By Katie Kieffer
I’m starting to feel like the government wants to look at us in an inappropriate manner.
The Obama Administration just introduced a bill that would turn the U.S. into a mini Saudi Arabia. Here’s a taste of what’s inside this bill: The U.S. government would have access to your BlackBerry™ or other smart phone messages, your tweets on Twitter™, your video-conferences on Skype™ and your profile on Facebook®.
Eerily, the Obama Administration is using the same excuse that Vladimir Putin’s Administration uses to violate free speech rights in Russia: “National security.” Given the Obama Administration’s less-than-stellar track record of protecting Americans from say, the Underwear Bomber and drug cartels along the U.S. border, skepticism is appropriate.
Unlike a man who confuses eye-contact with leg-contact and converses with a woman while staring at her legs, the government is not satisfied with a stolen glance. The government seeks control. The government would grin from ear to ear like the Cheshire Cat if it could observe all your actions and analyze your social network.
Here’s a sampling of the government’s burgeoning “I SPY” game. You decide if this is the America you want to live in.
- Car tracking: What’s worse than having to check in with mom every time you drive somewhere? Having the government track your entire path with a GPS tracking device clandestinely planted beneath your car.
- You’ve got (read) mail: The Obama Administration wants to get its paws all over your email, internet browsing and social network. That’s why it is pushing forward a bill that will give it the power to read your email – while or before – you do.
- Show me the money: The Obama Administration via the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network is pushing forward a new rule that would require all banks to report electronic money transfers to and from the U.S. This proposed new rule is worrisome, as The Washington Post reports,
“These new banking surveillance programs are testing the boundaries of privacy,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “Many consumers both in the United States and outside are likely to object.”
“This regulation is outrageous,” said Peter Djinis, a lawyer who advises financial institutions on complying with financial rules and a former FinCEN executive assistant director for regulatory policy. “Consider me old-fashioned, but I believe you need to show some evidence of criminality before you are granted unfettered access to the private financial affairs of every individual and company that dares to conduct financial transactions overseas.”
Djinis said he does not think the department has made a case that it could analyze such volumes of data effectively or needs so much raw data. “It’s presumed that the information will be valuable in anti-terrorism activity,” he said. “We’re told, ‘Trust us. Once we get the data, we’ll determine what’s legal or not.’ “
John J. Byrne, formerly a longtime banking industry official and now executive vice president of the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists, said: “Just because it’s easier to provide the data and to collect the data, it doesn’t always mean it should be collected.” If the government collects such information, he said, it “has the burden of explaining how it is being utilized.”
These new invasions are about the government passing laws so we can live our entire lives in a giant airport scanner. This is about being naked all the time – and not knowing who is looking at us. Somehow, our politicians think they can sell us on the idea that they will “protect” us if they can access all of our emails, track our movements with GPS devices planted beneath our cars, and spy on all of our money transfers. Well, we’re not buying it.