ACLU: "It’s six minutes before midnight as a surveillance society draws near in the United States. With a flood of powerful new technologies that expand the potential for centralized monitoring, a president who believes he can unilaterally sweep aside the laws that restrain government spying, a docile Congress and courts, as well as a cadre of mega-corporations that are willing to become extensions of the surveillance state, we confront the possibility of a dark future where our every move, our every transaction, our every communication is recorded, compiled, and stored away, ready for access by the authorities whenever they want."
|The ACLU's concerns over the alleged actions "covertly" taken by the Bush Administration are the very same concerns that will arise from the "overt" implementation of Hillary Clinton's Healthcare Initiative.|
It is ironic that the left-leaning ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has decided to rip-off the "Doomsday Clock" concept of another organization, the "Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists " to illustrate their growing concern over the loss of privacy in the United States much in the same manner that the scientists used their clock to warn against the probability of a nuclear holocaust. The "atomic clock" is currently set to 5-minutes before midnight -- the theoretical point when the use of nuclear weapons spins out of control. The ACLU clock is set to 6-minutes before midnight, the theoretical point when individual privacy will cease to exist.
But as with all events that stimulate public conversation, this apparent leftist attack on the current Bush Administration also highlights the information gathering dangers of any administration.
It should be noted that the recently released Hillary Healthcare plan will implement many of the same tools and raise many of the same concerns as those mentioned by the ACLU.
ACLU Concerned over REAL-ID Act
I want each of my readers to note the extreme "irony" of the ACLU protest against the "Real ID Act" when the very same legislation that mandates the use of our social security numbers for tax and medical purposes already provides the very same information accessibility as the Real ID Act. The only difference is that the social security numbering system, designed in a much simpler time, has been corrupted by massive forgeries and duplications -- mostly from illegal aliens and other evildoers -- and does not contain internal safeguards like error-prevention check-digits and a coherent numbering scheme. And, of course, the current social security card, displaying a name and social security number, has no biometric link to the card's owner or user.
ACLU on the Real ID Act...
"The Real ID Act is an impractical and unrealistic piece of legislation – and carries an impossible implementation deadline of 2008.15 That has prompted a broad rebellion within the states, who are stuck with implementing – and paying for – the act.16 Still, if it is ever implemented, it will quickly become a key part of the new surveillance society that we are seeing take shape so rapidly before our eyes:
A checkpoint society.
"Real ID would enable authorities everywhere – public and private, petty and grand – to sift through and sort out the American public in new and chilling ways, facilitating the construction of a larger network of status and identity checks and access control points."
"And each checkpoint established will create an electronic record. When a security guard, bus driver or retail clerk scans your ID card with his pocket bar-code reader, it would likely create a permanent record of that check, including the time and your location. The end result would be a society where citizens’ movements are monitored and recorded as never before. The handmaiden to data mining. Real IDs would erode privacy not just by creating more data, but also by helping to consolidate the vast oceans of other available data. By keying that data to our omnipresent Real IDs – and more importantly the database that lies behind it – it will become much easier to draw together all this information into coherent portraits of our lives for the government or others to access at will."
And Hillary's plan, using a "unique" identification number, no matter what it is called, will also reveal all of your intimate health details to government officials. I wonder how the "left" will react to having Aids, communicable disease or DNA-based tests associated with an absolute identification number -- with information available to the "appropriate authorities." It should be noted that the "appropriate authorities," even at the level of the nation's most secure intelligence agencies, have been compromised in the past by ideologues and evildoers. Protestations citing the severe penalties for revealing classified information are worthless as a deterrent to one who believes in their cause.
What the ACLU's real complaint is about...
Stripped of all of the rhetoric and tales of the loss of individual freedom caused by information compromise and catastrophe, the ACLU objects to the creation and use of a single identifier which would serve to link disparate data in numerous databases to a single individual by biometric means. And like any technological tool -- it can be used for both good and evil with equal ease.
The private collection of data about individuals...
The Commodification of Information
"A major factor driving the trend toward data surveillance forward is the commodification of personal information by corporations. As computer technology exploded in recent decades, making it much easier to collect information about what Americans buy and do, companies came to realize that such data is often very valuable. The expense of marketing efforts gives businesses a strong incentive to know as much about consumers as possible so they can focus on the most likely new customers."
"Surveys, sweepstakes questionnaires, loyalty programs and detailed product registration forms have proliferated in American life – all aimed at gathering information about consumers. Today, any consumer activity that is not being tracked and recorded is increasingly being viewed by businesses as money left on the table."
There is no doubt in my mind that commercial enterprises, in conjunction with the credit bureaus, are compiling and cross-linking information for the sole purpose of promoting goods and services to the consumer, corporations and other institutions.
