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When everything is a crime, government data mining matters

When everything is a crime, government data mining matters

I guess you could put me in the “concerned” category on the various — and disputed — accounts of how the government data mines phone records and obtains email and search information from internet companies.

On the one hand, I’m concerned about those who have bad intent towards the country.  These people and governments exist, and the electronic tools used by the U.S. government undoubtedly could keep us safer than we would be without such measures.  How much safer is unknown.

But I’m also concerned with what could be done with the information gathered about American citizens not suspected of a crime if put into the hands of politicians and political groups, and bureaucrats who work for or are sympathetic to such politicians and political groups.

The threat, oddly enough, is proven by the leaks which (allegedly) exposed the programs and were provided to Glenn Greenwald.  If some government employee who has sworn to keep information secret is willing to leak the information to Glenn Greenwald for (allegedly) good purposes, what’s to stop that person from violating his or her oath by leaking data-mined information to Glenn Greenwald or Media Matters or the Human Rights Campaign for other than good reasons about a Tea Party group, religious figure or conservative politician?

In the age of Obama and the unique mainstream media disinterest in anything that damages Obama, this already has resulted in a flourishing culture of intimidation directed at the Tea Party, traditional marriage supporters, conservatives, and other opponents of Obama and the Obama agenda.

A point discussed here many times is the criminalization of life, particularly with regard to gun laws.  Professor Glenn Reynolds has made the point more generally in his paper Ham Sandwich Nation: Due Process When Everything is a Crime.

Prosecutors have become kings, with the ability to find a crime committed by just about anyone.  Data mining and access to internet activity can help find terrorists, but it also can be used to find crimes which were not previously known to have been committed by political opponents.

A “find the target first, then find the crime” political approach requires access to information of an unprecedented level.  Which is exactly what is happening.

The issue goes beyond the NSA programs.  Obamacare is a form of data mining.

Obamacare will put into the hands of the IRS medical and health information of an unprecedented level.  As bad as leaks as to which websites you visit would be, the threat of leakage of your medical information could be equally devastating to freedom of speech and the political process.  It would take a mere nod and a wink to convince someone that participation in the political process was not worth it if the result was the exposure of sensitive medical issues.

You can’t separate the data mining, the culture of intimidation, and criminalization of daily life.

The answer to this problem is not easy, precisely because of the legitimate national security concerns.  That where to draw the line may be difficult to ascertain does not mean that a line should not be drawn.  The wholesale creation of a national database of everything electronic crosses any reasonable line.

Obama’s response is that we should trust the government.

The Obama scandals tell us otherwise.  From the phony Benghazi talking points, to IRS targeting, to deceptive measures to obtain journalist phone and email records, the Obama administration at multiple levels and in multiple agencies has proven that it is not worthy of our trust.  Or of our information.

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Comments

Rat own, Prof.!!!

“Knowledge is power”. That translates to “information”, too.

I have made a solemn vow…

I will not comply with ObamaCare. My medical records are my own. I will never enroll.

I am considering encrypting everything I do, though that is something that somehow makes me recoil.

    Paul in reply to Ragspierre. | June 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Unfortunately the feds have the computer power to crack any encryption algorithm available to us. It might take them a while, but they can look at your encrypted data too.

      Ragspierre in reply to Paul. | June 8, 2013 at 7:38 pm

      Every pebble I can lay in their path.

      theBuckWheat in reply to Paul. | June 9, 2013 at 7:57 am

      Yes, encryption can be cracked, but it takes an enormous amount of time to do compared to scanning unencrypted email flowing by. And the resources they can devote to decryption are not infinite and must be allocated by organizational priorities.

      Although the news is that the NSA is scanning your email, the physical limitations of the net itself impose great limits on that activity, or else people who work in carrier hotels and network facilities would commonly tell stories about how much duplicate equipment and network capacity is being consumed by this outrageous general warrant to eavesdrop.

      Unless you come to their attention in a way that boosts your score up high enough the things you encrypt will stay private.

