Random Blog A Musing Farf

Thursday, September 14, 2006


It amazes me that people how upset people were to learn that the Bush Administration was spying on their personal phone calls. Not because such behavior is illegal and ridiculous (which it is) but because in the technology driven age in which we live, very little “private” information is actually private.

Take credit card information for example. I am very careful to tear up my credit card bills (sometimes before I even pay them, Hahaha) to make sure that no one can obtain the numbers. Yet, when I called to order sushi for dinner the other night, the person on the other end of the phone asked me if I would like to bill the charge to the credit card ending in 1234 (not the real number, obviously). Without hesitation, I said yes and upon hanging up realized that my credit card does not end with the numbers 1234. I signed the bill when it came and added a generous tip (hey, it wasn’t my card) and figured I had a free dinner. Hours later, while telling the story to Husband, he informed me that I had charged dinner to his card (Thanks Husband!). But really, anyone could have done it. No one asked me for any verification that the number belonged to me.

This point was further driven home last night. PTG, Photogenic Friend and Law School Friend joined me for drinks and tacos after work. At some point, we began talking about blogs and Law School Friend began to tell me how she is obsessed with her friend’s blog and checks it at least once a day. She even posts anonymous comments. Then I mentioned how I know that Sister checks my blog at least once a day and so do other people in Sister’s office. Law School Friend was shocked to discover that I know who is checking the blog and for how long they are online, but really, it is simple.

The IP address generated by Sister’s computer (and those of others in her office) or of Husband’s computer and really any computer tells me exactly who is checking my blog. After all, I only know one person who works for Big Corporate Law Firm so it must be Husband reading. I can also tell when people find this blog through a search engine like Google and the search criteria which they used. (I get lots of hits from people searching Shiba Inu social clubs in Denver). In the case of Sister, who works for a very large company, I can even tell the division from which the IP address was generated. That’s how I know whether she is reading or someone else. I also know that someone in Virginia checks in daily from the link posted on Suzanne’s blog.

Law School Friend and her sister had been checking their friend’s blog in hopes of getting a mention. They would check daily and stay on for hours, often making fun of their friend's posts. They thought that their friend had no idea. But I am sure that Law School Friend’s friend knew exactly who was checking and for how long.

So your internet usage can be tracked by amateur bloggers, Husband’s credit card information is readily available to anyone who calls our favorite sushi place and most employer’s monitor employee emails. Is it really such a stretch to think that phone calls are also being monitored? And who cares? When I make a phone call I know Verizon knows who I am calling. Heck, they send me a phone bill with a list of numbers and the length of each call. Why is this so different than American Express calling to make sure that the charge at a New Jersey deli is legitimate because it does not fit my normal usage pattern? Is it better that a private company has access than the government? Is there really a difference?

Frankly, the government is so inept and bureaucratic that I can’t imagine they would even notice a pattern to my phone calls if I was involved in some illegal activity. Even the drug dealers on the Wire are smart enough to throw away cell phones to avoid any pattern to their calls. Do you think that terrorist masterminds can’t figure out what writers of a fictional HBO show already have?

So to those upset about yet more illegal and unconstitutional activity from the Bush government, I say that there is nothing to get all upset about. And if you send anonymous emails, I can pretty much figure out who you are…


Suzanne said...

First, you cracked me up (especially the part about tearing up your bills before you pay them). Hilarious. Then I realized that I threw out a huge number of medical bills and other personal info this afternoon without bothering to tear them up, let alone shred them. I knew this was a bad idea. We also have a shredder. It just seemed like too much effort. Now I am conflicted as to whether I should go back and shred or just figure that anyone who wants to blackmail me for using the pill can probably just call my health insurance company anyway and get the info by pretending to be me.

Husband said...

Ah, the joys of marriage -- daily pilfering via my credit card by Wife (and big tips being left at my expense). And Mr. Shiba Inu isn't cheap either (well, at least he hasn't learned to order in sushi yet (although not for lack of liking it)). Bush is a moron, and the government is indeed inept and bureaucratic and therefore unlikely to decipher all the information it obtains. But that should not serve to rationalize the whittling away of privacy rights. I say f&@k you to these right-wing reactionary power-mongers. Maybe they'll intercept a cell call from Newt Gingrich to his pill-dealer one of these days and finally realize that maybe they shouldn't have gone so far.

Husband said...

On a completely different issue, if you haven't had a chance to stop by one of your 18 neighborhood Starbucks and have one or several of their pumpkin spice donuts yet, you are simply missing out on one of the greatest pastry delights available in the modern world. Usually, I have a grand old middle finger outstretched toward Starbucks (I'll take Oren's Daily Roast over Starbucks coffee (and Dunkin' Donuts, for that matter too) any time you ask me), but for some reason Starbucks was able to corrupt me with sweet, sugar-glazed pumpkin outrageousness. Maybe it's something to do with the hot mermaid logo.

PTG said...

The pumpkin pastry non sequitur killed me. Too funny.