Jim Brown’s Weekly Column: Do We Need to Spy on Democracy?

Thursday, August 8th, 2013
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

DO WE NEED TO SPY ON DEMOCRACY?

A few weeks ago, I began to think we had given up. There were new revelations, almost daily, about how some government agency is scooping up and harvesting all available tidbits of our personal lives. We’ve all heard about the usual suspects — the NSA, GSA, DOS, DOE, IRS, FEC, DEA, FBI, DOD, USPS, and how federal agencies know everything from your current shoe size to your last flirtatious email or phone call.

The Internet makes it so easy for government agencies to find out everything about you. That was the conclusion of a new book I read over the weekend. In Digital Disconnect, Robert McChesney writes: “The domination of the Internet by a handful of monopolists, as well as the emerging cloud structure of the Internet, is perfect for the government. It need deal with only a handful of giants to effectively control the Internet.”

It’s like one stop shopping. One letter to your telecommunications company from the FBI or the NSA, and voilà, your life becomes an open book for a litany of governmental information trackers who say that they are looking for the terrorist needle in a haystack. Unfortunately, the whole nation of more than 300 million citizens has become their haystack.

Sure, we all agree that in this new world of digital technology, the definition of just who are the real threats to our security, and how we defend ourselves has changed. But do we just ignore constitutional guarantees for the sake of security? Does the fourth amendment mean anything anymore? Has it become irrelevant, and is it being ignored on a daily basis? Americans want to feel safe and secure, but they should want accountability and some understanding of how the security system works. Continue Reading……………..

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