tv Open Phones with Robert Scheer CSPAN May 17, 2015 10:30pm-11:01pm EDT
depth program with lawrence wright and your phone calls. that happens this spring on booktv. >> right now joining us here on our tv set is the editor-in-chief and author robert scheer, his most recent book is "they know everything about you: how data collecting corporations and snooping government agencies are destroying democracy." and so robert, who are they and what do they know? >> well the whole problem is that we surrendered a lot of our privacy to private corporations which is fine as long as you know what you are doing. can i use your location you buy a book, how far did you read in the book. if you have an apple iphone six, i gave my information to
connect with purchases what i read and what i watch. any government in the world has required you to give your fingerprints every time you have bought a book or watched a movie or have dinner with friends and they have their fingerprints. and so we did it voluntarily because we are comfortable with freedom and we thought it to notice that when those ads pop up they have all of this data. dress sizes and hair coloring and everything else. and what we learn from edward snowden and a few others it's not the private sector. it is government. and that government can tap into the fiber optic cable is they have all of this data.
and so it's a different order of magnitude when government does it because the constitution and notion of representative democracy is that you need privacy and unique individual space. and that is why we have the fourth amendment. going back to the english common law. they can't rummage about without a specific warrant. so this open the door and it's like wait a minute what is going on. the problems for apple, google instagram, and facebook, is that they are international companies and multinational operations and people all over the world started asking. and so you get pushback from europe and all over the world and why should we trust these companies and that is why these companies are now leading the fight to rein in the nsa and why
they are not renewing the patriot act in june, because you are destroying the most profitable export right now in the world and you are undermining the business model of our information companies and that is what is at stake here and they are pushing back and the american people are becoming more aware of what they are giving up. and the real issue is totalitarianism hardly ever comes with something that is just. it comes with a know what you're up to. and we've been part of a dangerous world. >> we are going to put the numbers on the screen as we talk with robert scheer, editor in chief and author of "they know everything about you: how data collecting corporations and snooping government agencies are destroying democracy." he is also a professor here at the annenberg school of
education at usc. and we are going to put the numbers up as we talk about privacy, cybersecurity, those types of issues. you understand what is going on and what we are talking about. so the first line in your book democracy and privacy. >> yes, this is why we have a fourth amendment. our whole government is based on the idea of individual sovereignty. and after 9/11 we have this crazy idea that somehow government should have all of the power and we should beg for crumbs off the table. and that freedom is not a low tree that we have in the best of times, but that you need freedom in the worst of times. it was george washington warned
us about this. it was the founders of our government they gave us checks and balances and a vest the different parts of the bill of rights. they said even though we are going to be the government and you have to watch as absolute power corrupts absolutely. and you have to have your zone of privacy and individual space and last year they say if you have a smart phone on you they cannot crack the code and use that information. that is a violation of the fourth amendment and that is exactly what the american revolution was fought about. agents of the king cannot come into your house. and so we have forgotten that notion and we have surrendered this power and its increasingly
held by private agency that the cia has funded and there are no checks and balances. the head of our whole security apparatus has told them that we are not doing this we are not getting this information, and so we don't have accountability. and my whole point is the worry is not privacy but really sovereignty and that is what the fourth amendment is about. your home is your castle and there's more information on that than there ever was in the home and it's your diary, calendar medical information, when you think of all of the things that you have on your computer. the fact is that this is probably going to be in people's minds are watching us. it didn't make us stronger. one president obama was challenged where did this haystack of everyone's
information the leader of germany, brazil, when did that make us stronger, and there is not one example that they can come up with you take the boston marathon, you take the "charlie hebdo" bombing in paris you have to find the guys who did this and you had to do all sorts of police work. and what we are doing is drowning in this information. >> are google and facebook complicit in maintaining this information and getting this information? >> there's no doubt there is before edward snowden and after. and this 29-year-old go at the time had showed a clarity and bravery and i don't know if he is a republican or democrat, i
hear he is kind of libertarian and i think he did what anyone should do and inform us when the constitution is being violated. that is what he did. the people that call him a traitor or something they forget the obligation of citizenship which is to inform what is going on. and i would say that the key thing is that there's no evidence that any of this has made us more secure. the evidence is overwhelming and intimidate the population so people engage themselves. and they say what do i have to worry about and i say that means that you think you can do anything that pushes the edge. and we are supposed to challenge the government and have the ability to think differently and get together with our fellow
citizens and assemble for grievances in ways that might disturb the government and disturbing the government has an obligation of citizenship. and that is what we have forgotten. the fact of the matter is that this government has let us down because it has collected all this data and not made us more secure. one president obama talked about this [inaudible] the 19th hijacker was living at the house of an fbi informant, he was on the radar and the agencies they knew where these guys were and what we didn't do is have an old-fashioned compensate one of those guys up to. the guy in the paris bombing had already served time. he didn't have to get underwear size to find him.
