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True, it's a dangerous world out there and someone has to keep an eye on it. But if you think that the only targets of illicit snooping are suspected terrorists, foreign dignitaries, and journalists too close to the truth, guess again. Every one of us is under the omniscient magnifying glass of government and corporate spies. Yes, remember the corporations. How do we respond to this smog of surveillance? Even her own group has been subjected to surveillance and eaves dropping. And we knew that years ago under the Bush administration with the warrantless wiretapping program, when many organizations actually filed lawsuits saying that they suspected their communications were being monitored.

And that really changes the relationship and makes an organization, have to travel long distances to have private communications in person with clients. You can't do as much on or on the phone. I think that's a very simplistic answer because when one is under constant surveillance, be it from a surveillance camera on the city block and we have so many here in New York, to the possibility that internet communications are being monitored, it necessarily alters how you communicate. It makes us tamp down things that we might say. And I think-- attempt to conform more to the greater corporate surveillance state.

Whether or not we realize that, we may not engage in the kind of robust dialogue with our friends or our colleagues. We may not meet at public assemblies, because it's become really under the watchful eye and wanting to maintain the status quo of big business.

For example, I think it's 70 percent of retired three and four-star generals then take jobs in the private sector as consultants advising the government through work with companies such as Raytheon and others, about policy. And I think that's a conflict of interest.

But more importantly, CEOs from many of the big businesses like Boeing, Raytheon, advise the president on matters of technology and national security. And they're conflicted out, because their profit motive really is the duty that they have, whereas the government officials have a duty to uphold the Constitution. I don't think that having 70 percent of our national intelligence conducted by private business is a way to ensure that our civil liberties are really protected. Do you think that everyday Americans know that? In fact, it seems not to be the exception, but rather the rule. That's pretty exhaustive.

And I think when the government says, for example, that metadata-- that doesn't collect the contents of our communications-- is an acceptable thing to collect, you have to realize that associations can be very easily garnered and tracked. It doesn't say what we discuss, but it says that we talked. So that if I called a physician, say, at a cancer clinic several times the government might surmise that I have cancer.

Or if I engage in a certain political activity over a period of time, it allows them to develop a profile, even though they don't know exactly what we discussed. We have groups such as Acxiom, which is a data aggregator, that really has quite complete profiles on many of us in this country. And then they sell it to third-party companies, including the US government. The problem being, of course, that they need to simplify profiles of us. They may categorize us as sort of an up-and-coming 20 year old interested in-- maybe starting a family.

Or you're about to retire. But they also put in information about your political activities, your personal interests, health interests, things that we may not want shared. But businesses don't have those same constraints. So they can collect information about us that the government lawfully is not allowed to do. Explain that. You'll know that when you do a search, for example, for a pair of shoes, you're going to be bombarded on the internet with other shoes from different companies. And I think that it's become hugely profitable for these organizations, such as Acxiom and others, because they really keep this information for years on end, we don't know exactly what they do with it.

But we do know that they profit handsomely from it. And that really, information in this country, personal information, is the new commodity. Or do you think they now take it for granted and are complacent about it because what they're doing fits their convenience?

HEIDI BOGHOSIAN : Certainly, generations that had been brought up on the internet and taught to type on a keyboard at the same time that they learned to read have a different notion of privacy and are willing even as children who may not know it, to give over personal information, for example, when they onto a Walt Disney site, or even a Coca-Cola site. They are bombarded again with friendly images, animal type characters, that ask you for your date of birth, where you live, what your preferences are, we're becoming from a very early age accustomed to being groomed to be consumers for life.

And along with that comes a kind of trust, I think. Corporations are so much a part of our daily lives, I would argue for the worse, but they market themselves as our friends. And then the close partnership they enjoy with the government, blurs traditional lines of what government functions have been, and notions of privacy.

So I think that most people who grew up on the internet may not be aware of traditional notions of privacy and are willing, as you say, for the convenience that it offers us and the, I think, appearance of ease of friendship and communication. But I think that we do need to take a step back and realize that protections haven't been put in place along with the fast pace that technology has really sped ahead. But I'm not really concerned when she talks about the business, the corporate consequences of this, just because it's a-- I'm complicit I'm buying these things knowingly, I probably assume that somebody's going to be using this data to profile me and aren't-- and track me and, we think there should be a distinction between our fear or concern about government surveillance and corporate or business surveillance.

