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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Government's Ceaseless Meddling in the Identity Crisis

Big Brother-In-Chief Does Another About-Face

After almost five years of monitoring our phone calls and e-mails, Bush said on Wednesday that he has decided to allow the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor his monitoring, according to an MSNBC article by the Associated Press. Apparently the FISA court assured both speed and agility in the future, which sounds hollow since this was guaranteed all along. W’s mouthpiece, Tony Snow, “…could not explain why those concerns could not be addressed before the program was started.” When do we start on impeachment?

Government Data Mining “Could” Be Investigated

I say “could” because this new Democratic Congress hasn’t shown any indication of getting seriously interested in protecting your privacy. More on the Dems later in this post. Rebecca Carr, reporting from Cox News Service, quotes privacy experts that feel the government is so captivated by data mining being able to reveal terrorists with the touch of a computer keyboard that anything goes. Both the ACLU and Center for Democracy and Technology check in with concerns. A former FBI agent who handled domestic terrorism cases says data mining isn’t even that effective.

Defense Department Database Forced to Purge “Good Guys”

In another MSNBC article, “US protestors found in Defense database,” reporting on a Pentagon memo released by the ACLU, after Defense Department examination of the database called TALON that collects info on potential threats to the military, almost 9 percent of the reports involving Americans justified deletion. Of those, 186 were “anti military protests or demonstrations in the U.S.” An earlier evaluation by Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), which manages TALON, reported only 1 percent of the reports questionable. Are we surprised at yet another example of incompetent governmental oversight?

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy Weighs in on Data Privacy

Senator Leahy from Vermont seems to have always been in the consumer’s court, and now he vows to regulate government and commercial “databanks.” In his speech, “Ensuring Liberty and Security through Checks and Balances” to Georgetown University Law Center, Leahy comments on the unilateralism of the Bush administration. Paraphrased, he thinks Big Brother-In-Chief has unlawfully spied on the lives of innocent American citizens. The Senator maintains he will shoot for stronger legislation protecting individual sensitive data. No mention of my concept to give consumers control over their names and personal data, and pay them when it is sold. Can’t imagine why since I have written him about this twice.

Pentagon Keeps on Prying Into Your Finances…Cheney Says OK

Big Brother II says “…the Pentagon and CIA are not violating people’s rights by examining the banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage in the United States.” This from an Associated Press article quoting Cheney on, where else, Fox News. The only thing he left out of this arrogant and absurd statement was “innocent” Americans. But the Pentagon keeps on prying, using the Patriot Act as its authority to request and receive—no questions asked—these private records from financial institutions, according to the Washington Post. The FBI does it but they have to issue a National Security Letter, which allows them scrutiny of innocent US residents. Is it possible to impeach a President and Vice President simultaneously?

Democrats Still Soliciting From Recent Turncoat

I keep getting requests for donations to the Democrats, although I reregistered as an Independent before the 2006 election. I’m glad they keep coming because it allows me to keep track of their efforts toward consumer privacy, or lack thereof. Received such a piece of mail on last December 7, with another “Key Democratic Party Planning Survey.” It’s almost identical to the one received earlier, and which became an integral part of a post. It asks questions about Dems in my state, Arizona, going then to “National Focus.” There are seven issues from Social Security to Iraq and terrorism to the environment. Not one mention of privacy. Just like last time. Are they deaf, dumb and blind? Folks, if we can’t get this side of the aisle on our sides, there is no hope. Unless…we start a grassroots effort to give individuals control over their names and sensitive data. Think about it!


This Mailing List Could be Hazardous to Your Privacy

“Cruise Travelers” from Mokrynski Direct labels over 700 thousand households as “enthusiastic” travelers, away from home for extended periods of time. They can also identity your age, income and lifestyles, potential profiles for burglary if in the wrong hands. There are a total of almost 800 travel lists on the market, many with your sensitive data like the one above.

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