>> in the vernacular if the cow is already out of the barn come how we get back in? >> it's not already out of the barn this has come up before, before 9/11, there were conservatives and liberals are worried about this and they said when the banks merged and we had the reversal of glass-steagall, richard nixon speechwriter they said we need to opt in. if someone is going to take the data and use them in ways that you did not intend they should have your exclusive permission to market this data and so forth. we have failed in that respect. so yes, no one should be able to use your data without your permission and get rid of the patriot act just gave the government a blank check and hillary clinton says [inaudible]
she did not trust them with her e-mails. why should i trust the state to promote my e-mails? [inaudible] >> legislatively, what would you like to see done? >> i would like to see that the patriot act not be renewed and that's coming up in june. you should call your congressman and that is the critical one. the guy that wrote the patriot act is on record as saying that they distorted it and the republican congressman, it should be dropped. rand paul has a petition he is a conservative, there are plenty of liberals that have repetition. people should be aware that the government was given a license to learn so much about you and if you had no privacy, you're going to end up being a fearful human being. they know everything about you.
>> "they know everything about you: how data collecting corporations and snooping government agencies are destroying democracy" is the author of the book. robert scheer is the author. professor here at usc, the first call comes from angela in new york. you are on with robert scheer. >> caller: hello, how do you do sir. >> guest: hello. >> caller: yes hello i wanted to instead of talking theoretically, i wanted to tell you a personal story. i think that one of the elephants in the room is a court system and that you are evaluated by what your monetary worth is. and judges make decisions based on that. >> you know i apologize we are not going to be able to get into your personal story today. but what about the court system. have they been supportive of privacy rights and supportive of
government wanting to know and etc.? >> i think that that bedrock principle should be the protection of individual rights. like protection of the constitution. our constitution is the clearance document for asserting individual sovereignty. the fourth amendment is rare. general warrants are out. they have been having a specific reason to enter in someone's home, tapping their phone. that is called due process. and until this last court since 9/11 we have remembered why we have the constitution. we don't have it to weaken as we have it to strengthen us. there are a lot of questions. what are we doing in the midis. and why did we want to overthrow the government in iraq.
[inaudible] the main thing is that the courts, it happened last year, it's going to happen again i hope the courts have up and say that we have this gift of the eight amendments and we need to protect it and both democratic and republican administrations since 9/11 have destroyed the key fabric of the constitution. >> latasha is in michigan. hello. >> caller: good afternoon. mr. robert shearer, just sent out a few minutes ago. i'm intrigued by your dissertation. i was astounded last night. i was listening to the pbs radio. now, i must tell you that i am not very conversant with the electronics. but they said that facebook and twitter are able in the course
of time to determine people's political persuasions. and that somehow they send the news to those people, the news that -- the news that is along their way of thinking to than and in other words they do not get the complete story, it is directed to them along the way. >> that is what my book deals with in part. that is what the data mining is all about and manipulation facebook will send more conservative news to conservatives or more liberal news to liberals, they tried to experiment and it is discussed in the book. and the new should be not doctored in this way it should be news that is important in the information that you need. what happens is the political
candidates, barack obama was very aggressive in using data mining that they are all doing it to target people with messages they want to hear and manipulate the political process. and as my book says, they know everything about you they can figure out how you voted, what kind of relationship you have they can figure out whether you have been divorced, they know your inclinations and then there is a political message as well and so you think you are observing a neutral process in your being manipulated at every turn. but that is the enemy of democracy but transparency is the ally of democracy and it's that simple. >> amy in texas. please go ahead. >> caller: hello. you had mentioned that you are
never going to go near the edge. my concern is people say well it's okay because i'm not doing anything wrong. but who knows when they are going to move this edge. >> i agree with you. go ahead. >> they said there is a secret law. i don't remember what it was about. but that weren't stuck in my head. how can you have a secret law. >> this is a big problem what is the edge. how do you spot this. is it someone who thinks that we should abolish the federal reserve area dwell rand paul libertarians, a lot of them have believed that. maybe that is the kind of change that we need. we have a right to do something like that. maybe the president should not have the power to end troops to war without a declaration from congress.
that is what our constitution said. so what is the edge? is patriotism just going along with whatever you're told. and the whole idea of the republic is that we have to be informed. and we can change the parameters. you know, that is the whole idea of this experiment. we want to change this and we want to change the institutions. if we want to then target people would say that is too far out he wants to legalize marijuana, or he favors this notion or that notion you develop a profile of that person and you spread that around. it prevents them from getting a job or alone, makes them a target for the police or of suspicion, they get their phones monitored and they no longer have a free people. this is what these books were all about. so they make themselves palatable to people and they do
it through self-censorship so people do not know that they are being manipulated and we are being manipulated to a very high degree and not just by our advertisers. suddenly an ad pops up and you are reading about this and how many people know you were just reading that article and that you sent an e-mail about and you call the rent about it are you a shoe fetish? what does that say about your personality. and there are people doing data mining and what have you we're not just talking about the u.s. government at any government in the world. and we have shown this and made it legitimate. but do we want to live in a world where we know every detail about you?
and they can collect this data and the most important thing is that in a free society the government should not be able to develop a profile of you as a means of intimidation. we need a free people. we should not be treated as if we are the terrorists or the enemy, we're supposed to be the governors. we are the ones that are supposed to be empowered and not the government. so how did you get us into this mess in afghanistan or syria and why are you wasting all of our money. those are the questions that we have a right to ask and we asked those questions and should not be treated as objects of suspicion, we are doing are due diligence as to this and. >> what you think of the term of freedom of information act to .