      M. Report in reply to Paul. | June 9, 2013 at 11:48 am

      The modern version of a ‘One Time Pad’ cannot be decrypted.
      The government solution to this problem will be to make it
      a felony to use unbreakable encryption.

      jdgalt in reply to Paul. | June 10, 2013 at 12:39 am

      No they can’t. Every bit of key length doubles the time it takes; just use one long enough for what you’re protecting.

      Anyone who is reasonably computer literate should have no problem installing this.

        snopercod in reply to jdgalt. | June 10, 2013 at 6:57 am

        Of course if you’re really paranoid, you wonder whether the NSA has a back door into Enigmail and PGP. I mean they made an offer that fifty (or more) U.S. tech companies couldn’t refuse, so why not Enigmail?

Using this method of data collection to find terrorists is akin to searching the entire world to find your dog.

Stop it.

Obama is using this information to wage war against the enemy.

We, some, still think he means islamic terrorists.

It’s kinda funny, since he keeps telling us there is no such thing, but from time to time they tell us who they really mean.

    jdgalt in reply to Browndog. | June 10, 2013 at 12:41 am

    Government data mining, like the TSA and all the other outrages of the “war on terror”, have one connection to real terrorists and one only. Namely, getting them imposed on us is the terrorists’ way of carrying out a “denial-of-freedom attack.”

      snopercod in reply to jdgalt. | June 10, 2013 at 7:05 am

      “denial-of-freedom attack.” Excellent phrase! Osama always said that his ultimate goal was to end freedom in America. It sure looks to me like he’s almost succeeded.

>>”Obamacare is a form of data mining.”

Finally, someone is pointing this out (aside from mercurial leftist Camille Paglia, who deliciously called Obamacare “Stalinist” in its privacy abuses). Thank you. I’ve been saying this for four years. Obamacare is primarily a sanctified and covert data mining operation, the largest in US history. The healthcare bit is the pretext.

All this data mining didn’t help stop the Boston bombers, did it? Even with the assistance of intelligence from other countries. Even if they are using it for what they say, they clearly fail at it.

But on the other side–anyone who thinks there is a modicum of privacy outside your own front door these days is fooling themselves. Cameras everywhere, and all electronic communication has the ability to be tracked whether it currently is or not. This was a good reminder.

    Didn’t stop Nidal ‘Do it for allah’ Hasan, either.

      Ragspierre in reply to JP. | June 8, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      It didn’t even hinder him.

      PC and stove-piping by both the Army and FBI DID get a bunch of people killed, however.

      Exotic stuff is sexy. Maybe SOME of it is justified. Just plain old dot connecting is STILL the best, on balance. That seems to be what we do LEAST. Partly because we are so FLUCKING confused.

      I wonder if that is by design. I wish I could dismiss that as a loopy idea, but…

The Mexican pork cloud team thwarted the Al Qaeda terrorist dirty bomb attack

http://classicalvalues.com/2013/06/the-mexican-pork-cloud-team-thwarted-the-al-qaeda-terrorist-dirty-bomb-attack/

To give you an example of the agency’s priorities, according to their own manual, they are searching for what are called IOIs (Items Of Interest), which include (naturally) any and all criticism of the DHS!

1.2 Critical Information Requirements

The attribution of IOIs by CIR allows the MMC to catalog articles into five specific categories dependingon the potential impact or type of article that is being distributed. These CIRs include:

1) Potential Threat to DHS, other federal, and state/ local response units, facilities,and resources.

