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Spitzer’s Lesson: Assume You’re Being Watched

mother davisMother Davis speaks in a clear voice as she says,

I’m not engaged in any illegal activities that I know of. For one thing, I’ve got too many legal responsibilities for crime on the side. But, if I were to break the law, well, I wouldn’t do it except as an act of civil disobedience that I wanted to known.

The reason: Think what happened to Eliot Spitzer. He was heard on a wiretap. It was not a wiretap directed against him, but it involved him just the same. Consider how many connections like that you might have in your life.

The active wiretaps you’re connected to don’t even need to be justified any more, thanks to the Protect America Act. The government doesn’t even make the pretense of seeking a warrant for its spying against American citizens any more. That means that government spies just start listening to phone calls, reading emails, and installing spy software on people’s computers whenever they feel like it, whether there’s a real need in a criminal investigation or not.

I’m not arrogant enough to believe that I have as many people listening to me as were listening to Governor Spitzer has had. In fact, I might not have anyone listening to me. Maybe I just pass through other people’s zones of surveillance.

That’s not the safe bet in these days of warrantless wiretapping, though. The safe bet is to assume that you’re being wiretapped, and that anything that you say can be made public the next day, to prosecute you, or maybe to blackmail you.

Thanks to laws like the Patriot Act, the Protect America Act, and the FISA Amendments Act, there’s no such thing as privacy anymore. If you forget that, it’s at your peril.

Saying goodnight to all the little bugs,
Mother Davis

3 comments to Spitzer’s Lesson: Assume You’re Being Watched

  • Ace Frehley

    Mother: Eliot Spitzer’s current predicament had NOTHING to do with the Patriot Act, the Protect America Act, the George Bush Will Do Whatever He Wants To Do Act, etc.

    I would, first, read the FACTS of the case, such as, um, the wire tapping was COURT-ORDERED, and second, I would then rewrite your article.

    Enjoy

  • AT

    Spitzer was caught because his bank contacted the feds because of some unusual transactions. So in that sense I agree with Ace. However, Mother Davis is right about the dangers of assuming anything is private these days. It has come out recently that the government has a tap on every mode of communication we use. All internet and telephone lines now pass through government computers on their way to their destination. They can listen anytime they want with no recourse. Say you had an FBI agent who had a personal gripe with you. He could tap all your communications with the press of a button and no oversight. Maybe he sees something scandalous, but not exactly illegal. (like a cheating spouse) He could “leak” this info in a way that couldn’t come back to him. Who’s gonna watch the watchers??

  • Yes, that’s exactly the point, AT. With the Protect America Act and the FISA Amendments Act, as well as with the Patriot Act, what once was something people only had to worry about if they were engaged in criminal activity is now something we all have to worry about.

    Eliot Spitzer’s wiretap was legitimate, obtained with a search warrant. However, Ace Frehley cannot deny that the Protect America Act and FISA Amendments Act allows such wiretapping without a search warrant, and without suspicion of any criminal activity. The Patriot Act allows data grabs about the private activities of law-abiding American citizens without a search warrant.

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