GLENN: Cullen, welcome to the program. How are you?
CULLEN: Oh, very good today. Glad to be in studio.
GLENN: Yeah, it's nice to have you here.
We wanted to talk to you about this ISP discussion that was going on last week with the government rolling it back. And we had a discussion here that I don't like the government getting involved in private relationships. I have a relationship with a company. If I don't like it, I'll go switch to another company.
GLENN: You are saying that there's a difference between that and -- and Apple. The ISP is different than Apple.
CULLEN: Well, I mean, the ISP is very different than a Google or a Facebook, right? Because with a company like Google, it's a search engine company, primarily. They also provide email. But you can go to some other search engine.
GLENN: Ask Jeeves.
CULLEN: Yeah, you can -- Ask Jeeves, if you wanted to. And same with Facebook. There are other social media tools out there, and they're free.
An ISP, we're already paying, you know, however much they can charge us, depending on how much competition is in the region. Right? And many people only have one option, especially when it comes to a higher speed broadband. So what we're essentially saying now is that, you know, you get the internet or you don't. And if you want the internet, well, everything you do online now is the property of that internet provider.
PAT: As far as terms and conditions do apply. How did this start with you? Did you just -- were you curious about what all these rules and regulations were that we were agreeing to, and then you started reading them? How did this begin?
GLENN: It was a lot of boring reading.
GLENN: I bet it was.
PAT: So you actually did read the terms and conditions that do apply?
CULLEN: I did.
PAT: Wow. You are the one.
CULLEN: And that actually -- in fact, actually a lot of these companies just copy and paste other company's terms and conditions.
PAT: Do they really?
CULLEN: Yeah. They don't -- yeah, this happens.
PAT: Word-for-word. And so how long are these things generally? And what's the longest you've seen?
CULLEN: Gosh, it's between Apple and LinkedIn. LinkedIn has some of the most egregious concerns. And Apple is out to protect themselves. They're not really in the business of taking your data because they're trying to sell you a really expensive product.
CULLEN: So Apple, you'll just read through everything they've got. I mean, they go to the extent to protect themselves from an incident where you may use their technology to start a nuclear war.
CULLEN: Yeah, if you read in their terms, yeah, they say, we are not responsible if our technology -- you are not allowed to use it for this purpose. Therefore, if you do, we are not liable.
GLENN: What -- what could I possibly buy on iTunes that could start a nuclear war?
STU: Well, the documentary War Games.
CULLEN: Talk to Kim Jong-un. It's a message just for him.
GLENN: That's amazing. So how much trouble are we in with privacy? For instance, Stu and I used to be the biggest advocate of -- of keeping our fingerprints sacred. You're not -- no, you're not taking my fingerprints. And we've handed them over.
And we actually don't mind it now because we're so mentally lazy.
PAT: In fact, Stu loves it.
STU: I was telling Cullen off the air. Because I had him on Wonderful World of Stu, I don't know, three years ago or something. It was right when the fingerprint thing came out for iPhones and I didn't have it yet. And I remember it was kind of a story at the time, of, wow, you're putting your fingerprint in these things. And it's digital. And maybe it is locally stored. But, still, it was like another step of you, you were giving up to technology.
And at the time, we were talking about that, and I was critical of it in that like -- just like, this kind of freaks me out. Now, the one-tenth of a second that saves me every time I log into my phone is irreplaceable. I would fall on my sword to defend it. And because at any time you can improve convenience just a little bit, these things seem to go down the tubes.
CULLEN: And you're right. With each step, we're just turning up the heat up a little bit more. You know, the Constitution guarantees us a reasonable right to privacy. So what is our reasonable expectation of privacy?
And when we come to accept fingerprint scanning, or we come to accept going through an airport or having some kind of naked monitoring of our bodies, the bar keeps getting pushed back. And so now I think when it comes to all of the technologies that we're using, our experiences online, what are we willing to accept?
And I think that it's very difficult right now for people to feel the cost of digital services spying on them. Because they can't see it.
And what you can't see is hard to feel.
GLENN: Like what don't we -- what should we feel every time?
CULLEN: I mean, you should feel like a bunch of -- hundreds of weird people you've never met are looking through your -- through your window, rifling through your diary, getting into your brain and trying to know you better than you know yourself.
PAT: And they truly are doing this. They're going through all our stuff?
PAT: Or is it just there, and they could go through it if they wanted to?
CULLEN: Well, there's not some person sitting around --
GLENN: And they're not looking at Pat, per se.
GLENN: They're looking at metadata.
PAT: Habits, trends.