2) Potential impact on DHS capability to accomplish the HSPD-5 mission

3) Identifying events with operational value…corroborating critical information

4) Identifying media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities

Certainly the government read the whole thing, you might as well too!

http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/2013/06/mark-steyn-asks-rather-than-spying-on.html

http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/2013/06/dont-forget-irs-scandal.html

Linked twice! Well said PJ! Rush, Mark Steyn, TOM, Instapundit, Gay Patriot, IowaHawk (and of course you) are leading the charge. We have to keep pursuing this because it is a very big deal. This is not some esoteric libertarian concept, this is rule of law in a Democratic Republic. We ignore the real threat over stupid politically correct sensibilities and instead go the other way with broad civil liberty intrusions for all our citizens.

radiofreeca | June 8, 2013 at 1:25 pm

The Obama administration has identified its real enemies: US citizens exercising their Free Speech rights. Muslim mass-bombers aren’t a threat – after all, Obama has killed far more people with drones than the Boston bombers dreamed of killing.

But Free Speech and people disagreeing with him – THAT has to be stopped.

Orwell’s “1984” described an Obamian state where everyone was monitored all the time, and people were executed for the smallest crime, chief of which was thinking the government might be lying.

FACE IT: OBOZO is mining data on his political opponents to use against them (like he did via the IRS) and is doing NOTHING to track down terrorists (like the Boston bombers). Instead of making America safer, his unconstitutional programs are further creating a no-freedom, authoritarian police state dictatorship.

Even the leftist propaganda sheet The New York Slimes says: OBOZO has LOST ALL CREDIBILITY (like he had ANY to begin with ! )

Henry Hawkins | June 8, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Any large data aggregator/processor run by the government is a threat – it’s a blackmail factory.

    ditto for commercial and public domain data repositories that are accessed and mined by the government. the recent IRS scandals are all the proof I need.

I’ve decided to help keep my spying pals in OBOZO’s NSA really, really busy, so with each and every e-mail I send out I include the following at the bottom:

HEY NSA, HERE ARE SOME CODE WORDS FOR YOUR SNOOPING PLEASURE:
I am a conservative, traditional marriage supporter, defund NPR, support Israel, republican, government bureauweenie, defund Planned Parenthood, I LOVE freedom, defend the US Constitution, obey the rule of law, keep this secret, keep this private, this is sensitive information, big government is very BAD, I own a GUN, obama sucks, impeach, IMPEACH OBAMA, ban affirmative action, deport ILLEGALS, support the Koch brothers, defund PBS, OBOZO, ted cruz for president, I listen to rush limbaugh, American patriots ROCK!, GOD is GREAT, I am a proud NRA member, fire holder, impeach holder, imprison holder, stop socialism, ban abortions, ban infanticide, support LIFE, repeal obamacare, praise the LORD, tea party, voter ID, lunatic-left, commie twats, gun RIGHTS, FIRST AMENDMENT is GREAT, SECOND AMENDMENT is GREAT

    Browndog in reply to MicahStone. | June 8, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Great.

    Now DHS is going to have to spend another $40Billion in taxpayer money to build a new data collection center in your county.

    MicahStone in reply to MicahStone. | June 8, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    NB: From my experience, you’ll have an FBI SWAT team at your front door within 30 minutes of sending out your first e-mail with the above. The team will include a representative from holder’s Dept of InJustice, who will serve you with papers stating that you have committed the crime of behaving like an American Citizen, which the OBOZO regime considers a FELONY, punishable by DEATH from the OBOZOCARE DEATH PANEL.

    Paul in reply to MicahStone. | June 8, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    You’re raising an interesting point. The ‘data mining’ techniques being employed by the government are based on various ‘pattern recognition’ algorithms, network analysis and other data mining and machine learning approaches.

    It might be possible to confound the algorithms if huge volumes of ‘noise’ is introduced into the system, forcing the algorithms to generate too many ‘false positives’. Unfortunately, each of these false positives might results in a government shakedown of the ‘offending’ individual.

    But it’s an interesting idea nonetheless.

I left out Drudge. And there are of course many others who are patriots.

Mark Michael | June 8, 2013 at 2:00 pm

If we downsize the federal government so there are fewer areas of society and life that federal politicians and government bureaucrats have control of, then there would be less incentive for them to want to gather up info on citizens to use against them.