There is also no doubt in my mind that this information, freely available to corporations with the money to purchase the data, is being used by government agencies to circumvent their legislative charters which prohibit the creation and maintenance of their own databases.
What does not seem to be directly addressed in this report is the detection and correction of erroneous information about an individual. Many databases are hidden from the consumer and certain governmental databases can never be reviewed for accuracy. One need only to look at the credit reporting industry to realize how much garbage is contained in their databases.
One additional consideration, with respect to databases, is the technological stupidity of believing that a terrorist database containing the name "John Smith" or some other common name is of any value in the "war on terror." No competent terrorist would use the same name for each and every financial or social transaction. With the lack of biometric links, uniform name decoding (is it Osama or Usama) and a more reasonable premise for keeping such a database -- the database becomes a worthless tool against terror -- other than as a public relations stunt to show the government is trying to protect you.
ACLU goes political: concerned over increasing Administration Power...
Assertions of sweeping executive power.
"Even these steps backward seem to shrink in significance compared to the astonishing claims of executive power advanced by the Bush Administration. Confronted by reports of the NSA’s illegal warrantless eavesdropping,
President Bush asserts an 'inherent authority' to conduct such spying, even in the face of two centuries of jurisprudence, some very clear laws passed by Congress, and the plain language of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution that he has sworn to uphold."
Every Administration, including the Clinton Administration has sought to increase their party's political control over American life. In the Clinton case, it is alleged that the FBI, IRS and other Federal Agencies were covertly politicized and used as weapons against the Clinton's opponents. To this day, a key report regarding the Department of Justice and IRS intervention in the Cisneros matter remains redacted and the full and complete report unreleased by either side of the Congressional aisle.
ACLU: Where are we now...
"'The United States is at a crucial crossroads,' said Steinhardt. 'As Americans, we must rise to the challenge, confront the implications of new technologies before it’s too late, and protect the privacy that Americans have always valued."
-- Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Project.
What does the ACLU propose...
1. Changing the Terms of the Debate
"In the public debates over every new surveillance technology, the forest too often gets lost for the trees, and we lose sight of the larger trend: the seemingly inexorable movement toward a surveillance society."
It will always be important to understand and publicly debate every new technology and every new technique for spying on people..
But unless each new development is also understood as just one piece of the larger surveillance mosaic that is rapidly being constructed around us, Americans are not likely to get excited about a given incremental loss of privacy like the tracking of cars through toll booths or the growing practice of tracking consumers’ supermarket purchases.
We are being confronted with fundamental choices about what sort of society we want to live in. But unless the terms of the debate are changed to focus on the forest instead of individual trees, too many Americans will never even recognize the choice we face, and a decision against preserving privacy will
be made by default.
With the sole exception of the text highlighted in red, this is accurate and true. The red text reminds us that certain surveillance methods and techniques must remain classified lest we cede an important advantage to those enemies, both foreign and domestic, who would like to subvert the safety, security, sovereignty and prosperity of the United States for their own purposes.
2. Comprehensive Privacy Laws
Although broad-based protections against government surveillance, such as the wiretap laws, are being weakened, at least they exist. But surveillance is increasingly being carried out by the private sector – frequently at the behest of government – and the laws protecting Americans against non-governmental privacy invasions are pitifully weak.
"We need to develop a baseline of simple and clear privacy protections that crosses all sectors of our lives and give it the force of law. Only then can Americans act with a confident knowledge of when they can and cannot be monitored."
Absolutely true. However, as a people, we must remain aware that our enemies sometimes effectively use our own freedoms and laws against us for their own purposes. There should be carve-out exceptions -- with safeguards -- that would prevent presidential, congressional, military and intelligence matters from being compromised in court proceedings where there is a great likelihood of the plaintiff's discovery motions revealing information that is damaging to the welfare of the United States and its citizens. Likewise, we should not create safe havens behind which terrorists, criminals, and political evildoers may hide their nefarious activities.
3. New Technologies and New Laws
The technologies of surveillance are developing at the speed of light, but the body of law that protects us is stuck back in the Stone Age. In the past, new technologies that threatened our privacy, such as telephone wiretapping, were assimilated over time into our society. The legal system had time to adapt and reinterpret existing laws, the political system had time to consider and enact new laws or regulations, and the culture had time to absorb the implications of the new technology for daily life. Today, however, change is happening so fast that none of this adaptation has time to take place – a problem that is being intensified by the scramble to enact unexamined anti-terrorism measures.
The result is a significant danger that surveillance practices will become entrenched in American life that would never be accepted if we had more time to digest them.
Since a comprehensive privacy law may never be passed in the U.S. – and certainly not in the near future – law and legal principles must be developed or adapted to rein in particular new technologies such as surveillance cameras, location-tracking devices, and biometrics. Surveillance cameras, for example, must be subject to force-of-law rules covering important details like when they will be used,
how long images will be stored, and when and with whom they will be shared.
