Monday, August 16, 2010

Obama Administration Wants to Give FBI Access to Personal Internet Activity

A recent report in The Washington Post has revealed that the Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to collect information on the personal Internet activities of American citizens without the requirement of a search warrant.

The change, if implemented, would give the executive branch and the FBI increased powers by forcing companies to provide upon request, the records of any individual’s Internet activity without being required to obtain a court order.

According to the Post, the Obama administration will be able to provide information to the FBI if they feel it is important and pertinent to a "terrorism or intelligence investigation." Merely by inserting the words "electronic communication transactional records" to a list of materials that current laws state that the FBI may request without the approval of a judge. This includes personal user Internet web browser activity and the addresses to which an individual sends e-mail. More important is that the request would be secretly obtained and withheld from the individual user.

Unknown to many is that according to government sources, many Internet and e-mail services already provide the government with such data. During his campaign, Obama ran on many issues, including enhancing individual civil liberties. However, this effort may lead to an erosion of individual rights and privacy. In 2007, a published report by the Inspector General’s office revealed that the FBI might have incurred many violations in requesting such data — including the solicitation of information without having an approved investigation to justify the request.

Warrantless surveillance programs are unconstitutional, yet the current administration, following where former President George W. Bush left off, argues that such information is the same or equal to telephone toll billing records, which the FBI can obtain without court authorization. This means that finding out who a person sends an e-mail to or a Facebook friend request is the same as a telephone call.

It would seem as a constitutional law scholar, Obama would understand that the First Amendment protects the personal association information of a citizen.

The question is how this might impact future government legislation. On March 4, 2010, the “Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010” was introduced by John McCain. This bill, if passed, would eliminate several constitutional protections allowing government to arbitrarily pick up Americans on mere suspicion — with no probable cause. Not to mention, in May of this year, the president gave a speech in which he asked Congress to pass legislation to give the president, power to detain any person in the U.S. that the government deems a “combatant” or likely to engage in a violent act in the future.

How far does the government plan to go invade the private lives of its citizens under the guise of national security? We will have to wait and see, for it seems to reflect what Huxley predicted would happen in a A recent report in The Washington Post has revealed that the Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to collect information on the personal Internet activities of American citizens without the requirement of a search warrant.

The change, if implemented, would give the executive branch and the FBI increased powers by forcing companies to provide upon request, the records of any individual’s Internet activity without being required to obtain a court order.

According to the Post, the Obama administration will be able to provide information to the FBI if they feel it is important and pertinent to a "terrorism or intelligence investigation." Merely by inserting the words "electronic communication transactional records" to a list of materials that current laws state that the FBI may request without the approval of a judge. This includes personal user Internet web browser activity and the addresses to which an individual sends e-mail. More important is that the request would be secretly obtained and withheld from the individual user.

Unknown to many is that according to government sources, many Internet and e-mail services already provide the government with such data. During his campaign, Obama ran on many issues, including enhancing individual civil liberties. However, this effort may lead to an erosion of individual rights and privacy. In 2007, a published report by the Inspector General’s office revealed that the FBI might have incurred many violations in requesting such data — including the solicitation of information without having an approved investigation to justify the request.

Warrantless surveillance programs are unconstitutional, yet the current administration, following where former President George W. Bush left off, argues that such information is the same or equal to telephone toll billing records, which the FBI can obtain without court authorization. This means that finding out who a person sends an e-mail to or a Facebook friend request is the same as a telephone call.

It would seem as a constitutional law scholar, Obama would understand that the First Amendment protects the personal association information of a citizen.

The question is how this might impact future government legislation. On March 4, 2010, the “Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010” was introduced by John McCain. This bill, if passed, would eliminate several constitutional protections allowing government to arbitrarily pick up Americans on mere suspicion — with no probable cause. Not to mention, in May of this year, the president gave a speech in which he asked Congress to pass legislation to give the president, power to detain any person in the U.S. that the government deems a “combatant” or likely to engage in a violent act in the future.

How far does the government plan to go invade the private lives of its citizens under the guise of national security? We will have to wait and see, for it seems to reflect what Huxley predicted would happen in a totalitarian society in his book Brave New World. society in his book Brave New World.