Saturday, June 19, 2010

Government monitoring of the internet

According to the Associated Press:

Fighting homegrown terrorism by monitoring Internet communications is a civil liberties trade-off the U.S. government must make to beef up national security, the nation's homeland security chief said Friday.

As terrorists increasingly recruit U.S. citizens, the government needs to constantly balance Americans' civil rights and privacy with the need to keep people safe, said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

I must be missing something here because this seems to be an issue on which I actually agree with the Obama administration! (anyone see any flying pigs)?

The internet is an open public posting notices on a public bulletin board. I see no reason to say, anyone can read this bulletin board except the government. I do not see it as an infringement on my rights as a U.S. Citizen if the FBI or NSA read my blogs. In fact, I wish they would :-)

They are welcome to read my e-mails too, although I think private e-mails should be treated like phone conversations--no snooping and absolutely no re-posting without a court order.

What am I missing?


Kevin said...

The phrase "monitoring Internet communications" is so vague it's useless in the debate. You're example, monitoring public boards is a strawman. It's a public forum, of course the government can monitor it like Google or Microsoft can. But what about your email, how about your phone calls that get converted to IP and routed over the Internet, maybe your purchases from Amazon, your bank statements, and electricity bills... perhaps you're private files that you store on Google's servers, or the pictures of your family vacation you post to a private site for only family and friends to view?

Does she mean the government has the right to monitor all Internet traffic in order to build profiles and determine who may or may not be threat? What will they do with all of the other data they collect? What other profiles will they build? What constitutes "a threat"? Is it just the guy who wants to talks about Alla and bombs or is it also the guy who talks about Jesus and abortion and the government and the homosexual agenda?

I'm shocked by how easily you're willing to give so much power to the government.

Kevin said...

To add to my previous post. How about tracking what sites you go to on the Internet in order to build a profile? Perhaps tracking all of the people who visit a particular Islamic site, or your church's website, or the TEA party website.

What about in a few years when your care has GPS and is attached to the Internet to receive targeted information based on your location (your phone does this today)... should the government be able to monitor and analyze this data?

The answer is NO! NO! NO!. The government must be required to have a court order to access private data not published in an open and public forum.

Dennis said...

Excellent response. You're absolutely right. I was thinking just of things like blogs and web pages published openly.