You know your perspective is skewed when you throw around numbers like $1,200, $4,500 -- in a post about owning an $80,000 car -- with the word "affordable."
Like the $2.99 per episode a la carte offering for Game of Thrones HBO has on their website? Sweet! Thanks for letting me know, I didn't know such a legal alternative existed!
...than listening to calls in detail. Crappy bitrate audio of conversational speech is very difficult to analyze with voice recognition, etc. However, simpler digital data can be churned through massive datacenters and with ease, resulting in detailed dossiers on anybody with a cell phone (which is everyone these days). People don't seem to realize just how much info can begleaned from metadata. Shit, I'm on the paranoid side an I bet I would be shocked by the info the NSA probably has on me.
I was replying to the "better to run for office" part of your post, and what I said relates directly to the "if you want to change the people who make the laws, you gotta step up and volunteer to be one of them." Relax a bit, would you?
The fact of the matter is that at this point, virtually *anything* you do online is no longer private. If you sift through enough email, browsing history, etc. etc. etc. for any given individual you will likely find something, somewhere that could at least be used to intimidate that person.
Do the words "self-fulfilling prophecy" mean anything to you?
That's the entire problem with this NSA crap. Anyone who bucked the system and made it far along enough in the process would have tons of dirt on him/her already automatically unearthed by the NSA's data centers. The info would be leaked to a complicit media, who would drool over the chance to run another political scandal, and the good politician's career would be over before it even began.
It's sad, but knowing about the extent of the abuse has actually made me *more* worried about protesting the abuse. Panopticon and all that -- we know they can be watching any of us now, with access to basically all our information online (even stuff that's encrypted, like this data, which is being sent over a VPN but who even knows if it's secure?), as well as all the metadata from our phones, which tell them exactly where we have gone. I doubt they are interested in me per se, but say I ran for office under a platform the established powers didn't like -- they might get interested then, and I would be fucked.
This shit is really scary.
From MaximumPC.com, re: TrueCrypt:
"The Hidden encryption method actually allows you to create two mirror OS’s protected by different passwords. Using this method, should you be coerced into entering your password by a third party, you will have the option of using a password that presents them with a version of your OS which is completely insulated from the other."
Aside from the EFF and half the Slashdot population, nobody will do a damn thing.
Microsoft knows that most gamers really won't give a shit. FFS, people generally don't give a shit about ANYTHING these days aside from who died in the latest Game of Thrones and how many times Justin Bieber puked on stage. We've been slowly conditioned over the past few decades to care less and less about this stuff. There will be no uproar.
But in the west, living at home isn't stigmatized as much.
Yes it is. Living at home is stigmatized far more in the west than it is in Japan. Three or four generations living in the same household is pretty much the standard in many places in Japan, whereas in the west, "living in your mom's basement" is basically the royal crown of loserdom.
You are right that it's not *just* the Internet, just like it's not *just* the culture and it's not *just* the economy. It's all of these things coming together. The social structure creates the base for the problem, the economy pushes people in that direction, and the Internet draws them in.
Based on what I saw during my 10+ years living there, I'd say it's the realities of modern life clashing with the traditional culture. Japan is a collectivist society; before the Internet came along, if you were deviant/antisocial/etc. (for lack of better terms) you had to suppress that side of you and fit in. However, the Internet opened up a virtual environment where individualism could flourish more; people found an outlet, and even support, for their antisocial tendencies, and little by little it became a lot more comfortable to "live online" than actually having to put up with the social pressures of real life. (Westerners have a tough time understanding the amount of social pressure; even I am still sometimes surprised by the hoops my Japanese wife's family members jump through in order to "keep up appearances".)
Add to this the traditional tendency for extended families to live together into adulthood and you have the perfect recipe for hikikomori: a virtual social life where you are free from judgment and pressure to fit in, and no need to work to fulfill your basic needs of food and shelter. Not the life that I want, but I understand it, anyway.
Hey guys, what are you not talking about?
I'm preparing to migrate away from as many Google services as possible.
Or has become one, at least. The debate is effectively being focused on whether or not Snowden is a hero or a villain, when what people should really be concerned about is whether or not the government is engaging in unconstitutional behavior, who is responsible for the programs, and why our elected officials are not only doing nothing to prevent it but are actively encouraging it.