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Friday, December 29, 2006

Big Brother Just Got Bigger

Civil Libertarians Bash Bush’s Privacy Guidelines

If you look inside the White House, there is a new extension of Big Brother taking legs from the administration’s latest attempt to curb our ability to know who is spying on us. Bush’s new privacy guidelines fail to protect the rights of Americans, according to what civil libertarians told the privacy board’s first public forum. Right out of the box, his imperial majesty is being told he is all wrong again by some of the top privacy advocates in the country.

Weaker Than Privacy Act of 1974

Over thirty years later, with the shortcomings of the Privacy Act of 1974 well known—government able to bypass law and collect data on citizens from private data brokers—this President still can’t get it right. In a Washington Post article by Ellen Nakashima, “Civil Libertarians Protest Privacy Policy,” Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center is quoted as saying, “…the guidelines pale in comparison to protection offered under the Privacy Act of 1974.”

Once Again, Innocent Americans at Risk

James Dempsey from the Markle Foundation, which focuses on improving national security while protecting established civil liberties, says the guidelines don’t allow redress for people erroneously targeted in counterterrorism programs. This is a subject I have been blogging on for almost two years now. No matter how many times this administration tells us they don’t spy on innocent Americans, with the data mining techniques now being used, they cannot avoid it. I know. Predictive modeling was a part of my function as a mailing list broker and database expert.

Technology Must be Harnessed to Protect Consumers

The technology revolution is only going to grow at an accelerated pace based on the recent past, and the one thing missing in the equation is the individual’s right to privacy. The original inventors of the computer—and there were a few—could not foresee the problems their inventions would bestow on the average person. Nor were they concerned about this at the time because, like today, they were in a hurry to advance this technology to its greatest height. Now we are there and still progressing at the speed of light. The time has come to focus on the consumer by giving them control over their names and personal data.

Another Extension of Big Brother

Like the USA Patriot Act and NSA spying, Bush has once again manipulated this bureaucratic body so that it is solely under his wing. Lanny Davis, the privacy board’s only Democrat, along with four Republican members, commented that “…he was puzzled about why Congress had placed what was supposed to be an independent oversight board under the president.” Obviously a hypothetical statement. Davis was no doubt thinking ahead to 2007 when Democrats take over Congress.

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