In what ought to be the top story of the day, the New York Times is reporting that Barack Obama is seeking the power to require all forms of Internet communication to be easily accessed by government wiretaps. It could be a crime, under legislation that the Obama Administration plans to introduce in 2011, to create a form of online communication that doesn’t have a portal the government can easily use to eavesdrop in on a conversation.
The proposed law would not increase the legal justifications for the government’s online spying against Americans. That legislation – the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act – is already in place. As a candidate, Obama promised that he would work to reform those laws, but he has not done so. In fact, with Obama’s help, the Patriot Act has been extended without reform.
A massive program to conduct Internet surveillance against Americans, collecting their electronic communications and dumping them into a giant computer database. This program is, in essence, Total Information Awareness reborn. When you speak on the phone, what you write on your email, where you go with your GPS device, what you buy with your credit and debit cards, is all being fed into the government system, where one piece of information can be matched with the others to keep a rich track of your daily activities.
Under the Bush Era spying laws that Barack Obama has maintained, this spying against you can, and is, being done without a search warrant. Without any need to further extend the legal framework of this Big Brother system of ubiquitous surveillance, President Obama is now seeking to force all communications networks to open their accounts to its searches.
Is that the change you voted for in 2008?