Matt scrolled through his memory, then turned back to his companion after glancing around. “Before I met Tanner Woodson, I’d heard about some hush-hush program being backed by the feds. Some new, highly classified method designed to troll e-mails, instant messages, and voice conversations. I had heard rumors of the story before I met Tanner, but they were like mere whispers, voices talking just out of hearing range.”
“When did you start to consider it more than a rumor?” Bryan leaned forward.
Matt shivered as a feeling much like paranoia began clawing at him. “Terrorism became our new preoccupation, Bryan. People like Charles Claussen like to fan the flames of everyone’s fears to justify probing into our private lives, to give our privacy the equivalent of a body-cavity search. We’ve all become obsessed with security. Just look at the jump in the number of people buying guns.”
After a pause, Matt continued. “Claussen thinks CleanSweep has a program powerful enough to troll through everyone’s electronic life. Tanner showed me the protocol. He said it was like a data scrub.” He gave an involuntary shudder. “A scrub is when a program goes through data to search for particular types of information—in this case personal information. Tanner told me CleanSweep could go beyond that, would electronically troll our streets to identify people he considers to be so-called errors. Claussen wants to do a scrub on people. Doesn’t that sound familiar?”
“Are you sure you aren’t the one obsessed, especially with this program of Claussen’s? It sounds way over the top,” Bryan said.
For a moment, the two sat in silence, sipping their beers.
Finally, Bryan shook his head saying, “C’mon. It can’t be as bad as all that, Matt. If people aren’t doing anything wrong, what’s the harm?”
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