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Date: 1998-08-11

Kassandra/Eins: Das Ende der Privatsphäre


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in den USA sei auf ein Zusammenspiel von rapider
technologischer Entwicklung, einer apathischen Legislative &
dem unbändigen Verlangen der Nachrichtendienste nach totaler
Kontrolle zurückzuführen meint Patrick S. Poole, Deputy
Director des Center for Technology Policy an der Free
Congress Foundation.
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"The end of privacy in America is the result of a mixture of
rapid technological developments, an apathetic Congress and
federal agencies drunken mad with lust for unbridled power.
But the end of privacy is merely the beginning of a horrific
period in which the illicit use of perfectly legitimate
technology by our government against all citizens will
demonstrate the truth of Lord Acton’s prophetic warning that
while power corrupts – absolute power corrupts absolutely."


Recently while appearing on a Detroit radio talk show
discussing the Department of Transportation regulations to
tag and track everyone in the country through the use of a
National ID card (a measure already passed into law by
Congress), a caller to the show stated that we should have
nothing to fear from our government knowing every intimate
detail of our lives if we indeed have nothing to hide.

Struck first by the caller’s absolute ignorance of the rise
and practice of fascism and communism in the 20th Century, I
noted how common it has become for the average American to
give our government the benefit of the doubt – to our own
peril, I believe – regarding the erosion of our most basic
liberties and freedoms. Our country was founded upon the
presupposition that government is a dangerous servant and a
fearful master. With that in mind, they created a government
with limited and separated powers. Now, however, our
government on daily basis makes an absolute, and generally
unchallenged, claim to access every area of a citizen’s
life. This is no truer than in the area of privacy.
...
Apart from that debate, there is a subtle war going on
against the American public fostered by our government’s
insatiable hunger for absolute power. While most of the
country slumbers, our government is gaining access to vast
amounts of personal information and beginning to monitor and
track our movements and activities.

For instance, I have recently written about
(http://capo.org/opeds/pp0615.htm) the National Security
Agency’s massive ECHELON system that serves as a worldwide
electronic vacuum cleaner to search every phone, fax, email
and telex message for designated keywords that are flagged,
recorded and analyzed.

But the development of ECHELON has not prevented Congress
from inflicting a death of a thousand strokes on personal
privacy. Last month, the Department of Health and Human
Services issued regulations, authorized by Congress, that
would create a massive federal database of every citizen’s
medical records for snooping by bureaucratic officials. The
FBI recently requested an expansion of its surveillance
powers under the 1994 CALEA legislation that would allow
them to track citizens through the signals sent by their
mobile phones without any probable cause. Last October, the
federal New Hires Directory database went into operation to
track “deadbeat parents” by requiring every employer to
report the income and additional personal data of every new
employee.

Many of the legislative requests for surveillance expansion
on the American people by the federal government are just
attempts to obtain authorization for illegal and
unconstitutional activity that these agencies are already
engaged in. And without exception, Congress – Republicans
and Democrats alike – is more than willing to provide them
sufficient cover.

And this is just the beginning. Unlike the caller I
encountered that day, I am gravely concerned about the
proliferation of surveillance powers by our government. I
have traveled extensively in former communist countries
where such powers were routinely used by those totalitarian
states to squash political opposition, and in several cases,
to commit genocide.

To those who say that we have nothing to fear from such
assumptions of power if we have nothing to hide, I would
retort that if there is nothing for us to fear, why do
federal agencies and proponents of such measures feel
compelled to pass every authorizing piece of legislation in
the dark hours of the night, buried deep inside
thousand-page appropriation bills? Or in the case of
ECHELON, continuing to cloak the system in absolute secrecy?
If there really is no problem with reading and listening to
every phone, fax and email sent by an American citizen, why
are they so afraid to reveal their practice to the American
people? Precisely because the standard by which these
self-appointed snoops regard other’s privacy is quite
different than the people’s expectation of privacy.

The end of privacy in America is the result of a mixture of
rapid technological developments, an apathetic Congress and
federal agencies drunken mad with lust for unbridled power.
But the end of privacy is merely the beginning of a horrific
period in which the illicit use of perfectly legitimate
technology by our government against all citizens will
demonstrate the truth of Lord Acton’s prophetic warning that
while power corrupts – absolute power corrupts absolutely.

More
http://www.freecongress.org/
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relayed by Michael Grinner http://www.gis.at
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TIP
Download free PGP 5.5.3i (Win95/NT & Mac)
http://keyserver.ad.or.at/pgp/download/

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edited by
published on: 1998-08-11
comments to office@quintessenz.at
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