They are hand-in-hand working to gather information about Americans as well as people across the globe, to really be in a race to collect more information than any other country can, because I think in their eyes, having this information, storing it, and being able to access it for years on end is a symbol of power and control. So that you can't really make that distinction anymore between big business and government.

And with the corporations and the business, aren't they looking for the person to whom they can market something? Or it helps me make my way through a busy life to be able to buy online. And if I have to give up a little information about myself, that's okay. And of course, that is part of it. But they're also looking to quiet those individuals who may be critical of corporate policies. And remembering how much corporations really factor into our daily lives, that should be of concern. Many corporations have their own intelligence sections, for example, so that they may have a unit that spies on activists, animal rights and environmental activists are one of the prime targets, because the F.

So that if you go to a protest and you're an animal rights activist, you can expect that you're being tracked in one way or another. The National Lawyers Guild gets calls all the time about people whose families and friends have been visited by the FBI in advance of a certain, say, Republican National Convention, or another demonstration, wanting to know information about certain activists. They definitely have files, they circulate photographs. They now identify what they call the anarchist threat. And that's basically anyone who I think may be continuously critical of government and corporate policies, who speaks out, and who isn't intimidated by corporations.

So they spend vast amounts of money to track these individuals. So that these some 75 centers across the country work hand-in-hand with businesses, gathering information about local threat assessments including anarchist and so-called activist threat assessments. We saw that with the Occupy Movement, where the Department of Homeland Security worked with financial businesses and banks to let them know that there would be protests in their municipalities all around the country, well before the protests started.

HEIDI BOGHOSIAN : When you are afraid to go, for example, to a mass assembly because you know that law enforcement will be there in riot gear with so-called less lethal munitions, when you know that corporations have done their research, gathered dossiers on you, may have their own private security guards, as they do now at most protests it makes people who maybe have never gone to a protest before, who want to express a view on something, afraid of that. I think that's very damaging to the notion of democracy because the streets, the public parks, which are now increasingly corporatized in many urban areas don't belong to us as a people anymore.

They belong to corporations. And if we're afraid to go there and congregate it's a sad testament to where we are. So what do you think's happening to us as a free and democratic people? I just think that our laws and our social conscious has not kept a step with those developments. We need to take a breath and say, "Where are we? What do we value? What do we want to recapture in terms of our rights as Americans and our constitutional protections?

And how can we balance the positive gains of technology with privacy and the laws of the land? The police department called them troublemakers. And he said that they really provide an invaluable service in terms of reminding us what's important in our country.

HEIDI BOGHOSIAN : Working as he did for a private corporation, handling sensitive information, and being told basically that there was no problem, there was nothing he could do, he then took matters into his own hands, knowing that he would probably face imprisonment for the rest of his life.

I'm cautious in some ways because I am a lawyer and I know I have taken an oath to uphold the law. I would like to think that I could've done that. I'm not sure. They believe that we can be a thriving democracy and that we do not have to cede our lives and our autonomy to multinational corporations who I think have really robbed us of some of the privileges that we've been so fortunate to have over the history of this nation.

And they're not afraid to stand up to leaders. I was inspired by the school child who did not want to wear a tag, an ID tag at school that had a radio-frequency-identifying chip in it, RFID chip. And she fought, brought a lawsuit, she had to transfer to another school, but it raised attention. And I think especially when says, "I don't want this," knowing that she can then be tracked for a of other reasons, I applaud that courage.

And there's a community in California, for example, that went to their city council meeting and said, "You've just approved having a surveillance drone in this area and we don't like that. And the custodians of democracy, they're not afraid to take action that may get them in trouble, get them expelled from a school, for example, or even arrested. They take to the streets, they speak out, and they lead by example, by doing something that unfortunately has required a great deal of bravery in what should really be the ordinary way we conduct our lives.

Executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, Heidi Boghosian , s Bill for a conversation on what we all need to know about surveillance in America. Boghosian, author of Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance , says the government is working with corporations to illicitly spy on virtually all of us, not just suspected terrorists or the Angela Merkels of this world.

Interview Producer : Candace White. Editor : Sikay Tang. Heidi Boghosian, welcome. More about Heidi Boghosian.

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