Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

July 10, 2013

House of Burgess: They might be taping

NSA, Jay-Z want your log-ins, calls.

(Continued)

Knowing the underworld’s disdain for such supervision, it’s curious that the most popular rapper in the world, Jay-Z, would be joining in on all the surveilling fun. On Thursday, the Brooklyn native’s 12th studio album, “Magna Carta ... Holy Grail,” was unleashed exclusively through a Samsung smartphone app. Prior to installation, the app asks permission to: “modify or delete the contents of your USB storage,” “prevent [the] phone from sleeping [and] retrieve running apps,” “approximate [your] network-based location [and] precise GPS location,” “[have] full network access” and “read [your] phone status and identity.”

“It’s an ugly piece of software,” reported Jon Pareles on Thursday in the New York Times. “When installed, it demanded a working log-in to Facebook or Twitter and permission to post on the account.”

I know times are tough in the music business, but using a hip-hop album release as a Trojan Horse for rampant records cataloging is beyond the pale. This is especially true for Shawn Carter, who has made a career detailing his past criminal exploits. It’s hard to imagine the Jay-Z of 20 years ago signing off on this.

As for Snowden, of this writing, he remains in exile in a Moscow airport. Back home, the United States has charged him with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified intelligence to an unauthorized person. Venezuela and Bolivia have offered Snowden asylum. Yet, he is unable to leave Russia.

Meanwhile, Jay-Z insists on your phone’s approximate location. (Who is the real gangster here, anyway?) But, like I said, don’t fret. You can fight back. The advantage you have is discretion.

Never write any secrets down. Meet face-to-face whenever possible. And, really, so what if Jay-Z, the NSA or anyone else wants to look over your shoulder? “If they’re gonna watch me,” said Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) in one of my favorite movies, “Casino,” “I’m gonna watch ’em right back.”

Rob Burgess, Tribune night editor, may be reached by calling 765-454-8577, via email at rob.burgess@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at twitter.com/robaburg.

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