Niagara Gazette

June 16, 2013

VINCENT DAVIS: The NSA and your Facebook password

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Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — There’s been a lot of murmuring in the media surrounding the recent revelation of the fact that yes, the government is recording basically everything you are doing on your phone, the internet, when you shop at Target, go to the movies, etc.

If you’re one of those people who believe that 80 percent of the government is controlled by shape-shifting lizard people or if, like me, you saw the 1998 Will Smith vehicle “Enemy of the State” and interpreted it as a thinly-veiled secret documentary of government overreach this information is no surprise to you.

There are plenty of reasons to be outraged or at least mildly disconcerted by this news, but the one I feel the most has been totally ignored by the mainstream media: If thousands of government agents/interns can see all of my Facebook pictures, why did I spend all this time coming up with increasingly ‘secure’/ hard to remember passwords.

Those of you who have been following this column from the beginning will remember the story of how my Gmail was hacked, which was one of the most inconvenient days of my life and led to me setting up two-step verification and unique passwords for all of my online accounts. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Woot, Amazon…the list goes on.

At this point I’ve had to erase important info like ‘mom’s birthday’ and ‘my social security number’ from my brain to make space for the random combinations of letters, numbers and special characters that allow me to check my email or let the internet know that I’m at Starbucks.

I was forced to fundamentally change the way I interact with the world via the internet by an email terrorist and after all that it doesn’t really matter because all it takes is a disgruntled intern with low-level security clearance to have my photos from “Harley’s awesome Halloween rager” dumped on the internet alongside the contents of Rupert Murdock’s email inbox because they felt ‘the world deserves to know what’s going on.’

I’m not defending our country’s extremely overpowered domestic security programs or condemning the actions of leaker/whistle blower/political refugee/disgruntled ex-government contractor Edward Snowden. I’m just saying; if two days of writing down and hiding 15-digit passwords in secure tree-hole vaults around Western New York was a waste of time someone should have let me know.

There is something to be learned from all of this. No matter who you are, at some point in your life, all of your accounts will be compromised and all of that personal information will be put on public display in some way.

Some people will see this as a reason to panic and will find themselves crushed under the free-floating anxiety of the threat that someday everyone will really know how much you like the show “Pretty Little Liars,” not just your closest friends on Google+. Those people are wrong. This is a reason to celebrate a new kind of freedom — the freedom of a person without secrets.

With that, I’m here to say yes, I’ve watched every season of “Gossip Girl.” Who cares? Better you all find out from me than from a youtube video released by Anonymous; those Guy Fawkes masks are the worst.

Vincent Davis II is a Cornell graduate, DJ, and market development specialist in the IT industry. He can be contacted at vincedavis06@gmail.com.