دولت ایالات متحده چقدر از شما اطلاعات دارد

دولت ایالات متحده از شما چقدر می داند؟ این سؤالی نیست که به راحتی جواب داد. دولت ایالات متحده بزرگترین و پیشرفته ترین برنامه های جاسوسی ، نظارت و جمع آوری داده ها را بر روی کره زمین اجرا می کند. این سازمان از چندین آژانس اجرای قانون و اطلاعات تشکیل شده است که برخی از آنها به صورت پنهانی فعالیت می کنند. البته دولت فدرال بیش از دوازده آژانس اصلی را تشکیل می دهد که سوابق منظم را برای اهداف عملیاتی مانند خدمات درآمد داخلی ، اداره مسکن و شهرسازی و مدیریت تأمین اجتماعی انجام می دهند.

ایالات متحده چقدر از شما خبردارد

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How much does the US government know about you? It’s not a question easily answered. The US government operates the largest and most advanced spying, surveillance, and data collection programs on the planet. It’s made up of multiple law enforcement and intelligence agencies, some of which operate in secret. The federal government, of course, consists more than two dozen major agencies that perform regular record keeping for operational purposes, such as the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Social Security Administration.

گذشته از نهادهای رسمی دولتی ، اشخاص ثالث اغلب درخواست های دولت برای اطلاعات را رعایت می کنند. اینها شامل شرکتهای بزرگ فناوری مانند گوگل ، اپل ، مایکروسافت و فیس بوک است که همگی توسط ادوارد اسنودن نشان داده شده است که با تلاش های جاسوسی آژانس امنیت ملی آمریکا همکاری داشته است. و در حالی که ما به فکر ادوارد اسنودن هستیم ، به یاد بیاورید که او در آن زمان پیمانکار خصوصی در آژانس امنیت ملی آمریکا بود و کارمند دولت نبود. پیمانکاران و شرکت های خصوصی می توانند اطلاعات را به نمایندگی از دولت ایالات متحده نیز جمع آوری کنند.

Aside from official government entities, third parties often comply with government requests for information. These include big tech companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook, all of which were shown by Edward Snowden to have cooperated with the NSA’s spying efforts. And while we’re thinking about Edward Snowden, recall that he was a private contractor at the NSA at the time and not a government employee. Contractors and private companies can collect information on behalf of the US government as well.

گذشته از نهادهای رسمی دولتی ، اشخاص ثالث اغلب درخواست های دولت برای اطلاعات را رعایت می کنند. اینها شامل شرکتهای بزرگ فناوری مانند گوگل ، اپل ، مایکروسافت و فیس بوک است که همگی توسط ادوارد اسنودن نشان داده شده است که با تلاش های جاسوسی آژانس امنیت ملی آمریکا همکاری داشته است. و در حالی که ما به فکر ادوارد اسنودن هستیم ، به یاد بیاورید که او در آن زمان پیمانکار خصوصی در آژانس امنیت ملی آمریکا بود و کارمند دولت نبود. پیمانکاران و شرکت های خصوصی می توانند اطلاعات را به نمایندگی از دولت ایالات متحده نیز جمع آوری کنند.

The amount and accuracy of information that the government varies from one person to the next. Someone who spends a lot of time online, sharing on social media, creating accounts at different services, and/or communicating with friends and relatives overseas will leave a much more clear trail of data than someone who shuns Facebook and takes proactive steps to protect their privacy. Government employees must undergo rigorous background checks, while someone getting paid under the table at a local restaurant can fly under the radar.

