Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Posts Tagged ‘1984

Big Brother, getting bigger

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Kevin Drum:

In the Bill Sammon piece I linked to earlier, he notes that George Bush is busily “institutionalizing controversial anti-terror programs so they can be used by the next president.” Guantanamo was the example Sammon used to illustrate this point, but a friend emailed last night to raise my consciousness about another example: Homeland Security Presidential Directive Number 12. A blogger whose wife is a grad student doing climate modeling for NASA explains:

This Presidential Directive is all about choice….My wife’s choice is she can either sign over to the Federal Government the right to investigate every aspect of her life (including fingerprinting, credit check, medical records, character references, etc.) or she can “voluntarily” choose to not be allowed entry into the building wherein she works. The choice is hers.

….NASA, of course, has many top secret projects, projects which require high security. No one questions the need for high security and detailed background checks for specific, highly sensitive projects. This is perfectly reasonable.

But the Federal Government under Bush is now insisting that ALL employees, contractors, students, etc. associated with NASA agree to allow an investigation into their lives should the Federal Government deem it necessary for any reason.

Basically, if you want to work for NASA in any capacity, you’re now required to sign away your privacy rights in advance. Ditto for just about any other government agency that decides to implement this directive. It’s just another lovely little policy being “institutionalized” for George Bush’s successor.

You’d think the GOP would oppose this sort of thing. Think again.

Written by Leisureguy

25 September 2007 at 11:26 am

Big Brother Is Watching YOU

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Especially if you travel. I have to say that the US is going through a very odd phase.

The U.S. government is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried, according to documents obtained by a group of civil liberties advocates and statements by government officials.

The personal travel records are meant to be stored for as long as 15 years, as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s effort to assess the security threat posed by all travelers entering the country. Officials say the records, which are analyzed by the department’s Automated Targeting System, help border officials distinguish potential terrorists from innocent people entering the country.

But new details about the information being retained suggest that the government is monitoring the personal habits of travelers more closely than it has previously acknowledged. The details were learned when a group of activists requested copies of official records on their own travel. Those records included a description of a book on marijuana that one of them carried and small flashlights bearing the symbol of a marijuana leaf.

The Automated Targeting System has been used to screen passengers since the mid-1990s, but the collection of data for it has been greatly expanded and automated since 2002, according to former DHS officials.

Officials yesterday defended the retention of highly personal data on travelers not involved in or linked to any violations of the law. But civil liberties advocates have alleged that the type of information preserved by the department raises alarms about the government’s ability to intrude into the lives of ordinary people. The millions of travelers whose records are kept by the government are generally unaware of what their records say, and the government has not created an effective mechanism for reviewing the data and correcting any errors, activists said.

The activists alleged that the data collection effort, as carried out now, violates the Privacy Act, which bars the gathering of data related to Americans’ exercise of their First Amendment rights, such as their choice of reading material or persons with whom to associate. They also expressed concern that such personal data could one day be used to impede their right to travel.

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Written by Leisureguy

22 September 2007 at 9:12 am

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