In its Lexington column about the NSA, it is this paragraph in this week’s Economist that sticks with me the most.
ABOLISHING privacy is the next big trend in American shopping, industry types told Lexington recently. Store bosses dream of identifying shoppers by their smartphones or with cameras and facial-recognition software. Then, by rummaging through a customer’s online history, a firm might learn, for instance, that she had looked for tennis shoes the night before, so needs to see sales pitches for sneakers flash up on her phone or on in-store digital screens.
All things are relative. While Lex rightly points out that the privacy “chuntering” in the EU re the NSA’s activities is loud and ubiquitous, and in the US it is muted, it is muted only in comparison to the EU. The US debate is quite loud for a populace that rarely questions the government when it comes to “national security”.
And we Americans love our process. The legality of aspects of the NSA’s programs are winding is winding its way through the various US courts. We have one decision pro and one decision con. It will be sometime before the issue finds its way to the US Supreme Court. Most American’s will assume the court is right in its decision and act outraged or mollified, depending on the outcome (angry if unconstitutional or back to UFC and a beer if constitutional). (All bets are off the Court dodges the issue and punts to Congress, however.)
The omnipotence of the Court aside, Americans will be very unhappy if the NSA’s actions hurt the US economically. We like to work and we like our stuff.