Ideally, we should shrink the federal government back to the scope under which it operated before the New Deal. Figure out a way to transition back to enforcing the limits built into the U.S. Constitution: the 10th Amendment, the Interstate Commerce Clause, and the proper interpretation of the General Welfare Clause and its citing of the power to tax. (Madison said it was crazy not to assume that power to tax referred only to raising taxes for federal activities that were explicitly enumerated in the rest of the Constitution.)

Practically speaking, the big intrusive federal programs are all so badly run that is an excellent reason by itself to privatize them or turn them over to the 50 states to run or abolish as they see fit. There is also a very strong moral argument one can legitimately make: they’ve done a lot of harm to certain segments of society heavily impacted by them.

Then, when the feds are reduced to mostly providing for national defense, controlling our borders, international relations, then spying on American citizens should be primarily related to our defense from foreign and domestic enemies who would do us substantial harm. It would NOT be because we oppose ObamaCare, want to privatize Social Security, or thought the trillion dollars per year we spend on welfare-type programs is too much. The feds wouldn’t HAVE any such programs – and NO incentive to “punish,” say, Tea Party types who want to downsize government. (Hm. Are we in a huge, very big battle here, folks? Is this NSA spying thing going to help or hurt us in this greater objective?)

Oh, yeah, the IRS deciding to thoroughly question conservative organizations who apply for tax exempt status under public law 501(c) provisions (mostly 3, 4, and 5). The SCOTUS should declare all of those restrictions on federal election campaign funding as unconstitutional. Now, that would eliminate the need for the FEC and the byzantine rules for how much a citizen can give to a candidate each election cycle, but does not address the ability to give to a 501(c)(3) organization which allows the donor to declare his gift as tax exempt for his 1040 return. But, with such a huge reduction in the size of the federal government, they’d need much less in the way of taxes. You could probably reduce the income tax top bracket to 15% – make it a flat tax. Eliminate all tax deductions to simplify it. Then you wouldn’t need the tax deductible business anyway.

Okay, you’d have to grandfather in the existing federal middle class entitlement programs and have young people entering the workforce at 18 or 22 have private IRA’s for retirement and old age health costs. That would mean the scope of the federal expenditures would go down slowly over 50 years or so.

What Chile did when they privatized their Social Security system in 1980 was they gave the workers a choice to draw out their payroll tax contributions in a lump sum or continue to stay in the government system. They did not get the money in cash, rather in a government Treasury Bond that they could NOT redeem until they reached retirement age (65, I believe). That way the feds were not flooded with huge needs to pay out oodles of cash and see lots of people go on a spending binge. The typical worker withdrew his payroll tax if he were under 45 years old or so. Those over 45 stayed in. So that meant the Phase Out period for their middle class entitlements was a lot shorter than you might have expected. And Chile dictated that if you withdrew, you HAD to put 10% of your income into your private IRA every year and couldn’t spend it until you retired at 65. That resulted in lots of funds to invest in private industry. Their economy grew faster as a result.

The “means to an end” thinking never takes us to the ‘righteous’ end.

Folks, the government has been collecting data on Americans since the late sixties. It’s just with the advent of computers with gigantic storage and computing power that all this data(origin, education, financial, medical, political, and religious)can be analyzed and a specific profile constructed for each and every American. The real problem with this information is that eventually someone will try to sell it to make a buck or for ideological reasons give it to an unfriendly group or government.

    Paul in reply to OldmanRick. | June 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    on the egregiousness scale, I find ‘somebody trying to make a buck’ many orders of magnitude less disturbing than some jackbooted/jacklegged bureaucrat targeting me because I don’t believe he/she should be in a government employee union that is locked in a 69 maneuver with the democratic party, draining my assets and income to fuel their little love fest. Caveat Emptor is a concept I’m quite comfortable with… but when the feds decide they can shake me down, what is my recourse?

