In a news release today, it has come out that the intelligence community feels it is time to redefine the meaning of privacy. They believe that privacy should no longer mean a life free from prying eyes but rather a new defination in which the government strives to merely keep our financial information and medical info secure.
In 1978 a privacy law was enacted forbidding the government from spying on people's phone conversations on United States soil without first acquiring a court issued warrant. In 2001, Bush got it scaled back saying it was too hard to gather intel on suspected terrorists. The scale back involved allowing warrentless wiretapping in cases where they could show that at least one end of the conversation was not taking place on American soil. In other words, if you were calling your dear old granny in France from the USA, your call could be monitored without showing just cause to a federal court.
Now they are at it again. Congress is going back to reevaluate the current stance on wiretapping. Bush and members of the intelligence agencies want the 1978 law scaled back even further so that they can monitor anything they want without first obtaining a warrant and having the only restriction placed on them to be that they must guarantee the safety of our medical and financial info. They also want immunity from lawsuits for internet providers and phone companies that have been supplying the goverment's supercomputers with all our phone calls, emails and even websites we have visited.
I know many people haven't protested as much as they should to these infringements on our personal lives. They say they have done nothing wrong and therefore have nothing to hide. They say anything goes when it comes to security. I say no. This country was founded on the premise of freedom. How can you have freedom if your government is spying on you without even having to prove that you have done something wrong? Is that not the beginning or fascism? Is that not the beginning of a militaristic state such as they have in China?
Freedom is so easy to lose. And no one fights it because it's hidden behind smokescreens such as national security. Freedom is slowly bled away from us by those who use fear to hide their actions. And once those cherished freedoms are gone, it is almost impossible to get them back. I too have nothing to hide. If the government tapped my phones and checked into my internet activity, they wouldn't find me doing anything wrong. I spend a lot of time just searching through online stores such Amazon for things I want to buy. And most of my phone time is about setting up transportation to and from places I need to go.
But, while my activities are not criminal, and I have no reason to fear what might be uncovered, I do not think the government should have the right to monitor every aspect of my life without first obtaining a warrant. To obtain a warrant, the government must present evidence in a federal court to show that my actions are suspicious enough to warrant further observation. It might seem like a minor right, the right to privacy and not as important as security, but I disagree.
The terrorists hate us because of our freedom. They hate us because we have rights they do not. If we let the government take from us our rights, no matter how minor, in the name of protecting ourselves from terrorists, then the terrorists have won anyways. We are no longer the great country that America has always been. We become the fear controlled, paranoid country that the terrorist nations are. They totally win.
Congress, as I said is revisiting the wiretap issue. I strongly urge everyone who values their freedom and doesn't want to see it erode bit by bit to call or write their congressmen and senators and tell them not only to not do another scale back of the 1978 privacy act, but to also encourage them to end the scale back already in place as of 2001.