Your Smartphone Is Watching You

On Thursday, just after reports broke that the National Security Agency had been helping itself to data from just about every major American Internet company, an enterprising Twitter user set up an account called “Nothing to Hide,” which reproduced tweets from people expressing blithe unconcern about their government’s potential access to their e-mails, phone records, video chats, you name it.

These citizens have a somewhat shaky grasp of how civil liberties are supposed to work. But they understand the essential nature of life on the Internet pretty well. The motto “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” — or, alternatively, “abandon all privacy, ye who enter here” — might as well be stamped on every smartphone and emblazoned on every social media log-in page. As the security expert Bruce Schneier wrote recently, it isn’t that the Internet has been penetrated by the surveillance state; it’s that the Internet, in effect, is a surveillance state.

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