Whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed the fact that America’s information gathering agency, the NSA, is spying on private citizens. Although this is a direct violation of our right to privacy, guaranteed by the fourth amendment of the Constitution preventing illegal searches and seizure, the courts have not come to the aid of our citizens. The reason the court is ignoring this abhorrent act is because of the passing and extension of the misnamed Patriot Act.
Congress passed and George W. Bush signed the Patriot Act in October 2001. A nation deep in a fear induced coma, and encouraged by a swarm of patriotism, accepted a law which eliminated many of our freedoms, and allowed law enforcement agencies to bend rules in their practice. The Act was extended in May 2011 and signed by President Barrack Obama.
Now the FBI is seeking additional power to hack personal computers in other countries as well as those within the United States.
Most recently the FBI falsified its identity to obtain information from a suspect’s computer who killed two fellow students at a high school in Washington State. They pretended to be from a Seattle newspaper.
The present laws required the FBI to obtain a court order signed by a judge in the area where the surveillance is to occur. The change requested by the FBI would allow a judge to sign a warrant issued for a more widespread area, virtually giving it a ‘blank check’ to hack into domestic computers and other electronics.
This change would only make legal actions which have previously been taken by the FBI while circumventing present laws.
Virtually no action has been taken or is expected by Congress to ensure the Constitutional rights of the citizens they have sworn to protect. The reason may be more understandable when we look at the information gathered by the NSA. In addition to their claim that the information gathered is to prevent terrorism, other information such as political affiliation and voting information can be obtained. And it has the ability to gather virtually any type of information which may be requested by government and government agencies.
The Patriot Act was the beginning of a ‘police state.’ The federal government is currently attempting to recruit 10,000 to 30,000 new ‘hackers’ which would allow it to acquire more information from our personal computers, i-Phones, tablets and laptops. Police are seizing money and valuables from individuals using the Act to ignore fourth amendment rights and use those funds to purchase military-style weapons and protective gear.
Private companies are already at work developing software which would prevent hacking by individuals, corporations, and the government. The government is eager to train their own team of hackers as technology changes almost daily, and they are looking for young ‘cyber geeks’ who continuously update their knowledge and abilities.
Internet watchdog groups have expressed fear that these amendments to laws allowing increased access of private information will be passed. The courts have virtually rubber-stamped previous actions by the government which hides these un-Constitutional moves under the guise of ‘national security.’
The people of the United States of America truly are in danger of losing their security. George Orwell’s classic novel ‘1984’ is becoming a reality. Devices we purchase with joy, such as the $35 Google Chrome which allows us to watch whatever we can access with our computers on our big-screen televisions could possibly be used to access information we previously believed was ours and ours alone. ‘Big Brother’ is watching.
By James Turnage