CULLEN: Well, who is they?
GLENN: I don't know. You're the one with the conspiracy theory.
CULLEN: I mean, you have the companies. Right? And then you have the government. And there really is no separation between the two.
STU: That's a big problem.
GLENN: Why do you say that?
PAT: So the government has access to the things that Google and Apple collect?
CULLEN: Yes. I mean, this is what Edward Snowden and the PRISM program showed us, is that there was backdoor access.
PAT: That changes the whole thing. Wow.
CULLEN: And there's something called the third party doctrine. And it's the ruling from the early '80s, which says, if you give your information to a third party, a Google, a Facebook, a bank, you've given up your right to control that information.
PAT: And that includes going to the government? Holy cow.
CULLEN: Yeah, it's way easier for the government to go to one of those companies and get our information. They can get it directly from us. There's virtually no firewall there.
PAT: Let's get into the time tunnel, Glenn, and go back three days. Now how do you feel? Because that changes it, right? That changes it. Because the government is involved. It's not just selling to private companies. The government does have access, right?
STU: But the problem you have there is the firewall between government and corporation.
GLENN: Yeah, I still don't think the government should be passing laws. I mean, that's just like passing another bad gun law. Pass the right law. Put a firewall in between the government and the private companies.
STU: And we've argued with that on the Snowden -- with all the Snowden information. I mean, we disagreed with a lot of people who would be conservative in the audience and a lot of the candidates that ran last year. Because a lot of them embraced that sort of NSA needs to be seeing everything you're doing.
STU: And we're not on that bandwagon. The conversation initially started here -- it's an interesting one in that with this ISP ruling where they're talking about -- can your ISP sell the data? Pat was arguing I think the same way you're arguing. No, you have this agreement. And we were kind of arguing, I don't want the government involved in that. I don't want the government to make a rule saying they can't --
PAT: To mandate. Uh-huh.
STU: And my issue with that is, while I agree with you, it's a terrible policy. And it should be one of those things that they shouldn't do. They should not sell your data.
But even if -- let's just take it to a crazy extreme. There's only one provider. And they say everything that you search for, we're going to publicly put on our Twitter page with your name and face. And we're going to identify every aspect of what you've done online publicly every single time and we're you're only option.
Still, the government does not have a role there. Because of the fact that the government does not give you the right to get on the internet. If a corporation decides to build the infrastructure that lets you get on the internet, well, then they can put the terms that they want to allow you to access. It's not the government's job to guarantee you access.
GLENN: And, Pat, I want to just say that my argument hasn't changed. Your argument has changed. You're saying because the government --
PAT: No, it hasn't, Glenn. No, it hasn't. Your argument has changed.
GLENN: You're saying that, well, now, Glenn, your argument has changed because the government can get it. Well, no, what he's saying is, the government is getting it whether they sell it or not. The government is getting it. So the problem is not selling it. The problem is the government is getting it.
PAT: But still -- it's still a problem for me, but...
CULLEN: Well, I think the factor here -- I think we can all agree we like the Constitutions.
STU: We're fans.
GLENN: Yes, big fans.
CULLEN: Right now, the Constitution doesn't apply online.
STU: The Fourth Amendment in particular.
CULLEN: Yeah, it doesn't follow us into the digital realm. And so when the government I think passes laws related to the Constitution on the internet, we're not talking about egregious regulations, we're talking about constitutional regulation, which is different. It's different -- in essence, they're blocking themselves from easily getting access to this information.
CULLEN: Though, ISPs are required to retain -- I think we should be moving more in the direction of ways to stop the government from being able to access this information.
GLENN: Yes, I agree. I agree.
CULLEN: That's --
GLENN: Because the Constitution is a document on what the government can do, not what a private corporation can do.
PAT: Can't do. Yeah. Uh-huh.
GLENN: Or can't do. So I don't have a right to privacy in my -- I have an implied contract of privacy with Apple. But not a constitutional right to privacy with Apple. That's the government.
I have a constitutional right to privacy with the government. And they're not fulfilling that in any way, shape, or form. And they're trying to look like they're great guys by saying, "Oh, look, we're protecting your privacy with the ISP.
No, you're not. You're not -- you're not filling your fundamental mandate of the Fourth Amendment in the first place. So which is all just a puppet show.
CULLEN: So if there was a -- say your phone provider suddenly developed a tool where they could hear all of your thoughts and maybe they didn't tell you that this is -- this was going on.
CULLEN: Is there then a role for the government to say, no, you can't record people's thoughts and not let them know about that?
