The NSA is spying on Americans under the guise of fighting terrorism.
Through a program called PRISM (and likely others) the government has the ability to capture and store every type of electronic communication you make. The plan was to use these programs only overseas, but it has been revealed that all kinds of communications of innocent Americans are being tracked and stored as well. Your phone calls can be recorded, who you called and how long the call lasted is recorded, your e-mail and web browsing can all be tracked (and should be assumed, is tracked).
This is a massive story that should be on the front page of every news website and newspaper in the country, but it is being kept under wraps.
One great example: Lavabit, a secured, encryped e-mail company, recently abruptly shut down.
It was revealed in July that Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who spilled the beans about the PRISM program to a UK newspaper, was a customer of Lavabit’s services. This led to a surge in new subscribers to the company’s services.
The owner of the one-employee (literally the owner and an intern) company shut the company down and posted a letter on the company’s website saying, essentially, he was asked to do something by the government he felt he could not due and maintain his conscience or his 100% encrypted and secure service. Oh, and he was also given a gag order so he couldn’t tell the public or his customers exactly what the government asked him to do. The order was likely from a secret court that you and I, and Congress, will never see.
Later that evening a second encrypted email service, Silence Circle, preemptively shut down. They figured they were next.
What does all this have to do with your personal finances?
Many things: U.S. cloud storage companies have taken a hit in subscribers because no one around the world thinks they can trust our data infrastructure. That’s bad for the economy and if you are investing in the stock market as a whole or in those specific companies. Likewise if they are tracking every piece of data going across the internet they probably know exactly what is going on with your finances, your debts, and how vulnerable you might be.
And what if you want to take on the American Dream and build a company of your own, only to discover a 3 letter federal agency walking in your doors and demanding you to allow them access to all of your data, or asking you to lie to your customers… and reminding you that you are under a secret court order not to mention any of this to anyone.
What would you do?
Now that I’ve got you thinking, here are some great reads:
The New Yorker | How the Government Killed a Secure E-mail Company
Retire By 40 | A Different Perspective On Retirement
Hull Financial Planning | Monkey Brain Needs Some Convincing
The College Investor | 8 Examples of “Mental Accounting” and How to Avoid Them
Bloomberg | According to Golf the Economy is Out of the Rough
Thousandaire | Steer Clear of Debt by Avoiding These Bad Habits
More Money Than Month | How to make sure your charitable giving really gets to the needy
Untemplatr | Redefine Your Limits and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined
Wise Bread | 6 Things Every College Student Must Know About Private Student Loans
Invest It Wisely | Basic Rules to Make Savings with Little Effort
Frugal Portland | AirBnB: The Good, The Bad, and Lessons for Next Time
The Financial Blogger | The Bucket System: A Route to Financial Freedom?