Drug Dealers & Terrorist Only Got the Government Part of the Way
Posted by direwolff on February 14, 2007
Taking away our citizen’s Constitutionally guaranteed rights is tough work. Heck, it took a lot of work and two documents (the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights) to put these rights together, so you can imagine that dismantling is gonna take some time too. But Alberto Gonzalez and crew never rest and things are looking good for them on this front, all in the name of law and order.
One way you can go at removing our rights is by creating artificial fears (Bruce Schneier’s “Beyond Fear“ and Barry Glassner’s “The Culture of Fear“, are good books on this subject). We have seen the previous culprits like drugs dealers (remember the “War on Drugs”), then terrorists (don’t forget the Patriot Act), and what effects this had, but that’s only been good enough to illegally tap our phones, the removal of our rights to privacy in our own cars and in our homes, introduced a whole slew of previously illegal searches that are now considered acceptable, and lets not forget what we have go through at airports for the sake of “security theatre“, but this apparently hasn’t helped enough with limiting or removing rights in the virtual space many inhabit these days. Well “Houston, we have ignition”, apparently Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) under the guise of child porn, has introduced a bill requiring ISPs to keep all of our traffic information to be provided to the government upon demand. Wired’s 27B Stroke 6 blog has a good summary on this with links to the bill.
As usual, a bill this open ended, with such broad reaching implications and lack of definition, shouldn’t be viewed as representing its stated purposes, but rather be regarded at as a tool of control over the citizenry (I was going to say a tool of oppression, but that sounds so Middle Ages ;). I’m still musing over a friend who thought all this hubbub over our privacies was overblown and that these intrusions are no big deal. I then remembered a story (and I forget who told it) about a question you can ask any one who feels this way, and so I did. The question was “OK, privacy is no big deal, so what’s your salary?”, but I couldn’t resist and stop there and went on, “what’s your wife’s favorite sexual position?”. As you can imagine, privacy became really important to him at that moment and he conceded the point. I explained that many things like this or even more mundane but embarassing could be made public whether he liked it or not so long as someone else had control over this information. This helped him appreciate what privacy means to him and every other citizen in our country.