Saying that cyber attacks, and not terrorism, are the top threat to the United States, the government has now decided that the emails and web surfing history of private sector employees will be subject to government scans.
In other words, the feds have just declared they can read the content of your emails and gain access to your information, without a warrant—not due to just cause, but rather, just because.
Our rights and our privacy are being eroded by an administration that claims everything is a threat, everything is an emergency, everything is so terrible that the federal government must step in and help. The latest intrusion comes from Obama’s cybersecurity executive order, which was an offshoot of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) that Congress refused to pass. Obama took matters into his own hands and issued an executive order with most of CISPA’s language in it, the very language that Congress didn’t want to pass because it interfered with the privacy of American citizens.
Government workers and Defense Department contractors are used to having their Internet traffic scanned because they were likely targets of espionage. But now Obama has declared many private sector businesses to be under threat, as well, including banks, utilities and transportation companies. If you work in one of these industries or send emails to someone who does, your transmissions will be recorded and viewed by companies who have received security clearance from the DHS.
Congress is grappling with the issue of online privacy as President Obama and various agencies clamor for more access. The Senate is currently debating whether to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) that was passed in 1986. Some Members of Congress want to require the government to have a search warrant if they want to read old emails stored with third-party providers; but the Justice Department, law enforcement and investigators are pushing for open access.
Law enforcement groups and the Justice Department also want wireless companies to retain your text messages for at least two years so they can access that information later, if they so choose. And law enforcement is fighting to obtain a “traceable” database of your license plate information.
Drones are flying through the sky and nearly everything you do is monitored by the government and can later be used against you: Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984.
Bruce Schneier, a security technologist and author of “Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust Society Needs to Survive,” wrote a CNN editorial warning, “maintaining privacy on the Internet is nearly impossible.” He wrote:
“In today’s world, governments and corporations are working together to keep things that way. Governments are happy to use the data corporations collect — occasionally demanding that they collect more and save it longer — to spy on us. And corporations are happy to buy data from governments. Together the powerful spy on the powerless, and they’re not going to give up their positions of power, despite what the people want. Fixing this requires strong government will, but they’re just as punch-drunk on data as the corporations. [W] elcome to a world where all of this, and everything else that you do or is done on a computer, is saved, correlated, studied, passed around from company to company without your knowledge or consent; and where the government accesses it at will without a warrant. Welcome to an Internet without privacy, and we’ve ended up here with hardly a fight.”
Obama has already declared that he can assassinate American citizens or detain them indefinitely based on a threat, now he is claiming ownership of your personal information. You can be searched without cause and convicted without a trial—all because Obama has decreed it so.
This is in direct violation of your Fourth Amendment rights, which are supposed to keep you “secure” and give you protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
Much as he has done with every heavy-handed government decree, Obama has used the premise of urgency, emergency and “we-can’t-wait” to shove through his agenda. Everything he has ever done has expanded the scope and reach of the federal government. Everything.
How far will we let him go? ACLU legislative counsel Michelle Richardson warned, “As we’ve seen repeatedly, once the government gets expansive national security authorities, there’s no going back.”
Encourage Congress to defend our rights. We are guaranteed privacy, and we are guaranteed due process. We, the People can make sure our representatives abide by the Constitution as they debate the accessibility and openness of our personal information.