Week 8: Digital Government

Today we had a guest participant in our discussion—David Eaves. We covered a broad range of topics about government and technology, from the failure of healthcare.gov to the way that businesses optimize in the market for government tech contracts. But the thing that stuck in my mind? Apparently I have three degrees of separation from Edward Snowden (Snowden->Bruce Scheier->Professor Waldo->me). Well, it’s a good thing the NSA doesn’t care about you at all unless you have three degrees of separation or less from a person of interest. Oh wait.

I have been concerned about the surveillance the US government does on its citizens, but so far it has been with a certain degree of removal. After all, no one at the NSA really cares what some random teenager is doing; they have much bigger fish to fry. Now, aside from having something new to say about myself the next time I do an icebreaker game, I am also on the list of people the NSA might take interest in. I realize that little of substance has changed; I will probably still fly under the radar, unless I do things like attend anti-NSA rallies or order yellowcake uranium or broadcast to the world that I have three degrees of separation with Edward Snowden. Oh wait.

It wasn’t until today that I “felt it in my bones”, as my Physics professor would say. That I realized something as trivial as taking a course on the Internet could raise my surveillance status. That I considered censoring my writing (although it should be apparent I didn’t) to avoid the (admittedly mild) suspicion of the government. That when Professor Eaves said that the NSA mostly just keeps a log of calls, and only selectively listens in, the full weight of George Orwell’s writing (quote 2) sunk in. Tomorrow I may go right back to my regularly (over)scheduled life of problem sets and fencing. But today I feel it. Today my personal privacy is, well, personal.


  1. school of applied science

    November 3, 2016 @ 11:21 am


    thank you for the knowledge your share, broaden my knowledge

  2. profsmith

    November 13, 2016 @ 7:59 pm


    Weird, huh. Don’t forget that feeling. It is educational to read things like the following, but the world changes when you actually experience it:


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