We assume the NSA is watching

When does it stop? Nearly every week we read another story about the continued infringement of privacy being perpetrated upon the American people by the National Security Agency.

The latest: The NSA has been collecting and sifting through millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts around the world, including accounts of Americans. Officials confirmed this week that the agency grabs hundreds of thousands of email address books every day from private accounts, and collects thousands of buddy lists from live chats, too.

The Washington?Post reported this week that during a typical day in 2012, the NSA collected 440,000 email address books. At that rate, the agency would grab more than 250 million address books in a year’s time.

A spokesman for the NSA said the agency is looking for intelligence on valid terrorism threats or criminal activity, and is not interested in the personal information of ordinary citizens. Does anyone believe that? And does anyone believe that if the NSA admits it’s collecting 440,000 address books a day, that’s all it’s collecting on a daily basis? Officials say the work would be illegal if done within the United States, but the agency avoids restrictions by intercepting information from access points around the world.

We’d love to say we’re surprised or even shocked, but we’re not. Big Brother is out there, and he is watching. Just to be safe, we’ll assume he’s reading every email and every other message sent by electronic means of communication. And we’re probably right in doing so.