Privacy SOS

Nidal Ahmed (a pseudonym) is a student at MIT who has been researching how telephone companies have been wiretapping for profit.

“These companies are providing law enforcement with information on an unprecedented scale. The government is paying a fortune for unreliable intelligence, sometimes with a warrant, other times warrantless. The scale of how much you are being tracked and tapped is unknown. It creates a personal paranoia for everyone.”

It is hard not to be paranoid when Fox and other media are creating a culture of insensitivity. “Before 9/11 Arabs were shown on the fringes of comedy in the media.  Now they are at the center of violence and pornography. Whenever there is a villain role to fill, usually they use an Arab or Muslim. People want someone to blame and right now it is us.”

The characters on TV and in films are very one-dimensional and stereotypical. “It’s like a kind of ‘blackface’. With shows like ‘24’ and ‘Lie to Me’ there is a very specific agenda. It is affecting cultural norms and how legislators think.”

He was in a park praying not long ago and he could hear two women talking loudly about how Somali kids are stealing scholarships from their kids. “When I finished praying, I went over to them and said, ‘I couldn’t help overhearing you being…’ and this lady interrupted and said ‘being what? Hateful? We didn’t even think you spoke English’ and the other lady said, ‘Americans don’t pray to the ground.’”

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.