Thursday, March 20, 2008

One American Who Cares About Big Brother: Barack Obama

Update: Looks like I should have called this "Three Americans Who Care About Big Brother: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain."

This could not be more timely. I write a post about TIME Magazine's dismissal of privacy concerns, go to bed and wake up to news that multiple people accessed Barack Obama's passport file without authorization.

This is what TIME wrote:

In all the examples of diminished civil liberties, there are few, if any, where the motivating factor was something other than law and order or national security.

And here is what we heard today:

On three occasions since January, Sen. Barack Obama's passport file was looked at by three different contract workers, said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

The contractors accessed information in the file in an unauthorized way, he said.

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that this anauthorized snooping was not motivated by law and order or national security.

Time continued:

For now, however, civil libertarians will have to continue to argue that the danger lies not in how the government's expanded powers are being used now, but how they might be used in the future.

Or maybe we can point out how even narrower, unexpanded powers are currently being abused.

The FBI spied on Coretta Scott King out of fear that in her widow grief she would attempt "to tie the anti-Vietnam movement to the civil rights movement" -- as if that were illegal. MI5 spied on George Orwell for a decade because "This man has advanced communist views ... He dresses in a bohemian fashion both at his office and in his leisure hours." (Not the US but seems appropriate) We know these powers have been and will continue to be abused.

Do American Care About Big Brother? Well, we know that one fairly prominent one does for good reason.

Update: Sorry, did I say one? But seriously folks, somehow this just proves TIME Magazine's point that the pure-hearted thousands of civil servants and private contractors with access to our personal data are simply incapable of abuse. Somehow.

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