I offered this first as a comment to a Spiegel Online article. Here it is with slight modifications to support its stand-alone status here.
Edward Snowden, of Verizon metadata and PRISM outing fame, thinks of himself as a whistleblower, and so do many who agree with him that the US’ PRISM program and its program for collecting metadata from cellphone providers are terribly wrong programs.
DNI James Clapper, over the weekend, declassified and released a Fact Sheet on the just revealed PRISM project. PRISM is represented as an internal government IT program whose purpose is to gather
foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act….
All such information is obtained with FISA Court approval and with the knowledge of the provider based upon a written directive from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. In short, Section 702 facilitates the targeted acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning foreign targets located outside the United States under court oversight.
It is an either/or case. We can’t have our individual freedoms with Government looking over our shoulders all the time.
To be sure, whenever men form a social compact led by a consensual government, we give up a small measure of our freedoms to that government to enable it to help us protect our freedoms. This protection includes protecting for us that component of our freedom given over to our government for the purpose. But that’s voluntary at the time of the compact’s formation, and it does not authorize the consensual government to arrogate ever more of our liberties—or of our responsibilities—to itself on its claimed need.
Recall Connecticut’s recently passed extensive gun ban law, a bill passed in the emotional aftermath of the Newtown shootings. Essentially, it banned firearms the State’s government has defined as “assault” weapons.
Last Monday, the legislature “tweaked” that bill to “clear up confusion;” Governor Dannel Malloy (D) is expected to sign it. One of the tweaks cleared up confusion surrounding the legal possession of these weapons that had been on order before the original legislation was signed into law but not received until after enactment. Such firearms can now be legally possessed.
Dr Paul McHugh has one, in particular concerning Vermont’s just enacted Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act, which authorizes physician-assisted suicide, and to which he objects.
As McHugh points out,
The reasons for opposing…physician-assisted suicide never went away. The reasons have been with us since ancient Greek doctors wrote in the Hippocratic oath that “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it nor will I make a suggestion to that effect.” The oath is a central tenet in the profession of medicine, and it has remained so for centuries.
Peggy Noonan wants an investigation into the IRS and its behavior over the last few years. She has ample justification for one:
We do not know who ordered the targeting of conservative groups and individuals, or why, or exactly when it began. We don’t know who executed the orders or directives. We do not know the full scope or extent of the scandal. We don’t know, for instance, how many applicants for tax-exempt status were abused.
As the Wall Street Journal notes,
Video cameras played a critical role in helping authorities track suspects in this week’s Boston bombings. Now calls for increased camera surveillance in the US are putting a spotlight on the technology and the debate about its use.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg bragged about that city’s surveillance system. It can
alert police to abnormalities it detects on the street, such as an abandoned package that is left on a corner.
Charles Ramsey, Philadelphia Police Commissioner, said on Fox News Sunday:
It gives you that historical record.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol has admitted that on two separate occasions it has given to federal investigators, without benefit of a court’s warrant or other order, personally identifying information concerning 163,000 Missourians who also had Missouri-sanctioned concealed weapons permits. The claimed purpose of the federal demand was a fishing trip concerning potential Social Security benefit fraud, but only gun owners seem to have been singled out for this treatment.
Missouri law makes it illegal (at the misdemeanor level) to disclose information about concealed gun permit holders.
Little Rock, AR, is expanding the surveillance capability and power of its police patrols:
A police car with a device that photographs license plates moves through the city and scans the traffic on the streets, relaying the data it collects to a computer for sifting. Police say the surveillance helps identify stolen cars and drivers with outstanding arrest warrants.
It also allows authorities to monitor where average citizens might be at any particular time. That bothers some residents, as well as groups that oppose public intrusions into individual privacy. The groups are becoming more alarmed about license plate tracking as a growing number of police departments acquire the technology.
Here’s an all too likely outcome from letting government maintain databases on its citizens, ostensibly for the safety of those citizens.
A Muslim US Air Force veteran who had trouble entering the country last year to visit his terminally ill mother was barred again Saturday from trying to return home to Qatar, the second time this month that he’s been prohibited from boarding a flight in Oklahoma City because his name appears on a government no-fly list.
The reason? There isn’t one, really:
This is a preview of
The Efficacy of Government-Held Databases on Citizens
. Read the full post (177 words, estimated 42 secs reading time)