(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
Originally posted at Voices on the Square
I’m so pissed i could spit, so consider this rant my virtual spitting.
I don’t care if the president is a registered Democrat – I’m not gonna play cutesy semantic games because of it. And I don’t care who started it – I’ve been pissed for a looong time about this. Now there is undeniable proof that all of our fears – fears that many of us were vocal about for more than a decade now – over what the Patriot Act could be used for are, in fact, well grounded and not some tin foil conspiracy theory. And don’t get me wrong – this is SPYING on the entire populace. Period. They may not have listened to your phone calls – YET – but they have no legitimate reason to have scooped them all up in the first place. None. This kind of overreach is EXACTLY the kind of thing (at least in spirit) the founders had in mind when they put that Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights.
I don’t care that technology makes it easy to do. We have a need for privacy and there is a pretty clear penumbra of privacy in the Bill of Rights. No need for privacy you say? How far do you think the Founders would have gotten if the British government did this kind of spying? How many slaves would have been able to be moved through the Underground Railroad if government had had this level of legal access to all communications?
Yeah – I don’t care if it was legal. 15 years ago it was not legal and would have been considered an affront to our Constitutionally guaranteed (a guarantee that seems quaint and antiquated now) civil liberties. That the Big Brother government has managed to tailor a law to allow them to legally get away with suspect behavior does not make it a good thing or an ethical thing. Tailoring a law to make behavior legal is what the Bush Admin did with torture. And lest we all forget – slavery was legal once too…
I don’t care if some companies have access to that information. My phone company has an interest in having my phone records – they bill me for them. The government on the other hand has no legitimate vested interest in my phone records. Marketing firms track my web surfing, fine. It bothers me, but they don’t have much power over me at all. Government on the other hand has an exponentially large amount of power over me and history is littered with examples of governments exercising that power in myriad negative ways. So yeah, companies have various facets of this info on me, but now government has the legality and apparently the want to have ALL of these various facets of information on me. Like a dossier, we all have our own private FBI file now – and not for bad or suspect behavior – just for simply existing in this country.
So our Big Brother government HAS to SPY on all of our phone calls in order to make us “safe”. God Orwell would be rolling over in his grave if he saw how much life was imitating art.
UPDATE: An excellent piece on privacy linked to by UnaSpenser over at GOS:
Privacy is often threatened not by a single egregious act but by the slow accretion of a series of relatively minor acts. In this respect, privacy problems resemble certain environmental harms, which occur over time through a series of small acts by different actors. Although society is more likely to respond to a major oil spill, gradual pollution by a multitude of actors often creates worse problems.
Privacy is rarely lost in one fell swoop. It is usually eroded over time, little bits dissolving almost imperceptibly until we finally begin to notice how much is gone. When the government starts monitoring the phone numbers people call, many may shrug their shoulders and say, “Ah, it’s just numbers, that’s all.” Then the government might start monitoring some phone calls. “It’s just a few phone calls, nothing more.” The government might install more video cameras in public places. “So what? Some more cameras watching in a few more places. No big deal.” The increase in cameras might lead to a more elaborate network of video surveillance. Satellite surveillance might be added to help track people’s movements. The government might start analyzing people’s bank records. “It’s just my deposits and some of the bills I pay-no problem.” The government may then start combing through credit-card records, then expand to Internet-service providers’ records, health records, employment records, and more. Each step may seem incremental, but after a while, the government will be watching and knowing everything about us.
“My life’s an open book,” people might say. “I’ve got nothing to hide.” But now the government has large dossiers of everyone’s activities, interests, reading habits, finances, and health. What if the government leaks the information to the public? What if the government mistakenly determines that based on your pattern of activities, you’re likely to engage in a criminal act? What if it denies you the right to fly? What if the government thinks your financial transactions look odd-even if you’ve done nothing wrong-and freezes your accounts? What if the government doesn’t protect your information with adequate security, and an identity thief obtains it and uses it to defraud you? Even if you have nothing to hide, the government can cause you a lot of harm.
“But the government doesn’t want to hurt me,” some might argue. In many cases, that’s true, but the government can also harm people inadvertently, due to errors or carelessness.