Shhh. I’m researching a novel. Don’t tell anyone.
See, the novel is about terrorists. Since I don’t normally hang out in those circles, I’m looking up some things about how terrorists work, where they’re from, and what methods they use. I’ve concluded from what I’ve read that my idea about biochemical warfare through an air-borne style plague that activates when it mixes with water could be valid. Now I’m waiting for stormtroopers to break through my door.
Although maybe I’ll get those movie stormtroopers in the white armor that can’t seem to hit a thing within fifty feet. Those would be better.
While I’ve been reading, mostly online, some high-pitched annoying little voice in the back of my head keeps warning me that someone’s going to notice what I’m doing. If you read about biochemicals, Big Brother will see you! it says.
If Big Brother really wants to take a look at me sitting here in my worn pajamas, rumpled hair and fuzzy slippers, more power to him. I’ll pour him some coffee and get him an aspirin. That’s what I reply. Even my husband doesn’t want to look at me this time of morning, you know what I’m saying?
I remember we all got wound up a couple of years ago when that romance writer writing about Cambodia was raided by the government; computers, music CDs, even cases of paper and pencils all confiscated. This occurred allegedly after her online research, book-buying and library check-out patterns had brought her to the attention of Someone. (As I also remember, this story was eventually debunked to some degree as other facts came to light about the writer.)
But that doesn’t make it any less scary.
Under the Patriot Act, the government conducts warrantless searches. Without getting permission from anyone, agents can look through your computer, correspondence, library records, and online purchase and reading histories. Just because. The Connecticut Law Review cited a statistic that 20% of the nation’s libraries have had some police or FBI agency seize records. Did you know librarians can go to jail if they tell anyone that the police conducted a raid?
An article in the March PC Magazine covers “web spiders” and how law enforcement gathers intelligence on terrorist communities around the world based on patterns. So now you’re not even monitored by real people, who might discount certain queries or searches as clearly harmless. Machines bring you up on the radar. Then…who knows?
My husband, computer geek that he is, suggested I could use proxies, university computers, etc., for the search to conceal my identity if I was worried. But how guilty does that appear? If you hide, do you have something to hide? If you don’t hide, do they think you’re onto them and purposely NOT hiding? Man. I’m starting to sound like Mel Gibson in that movie.
So I guess I’ll just do my research the way I always have, open and honest, since that’s part of the bottom line in America: freedom. Then I’ll put the coffee on and wait for the knock at the door. What do you think–one pot or two?