GLENN: If they didn't tell people, then yes. But I think there would be such an uproar that this phone company had installed this and didn't let anybody know about it.
CULLEN: So many years ago when I first made Terms and Conditions, I discovered it wasn't me. There were lots of technologies who knew -- there were keyloggers recording every single thing that we do on our phones. All of it without our knowledge. There was never uproar.
PAT: Wow. Did we agree to that in their terms and conditions?
CULLEN: No. No.
But they would have some way to justify it. If you're a good lawyer, you can kind of come up with some wishy-washy way to describe it. But they weren't specifically saying, we're recording every stroke.
GLENN: Does the AI thing bother you at all, there at that there doesn't seem to be any restraint on anyone anymore. Especially in technology. It's -- it's not should we do it? It's, can we do it? Can it be done? Yeah. Okay. Do it.
There's no -- there's no -- there doesn't seem to be real ethics applied on a lot of things. And when we get into AI. We're starting to get into territory now that things are going to change so rapidly. And we're really going to be boxed in to -- I mean, you know, fingerprints, six years ago. We're not going to use fingerprints. How dare you -- now -- because it's convenient. Brave New World was correct. Not 1984. They're just packaging everything the way we want it. Is there any concern with you on where we're headed?
CULLEN: I mean, if you look at what's happening with privacy since basically the advent of the internet, the march is moving more and more towards this kind of idea of total transparency. But that total transparency doesn't seem to apply to the government.
PAT: That's for sure.
CULLEN: So it's -- they want us to be as transparent as possible, have as much access to everything we're doing.
GLENN: Should be the opposite way. We should be --
CULLEN: Yeah, who is watching the watchers?
CULLEN: And when you talk about this kind of technology, it is in direct relationship to how much information is shared and captured in the background. It's part of Google's master plan. It's why they want us to share all of our searches and desires with them.
GLENN: Right. Edward Snowden, hero, traitor, somewhere in between?
CULLEN: It's somewhere -- it's somewhere in between.
I consider him a patriot. He -- he made that decision, not for his own benefit. He lived a pretty sweet life in Hawaii, making a pretty decent wage, with a -- with a pretty hot girlfriend. So things were not bad for him. I'm going to tell you they were a lot worse in Russia for him right now than they were before.
GLENN: Sure. Sure.
CULLEN: I think what's a challenge here for him or for me at least what he did -- he released documents that were beyond just domestic spying. So you had released the documents related to Angela Merkel.
CULLEN: You had released the documents related to spy programs abroad.
And that's where I think things start to get kind of gray. I wish he just focused on domestic. But, again, we're talking about one individual. Tens of thousands of documents. It was difficult for him to go through that. And he trusted a news outlet to then, you know, disseminate information in a way that was responsible. So that's where I think it's gray.
STU: What I find so incredible is that we went through the Snowden thing. All the conspiracy theories leading up to that would have said, this is happening. This is happening. And then Edward Snowden shows that it was actually happening.
GLENN: And nobody cared.
STU: And we still are going down this road faster and faster and faster.
GLENN: Is that crazy?
CULLEN: I thought everything was going to change after Edward Snowden came out with those documents. I was so hopeful.
PAT: Not at all.
CULLEN: And the only thing that Congress passed was something that separates their ability to directly have metadata. And now it's in the hands of the company. But we know that they can easily just get it from the -- that's all that really changed.
GLENN: It's crazy.
GLENN: Everything since the last -- since Snowden and this last election, everything I thought about the American people, I'm like, no. Uh-huh.
PAT: We don't know them at all.
STU: Oh, crap.
GLENN: You know, you keep using that word "American people," I do not think it means what you think it means.
Thank you so much for being on with us. Appreciate it.
PAT: Really fascinating.
CULLEN: Yeah, glad I was in town.
STU: Where should people go to check out your stuff?
CULLEN: Oh, sure. Well, this film was Terms and Conditions May Apply. The new one is What Lies Upstream. And actually, I was in Dallas, at the Dallas International Film Festival with this new --
STU: Very cool.
CULLEN: Again, it's investigating corruption at the top level.
PAT: Is it coming out in theaters? Or the internet? How is it being released?
CULLEN: It will be in theaters. It will be on TV come the fall.
CULLEN: Yeah, there's lots of ways to see it.
GLENN: Good. Send us a preview copy. So we can see it. I would love to see it.
CULLEN: Will do. We'll have a spirited conversation about corruption at the EPA.
GLENN: You'll be back. You'll be back.
JEFFY: I'm sure that's zero.
GLENN: Thank you so much.