Except that only works if I didn't know you before.
Here's the thing: it's 2018. The NSA and the FBI read the contents of your phone and listen in about as easily as you select channels on your TV. Your local police probably do, too, though they may have to be more coy about it. Thanks to "parallel construction," they don't even have to admit to snooping, as long as they can dredge up a way, however flimsy, by which they can claim to have learned the same things. And don't assume your cell phone isn't listening even when you think it's off, because it's pretty much pre-hacked.
Don't want to be monitored? Then don't get noticed. You're surrounded by RF bugs -- whoops, cellular telephones -- all the time, and they and the 'net are producing a flood of information so vast that our pals at NSA had to build a huge building halfway across the continent from their HQ just to hold the stuff they think might be interesting. If you're one more gnat in the swarm, how will they pick you out? If you've decided to be a lightning bug, how could they not?*
So when I mention having a robot listener in a couple of rooms of my house and I get grumping about Stalinist Russia back, I laugh. You're too late, decades too late, and that gadget in your shirt pocket is only the tip of the iceberg. Privacy vanished quite awhile ago. Mao's "fish in water" never will -- spies and successful conspirators are nothing like James Bond. They're dull. Ordinary. Boring -- until the day they're not.
Don't want Jeff Bezos's or Google or Microsoft or Apple's machines listening? That's fine. Don't install the device or the software. But don't strut about telling me how I have bowed to the oppressor's will unless you're living off the grid in the woods or underground and communicating via hand-delivered messages -- and how sure can you be that your courier isn't a fink? The human element is always the weakest link: people are much better at betrayal than machines.
* The flip side works, too: be so visible, loud and obvious a firefly that of course you will be watched and you disappearance will be noted by the gen. pop.; and be so ineffectual that of course you will be discounted. Under the cover of such noise, it's possible to do rather a lot, or so they tell me, but it's difficult to pull off and goes very wrong if you slip.
9 months ago