How unfortunate that most of the technological safeguards involving technology have come from Hollywood's insistence that they must be protected against the "threat of piracy" and not from any real regard to protecting the interests of the consumer. Thus the number three consideration is merely an extension of the number two consideration and the above comments regarding the creation of safe havens for evildoers should also be applied.
4. Reviving the Fourth Amendment
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath
or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. – Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
This is a given as it is one of your Constitutional rights and the law of the land. The overriding principle of privacy has always been: when in public, you do not have the expectation of privacy. When at home, work or in your car, you have the expectation that any information sought would be covered by a warrant that was issued by a competent court of jurisdiction and based on some tangible proof of probable cause.
What I do not see is the prosecution of those law enforcement agents and their "confidential informants" who have provided false, incomplete or misleading information in securing warrants. While shoddy law enforcement practices have led to inadmissible evidence in a court of law, there should also be some judicial retribution for inappropriate behavior by those who are sworn to protect us and uphold our laws.
Changing the time...
"The ACLU said it would push the clock forward or back in response to developments that worsen or improve the movement toward mass surveillance."
I can't help but wonder what the clock will read the day that the democrats introduce Hillarycare or any other government healthcare initiative into the legislative hopper.
The real concern...
As a management consultant and a data processing professional my real concerns are simple:
- How do we implement sophisticated data processing techniques which require massive amounts of data taken from innocent citizens in order to spot potential evildoers who are hiding among us?
- How do we protect the innocent against false accusations arising from "manufactured" evidence?
- How do we stop the use of non-public private information from being used for political or economic advantage by those who control the access keys to the system?
- And how do we correct erroneous information that is contained in original and derrivative databases?
These are the the real issues that are facing us in today's technologically complex world where even photographic and forensic evidence is subject to manipulation. Where programs such as CSI have taught the evildoers to sanitize the crime scene with bleach or, at the very least, sprinkle a ton of false hair and fiber -- and possibly DNA evidence -- around the incident area.
And where politicians and their political parties are always seeking power by using improperly obtained information and/or misusing their office to perpetrate various offenses on the very people who placed them in office.
What can YOU do?
I encourage everyone to read the ACLU's report. It contains valuable insights into the information problems that currently exist in today's complex world. Although I would caution you to keep in mind the need for protective measures to keep our freedoms and laws from being used against us by our enemies, both foreign and domestic.
Recognize that the old adage, "Knowledge is Power," is true and that knowing something "dark and evil" about one's opponents often leads to even greater advantage.
Recognize that there are few politicians who would not engage in the "sneaking and peeking" of medical files if a national access system was actually implemented. For absolute proof of the statement, consider the efforts of those engaged in "opposition research" to smear their opponents with media leaks and negative campaign advertising during any election cycle.
Become prepared to relinquish your personal privacy in this electronic age when you request that the government provide any services -- from building permits to aids treatment. If it resides in some database, and conveys some advantage to someone, it is likely to be compromised. One only needs to consider the amount of private healthcare information that is leaked to the media, especially the tabloid-like media, that may never be printed but may be used to secure favorable access to media targets. The more shocking the news, the more money paid to hospital and other medical informants. And how many of these people have we seen publicly or even privately prosecuted for breaching medical privacy.
Demand that your elected officials implement a "consumer's bill of privacy rights" including the incarceration and loss of any and all government benefits, for those who breach the system and release medical information to the media or other unauthorized recipients.
Demand that commercial databases be publicly identifiable and correction procedures be established and implemented upon pain of civil and economic sanctions.
Do not support any politician who complains about the government's abuse of power while openly planning to continue and/or expand such abuse.
Demand that the Barrett Report be released in its entirety. Any government waffling on privacy issues should be dismissed -- as allegations of wrongdoing are released each and every day in routine court proceedings without sealing the unproven allegations against any party.
Beware of high-minded programs that are conditioned on mandatory compliance and seek to penalize those who chose to "opt out" of "personally objectionable programs.
Do not vote for any candidate or current politician who is willing to subvert the safety, security and sovereignty of the United States for personal power, prestige or profits.
A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…
The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius
"Independent Counsel David Barrett released this week after a 10-year investigation of former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros and obstruction of justice by the Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service to hinder Barrett’s investigation of Cisneros."
"The last remaining U.S. independent counsel, David Barrett, after spending $21 million over 10 years, on January 12 finally will close down his investigation of former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros' lying to FBI investigators about hush money paid to an ex-mistress. The political significance is that the Barrett report's shocking allegations of high-level corruption in the Internal Revenue Service and Justice Department are likely to be concealed from the public and from Congress."
“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!
“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw
“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS "The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell “Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar “Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius
“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell
“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar
“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS