe the video, too). But, but – HR groups would never use that, right? No, of course not. Just like they never ask for Facebook passwords.

Just think: if a million Google Glasses go out into the world and start storing audio and video of the world around them, the scope of Google search suddenly gets much, much bigger, and that search index will include you. Let me paint a picture. Ten years from now, someone, some company, or some organization, takes an interest in you, wants to know if you’ve ever said anything they consider offensive, or threatening, or just includes a mention of a certain word or phrase they find interesting. A single search query within Google’s cloud – whether initiated by a publicly available search, or a federal subpoena, or anything in between – will instantly bring up documentation of every word you’ve ever spoken within earshot of a Google Glass device.

Seattle’s 5 Point Cafe has proudly become the first establishment to ban Google Glass. I’m guessing they won’t be the last. I’m also thinking of starting a pool: on what date will we hear about the first assault against a GG wearer by somebody who doesn’t want his/her privacy invaded?

Once again, corporate America is innovating new and improved ways of invading your privacy. Orwell saw the future, only he thought governments would be the culprits. And they certainly will be – expect them to be lining up to purchase Google’s data. And expect Google to find an excuse to sell it to them.

What we need now are equally gifted tech entrepreneurs dedicated to short-circuiting Google and to assuring greater privacy for the citizenry. I actually have a couple of ideas. If you’re a venture capitalist who’s concerned about our civil liberties, drop me a line….