Americans are rapidly approaching a point where the government believes we don’t deserve individual rights. In April, the Department of Justice argued that warrantless tracking of our cell phone data and location information was permissible because they said citizens do not enjoy a “reasonable expectation of privacy” with regard to this information.
Now they are coming for our emails and our entire digital footprint. The vote is planned for this week!
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy introduced H.R. 2471 last year in order to PROTECT our online privacy. But, federal agencies and law enforcement groups didn’t like the legislation and pressured Leahy into changing the language.
Now, the bill has been rewritten and amendments added that run completely opposite of the bill’s original intent…all because a politician caved to special interests and abandoned his post as a defender of our Constitution and civil liberties.
Highlights of this new, freedom-killing legislation:
- Law enforcement doesn’t need to obtain a search warrant from a judge listing “probable cause” before they dig through your emails—only a subpoena is required.
- 22 federal agencies will have warrantless access to your online accounts if they declare the situation an “emergency.”
- Correspondence stored on systems not offered “to the public”—such as university networks, for example—can be accessed by feds and law enforcement if they so desire.
- The feds can take up to an entire year (360 days) to notify citizens that their personal account information has been intercepted; and service providers have to notify law enforcement first, before they tell their customers their info has been hacked.
This is chilling. Don’t let your first reaction to news like this be, “well I’m not doing anything wrong so this doesn’t apply to me.”
Your emails, Twitter messages, Facebook posts, Google documents and everything else you do online is about to become the property of the United States government. Agencies like the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Maritime Commission, the Postal Regulatory Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Mine Enforcement Safety and Health Review Commission will all have a right to access your private correspondence.
Who knows what they will do with it. Perhaps they will see personal communications about medical issues, which they now have a vested interest in since they have taken over healthcare. Or maybe they’ll see comments against the current administration, and conveniently order an audit of your finances—as many Tea Party organizations saw happen last year.
As the famous and sober quote by Martin-Niemöller goes, “First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Politicians seem to have forgotten our Constitution and our system of checks and balances.
Leahy previously said, “I’m not going to say that any administration, Republican or Democratic, gets a pass. We have to respect our privacy rights, our civil liberties.” And then, he deleted all our rights after special interest groups put pressure on him.
And last year Senator Chuck Grassley suggested that requiring search warrants for emails would result in “increased burdens on the court system.”
The United Nations is threatening an international Internet fee. Congress and President Obama are mulling cybersecurity orders that will harm consumers and stifle business. Law enforcement agencies across the country are pushing for more control without oversight, such as the ability to monitor your whereabouts via license plate trackers.
Benjamin Franklin said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
We can stop this from happening. The backlash against Leahy’s about-face was swift and strong. Petitions are circulating, and groups such as the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are holding him to account. We need to add our voices to the fight and let Congress know this is not okay!
If they open the door to accessing your digital communications, the government may as well have the ability to enter our homes, our cars, our businesses and our wallets and be allowed to go through our personal lives at any time of their choosing, without due process, without probable cause, and without reproach.
Don’t let this happen to the United States of America.