2nd Ammendment Mother | June 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Remember DHS has identified who it believes are terrorists… that would be Christians, 2nd Amendment Supports, State’s Rights and limited government folks, veterans, disgruntled taxpayers and so forth.

But beyond that, you have a President who already used a similar type of data mining operation to target individual voters with personal messages to sway their votes and apps that provided campaign workers with detailed information and voting histories on entire neighborhoods.

[…] This NSA scandal is like the national gun registry we continue to hear derided as a “conspiracy theory”. In this case however we are all in the registry for crimes to be determined in the future. […]

Here is a question worth pondering: If our government is so intent on “protecting” Americans against our enemies (which it refuses to name) that it knowingly goes to the extreme of trampling our 4th Amendment protections, then why has it obliged Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups’ demand to “purge” our military, intelligence, and LEO agencies of training material “biased” toward Islam, specifically Jihad? And why has our government, bowing further to those demands, purged trainers such as Stephen Coughlin — an expert in Islamic doctrine — whose job was to brief, Sun Tzu-style, the aforementioned security community in the detection of Jihadis?

There’s far more to the data-mining scandal than meets the eye (bad as that is), and Diana West provides some important insight to the story here: http://www.dianawest.net/Home/tabid/36/EntryId/2540/Surveillance-Can-We-Take-a-Step-Back.aspx

    HarrietHT in reply to HarrietHT. | June 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    For example: “What is being overlooked? The US government is saying we need to fish from a pool of 300 million Americans to find and pre-empt the next “terrorist” — or else. It is saying that we need to do this because there are no other predicters of “terrorism.” It is saying that there are no doctrinal predicters of “terrorism.” It is lying. It is lying about “terrorism” itself.

    Why — to keep us safe? Or to keep Islam safe?”

    (See link above.)

And all this collected data has been given to Organize for Action fka Obama for America? This man is such bad news.

fulldroolcup | June 8, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Obama and his would-be totalitarian administration don’t need to be impeached — they need to be DEPOSED.

“William Binney, whistleblower and former NSA crypto-mathematician who served in the agency for decades, said the David Petraeus sex scandal was most likely exposed using illegal surveillance of his email.

Perhaps this helps explain why the CIA Director, who surely knew the truth about Benghazi from the get-go, allowed all those changes to the CIA talking points (scrubbing references to Islamic terrorism, scrubbing prior attacks), then briefed the press off the record that “we really think the video had something to do with it.”

The question is – do the American people have it in them to do something about it?

    bobby b in reply to Viator. | June 9, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    “The question is – do the American people have it in them to do something about it?”

    Sure do!

    They’re bending over further and wider even as we speak.

Uncle Samuel | June 8, 2013 at 4:33 pm

NSA supposedly has a secret global data-mining tool called ‘Boundless Informant’ – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/08/nsa-boundless-informant-global-datamining?CMP=twt_gu#

To track terrorists or conservatives who dissent from the PC line?

I am very uncomfortable with an administration that considers its political opponents as the enemy. They have already shown that they are more than willing to take illegal measures against Conservatives and religious groups and more than one government department is being trained to think of those on the Right as high risk potential terrorists.
Today we read of military officers being penalized for reading the wrong books or authors (Conservatives). Homeland Security has amassed a domestic army and enough ammunition to shoot every citizen multiple times.
Since Obama became President even the focus of our military research has totally changed from developing large mass destruction weapon systems used to fight armies of nation states to weapon systems that find, track and kill individuals.

I wondered why Obama, who appears to feel he can’t do enough to appease Moslem nations, was at the same time robustly using this technology (drones, etcetera) in Pakistan and Afghanistan even against American citizens, civilians, and children. I now fear that it was the ideal place to avoid to much domestic criticism as he field tested these weapons and trained troops in their use before he turns them against his real enemies (Conservatives) at home.

I realize I am making a giant leap here, but you tell me, do you trust this Administration and what have they already demonstrated they are capable of?

Uncle Samuel | June 8, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Lately, a certain TV show from the 60s keeps coming to mind.

