What’s Going On: Utah’s NSA Center and the Utah Data Alliance of Schools Collecting Data   2 comments

Have you seen what’s happening over in Bluffdale?  The building is called NSA.  National Security Agency.  (Or, Never Say Anything)

A new KSL article quotes William Binney, a Washington whistleblower, saying Utah’s new NSA  is “a serious threat to civil liberties.”

Binney, who worked for the NSA for 32 years and still lives by the secure headquarters near Baltimore, says  the NSA can dice billions of emails, phone calls and Internet records, looking for clues to terrorist plots. –But it also can, and does, snoop on citizens.

When Binney worked for NSA, Binney’s team had smartly built into the software some sophisticated protections so that communications by U.S. citizens would be protected from NSA snooping.  But the NSA passed over his citizen-protective system, for an unexplained reason.

Binney retired in anger.  According to KSL, Binney said:

“It didn’t take but probably a week or so after 9/11 that they decided to start spying on the U.S. domestically, on all U.S. citizens they could get.”

He now suspects the facility in Bluffdale will be used to store communication data so the NSA can sift through it, whether it’s from foreign terrorists or law-abiding U.S. citizens.
So I think this: the NSA, I’m sure, has legitimate duties, like ferreting out terrorist plots against innocent Americans.  But I’m also very sure its doing some inappropriate data snooping.  Where are the checks and balances?  Who’s watching the watchers?
The NSA is very tight-lipped and secretive.
But there are others who aren’t secretive about their data-gathering goals.
  Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, comes to mind. He’s always making speeches about the importance of increasing data-gathering efforts to have “more robust databases” to “increase accountability” to the federal agency.
John Brandt of Utah comes to mind.  He directs the Utah Data Alliance’s mashing of data from six Utah agencies using taxpayer money and Utah State School Board approval.  He’s got a powerpoint that explains how he’ll then share this data from schools to USOE and Utah higher ed and then to the federal Department of Ed.  He won’t return emails from me or my friends on the subject of data collection.  And he works for the NCES (federal research agency) as well as working as Utah Director of Technology.  He’s not going to be making speeches about federalism.
 Joanne Weiss comes to mind.  Weiss, the Department of Education Chief of Staff, is deliberately combining databases federally and wants to “help” states partner in data-mashing, she says.  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html     She is for federal and state “data partnerships”.
Even David Wiley, BYU Professor, comes to mind.
  He told me that he feels it’s “totally appropriate” for researchers and governments to conduct research on students without getting parental consent because the importance of the research and the logistical difficulties of getting parental consent trump the rights of parents.
This scares me.
Who’s protecting our civil liberties, our privacy and our parental rights? 
The lack of public outcry concerns me.  But I think it’s mostly based on people simply not knowing.  Or not considering the ramifications of the path we’re moving down.
Some of my own friends who I’ve brought this matter up with, say, “Who cares if they’re tracking us? I have nothing to hide.”
Maybe not from God.  –But from theives, stalkers, hackers, or people who are happy about communism?  We must keep private things private.
There are reasons we have locks on our doors and walls others can’t see through.  There are reasons for books like “1984″ and the other George Orwell and Ayn Rand classics.
Privacy is a sacred freedom.  When governments know everything about everyone, people become cattle, prodded and controlled by the all-knowing agencies “who know best”.  Hackers and stalkers and thieves can get government jobs and can get access to the private data of citizens, if there aren’t protections in place.
Could Sweden have enforced their anti-homeschooling law if they didn’t have absolute name, number and address tracking on every citizen?
Could China have enforced mandatory abortions under the one-child-only law if they didn’t have absolute knowledge of the medical and family records of every citizen?
Could governments separate children from parents to fulfill the Olympic dreams of that government, if the government was not tracking the physical traits of even tiny children?
There are endless ways people can abuse having access to citizens’ private data.
Surveillance on citizens is a dangerous, slippery slope.
And why won’t even the Utah State Office of Education discuss it?  Why is this so under the public radar?
I think I know.
It’s called “spiral of silence” theory.
Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann wrote the “spiral of silence” communications theory to explain how atrocities come to pass in civilized societies.

Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, the German political scientist, explained how Jews’ status became so widely agreed upon, during World War II under the Nazi control.  Hitler dominated the whole society and the minority Jews became silent due to the fear of isolation or separation.

The one view dominated the public scene and others disappeared from the public awareness as it adherents became silent.  People feared separation or isolation from those around them, so they kept their attitudes to themselves when they felt they were in the minority.  This process is “Spiral of Silence”.

If a teacher doesn’t like the data collection that’s happening on students, or a board member, or even a state-level leader is not satisfied with the decision, the one person does not express the thought publicly.  Why?

1.    They may feel unsupported by the others on the school, state or federal level. Peer pressure.

2.   Fear of isolation or job loss

3.   Fear of rejection (adult popularity contests)

4.    They may try to save a job by suppressing or avoiding personal statements in public.

Until many of us speak out and speak up, the spiral of silence will grow.  The perceived majority belief –that most people somehow agree with all this student and citizen data collection and the new norm of NOT asking for parental consent, and the communist-style common core implementation (without a vote) –will grow if we are quiet.  Nobody will stop its implementation, and it will take over as the new norm if we are quiet.

This is why I speak up.   This is why I ask you to research for yourself, and then speak up.

I believe more of us are against this (once we understand what it is) than there are those for it.  It’s creepy and must be stopped.

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2 responses to “What’s Going On: Utah’s NSA Center and the Utah Data Alliance of Schools Collecting Data

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  1. Pingback: Mysterious Academic Blog Brings Up Powerful Points « COMMON CORE

  2. Christel – Just found your web site tonight. Thank you for introducing me to two new concepts – Common Core and Spiral of Silence. The <a href="http://www.believeallthings.com/6049/nsa-building-utah/<NSA's Utah data center will most certainly be used to protect U.S. citizens. But how can anyone assure citizens that it will not be used to spy on said citizens?

    Americans are being asked to increasingly place trust in a government that continues to show evidences that it cannot be trustworthy. As Gordon B. Hinckley stated over 11 years ago shortly after 9/11, there are terrorists at work who seek to: 1) bring down the church, 2) woo the people with sophistry, and 3) take control of society. BTW – I really appreciate your efforts in education. Being a business undergrad and grad school alum, I had to study the classics on my own time. It has been a worthwhile endeavor, but wish I had spent more time in the classics during my college years. Best wishes.

    Greg

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