Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Extended Patriot Act

2013 is shaping up to be an eye opener for Americans to the extent that our Federal Government and agencies have extended their look into our private lives. The IRS delay of approving Conservative and Jewish 501(c) applications while approving Liberal 501(c) groups in a timely manner - even on one instance back dating the approval several years. Over the last week, the UK newspapers broke several stories about the NSA, and other agencies, demanding phone records, email data, and internet activity of American citizens. The NSA, FBI, and CIA all claim all requests were legal and compliant under the recently extended and amended Patriot Act.

James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, defended the use of a classified program known as PRISM last Thursday by claiming that "information collected under his program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats. The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of  Americans." Part of what Clapper claims is accurate that the information obtained can be extremely valuable to defending our borders and infrastructure from any manner of foreign attack. The trouble with Clapper's claim is the program is being used to survey Americans which violates one Due Process at a very minimum.

Granted the Founding Fathers didn't foresee the internet nor a global economy as we experience today; yet they were intelligent enough to put forth broad ideas that are applicable to evolutionary forces. Societies as they mature have become more and more reliant on technology - internet, tablets, and smartphones. With this reliance comes opportunity of abuse in the form of cyberattacks, unwarranted intrusion, or mining of information. No secret exists that Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, etc...track the pages we go to, words we search, friends we make, topics we discuss all in an effort to tailor our experience and drive revenues.

The trouble now is that Big Brother is mining this data for reasons that are not legit. The 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution protects every American from illegal searches and seizures. As I stated above, the Founding Fathers didn't foresee the internet but the concept is applicable. Any American, as long as the use is legal, ought to be able to fire up the internet without fear that any branch or agency of the government is tracking their every move. Makes me wonder though, of the over 300 hits my blog posts get - how many are government agencies?

Rep. Maxine Waters stated earlier this year that, "The President has put in place an organization with the kind of database that no one has ever seen before in life. That's going to be very, very powerful. That database will have information on every individual on ways that it's never been done before and whomever runs for President on the Democratic ticket has to deal with that. They're going to go down with the database and the concerns of those people because they can't get around it And he's been very smart. It's very powerful what he's leaving in place." When Rep. Waters first stated this most Americans, and the media, presumed that she was talking about a database of Democratic donors. Take this statement, combine it with the IRS scandal and the recent revelations of NSA and FBI mining of internet activity leads one to see that President Obama's database is much more than donors.

The dots are being connected and American's need to see them. Our Federal Government has grown too big and under the current administration has expanded the Patriot Act to the point of violating every American's 4th Amendment right. Unfortunately it took the UK Guardian to break the levee, leaving American media playing catch up. I agree that we need to ensure that cyberattacks and other illegal activity is combated on the internet but it needs to be done within the context of protecting our freedoms and obeying the law of the land.