All this talk about keeping us safe with all this data mining is in direct opposition with obama’s policy of letting every Tom, Dick and Harry all over the world invade our borders and even when law enforcement catches them, they have to let them go even people with duis and felonies. He pays absolutely no attention to the drug cartels in our stats.

Does this wonderful infringsment of our liberty also keep track of these illegals? Actually, no. It couldn’t even keep track of the e-mails and phone calls from Nidal Hason to Alawahi. You would think with this advanced technology NSA would have known every person Alawhi talked to. I firmly believe this is a tool to destroy their enemies (us)or (US wich is also us). Here they have or will have access to our medical records, charge accounts, phone calls, smart electricity meters and remember Google and those drones can see inside your house so the government can keep up with how many times you have sex and give you drugs to enhance or deter your sex drive.

I’m beginning to wonder whether we should scrap the one man presidency and have three instead to keep one man’s ego from rnning amok. Or at least take away the justice department from him so there would be some recourse to his tyranny.

My friend spent some time in intel. I was partnered up with him when we started our intel unit in our department. He is MENSA bright and thinks outside the box. His thoughts are important. He explained his concerns about the sweep saying it is just too broad to be effective. The better way is to sweep outside in, like tracking calls FROM Yemen to the US rather than seek all records of all citizens from the US and go the other way which is inefficient. He considers this “lazy cop” policing.

Further he figured out what the NSA is doing by creating lock boxes that the companies dump their FISA warrant data into. His concerns are that we are allowing other nations to piggyback on our secure servers with their version of FISA warrants, and we might be “sniffing” their data.

But his out of the box thoughts are this: the NSA metadata sweep is a violation of the right to assemble for religious reasons. DHS thinks Christians are dangerous. They can track your phone to where you go on Sunday morning and then see every phone around you- your fellow worshipers. Then they can spider web out from there. If you are a Jew, think about that for a second. As Beck pointed out, if Hitler had that capability no Jew would have survived.

You have potential damping on the right to assemble and the right to worship and in return for what? Tracking 300 million to catch 300 is not worth it. Unless you are a government lawyer or maybe want to intimidate.

http://truthandcommonsense.com/2013/06/08/the-nsa-prism-and-the-right-to-assemble-or-worship-without-government-intrusion/

[…] The Obama scandals tell us otherwise. […]

And how has the information collected already been used by obama and his people to influence politicians, judges and other decision makers? Has anyone talked to Chief Justice John Roberts about that?

    Viator in reply to jasond. | June 9, 2013 at 8:28 am

    This kind of information has already been used against General Petraeus in the Benghazi incident and Mitt Romney and his supporters in the 2012 general election. How can people not be aghast?

    18-1 in reply to jasond. | June 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    So…odds that this is how Obama got to John “Benedict Arnold” Roberts?

    We know Obama is spying on Congress, the military (Petraeus) – why not the supreme court?

Professor, while this is cause for concern why can’t we used this ‘mined’ data for the good? As I commented in another thread, can’t one of our current congressional scandal committees subpoena this this data to identify the fake emails that administration officials are using. Perhaps they could even obtain the actual emails. The possibilities are endless…..

The clique in power doesn’t have to find a crime. Is is far easier and simpler than that. They just have to find a faux pas – although a crime, large or small, would do just as well. Then they can either hold that knowledge over the head of the individual to control his actions, or release the information to mouthpieces who will Alinsky the individual into disgrace and impotence.

“O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.”

Maybe everyone should obtain a copy of “Brave New World” and “1984” and refresh their memories.

[…] When everything is a crime, government data mining matters I guess you could put me in the “concerned” category on the various — and disputed — accounts of how the government data mines phone records and obtains email and search information from internet companies. […]

[…] Why were you looking for tax-exempt status in the first place? Weren't you kind of, y'know, asking for it? Not that we're excusing a couple of rogue low-level employees for making such calls, we just […]

The data will be used by the left to win more elections. There isn’t much upside for the American public. Interesting that the Obama 2012 campaign was bragging about its data mining capabilities. Maybe they had access to some of the NSA stuff.