>> what is so disturbing is that -- let me just cut back a little bit. there's something great about the internet. it is a fabulous invention. i have been tech savvy going back to work on my first ibm computer we have the moves of the educated public, we have the means of the educated public to get up to speed, it's a great educational tool that is being destroyed by spine by being turned into a way of intimidating people and observing people. people should be able to use the internet to experiment. take risks and i've done it and yes, you have to respect other people and you have to respect their rights, but to question
should be unfettered. to have information about what your government is doing that is the essential of a democracy. and now it's been turned on its head. you know, these guys they watch us madison jefferson, with washington, but we know power corrupts. we are going to grant you at your insistence the right to be free to challenge us. and the founders, the framers of our constitution, they want a war against the biggest power on earth and they know that they could come back. and they knew that went wrong they would be hanging from some tree. but now they have built within to individual freedom because it would make us stronger.
pre-people need transparency of. >> dan is in terre haute indiana. the name of the book is "they know everything about you: how data collecting corporations and snooping government agencies are destroying democracy." you are on with dan. >> caller: hello mr. robert shearer. there's a lot of clichés about things and basically should we be worried that government is snooping on them. it wasn't the government snooping but it was criminal hackers broke into my computer and took advantage, essentially breaking into my bank account and my gmail account. what do you think about that, the freedom of the internet and it wasn't the government that i was attacked by the criminal hackers that took advantage of the freedom of the internet.
>> okay we have the point please go ahead. >> i agree with you totally. one way to avoid that is to have encryption. apple and google have been very vigorous recently to say that we encrypt our e-mail accounts and we encrypt our data. the head of the fbi and nsa condemned them for offering data protection. so i think the best way to prevent criminal activity and government snooping and any violation of individual privacy and freedom and to records is to encrypt them and protect them and prevent that. and that is the issue. you have a right to encrypt the protected data and wendy's private companies try to give it to you which is what google and apple and facebook are trying to do the government should not say we demand the ability to break through that, that data
should not be sold to third parties and it certainly should not be exchanged without your permission. and so data protection is essential and it's a big part of what this is about. the constitution is not a cliché but if you want to protect your privacy and data, you're absolutely right in our government has said they have a sorry example to grant everyone in the world data. and that is not protecting your data. >> we have stephanie and masami does, california. please go ahead with your question. >> it is an honor to speak to you. i cancel my subscription when you stop writing for your former employer. okay when anthem blue cross has
80 million customers is information has been compromised, what do you think of that. the other thing is what provisions of the patriot act we have to be careful of. >> i believe that it should be repealed. it was concluded in haste most of the people that voted for it is that they have not read it it was not adequately debated it was done in the climate of hysteria. and i happen to be covering in washington at that time and i would interview on the the people of congress who would admit right off the bat that they did not know what was in it. but we now know that that is not a way to have a more secure and protect the population. that there are some key provisions that are most egregious, but this should be allowed to sunset. it was was supposed to elapse,
that was the whole idea and it was a temporary measure. barack obama was unwise to extend it. but it's time is over it has proved to be a disaster. and i don't hear any arguments for it. it's just that the government will step in and say if you do that, give us another year or two. but what we need is greatest people in congress and we have to make them gratis by contacting them and saying that we don't want that thing renewed. if you want to have rules of the road think it through and others will comment on it. >> we have been talking with robert shearer "they know everything about you: how data collecting corporations and snooping government agencies are destroying democracy" is his book. sir as always we appreciate
you being here. >> thank you for taking it seriously. >> is there a nonfiction author or book that you'd like to see featured on booktv? senescent e-mail at c-span.org. post on our wall at facebook.com/booktv. >> booktv is live on sunday, june 7 with lawrence wright in our live in-depth program. is the author of nine books with topics that range from modern religion to the september 11 2001 terror attacks and the camp david accords. his more recent titles include a look at manuel noriega in a fictional account of the dictator's last years in power before his capture in 1989. and he also wrote a looming tower which won the pulitzer prize in 2007. it is an examination of the rise of al qaeda osama bin laden, and the fbi agents responsible
for tracking their actions prior to september 11. he also investigated scientology in going clear, which became an hbo documentary. his latest book is 13 days in september. an account of the peace agreement between israel and egypt i camp david in 1978. his previous book cover topics like growing up in the 60s and 70s profiles of religious leaders and what identical twins tell us about inherited traits. live on booktv, lawrence wright on in-depth on june 7. you can participate via social media or phone or in person at the "chicago tribune" printers row with every festival. >> the new congressional directory is a handy guide to the 114 congress with color photos of every senator and every house number and biography in information. also district maps, a foldout map of capitol hill and a look