Saturday, September 22, 2007

Big Brother

This story, by Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post* , is so horrifying and unbelievable that I have to quote the beginning of it verbatim:

“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.”

Civil liberties advocates have rightly noted that this collection of data is a violation of the Privacy Act (5 USC 522a(e)(7), which forbids the Feds from collecting data related to First Amendment rights, such as choice of books or friends. The data collected were from John Gilmore, a privacy advocate in San Francisco, whose file was released by Homeland Security at his request.

Fact of human nature: If a government has the means to play Big Brother, it probably will. An individual (usually) lacks the resources to do what is necessary to reverse a trend like this.

It would be much harder to do this in the Republic of Ohio. Why? Because individuals like us will have 26 times as much influence over the national government as we do now.† It is unlikely that Ohio voters and legislators would provide funding for such an effort.

* Two caveats: (1) Please read the article carefully before commenting on the “liberal Bush-hating mainstream media,” and (2) Login is required to the Washington Post site.

Do the math: Divide the U.S. population (300 million) by Ohio’s (11.5 million).

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