“The President has put in place an organization with the kind of database that no one has ever seen before in life,” Representative Maxine Waters told Roland Martin on Monday. “That’s going to be very, very powerful,” Waters said. “That database will have information about everything on every individual on ways that it’s never been done before”

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=49a_1360284775

I lived in Ukraine in the mid 2000s. Before and after the Orange Revolution. The government had a lot of laws on the books that were never enforced…except when they wanted to. For instance, as I understand it there was a law that required every company of a certain size to hire at least one disabled person. But no public transportation provided access for the disabled and the law was basically ignored. But if the government wanted to, they could bust you for that.

I’ll let you guess the most commonly used laws that were selectively used. OK, I’ll tell you. It was taxes. Most companies never actually pay every single tax required and that fact is pretty common knowledge. But when the government decides they don’t like a company or a person, it’s pretty easy to shut them down. Because all they have to do is raid them, confiscate their records and they’ll inevitably find something because everybody has something to be found.

People who say that others shouldn’t worry as long as they do nothing wrong should realize that oppressive governments love to use the laws on the books to target those that they want. I say all of this because frankly I don’t really get a sense of real outrage by regular people yet. My fear is that we will slide into complacency and allow this form of government selective prosecution become commonplace.

Concerned Citizen | June 10, 2013 at 12:44 am

It’s far worse than most of you understand. The NSA has been not only getting data from the 50 or more largest internet companies via backdoors installed in their systems…they have also installed specialized switching equipment in most ISP’s to collect data directly over the internet. All emails, web visit URL’s and other information has been routinely collected and stored since 1997 that I am aware of. This is when myself and the tech team of our top 20 internet company were told point blank by the CEO of our ISP during a tour that the room in back with the locked door was “the NSA room” and that everything was being collected. Yes, this is long before 9/11 and the Patriot Act. Storing and processing all of this data is why they spent $2 billion on the new Bluffdale, UT facility.

Now that this data is processed into actionable information, it’s sitting there, waiting to be abused by an administration wanting to eliminate political opposition or help supporter’s businesses against their competition.

The juxtaposition of the NSA and IRS stories with the recent Boston bombing tells me everything I need to know about Obama’s vaunted “right balance” between security and privacy.

“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

Between TSA and NSA, the Fourth Amendment, our right to privacy, is gone. So is the Second Amendment. Since web traffic is also recorded, every FBI/NICS background check transaction with a federal firearms licensee has been recorded. NSA already has that national gun registry.

Think about the capability this new government infrastructure has given them to track you. In addition to recording our calls, cell phone GPS constantly transmits and records your position. Soon, our cars will be fitted with an emergency transmitter, recording where, when and how fast we drive. Speed cameras will no longer be required; you’ll get a ticket via email. What would insurance companies pay for that data? If politicians want to tax based on miles driven, that know the answer. If your spouse files for divorce, what could her attorney obtain.

Beyond the political exploitation, the potential for prosecutorial abuse is near limitless. The government will have all the data and you will be challenged to prove your innocence rather than the other way around.

[…] couple of opinion pieces. First, from Legal Insurrection: …I’m also concerned with what could be done with the information gathered about American […]

[…] Related: “When everything is a crime, government data mining matters.” […]

[…] don’t know about y’all, but I’m reserving my annoyance for them. Anyway, this is our brave new world, folks. And, for the record, blaming Bush is a very weak argument because this is a kind of […]

Good article with an excellent point. I am not even sure I would want this much information in the hands of a gov I trusted, but with Obama in charge, with what we know he has already done, no way. It is as if Bush has been reincarnated, on steroids, and given the ethics of boss tweed.

[…] I could go on listing more examples, but you get the idea. The government considers basically anything and everything you do to be a potential threat, to them, and a crime (see here and here). […]

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