Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

The Back Page: Privacy trade

Okay, government: how about a trade? You seem to badly want the ability to access the encrypted data on the devices we all carry around these days. Frankly, I’m not sure why: maybe you’re really interested in listening to my copy of The Force Awakens soundtrack, or seeing all those Hawaii pictures I haven’t posted yet, or maybe you just want to check out where I stalled out on Alto’s Adventure. (Stupid wingsuit challenges.) Well, fine. You can have it all. But we’re going to need a little something from you in exchange.

It seems only fair that if you’re going to have access to all our phones and data that we should have access to all of your phones and data. And by you, I mean the politicians who are pushing this as an agenda item in this upcoming year of elections. After all, you are our duly-elected representatives and what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

This shouldn’t be too big a deal, right? I mean, if you don’t have anything to hide, why should you be worried about us seeing it? All of your emails and correspondence is supposed to be publicly available anyway, right? So it’s not like you’d try to make an end-run around the system by switching to a more difficult-to-archive medium, like Snapchat or phone calls. You also probably wouldn’t try to obfuscate exactly what you’re talking about by using code words like “fluffy unicorns” instead of “budget cuts” or “cupcakes” instead of “healthcare.”

Heck, you probably wouldn’t even stop using your cell phone altogether once you learned that all that information was easily accessible because, you know, that’s just the kind of people you are: upstanding, honest people with nothing at all to hide. That’s why we elected you of all people.

I know you might feel a little apprehensive about this deal, but don’t worry: we’re only going to use these powers for good. I mean, we’ll have access to all that data you keep on your phone, but it’s not like we’re going to post your personal pictures to Instagram, or steal your credit card and banking information. Because we too are the upstanding, honest populace that you believe us to be. Trust us.

So, how about it, government? Do we have a deal? Or is there some reason why perhaps you might not want to compromise the security of your personal devices and information for strangers to poke through? If so, I’m sure we’d all love to hear it.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

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