Attempting to cover all the information that the US government knows about any one person quickly becomes overwhelming and full of caveats. With all of this in mind, it’s clear we need to narrow down our parameters. To that end, we’ll create three typical archetypes–Alice, Bob, and Chris–who fit the following profiles:

Alice is:

  • A naturalized citizen (immigrant)
  • Middle aged
  • A private sector employee
  • A frequent online shopper
  • A tenant in a rented apartment
  • A college graduate

Bob is:

  • A US citizen from birth
  • Elderly
  • Retired from the public sector
  • Not very computer-literate and doesn’t spend much time online
  • A homeowner

Chris is:

  • A minor
  • A public school student
  • Active on social media
  • Applying for college
  • Doesn’t have a job

To narrow our scope a bit further, let’s assume none of these three people has a criminal record. They are all US citizens, either from birth or naturalized. None of them have served in the military or law enforcement. They do not collect welfare such as unemployment checks, food stamps, worker’s compensation, or disability benefits. Finally, we’ll only cover information that the government can legally collect without a court order.

We’ll categorize the types of information based on, in broad strokes, who originally collects it:

  • Non-law enforcement government agencies – Mostly routine information that the government needs to operate and is not collected for intelligence or law enforcement purposes
  • Intelligence and law enforcement agencies – Information swept up in government spying and surveillance programs
  • Non-government companies – Private companies, credit bureaus, public utilities, and other entities not operated by the government but that cooperate with government requests for information

Info collected by non-intelligence agencies

Some information is required for the US government to effectively operate and serve the public. This includes information that’s used collect taxes, dole out welfare, deliver mail, draw boundaries for congressional and school districts, and assess social and economic trends and make policy decisions.

taxes calculator

While we say this information is “routine”, once it’s all combined, one could actually formulate a fairly intimate depiction of a person’s life. The US government likely knows the following about all three of our hypothetical characters:

  • Name
  • Social security number
  • Permanent address and/or place of usual residence
  • Age, birth date
  • Place of birth
  • Prior place of residence and duration of residence
  • Ethnicity
  • Marital status
  • Household composition (family members and how they’re all related)

This information can be collected through various means, including tax forms, the postal service, and census data.

The decennial census in particular gathers a large amount of personal information. Individual information is kept private for 72 years; the latest census data available to the public is from 1940.

You might presume that intelligence and law enforcement agencies can access Census records whenever they want, but think again. The US Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the United States Code, guaranteeing confidentiality. The FBI and other government entities do not have the legal right to access this information. So the US government technically knows a lot about you through the Census and IRS, but, on paper, that information is locked away and only used in aggregate.

The IRS is a bit different. IRS.gov’s page on disclosure laws notes, “pursuant to court order, return information may be shared with law enforcement agencies for investigation and prosecution of non-tax criminal laws.” That means all the information in your tax return can be used by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies with a court order. The IRS actually uses some of the same surveillance techniques as national intelligence agencies, including deployment of Stingrays to spy on cell phones.

Chris doesn’t have an income yet and thus doesn’t need to file his own taxes, but he is about to apply to college and thus will fill out a FAFSA to apply for federal student aid. He’s also a public school student, so it’s reasonable to assume the government knows the following about him:

  • Education level
  • What classes he takes
  • Where he goes to school
  • Parents’ income from their jobs and investments
  • Parents’ employment status

Alice holds down a full-time job and files taxes every year. She also participates in the census as required by law. It’s reasonable to assume the US government would know the following information about her:

  • Employment status
  • Occupation and industry
  • Income
  • Place of work
  • Education level
  • Student loan payment status

Bob is retired and own his own home. He earns a modest pension and collects social security. Medicare pays for the majority of his medical expenses. He’s also a bit of a philanthropist who regularly donates to charity. We can assume the government collects the following information about him in a given year:

  • Income
  • Current medicare and social security benefits, and estimate of future benefits
  • Employment status
  • Donations claimed on tax forms
  • Education level
  • Previous occupation and industry
  • Medical history, medications
  • Doctor(s) and hospital visits
  • Property tax and valuation info, including:
    • Value of home and land
    • How the property is used
    • Location
    • Size
    • Improvements and problems
    • Easements
    • Type of access

While we’re on the topic of social security, note that a regulation that required the SSA to to disclose information about certain people with mental illness to the national gun background check system. That regulation was nixed by President Trump in February 2017.