Privacy

Oh the irony

At Boing Boing, Isabel Lara writes about the irony of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro offering “humanitarian asylum” to martyr-for-personal-privacy Edward Snowden– described by Maduro as “a young man who has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the United States spying on the whole world.”

The news that the NSA leaker has been offered asylum in Venezuela seems especially ironic to my mother and me. A few years ago, we had the bizarre experience of hearing one of our private phone calls aired on Venezuelan TV. It was played over and over again and “analyzed” by pro-government talk show host Mario Silva—a man who is now in disgrace himself because, in a weird twist of fate, a recording of him was leaked and broadcast on TV.

What was most surreal about our experience was that there was no excuse or justification for taping our phone conversation. None was needed. The government just had it.

It would be nice for Snowden, who cherishes privacy and freedom of speech so much, to be aware that in Venezuela one cannot have any expectation of either.

On Monday, Sept. 14, 2009 a private phone call between my mother and me was broadcast on two talk shows on the Venezuelan government TV station.
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We can be heard talking about the international anti-Chavez demonstrations, and how we thought they hadn’t been successful. I compared them to the much larger ones for democracy in Iran that I attended in DC.

More recently the Venezuelan government taped and broadcast a private conversation between opposition Deputy María Corina Machado and historian Germán Carrera Damas.

And according to leaked documents, Venezuela’s intelligence service has been spying on the country’s Jews, who are suspected of being a fifth column.

Venezuelan agents follow, photograph and keep track of the movements of various leaders and rabbis of the local Jewish community, as well as collecting information on them, their activities and their meetings.

The intelligence agencies in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, are working on the assumption that the country’s Jews are the bridgehead for attempts by the United States and its allies, including Israel, to destabilize the country.

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